Title: We Were Brothers
Summary: [The Missing: Sent] Chip and Alex have a tough time readjusting to life in the 21st century.
Pairing: Reference to Chip/Katherine
Disclaimer: Most of the characters from The Missing series are historical figures who "disappeared," albeit ones whose stories have already been tampered with by many an individual. Their characterizations within the series and the expansions on theories about them therein are the ideas of Margaret Peterson Haddix, as are any characters within the series who are not historical figures, such as Katherine and JB. (I don't know who Jonah or Andrea are yet; anyone care to guess?) At any rate, none of the characters belong to me; nor does Ms. Haddix's very interesting idea. No one is paying me to write this.
This story is set immediately following Sent, the second book in The Missing series. As its entire premise is based off of the ending of Sent, there are massive spoilers for that book, not to mention the fact that if you haven't read it (or its predecessor, Found), this story isn't likely to make any sense… and it might not make sense anyway. Sorry.
I tried to keep things accurate to the books as far I remember them and to history as far as I know it, but some of it may be a bit off. Please let me know if you see anything I should fix.
I would venture to guess that this story will be proven to be very AU down the line. It's drawn from the supposition that Chip and Alex would have had a very difficult time readjusting to: A) suddenly being separated from each other after having gone through so much together (especially Chip, who had grown to count on Alex and had a pretty sad home life in the 21st century), and B) life in general, as they have an entirely different view on morality, faith, family, honor, duty, and priorities than they had before. These things were hinted at lightly in the book and as such are not truly my ideas either. All the same, I thought Chip and Alex might have felt a lot more strongly about being catapulted between centuries than they seemed to at the end of the book, so here's what I thought they might have done.
We Were Brothers
We Were Brothers
It had been almost a month since JB had come to talk to Jonah and Katherine, and Chip and Alex were back at the Skidmores' house for what had become a weekly game of basketball. As usual the subject of time travel had come up and Katherine, who had eventually warmed to the idea of going to a strange time again, had gotten excited about it.
"Katherine, shut up," Jonah hissed. He still felt badly about discussing their impending trip with people who couldn't go. The Skidmores missed the look that passed between Chip and Alex as Jonah dragged his sister to the side yard.
Chip and Alex were still busy playing basketball when Jonah and Katherine came back. They weren't NBA material, but they were as in sync in the game as they had been in sword practice, and everyone who happened by thought it was marvelous to watch them. Three or four of the Skidmores' neighbors were watching the game with mild interest from across the street, probably wondering where they had seen that kind of coordination before.
"I hate basketball," muttered Alex grumpily. His hands were itching for the cool metal of a sword. Jonah felt bad for Alex, but he couldn't help grinning. It was a lot of fun to watch Chip and Alex play basketball, even if Alex did hate it.
"Never mind," said Chip, taking the ball away from him. Chip and Alex were shooting each other glances across the basketball court, and Jonah didn't like it.
Chip had told him a couple of weeks ago that he had more or less moved in with Alex's family. Alex's mother was bizarre in her way, but she was quite interesting and made him feel relatively at home with all of her talk about Shakespeare. Ever since they had come back they'd been acting like best friends. They had started giving each other a lot of knowing looks recently, and Jonah had even caught them calling each other "my brother" once. He knew it couldn't be easy for them to be the only kids around who had gone through what they had, but they were making him nervous.
"What?" asked Jonah, when another look went flying over his head.
Alex gave Chip a quizzical look, and Chip nodded.
"We're going back," said Alex.
Jonah was floored.
"Excuse me?" said Katherine dangerously.
"We're going back," repeated Alex, very calmly. By the look on his face, Jonah gathered that not only had Chip and Alex expected them to react this way, they had made their decision a while ago. Probably about the time Chip had started practically living at Alex's house.
"Don't you remember what happened?" yelled Jonah. "Don't you remember what I saw? You were killed!"
Alex was unperturbed. "I will do what my brother wants-"
Jonah scowled at Alex, who was becoming more infuriating by the day. Hodge and Gary might have thought none of the missing kids were willing to sacrifice themselves, but maybe all they had to do was hang out in their proper times for a couple of years to be cured of that. Alex was ready to lay down his life for Chip without a second thought, and Chip had already proven he would do the same.
