Title: Makers of Monsters (part 2 of 2)
Fandom: nbc's Revolution
Rating: R- language, self-starvation and suicidal tendencies.
Characters Bass, Tom, Jeremy and Miles (guest appearances by Ben, Rachel and Charlie)
Summary Monroe as finally gotten his revenge and broke Miles completely. It's exactly what he wanted… Isn't it?
That night Bass dreams about his first Christmas, after his family was killed, the one he spent with the Matheson clan. He wasn't sure if it was such a good idea, but Miles insisted that if he had to suffer, Bass had to as well. So he put on his best fake smile, the one that always got him laid and prepared himself for a night of misery. Ben opened the door and immediately enveloped him in a tight hug, his mouth tight and his eyes compassionate. He turned to Miles and hugged him warmly.
"Merry Christmas," Ben told them, as he ushered them inside. Rachel was busy in the kitchen, but when she heard the door she peeked into the hallway.
"Miles, Bass," she greeted them cheerfully, before hugging each of them in turn and giving them a peck on the cheek. "You're right on time, dinner's almost ready."
"Anything we can do to help?" Bass asked politely. Miles mouthed 'we?' at him behind Rachel's back, but Bass ignored him.
"Well, I don't think that charred chicken is on the menu tonight," she said with an impish grin. "But I appreciate the offer. Go on to the living room, I think someone's been waiting for you."
Charlie ran over to Miles the minute she saw him, crying "Uncle Miles!" and grabbing his leg. She studied Bass bashfully and he realized she probably didn't remember him at all.
"Charlie- you remember my friend Bass, right," Miles squatted down and smiled at her. "He's a bit shy, but I think he really wants to see some of your cool toys- do you want to show him?"
Charlie shrugged her shoulders and Miles gently nudged her in Bass' direction. "Benjamin!" Miles called into the kitchen. "Where's mom?"
"She's getting Danny ready for dinner," Ben said from the kitchen. "They should be in his room."
"I think I'll go say 'hi'," Miles told Bass, before turning to both of them. "Play nice while I'm gone." He warned them with a grin, before disappearing and abandoning Bass.
Bass sighed, before plastering on a big smile for Charlie. "So Charlotte, what do you want to play?"
"Not Charlotte, Charlie," Charlie said with a pout. "Charlotte a spider."
"Oh? And what are you?"
"A girl!" She said proudly.
"Are you sure about that?" He asked suspiciously and received a nod in return. "How many legs do you have?"
She looked down at her legs and counted aloud: "One… Two!"
"And how many arms do you have?"
"So that's four. How many arms does a spider have?" She gave him a confused look, so he mouthed the number to her.
"Eight!" They said together.
"So a spider has eight and you have four. Maybe you're half a spider?"
"Noooo!" She exclaimed, laughing. "You a spider!"
"I'm a spider?" He pointed to himself and got a giggle in return. "Well, you know what I'm going to do with my eight legs? I'M GONNA HUG YOU TO DEATH!"
He chased her around, before managing to grab her in a tight embrace. She squealed and wiggled and they ended up rolling on the floor, laughing. He couldn't recall the last time he truly laughed, the last time he enjoyed himself that didn’t involve booze or sex. It felt liberating, which instantly made him feel guilty for having fun, for forgetting for just a moment about his family.
He looked up and saw Miles at the entrance, leaning on the couch's back, smiling smugly. "Damn you Miles, you sneaky bastard,' Bass thought to himself, before grinning evilly and whispering to Charlie:
"Do you want to help me catch a fly, little spider?" Charlie nodded eagerly and he leaned closer to her. "Uncle Miles is   really ticklish. When I say 'go', we tickle him until he surrenders to us." She grinned at him and when he said "Go!" They both ran over and tackled Miles to the ground, tickling him.
"Get off me!" Miles tried to dislodge them, laughing despite himself.
"Only if you admit defeat and surrender!" Bass declared.
"What are you, a pirate now?" Miles questioned, before giving up. "Ok, ok- I surrender! Just stop!" They relented and sat back down, grinning at each other.
