Prompt: nbc_revolution's Halloween Bingo-A-Thon. The rest of the table is HERE
Characters:Charlie, Miles, Bass, OCs
Rating: PG-13 for the most part, maybe slightly higher because of language
Summary: Charlie is going through some rough changes, but she's not alone. [Spoiler (click to open)] Werewolf AU
The gang were just settling to Willoughby and trying to pick up the pieces of their live, when Miles took Charlie aside.
"Charlie, you're going to be turning 21 in two weeks, so we should talk."
"About, you know, the changes you're going to be going through."
"Miles, I hate to break it to you, but you got it backwards- girls hit puberty at 12, not at 21. And if this is about the sex talk, trust me, I already had it with my dad and I'm not going to be having it with you."
"No, that's not- wait, your dad didn't tell you, did he? If I had known, I would have never let you-"
"Tell me about what?"
Charlie's heavy eyelids are slow to cooperate, as she slowly regains consciousness. Her head is pounding, her entire body seems to ache and her face feels kinda sticky, so she tries to scratch at it, only to find that she can't move her arms. Her eyes fly open in alarm and she finds herself standing up, tied to a tree. She twists in her binds, testing their strength as she desperately tries to recall what happened and how she ended up here.
She was travelling with Monroe, heading back to Willoughby, so that they could warn Miles and her mom. She looks around for Monroe, before remembering that he wasn't with her. She split from him a few hours before nightfall, wanting to be alone for tonight. He warned her that it was a bad idea to split up, that he could watch her back tonight, but she didn't trust Monroe at all, let alone tonight. That was all she could remember, someone must have snuck up on her and knocked her out- but who and why?
They must have hit her on the back of the head, which would explain her headache and the stickiness- congealed blood from a head wound. Charlie winces as the rope cuts into her struggling wrists- it's no use, the rope is too thick. It takes her a moment to realize that the deep rooted ache in her bones isn't from being tied in this position for hours. 'Oh shit!' she looks up at the sky, her heart pounding in tandem with her head. 'This is not good.'
"What the hell are werewolves?" Charlie asked Miles in confusion.
"God I miss the days of pop culture references. It's when people become these half-man half-wolf like creatures and it happens during a full moon."
"You're kidding?" Charlie chuckled. "Miles, that's insane!"
"The world is insane," Miles countered. "Tiny little machines caused a world spread blackout, that's not insane?"
"So why 21? If this thing is inside me since I was born, why wait till now?"
"I dunno why, supposedly it's a mystical number or some nonsense like that- it's in the bible a lot. Who knows, maybe whoever created the curse liked playing Blackjack."
"Miles, it doesn't make any sense- I've been around you for months, I think I'd notice you turning into something like that."
"Never during a full moon. Why do you think Nora and I always disappeared once a month?"
"I thought you two were, you know, getting together."
"Nora made sure I was contained, that I wouldn't hurt anyone while I wasn't me."
"I've been around my dad during a full moon- I remember him taking me and Danny up to the roof to stargaze."
"That's because he never activated the curse. He's got the wolf genes and he passed them on to you, but he never become a werewolf. It's probably why he never told you about it- he was hoping he wouldn't have to, that you wouldn't activate it either."
"How do you activate the curse?"
"You kill someone."
"She's awake," Charlie hears someone say and the sound of footsteps coming closer. She counts at least two, maybe three people. She can't twist her neck to see them, so she waits patiently, focusing on her breathing and steeling herself for whatever was going to come.
"Hey there," thug number 1 says, standing directly in front of her, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. He's maybe a head taller than her, but his arms are skinny- he probably doesn't know how to use a sword, other than thrusting.
"What do you want?" Charlie spits out, trying not to grind her teeth at the ache in her gums.
"Information," thug number 2 comes in from her periphery, carrying a rifle, his eyes scanning for trouble. "You've been spotted traveling with Monroe." He's holding the rifle loosely, but with confidence- he knows how to use it.
"I don't know what you're talking about; I've been on my own this whole time."
"Sure you have," thug one smiles. "Are you his girlfriend or a bounty hunter? You probably know that there's a reward for his capture. Tell us where he is and we'll give you a piece of the action."
"You think I'm stupid?" Charlie grins her best Matheson grin. "The minute I tell you where he is, you're going to kill me."
"Probably," thug one says agreeably. "Or we might keep you around for a while."
"I'd rather die."
"That can be arranged, but first- we need to know where we can find Monroe. You can either tell us now or we can torture it out of you. We'll find out either way, we've got time."
