A/N: I want to explain a bit about how the idea for this story came about.
After watching the film, I was impressed by how the creators saw our world developing: the events of "Repo" are not that far into the future from the present day, yet that world is so utterly repulsive – materialistic and immoral. How did our society spiral so quickly out of control? So I wanted to write something that took place in between present day and "Repo," to show the process of this abandonment of morals. As you read, try to imagine what our world could be like in 20 years or so if the worst people continued to flourish unchecked. I figured government and business would be corrupt, and people like Charlotte, who strive to do the right thing, feel that they have to do so by any means, even if that means sleeping with the enemy.
Just some thoughts, maybe a critique of our society. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Charlotte wrinkled her nose as the foul odor filled the compartment. She smelled it every day when the train she rode home passed under a particularly foul-smelling factory. Most days she didn't even notice it, but today the stench was more potent than normal. All the rancid smells of a city combined with whatever was emitted from that factory were enough to make a frailer woman weak-kneed. But Charlotte had been born and raised in the city, and though she still generally deplored the general lack of hygiene from her fellow New Yorkers as well as the filthy state of public places like the subway, she had grown used to it, even accepting of it: it was just the way things were.
The train rolled out of the tunnel over which the factory sat and into the fading sunlight. The stench lingered faintly in Charlotte's mind as she leaned against the window and stared out at her surroundings. There was probably a few hours left of summer sunlight at least, but the sun had already started to create orange and red streaks over the hazy city sky. A peaceful night hopefully. Charlotte counted herself lucky; she had left work earlier than usual.
She was jerked from her reverie by the couple occupying the seats across the aisle from her. Shortly after the couple had boarded, they had started kissing passionately, and now it was starting to get a little loud. Charlotte shot them a quick look of annoyance, but both were oblivious to the world. She couldn't really even tell them apart now: the boy's hair was just as long as the girl's, and they were dressed in similar ripped denim and tightly stretched leather. She studied them for a quick second, knowing they wouldn't notice her, before turning back out to face her window.
People were so open about their sexuality these days, Charlotte mused. She supposed she was more accepting than some, but still, the couple over there was pushing it. Charlotte smiled darkly when she thought of the look that would appear on her mother's face if she could see this public display of affection.
Charlotte had been raised in a staunchly old-fashioned household, the only girl among three brothers and overbearing parents. Obviously, she had left as soon as she could and didn't spend much time trying to keep in touch. She had found a happy home almost immediately with Will. They had lived together before getting married, something her parents found every opportunity to tell her they objected to. Eventually, it became too much for Charlotte and she stopped talking to them completely, despite Will's protestations. Her family had not attended, nor been invited to, Will and Charlotte's wedding.
Will… Charlotte felt a tiny twinge of unease. Taking on this job meant keeping secrets from Will. And while her husband was usually very understanding about her inability to talk about her top secret job, how would she be able to keep from him the fact that she was now investigating the company he worked for? She knew she was being paranoid, and that Will never asked too many questions. His job as a chemical researcher at GeneCo kept him happy and kept their finances very comfortable, so he never pressured her about her own work. Nevertheless, she felt nervous about the job anyway.
She thought about the conversation she had that morning with Dimitri as well, about the possibility that this job would require her to get very friendly with Rotti Largo. It wasn't the sex that added to her nerves – she had done it before in the name of the job – but the fact, rather, that it was the CEO of the company her husband worked for. All of the members of her team knew and loved Will, and were probably just as worried about investigating his work as she was. Everything leads back to Will, Charlotte thought. She just wanted to make sure he stayed unharmed and unassuming through all of this.
Dimitri had demanded she take a night to think about the job, and make sure that she really would be ok with it. Charlotte thought about Rotti Largo: a powerful and intimidating man. Not bad looking at all, even handsome, in that bulky, beefy way that men of his age could be. He was rather refined in style, suave, but old-fashioned. Compared to the men she had been with in the past, he would be downright attractive.
