A/N: I kind of played with this while procrastinating working on my other stories (I swear I will update my New Big Bad sooner rather than later – having a little writers block on that one). I wasn't sure if I should even post this one or not, but it kind of grew (most of it is written if not typed up. Just need to figure out chapter 2 before I can put the rest up), so I figured why the hell not. It's not like anyone's going to chase me with pitchforks if you all think this is silly (which you may very well think). And, I hadn't really intended on this being a Charloe, but it always seems to come out that way. Ships are fun to write, and It's really the only interesting ship in the series to me – sorry. (Too bad it'll never happen on the show, but that's what we're for!). So without further ado here is chapter 1. I apologize in advance. (Oh, takes place after Austin-ish but obviously is very canon divergent)
Miles led the way for their little group as Monroe brought up the rear. Gene and Rachel's last ditch effort to recruit aid from Willoughby had not been a success. Miles and Charlie had gone with them with the little proof they'd managed to bring back from Austin. Monroe had tried to talk them out of it, had said it was a bad idea and was only going to end badly. But Rachel and Gene had been adamant that they needed to get help outside of Monroe's little army.
And now, if it wasn't for the fact that Monroe had a momentary blip of conscience, they'd probably all be dead already. They'd almost immediately been ratted out and surrounded. Truman was in the process of arresting all four of them when Monroe and Connor had burst into town with their men in tow to save their asses. But, with the help of the townsfolk (and the fact that Monroe had ordered his little clan to keep civilian casualties to a minimum – something he was now regretting), the Patriots had overwhelmed them. The men were scattered, many lay dead in the street.
They were heading now towards the seldom used side entrance in the wall. Monroe had not exactly planned on stealth for this rescue mission. The guy he'd sent to scout it out had made it clear when he'd returned that they went in guns blazing or not at all. Therefore, instead of sneaking into town, they'd simply blasted their way in. Miles shoved Rachel, Aaron and Gene through. With a nod at both Monroes, Miles exited as well, leaving Connor and Monroe to follow.
Connor raced ahead as Monroe turned around to cover his exit. He was standing a few yards away from the wall when the world exploded around him. The blast lifted Monroe and propelled him through the air. He moaned in agony as the shrapnel entered his body. As he came down his head hit the ground hard, rendering him unconscious as a part of the wall came crashing down above him. As the dust and rubble cleared, Connor and Miles realized Monroe was not coming.
With a glance at Charlie, Miles rolled his eyes and headed back through with Connor. The younger man raised the Patriot rifle he'd picked up and began to shoot, giving Miles cover in the confusion from the blast. Miles scrambled to dig through the debris. He finally dug his way down to Monroe after several minutes. His face was covered in bruises, his eyes closed, oblivious to the danger that lingered around him. Miles picked him up into a fireman's carry before disappearing into the night with Connor hot on his heels. The cover of night gave them the opportunity to run back to the safe house, where Aaron and Priscilla awaited their return.
Arriving at the safe house without having been accosted seemed to have been a miracle. Gene went to work looking Monroe over. He worked to carefully remove the shrapnel from Monroe' shoulder and side, and then took stock of his other injuries. A broken arm and leg would keep him immobile for weeks to come, although considering the manner in which he was injured, the man could consider himself lucky there were no compound fractures. Bruises marred his torso and face. What worried Gene the most was the fact that Monroe had remained unconscious while he was setting his broken bones. In Gene's experience, the pain of setting a bone was often enough to rouse an unconscious patient.
"How is he?" Miles asked from behind.
"I'm not sure yet. He's pretty banged up. Couple of broken bones and a lot of shrapnel. Got a couple of lumps on his head," Gene began.
"Well, good thing for him he's got a hard head," Miles said under his breath. "How soon until he's up? We've got to move."
Gene paused as he considered his patient. Lying here was one of the people he hated most in the world, but he'd taken an oath many years ago. Therefore, he'd treat him to the best of his ability. He turned to look at Miles. "Hard head or not, TBI is a real concern. If we have to move, well then we move. I don't know that it will make much of a difference with his treatment at this point."
Miles looked confused. "TBI? What do you mean, Gene?"
"Traumatic brain injury. Miles, I have no way of knowing how bad he's hit his head. There's a lot of bruising and swelling at the base of his neck, and when I set his arm and leg, he didn't wake up. I have no idea when or if he will wake up. Even before the blackout head injuries were serious. We just have to wait and see." Gene explained it carefully, watching Miles as the severity of Monroe' injuries sunk in.
