"Everything That Happens Is From Now On"
Disclaimer: Song lyrics taken from Bon Iver's "Re: Stacks," which is the most amazing song to listen to when you are not feeling amazing. I highly recommend. I don't own any of these characters except for those devious Stone twins. This is my first Aaron Stone fic. I've only seen through Cloudy with a Chance on Ninjas, so I apologize if this goes against anything that happens after that. I hope to watch the rest of the episodes soon. Special thanks goes to Admiral Lily who first told me about Aaron Stone. Her Aaron Stone fics are amazing. Be sure to check them out.
"this is not the sound of a new man or a crispy realization
it's the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
your love will be safe with me"
Neither one of them says anything as they enter his bedroom. They're weary, worn down, beaten, conquered. She watches him out of the corner of her eye as he walks in front of her, quietly, so as not to wake his family. He doesn't even seem to notice that he winces a little bit with every step. But she does.
It was a routine mission. Go in, stop the bad guys, save the world, come home. All very ordinary. Only this time didn't go quite right. And Xero, Cerebella and Kronis paired up certainly didn't help. He was confident when facing one of the Omega Defiance members. Three, not so much. Even with her by his side.
She helps him remove the top part of his suit. He inhales sharply as he lifts his arms up.
"Charlie," she whispers.
He turns quickly and gives her a half smile. "I'm fine."
She looks at him skeptically. She knows him better than that.
"Mmhmm. . ." she replies, hesitating just a moment before stepping forward and reaching out, her fingertips lightly clutching the bottom of his white t-shirt.
"What are you--?" he asks, as she pulls his shirt up over his head. His arms move up involuntarily.
Still holding the shirt in her right hand, she takes a step back to survey him. Her eyes go wide at what she sees.
Purple and blue grapefruit-sized bruises line his collarbone, creeping over his left shoulder and down his arm. The right side of his ribs holds matching discolorations.
"Charlie, you're not fine. Not even close." He turns away from her at the sound of his name and looks in the mirror.
She stands behind him as they look at their reflection.
"Em, what are we going to do?"
When Charlie was little, he and Jason would play with the Adam and Andrew Scott, who lived down the street. They'd build forts and stage wars and reenact everything from Cops and Robbers to Superheroes and Villains. Since Jason was the youngest, Charlie, Adam, and Andrew would make him be the "damsel in distress." He always protested, but after a half hour of being completely ignored, would concede and take his place in the tree house in the Landers' backyard.
"Help me, help me!" Jason would yell in his best feminine voice, flailing his arms around.
Then came Charlie's favorite part. He would jump off of the wood pile that served as Superhero headquarters and make his way to the tree house, effectively saving Jason and ultimately, the day.
As he would start his mission, Adam and Andrew would move in and try to stop him by throwing mud piles and, if necessary, by tackling him.
During one particular mission, the Scott twins had the idea to turn the tables on Jason. Charlie readily agreed and began the operation as normal. Then, as the villains were coming at him with a vengeance, he pretended to slip on the wet grass and landed on his back. As he was laying there, Adam and Andrew seized the opportunity to throw mud piles at Jason. He was completely covered by the time he climbed down from the tree house and stomped over to where Charlie lay laughing.
Leaning over him, Jason kicked Charlie in the stomach and headed back to the house. Adam and Andrew stopped laughing as Adam said, "C'mon Jason. We were only having a little fun."
Jason whipped around and stared right at Charlie. "Maybe you should save yourself next time."
She doesn't know how to answer his question. Mainly because she's been asking herself that same thing ever since they left Kronis' lab.
He looks at her, eyes pleading for some sort of answer. Some sort of reassurance that the world will be okay with them backing down this one time. That the two of them have not failed entirely. Because they don't ever fail, ever.
But she doesn't have the answer, as much as she wish she did. As much as she wants to tell him it will all be okay, she can't. Because she doesn't really know that it will. And that terrifies her.
So she guides him down the stairs and to the kitchen.