She thought back: the Groff job, and the Anderrs job in Sweden, had both required her to sleep with someone as part of the mission. With Gunnar Ahlgren, personal valet to Mr. Josef Anderrs, she had been simply a distraction so Sam and Mike could sneak into Anderrs office unseen and unbothered. With Tim Schultz, brother-in-law of Jack Groff, it had been a bit more involved: the team needed inside information concerning the Groff family business, which Schultz had married into, and it had been Charlotte's job to seduce Schultz and convince him to tell her things he would never tell a stranger.
It wasn't exactly a common occurrence for members of the team to have to engage in sexual relations in their investigations; usually, they collected all the information they needed by reconnaissance or interviews. But now and then, as part of an elaborate investigation, someone might need to do it. Charlotte accepted it as a part of her job: not always required, but sometimes necessary. Mike and Nadir had both had to do it as well, she reasoned. Well, Mike's situation hardly counted – the one time he had been called upon to seduce the young editorial assistant, she had revealed everything she knew and then passed out drunk before the deed was done.
Charlotte gave a little start as she realized the passion between the boy and girl across the train had escalated slightly: she distinctly heard gasping and moaning. She forced herself to continue staring out the window, but she saw the older man on the seat in front of her turn around to stare at the couple in unconcealed disgust and shock. He cleared his throat in an attempt to get their attention, but the couple continued whatever it was they were doing. Charlotte noticed that the man was the only other person on the train who seemed remotely bothered by the sounds coming from the couple; everyone else was still completely absorbed in themselves: reading, listening to music, talking on phones.
It was interesting, the social changes that were going on, Charlotte thought. Things seemed to have changed so much and so rapidly in the past few years. She remembered, as a child, her parents objecting to their children watching violence or sex on TV, but even then, seeing it on TV had seemed mostly inescapable. There wasn't much on TV to watch that didn't have what her parents called "adult themes." As she got older, the adult themes moved from the TV screens to the streets, and she saw more and more of the behavior that only a few short years ago would have seemed taboo. Critics of society said that the world was spinning out of control: perhaps the incredibly quick-paced industrialization of the world had some hand in it, or perhaps the ever-changing fashions the city was so obsessed with. Others simply called it a second sexual revolution. Whatever the reason, the general theory was that society had been forced to evolve too quickly, and the result was the immoral society they lived in now.
The train was slowing down, and Charlotte got to her feet and collected all her bags. The moaning was still coming from the mass of jackets and hair across the aisle, and she spared them a quick glance as she moved from her seat. Whatever, it was their business. Charlotte wasn't about to tell them to stop. That was just how society was anymore.
With a screeching, shaky halt, the train stopped at the station and Charlotte got out. She walked quickly across the platform and down the steps. The apartment she shared with Will was only one block from the station. When they first moved in, the sound of the train passing through every couple of minutes had been an annoyance, but they got used to it. It was just part of the soundtrack of the city.
Charlotte resumed her musings on the day as she hurried across the street to her apartment. Perhaps it was that change in society – the liberalism, or decline, as some would say – of morals that had forced the government to play dirty too. After all, criminals, terrorists, law-breaking corporations and scam artists were going to reflect the loose morals of society. So the government, or teams like Charlotte's unit, had to play the same way.
She had blanched at first when she joined the team and learned about the often underhanded tactics they used to conduct an investigation. Lying, undercover identities, spying and bugging, and yes, slightly more unsavory actions: going to bed with an informant, for instance, or buying drugs or stolen goods from a supplier in order to better track the line of supply. Charlotte had been a young, wide-eyed FBI recruit, and had not at all been comfortable with the kind of investigations she was expected to conduct. But then, on her first case, she had been part of an international drug bust, and she realized the good that her work did. Her team disassociated itself with the FBI in some regards: they did the dirty work so that the government could keep its hands clean. In the end, the desired result was still achieved, no matter the tactics.
