The Mice go back to Mars, but what of Charley-Girl? How will she go on now that she's all alone? A series of four short stories.
The Hardest Thing In Life
It was finally happening. After all this time. After all the hardship, the suffering and non-stop fighting, it was finally over. Limburger was gone. Brie was a distant memory. Both Plutarkians had been arrested and taken to Mars for trial in the Martian High Court. The charge: participating in war crimes against the Martian Mice Population and wanton destruction on the planet Earth. All thanks to the Biker Mice from Mars, and their human companion, Charlene Davidson.
Their reward for their victory- a chance to go home. The guys couldn't contain their rapture when Stoker contacted them with the good news. It was like a dream come true. A chance to get back to their lives on Mars, before the Plutarkians, and help to rebuild their society into a greater culture than it was before.
Charley, however, was still getting over the shock. The moment the guys had broke the news; the human mechanic had sunk into a nearby chair, feeling giddy from this news. Her legs were wobbly. She felt sick inside, but not because she was angry- far from it- but because she was sad and scared. Sad because her three best friends were leaving her, and she was scared because she knew for a fact that it would be forever this time.
That was a week ago. Stoker had given the guys a week to get their affairs on Earth in order, and so they could spend some time saying goodbye to the human woman who had helped them, fed them, and patched them and their motorcycles up for the past five years. It was only hours until Stoker arrived in the ship that would carry them back to Mars.
At this time, Charley was at the scoreboard, packing some of the guys' stuff into a large cardboard box. The guys themselves had gone to see Chef Andy for some farewell eats. They had asked, no begged, Charley to come along, but she decided to decline. She needed some time to be alone and to think. She hadn't really thought about what she was going to do after the guys had left. If she had to be honest with herself, she hadn't really let the whole idea of them going back to Mars sink in.
She found it hard to believe that they were really going. She was so used to having them around, to picking up after them and patching up their bikes, that she couldn't imagine life without them. It was a horrible thought - life without her three best friends. Many a time she had considered it, usually during a special or fun moment with the guys, but she would quickly dismiss because it upset her greatly. It was a tomorrow kind of thought, the kind that ruined today. Deep down she had always known that this day was coming, but she'd blotted it out and lived for the present. Unfortunately, that was the present and there was not a thing she could do to blot it out now.
She finished packing and then sat down heavily on the old couch in the part of the scoreboard the guys called the 'sitting room.' She sighed and looked around, taking in the scent, the sights and the sounds of the scoreboard. She was making a memory. She wanted to remember this place exactly the way the guys had it. The smell of bike oil, potato chips and Vinnie's over powerful cologne lingered in the air.
'No doubt about that,' she thought to herself, 'this is definitely a bachelor pad.'
She shifted in her seat. Leaning back, her head rested against the back of the couch. A magazine that had been resting on the top of the couch fell down and landed softly next to her hand. Charley picked it up to see what it was. It was 'Motorcycle Maniacs'- one of Throttle's magazines, she concluded. Throttle was the only one out of the three who religiously bought that magazine -or rather had Charley buy it for him- every week. Charley regarded it, and then clutched it to herself as if imagining that it was the owner of the magazine she held in her arms.
Charley knew her emotions had taken over in a longing sense the moment she clutched that magazine to her heart. Charley had fallen for Throttle. She had fallen in love with him big time. Her feelings must have been building up over the years, allowing her to fall little by little in love with the leader of the trio. She had never realised her true feelings for Throttle until the night that the guys had informed her of their departure. All this time she had thought that she and Vinnie would be involved in some way, but she knew better than anyone that life has a funny way of creeping on you with little surprises.
That last week with the guys had been wonderful. The four friends had spent the days out at all their favourite places- the secluded beach where they went swimming, Chef Andy's, and of course, the Last Chance Garage - the place where it had all started. Nights were filled with music, movies, hot dogs and roof beer and lots of talking and reminiscing.
That entire week Charley had spent gazing at Throttle with a longing in her eyes. Every time he walked into the room, her stomach immediately filled with butterflies, and every time he spoke to her, her heart beat faster. Throttle never noticed, even though Charley was certain that her behaviour around him was like that of a sixteen-year-old girl in love.
