Prompt: nbc_revolution's Valentine's Bingo-A-Thon.
Rating: Hard PG-13, suggestive language, cursing, some hanky panky, possible dub-con.
Characters: Miles, Charlie, Bass, Nora, Jason, Priscilla, Julia, Maggie, Ben, Rachel and Jeremy (with Tom and Aaron).
Pairings: 9 prompts, 9 ficlets- 8 different pairings and one repeat offender. Miles/Bass ('Wild', 'Cupid'), Miles/Nora ('I'm drowning in you'), Aaron/Priscilla ('Forever'), Miles/Charlie feelings ('I will hold you close to me'), Ben/Maggie ('You brought me back to life'), Jason/Charlie ('Lover'), Bass/Rachel ('I wanted you from the start') and Tom/Julia ('Kiss').
|Wild||I'm drowning in you||Forever|
|I will hold you close to me||Authors's choice: Cupid||You brought me back to life|
|Lover||I wanted you from the start||Kiss|
FYI: My layout doesn't like table borders apparently, so it decided to make them invisible. I've got an invisible table people, be jealous.
Miles has called Jason by many names- like Nipples, Tom's brat, lover-boy and Charlie's boyfriend. Whenever Miles says the last one near Charlie, the tips of her ears turn pink and she glares at him defiantly. Jason wishes it was because of how close it was to reality, but unfortunately he knows that's not the case.
The word "lover" would even be overstating whatever there is between them. Fuck-buddies might be closer to the mark, but would imply Charlie actually likes him and he's not so sure about that. She's attracted to him, sure- Jason's a good looking guy and he knows it- but they don't talk much or spend what his dad would call "quality time" together.
After he joined their merry little band of rebels, she kept him at a distance, claiming she couldn't trust him. Ok, he knows he deserves that, but he did save her life a handful of times and that should count as something, right? Then she started whatever this thing between them is and he couldn't make heads or tails of where they stood. After the first few confusing times together, a pattern begins to emerge: whenever she gets into a fight with Miles or Rachel, whenever she's upset about something- she comes looking for him, with all her pent up feelings waiting for a spark to explode.
The first time it happened it caught him off guard. He was off collecting wood for the fire, wondering if anyone would even care if something happened to him out here and he never came back. He was chopping up branches and throwing them into a pile and he must have been too busy sulking, because she managed to creep up on him. He turned around and nearly impaled her with his knife.
"Jesus, Charlie, would you-"
She didn't waste any time talking or explaining, she just grabbed his face and pulled him down, stealing his next words with a biting kiss. Jason had questions, but he was also a guy- questions can wait, so he kissed her back hungrily, one hand cuffing the back of her head, the other holding her by her slim waist. She made quick work of their clothes, nearly clawing at his pants impatiently, till he had to take a step back and undo them himself. She pushed him down onto the ground and straddled him, biting her way down his neck until she latched on to a nipple, and caused him to curse loudly.
"Now I know why Miles calls you 'Nipples'," she said with a leering grin.
"Don't talk," she instructed him, as she bit down a little too hard, before she soothed the bud with her tongue.
It was quick and dirty and over far too soon. Jason kept lying there for a moment, spent and bewildered and tried to get his breathing under control. Charlie was already grabbing at her clothes, shimmying into her tight pants and hooking up her bra. Jason sat up, still completely naked, dirt and leaves and God knows what sticking to his skin and he reached out a hand and brushed his fingers against hers.
Charlie's hand recoiled as though bitten by a snake. "Jason, this isn't... It's just sex, ok? Can we keep it simple, without complicating it with other things?"
Her voice sounded so fragile at the end, so desperate, he couldn't help but swallow the lump in his throat and put on a fake grin. "Yeah, of course. What kind of guy would I be if I turned down casual sex?"
Her smile was relieved and grateful and something in his gut clenched like a fist. He waited for her to leave, before collecting his own clothes and dressing quietly, trying to ignore the empty pit that now resided inside of him, slowly eating him up inside. He could do this, he told himself, because it's what Charlie wants and because this was probably the closest he could ever get to what he wants.
Julia misses Tom during the year he's off chasing the Matheson brothers, like a missing limb. She hears some interesting gossip and she wants to share it with him, when she suddenly remembers he's not there. The first few weeks, out of habit, she makes dinner for three, not even realizing it until she starts to set the table and sees the two extra plates. Her boys are off God knows where and she has no way of knowing if they're safe, if they're hurt, if they're even getting along, or fighting constantly without her mediating presence there to soothe things over.
