Author's Note: Wow, thank you so much for the overwhelming amount of positive reviews! Sorry for the late update, but I've been swamped with homework and have been a bit under the weather. I'm hoping that I'll update once or twice per week until this is done (I don't know how many yet). Okay, I'll shut up now. Enjoy!
They had only been gone a week, but Charlie was already going out of her mind.
Her grandfather had become so overbearing that Charlie felt stifled in their home, as he constantly pestered her with questions and instructions and Charlie have you eaten this yet or Charlie this might help or Charlie where the hell have you been you should be resting. For God's sake, she was pregnant, not dying.
It didn't help that Gene's behavior was making Rachel suspicious. While Gene had always loved his granddaughter, he never coddled her or treated her like a child. Several times now, Rachel had walked in while Gene was insisting that a pissed off Charlie does or does not do something, only to clam up and leave as soon as he caught sight of his daughter lurking in the doorway.
Finally, Rachel couldn't stand the secretive glances Charlie and Gene shared while she was in the room any longer, and cornered her dad one evening while Charlie was out at the market.
"Dad, what the hell is going on?" She watched as Gene glanced up at the sound of her demanding voice, surprised and a bit nervous to see her.
"What do you mean?" he asked warily.
"With Charlie. You've been acting strangely. Is there something wrong with her?" Rachel stood in the doorway as she was suddenly mentally bombarded with worst-case scenarios. She couldn't lose her. Not her, too. Struggling to avoid a panic attack, she closed her eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath.
Gene felt his heart break just a bit as he watched his daughter struggle to remain sane. "Rachel, she's fine," he said soothingly, holding his hands out in front of him as if calming a wild animal. "She's just been going through a few things, and we've been talking since she decided to stay home." Not a complete lie, but not the whole truth either.
Rachel watched him, unconvinced. Her dad had always been a terrible liar, but sometimes the lies were easier to just accept than hearing the truth, so she nodded and turned to leave.
When Charlie returned home from the market, her grandfather pulled her into his office.
"Charlie, you need to tell your mother," he said immediately.
Charlie's eyes widened in shock. "What? No, not yet."
"Charlie," he practically begged, "she already knows something is wrong, you need to tell her the truth. You can't let her keep thinking that there's something terrible going on with you."
She grimaced, knowing his was right and hating every moment of it. "How do I tell her? Just go up to her and say, 'Oh yeah, by the way, I'm pregnant and I'm not telling who the father is?'"
Charlie whipped around at the sound of her mother's gasp to face Rachel's stunned, chalk-white face.
They had only been gone one week, but Bass was already going out of his mind.
He had been looking forward to this trip ever since Blanchard had told them his plans. He would get to spend more time with Miles, Connor….and Charlie.
Over the course of the war, he and Charlie had become partners and eventually, friends. They trusted each other to watch their back, and he had been eager to get back to their easy camaraderie. He truly enjoyed whatever time they spent together, with her brutally honest tongue and forgiving heart.
Recently, he couldn't seem to stop thinking about her. Ever since that night together, when they had too much to drink and felt so good after making it out of the war alive, he couldn't focus on any other woman.
As he had every night since they left, Bass sat in his tent on his bed roll, bottle in hand as he drank himself to sleep.
He was getting closer when Connor slipped in and took a seat next to him. "Hey, old man." Connor looked at him, hand outstretched.
Bass stared at him for a minute, trying to decide if he wanted to share his bottle or tell Connor to fuck off, before finally handing it over.
Connor took a swig before handing it back. "You've been pretty mopey these past few days," he commented.
Bass shrugged, not really knowing what to say, and took another drink instead.
The silence stretched between them before Connor spoke again. "Is it because Charlie isn't here?"
Bass choked on his whiskey. "What?" he finally managed to get out after his coughing fit passed.
Connor glanced at him. "Does she know?"
"How you feel about her."
Bass looked back at him, confused.
Connor's eyes widened in surprise. "Do you know how you feel about her?"
