Rating: PG13 (mainly for strong language)
Summary: We've all heard about the BMFM's past – the wars, the people, Carbine, Stoker etc, etc. We know everything about Vinnie, Throttle and Modo. What about Charley? We never really hear about her past – I know some details are given, but I've decided to recreate Charley's past – and give a glimpse into the life of the woman they call a best friend and ally.
Warnings: Original characters but NO Mary Sue's. I'm very keen on that point. No original characters that are mice – only humans from Charley's present and past. This fic takes place approximately one year after the Mice first arrive. Limburger is still planning his conquests for the glory of the Plutarkians, while the mice are content to stay on earth.
Spoilers: None really, that I can think of anyway.
Additional Notes: All of the characters I've let loose here are based on people I know, so it's not really fair to say that I created them. I just changed a few names here and there.
On any given night, a biker in Chicago's lower east side could always count on several things. His fellow bikers were alive in the night. Cops were at the back of your mind. And the best place for food, beer and action was at Chromes.
Charley snickered at her dad's words floating through her mind as she parked into a spot Rusty reserved just for her. Reserved for her and protected for her by the numerous customers whose bikes she serviced regularly over the years. Slamming the kickstand down, Charley pulled the helmet off her head and shook her hair loose to the sounds of catcalls and wolf whistles from the bikers standing outside the bar.
" Hey sexy! Looking for action?" Came a particularly loud call.
" Forget it Slim! I'm still out of your league!" she shot back. Slim, who was three hundred pounds if he was an ounce, gave a hearty laugh and waved her on by the boys, watching them all carefully just in case. Charley waved back and slipped inside the bar.
The familiar smell of chicken wings flavoured with the fiery sauce Rusty had perfected over the years struck her full force and she breathed in deep. Smoke mingled with alcohol even though recent bylaws had prohibited smoking inside establishments. The cops had bigger fish to fry though, and no one would ever complain about the smoke. Actually, it made Charley nostalgic, remembering the times her father and Jake had brought her and Manda to the Chrome, letting the guys teach the girls how to play pool while they reminisced about old times. She smiled – it had been far too long, nearly a year since she'd last spent any substantial amount of time here.
To the right, a battered jukebox, right out of the fifties was still propped against the wall, one leg replaced by a phone book from the sixties. The speaker system had been completely replaced in 1982. Other then that, the only thing that was ever updated on the jukebox was the music and weaving amongst the different and varying conversations was the sounds of "Of Wolf and Man" by Metallica. The reason for that was leaning against the 'box, plunking quarter after quarter into the machine.
" Hey Tunes!" She shouted over the noise. The skinny man with the shades on even in the poorly lit bar snapped his head up at her call.
" If it isn't Little Angel!" he shouted back. " Whatchoo' doin' here girl?"
" Need to talk to Rusty!" She saw his eyes light with comprehension and jerked his thumb at the back room. She nodded her thanks. " What is it today?"
" Metallica and 3 Doors Down."
Charley shook her head, still grinning. " That's an odd combination, even for you, Tunes."
Tunes stuck out his tongue at her and programmed another song. Charley left him to it. Tunes showed up every night without fail and spent at least ten dollars at the 'box. He chose two bands to mix up each time, switching them only when he ran out of songs. Tunes loved music and listened to anything and everything. As she headed in the direction he'd pointed at, she heard the music change, letting "Kryptonite" blare over the speakers. She made a mental bet in her head that when she was done with Rusty, "Enter Sandman" would be on.
With Rusty in the back room, the only thing Charley could do was wait. There could be anything going on back there and it was a well-known rule that if you didn't see it, it didn't happen. There were many guys that passed through the Chrome that learned the hard way that you don't knock when the back room was closed. Still if Rusty was back there, it couldn't be too bad. Probably a poker game. Rusty lent out his back room on request for a decent price, and never asked questions. If it was illegal, he had nothing to do with it, and the cops knew it. Rusty was a great informant by himself if someone tried to pull anything over his eyes but that didn't mean he went looking for trouble either. As the saying went, ignorance was truly bliss.
Charley hopped up on the barstool and the bartender greeted her with a rare smile.
" Hi Tony."
" Little Angel – it's been far too long. You've been hiding away?" The Italian man reached into the fridge and pulled out a Mike's Lemonade, cranberry – about the only alcoholic drink Charley would ever be allowed to have in Rusty's establishment. Charley thanked him as he passed it over. Tony had been with Rusty's since the bar first opened. He was 'Anthony' to his family and 'Trigger' to the boys when they found out about his days in the army, but only Charley's family ever got away with calling him Tony.