She misses Tom the most at night. The bed seems huge, cold and empty without him. She misses his warm, solid body in bed, curled up around her and making her feel safe. Julia's a big girl, she's not afraid of sleeping alone, but it takes some getting used to and a part of her hates that she does get used to it, that she can get used to living without him.
She misses his gentle smiles he reserves just for her, the love she can see shining in his eyes, even after all these years. She misses his sudden bursts of romanticism, when he'd just grab her hand and slow dance with her to a tune he hums. She misses his touch- those strong, capable hands that have mapped every single corner of her body and can play her like a finely tuned violin. Julia can take care of herself of course, just as she's sure he's doing without her. But it still feels like there's a part inside of her that is missing.
But most of all she misses his kisses. When they first got together, his kisses were so hesitant, so delicate, as though he's astonished to be with her and worried one wrong move would break whatever spell they were under. Once he knew she wasn't going anywhere, his confidence emerged and his kisses became more assertive, more dominating in a way that made her weak in the knees and hitched her breath. Even years into their marriage, Tom still sometimes looks at her like a condemned man with his last meal, like it's their last night together on earth. His kisses then are messy and lustful, devouring her entirely and igniting something deep inside her.
Her favorite kisses though are the ones she lovingly calls "lazy Sunday afternoons". The ones where it feels like they have all the time in the world, the slow and sensual kisses with tongues entwining and exploring seemingly new territory. Those kisses are the ones she can imagine going on for hours, for ages, the ones that center her roaming thoughts and make her feel truly at peace.
It takes a year for Tom to come back home to her. She waits for him at the train station, feeling nervous and excited like a crushing teenager. There's a part of her that won't believe he's coming back, not until she lays her eyes on him, until she can touch him and hold him in her arms.
When she finally sees him her heart skips a beat and a huge smile lights up her face. She touches them, both of her boys, before leading them home. They eat together the three of them and chat a bit, but they're all distracted and there's an unspoken tension between her boys. She can't take her eyes off of Tom, afraid that if she blinks he'll disappear and the looks he keeps giving her make her think he feels the same. They finish the meal, clear the dishes and excuse themselves, not able to hold off any longer.
They close the bedroom door and then practically pounce on each other, a tangle of limbs and moans and God it's been so long... They can't seem to shed their clothes off fast enough, wanting to touch, to kiss, to bite every scrap of skin they can reach. It's frantic and not quite how Julia likes it, but she'll take what she can get tonight.
Tomorrow they'll take it slow, examine each other's landscape and check to see what matches up to memory and what's new. They'll take their time with their lovemaking, making it last, making sure they make up for all this time spent without. And they'll have their "lazy Sunday afternoon" kisses and for the first time in a year, Julia will finally be able to feel at peace.
Priscilla knows that nothing really lasts forever, that everything must end eventually. But when she made her wedding vows, when she promised 'to have and to hold; from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; until death do us part', she meant every word.
Priscilla never cared about the money, despite what Aaron's mother always thought. She didn't grow up poor, but they never had an excess of money either. Her parents always made sure she and her siblings were clothed and fed, that they had all they needed, but from an early age she knew the value of money. She got her first job when she was sixteen and even after she married Aaron, she didn't quit her job, didn't stop her volunteer work, because she wasn't some trophy wife who lived off of her husband's wealth.
She never cared about Aaron's looks either. He might not be conventionally handsome and he could probably lose some weight, but she loves him anyway. Priscilla has dated enough guys to know that sometimes hot guys can be the biggest assholes that treat you like crap and cheat on you. Looks can only get you so far in life and after going through a few handsome jerks, Priscilla stopped being shallow and opened herself up to other possibilities.
When she first started dating Aaron, the first thing that drew her to him was his humbleness. He looked at her like he couldn't believe his luck, like she was the most beautiful woman he's ever seen and that he'd do anything to make her happy. She loves his sense of humor, loves that he was smart and articulate and most of all she loves his kindness, his good heart.
Priscilla doesn't care that Aaron is rich, she truly loves him for who he is and not what he can give her. The vacations and presents are nice, but more than anything she loves curling up with him on the couch or in bed, watching something on television as he holds her in his arms. He makes her feel loved and secure and that's all she could ever ask for, all she ever needed.
Then the blackout happens and she gets to experience first hand the "for worse", "for poorer" and "in sickness". She knows that it hits Aaron hard, going from having everything to having practically nothing, she knows that he feels helpless and useless, because she feels all those things too. But she also knows that as long as they stick together, they'll be alright- they'll figure it out. She needs Aaron's presence, his love, to give her strength, to give her some stability in this terrifying new reality they've been thrown into. It doesn't matter if he can light a fire, or hunt or fight- they'll learn to adapt with time, learn the skills needed to survive.