Last night, however, was a different story...
The previous night, the guys had decided to stay over and after watching a marathon of Kevin Smith movies- everything from 'Mallrats' to 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back'- Vinnie and Modo had crashed out on Charley's couch. Wide awake and feeling like talking, Charley and Throttle decided to go up onto the roof. It was a beautiful night. The stars were out and shining. The half moon was peeping out over the horizon and there wasn't so much as a cloud or a puff of wind. There was just the light of the street lamp and the distance noise of late night traffic.
Charley shifted uneasily, almost embarrassed, at the memory, remembering the conversation that had gone on between her and Throttle...
"You cold, Charley-Girl?" he asked in his typical husky voice. Charley loved to hear the sound of his voice. It wasn't just sexy, but warm and inviting.
"No, I'm alright thanks." she replied.
They sat together in silence for a long time, not really knowing what to say to each other. Charley was just glad to be near the one she loved, ever if Throttle didn't know the truth about her feelings for him.
Suddenly they both opened their mouths to speak at the same time. They laughed lightly as Throttle gestured that Charley go first with what she wanted to say.
"You expecting Carbine to tag along with Stoker to pick you up?" she said, trying to sound genuinely interested in his relationship with Carbine, even though she was envious of them. Carbine had something Charley would never have- Throttle's heart- and that tied knots up inside her.
"I don't think so. My lady may be devoted to me, but not THAT devoted. She'll wait for me to return from another planet, but will she heck make the trip. I'll bet she's too busy being a general to make a little return trip to Earth." Throttle sulked. It sounded like he and Carbine had had another fight.
"You've quarrelled recently?" Charley asked.
"Something like that. I asked her to come. She said 'no'. I said 'fine'. She said 'fine'... you get the picture?" he explained, making it obvious that he didn't feel like talking about it. Charley decided to not press him any more for details.
"I'm sorry. I know you must still love each other though," she said, stating what she thought to be true.
"Yeah. I guess we do." Throttle laughed softly.
"You guess?" Charley said.
"Alright. I know." Throttle admitted.
There was another awkward silence. The tension in the air so thick that one could cut it with a knife. Charley looked at Throttle. Throttle looked at Charley. They both laughed lightly, and that was when Throttle put his hand on top of hers. Charley's heart skipped a beat. She felt like a teenage girl talking to the rock idol she adored.
"Sweet Charley-girl," he started. He took her hand in both of his and continued, looking her straight in the eyes, "You've been such a wonderful friend to Vinnie, Modo and me. I honestly don't know what we'd have done without you."
Charley kept looking at him, staring into his face. 'Friend.' He'd called her a 'friend.' That's all she'd ever be to him. She knew she was foolish to think that there could be anything between them, but fantasies have a habit of taking over one's mind. She knew in her mind that Carbine had him hook, line and sinker, and she would have no more chances to show him how much he meant to her.
She was silent for a long time, up to a point where Throttle spoke again:
Charley blinked once or twice and smiled at him. "I'm fine, or at least I will be." she said.
Throttle smiled back, seeing the pain behind the smile. He knew she was sad to see them go, but he never realised how much. He'd always reckoned that she'd be happier without them, and able to get on with her own life again.
"I know you will," he said, opening his arms. Charley moved into them and they held onto each other for a long time.
When they parted, Charley reached down to her right hand and pulled off the silver ring that she always wore on her thumb. She then took hold of Throttle's hand and placed it in the palm saying: "Throttle, take this."
Throttle looked down at the ring, surprised at the unexpected gift.
"I can't take this, Charley. It was your dad's."
Charley shook her head. "No. I want you to have it. Something to remember me by." she explained.
"But shouldn't you give this to Vinnie. I mean you two being so close and all..." Throttle protested. He honestly didn't feel worthy to receive such a gift from Charley, and it confused him as to why she chose him over Vinnie.
"Vinnie and I," she paused trying to think of a way to word her feelings towards Vinnie. "It's not what either of us thought it was. We're just friends."
"So are we."
"Yes, but over the years I've always felt that we had a bond, Throttle, and I was never sure what it was until now." Charley paused. Throttle was about to speak when Charley gave a little chuckle and added: "Then again, I'm still not sure what it is."