Charlie dragged them over to where her games were and they helped her put together a puzzle of The Empire State Building. Miles and Bass shared a smile over Charlie's head and Bass' heart swelled. It still hurts like hell, but he hadn't lost everything. He still had Miles, who would never give up on him. And with Miles' help and support, he might just make it; and Ben, Rachel and the kids were sort of his family by extension. He' wasn't sure what he did to deserve their friendship and love, but he'd always be grateful for it.
The reports start coming in the next day- Miles' intel was good. The Militia has desolated the Rebel Camps they've encountered, though some have been abandoned already.
"This is good news," Bass gives Tom a tight smile and dismisses the Lieutenant that gave the report. "Now that we have the Resistance under control, we can focus our efforts on Georgia and The Plains," he tells Tom, as they go over troop deployments. He knows he should be thrilled, but for some reason all he can feel is growing sense of imminent calamity.
He brings his lunch with him that afternoon, when he goes to visit Miles and has the guard uncuff him. Miles still refuses to eat, though the guards continue to force him to drink fluids. He's getting weaker and there's a part of Bass that hurts just seeing him like this, so defeated and a ghost of himself. Bass picks at his food as he holds a one sided conversation, reminiscing about the mischief they used to get into in High School.
"You know, you really should eat something," Bass says, putting down his chicken and wiping his greasy fingers on a napkin.
"Because you get cranky when you don't eat," Bass tries to keep things light hearted.
"What are we doing here, Bass?" Miles asks with a sigh, his bleary eyes meeting Bass'.
"Is that an existential question?"
"These visits, these chats- what's the point? I gave you the information you wanted, why am I not dead yet?"
"You might still know something," Bass tries. Miles snorts and Bass knows it must sound like a pathetic excuse.
"You need to kill me," Miles tells him, his eyes slightly glazed. "You can't keep me prisoner. I'm a traitor and I've killed too many Militia men for them to accept anything other than a death sentence. If you don't kill me, they'll think you're weak-"
"I don't give a fuck what they think," Bass says savagely. "I'm the President of this Republic; I give the orders around here, not them."
"I want you to do it," Miles says evenly. "I'm tired Bass, I can't do this anymore. I just need it to end."
"When I wanted to die, to join my family- you wouldn't let me," Bass says, his eyes stinging. "I thought I had nothing left, but you told me I still had you and that was enough for me. You were enough for me to go on- why can't I ever be enough for you?"
Miles doesn't answer and the silence cuts Bass more than any excuse or reason he could have given. "Could you do it," Bass wonders. "If you were me?"
Miles swallows and closes his eyes, leaning back against the wall. "I screw everything up. Everything I touch turns to ash or gets perverted- The Militia, my family you." Miles shakes his head sadly. "I keep trying to do the right thing, but all I end up doing is hurting the people I love and getting them killed. I can't do this anymore, Bass. You have to let me go."
"I   can't," Bass hisses. "I thought I could- I thought it was what I wanted. You told me I was   nothing to you, I put down my gun, opened up to you and you just tore my heart to shreds."
He glares at Miles resentfully. "I hated you; all I could think about was hurting you as much as you hurt me. I kept imagining what I'd do to you. Sometimes I'd beat you to a pulp, sometimes I'd flay you alive or maybe just run my sword into your heart. But now, I just… I don't think I can. Even when I hate you… You're all I have left."
quot;You have The Militia, The Republic, your damn power- isn't that what you wanted?" Miles asks impatiently. "If you don't have the guts to finish the job, get Tom or Jeremy to do it. You took   everything rom me- you burnt my fucking family alive! I am   begging you- just finish it. Let me go, Bass."
Bass can't look at Miles, can barely breathe. He leaves the cell with the food behind; though he's sure it will go untouched. He blinks back the tears threatening to fall, until he gets to his office. He locks the door behind him and collapses against it, sliding to the floor. For the first time in years, he allows himself to cry.
That night he's back in Iraq with Miles, pinned down by enemy fire. They're waiting for reinforcements, trying to pinpoint the source of origin of the shooting. Suddenly a bullet hits Miles in the chest and this isn't right, this isn't what happened- but Miles crashes to the ground, the blood spreading and soaking up his uniform. Bass doesn't even think about the insurgents or the hail of gunfire all around, lighting up the sky. He rushes over to Miles and cradles his head, trying to put pressure on his wound.