Jonah scowled, "Both of you. Your beloved brother was murdered!" he shouted, grabbing Alex's shoulders and trying to shake some sense into him.
Chip's eyes were angry. "Take your hands off my brother," he said warningly.
"He's not your-" began Jonah, outraged, without thinking, but Katherine put her hand over his mouth just in time. Nobody was fooled. Chip's eyes glowed with barely restrained fury and Jonah had the distinct impression that if there had been any swords nearby he would have just challenged Chip to a duel. He backed off.
"I'm sorry," he said sincerely. "But you need to stay here... JB said we were supposed to change the past, remember?"
Chip shrugged. "JB isn't God. Things seem to change on him a lot. And even if we were supposed to change the past like he said, it doesn't mean we're not supposed to change it again. I have a duty to my people."
"Your people died hundreds of years ago and they sure didn't mind killing you when they were alive," Jonah reminded him harshly. Chip sighed and Jonah got the feeling that his friend thought he was missing the point.
"It wouldn't be right to stay here," said Alex. "We can feel it more every day. We're in the wrong time."
"We're in the wrong world," said Chip feelingly.
"Right and wrong aren't exactly written in stone in your case," objected Katherine.
"Right and wrong are very clear," said Chip, and his voice was so full of conviction that they didn't dare to argue with him even though they disagreed.
"You can't go," said Katherine desperately. She turned to Chip, her face turning pink. "You and I…" She floundered. "Well you remember what I said," she huffed when he didn't answer. He didn't have to make her suffer. "You said the same thing."
Chip walked over to her and smiled gently. He seemed to know far more than she did; he even seemed to pity her. Jonah could see that it was driving his sister crazy.
"You don't want to make Katherine cry for five hundred years, do you?" he tried. This was a pretty ridiculous thing to say in their current time, but Jonah thought he could probably back it up. Andrea Crowell could have lived hundreds of years ago too, and Katherine might very well be in a new time this time next month. He supposed she could cry there as well as here. But Chip only gave Jonah a similar smile. Jonah didn't like it; it was far too understanding. Chip turned back to Katherine.
"I did like you." He smiled. "I do. But you have to understand-"
"I think I understand enough!"
Chip ignored her outburst with annoying composure. "You're not going to cry for five hundred years, Katherine," he said gently. "We all know that. I'm really glad I got to know you." He tugged on her hair, making Katherine blush and Alex and Jonah look disgusted. "But it's not like we were Romeo and Juliet." Katherine looked injured. "I'm sorry," said Chip. "Really. But we're going back."
Katherine still looked a little like a wounded puppy, which disturbed Jonah a lot. Few things could upset Katherine this much, and he didn't like to think about her falling for anybody, especially not his best friend. He crossed his arms, but Katherine spoke up before he could think of anything to say.
"You'll probably die if you go back. Maybe I could help you somehow. So could Jonah."
"We could die right here too," said Chip reasonably.
Katherine frowned. She hated when people tried to reason with her.
"And if you came back you might die faster than we would," added Alex.
"You could," said Chip. "After all," he said to Alex, "your wife was very young when it happened to her."
A strange look came over Alex's face, not one of loss, exactly, but he still looked kind of sad. Chip looked toward Alex apologetically. "She did die young," he said to Jonah and Katherine.
"His wife!" cried Katherine and Jonah together.
Katherine whirled on Chip, her hands on her hips. "What do you mean, his wife?"
Chip looked as though he were having to explain something to a three-year-old. "His wife, the Lady Anne de Mowbray," he said patiently. "She died when she was eight years old."
"When she was eight," repeated Katherine sarcastically. "Like anyone's going to run around letting eight year olds get married. Even in the fifteenth century they wouldn't do that!"
"Oh, she was five when we were married," said Alex airily, as though correcting a minor detail.
"Five!" said Jonah, unable to keep from exclaiming at this. "But you were only, what, ten?"
Chip grinned. "He was four, actually. You should have seen the commotion he put up."
Alex frowned at him. "I didn't know what was happening." He shoved Chip away from him. "I don't even remember if there was a ceremony. And if there was I don't even think you were there."
Chip squinted as though trying to remember if he'd been there or not. Finally he shrugged. "Well I heard about it."
"I never did," said Jonah under his breath. Katherine nudged him, and he closed his mouth.