In eighth grade, Charlie won an essay contest. It was Fire Prevention week and each member of his English class had been charged with writing an essay on prevention and safety. When he brought home his prize winning essay, his mom and dad had been so proud, they hung it on the refrigerator and left it there for six months.
He didn't think the essay was that impressive. He had looked up the word "safe" in the dictionary and then wrote down all the ways prevention can be the steps to safety. Not exactly brain surgery here. His mom didn't care though. She even highlighted her favorite part. Anytime he would go to get a drink or a piece of fruit, his eye would catch on the highlighted passage, so much so that he had it memorized pretty easily.
"Webster's Dictionary says that to be safe is to be secure from liability to harm, injury, danger, or risk. But I think safety goes beyond that. Being safe is not only knowing that you are secure, but that the ones who you love are secure. That they are protected from harm, injury, danger, or risk. Being safe is knowing that you have done everything you can to make sure that will happen. My mom always says that I am responsible for my own actions. Well, I believe that I am also responsible for making sure I have done everything in my power to keep my friends and family protected."
Gently, she helps him lift himself onto the counter. He sits there and watches her as she searches in his freezer for ice.
"I guess frozen peas will have to do," she says quietly, wrapping the bag in a small towel. She steps closer to him, between his legs, and lifts the bag to his shoulder.
He sighs heavily at the cold touch of the bag.
"I'm sorry," she replies. "I know it hurts." He doesn't say anything back and in the muted kitchen light, she finds his expression hard to read.
He sits and she stands in silence. It's becoming uncomfortable, and she feels the need to say it, even though she doesn't know if it's true.
"It's gonna be okay."
He raises his eyes to hers with that statement. And looks angry. But for only a second, since he gives a small laugh the next moment.
"Em, you are biting your lip. You always were a bad liar."
She blushes and turns away, still holding the bag up to his shoulder. "I thought biting your lip was your tell."
"I just—I'm worried Em. I can't fail. If I do, then Jason, and my mom, and you and everybody, no one's going to be safe. And that's my job, as Aaron Stone. To keep them safe."
"Well yes, but your job is also to keep yourself safe. And to know when to say, 'when.'"
"Well I did a pretty good job tonight with that. I should've gone after their vehicle."
"In this shape? I'm know I'm strong, Charlie, but even I couldn't have carried you home. Which is what I would have had to do. Think of me. Think of Stan! And the stress on his lower back when he would have helped me lug your butt back here. He's not a young bot anymore, you know. . ." she says, smiling at him. She mimes a hunched over Stan, carrying a body on his back.
He smiles for a moment, but it fades.
"Quit making me laugh. This is serious, Emma."
"I'm know. I just don't want you to be so hard on yourself. I messed up, too. We both did."
"I know, I know. I just can't stand the fact that the three of them are out there, planning the next step and because I failed, I just have to wait for Mr. Hall to give us the call. We can't do anything and I just want to stop them NOW." He sighs. "I just want everyone to be protected. I want to feel safe. Not like something is coming and I just have to wait for it to attack the people I love," Charlie says, looking at his knees.
As he says this, Emma reaches up and touches the side of his face her with free hand. He leans into her touch ever so slightly, before turning and planting the lightest kiss in her palm. He looks back her.
She has never seen him so unguarded, so defeated before. And it scares her. She knows she has to do something. Convince him that somehow all is not lost.
"Charlie, tomorrow is scary. And unknown and it might be terrible. But you can't think of that right now. We'll deal with that when it comes," she pauses. "I know it is hard to be certain, but you are safe now. Every part of you. Right here, right now, you are safe. With me."
She sets the bag of peas down on the counter beside him and leans up. Gently, she touches her lips to his softly and quickly, before pulling away.
He looks at her for a second, confusion crossing his features. She momentarily worries that she has just made the absolutely wrong move.
But then he leans down, even though she knows it hurts for him to do so, and gently touches his lips to hers. They stayed like that for just a moment before he rests his forehead on hers.
"I'm not going anywhere."
It is enough.
A/N: Please tell me what you think. I've never written for Aaron Stone before, so it definitely was a new experience. Thanks for reading and reviewing. Love.