Brig pushed into Viv's guest apartment, the one she refused to vacate because she liked it, and turned left into the only bedroom. It was large enough for Catherine's crib and bassinet, but it wasn't going to be enough for much longer. He threw Viv on the bed, none too gently, eliciting a painful yelp from her.
"Oh, sorry, sorry."
"Ugh, that did not help my ribs," she said, cradling her midsection as she scoot back on the bed. Viv laid back and stretched out, kicking her Therian-weave boots off. Brig looked down at her in the suit and noted the curve of her hips and swell of her much larger breasts. He wondered how much longer that would last when something occurred to him.
"So what are your thoughts on Charlie now?"
Viv struggled with her top, pulling it off with a grimace. "Well, he hits like a fucking mac truck, but I never got the chance...wow ok this hurts."
Brig kicked off his running shoes and knelt down on the bed, straddling her. He helped her pull her top off and discarded it behind them as she flopped backwards. "Continue," he said, pulling his own shirt off.
Viv was wearing a seamless sports bra underneath her Therian-weave to ward off gravity from rather heavy breasts. She undid the snaps in the back and pulled it off, thoroughly distracting him.
"I've seen him spar with LT but like I was saying, I never got the chance. I don't recall him being that fast." Viv paused and said his name. "Brig."
"Hmm?" he said as he stared at her breasts. "What?" Flicking his eyes up to her face, he saw her grumpy look. "Well I'm sorry, they're a little distracting."
Pushing her back, he slipped off the bed as he pulled her bottoms over her hips and down her legs. The spot above her right knee was the most god awful purple bruise. "Jesus, Viv. Is this where you broke the staff?"
She sat up again, grunting and just opted to lift her knee. "Yikes, yeah. That's another thing. He snapped that staff like a twig. Granted I'm not two hundred and fifty pounds of muscle, nor do I have that type of upper body strength, but that was pretty damn...."
Viv paused, her eyes unfocused as she tried to find a word.
Brig pulled her bottoms off down the rest of her legs and tossed them aside as well. Standing he pushed down his shorts and thought a moment as he stood there naked. "Do you think it's because of the new muscles?"
He looked down at her and saw the smile on her face. Viv didn't answer as she leaned back on her elbows. She just stared at him.
"Oh right," he said crawling onto the bed over her, nestling in between her legs. "Let me break you in half and then we'll pick this up again afterwards?"
Viv laughed as she wrapped her legs around his hips and pulled him down on top of her.
"Yup. There." Red poked and Charlie flinched. "And there." Charlie flinched again. "Hairline fractures on the second and third ribs." Standing straight he circled around Charlie, occasionally touching him with his finger tips.
They had congratulated him for winning the sparring, especially Domingo and Marko. Marko almost killed Charlie with the tight bear hug he gave him and Dom was just embarrassed he didn't think to move when Marko came barreling at him. They were going to meet in Red's room later to celebrate with beers, but first Charlie had to get looked at.
Red had bruises along his neck and underside of his chin where Charlie had put him in a head lock, but they were fading quickly. Red said nothing about being beaten - no posturing, no complaining. Charlie just figured Red was happy Charlie seemed more like the old him. But was he?
"What are these?"
Red asked as he poked Charlie's shoulders. Older welts that didn't match the ones Vivienne gave him with the hickory staff. Charlie looked at it, twisting his neck.
"Oh. Tree branches."
"Tree branches?" Red shook his head and gave him a weird look. "You're into flagellation now?"
Charlie chuckled. "No. Last night I was running off trail. Wasn't looking where I was going."
"Wah-eerd, but ok. This is where I'd pull my latex gloves off with a snap if I had any, but as a medical professional to my patient, I have to ask this."
"I feel fine. Little achy."
"No, I was going to ask if you've recently had homosexual intercourse, but that works, too." Red stepped back and looked at Charlie. "You are naked, so please dress."
Charlie was, in fact, naked. It wasn't like it was his choice; Red had told him to undress so he could look at any petechiae bruising. The cuts to his face and hands were healing up nicely, but the skin across the backs of his hands was tight. Charlie flexed them as moved away from Red and into his bathroom to clean up.
Everything seemed...normal. Whatever that meant. For the first time in weeks, Charlie looked at himself in the mirror. He was covered with bruises in varying colors - yellow, greenish blue to purple. His face was a mess of colors and he could see the older bruises from the night before on the outer edges of his limbs. Twisting around, he looked at his back and saw more of the same.
"Hurry up, princess!"