"Anyway I was seven when she died," said Alex.
"Well you don't seem very upset about it," said Katherine, suddenly looking irritated.
"Oh, I'm sorry that she died," said Alex. "But I only met her a few times. I didn't really know her."
"You didn't really know your wife," grumbled Katherine under her breath. "That's nice."
Jonah was more concerned with the present. "Whatever." He looked at Katherine. "As long as you know you're not going anywhere except with me and Andrea Crowell."
She shot him a dirty look. "I can do whatever I want." She looked hopefully at Chip. "I could go back with you…"
Jonah's head spun. His sister was nuts. Either Katherine had felt that Chip was more than just a crush, or she was trying something wacky to get him to stay. Jonah hoped for the latter.
Chip looked thoughtful, but Jonah swatted Katherine's hand, recalling with clarity the horrible feeling he'd gotten when he'd realized that his parents were about to lose both of their children in a single moment. Even one was unthinkable. She swatted him back.
But Chip smiled gently, and Katherine realized he hadn't meant to agree with her; he'd been thinking of a nicer way to decline her offer. "I don't think that's a good idea."
Katherine scowled, and Chip tried to make amends.
"You could always marry me," offered Chip, but Katherine thought it sounded more like an afterthought and Jonah thought he was kidding.
Katherine was not amused. "Is that supposed to be a proposal?" she demanded.
Chip's eyes were kind, but his voice was even. "Not if you don't want it to be. But otherwise there's not really a place for you there."
"Not really a place-" Katherine was stung. This was not the way someone who had a crush on her was supposed to behave. She glared at him. "There's not really a place for you there either!"
Alex broke in before she could turn it into an all-out-war. "Actually I think our mother has already arranged an alliance for Edward, with someone who's there already."
"For Edward?" began Jonah.
"An alliance!" shouted Katherine. She was having a hard time letting the boys' attitude toward marriage go.
Chip sighed. "You don't belong there, Katherine," he said gently. Jonah opened his mouth, but Chip cut him off. "Neither do you. But Alex and I belong in our own time." Jonah and Katherine were falling over each other in an attempt to be the first to dispute this, but Chip looked hard at them. "You know it's true."
Alex walked over to Chip in a show of solidarity impossible to miss. "Don't make this harder than it has to be."
Jonah thought they both looked an awful lot like kings right then, and he didn't really know how to argue with them. He shook his head, hauling the scowling Katherine backward. "Let it go," he whispered. "JB'll never go for it."
"JB will do the right thing by time," said Chip confidently. Jonah felt the hair on the back of his neck stick up. He had a nasty suspicion that Chip and Alex had already talked to JB.
Jonah turned to Alex. "Look, you said you wanted to learn more about God, right?" Alex had been really stuck on what JB had alluded to when they had seen him last, and Jonah knew that God was heavy on Alex's mind. He had gone so far as to get a bible, and had even asked Jonah if he could come to church with them some time. Alex nodded.
Jonah smiled. "You guys can come to church with us on Sunday." Jonah hoped Alex would want to go to the main service while Chip stayed with Katherine in the youth group. Since Chip had moved into Alex's house they had been practically inseparable, and Chip was impossible to talk to at school. Alex listened to Chip, but Jonah thought Chip listened to Alex as well. Maybe if he could get Alex alone after church he'd be able to talk some sense into him.
Alex's eyes lit up, but Chip shook his head apologetically. "Sorry. We're leaving on Saturday."
"But that's two days away!" shouted Jonah.
"We were going to leave earlier," said Chip. "But Alex wanted more time to say goodbye to his Mom." He looked at Alex with something like sympathy, but since he wasn't really going to miss the Winstons it wasn't quite the same thing.
Jonah latched onto this. He couldn't understand why Alex would want to leave his family. In Chip's case he supposed it sort of made sense, but Alex seemed to love his mom. Katherine must have been thinking along the same lines, because she moved unconsciously closer to her brother.
Jonah felt bad about asking what he did next, but he asked it anyway. He couldn't think of anything else that would pack enough of a punch to make Alex reconsider. "You can't just leave your mom like that. What's she going to do without you?"
Pain twisted in Alex's eyes, but there was too much determination in them for Jonah to believe he had a chance at winning this argument. Chip came to stand beside Alex again, and Jonah stepped closer to Katherine.