Priscilla made a vow on their wedding night and she meant every word. She would never leave Aaron, never abandon him to fend for himself, depriving him of love and comfort. Priscilla knows that nothing lasts forever, but she also knows she would never part from Aaron willingly, that only death or some horrible act of fate could tear her from his side.
Then she reads his goodbye note with a sinking and crushed heart, and clutches his cold wedding ring in her hand. She calls out for him, hoping it's some kind of joke or a mistake, until she has to acknowledge that he's truly gone and not coming back. It's only then that she realizes that forever must mean something different for him. Her heart breaks and tears spring to her eyes as it dawns on her that Aaron simply never loved her as much as she loved him.
The first few days with Ben and his kids, Maggie feels like the walking dead. There's an emptiness inside of her, spreading to every last iota of her being. It feels like 'Maggie' is just skin deep, just a mask that she wears over the endless void. She's not sure why she went back with them, instead of staying and drinking her whiskey. And if she has an inkling of an idea why, she doesn't want to examine it too closely, because some things hurt worse than her current state of numbness.
She tells herself it's only for a few days, that she's just doing it to appease this stranger with his kind, gentle eyes. When he interrupted her that day, when he first looked into her eyes and she saw the compassion shining there, she wanted to lash out. She didn't want his pity, didn't need his bloody understanding and all she wanted was to be left alone. She didn't want someone to tell her 'it'll be ok', because it won't, because she can never get back to her kids, who have probably died years ago alone and scared. False platitude and condescending commiseration won't bring them back, won't change what's happened.
She hates him a bit at first, this stranger who invited her back with him, as if the world hadn't ended, as if charity and goodness aren't merely relics of a time long ago. The girl- Charlie- gives her suspicious looks and keeps her guard around her. The boy- Danny- is more like his father, willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, willing to let her in. He's got severe asthma and the doctor part of her switches on, scouring their little village for the right herbs and plants to make a concoction for him.
The first time she gives Danny medicine, the first time she helps to stave off a major attack, something stirs inside of her. Being a doctor, having a patient, helping someone- it's a part of her life she thought that she lost when the lights went out. Danny actually hugs her in gratitude and she can't remember the last time anyone embraced her. Ben's eyes are filled with gratefulness and Maggie bitterly thinks his eyes are too expressive, too human and it's not fair that he's managed to keep his humanity this long. Even Charlie begrudgingly accepts her after that, showing her growing trust by allowing Maggie prolonged periods of time alone with Danny, without Charlie there to guard him.
A few days turn into weeks, which turn into months. Maggie starts to like it in this village, starts to think of it as home- and that's when she knows she needs to leave. If she stays, she'll grow accustomed to this place, to Ben and these kids and she'll even start to care about them. Maggie doesn't deserve it, not after leaving her children back in England, not after her last conversation with Elliot, not after failing to find a way back to them. There must have been something she could have done, some way- if she failed, it's only because she must not have tried hard enough.
She packs her belongings and stifles any feelings of loss or regret. Her mind's made up, if she stays any longer she'll never be able to leave. This is what's best for everyone, a clean break. She keeps trying to convince herself of that fact, when she hears a voice from the doorway:
She sighs and looks up at Ben, steeling her expression. "Yes, I think it's time I moved on." She shoulders her pack and tries not to meet his eyes. "Thank you, Ben, for everything, I do appreciate your generosity and hospitality. But I can't stay."
"Can't, or won't?" Ben asks, folding his arms over his chest.
"Perhaps both," Maggie admits with a huff.
"Maggie," Ben starts. "You can stay, you know. You're allowed to stay."
"Of course I know that."
"No, I mean... You don't have to keep punishing yourself for something that wasn't your fault. If you want to leave, I won't stop you. But I'm hoping you don't want to."
"Why?" Maggie asks, exasperated. "Why do you care so much if I stay or not? I'm not a charity case, Ben and you don't have to look out for me."
"Maybe I care about you," Ben says quietly, before a smile tugs at his lips. "My brother, Miles, would say I have a thing for taking in strays and lost causes."
"Lucky me," Maggie rolls her eyes. "I don't want your pity, Ben."
"That's good, because you don't have it," he takes a step forward and puts his hands on her shoulders. "I like you and I think you're incredible, Maggie. You're so strong and determined, what you did to try and get back to your kids... I admire you."
"You shouldn't," she finally looks up into his blue eyes and tries not to drown in their depths. "I'm not sure if there's anything even left in me to give."
"I think there is and I think that's what you're running from right now," Ben's hands slide up to cup her cheeks and he's so warm, like a furnace heating her icy skin.