Throttle looked at her with a pleading expression, as if begging her not to make him the sole protector of her memory on Mars. "Charley..." he murmured.
"Look... Throttle... umm..." she stuttered, standing up. Throttle stood up with her, still holding onto the ring. "I really don't want to say goodbye to you at the ship tomorrow. In fact, I'd prefer it if we said goodbye here... now." she said, her voice shaking with nerves.
"What about Vinnie and Modo?" he asked.
"I'll say goodbye to them at the scoreboard tomorrow, but now I want to say goodbye to just you." she said.
"O..K.." Throttle replied, still confused at Charley's behaviour.
They stood in front of each other, face-to-face. Charley extended her hand. Throttle extended his and they shook hands.
"Goodbye Charley." he said softly.
"Goodbye Throttle." she replied.
They held on for a long time, not moving, just staring at each other. Eventually, Charley let go of Throttle's hand and began to walk away from him. As she approached the ladder that led down into the garage, she turned and looked back at Throttle.
"You know it's funny," she said.
"What is?" Throttle asked, sitting down again on the roof. He still held Charley's ring in his hand.
"That the hardest thing in life is watching the one you love, love someone else." she said. She then disappeared down the ladder into the garage, leaving Throttle to ponder what she had just said.
Charley sighed again, shakily. She had as good as told him that she loved him, but it appeared that Throttle was either to dense or to dumb to see it. She looked at the clock. It was only be a couple of hours until the ship met the guys at the rendezvous point. She had told the guys that morning of her desire to say goodbye to them before they left for the rendezvous with Stoker. She knew in her heart that wouldn't be able to cope with watching them take off in the ship. Respecting her wish, the guys told her that they would spend their last hour on Earth with her in the scoreboard.
A familiar rumble of motorcycles approached and Vinnie and Modo entered the scoreboard on an air of song and boasting.
"Sweetheart, we're back!" Vinnie cooed. He parked his bike and leapt over the back of the couch to sit next to Charley. He gave her a hug and she smiled at him, hiding well her previous thoughts of Throttle.
Modo walked over to them and sat on the floor in front of the couch. Charley looked around.
"No Throttle?" she asked, concerned.
"He got a call from Carbine." Vinnie said.
"Yeah. Apparently she IS coming to Earth with Stoker when he comes to pick us up." Modo added, "Changed her mind and decided to come after all."
"Nice to see that the general has finally got her priorities straight. Next thing you know she and Throttle with be punching out some little generals of their own." Vinnie said, stretching.
Charley sighed again. It was all she seemed capable of doing. There wasn't really a lot to say, and she wasn't going to voice her feelings about Throttle to Vinnie and Modo now.
Modo noticed her quietness and looked at her with concern in his one eye.
"You OK, Charley-ma'am?"
"I'm fine, Modo. Honestly. You don't need to worry about me," she replied.
"But we do, Charley, and we always will." said Vinnie, with an uncharacteristic tone of sentiment in his voice.
"We never really found out how you felt about us going back to Mars." Modo added.
Charley nodded. This was true. They'd never talked about it since the day that they had announced that they were leaving. Charley really didn't want to break down into tears in front of them. It was something that she had never done in their presence before, and not something that she was about to start now. But they wanted to know. The looks on their faces told her that they wanted to hear her out.
"I.. I'm happy for you guys... really. It's what you've been working for. It's your reward," she said.
"What about you, Charley-girl? You were with us in this too." Modo reminded her.
"I know. My reward is that my three best friends get to go home. What more could I ask for?"
"Come with us?" Vinnie asked innocently. Charley looked at him. The expression on his face told that her that he was deadly serious.
"Thanks Vinnie, but I don't belong on Mars anymore than you belong on Earth. I knew this day had to come eventually."
"You'll be OK, right?" he asked. It may have been the millionth time that day that someone had asked her is she was OK, but Charley was too upset to respond. She was shaking slightly and her eyes with pricked with tears. She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream, but neither surfaced.