Charlotte had convinced herself over the years that everything she did, all the immoral actions, were part of a larger task. After years of telling herself that her team's immoral actions were alright if they worked toward the greater good, she had come to believe it.
She had reached the final unremarkable building on the washed out block and let herself in the front door. The opening landing was dingy, and the stairs creaked, but as far as New York apartments went, the one she owned with Will was not too bad. It was small, granted, but it was just the two of them. Charlotte climbed the stairs, three, four floors, and walked the short distance to 405. She pulled out her key and let herself into their apartment.
Charlotte flicked on the lights and glanced around at her apartment, checking the corners before she stepped in. It was one of those things from the Bureau, that, once taught, could not be erased: check the corners, clear the room, make sure no one followed you. But the room was normal as always. It was sparsely furnished: the apartment of two people who spent long hours at their jobs. The kitchen was stocked, the TV perched in front of the leather couch, and books and papers spilled off of the two desks in the living room to occupy the coffee table and floor.
Charlotte dumped her bags at the door and flopped down on the couch. She stayed unmoving for several minutes. At home she could relax, and she felt herself start to. The job would be fine. She was confident of it now.
She glanced at the clock – Will wouldn't be home for hours. She stretched, and thought she might make him dinner. That would be nice. Usually, he was home before her. He would appreciate dinner.
Two hours later, however, as Will Beauvais was walking into the apartment, questionable smells were issuing from the kitchen and Charlotte's angry muttering was just audible beneath the simultaneous beeping of the kitchen timer and the smoke alarm. The sight that greeted Will was comical, and he would have laughed if not for the anguish on his wife's face: Charlotte was bent over in front of the oven, pulling out a large pan of chicken breast. Smoke came from the back of the oven, and a pot on the stove was starting to bubble over. Will moved quickly to avert the disaster. In one swift movement, he had turned the burner on the stove off, moved the bubbling pot to an empty burner, taken up a potholder and with a quick kiss on her lips, lifted the hot pan out of Charlotte's hands.
"Looks like a proper French kitchen back here," he said lightly as he set the pan down on the counter. Charlotte, free of her burdens, grabbed a towel and fanned the smoke alarm until the sound stopped. She then turned around and crossly grabbed her half-drained wine glass from where it sat on the table and pouted, taking a sip.
"Not that I don't appreciate the efforts, but…" Will said, turning around to face her and smiling. "To what do I owe the honor of this fancy dinner? And why are you home so early?"
"It was supposed to be a nice dinner," she said. "I left the office early, so I was trying to surprise you…"
Will's smile broadened.
"Thanks," he walked over to her to peck her on the cheek. "That's really nice of you. What're we having?"
Charlotte glanced at the pan warily.
"It was garlic chicken," she said. "I don't know if it's still edible."
Will walked back to the stove. He picked up a fork and used it to turn one of the breasts over.
"Looks fine to me," he said cheerily. "Delicious, in fact." He brought the pot over to the sink and drained the hot water through the colander, revealing the soggy peas inside, as Charlotte poured him a glass of wine and handed it to him.
"Next time I'll leave the cooking to the chemist," she laughed, knowing he would only enjoy dinner if she did too.
They continued fixing up around the kitchen – Charlotte cleaning the cookware and setting the table while Will salvaged the dinner – and a few minutes later, sat down together at their kitchen table to enjoy the meal. Will hid his wince at the strong garlicky taste well enough that Charlotte didn't even notice it.
"Devine, Mrs. Beauvais," Will said after they had finished eating. He lean back in his seat and swirled his wine before taking a sip.
Charlotte looked at him, sizing up her husband's expression.
"Really?" She asked doubtfully. "You can tell me if it wasn't. It'll help me learn for next time then."
"I promise, it was great," Will smiled. "Can we do this all the time? Come home from work early more often."
She returned his smile.
"So how was work today?" he asked.
Charlotte paused before answering. Will seemed completely normal; he asked her this question almost every day. He was just the same husband he always was: handsome, with short brown hair, a little taller than herself, well-built and clean looking. People always said they looked and acted like the model couple. Workaholics, both of them of course, but good-looking all the same. Nothing in Will's intelligent, dark brown eyes betrayed any motive behind the question.