Charlie grinned as Red yelled through the bathroom door. He chewed on his lip and looked down at the bathroom counter. His hospital bracelet was still sitting where he threw it, laying untouched for the past three months. Charlie reached out to throw it away, his fingers touching the plastic surface with the barcode of information when it happened again.
The pain surged up his arm and into his head, blinding him with a bright light that he could not turn away from. Memories flashed - some he knew were his own but could no longer remember. It was a reminder that he may look like old Charlie the Piper Sergeant, but really...?
He was far from it.
Red chanted, bouncing happily on the balls of his feet as he stood in Charlie's living room. All he wanted to do was go get wasted with his mates - he was just waiting on Charlie. Swinging his hands back and forth from his front to his back, he considered that statement.
Just waiting on Charlie.
His hands stopped swinging and slumped his shoulders. Charlie had finally woken up. That was a blessing in disguise, all things considering when he did. Then they waited on him to wake up again. Red didn't understand how twelve months of lost memories could change a man. Suppose it really depended on which twelve months those were.
Red considering how different of a man he would be if he had lost a year.
"Well," he said out loud to himself, "I guess I wouldn't know Viv either."
He loved her like a sister, but really it wouldn't be that devastating of a loss. He'd just have to get to know her all over again. Granted it was more than that for Charlie, especially after knowing her part in most of the major events that involved the Pipers. Was she responsible for what happened to Red during the hunt for that human Kyle Evans?
Red made a face. Well, yes, Viv was responsible. Simon was her friend and it was his job, not the Pipers, to get Evans.
Then there was Siberia, although not exactly his choice for a winter vacation, was the catalyst for lives lost at Glenveagh, as well as losing one of their oldest training bases. Diego died there.
"Yeah, her fault, too," he muttered.
Then it dawned on Red. He wouldn't remember Camille. Despite his jokes about her not being his girlfriend, just some girl he was seeing on the side, he felt his heart break thinking of not just losing her, but never knowing the euphoria of her love.
But did any of that have anything to do with how different Charlie was now? The easy going, friendly mate had gone silent, despondent, and bitter. Not to mention Charlie's frailty, but he changed everyone's mind about that today. More than anyone thought would be possible after only three months. Red slowly looked over at Charlie's closed bathroom door.
Certainly more than anyone would expect from the old Charlie.
He moved to the door and waited. It was quiet.
"Hey, man. Hurry up." Red tried to keep the playfulness in his voice but Charlie had been in there for a while with no water running or any other noise. And now he wasn't replying.
"Chesterman," Red said, trying to smile. "Oh Captain, my Captain?"
Red waited and for his patience was rewarded with a sick sounding thud to the floor.
Charlie could feel her fingers on his arm as she laid her head on his bed next to his sleeping form. Her fingers were playing with his hospital bracelet, running her fingernail over the barcode. He could feel her breath on his arm.
"Please wake up, Charlie. I'll even let you kiss me...just...wake up."
Viv. He called her Viv and he loved her with everything he had.
Charlie's mind split again, pulling his eyes toward the burning, bright light, forcing him to watch.
"What are you playing this time?"
LT's voice. Charlie had to strain to hear his best friend's voice over the music playing softly in the background. The delicate strumming of an acoustic guitar floated past him. LT's fingers were touching Charlie's wrist, adjusting the bracelet lower so it didn't cut into his skin from lying in the same spot.
"Nothing special...." That was Red's voice, soft and far away.
"Oh," LT said. Then Charlie could hear LT whispering. "Wake up, Charlie."
Then it was loud - an alarm was blaring loudly in his room. Someone was touching him. A hand that trembled and smelled of blood was touching his bracelet. Charlie could feel the fear as well as smell it oozing out of whoever was touching him. Their breath was pungent and warm across his face as they leaned in close and whispered in his ear.
"Don't wake up, Charlie. Don't ever wake up."
Then someone finally turned off the fucking light.
Red knelt down on the floor and turned him over to his back, his hands immediately checking for a pulse as he leaned down to check Charlie's breathing. He wasn't.
You train long enough, it all becomes second nature. You don't even realize you're doing it until it's done. Quickly Red did an assessment of Charlie: eyes open and pupils reactive but large and black - his body was far from limp, it was rigid and tense with his hands balled up into trembling fists, and as Red leaned closer, clearing Charlie's airway, he felt the shallowest of breaths which put him immediately into motion.
Red stood and ran out of the bathroom, yanking on the entry door so hard it swung back and slammed behind him as he pushed into his apartment across the hall. Emergency bag - where was it? Red jumped his couch and headed for the kitchen.
