A/N: This is the first chapter in the sequel to Lose Yourself In The Fog. Warning, I'm taking poetic license with a lot of the geography here. This chapter starts out a bit slow. Sorry, I had to try to establish a family dynamic as well as get them on the move in one fell swoop. I didn't feel it was realistic to have our fave ship just jump into happyland. Their personalities are too rich for that, and both of their characters are just too damn stubborn, so I hope you will bear with me.
He'd only been back for a few hours before the cries came. Exhausted he rolled out of bed just as the second one began to react to the other. Charlie followed and they each grabbed a newborn. Charlie had settled to feed their son while Monroe tried desperately to placate their daughter until it was her turn.
Gene had brought an old rocking chair upstairs, so Monroe made use of this after changing the tiny girl. The motion did not lull her back to sleep but it did seem to calm her down for a few minutes at a time. "I guess we need to name them," he said quietly.
"Yeah, you missed that," she said as she adjusted her hold on the infant in her arms. Her annoyance at him was clear.
He knew he didn't deserve any leeway, but it still stung just a little. "Oh." He looked down at the amazing little thing in his arms. "Well? What did you name them?"
Charlie got up out of the bed to switch babies with him. He got up to change the cloth diaper on his now full and drowsy son. "Daniel and Angela," Charlie told him as she settled down in the rocking chair.
Monroe didn't respond right away. He was busy with the task of getting the diaper pinned, something he was sure he'd get better at but for now was having a difficult time with. His fingers were too big for the tiny little safety pins they had to work with. Beggars couldn't be choosers he supposed. They were lucky to have pre-blackout pins in such good condition.
The sting of being taken out of the naming process was soothed just a little by the fact that she'd named their daughter after one of his sisters. Of course Daniel was a gimme. "Thank you," he said as turned with little Danny in his arms. "What about their middle names?"
"Come up with a few. If I like them, maybe we'll use them." Charlie had picked out a few just in case he hadn't come back or hadn't wanted to be involved – and with his abrupt disappearance after their birth she hadn't known how involved he'd planned on being. But she'd already felt guilty about picking names without him so was willing to let him finish the job.
Her words were a little cold, but the bite had gone out of her tone. He accepted the offer for what it was: she was giving him a chance. He laid little Danny down in the crib. He thought for a few minutes. "Daniel Ross… It was my mother's maiden name." He looked at Charlie waiting for her approval.
"Daniel Ross Math-" she stopped herself, guiltily. "Daniel Ross Monroe." She had to admit that it did have a nice ring to it. "Okay. Daniel Ross."
He smiled at her assent. For his daughter, he had a little more trouble. "Your dad and Miles' mom's name was Grace. She died before you were born. What about Angela Grace?"
The first few weeks of parenthood had left them little time to discuss what had happened with the nanites and his subsequent disappearing act shortly thereafter. The only meaningful conversation they'd had at all was over names. Almost all other communication between them seemed to be limited to the monotone grunts of the truly sleep deprived. For a man that had spent almost half of his life in one battle or another, Monroe could not remember a time he was more exhausted. In moments of weakness he found himself praying for the return of disposable diapers and canned formula.
Their days quickly fell into a comfortable if not exhausting pattern. Monroe and Charlie would take turns caring for the twins throughout the night. In the mornings Priscilla (who had since been released from the nanites) would take over for caring for them in between feedings so Charlie could get some sleep and Monroe could tend to the horses and Brodie before working with Gene and Aaron to get ready for their eventual flight from the area.
More than once Aaron caught Monroe dozing at the kitchen table again after putting the horses through some paces to keep them conditioned from the journey. Aaron was starting to take pity on Monroe. How did a man go from commanding general of an army to a sleepless zombie? At the very least he could provide him with coffee. If it was laced just enough to get him going again, well what Charlie didn't know couldn't hurt them.
In the afternoons they would tag team with their parenting duties. Much to the amusement of the others, they picked up the odd habit of playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who would drop whatever they were doing to change them before Charlie fed them. More often than not, Monroe would complain that somehow Charlie had to be cheating because he seemed to lose far more frequently than he won.
While parenting became more comfortable for them, whatever their relationship was had not. They may be sharing a bed, but Charlie seemed to go from hot to cold on a daily basis. He no longer denied to himself that he loved her, but he was starting to think that Gene had no idea what he'd been talking about the day he'd talked Monroe down from leaving.
One night Charlie might curl up in his arms, kissing him with all the passion of a woman in love, but the next night she'd treat him like a complete stranger. He was confounded and frustrated, but he couldn't bring himself to push her. The fact that she'd even let him this close was more than he knew he deserved. All he could do was wait patiently to see if she finally made up her mind one way or the other.
