A really, really angsty one-shot. Charlie's always had to look after Danny.

Un-beta'ed so...quibble away?

- o - o -

She Wished

Charlie could remember every time she'd been told to look after Danny. Most of them coincided with their dad finding out that she'd led her baby brother into a situation that aggravated his asthma. She always promised she'd be more careful next time, and he always believed her. And then she'd go behind his back and take Danny on another adventure somewhere that dad said they couldn't go, because mom had told her to look after Danny. (She thought that keeping him prisoner in the house or with Aaron and lessons wasn't looking out for Danny.)

When he'd been taken by the Militia, Charlie knew she should have looked after him better. If she hadn't stormed off, she'd have been able to keep Danny from shooting that soldier—and she might have been able to save their dad too. (She kind of thought it was cool, how Danny had been able to stand up to the Militia like that on his own, without anyone there to encourage him or cheer him on, like they had to during foot races or games when he was slower than everyone else because dad said he couldn't run or horse around like the non-disabled kids could.)

The young woman had followed her dad's last instructions, to find Uncle Miles. Uncle Miles was supposed to help her rescue Danny. Maggie—who'd known how to save Danny from asthma—and Aaron, who always looked after Danny during planting and harvesting, had tagged along. Even though Charlie had complained, she'd been grateful for their company. Without it, those bandits on the plane might have killed her (or worse). She might never have found Uncle Miles.

Uncle Miles had led her into a lot more trouble then she'd bargained for, though. Their first adventure together, without Maggie and Aaron, had lead to her shooting a man in (relatively speaking) cold blood. It scared Charlie that shooting the warden, and his guard, had felt so good. (Both of them had looked like the men who took her baby brother away from her. That might have explained why shooting them felt so good…)

Nora had taught her about the United States, and what it meant to be American. That was something Charlie could put her hopes in. After she helped bring the United States of America back, she'd get Danny a nice, safe, dust-free house, and as many inhalers as she could fit in the medicine cabinet. And she'd teach him how to fight, climb trees, and all sorts of dirty tricks he could use to win foot races.

The downside to that dream was that she needed electricity and power to make it work. She didn't have either. That was the second part of her quest to rescue Danny. Aaron and Maggie had both turned out to be enthusiasts about something called steam punk; Maggie was a bigger geek than Aaron, though. She'd talked about building a steam- or hydraulic-powered generator, one big enough to bring a hospital back online. Charlie had to admit that she'd bought into that dream pretty quick. So had Nora.

Nora hadn't been too happy when she'd learned that Charlie's entire goal for getting the United States back was so that Danny could have normal experiences like everyone else. Apparently the Rebel thought that bringing back some country that Charlie could barely remember was more important than looking after a sick brother. (Charlie did want the USA back. She just wanted it for her baby brother, more than for the sake of the United States. She didn't tell Nora that, because Nora would have left.)

But in any case, it'd always been Charlie who had to look after Danny and make sure he was okay. She had to make sure he didn't have an asthma attack, or got him home to Maggie in time to prevent his asthma from killing him. She'd promised mom that she'd never let go of Danny's hand. Her entire quest to find him had been because she'd broken her promise.

Charlie just wished she'd been faster this time.

She wished that she'd killed the bitch torturing her brother with the medicine he needed to stay alive that much quicker. She wished that Monroe hadn't been lying unconscious on the ground when she'd slammed into the stupid office in stupid Independence Hall. She wished that he'd really been the bad guy she had to worry about.

She wished she'd known the real bad guy was her mother.

Charlie wished she'd gotten there in time to save her brother.

Charlie wished she hadn't failed.

- o – o -

So, what did you think? Bad? Too angsty? Should I take this down and stop hurting the Matheson clan? Drop a line and let me know.