"You're going to be ok, you're going to be ok," Bass tells Miles pleadingly. Miles' eyes glaze over and his body slumps down. "No-no-no-"
"Bass, you gotta go," they're suddenly back at Trenton and Miles' wound has migrated to his lower left side.
"Look at me, man- somebody's gotta lead the men," Miles says imploringly, rationally.
"I don't care about the men," Bass bites back, the words familiar like a well rehearsed speech.
"Don't argue with me."
"All the years, all the times I was in trouble- you never once left my side, you never ran. If you're dying, I'm dying with you," Bass promises him, as another explosion thunders in the background.
"But I did run," Miles tells him, blood dripping down from the side of his mouth and he bares bloodstained teeth in a brutal grin. "I finally had enough of your bullshit, of having to fix your messes. Don't you see, Bass?" The blood starts oozing out of his eyes, his irises as black as night. "I'm already dead."
"… I mean where the hell would I be without you?" Miles tells him earnestly at the graveyard. "We've been brothers our   whole lives, since we were kids." He pauses for a moment, before continuing. "Bass, give me the gun, before you do something stupid."
Bass gives him the gun and lets out another sob. "Why does everyone always leave me?"
"Probably because they know, deep down inside that you're   nothing," Miles smiles at him cruelly. "You're worthless- how could anyone even love you? Who the hell would be stupid enough to stick around?" He thumbs the safety and lifts the gun to his own head, before pulling the trigger.
Bass wakes up with a start, heart hammering and drenched in sweat. He takes a shaky breath and tries to focus on his breathing, to calm his heart. In-out-in-out-in-out… This can't go on much longer. Bass knows that one way or another, this has to end. He gets dressed, eats something and makes his way to the cell. He doesn't bring lunch with him this time, but he's brought something else and he keeps touching his jacket, making sure it's still in the inner pocket. He tells the guard to uncuff Miles and leave them, to go for a walk.
"Does he   look like he's in any condition to try anything?" Bass asks crisply. "When I decide to leave, I'll use the key. You're dismissed." The guard hesitates for a moment, before he relents; he uncuffs Miles and takes off. Bass walks into the cell, locking it behind him. He didn't bring a chair with him; instead he startles Miles by sitting down on the cot with him.
"I find the décor in this place appalling," Bass says mildly, peeling a piece of paint off the wall. "Makes you miss the barracks in Iraq, doesn't it?"
"What do you want, Bass?" Miles asks exhaustedly, as though just forming the words is taxing.
"Do you remember when we were ten and they had that old monster movie marathon before Halloween?" Bass asks, smiling at the memory. "Ben didn't want us to watch, he said they were too   scar or little kids," he snorts in derision. "They were so cheesy and the monsters looked ridiculous, we weren't even frightened."
"That was a long time ago."
"Yeah, I know," Bass rubs at his bloodshot eyes. "So I found "Frankenstein" the book a few years ago. When I say 'found' what I really mean is that I took it from Tom's library and never returned it," Bass grins slyly.
"I remember being surprised at how different it was from the movie. I thought for   years that Frankenstein was the monster; I never realized it was the name of the Doctor," Bass muses. "Dr. Frankenstein wanted to play God and like Daedalus his loved ones paid the price for his arrogance and ambition. He creates the monster and then rejects him and runs away, like a coward."
"So who's the monster in this oh-so-subtle metaphor?" Miles inquires. "The Militia? You?"
"Actually I think it's an allegory," Bass replies. Miles rolls his eyes and Bass think if Miles had the energy, he'd probably make some snarky response. "The monster just wanted his creator to acknowledge him. He didn't ask to be hideous, it wasn't his fault that his look repulsed and scared people. He just didn't want to be alone."
"Your looks are definitely not the issue," Miles says slowly, derisively. "Maybe it's Frankenstein's fault for creating the creature in the first place, maybe it's his fault for leaving and not taking responsibility for him. The creature's not a monster because he's deformed, he's a monster because he murdered people; murdered Frankenstein's whole family, everyone he ever cared about."