As the first few weeks passed, Gene followed the instructions Monroe had laid out for him to prepare for their trip east. He'd already gotten ahold of a rather large wagon. Now all they needed was to slowly accumulate supplies. The diamonds Monroe had brought with him was more than sufficient, but they needed to avoid attention with the Patriots so near. Monroe couldn't very well show his face among the locals, so he had to give up control to Gene and Aaron. He hated the inaction but between helping Charlie and planning their flight he wouldn't have had the time to go into town even if he'd been able.
Danny and Angie were almost a month old when their hands were finally forced. Monroe was in the garage rubbing down the horses after having spent the morning working with them. All things considered, it had been a good morning. The kids had slept half the night so he'd actually gotten some sleep for once. He was just about to leave the detached garage and head back in the house when he heard the sound of a yelp coming from the house.
It sounded like Brodie, but he hadn't ever heard the dog quite make that sound before. Monroe suddenly had a very bad feeling. Instinctively, he slowly crept out of the garage. He'd brought a pistol with him just in case, but the rest of his weapons were in the house. He silently entered from the back door near the kitchen. As he rounded the corner he saw a telltale tan uniform. The man wearing it had his back to Monroe for the moment.
There didn't seem to be any other patriots in the kitchen. Monroe stashed the gun in the back of his jeans and reached out to the Patriot from behind. He snapped the man's neck before he had a chance to react, catching the body as it fell. He paused for a few seconds, listening to see if anyone may have heard. He had no idea how many Patriots might be in the house. Where is everybody? He wondered. When he'd left this morning Gene was planning on heading out, but as far as he knew Aaron and Priscilla had planned on staying behind.
After stopping to pick up a knife from the block on the kitchen counter, he carefully made his way into the hallway. He found another soldier at the bottom of the stairs. He rushed the man, slitting his throat before moving on to the living room. Finding the rest of the lower level clear, Monroe headed back the back door and carefully walked around the side of the house. He saw another man standing guard on the front porch.
Watching him from around the corner, he bent down and picked up a small rock. He tossed it at the edge of the covered porch, which sent the Patriot his way. A few seconds later the man was down. "I can't believe that actually worked," Monroe muttered under his breath. He'd only seen the 'attract the guard with the rock' routine work in movies.
Monroe made his way back into the house, confident now that no one would be trying to take him from behind. Drawing his gun again, Monroe slowly made his way up the stairs. He could hear voices coming from the room he and Charlie shared. He checked the other bedrooms just to make sure they were empty. Now at the end of the hallway, he could hear who was with his family. Charlie saw him edge into the room, but to her credit she didn't react. She stood in the corner next to the crib. Despite the defiant expression on her face, Monroe could see the utter terror in her eyes.
"What are you doing here, Tom?" He asked once he was fully in the room. His gun was pointed at Neville's back. His first instinct was to take the shot, but he couldn't risk it with Tom standing so close to Charlie or the crib. If the bullet went through it could hit Charlie or the twins.
Neville turned slowly. He held little Danny in his arms. He knew that as long as he held that baby, he was in no danger. "Well, well, well. Look who we have here. Hello, General."
"Put the baby down, Tom." Monroe said coldly as he stepped closer. Neville just held the baby tighter. Sensing something was wrong the newborn let out a wail. Monroe started to see red. "I swear to god, if you don't put my son down I will shoot you."
Tom looked incredulous. "You and the Matheson girl? Well isn't that interesting. Wonder what her mom things about that one. And the Thanksgivings get stranger and stranger with you people." He gave Monroe a calculating look. "You know damn good and well you're not going to shoot me." Tom held the baby a bit higher now as if to emphasize the reason for his confidence.
"Don't be so sure about that," Monroe did some emphasizing of his own now as he gripped the gun tighter and took another careful step forward.
Tom merely smiled. "If you try to shoot me, my men will retaliate."
"Oh you mean those three dead guys I left downstairs? Not going to help you."
Tom laughed. "Too bad you didn't find the fourth one."
That at least explained where Aaron and Priscilla were. The last man had to have them held up somewhere. Monroe watched as Charlie darted her eyes to the crib. He looked past Neville to see it was empty. It hit him: Priscilla must have had Angie with her. He couldn't shoot Neville now. The other man might hear and it would get Aaron and Priscilla killed, not to mention his daughter. Monroe took his finger off the trigger and pointed the pistol at the ceiling. "What do you want, Tom?"
"As much as it disgusts me to work with these Patriots, they were my best chance to find the people who got my boy killed. They want Miss Matheson for questioning." Neville's cruel tone implied just what type of questioning that would be. "Imagine my luck to find you here too," he added.
"You'll never make it out alive if you try to take her, Tom."
Tom laughed again. He sounded almost demented. "Oh, I'm not planning on turning her in now. You did me a favor. Now that those tan assholes are dead, I don't have to worry about them forcing me to bring her in alive." He looked down at the bundle in his arms.