"Okay, well then no use waiting here. We're leaving. Get him ready," he instructed as he walked off.
They traveled for well over a week, Monroe unmoving in the back of the wagon. With the help of Rachel and Aaron, they did their best to keep him hydrated. They spooned water into his mouth, counting on his natural swallow response to get it down. It was slow and tedious work, and because of the small amounts had to be done constantly. Charlie, Miles and Connor were left to keep their group moving and safe.
The days were long, and they finally settled in an abandoned farm over a hundred miles east of Willoughby. They needed to get out of Texas, although in truth they had no idea where to go. With Monroe injured and unable to fight, they had to lay low for the next several weeks, if not longer. So while Monroe lay in the bed upstairs, oblivious to the world around him, they slowly set up a semi-permanent home.
Two weeks after Willoughby:
Miles and Rachel looked on as Gene examined Monroe. Aaron had been taking his shift sitting in on him when Monroe had slowly started to rouse. Charlie and Connor were now cooling their heels in the hallway outside, allowing Gene room to work.
Monroe' eyes fluttered open, he looked around, waiting for his eyes to focus. "What the hell happened?" he asked in confusion as his eyes lit on Miles.
"Easy there, Bass. How do you feel?" Miles asked him, taking a step forward.
"Like shit. Where are we?" He didn't recognize his surroundings, and it was starting to worry him.
"We found a safe house to lay low for a while," Rachel explained. There was something about his expression that she found unsettling, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.
"Oh, hey Rachel," Monroe said as his eyes flitted over to her and then back to Miles again. "What, Rachel?" He did a double take. "Miles, you-you found them?"
Miles shook his head in confusion. "What are you talking about, Bass? Found who?"
Monroe furrowed his brows. "Rachel, Ben, the kids. Who did you think I meant?" He watched Rachel's expression change, grow cold and full of fury. She clenched her jaw and stalked out of the room, all but shoving Connor out of her way. "What the hell is her problem? What happened, Miles?"
Gene was already beginning to suspect what was happening, but had yet to voice his medical opinion. He could just as easily be faking, although he couldn't imagine why Monroe would. It wasn't his style and there would be little point in it. "There was an explosion, and you were injured. You have a broken arm and leg. You also hit your head. You've been unconscious for two weeks," he began to explain.
Monroe turned his head. The man before him looked very familiar, but he was having trouble placing him. He searched his memory for the information, finding it difficult to process. Finally he found a name to go with the face. "Doc Porter? You're Rachel's dad, right? I met you Ben's wedding. What are you doing in Pennsylvania? Don't you live in Texas or something?"
"Pennsylvania? No one's called it that for years. We're in Texas, Bass," Miles explained slowly.
Monroe furrowed his brow in confusion. His eyes suddenly widened. "Wait, Texas? That's impossible."
Miles opened his mouth to speak when Gene placed a hand on his arm to stop him. He nodded towards the door. Taking the hint, he shuffled out the door with Gene behind him. "What's wrong with him, Gene?"
"I keep telling you, I have no way of telling if he suffered any trauma to his brain. Head injuries can be tricky. He could just be disoriented, or it could be more extensive. We'll wait a bit and then I'll talk to him."
Connor piped in now, "What do you mean trauma? How badly was he hit?" Up until this point, Gene had spoken to him very little about his father's injuries. He'd known it was kind of bad, but no one had taken the time to explain it to him.
"Let's wait it out for a while and then we'll see." Gene told them again. They left Monroe alone for an hour while Gene went back in and finished checking his injuries.
"Connor, walk in and see if he recognizes you," Gene said quietly as he once again joined them in the hallway.
"Recognizes me? Why wouldn't he?" Connor said as he entered the room. He stepped in and waited for Monroe to acknowledge his presence in the room. "Hey, Dad." The words were foreign even to Connor. This wasn't a title he typically used when talking to his father.
"Excuse me? I think you might be a little lost, man." Monroe said, his agitation clearly showing through. He was foggy, and his body hurt, and Miles was acting strangely. He was starting to wonder how long he'd been out. Miles looked as shitty as he felt, like he hadn't slept in a very long time. And, what was the deal with Rachel? They'd searched for Ben and Rachel for months, but had never found them. Now suddenly she's here and acting like a bitch. What was going on?
Connor flinched before doing an about face and leaving the room. "What the hell was that?" he asked Gene.
Gene slowly walked back in and sat down in the chair next to the bed. There was a yellowed notebook and pencil on the nightstand. He picked them up and settled back. "I'm going to as you some questions. They'll seem kind of strange, but just answer them the best you can. What is your full name and birthdate?"