"No, you don't," Charlie grits out, her skin feeling like there are fiery snakes crawling under it. "You chose a bad time for this and if you don't release me now, you'll all be dead within the hour."
The thugs laugh and she can hear thug number 3 from somewhere behind her tree, she can smell him. The ropes are like shards of glass cutting into her skin and she just wants to alternately scream and thrash or curl up into a ball and sob. Thug one draws a knife from his belt and approaches her with a gleeful expression on his face.
Her birthday came and went, without much celebration. Her mom was still catatonic and their recent failure was still weighing heavily on them. Aaron gave her a hug, Miles wished her a happy birthday in his laconic way and her grandfather (and what a weird concept that was, but it was a year for discovering relatives) gave her an album filled with pictures of her and Danny from before the blackout. Charlie couldn't help but be stunned by how different her life was merely a year ago, how innocent and happy she was and the thought of all those that she lost haunted her into her sleep.
The first full moon after her birthday, Miles took her out to the woods and taught her how to pick a place for the change, how to mark a territory for her to keep to and what to always bring with her. Part of her still didn't believe him, because how could she? It was crazy and Miles couldn't provide any proof, not till the full moon, but a deep part inside of her sank with dread every day they came closer to that day.
Miles warned her about the transformation and how it would "hurt like a son of a bitch". But no words could prepare her for it and she screamed in agony as her bones shattered and realigned, as he skin shifted and stretched, as her entire jaw seemed to unhinge and her fangs grew and her nails twisted into claws. Charlie screamed and screamed until her scream became a pained howl and she was lost in darkness.
Miles found her later, lying down naked in the grass, her limbs too sore to move. He draped a blanket on her and handed her a water bottle, sitting down next to her.
"Is it contagious?" Charlie asked, her throat chafing like sandpaper.
"You can't infect anyone, but it'll pass to you kids."
"I'm never having kids," Charlie vowed. "Please tell me it gets better," she pleaded, her entire being felt numb and bone tired.
"It gets easier," Miles sighed. "The transformation is faster and the pain becomes more bearable."
"I don't know if I can do this again," Charlie admitted quietly, not looking him in the eyes.
"You don't really have a choice. But I'm here and you don't have to go through it alone."
"You're a stubborn one, aren't ya?" Thug one asks, almost impressed as he wipes his bloody knife on his pants. "You're just making it harder on yourself kid; trust me- this guy nuked Atlanta, he's not worth protecting."
"I don't know where he is," Charlie answers truthfully in small huffs of breath, her cold perspiration making her clothes stick to her skin. It's all too tight, her skin feels tight and she just wants to claw at it until it comes off.
"Have it your way," thug one shrugs and raises his blade again.
"Aaaargggh!" Charlie yells, doubling over in pain.
"What did you do?" Thug two asks, walking towards them. Thug three slowly approaches them as well, curious enough to stop guarding the perimeter.
"Nothing, right now," thug one exclaims. "Maybe she's faking it."
Charlie's right shoulder pops out of place, followed by her left one. Her knees switch directions, making her lose her footing, suspended only by the rope.
"I don't think she's faking that," thug two says in shock. "What the fuck is happening to her?"
Charlie's claws extend and she has enough presence of mind to start cutting at the rope, as her extending mass stretched the constricting rope.
"What are you waiting for- shoot it!" Thug one yells at thug two, who's just standing there gawking. He raises his rifle with shaking hands, just as The Wolf finally releases itself and lunges at him, tearing at his jugular with its fangs. It ignores the man's screams and attacks the first thug, tearing him to shreds with its claws. By the time It turns to the third thug, the man is aiming his rifle at It, too far away for The Wolf to reach him in time.
A shot rings out and the third thug topples over face first. The Wolf's keen eyes look up and see Monroe drawing near, his own gun lowering. "Charlie," he says in a calm soothing tone that's betrayed by his fast beating heart that The Wolf can clearly hear. "It's ok, I'm a friend. I'm not going to hurt you."
The Wolf recognizes the scent. It growls in warning for the human to stay back, before running off into the woods.
"You want to tell me why you ran away from home?" Monroe asked Charlie conversationally, as they rode back towards Willoughby. Not for the first time, Charlie regretted not killing him. But her family was in danger and Monroe was useful for now, so she would just have to put up with him. She was even grudgingly grateful for him saving her life, though she'd never tell him that.
"None of your business," Charlie retorted. "And who said I ran away?"
"Last I checked, you and Miles were glued at the hip," Monroe grinned at her. "And yet here you are, all alone."