" Not on purpose," she admitted, popping the top and taking a sip. " It's been busy."
" How are those mouse-boys treating you?" Tony's tone was friendly but his eyes were stern as he looked at the daughter of one of his oldest friends. " I've heard many things, Angel. You were kidnapped, were you not?"
" That was a few months ago, Tony," she grinned. " And the boys got the one who did it almost right away."
"That's good, I suppose," Tony allowed, grabbing a cloth and wiping down the counter.
Charley sighed internally as she sipped her drink. The conversation reminded her of the one she'd just had with Throttle. It was true – Charley didn't tell anyone about the mice. And truthfully, they were a well-kept secret – from the government. The thing was, you couldn't keep a secret on their side of town. Charley didn't need to tell anyone local because they already knew. Limburger may have provided the paycheques for many of the bikers – but that didn't prevent them from talking. Bikers were social creatures – and friends with anyone who bought the next round. Some of the 'regulars' she knew, hung out in the pits as well as the Chrome. She smiled secretly – the mice didn't know that.
Truth was, when she had been kidnapped by Karbuncle and Greasepit, she had recognized one of the thugs with them. Later she had found out that he had been the one to leave the clue that had brought the mice to the rescue before Limburger could lure them there, into a trap. Had it been anyone else, the thug would have turned the other cheek. But Charley was one of them – and entitled to different rules. Charley thanked her lucky stars that Limburger didn't seem to realize that yet.
Not a minute later, the back room opened and Rusty strode into the room, pushing through the western style doors that separated the counter from the main room. He tied his stained apron around his waist and reached for the fridge door when Charley caught his eye.
" Charley-girl!" he bellowed and reached right across the counter. Tony, at the last second, snatched Charley's drink right out of her hand and watched as the bar-owner hauled the young woman up into a bear hug. " Angel, where have you been? You've broken my heart! Your old man would spank you good for ignoring family!"
Charley patted the older man on the back awkwardly. " I've been by to see you Rusty! How can you say I don't?"
" Dipping in to say 'hi' and 'any new customers' and then 'bye' does not a visit make!" he boomed, shaking her shoulders gently, his Irish brogue getting thicker as he got louder. " When's the last time you shared a platter of wings with me and the boys? Look at you lass – you're wasting away!" He shook her arm.
Charley's eyes widened as she heard a familiar, angry voice echo across the bar and stopping conversations in its tracks. Only the sound of 'Bleeding Me' could be heard, still wailing from the jukebox.
What an apt choice, Tunes, she thought, as she watched a grim-faced Vinnie stalk up to the bar.
Vinnie was somewhat nervous as he pulled up to the Chrome. Not for himself – but for Charley. Despite Manda's confident words, he couldn't let Charley head to this place by herself. Her kidnapping was still fresh in his mind, and the bikers that hung out at the Chrome were of a slightly smarter breed then the goons in the pit.
He found Charley's bike at the end and parked his own ride next to it. A big man stood nearby watching him carefully. Vinnie kept the shield of his helmet up but saluted the guy, not wanting to start anything.
The big man nodded once, arms folded across his massive chest. Vinnie breathed an internal sigh of relief. He didn't want to start a brawl with someone that size. He'd have to use maximum force and that could be dangerous. About to walk by in peace, he was stunned when the man called out to him.
"Looking for Charley?"
" Who wants to know?" he shot back, turning around, fists clenched automatically. But to his surprise, the big man was laughing. Not an evil laugh, but an honestly amused laugh.
" Charley's inside, mouse-boy."
Vinnie froze. Mouse-boy? His visor shot up. " Excuse me?"
The guy, if possible, looked even more amused. " You heard me. Relax – no one'll touch your pets with me here."
Vinnie nodded slowly. He wasn't actually worried about his bike – Sweetheart could take care of herself. But the gesture was a nice one, and that made him leery. " You the bouncer?"
" HA!" The other guys around the big man started laughing. " No way in hell bro – but Charley'll be pissed at me if I let anything happen to her bike. And since you're a friend of hers, she'll get pissed at me if something happens to yours too."
" And if Charley gets pissed, you don't get that detail work at half-price Slim!" someone shouted. Slim snorted.
" Damn straight!"
" Uh-huh." Vinnie eyed them strangely, and then pointed in the general direction of the bar. " I'm gonna go inside now. 'Kay?"