"Sebastian William Monroe, August 6, 1982. Is this really necessary?"
Gene wrote down something in the notebook. "Just bear with me," he said before he began a barrage of other questions about Monroe's childhood. He asked for dates and places, asked about his role in the military. Then he asked about the blackout. Then he asked the question that seemed to confirm his suspicions. "What day is it?"
"How the hell should I know? Ask Miles. He's better at keeping track without a calendar. October something," Monroe answered.
Gene wrote something down again. It was really mid-April. "What year is it?" He finally asked.
Monroe shifted uncomfortably. This barrage of questions was starting to make him feel apprehensive. Like there was something he was missing. "2015."
"How old are you?" Gene asked now.
"I'm thirty-three. I have blue eyes. I'm a goddamn Leo. I'm left handed. What the fuck is up with all of these questions? And where is Shelly?"
Gene looked up from the notebook. To say that he wasn't familiar with Monroe's life story would be putting it mildly. He' d been writing down answers for Miles to verify later, but the fact that he'd just asked for someone specific meant something. "Who's Shelly?"
"She's my wife, doc. Where is she? Why isn't she here? If I got hurt, she should be here. Is she okay? Maybe you should, I don't know look at her or something. She's due soon, you know." Miles, Charlie and Connor had been watching from the doorway.
"Oh no," Miles said, louder than he'd intended.
Gene looked to the door when he heard Miles. He turned back to Monroe. "I'll go see if I can find her for you. I'll be back in a few minutes."
He left the room quietly and closed the door behind him. "Who is Shelly really?" he asked as he ushered them further down the hallway.
"Shelly really was Bass' wife," Miles began.
This slice from his past stunned Charlie. "He was married?" The question slipped before she could stop herself. It bothered her more than it should have.
Miles narrowed his eyes at Charlie for a second, her tone having surprised him a little. "Shelly joined our camp about two years after the blackout. Bass was a goner the second he saw her. She died in childbirth a little over a year later, in Pennsylvania. What's wrong with him?"
"Listen, he's been in a coma for two weeks and was banged up fairly badly. Best case scenario? He's just a little confused. His brain just needs to catch up with his body," He explained.
Miles leaned up against the wall and crossed his arms. "Okay then. What's the worst case?"
"That those memories are simply gone. I have no way of knowing if he suffered any actual brain damage. I can't exactly give him a CAT-scan. And for that matter, I'm not a neurologist," Gene explained further.
Up until this point, Connor had been silent. "So what do we do?"
"We see if we can get him to remember. If he's just a little confused, it should come back to him pretty quickly," Gene answered.
Miles abruptly pushed himself off the wall and walked towards the door at the end of the hallway. He opened it to find Monroe waiting impatiently. "Hey Bass," he said as he sat in the chair Gene had used.
"Miles, what the hell is going on? Porter said he was going to get Shelly. What happened to me? One minute I'm in our tent, the next I'm waking up here all banged up."
Miles leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees. "Bass, what's the last thing you can remember?"
He closed his eyes and thought back. "You asked me to raid that camp. We argued for it a bit. I went into my tent and Shelly and I talked about names for a while. Then we ate and went to sleep. Then I woke up here." Monroe saw the pained look on Miles' face. "Come on, man. What happened? Did the other camp attack us overnight or something? Where's Shelly?"
Miles hesitated for a second. "We're not in Pennsylvania. We're in Texas, about a hundred miles east of Willoughby. Come on. That argument was almost fourteen years ago." He watched Monroe as he spoke. None of it seemed to register.
"Miles, what is the matter with you? I know you're pissed that I don't want to raid our neighbors, but this isn't funny. Joke's over. Now help me up. I've got to get back to camp. I don't like leaving her alone for very long. Not when she's this close," Monroe was starting to get more agitated. He didn't know why Miles was fucking with him like this. It wasn't like him. He could be a dick, sure but he wasn't this childish. He tried to swing his legs out of the bed, but the splint that Gene had used on his leg was making it difficult.
Miles moved to stop him. "Bass, wait. You have to remember. I know you don't like to talk about her, but come on. Shelly died. It's been fourteen years. You know that."
Connor and Charlie came into the room. Connor crossed over to the bed, feeling rather uncomfortable. This whole thing was almost surreal to him. "Dad," he started.
Monroe' eyes flashed to him. "Why do you keep calling me that?"
"Because he's your son. Yours and Emma's," Miles calmly reminded him.