"I'm scared," she admits in a whisper, leaning into his touch. It's been so long since anyone's looked at her that way, touched her with such gentle care.
"I'm scared too," Ben admits with a sad smile, as he inches closer to her. "After Rachel... I wasn't sure if there was anything left in me either. But I kept going for them- for Danny and Charlie- I had to be strong and be there for them. Being here for them, taking care of them? It stopped me from closing off completely, they saved me, Maggie."
It's too much, too raw and Maggie turns her head away, blinking back tears she didn't know she could still produce. His thumbs brush the renegade tears away and it's too soft, too good and all she wants to do is run away. Instead she leans in and brushes her lips against his tentatively. She looks up into his eyes and for the first time she sees her own emotions mirrored there- pain, desperation and try as she might to deny it, even hope.
Something inside her finally cracks and the deadness she's felt for years is drowned by a need to feel something again. She latches onto Ben like a lifeline, kissing him like he holds the secrets to her reanimation. The dam inside her finally breaks and an emotional flood washes over her, and she can't stop the slightly hysterical chuckle that escapes her lips. For the first time since the blackout she feels something other than despair, for the first time in years she feels like she's actually alive.
Bass was never the obsessing type. He was always the fun and light one of the two, leaving the brooding and sulking to Miles. Bass was the one who preferred casual flings, spending the night with a beautiful woman, without all the baggage of dating one. It was Miles who kept getting himself into intense and doomed relationships, drowning his sorrows in beer and trying to figure out where he went wrong.
All that changes when Bass meets Rachel for the first time. Ben and Rachel have been dating for months and while Miles has already met her, Bass hasn't had the chance yet. He and Miles are on leave and Ben manages to finagle them into coming over to his place for dinner. Bass has met some of Ben's previous girlfriends, so he prepares himself for a boring evening filled with geek talk that he has no chance in following, while the burden of small talk falls on Bass's shoulders (because Miles doesn't do small talk, he barely talks as is).
When he first lays eyes on her all he can think is that 'science geeks have no right to be so damn hot'. She has cascading golden hair, shrewd blue eyes and curves in all the right places. Her mouth seems to be etched in a sly half grin, as she introduces herself to him. They start chatting about movies and music and the more they talk, the faster Bass falls for her.
They even have some interests in common and it's completely unfair that Ben met her first- Bass is sure he could sweep her off her feet if he's just given half a chance. Bass can't seem to take his eyes off of her throughout dinner and while Ben remains oblivious, Bass is sure that Miles sees right through him, though he doesn't say a word, just gives Bass a silently reproving look.
Bass tries to get Rachel out of his mind, tries to forget about her and move on, but he can't. He keeps wondering how soft her hair is, what her skin tastes like, what she sounds like when she comes. But he doesn't say anything about his apparent crush, he just waits patiently for the two to inevitably break up. He's caught completely off guard when they announce their engagement. Bass feels like he got kicked in the gut, but he plasters on a fake smile and congratulates both of them. He gets shitfaced that night and takes home the first blond he sees.
After the wedding, Bass keeps his distance, not trusting himself anywhere near her, hoping that if he doesn't see her, it'll hurt less. Charlie is born and then Danny and if Bass had hoped that his feelings would dwindle with time, they haven't. Then he loses his whole family in one night and everything hurts, like broken shards of glass cutting him every time he tries to breathe. Then the numbness sets in and he wishes for those shards back, because at least then he felt something.
Rachel and Ben come to the funeral and she tells him how sorry she is and wraps her arms around him. It's too much and he can't stop himself from holding on a little too tight, a little too long, his hand caressing her hair reverently. When she pulls away she doesn't meet his eyes, her mouth set in a grim line and she knows, she knows, but Bass is beyond caring. He doesn't get invited over as often after that and it stings a bit, this passive rejection. Bass buries his feelings and tries to move on.
After the blackout everyone's priorities rearrange themselves. Bass focuses on the Militia, on the Republic, on getting power back so he can protect their borders. Ben knew something about the blackout, tried to warn Miles and so Bass shifts his attention to finding him, much to Miles' chagrin. Then the world shifts once more; Rachel abandons her family and his family abandons him. Miles betrayed him, tried to kill him and Bass is incensed, his anger simmering constantly behind his eyes.
He looks at Rachel and all those old feelings resurface, but things are different now. Miles isn't here to disapprove and she's the one who left Ben and the kids, there's nothing to come between them now. He spends more and more time questioning her, standing a bit too close, his face a breath away from hers. She doesn't look him in the eye, but she doesn't flinch or move away, so he takes it as a sign of encouragement. His fingers make contact with her arm, softly sweeping upwards, until he cups her cheek. Her cold eyes meet his and she doesn't say no, doesn't say much of anything and it's good enough for him.