Bass looked away from him. "What makes you think I have feelings for her? She's a kid, and Miles's niece."
Connor snorted. "Please. When has something being Miles's ever stopped you?" Connor gestured to himself.
Bass opened his mouth as if to speak, but closed it again without saying anything.
Rolling his eyes, he continued, "You've been all pissy ever since we found out Charlie can't come. Considering you still have your brother and son here with you, there must be something more to Charlie than 'just friends' for you to act like this."
Bass shifted uncomfortably. "It's not like that," he denied weakly. "We are just friends, and that's all we'll ever be." He raised the bottle to his lips and tilted his head back, draining it.
Connor stood with a sigh. His dad was too drunk to have a decent conversation with, but he knew what he saw. Bass felt something for Charlie, whether he admitted it or not.
Charlie stood there, uncertain as she stared at her mother.
No one spoke for a minute until Rachel finally burst out, "You're pregnant?"
She shifted uncomfortably, unsure of what to do. "I….yeah."
Charlie watched in surprise as her mother's eyes filled with tears. "Oh, Charlie!" She rushed forward, throwing her arms around her stunned daughter. "That's wonderful!"
"Of course!" Rachel pulled back, tears running down her cheeks. "I get to be a grandma!"
Charlie couldn't help but laugh at her mother's glee. "You aren't mad?"
Now Rachel looked confused. "Mad? Why would I be mad?"
She shrugged, looking away.
Rachel's smile suddenly faded and her eyes hardened as she set her hands on her hips. She looked her daughter up and down before asking bluntly, "Who's the father?"
"A friend," Charlie replied immediately. Like hell she'd tell her mother it was Bass's. She wouldn't put it past her to hurt the baby just because it was his.
Rachel raised an eyebrow. "That's it?" she finally said when it became obvious Charlie wasn't saying more. Rachel looked to her father for answers, but he merely shook his head with a shrug.
Huffing out a sigh, Rachel turned back to Charlie, a grin reappearing on her face. "We need to set up a nursey!" She clapped her hands excitedly. "Come on, Charlie. We have so much to buy!"
Charlie could only gape, speechless, before finally following her mother.
What the hell had just happened?
The next night, Connor decided to try talking to his dad again. Only this time, before he began drinking.
Connor and Charlie had become good friends since the war had ended, and Connor had been keeping a close eye on her for the past few months. He had watched, during the war, as she fought back to back with his father, as they patched each other up after a rough day, and how they would sit together, passing a bottle between them. He had also watched that night at the victory party as they had drifted closer and closer, dancing and drinking until they left together.
He had also noticed how Charlie had stopped even pretending to be interested in the flirty guys at the bar who wanted to buy her a drink, and how his dad had been brushing off any female who seemed even remotely interested in him since then.
Connor wasn't stupid; he knew that something was kindling between them, but those two were completely oblivious. They may be great fighters and skilled strategists, but they couldn't communicate their feelings to save their life.
"Hey dad." Connor pushed into Bass's tent to see him just cracking open the bottle. Perfect.
"Connor." Bass nodded at him.
Connor hesitated for a minute, unsure of how to approach the subject before blurting out, "I know how you feel about Charlie."
Bass stared at him for a moment, shock flickering across his face before he schooled his expression into one of careful confusion. "What do you mean?"
Connor ran a hand through his unruly curls. "Why else would you be drinking so much each night?" he asked, gesturing towards the bottle Bass held. "You haven't done that it a long time, and the only thing that's changed is that Charlie isn't here."
Bass scowled, looking down at the whiskey.
"And you've been a pain in the ass ever since we left," Connor continued. "You also haven't been with any woman in two months."
Bass froze, blue eyes shooting up to meet his son's brown ones.
"Yeah, I know you slept with Charlie after the party," Connor admitted. "So why haven't you done anything about it?"