He took it down to the clinic to restock it with fresh supplies that morning. Busting out of his apartment door again, he turned and looked down the hallway at JT's door. Running down the hallway, he pushed up against JT's door and found it locked. Taking a step back, Red lifted his foot and kicked, his heel connecting with the door, lined up with the lock. The door cracked open, again slamming back and into him.
"DUDE? MY DOOR!"
Red looked at JT as he stood shirtless, holding his shirt in his hand and his hair wet and clean smelling. And he had a crap load of tattoos.
A crap load.
Red paused for a moment looking at JT. He was covered with tattoos down to his forearms, but Red never noticed since JT always wore long sleeve shirts.
"What the fuck?" JT yelped, pulling his shirt on.
Red lifted his finger and remembered why he was there. "Your bag? Where is it? I need it!" He rushed into the room, pushing past JT who ran in the opposite direction without question and returned with his medic bag. Red grabbed it and ran back out into the hallway, back to Charlie's room with JT on his heels. Together they rushed into Charlie's bathroom and JT stopped the second he saw Charlie on the floor.
Sliding onto his knees, Red ripped open the bag and began sifting through it. JT knelt down on the opposite side and dug his hand into the bag, pulling out the smelling salts.
"Catatonic? Is he breathing?" JT snapped the salts above Charlie's nose. Nothing happened but they both reeled back from the smell. "Fuck, Red we need to call this in."
"Not yet, not yet." Red grabbed another stick and snapped it, practically shoving it up Charlie's nose. With a jerk, Charlie took a deep breath and pushed away from the salts in a fit of coughing.
JT and Red reached out to settle him. "Dude, calm down." Red checked Charlie's eyes, pulling a light pen from the bag and checked his pupils. Pulling back, he held it in front of Charlie after they helped him sit up.
Charlie flinched at the light, his hands pushing it away. JT reached out and grabbed his hand and Red held it in front of Charlie again.
"Follow. It." Red said it in a clear and strong voice. Charlie stopped resisting and peered at the light, his blue eyes following it with a grimace.
"What's this?" JT was holding Charlie's fist, trying to pry his fingers open. He pulled something out of Charlie's hand and held it up. "His DI bracelet?"
Red put his hands on Charlie's shoulders and spoke softly to him. "You slipped and fell coming out of the shower, Charlie."
JT stopped and turned around, looking at the shower. It was bone dry. Red looked at JT and repeated himself. "Charlie do you hear me? You fell coming out of the shower. You're fine now."
"Shut the fuck up, JT," Red hissed.
If they found out Charlie had a seizure, they'd haul his ass back into DI in a heartbeat. Red knew this. JT knew this. Red wasn't going to let it happen. "You're fine now, Charlie. Ok? You slipped and fell."
Charlie looked at Red, nodding. "I slipped and fell."
Red pat Charlie's shoulder and looked at JT. If there was any doubt who was in charge at that moment, it was gone. JT lowered his eyes and nodded his head. Red gave a fuck who JT's father was or what kind of blood was flowing in those tattooed to the fucking gills veins - this shit was going down how he said it was going down.
"You're not going to say anything."
"Red, we can't just look the other way."
"You are not...going to say...anything."
Red was angry, his voice carrying an edge that Charlie rarely heard from him. JT was right to want to at least tell Dr. Mallari about Charlie's seizure, if that's what it was, but Charlie knew Red was too scared of what might happen. But then, so was Charlie.
"If we don't report it and something else happens," JT paused as Charlie reached for his shoe, pretending not to listen, "if something worse happens and it could have been prevented by saying something earlier...I don't know, man, is that something you can live with?"
"You'd be amazed at what I can live with, JT. Charlie's gone through enough shit. He's not going back in there."
"Here's there everyday."
"You know what I fucking mean."
Charlie was surprised to hear Red becoming more emotional. Untying his sneaker, Charlie thank god for a friend like Red.
"If he goes in there again," then Red's voice got incredibly soft, so soft that Charlie could barely make out the words, "it might change him even more than he already is and...it's bad enough as is."
Charlie paled and watched as his hands began to tremble. Red wasn't worried for Charlie; he was worried Charlie would get even more damaged than he was already. Finishing with his shoes, Charlie stood, giving himself a moment to make sure he wasn't dizzy and immediately JT and Red moved to him and stood in the doorway.
"Hey, ready to get your crunk on?" Red smiled at him, completely hiding any other emotion. Charlie looked at Red for a moment - he was very good at hiding things, better than most Charlie realized.