He kisses her lightly, nips slightly at her lower lip and backs a step, holding her gaze, making it clear that it's her choice. Her guarded eyes meet his for a moment, as she comes to a decision. She reaches out a tentative hand and brushes it across his cheek, before leaning in and kissing him. There's no foreplay and little intimacy, mostly fevered touches and searing kisses and stolen moans.
Bass knows this could be a trick, that Rachel could be playing her own game with him, planning to betray him. He knows that if Miles turned on him, he can't trust anyone anymore. But he's been fantasizing about this for years, about having Rachel under him, squirming, gasping as he brings her over the edge. And after everything that he lost, everything that was taken from him, he deserves this, he deserves to have her, morals and consequences be damned.
'So, I guess this is what dying feels like,' Miles thinks to himself humorlessly as he tries to remember how to breathe, hand fastened to the gaping wound on his left. It doesn't hurt much anymore, in fact Miles doesn't feel much of anything, except drowsy. The rational part of him knows that he's in shock, that he's lost a lot of blood, but caring takes too much effort right now and all he wants to do is rest.
"Miles, don't you dare close your eyes," Bass warns him sharply, shaking him to alertness. "You can't pass out, ok? Just hang in there, I'm going to get you help."
"It's too late, Bass," Miles says haltingly. "You need to go.... The men-"
"I told you I don't give a crap about the men," Bass snaps at him, as he glances beyond the rocks they're hiding behind. "You're not dying on me, Miles- I won't let you."
"Don't think it... Works... That way," Miles' eyes drift closed and he feels Bass shaking him, hears him calling his name, but he's so far away and Miles is too tired... He feels his body being yanked up roughly and he lets out a soft grunt, before everything goes dark...
Miles hears voices around him, whispering loudly in his ear. He feels achy and fatigued and he tries to block the voices out, to go back to sleep but he hears his name and he recognizes that voice-
"Jeremy?" He asks hoarsely, blinking the world into focus. He sees his friend standing on his right, a small smile on his face, next to a guy who must be a doctor. Jeremy tells the man something and the latter quickly exits the tent.
"Welcome back to the land of the living," Jeremy says ruefully. "You gave us quite a scare."
"What happened?" Miles asks, licking chapped lips.
"What's the last thing you remember?"
His mind is still foggy, probably from some good drugs, but bits and pieces start trickling back. "Trenton," Miles reminds himself. "I got shot." He remembers Bass' petrified look, how he vowed to die with him... "Where's Bass?"
Jeremy averts his eyes, the smile dying on his lips. "The medic went to get him, he should be here soon."
"Jeremy," Miles has alarm bells ringing in his head. "What's going on? What aren't you telling me?"
"You were hurt pretty bad, we nearly lost you. Monroe... Didn't take it well," Jeremy tells him, scratching a spot behind his left ear. "He carried you himself across enemy lines and anyone who got in his way... He shot them. Then when he ran out of bullets- he bludgeoned them to death and when he picked up a sword... He made confetti out of them. And not all of them were playing for the other team."
"Jesus," Miles rubs wearily at his eyes.
"Yeah, tell me about it," Jeremy's give his a cheerless grin. "He hasn't left your side since he brought you here and he told the medic that if you don't make it, neither will he."
"So where is he?" Miles asks suspiciously.
"Questioning prisoners," Jeremy says in distaste. Jeremy opens his mouth to say something else, when a frantic Bass enters the tent, his eyes latching onto Miles and he seems to be frozen to his spot, not daring to step closer.
Bass' uniform is soaked in blood and Miles doubts that it's all from him and he can't stop the bile from rising in his throat. Bass' eyes are wild and deranged and Miles wants to look away, to block out that look, but instead he croaks out: "Bass."
Bass is at his side in an instant, hand grabbing his hair as his mouth captures his in a fiery kiss. Miles can barely take shallow breaths and his injured side aches, but he doesn't say a word, just raises a hand to Bass' neck, steadying him. Jeremy clears his throat and mumbles something on his way out when Bass finally releases his mouth, allowing him to take in a lungful of air.
"Don't you ever do that to me again! You hear?" Bass hisses at him, his eyes scorching. "You don't get to check out on me. If I have to, I'll follow you into the pits of hell to get you back."
"Drama queen," Miles mumbles at him fondly, his hand still resting on Bass' neck, fingers toying with wayward curls.
"I mean it, Miles," Bass promises him darkly. "I'd burn the whole world, before I'd let anything happen to you."