Bass stared at him before sighing in defeat, his mask dropping to reveal his tired, crestfallen expression. "It doesn't matter what I feel, Connor," he said quietly. "Charlie doesn't feel that way for me, and I'm not going to push her. I'm just grateful she's been able to forgive me." He dropped his head, closing his eyes. "You wanna know when I stopped drinking myself to sleep? After she had admitted to me one night that she didn't blame me anymore for the deaths of Ben and Danny. She told me that she didn't hate me, couldn't, after the times I saved her life." Bass opened his eyes, and Connor was surprised to see them filled with tears. "I don't want to lose her, Connor, and if I try to turn our friendship into something more, I will."
Connor cleared his throat before saying quietly, "I think you're wrong."
His father stared up at him sadly. "But is it really worth the risk?" He took a drink from the bottle he still clutched.
Connor watched his father working his way into sleep, floored by his confession. Now, he didn't know what to do. What if Charlie actually didn't reciprocate Bass's feelings? Connor didn't want to have to live his life knowing that he ruined his father's relationship with the one woman who had the power to change him for the better just because he had misread her emotions. Grimacing, Connor turned to leave.
Five months later
Bass, Miles, Connor, and their men were gradually wiping out the last of the Patriots in Texas, working their way up from the lowest ranking Patriots. Now all they had left were two Patriot generals, who were supposedly camped at a site that was only about a two weeks' ride to Willoughby.
Connor hadn't approached Bass about Charlie in five months, ever since his surprising, heartfelt confession. Sure, Connor had known that Bass felt something for Charlie, but he wasn't expecting that.
But it was weird, too, because he was pretty sure that Miles knew, but he hadn't castrated Bass yet. On several occasions, Connor had seen Miles in bars with his father, sending away women who were clearly interested in Bass without him noticing.
As soon as these two Patriot generals were taken care of, they could go home. As they prepared for what they hoped would be their last battle for a long while, Connor made a silent promise: when they got back, he was going to show him that some things were worth the risk.
Miles and Bass crouched in the bushes behind a building, surveying the area. The plan was simple: eliminate the two men on their way to work. They had watched the area for days, and saw that the two Patriots always walked the same route to work, together, off of the main streets, passing by this secluded area every time.
Miles and Bass had been in that bush for over an hour, and they had men strolling around the main streets as backup, while Connor had the rest of them on watch in case everything went to hell.
Bass wished he had a bottle with him. Sitting there, waiting for those bastards to show up was leaving him way too much time to think, and his thoughts always seemed to turn back to Charlie.
Bass wasn't stupid, he knew he was in some deep shit when it came to her, but he couldn't help it. When he's around her, everything feels…good. Lighter, easier. Her presence made the voices in his head quiet, and gave him hope for the first time in so long. And when she smiles at him…
It struck him stupid every time.
He was jolted out of his thoughts by Miles's sharp jab to his ribs.
"Someone's coming," Miles whispered.
Bass tilted his head and listened. Footsteps sounded, coming from the left. He palmed his sword, getting ready to spring, when he froze.
He heard not two sets of feet, but three.
He shot a look at Miles, the look he gave back confirming that he noticed, too, but it wasn't a big deal. They could take down three men.
Feeling uneasy, Bass sat back and listened again, closing his eyes briefly before they flew open again.
"Miles," he hissed, gripping his friend's shoulder. "There's more coming from the right."
Sure enough, several more footsteps could be heard coming from the opposite direction.
"It sounds like three or four more," Miles murmured.
"I want to involve as few civilians as possible," Bass murmured back. "But in all the hours we watched this area, we didn't see anyone else walk this path."
Miles grimaced and started looking around, trying to find the men they had stationed for backup as the footsteps got closer. "Dammit," he growled. "Where are they?"
Bass grinned fiercely at Miles. "Don't worry, brother. We've gotten out of worse."
Miles couldn't help but smirk back. "Count of three?"
Bass nodded. "1…"
The footsteps were almost upon them, and voices sounded from the path next to the building behind them.