"You're right. But I did. I left her in the fifteenth century." Jonah was so shocked he almost missed the fact that Katherine had slipped her hand into his. "That isn't what I-"
But Alex was looking at Katherine. "Maybe it won't be the same for him," he said uncertainly, and Jonah suddenly realized that his sister was afraid Jonah would feel the same way Chip and Alex did once he had returned to his own time.
"It won't be," he said pointedly.
"I know what you meant Jonah, but it's not the same," said Alex. "I love my mother here but… it's not the same. I want to go back to my mother."
Jonah still didn't like it, and he didn't really get it. His mother was his mother, regardless of when or where he had been born. Two years shouldn't cancel out thirteen. But Chip and Alex had memories of years before that, and he was starting to understand that it didn't matter what he thought anyway. Chip was going back and so was Alex, and if they had already talked to JB he didn't see what he or Katherine could do about it. He sighed and looked at Chip.
"You really want to do this?"
Jonah turned to Alex. "Do you?"
Alex nodded too.
"But not as much as Chip does."
"I know you don't understand, but Ed- Chip is my brother. I want to stay with my brother, and I will do what my brother wants me to do," repeated Alex.
"Well maybe you shouldn't. I don't do what my brother wants me to do," argued Katherine.
"You should," said Jonah darkly, and Chip laughed.
Katherine shoved him. "Well I won't."
"I don't think you'd survive the fifteenth century, Katherine," said Alex. Chip shot the basketball in the air and Alex caught it deftly.
Katherine glared at them. "I survived twice. And maybe if people were civilized back then I would have stayed longer."
Chip and Alex grinned. "We're hardly civilized," agreed Alex happily. "We could tell you some more stories about just how uncivilized we are," he offered.
Katherine scowled. "No thanks."
Alex sighed. "You're no fun."
"Neither are you," grumbled Katherine.
Jonah was getting a headache.
When Alex and Katherine went into the house to get some water, Chip looked at Jonah. "Can I talk to you?" he asked.
"Look. I'll miss you, and I might even miss the Winstons." He ignored Jonah's protest. "But this, here… it isn't me. At least, not really. We need to leave." He looked so hard at Jonah that Jonah couldn't argue. "I'm leaving whether you like it or not, but you're my friend. I want you to be okay with it. I want Katherine to. I didn't mean to hurt her, but this has nothing to do with her. Please just help her understand."
"I don't-" Jonah stopped. There was a sadness in his friend's eyes that Jonah didn't understand. He tried to imagine what his parents would say if he picked up and moved in at Chip's house. He didn't think he would have lasted three days. He laughed. His mom would have called every hour until Chip's family was sick of it and kicked him out. But then, Chip's parents weren't like his. Still…
"Your parents don't like it, do they? You staying at Alex's so much."
Chip shook his head. "No."
Jonah frowned. "Alex is great… but you didn't even know him before. I know you pretended to be brothers for a while, and in the fifteenth century you were. But now it's different. You have lives here. Why can't you just let it go?" Chip shook his head, and Jonah felt that he was missing something very obvious. "You can hang out with him," tried Jonah. "You're practically living at his house already. Alex already said things are okay with his mom since she's so crazy about Shakespeare… why do you have to leave?"
"Would you be able to let it go if it were Katherine?"
Jonah was stung. "That's not the-" But he could see that to Chip, it was exactly the same thing. Jonah shut his mouth.
"Things aren't the same there as they are here, Jonah." Chip frowned, frustrated. "There's honor to consider. There's my throne. If I die in my own time, I die. But it's my time and it's where I need to be." He looked troubled.
"I made a mistake coming back here. I made a mistake bringing R-Alex. And Alex… Alex is my brother, Jonah. We were together for two years straight. We were best friends. Alex is my right hand man. It's too odd not to live with him now. He's…" Jonah could tell that he was trying to find a way to make him understand. "Look, you're a great friend, Jonah, but there's nothing like having a brother. Especially one you can trust. And he needs me, even if he won't say it." He sighed. "The Winstons are moving in a few months, and I'm not going to leave my brother. He's drowning here. You should see him when he thinks he's alone." Chip shook his head. "It's just a good time to go."