Miles can't look away from those searing eyes and he swallows thickly. "I'm ok, Bass. I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere." He pulls Bass down and kisses him urgently, trying to reassure them both. But mostly he tries to erase that dark and wild look from his lover's eyes, hoping if he tries hard enough, he can forget he ever saw it there in the first place.
Nora doesn't believe in fairytales, she never has. She doesn't believe in 'love conquers all', doesn't believe in 'happily ever after' or anything like destiny. She supposes her parents' divorce helped shape her viewpoint on love- she watched them drift apart, fight and shout all the time until they finally parted way. But it's not all because of their failed example, it's also that Nora is practical and she knows shit happens, people change and sometimes they just drift apart or fall out of love.
Her viewpoint doesn't change when she meets Miles. After all, nobody who spends more than five minutes with the guy would think that he's a good candidate for a stable, loving relationship. She knows what she's getting herself into when she starts sleeping with him, tells herself she won't allow herself to get too attached. She knows she shouldn't, rationally, but that doesn't stop her from falling head over heals for the guy.
She can't help it, can't stop the way every single nerve in her body ignites when he touches her. Mia tries to talk her out of it, tells it can only end badly. Nora gets it, she really does and it's not like she's expecting flowers and chocolates, declarations of love or romantic gestures. She's not some romance novel's heroine, pining over a guy who doesn't give a crap, hoping she can change the 'bad boy' if she just tries hard enough. She knows exactly who and what Miles is, knows that he expresses his emotions differently- through casual touches, quirking lips and softening eyes.
She tries to keep enough distance between them, to make sure he doesn't consume her entire life. Nora refuses to be a kept woman, waiting and pining for her big strong man to come home from fighting. She takes the occasional job with Mia, going away for days, sometimes weeks on end, while Miles is busy running the Militia.
She's got Mia and Miles has Monroe- who looks at her sideways like she's stealing Miles from him, even though he's got a piece of Miles, a piece of his past that she'll never have. Miles has a history that only Monroe knows, a history he doesn't share with her. She buries her disappointment and decides that whatever he won't share, probably isn't worth knowing. It's not about who they were, what they did- it's about who they are now and the choices they make that define them.
When Miles fails to kill Monroe, when the two of them run off together, she knows it's the beginning of the end. The two of them are on the run not just from the Militia, but from themselves, from what they've done, from the truth. They kiss and bite and rut like there's no tomorrow, because for them there might not be. They're a candle burning at both ends and they're consuming one another, burning bright and fast, racing towards extinguishment.
Nora loses herself in him as they blaze their way across the Republic like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. They run and chase and blow shit up-doing whatever they want, without having to answer to anyone. They pretend that they're free, try to not look too closely at the shackles tying them to their pasts, to their choices and mistakes.
Nora knows that she's drowning in Miles, that she's holding her breath, waiting to suffocate. The minute she stops running, the minute she tries to come up for air, she'll realize how much she's immersed in the murky whirlpool of his being. She'll try to hopelessly to claw her way to the surface, to retrieve her sanity, to save herself. But it'll be too late and she'll be lost in the dark depths, sinking to the bottom of the ocean as everything around her goes dark.
Miles knows Charlie is trouble the first minute he lays eyes on her. She walks into his bar, all huge watery blue eyes, like some lost puppy and it stirs something in him he long thought dead. He tries to turn her away, to drown those feelings in booze, but she's as stubborn as her mother and as idealistic as her father and refuses to give up on him.
Miles doesn't believe in lost causes, but apparently Charlie does, because all she does at first is nag and complain: 'You can't do that' and 'this isn't right' and 'things should be different'. He wonders how Ben managed to keep her delicate sensibilities wrapped in bubble paper and vows to keep her at a distance.
He's gonna help get her brother back- he owes her that much, after what he did to Rachel- but that doesn't mean he'll take her whining or even care about her. Miles Matheson stopped caring about people long ago- you only end up hurting them or being hurt by them.
But God help him, Charlie somehow manages to worm her way into his heart and carve her name all over it. He estimates it starts when Maggie dies- seeing Charlie crushed and weeping at the loss of another parent. Miles can't do it, can't abandon her like that and he holds her close and promises her that he won't leave her.
He thinks she's too emotional, that she's naive, impulsive and wears her heart on her sleeve. It isn't until they fail to save Danny in Noblesville and she starts to change, that he realizes those are traits he hopes she never loses. Charlie never listens to him, so Miles isn't quite sure why she picks now to take his advice and 'toughen up'. He watches as she prepares to kill an innocent man and her own innocence with him and in the end he can't let her do it, he can't let her become like him.
She's special, she's got the best qualities of both her parents and he's already corrupted enough people, he can't have Charlie be another Bass or Jeremy. He stops her and things start to shift. They stop arguing, start talking like equals and he opens up to her, just a tiny bit and lets her see a glimpse of his demons.