"Yeah..." she answered. "Come tomorrow it'll be back to cooking for one again." she added, trying to make a joke out of it. Vinnie and Modo gave a half-hearted laugh each along with Charley and as silence enveloped them again, Vinnie opened his arms and Charley fell into them, burying her head in his shoulder. Modo joined them from the floor, holding his younger bro and Charley-girl.
"I'm gonna miss you guys." Charley said.
"We'll miss you too, Charley-girl," said Modo and Vinnie together.
"Erm... bro's?" a husky voice stood nearby. The group hug split and they all turned to see Throttle standing there. He pointed solemnly to the clock on the wall. "It's time to go."
There was a deathly silence as Modo and Vinnie exchanged final hugs and words with Charley. When it came to Throttle, he just nodded and smiled, remembering Charley's wish to remember their goodbye on the rooftop of the Last Chance Garage. Her wore her ring on a silver chain around his neck and is shone in the light of the sun streaming through one of the windows.
The Biker Mice loaded the things they were taking with them to Mars onto the back of their motorcycles, and after another final goodbye, they headed out of the scoreboard. Only Throttle remained.
"You comin' bro?" asked Vinnie.
"I need to talk to Charley. I'll catch up," he said.
"OK." Vinnie replied, looking at Modo and then shrugging.
When he was sure that Modo and Vinnie were gone, he looked back to Charley. He took a few steps towards her until her was standing directly in front of her. Charley couldn't bear to look him in the eyes, so she bowed her head. Throttle took her hand in his and with his free hand, tilted her chin up gently so that she had to look at him.
"Throttle, please..." she said, her voice shaking.
"I know why you gave me that ring, Charley-girl. I've been thinking all night about what you said to me and I think I know the reason why," he said. His tone was soft and unthreatening.
Charley's heart was in her throat. She felt like she was going to be sick.
"I know how you feel about me Charley, and I wish that I could feel the same, but I love Carbine. I need to be with her. I love her," he explained.
"I know..." her voice trailed off as a tear rolled down her cheek. Throttle caught it on his finger and wiped it away.
"There's no easy way to say stuff like this. I can't help but feel that I've caused you even more pain than you need." Throttle said, sadly.
"No!" Charley exclaimed, "Having you guys in my life was one of the best things that ever happened to me! I regret nothing," she said, the tears ceasing.
Throttle smiled, "We have no regrets either."
Charley began to shake as Throttle leaned closer to her and kissed her on the forehead, stroking her hair as he returned.
"Carbine's one lucky girl." Charley said, trying to smile through the tears. Throttle smiled at her, and hugged her again.
"I have to go," he said, letting her go and climbing onto his bike. They looked at each other and smiled together. "Ride free Charlene Davidson." Throttle said.
"Ride free Throttle." she replied as he kicked his bike to life.
After one last look, Throttle sped out of the scoreboard, riding fast through the streets of Chicago one last time.
Charley stood at the window, watching him go and thinking back on everything that she and the guys had been through together as friends.
She remembered their first meeting, when Vinnie attempted to save her from Greasepit and ended up making an idiot of his self in front of her.
She remembered when the mice where framed for kidnapping the mayor and she had posed as Acting-Mayor Limburger's secretary in order to get some information about the whereabouts of the real Mayor.
She remembered fighting side by side with them against Corroder Cody and teaching them not to judge a book by it's cover.
She remembered the football games, the food, the root beer and the damage to her garage that she was always yelling at them about.
She remembered the guys putting their lives on the line to save the Last Chance from being demolished.
She remembered infiltrating the Road Ravens, posing as Throttle's chick whilst Vinnie and Modo were injured.
She thought more of Throttle and the things they had shared over the years. Things such as arguments, agreements, looks, and glances.
She remembered his tenderness, his compassion, his wisdom and his sense of humour. All the things about him that made her want him and love him.
Another tear made it's way down her face as she thought of all the scrapes and adventures that they'd gotten themselves into and out of. It was at that moment that Charley realised that her life was never going to be the same again. Throttle was gone. Vinnie was gone. Modo was gone. All she had left was a few material and heart-felt memories. Memories she would treasure forever and never forget.
One day she would get over her love for Throttle and her friendship for Vinnie and Modo, but for now she would have to be content with their memory, the memory of the Biker Mice from Mars.