" Get going then!" Slim shooed him off. " Get lost!"
Vinnie chuckled turning back around. Another member of the motorcycle frat came out just as he was headed in and held the door, slapping him five in a universal gesture of brotherhood. Vinnie blinked – was he being treated like one of the guys?
Stepping inside, still shaking his head, he was just in time to hear Charley's name being hollered by a redheaded man that dwarfed Slim in both height and stature, shaking Charley like a rag doll. Vinnie's blood boiled at the sight of his friend being manhandled.
Growling, Vinnie stormed up to the bar, his tail lashing like a serpent behind him in rage. Charley's eyes were wide as he approached and he glared at Rusty who dropped Charley's arm and was staring at him in fascination.
" Don't touch her," he snapped. His tail automatically wrapped around her waist so he'd be able to pull her out of the way in time if the big man tried to hurt her again. He spared a quick glance at her to make sure she was all right – and then did a double take. She was trying not to smile!
" Charley?" He asked, confused. His tail loosened its grip on her. " Are you okay?"
Charley's voice returned to her and she beamed up at him, warmed by the thought of such concern. " Of course I'm okay! Didn't I tell you I would be? Rusty, this is Vinnie. Vinnie, meet Rusty."
Vinnie turned back to see the giant redhead holding a huge paw of a hand out to him, with what appeared to be an approving look on his face. Vinnie automatically held out his own, hiding a wince at the bone-crushing grip possessed by the other man.
" Nice to meet ya."
" Same here, mouse," Rusty boomed, looking him up and down. " Very protective of Charley-girl here. That's very good!"
Charley-girl? Vinnie blinked. No wonder she didn't mind me calling her that. " You knew about me? About my bros?"
" Of course I did!" Rusty scoffed. " I know everything that goes down in this town. I knew about you guys the day after you first arrived, crashing into the scoreboard. Tony here –" he pointed to the burly bartender, serenely polishing his shot glasses. "—was at the bloody game!"
" Thanks for the interruption, by the way," Tony added, winking slyly. " The game was called due to interference and since our team was losing – and I had actually bet on them for a change – I didn't lose out."
Vinnie grinned. " Very cool."
" What can I get you, Vin-man?" The Irishman reached back and pulled the massive fridge open. Vinnie blinked at Charley and gaped.
" Alcohol Charley? You?"
" And what's wrong with a drink among friends now and again!" Rusty had whirled back around, a mug of something in his hand. He pushed it across the counter to Vinnie. " Drink up lad! It's on the house! Tony and me owe ya for saving the lass! I owe the other two a pint as well, but you'll do for now. Drink!"
Vinnie swallowed hard and peeked into the mug. He'd never really had anything alcoholic before. Sure, there was the Martian equivalent that Stoker had pledged his eternal devotion to, but Vinnie had always preferred the taste of root beer. " Umm…"
He glanced at Charley and saw her grin at him, sipping his own drink. He squared his shoulders. " Here goes."
Tentatively taking a quick gulp, he froze – and smiled. It was sweet, and he looked questioningly up at the bartender. " It's good! What is it?"
Rusty chuckled and leaned forward. " Smirnoff, lad. Nothing too hard," he said in a low tone. " I didn't take you for a heavy drinker – you're too healthy looking for that!" He reared back and pounded his massive gut as a demonstration but Vinnie could also see an impressive amount of strength and muscle. " Relax boyo! I ain't gonna bite ya!"
Vinnie smiled – and relaxed. " No, I guess you ain't."
Charley laughed and handed her bottle to Tony who took it. Rusty then came around to the side and offered Charley his arm. Waving for Vinnie to follow, he led them to another room, only this one was empty. Even with the door closed, Vinnie could still hear the music in the other room, and shouts of disappointment from right next door. Charley listened carefully.
" Yup, a poker game. And it sounds like Dale lost another hand."
Rusty snorted, dragging three chairs over to the table, two in one hand. " Dale's always losing, lass – you know that." He motioned for them to sit down, and the large man folded his arms on the table, looking Charley straight in the eye.
" What kind of information are you looking for?"
Charley gaped – and burst out laughing. " I'm never going to figure out how you do that! For all you know, I could have just stopped by for a drink!"
" Ah but you didn't! I know all," Rusty rumbled. "So spill it."
" Manda's back in town."
Rusty's eyes lit up like the Fourth of July. " That's great news! How's she doin', annae way?"