The boys burst out of the bush, only to find themselves surrounded by men, pistols up and trained on them.
"Well, well…" a man drawled as he sauntered into the ring. "After all of the stories that have been told about the great Matheson and Monroe, I can't believe you were actually stupid enough to fall for that."
Bass bared his teeth at the man, whom he recognized as one of the generals.
"Name's Krasp. Paul Lee Krasp, former general of the Patriot army," he continued conversationally. "Did you really think we hadn't noticed your little eyes watching us for days? It's a good thing that we sent someone to go poke them out."
Bass froze. Connor.
"And your guard dogs wandering around were rather irksome." He gave them a cold smile. "It was time for us to put them down."
Miles and Bass shared a look. They were on their own, up against a dozen armed men who had them surrounded. As Krasp continued to talk, Miles nodded almost imperceptibly.
Bass whirled, slashing out with his sword, and –
Everything went black.
Charlie's back ached, her breasts hurt, and her stomach itched.
But she couldn't be happier.
Her mother often commented on how she glowed, and constantly seemed to be bringing home new things for Charlie, fully embracing the role of grandma. While she thought it was sweet, as time went on Charlie found herself wanting to pull out her hair more and more.
Everything was going well, except for the one, nagging worry in the back of her mind.
He was probably going to be pissed when he found out. He might even leave Willoughby and never look back, but Charlie wasn't afraid of that. No, she was afraid he would stay, and want to be a part of their lives.
Ever since their night, Charlie couldn't seem to stop thinking about him. He haunted her in her spare time, which she unfortunately had a lot of nowadays, and she could admit to herself that she wanted more with him. Admitting it to herself was way easier than admitting it to others. But Bass just saw her as Miles's niece, and that night, a mistake.
She was afraid he would stay, but he would only stay for the child. It would be painful to play their parts as mother and father while she watched him with other women. The only thing worse than that would be if he stayed for them, only to leave her like everyone else. She wasn't sure how many more she could handle losing.
Charlie blinked, pulled out of her thoughts, and focused on her grandfather's blue eyes.
"Did you hear a word I just said?"
She shook her head with an apologetic smile. "Sorry, Grandpa, I just zoned out for a minute."
They were doing yet another weekly checkup. Gene had stuck to his rules, stubbornly ignoring Charlie's protests to ensure that his granddaughter and great-grandbaby were doing okay. Every checkup had ended with Gene announcing that both of them were doing wonderfully, and send them on their way. This time, however, Gene noticed something.
"I think you might be carrying twins."
Charlie looked at him in shock. "What?"
Gene held up his hands in a surrendering pose. "I could be wrong, and there could just be one, huge baby in there, but you're much bigger than usual at this stage. It's a possibility, but I can't be sure without ultrasounds."
She stared at him blankly, mouth hanging slightly open, before finally asking, "What's an ultrasound?"
Gene rubbed a hand over his face, suddenly feeling very tired. "It's not important." He dropped his hand and looked at her, their eyes locking. "Charlie, you need to take extremely good care of yourself, just in case you are having twins. That means more fluids, and more rest. No more leaving the house."
Charlie groaned. "I already pee pretty much every hour," she griped, but they both knew she would do it.
As Gene left, Charlie sat in her chair and moved her hand in soft circles over her belly. She felt a cold wave of fear as she realized that she now had not one, but two more people to lose.
Bass woke up in the dark to a pounding head and the smell of animals.
Bass looked up to see Miles sitting across from him, a few feet away, with his hands and feet bound tightly.
"Wha-" he groaned, jerking only to find himself in a similar situation.
Slowly coming to his senses, Bass took in his surroundings. He and Miles were in a wire cage, in what looked to be a barn. The ropes that bound their hands and feet were connected to the cages, making it impossible for them to move around.
And, far too close for their liking, the screaming began.
AN Phew, I hope it was worth the wait! Please leave a review, and I hope to have another update ready by the end of the week :)