Bass gives him a questioning look and Miles shrugs. "I found it in Tom's library ages ago; I just had the decency to put it back."
"Do you remember what happened when the two finally met in the end?" Bass asks him quietly. "Frankenstein died and the monster realized that finally getting his revenge didn't bring him any peace. He's consumed by guilt and remorse, disgusted by what he did and utterly miserable. He vows to kill himself on his own funeral pyre."
"I'd say I was sorry, but that would be the understatement of the century," Bass laughs darkly. "I was always the impulsive one, the one that never thought things through and needed you to bail my ass out of trouble. How did we end up here, Miles? How did we become these people?"
"I dunno, Bass," Miles shakes his head heavily. "Maybe it was always in us, waiting to come out."
"It wasn't all bad though, was it?" Bass asks imploringly. "We tried to do something good, how did it go so wrong?"
"The world changed, the rules changed," Miles licks his chapped lips and leans back against the wall. "Eventually we stopped trying to fix it and just adapted, we let it change us."
"Can the world be fixed?" Bass asks him. "What happens if the Rebels win? Let's say they topple the government and take over the Republic- what then? Do you think Georgia, Texas, The Plains or California care about the 'United States'? They'd invade us and annex our lands. The 'United States' is a pipe dream, Miles. Surely, you know that."
"Yeah, I do," Miles agrees solemnly.
"So why did you join The Resistance? Why not just take your family and run?"
"Because I couldn't just give up without a fight," Miles says wistfully. "We had to try, even if we failed."
It doesn't sound like the Miles Matheson he knows, it sounds like he's quoting someone, so he ventures a guess: "Rachel?"
"Charlie," Miles replies sorrowfully.
Bass remembers the determined young woman who stated that there were more important things than family, who protected her brother and bravely volunteered to die in his stead. Bass wishes he could have gotten to know her, wishes the circumstances were different. He wishes for a lot of things these days.
"This has to end, one way or the other," Bass says resolutely. "I know that there's no chance in hell, but I want you to come back; it's what I've always wanted. It won't be easy, for anyone- but if you're serious about fixing things… We can try to bring The Militia back to what it used it be, before it all went wrong. We can try and bring the power back, for everyone."
Bass takes a deep breath, before continuing. "I know you can't forgive me- I can't forgive myself- and I don't expect you to." He takes out the cell's key and puts in on the ground. "You can knock me out and make a run for it, there's a tunnel not too far from here. You can get out of The Republic, lay low again. I promise I won't come looking for you."
Now comes the part that he's dreaded the most, but he has to say it. "I know you've given up fighting and what you want me to do… I can't, Miles- I can't watch you waste away and I can't kill you, but   you can." He takes his pistol out of his jacket's inner pocket. Miles' eyes widen and his posture stiffens.
"There are two bullets in here," he tells Miles, putting the gun on the ground, next to the key. "So if you're going to kill yourself, do me a favor and shoot me first."
"I told you back in Trenton," Bass chokes out, tears filling his eyes. "That if you're dying, I'm dying with you- I meant it. You're right- everything we touch, everything we've created… We've corrupted it. The world is better off without us, hell maybe even The Republic is better off. Do you think Tom and Jeremy will do a better job than we could?" He laughs brokenly and meets Miles' eyes. "I'm tired too, brother and without you by my side, I'm not sure if I can do this anymore."
Bass waits with baited breath as Miles looks from the key, to the gun to Bass. He's not sure which of the options he's hoping for, to be honest. There's a part of him that feels that he's not strong enough to go on if Miles leaves and knows he's too weak to fix his mistakes, the evil he's created. Maybe he should have died at his family's grave long ago; or maybe he did die and all these years he's merely lingered like a tumor, consuming everything in his path. Maybe death by their own hands would be a fitting end for them, would finally let them both be at peace. Miles debates for agonizingly long seconds and an absurd part of Bass fervently hopes he picks   him finally, despite everything.
Miles takes a deep breath and reaches out his hand.
Sorry about the ambiguous ending, I'm a very indecisive person. I would love to know what you believe was Miles' choice there at the end (and
about the fic in general)