"I wish I was all alone, but unfortunately, I've got you for company," Charlie gave him a small grin, before shrugging. "I just… I just needed some time alone to figure things out."
"Well, I hope you succeeded, because shit's going to hit the fan soon and you gotta make sure your head is screwed on right."
"Worry about your own screwed up head, not mine," Charlie said, glancing at the sky and calculating the time. "We need to stop and set up camp soon and I'm going to need some time alone tonight."
"Full moon, right," Monroe nodded.
"You know? Of course you know," Charlie rolled her eyes.
"Who do you think watched your uncle's back ever since basic training? He went into the Marines knowing he might activate the curse, when he did- I looked out for him."
"How did he get away with disappearing once a month when he was in the Marines?"
"You think Miles was the first soldier with the gene? World War 2 was the big breakout, but Korea and Vietnam were another wave of werewolves- Miles' Grandfather activated it in Korea and his dad in Vietnam- and that's just the ones in America." Bass explained, as he stopped the horses and dismounted. "The Army's known for a while, but they've kept a lid on it, making sure their soldiers' secret was safe, so the regular population didn't freak out."
"It's hard to believe they managed to keep something like that a secret," Charlie dismounted.
"Oh, keeping secrets was the government's specialty," Bass said with reprove. "But people still caught wind of it; there were some sightings here and there. It became this urban myth, like Bigfoot or Nessie. It's a lot easier keeping it a secret now, without the internet and cellphones, but a lot of the bloodlines were also wiped out during the blackout."
"I see," Charlie said distracted. "I should go; we'll meet up here tomorrow."
"You shouldn't go alone," Bass argued. "It's not safe; you need someone to have your back."
"And that someone's you?" Charlie asked derisively. "I don't trust you, Monroe, so no offense, but I'd rather do this alone." She grabbed her gear and started walking into the woods, looking for a good place for the transformation. After a while, she thought she heard a sound coming from the bushes. She grabbed her knife and slowly approached, wondering if it was Monroe stalking her, but not taking any chances. Pain erupted in the back of her head and she crumbled, blacking out.
Charlie wakes up groggily to piercing sunlight in her eyes. She groans and rolls over onto her side, shielding her eyes and blinking them open. Her entire body feels like Jell-O and despite just waking up, she feels exhausted, like after a hard workout with Miles. She looks down and sees that she's naked and dirty and the events of the other night crash into her like a tidal wave.
Those men-the knife-her transformation-killing them-Monroe-
Charlie leans over to the side and empties the contents of her stomach, fragments of memories from the wolf telling her about the power of ripping a throat open and tasting the blood of her prey, about using her claws to tear a man to shreds, because he dared to wound her.
She looks herself over, but there's no sign of injury, like that thug never touched her. The healing is one of the few positive aspects of your entire body changing completely twice, though she could still remember the pain of each slice and stab. She wipes at her mouth in disgust and sits up, trying to figure out where she is.
"Charlotte," Monroe calls, running over to her. "Thank God you're ok."
"I'm not ok," Charlie laughs in disbelief, her eyes watering. "I killed those guys."
"You didn't kill them, The Wolf did," Monroe says gently.
"I remember doing it; I remember what it felt like."
"You were protecting yourself and those guys don't deserve you beating yourself up over them," Monroe says decisively, as he approaches her slowly, like a spooked animal. He takes a blanket out of his pack and lays it on her shoulders. The gesture reminds her of her first transformation with Miles and she needs him right now so much, her breath hitches as she tries not to sob.
"Hey, it's ok," Monroe crouches besides her and pats her shoulder awkwardly, not sure what he's allowed to do. "Look, Miles went through this exact same thing the first few times: self-disgust, guilt, despair- but he got through it and he'll help you get through it too. Let me get you some clothes, ok?"
Charlie nods and Monroe gets her pack and hands her her clothes. He turns around and gives her privacy, allowing Charlie some space to get herself together and under control. Her family is in danger and she can't deal with all of this right now. She gets dressed and when she's done, she feels more like herself, locking that other part of herself away, out of mind, at least for the next month.
"The carriage is that way," Monroe indicates and she's grateful for his silent presence, that he doesn't ask her if she's alright or some inane question like that. Of course she's not alright, she never will be.
"I bet people will talk, when they find those bodies," Charlie says mostly to herself. "They'll probably think it was some kind of animal attack."
"They won't talk- I got rid of the bodies," Monroe tells her as they trek out of the woods. "This isn't the first time I had to cover up a werewolf attack- how do you think Miles got the nickname 'The Butcher of Baltimore'?"