Monroe stilled. How did Miles know? That was so long ago, over ten years before the blackout. "Listen, Miles. I'm sorry, I didn't… Wait, is that why you're doing all of this? Because you found out about Emma? I wanted to tell you, but –"
Miles cut him off. "No. Bass, this is Connor. He really is your son."
"Dude, that's impossible. Like literally, I doubt I've got ten years on him," Monroe said with a shake of his head. He felt his heart pounding in his chest, and felt claustrophobic. "I've got to go, I've got to get back to camp," he repeated.
"Bass, you're not going anywhere," Miles said, grabbing him by the shoulders. "Shelly is gone, the camp is gone."
"Let me go, Miles. I need to get back to my wife," Monroe began to struggle with them now. With his arm in a sling and a split on his leg, he was really not capable of going anywhere without help, but he fought just the same. "Why are you doing this? What did you do? Let me go!" He thrashed as Miles tried to hold him down on the bed. Connor and Charlie jumped to help him.
Gene came rushing back into the room. He went over to the dresser and dug into his bag, pulling a syringe out. He unscrewed a small bottle and stuck the needle in, drawing some of the liquid out. As he did this, Monroe fought harder. "Stop telling me she's dead!" he yelled at Miles as he fought.
Gene came back over. "Hold him down," he instructed. They did their best to hold Monroe in place while Gene jabbed the needle into Monroe's arm, injecting him quickly. He yanked the needle out before Monroe's struggles broke the damn thing off in his arm. Over the next few minutes Monroe slowly stopped fighting. He blinked his eyes rapidly as his vision began to blur. He tried to stay sitting up, but the drugs Gene has used were too strong and he eventually fell back on the pillow, dazed.
"What did you give him?" Connor demands.
"Morphine – a lot of it. It'll help with his pain and keep him calm. He was going to hurt himself," he explained. "He'll be out of it for a while."
Gene led them out of the room and down the stairs into the kitchen where Rachel, Aaron and Priscilla were waiting. Aaron was bent over the wood burning stove working on throwing things in a pot for their next meal. Priscilla was just standing in the corner, watching. This was all she ever seemed to do and the others found it unnerving. Rachel sat at the table, pale and angry. When Monroe had mentioned Ben, it had set her off. She could not believe that he would hit her so low.
Gene and Miles joined her at the table. Charlie went to help Aaron as Connor leaned in the doorway, not exactly sure what to do with himself. His only true link to these people was upstairs with no memory of him. Well, there was Charlie, but seeing as how their fling had pretty much ended when she found out about their plans for getting the republic back, he wasn't counting her.
"So what are we looking at here, Gene?" Miles finally asked.
"What happened upstairs wasn't the result of being a little foggy from a bump on the head. He's got some form of retrograde amnesia, but as far as how severe, well your guess is as good as mine."
Rachel whipped her head to look at her father. "He's lying. I don't know what his angle is, but he's lying. I know it."
"Rachel," Gene began before she cut him off.
"No. He's got to be faking it. Criminals used to fake it all the time to get off on the insanity plea," She argued.
Miles reached out and took her hands in his. "Rachel, I'm telling you. I've known that man since I was four years old. He's not faking it."
Charlie just listened as she helped Aaron, cleaning up a few rabbits they'd caught earlier in the day to stick in the pot with the vegetables he'd already added. She agreed with Miles. She didn't see how Monroe could be faking. His panic and confusion (and, when she thought about it, fear) had been too real. The coldness that he normally displayed was gone. She'd seen him attempt to be charming before, and he typically pulled it off, but even then there was always an underlying hardness that never left him. It had today, which was a fact that she found mildly disturbing. "So what do we do with him now?" she finally asked. "I mean, my guys are dead; most of his probably are too. None of them came back to the safe house before we left. We need him to fight."
"Oh, he'll still be able to fight," Gene said. "From what little I know about amnesia patients, they usually keep any skills they've learned. Things like that are stored in a different part of the brain. He might not know how he knows how to use a sword, but he'll know how to."
"He won't though," Miles spoke up. "That man up there is not General Monroe. He's Bass. He may know how to kill, but Bass won't do it unless he has to."
"What are you talking about?" Rachel asked, clearly confused. "Memory loss or not, he's still a killer, a monster. He killed people before the blackout; he was a Marine for Christsake!" She refused to see him in any other light. This was the man that killed her husband and child. In her mind, just because he couldn't remember it right now didn't mean that she couldn't.
"That was different Rachel, and you know it. But you didn't see him turn into a killer. Back then, he wasn't," Miles protested. "And you knew him before the blackout. You were friends."