"Fine," Charlotte answered. "We're starting a new case though, that's why I'm home early." She stood and started gathering the dishes, then carried them to the kitchen sink. "I guess Dimitri wanted to give us one easy day, considering it looks like I might be working overtime on this one," she called over her shoulder as she entered the kitchen.
Charlotte put the dishes in the sink and took a deep breath. Lie number one. Actually, it wasn't really a lie – she would most definitely be working overtime on this case, and Dimitri had dismissed the team early because he wanted them to have one night of rest before the heavy research began. So it wasn't a lie. But it was a charade, and Charlotte knew that over the next few weeks, or however long this case would take, she would have to keep up the charade with Will. This was just the beginning of the lies she would have to tell him.
"Hmmm," Will said by way of response as he entered the kitchen carrying what was left of the chicken. "So no more home-cooked dinners." He pouted dramatically, and Charlotte laughed.
"We'll see," she said. "So how was your day?"
"Pretty good, actually," Will said, scooping the chicken into a Tupperware and putting it in the refrigerator. "We had a couple of new research assistants start in our department today, so that means that we're finally getting some recognition. I think they're really going to do some promising work."
"Oh? Good," Charlotte said, taking a mental note. This was going to be weird, using her husband as an informant. She suppressed a shudder of guilt as she asked, "Do they want to expand your department you think?"
"Maybe," Will replied. "I would certainly hope so. I mean it looks like the whole company is expanding, but it would be good to have some focus on us."
Will was a medical researcher employed by GeneCo. More specifically, he worked in a lab devoted to developing artificial tissue and organs for children and infants. Two years ago, GeneCo realized that its production of artificial tissue, so successful in adult surgeries, was beginning to see a market for children too. Will had been working as a pediatrician when GeneCo recruited him. At the time, he had hated to leave his patients, but he couldn't refuse the promise of research in a blossoming medical field and helping children, whether they needed replacement tissue or new organs. The research job at GeneCo had also provided regular hours and a pay raise, which came at the time when Will and Charlotte wanted to start a family. He had taken the job, and loved it ever since. Will's department was a fledgling one, but it was a favorite of GeneCo's public relations team – doctors and researchers, making a better tomorrow for our children.
"But other than that, no amazing breakthroughs in science?" Charlotte asked teasingly. Will chuckled.
"No, not today," he said. He paused, leaning on the kitchen counter and watching her as she finished drying a plate. "So did you think any more about what we talked about this weekend?"
Charlotte looked at him. In truth, she hadn't been able to think about much today besides the new case. She felt guilty, as she knew Will wanted to talk more about their decision to adopt a baby.
"I guess…" Charlotte said. "I guess I haven't thought about it too much." Will looked disappointed. "But," she said, mirroring his position and leaning against the wall to face him, "I know we have a lot of talking to do about it still, but… let me just tell you what I'm feeling right now." She took a breath. She didn't always profess her feelings easily, but tonight's dinner, and especially Will's lovable company, had put her in a good mood. "I feel very happy with where you and I are, and I feel that we'd be ready for anything together. This is a big decision, so of course we've got to talk some more, but… it feels… I don't know. Right."
She smiled at him, and the loving adoration on his face only brightened her smile.
"That was beautiful, babe, did you come up with that yourself?" Will teased, and she couldn't help but laugh. Maybe the wine had gone to both their heads, but Charlotte could sense the love and strength of their relationship, and she made no attempts to stop Will when he strode across the kitchen and kissed her fiercely. Next moment he had scooped her up in his arms and was carrying her to their bedroom. Charlotte couldn't help but laugh like the teenager she had been when she met Will. Things were so easy and simple with him. Comfortable.
Thanks for reading! Next chapter we'll finally see a younger Rotti and Charlotte meet for the first time! Please leave a review, I love them.