"Well, you might want to ease up on the alcohol," JT started to say but then Red shot him a look. "Listen, he had some sort of episode, I'm not going to fucking sugarcoat it, Red."
"No, its fine, Red. He's right. Let's just go."
Any sense of normalcy was now gone for Charlie. They'd go hang out in Red's apartment, Charlie would make the appropriate noises, and then he'd excuse himself. JT took a step back and walked to the entry doorway, opening it and letting himself out. Charlie looked at Red and gave him a sincere grin.
"I appreciate what you did, Red."
"Naw, man. You're not ruining my night of drunkenness."
Charlie watched as Red's smile lit up his face. He took a step toward the door before he turned and faced his buddy.
"What did you mean by JT being amazed with what you'd live with?"
Red's smile did not falter. Instead he shrugged and blew it off. "Do you see the crazy shit with live with on a day to day basis?" Then Red lifted his chin and did his best Beta impression. "We are Pipers, it's what we are."
"Right, suffer in silence. That's us."
And there it was. Charlie not only saw Red's face flash with a micro expression of pain but he felt it. It was a pure, terrifying moment of discovery that made Charlie break out in goosebumps. They locked eyes and didn't say what needed to be said.
Red put his arm around Charlie's shoulders and guided him to the door. "And that's what alcohol is for, Chesterman."
Charlie didn't like Red's arm around him. It took everything not to shrug it off and the knowledge that Red wasn't really what he appeared to be, either.
Viv pushed back on Brig's chest as he vigorously and literally tried to break her in half, keeping his promise. He begun to laugh but pulled back, leaning off her.
"I'm sorry, babe."
"Ugh," she muttered and leaned forward, grabbing one of the pillows that had been cast aside. Stacking two on top of each other, she sat up and pointed at them. Brig scooted over onto his back and grabbed her hips with both hands as she straddled him. "Maybe I'm getting old."
"Charlie hurt you pretty good?"
Viv made a face and leaned down, covering Brig's chest with her dark hair and kissed him softly. "That is not proper pillow talk."
Brig smiled as he maneuvered her hips above him and when they connected again, they moaned into their kiss. Viv moved on top of him, running her hands down his chest as she sat up.
"This better?" Brig asked as his face tightened into a pleasurable grimace.
"Shhhh," she whispered as she brought them back to where they were before her rapidly degrading body interrupted them. She was trying not to think of Charlie and their fight. Something was bothering her though, but she wasn't sure if it had been his steadfast refusal to even fight her or his ability to actually do some serious damage to her. Viv knew if Charlie hadn't lost his memories, she would have won. That was just Charlie's way - he really wouldn't want to hurt her, despite her doing her best to hurt him. So the fact that he not only won, but saw what she was going to do - that she was in fact going to kiss him - and still broke her nose meant he really did not feel a god damn thing for her.
"Viv?" Brig sighed and sat up, wrapping his arms around her waist. "You are really not into this, are you?"
Suddenly she realized she was phoning in her performance. It disgusted her as well as disappointed her. "Aww," she said sadly and threw herself off to the side, off of Brig and across the width of the bed.
"You were fine until I mentioned Charlie."
Viv grabbed a pillow and covered her face, yelling into it.
She heard Brig sigh again and mumble as he got off the bed. "I swear to Christ, if it's not Simon, it's Charlie."
Viv pulled the pillow off her face. "Wait, that's not what's bothering me."
"Ok," he said as he walked around the bed to the dresser, pulling out clean clothes. With his back to her, Brig dressed quickly, pulling on a pair of khakis and a polo - his business casual work clothes.
"Why are you getting dressed?"
"Because we're done, Viv." Brig got up and grabbed a pair of shoes from their closet. "I'm going to go get the baby."
Viv sat naked on the bed holding a pillow. This was the moment to say something, to end the silent fight before it began and she could see Brig waiting for her to do it. This was their first time they let a fight interrupt their love making and she wasn't sure if the gut wrenching despair she was feeling was something she could live with.
He stopped and looked at her.
Viv felt herself shut down, quelling that pain in her gut. Separating it from her and putting it away in some unseen place, never to deal with it again. She had always been that way; it was how Vigo raised her. Viv wasn't a crier, although she loved being a yeller. Fighting in relationships meant the fun times were over and she was bailing.
She opened her mouth to say something but the best she could come up with was an eek of a sound. Closing her eyes, she lowered her head and waited to hear the door shut.
He did not disappoint her.