" She's fine. A little tired, but then again, she's always working hard." Charley leaned back in her chair. " She'll probably stop by to say hi before heading back up north."
" She'd better or I'll tan her hide! She's been gone longer then you have!" He glared at her. " She's got the excuse of being out of the city – what's your excuse Angel?"
The mechanic smiled but didn't say anything. Vinnie decided he'd been quiet long enough.
" She needs info for Manda about corporate break-and-enter's by gangs," he said, taking another swig of his drink, smacking his lips appreciatively at the taste. A mouse could get used to that.
Charley pointed at him. " What he said."
Rusty sat back, stroking his beard thoughtfully. " Corporate, ya say?"
" Manda recognized two of them," Charley supplied. " Vaguely – she didn't even give me a description."
" Anything else?"
" A rotting stench left at two of the five scene crimes," Vinnie added. Rusty eyed him.
" I know what you're hinting at, lad. I've seen the ugly green man a time or two before. Stinks like a mother he does."
"Now that I wasn't expecting." Vinnie leaned forward, staring hard at the bar owner. " How do you know what he looks like? He's only been unmasked inside his tower from what I can remember."
" I have friends everywhere, mouse-boy. Friends that like to take pictures, friends that like to keep me informed. It's how I've survived in this city so long." Rusty winked. " I bet Charley didn't even tell you who left that business card with the warehouse address on it – the one that led you to her?"
" One of the thugs that grabbed me, recognized me and dropped the card," Charley admitted. " I didn't tell you guys because I wasn't sure what your reaction would be like."
" You KNOW those guys?" Vinnie was a little upset by this revelation.
" Not really. Not like you mean." Charley leaned forward. " Vinnie, you guys don't realize this but there's very few people I don't know in this neighbourhood – and who don't know me in return. These guys needs jobs like anyone else – and as long as they get paid, most don't ask too many questions about their employer. They're like soldiers – they follow orders, get paid and then spend the money here. Then they do it all over again. Dropping the card was risky enough when he didn't even have to do it."
" She's right Vinnie," Rusty nodded. " It's a strange world, dangerous if you're not careful, but Charley's been treadin' on the side of the dark angels all her life. She's safe here, you have my word."
Vinnie mollified somewhat. He sat back. Charley heaved a sigh and then turned back to her friend. " So. Info?"
" I think I might have heard something – one of the boys came in a few weeks back, all excited over a job he got offered. Was Rudy, it was – you remember Rudy, don't you Charley? Your father never liked him – called him a born loser. Couldn't keep a job mor'n a day but somehow he managed to keep this. Haven't seen him around since."
" I think I remember Rudy," Charley mused thoughtfully. " Scrawny guy, very fond of guns. Like to pick on people smaller then him."
" That's him," Rusty said, nodding his head. " Fit for grunt work and not much else. Let me talk to a few people. Stop by tomorrow and I'll let you know."
" Sure thing, Rust." Charley stood up, glancing at Vinnie. " Coming?"
" Yeah." Vinnie got to his feet beside her, watching as Rusty opened the door for them. Charley walked through, but Vinnie stopped, looking up at Rusty. " Thanks man."
Rusty smiled at him, and Vinnie knew the big man understood he was thanking him for more then just the information. How does one properly thank someone for acceptance? " Come back any time mouse-boy! And bring the others with you! We'll make men out of you mice yet!"
Vinnie laughed and sprinted out the door after Charley, who was chatting with Slim outside. He leaped onto his bike, wrapping his tail around Charley and depositing her on hers. Slim roared with laughter as Charley flew through the air, landing safely.
" Bye Sexy!"
" Later Stud!" she shouted back and she and Vinnie revved their engines. The white-furred wonder leaped ahead and Charley flashed after him.
Vinnie took a park bench, jumping his bike and firing the jets just enough to land him a good block down the street and as he turned the corner he could hear the approving cheers from the bar set. He felt remarkably free and happier then he'd been in months. His bro's were cool, but Vinnie had missed just hanging out with others who hadn't heard his stories. And that Smirnoff was damn good!
" AAAAOOOOOOOOOOAOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" he howled and grinned as Charley pulled up next to him, pacing him all the way back to the garage.
^^ I really am enjoying writing this fic. It's so easy – I'm taking conversations I've had with friends, descriptions of people I know, and adding my favorite mice and making a viable (hopefully) storyline without taking away too much (I hope) from my central theme of making Charley the star.
Now if I could just get more people interested in BMFM……^^
Review? Please? Pretty please? You know you wanna…..^^