Jonah had no way to prove it, but he suddenly thought that the biggest reason Chip wanted to leave was that he wanted to help Alex. Jonah wondered if Alex was suffering more than he let on. He remembered the look on Chip's face when he had saved his brother's life. He knew Chip and Alex would have done anything for each other. He sighed, and Chip looked at Jonah.
"We were brothers," he said, with that odd devotion Jonah reserved for sports stars. "Can you understand that?"
Jonah looked at Katherine, who had come back outside and was eyeing them warily from a distance. He would never abandon her, not for anything in the world.
"Yeah," he sighed. "I guess I can."
When Alex and Katherine rejoined them Jonah pulled his sister away, but it was hard work. The looks she was giving him could have melted steel. When they were far enough away not to be overheard, he let go of her arm. "Maybe we should let it go."
He had expected Katherine to be indignant, but to his surprise she just slid down against a tree and nodded.
"It's really none of our business," Jonah added.
"I know," said Katherine. "I want them to stay too, but I think they're just going to keep going on like this until they get to go home."
Jonah's eyes widened. "Home?"
"Yes, home. That's how they think of it, anyway." Katherine wrapped her arms around her knees and looked away.
"Hey," Jonah started, wishing he knew what to say to her. But he didn't.
Katherine swiped at her eyes. "Did you see the looks on their faces?" she whispered. "We're just making everything worse for them."
Jonah sat down beside her. "Yeah, I guess." He leaned back against the tree and studied his sister. "I'm not going to be like this when I go, Katherine. I promise."
She looked up at him and smiled. "You'd better not be."
Jonah wrapped an arm around her shoulders, feeling oddly protective. "I'll come back. If I go at all."
Katherine shimmied out from underneath his arm, loathe to be taken care of. "Oh, you'll go." She smiled and stood up. "But I'll go with you."
"Right," said Jonah, smiling back. He stood up too. They walked back to Chip and Alex together.
"I guess if you guys want to be the 'Princes in the Tower' forever we can't stop you," said Katherine.
"We got out of the tower," said Alex, but Chip waived this away.
"Thanks, Katherine… but I'm a king, not a prince."
Katherine rolled her eyes. "Sorry, your highness."
Alex smirked. "That's better!"
They all laughed, but a heavy silence descended on them after that. Apparently everything that anyone needed to say had been said. Except for good bye.
JB had agreed to let Jonah and Katherine see their friends off, so Saturday morning found them in the woods. Jonah and Katherine met the others at ten o'clock, and but for Chip they made an anxious group.
JB was already there. For some reason Jonah wished he had come last, but there was nothing he could do about it now. He was surprised to see that neither of his friends had brought luggage. He guessed there wasn't really any point considering where they were going, but it was still amazed him. They were just going to waltz right out of time with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Jonah thought again that they were all doing an awful thing to Alex's mother and even to Chip's family, such as it was, and he resisted the urge to forcibly hold the other boys back. When he looked up at his friends he could see that there were tears in Alex's eyes, but he followed Chip loyally and Jonah never heard him complain. They all traipsed down to the cave in gloomy silence. JB led the little party, and Jonah and Katherine fell to the back. No one said anything until they reached their destination.
Alex gave one small sob when they reached the cave, and Chip reached back and squeezed his shoulder. "She won't remember," he said soothingly. "And neither will you." Alex nodded, but a silent tear fell down his cheek. He brushed it away, but Chip had seen it. "We don't have to do this, brother," Chip said.
But Alex shook his head, and he marched past JB, scanned his hand, and walked into the cave.
The others followed, and JB locked them in. It wasn't quite as strange as it had been the first time, but Jonah felt a nasty shock of déjà vu. Finally JB told them to say good bye.
Only Chip was stoic. There didn't seem to be much to say. Katherine hugged Chip and Alex, and Jonah blinked at them. Finally they hugged him instead.
"Have fun," said Jonah, since he couldn't think of anything else. He wondered vaguely exactly what day JB was sending them back to. Try to stay alive for a while, he thought. He said a silent prayer.
"Are you ready?" asked JB.
Chip and Alex nodded. Chip took his brother's hand and smiled at them, and even Alex looked braver now. Jonah wondered for the thousandth time what Alex had said to his mother.
"Goodbye," whispered Katherine, and she slid her hand into Jonah's again.
"Goodbye," said the princes.
And then they were gone.