In a dirty room, dimly lit by a candle burning on top of what used to be a large TV, Charlie sat quietly on an old stuffed armchair, keeping watch on a man who was supposed to be dead, but wasn't. And, as much as it was hard for her to admit it, his being alive was, for a great part, her responsibility.
It was her who, against all odds, had managed to convince her mother not to put him down for his present and past crimes. Because he had saved her life, out there on the road. Because they needed him. Yes, he had been a murderous and psychotic dictator, but he was an evil they knew and apparently could team up with, for the time being.
As she watched his chest softly rise and drop, barely covered by a ragged blanket, she asked herself if she still hated him, for who he was and what he had done to her family. Her father was dead because of him. Danny had been killed in action because of him. She brought back a mental image of General Sebastian Monroe: a sneering, slick, clean-shaven soldier in a gray and black uniform, with ice-cold steely eyes and milky white skin. Was he even the same man anymore?
She should have killed him when her anger was still burning hot, when he was still pretending to be Jimmy King from out East, dressed in brown rags, fighting for coin in a whorehouse. She should have killed him before that idiot bounty hunter with a goofy smile and his friend had snatched him from under her nose.
But now, seeing him lying unconscious on that stained old bed, so vulnerable and exposed, she couldn't help but think that life had been very hard on him too. General Monroe was dead, erased by the nukes that fell on Philadelphia. And he had died again yesterday, executed with a lethal injection by dr. Porter, thanks to the Patriots and the State of Texas.
"You're nothing" she had said to him, while they were both tied up at the bottom of an empty swimming pool. And nothing he really was, now. Just a man who had barely escaped from death. And looked like it.
His chest and face bore the dark signs of the beatings he had taken when the Patriots had captured him, caged him like an animal and thrown him in a dirty cell. His brow was streaked with mud and his sand-colored curly hair and short beard were speckled with dirt, like he had just been dug out of his grave. Right.
Charlie shivered at the thought of how it must have felt for him to wake up under six feet of earth, unable to move, his mind still numb for the drugs. Good thing her mother had timed the whole thing right and dug him out just in time, under the full moon. Else, he would have died a third time, asphyxiated in the dark. That would've been too cruel, even for a man with his past.
A faint moan interrupted her thoughts. Monroe had broken into a sweat, and looked agitated.
She pulled her armchair closer to the bed and lightly held his wrist under her thumb, to check his pulse.
His heart was racing. It could have been the side effects of the massive dose of drugs he still had in his system, or just a bad dream. Anyway, it didn't look good.
Keeping watch on a patient meant taking care of him and making sure things didn't take a turn for the worse: Rachel and Miles relied on her to do that. So, even if the whole idea of babysitting Monroe sickened her more than she would even admit, she would've done her best to keep him alive. "Just keep him hydrated", Rachel had told her. That, she could manage.
She quickly filled a glass of water from an opaque bottle that had been sitting on a low table nearby, and brought it to the bed.
- Monroe, wake up – she called softly, trying to shake him from his dream. But he couldn't hear her.
She placed a hand on his arm, finding his skin warm and feverish. She squeezed lightly.
- Hey, you. Wake up!
This time it worked. Monroe moaned loudly and opened his eyes, looking confused, probably trying to understand where he was. Unable to focus, he brought up his arms to cover his face, taking a defensive position.
- Monroe, it's me, Charlie - she told him. - I'm not going to kill you, don't worry.
At the sound of her voice, Monroe relaxed and collapsed on the bed again.
- Am I in heaven? - he managed to tease her with a hoarse voice, barely audible. - Are you an angel?
- You wish - she retorted, with a little sneer. - Sorry to disappoint you, but you're alive. In a bad shape, but alive.
He tried to focus his clear-blue eyes on her, but his vision was probably still blurry from the drugs. And his voice sounded like he was very drunk, or stoned.
- Here, drink some water - she added, offering him the glass. - You're dehydrated and need to wash all those drugs out of your system.
Monroe took the glass in his hand and quickly gulped down its content.
- Why am I still alive? - he asked her, a few moments later. He sounded sincerely surprised to be there with her.
- You must rest now - she answered him, dryly. - There'll be plenty of time for Q&A later.
- Yes, ma'am - he whispered, giving in.
He flashed a weak grin to her, then closed his eyes, letting out a long sigh. After a few seconds, he was asleep again. And snoring.
Charlie sat back, staring quietly at him for a while: he looked a little better now. Under the thin layer of dirt that covered him, his tanned skin had regained some color, and his breathing was deeper and quieter.
Actually, it was not the first time Charlie watched him sleep. They had travelled together for a while across the map, to get to Willoughby. In the beginning, they were both distant and mostly silent. Then, during those long nights by a campfire, they had started to talk. Practical stuff, mostly, like planning for the next day. How to get food and water. Whether it was safe to stop by a village or better stay in the wild. And, of course, they had started fighting side by side. As much as she didn't like to admit it, they made quite a team. Monroe fought like a lion: when attacked, he was a cold-blooded killer and his sword was swift and deadly. But, fight after fight, she had learned she had nothing to fear from him anymore. As much as he was brutal with the enemy, he was always caring and protective with her.
Charlie still felt a bit weird about that, as his true motives were never clear to her. Did he protect her because he considered himself Miles' brother, and she was kind of family? Or because he wanted to work his way back into Miles' approval? Or did he really care about her? She couldn't tell, still. Just as she couldn't tell if his feelings were real or just another scheme. Could he really make his eyes water when he needed to? Or were those real tears when he cried himself to sleep, crutching an old newspaper in his hands about the nukes falling on Philadelphia? She pretended to be asleep, but she watched him. She watched him fight whatever inner demons haunted him in his dreams.
But tonight, after a very close brush with death, Monroe looked different. He didn't look at all like a cold-blooded killer anymore. He was just a miserable guy who was looking for a second chance in a harsh world. He had come a long way since they first met, had died twice already to pay for his past crimes and mistakes. Hadn't he earned the right to redeem himself? Charlie decided that he had. Everybody deserved a second chance, even him.
She knew that saving Monroe from his past was not going to be easy, more like nearly impossible. But, for some reason she still couldn't understand, she was determined to help him. Because they needed him in their fight against the Patriots. Because he had saved her life. And she owed him one.
I hope you enjoyed the story up to now.
As for the rest of the story, I'm going to stick to Revolution canon here, so I'll keep writing as the series moves on and more Charlie/Monroe scenes come out on screen. I really look forward to seeing more of them together! ^_^
Jan 30th 2014 - I was hoping to write more, originally, but after what happened in New Vegas between Charlie and Connor, I've decided to close this here. To me it's clear that the writers have decided not to go Charloe (sad!), but pair Charlie with #BabyMonroe and Bass with irritating Duncan. Of course, if this is just an impression and something juicy happens between Charloe, I'll write more, I promise.