Gene opened open the old notebook and started writing. "I don't know if he will get any of his memories back. Some people do, some don't. Sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes years. Older memories will be easier than newer ones. But either way, he's going to need help. It would be helpful if we knew what he's forgotten. You're the only one that knows a lot of it."
Miles got up and went left the room, coming back a few minutes later with flask in hand. He'd never told Rachel or Charlie how the Monroe Republic got started. The only other person who'd known was Nora, and she was long dead. Taking a drink he started to explain how Monroe went from a happy father-to-be to the psycho they all knew so well.
Two hours later, after he'd finished his story with the failed assassination attempt, silence reigned. "So there you have it. He's the way he is because I pushed him and helped make him that way. I started it all."
Charlie looked up from her half eaten bowl of stew. She'd lost her appetite somewhere between the Trenton Campaign and Miles having convinced Monroe that beating Georgia was a priority and her mother in turn the best way to make that happen. She pushed away from the table and went to clean up. There was still stew left, and they couldn't afford to waste it. She rifled through the cabinets and found an old plastic container with a lid to match. "So we're supposed to try to get him to remember all of that?" She said as she worked.
Gene pinched the bridge of his nose. All of this was starting to make his head hurt. "One thing at a time. He won't remember anything if he doesn't even know what year it is. Most amnesia patients are at least eventually aware that they have it." He stood up and went to leave the room. "I think we should avoid talking about the republic itself for now."
"What? So we're just going to let him live his life not knowing what he's done?" Rachel could not believe her ears.
Gene stopped. He shared his daughter's animosity but the man was officially a patient. They could go back to hating him later. "Rachel, I mean it. It will be hard enough trying to get him to accept that he lost his family and that Ben and Danny are dead, even if he can't remember it. Harder still to convince him that he's lost fourteen years of memories. You start going on about that he was the one that did it, and you'll only make things worse."
Charlie sat in the chair, taking her turn watching over him. He'd woken up earlier in the evening. After bringing him something to eat, Miles had spoken with him again, ending in the same results as before. That had been four hours ago. Charlie wondered if a part of Monroe remembered that Miles had betrayed him, because he seemed almost afraid of him, or at the very least very mistrustful. She had been instructed to go get Gene or Miles if he woke up, but she had already decided to ignore that command.
She sat flipping through Gene's notes on Monroe's life when he began to stir. She set the notebook aside and picked up a glass of water. As he slowly came to, she helped him sit up and brought the glass to his lips. He was groggy but the morphine had left him thirsty. He accepted her aid and drank greedily. The water helped to clear his head enough to look up at the person assisting him now. In the dim lantern light, he could see her features clearly enough to see that she was vaguely familiar to him.
"Easy, Monroe," she said as she helped him lean back up against the pillow, before handing the glass back to him. "Too fast and the morphine will make you puke it back up."
"Why do you call me that? No one's called me that since we went AWOL. Who are you?"
She hesitated. "Charlie, remember? Ben and Rachel's daughter." She waited, silently praying he wouldn't respond the way he had before.
Instead, he laughed. "Nice try. Charlie's like eight or something. Who are you really?"
She hesitated for a second. How could she get him to understand? She remembered what her grandfather had said. If he didn't accept that those years were lost to him, he'd never remember anything. She walked over to the dresser and picked up a cracked mirror. Returning to the chair she sat down as she handed him the mirror.
He studied his face for several minutes. He almost didn't recognize the man staring back at him. It was him to be sure, but the face was so different. He looked like hell. Underneath the fading bruises, he could see the crow's feet that had formed in the corners of his eyes. He had a few faint scars that he didn't recall having that had obviously faded with time. This was not the face of a thirty-three year old man, and as much as he didn't want to believe it there was no denying it.
"You were all telling the truth," he murmured. Examining his face again he tried to take it all in. "I- I need to talk to Miles." His voice was resigned, sad almost.
Charlie nodded, feeling horrible for him. He was about to learn that his entire life had turned to crap. She went down the hall to the room Miles was sharing with her mother. She knocked quietly and waited. Rachel opened the door a few moments later. "He's up. And he needs Miles," was all she said before turning away to find her own bed.
That night Charlie tried to sleep. But, through the wall that separated her room from Monroe's she could hear the sounds of a man grieving. She wasn't exactly sure what Miles had been telling him, but she had a feeling it at least included the deaths of his wife and child. She listened for what seemed hours before his sobs finally subsided. It was almost dawn when Charlie had finally been able to put his misery out of her mind and drift off.