It's not until she gets knocked out in the tunnel under Philly that he realizes how screwed he really is. They've been getting closer by the day and almost become one unit- always sticking close to one another, looking out for each other. He can't help but seek her out first to make sure she's alright, can't help but shield her body with his when there's trouble or stand so close they occasionally brush against one another.
He tells himself that it's fine, that they're family and he's just being protective of his niece, that Ben wouldn't forgive him if he let anything bad happen to her. But as he's trying to get her to wake up, as he pleads and bargains for her life, he realizes for the first time what that nesting emotional deep down inside is- he loves her, but not as an uncle should.
It's bad, it's real bad and Ben would kill him if he were still around and Charlie would probably look at him in disgust and cut tail and run if she knew. Some part of Miles is even disgusted at himself, wonders what the hell is wrong with him and how he ended up so twisted and damaged.
So Miles keeps it to himself, swallows down his feelings and focuses on the job at hand. If he still stays a bit too close, always makes sure she's ok first- well he's just watching out for one of the two last remaining family members he's got. But maybe his touch lingers on hers a tad too long and maybe he gazes at her with a bit too much fondness and intensity.
Somehow they manage to rescue Danny and get Rachel in the bargain as well. All these years he thought Rachel was dead, all these years he's been living with the guilt and shame and blaming himself... He should be relieved she's alive and he is, but there's a small part of him that wishes she weren't. Because he's done things he's not proud of, things Charlie doesn't know and he hoped she'd never find out.
He remembers the look on her face when she found out he created the Monroe Republic and was in charge of the Militia- this is ten times worse and he doubts it's something she could ever forgive him for. If she finds out, when she finds out... This thing, whatever they have between them would be over and Miles can't stand the thought of leaving her and living without her.
When the truth is finally revealed, it ain't pretty. Charlie gets that look in her eyes- that hurt and betrayed look that guts him like a fish. He and Rachel manage to keep it civil as they all work together to stop Monroe, to get their own power and fight back. And while Charlie still speaks to him and doesn't send him away, she doesn't forgive him either. Charlie spends less time around him, can barely look him in the eye and while the distance hurts, he knows it's what he deserves. Men like him don't deserve to have people like Charlie look at him with admiration when he does a good deed, like she's proud of the man he's becoming. All he deserves is scorn and resentment.
They're ambushing a Militia base and Miles hates that Charlie decided to go to the other side with Nora, that he can't keep track of her and make sure she's safe. He's got snakes coiling in the pit of his stomach, keeping him on edge and restless. When an explosion goes off where Charlie's supposed to be, his heart stops beating. 'Oh God, oh God, oh God,' the litany plays in his head like a broken record, as he abandons his post and goes after Charlie. 'Please don't be dead, please don't be dead.' He slashes and stabs any Militia stupid enough to stand in his way, blinking through the smoke and praying to a God he doesn't believe in.
When he finally sees her, gash on her side and wobbling, but clearly alive, he forgets where they are, forgets all that's happened between them and just grabs her into a tight embrace. She hesitates a moment and for a second he fears she'll push him away, but her arms tighten around him and she buries her face into his shoulder.
"I'm ok, I guess we Mathesons are hard to kill," she tells him hoarsely. She backs away a step and looks up with an affectionate look he hasn't seen since Philly and a quirk of her lips. She touches his arm and they stand there for a moment, touching-not touching, their eyes conveying everything they could never put into words. Finally she gives him a smirk she definitely got from him and says: "Let's get these bastards."
This is dedicated and inspired by mercscilla for reassuring me, when I wasn't sure if I would succeed with the bingo-a-thon. She told me it was ok if I didn't participate, because: 'Unlike Monroe, we don't order people to play Cupid.'
Miles doesn't bother knocking as he storms Bass' office angrily. "You know, you've done some crazy shit in the past, but this? This time you've gone too far."
"Please, come in," Bass rolls his eyes at Miles' dramatics. "I'm not sure I know what you're talking about, would you care to enlighten me?"
"I'm talking about this," Miles takes a scrunched up piece of paper out of his pocket and tosses it on Bass' desk. "What the hell is that, Bass?"
Bass takes the piece of paper and unfolds it, giving it a quick glance. "It appears to be a memo."
"Don't be cute, it doesn't suit you," Miles glowers at him. "I know it's a goddamm memo! I meant why the hell would you send it out, without running it by me first?"
"Because it's my Republic, Miles- it says so in the name."
"And it's my Militia and I don't appreciate you going over my head and giving ridiculous orders to my men." Miles says heatedly. "You can forget it, I'm not doing this."