Monroe felt sick. This was about Jason. A man like Neville would see the irony in the 'eye for an eye' scenario they now found themselves in. They had to make a move. Monroe locked eyes with Charlie. Tom might be good at reading people, but the communication between a Monroe and Matheson was something entirely different. She nodded behind Tom's back, knowing what Monroe wanted her to do.
Charlie carefully reached into the crib and pulled out a blanket. She waited for Monroe to signal that he was ready and then pulled the cloth tightly over Neville's face, holding on as tight as she could. At the same time, Monroe stepped forward with the knife he'd concealed and jammed it up under Neville's chin. The baby was caught between Neville's body and Monroe's chest. Charlie released her hold on the blanket and reached around to grab Danny before he was crushed.
"Where are the others?" Monroe asked as he let Neville's body drop to the floor.
Charlie checked her son over. He was crying but seemed unharmed. "I don't know. I was putting Danny back down when Neville came in. Where were you?"
Monroe took one last look at Neville. He couldn't resist, and he kicked the man's corpse. "I was in the garage. What happened to the dog? I heard him yelping."
"I don't know. He wasn't in here when they showed up," Charlie said as she settled Danny back into the crib. She hated to leave them, but she didn't have a choice. Charlie reached into the closet and pulled out her crossbow. "Ready?"
Nodding, they headed back down the stairs. He paused by the hall closet to get his sword belt before heading outside. They stopped at the front porch, where he gestured for her to take the lead. "You're the tracker, I just work here."
"I think you're better at it than you let on. You followed me to Texas easily enough," she muttered as she looked at the ground for signs of where the others were taken.
"Sweetheart, you're good. But you are horrible at covering your own tracks. Aaron could have found you." As he watched her look for the trail, he thought strategy. Tom had implied the fourth guy would have heard a gunshot, so he had to be close. The house was rather isolated, so they had to be on the property somewhere. "What about the well house? If one guy is keeping both Aaron and Priscilla, he'd need someplace to hold them."
Charlie started to head that direction. As they walked, she picked up the trail. "How did you know?"
Monroe chuckled as they walked. "I'm not just a pretty face. I'm smarter than I look."
They found Brodie pacing outside of the well house, growling as he limped. Seeing Monroe and Charlie, he sat down and wagged his tail, whining. There were no windows in the structure, so they had no way of knowing what was going on inside. He could only assume that the soldier would be between his captives and the door. It was the most strategic position. Without hesitation he kicked in the door with swords drawn. He couldn't risk shooting his way in; the stone walls could cause a bullet to ricochet.
The Patriot turned as the wood door crashed in. He never stood a chance. Monroe slashed, taking him down with one hit. He looked up at where Aaron and Priscilla stood against the back wall. "Everyone okay?" He sheathed his swords and took Angie from Priscilla. He just needed to reassure himself that she was unharmed.
Turning around he walked left the building with Aaron and Priscilla following behind him, both visibly shaken. As soon as Charlie saw he had everything under control, she headed back to the house and to Danny. Handing his daughter back to Priscilla, Monroe stopped Aaron at the front porch. "We're leaving today. Pack everything we have."
Several hours later they had packed everything they could. Gene had returned from town with a few more supplies shortly after the Patriots had been taken care of. He'd helped Aaron what supplies they'd been able to accumulate while Priscilla and Charlie packed everything they'd need to take care of the twins on the road.
Monroe took care of the patriots and covering up what had happened here. Charlie had been upset over the notion that her family would have no way of knowing where to find her should they ever return. Monroe had a solution for that. He found an old mason jar in the kitchen. He wrote "Providence, KY" on a slip of paper and put it in the jar. He buried this with the patriot from the well house. On a piece of ply wood he carved the name "Grace Sullivan" before nailing it to a post he'd driven into the ground above the body. Charlie questioned this. "Miles will recognize his mother's maiden name. He'll know it's bullshit and hopefully will dig up the grave and find the jar."
"Won't he also find the rotting body?" She asked, disgusted.
"Added bonus," he said casually as he headed into the garage to get the horses hitched and ready.
Charlie rolled her eyes as she followed him. "You really are twisted."
He tossed her the reins to one of the horses as he led the other two out. "You have no idea," he laughed.
It was dusk before they were ready to go. Gene and Aaron sat on the wagon bench with Charlie, Priscilla and Brodie riding with the twins in the back. Monroe intended on riding the third horse for the time being. He'd drug the patriot from the porch into the house and had left the others inside. Before they left he grabbed the two bottles of moonshine from Aaron's stash. He lit them on fire, turning the bottles into Molotov Cocktails. He threw one of them through an upstairs window and the other into the picture window in the living room. The locals and Patriots expected there to be four people here. Well, they'd find four bodies at least. And, if luck was with them they wouldn't be identifiable when the fire died down. They lingered only long enough to make sure the house would burn and then headed out into the night.