"Miles, it's just a tiny gesture for the sake of morale."
"I don't care," he leans with both hands on the desk and glares at Bass. "I am not wearing a stupid heart and arrow pin on my uniform."
"It's Valentine's Day today, I really don't understand what the big deal is," Bass tries to be reasonable.
"My men need to be respected and feared," Miles says stubbornly. "I'm not gonna let you debase them any more than you already have."
"Debase them?" Bass asks incredulously. "How the hell did I debase them?"
"Jeremy's walking around Philly in a toga and wings, handing out chocolates!" Miles nearly shouts.
"That was his idea," Bass shrugs innocently. Miles clearly isn't buying it, so he amends. "He may have gotten it by losing a bet."
"I bet he couldn't go a whole three days without mouthing off," Bass grins smugly. "He didn't even last a day."
"What would have happened if he'd won?" Miles asks curiously.
"Then I would have gotten a cupid tattoo somewhere only the two of you would ever see."
Miles pauses a moment, cocking his head at Bass. "Ok, now I kinda wish he'd won the bet."
"A-huh," Bass smirks and pours them both a drink, sitting back with his feet on the table.
Miles takes his drink and slouches in the chair in front of the desk. "But why the Mistletoe though? That's the wrong holiday."
"He really got into character and wanted to shoot arrows at people, I kinda thought that might not be such a good idea, figured mistletoe was safer for everyone. Plus, it's still in keeping with the holiday spirit," Bass explains, as he takes a sip of his drink.
"He looks like an idiot," Miles sighs. "Bass, I can't have the Militia looking weak, not now that we're finally starting to get settled in."
"That's exactly why I'm doing it," Bass tells him earnestly. "Miles, we've just finished a long and bloody campaign. Everyone's still scared we'll be invaded and we're a new government- they don't trust us yet."
"Giving out chocolates and wearing heart pins isn't going to change that."
"No, but it might change public opinion about us," Bass counters, setting his drink down. "We need to show people that we're not just ruthless thugs, we need to give them some stability, a reason to celebrate and forget even for one day about their problems. Besides, it's not just the pins and chocolates, we're organizing parties and fundraises throughout the Republic."
"Yeah, I heard Tom's having a Couples' shindig at his place- how'd you rope him into it? Another bet?"
"No, Julia and I have come to an understanding."
"I don't want to know, do I?"
"Probably not," Bass grins slyly. "Kip's organizing a Singles' night and even Strausser's getting into the spirit of things."
"I really don't want to know," Miles groans as he downs his whiskey and sets the glass down. "Oh God, please tell me it has nothing to do with actual hearts."
"Of course not," Bass says quickly. "I think."
"Great," Miles rubs his tired eyes. "Well, it looks like you've got everything covered. But I'm still not wearing that stupid pin."
"The pink clashes with my uniform's color."
"Where's your holiday spirit?"
"What holiday spirit? It's a pointless holiday that only existed in the first place so stores and malls could milk you for all you've got," Miles argues. "You've got anniversaries and birthdays, why the hell do you need another excuse to buy expensive presents?"
"You're such a romantic, Miles," Bass drawls. "It's no wonder you've had longer lasting relationships with your socks than with women."
"Screw you, Bass," Miles scowls at him.
"Not with that attitude," Bass says airily as he gets up and walks towards him, positioning himself in front of Miles' chair and sitting on the edge of the desk. "Do you want me to beg? Please wear a silly pin for one day to raise the spirit of the people," Bass asks in exaggeration, before leaning in a whispering: "I'll make it worth your while."
Miles tries not to shudder and relents. "Fine, I'll do it. Give me the damn pin already."
Bass smiles at him triumphantly. He retrieves from his desk drawer a pin that's clearly handmade- just a heart shaped scrap of paper, colored pink and with an arrow drawn on it. Miles wonders if Bass made it himself, can just imagine him sitting at his desk for hours doing arts and crafts. Bass pins it on Miles' uniform and keeps his hands on his chest, his smile widening. "Perfect."
"You know it's a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound," Miles warns him seriously. "There are real fears and real issues that we can't cover up with fancy parties."
"I know, and we'll deal with all of it, but not today," Bass tells him quietly, his hands traveling to Miles' neck, before cupping his face.
"I hate you," Miles says half-heartedly, leaning into the touch.
"No, you don't," Bass grins knowingly as he pulls him in for a leisurely kiss. He nips at his lips and leans back enough to say: "Happy Valentine's Day, Miles."
Miles gives Bass an indulgent half smile, his eyes softening imperceptivity. "Happy Valentine's Day, Bass."