Raleigh Becket looked down at her sleeping daughter. At 3 Charlotte Yasmin Becket was already so much like her father. Raleigh supposed that the similarities were only enhanced by the fact that Charlotte had lived her entire life in Sydney, and her Australian accent just made it that much more obvious.
Raleigh sat there, next to her bed, the early morning sunshine filtering through the curtain covered window, and thought about how her little girl had come to be.
From the moment she had met Chuck Hansen, she had felt drawn to him, a feeling that was only intensified as her fist collided with his face.
Her feelings all came to a head the night before Operation Pitfall, in a crash of mouths and a tangle of limbs.
They lay awake all night, wrapped around one another, talking. Talking about their childhood's, about Chuck's mother, about how he had worshipped both her and Yancy, she had given him the final push to become a Jaeger pilot. She talked about Yancy and he just stroked her hair gently. They talked about everything except the future, because neither could be sure that there would be a future in their case.
And if when it was time to step off, if they held onto one another like the world was ending, well no one commented because for them it might as well have been.
And when they pulled back from each other if Raleigh whispered "I love you" against his chest, well Chuck didn't mention it, just like she didn't mention the tears that were in his eyes.
Raleigh remembered the blinding white light, she remembered the tears that spilled down her and Mako's cheeks.
She remembered swapping her and Mako's oxygen and hoping that maybe it would give her a way out. But she didn't give up, she carried on, she ejected herself from Gipsy at the last second, because she couldn't be a coward.
She remembered coming to with Mako's arms wrapped around her, remembered the pain, hurt and grief that hit her like a fist to the solar plexus.
She remembered Mako holding her as she shook, tears streaming down her face as she stared at the little piece of plastic in her hands, with a little smiley face glaring back at her.
It was fucking ironic that the happiest moment in most people's life was so heart wrenching.
Because when the end of the world is essentially tomorrow, who stops to think about a fucking condom?
Raleigh was insanely grateful to so many people. She was grateful to Mako and Tendo for all the help and support they gave her.
For when Mako was there at 3am when Raleigh was shaking in the corner of her room, the images from a dream clinging to her, the image of Chuck's face as he disappeared forever. Mako would just stroke her back gently and whisper to her, words of comfort, words of love, until she stopped shaking and then lay next to her so she could keep the dreams away long enough to sleep.
For when Tendo would show up at any hour of the day or night, to bring her anything and everything she could possibly need. For when he sat with her through 4 months of almost constant throwing up.
But most of all she was grateful to Herc, who's only reaction to her telling him that she was pregnant with his dead son's child, was to pull her into a tight hug and treat her as his own daughter.
The PPDC headquarters were moved to Sydney when Raleigh was 7 months pregnant, and little Charlotte Becket arrived only a month later. Herc joked that she was just impatient to say hello to the best country on Earth.
Raleigh doesn't need the video that Tendo took of Herc meeting his granddaughter for the first time, because she can remember every second of the encounter.
She can remember the tears that were threatening to spill over in his eyes as he held her. And she can remember that when she told him that her name was Charlotte those tears began roll down his face.
Charlotte, or Charlie as it was ultimately shortened too, was Grandpa's little Princess, and it was totally his fault that Raleigh could only follow half of the conversations he had with the 3 year old, as their voices blended together in a sea of words she could barely understand. She had gotten better at understanding what Tim Tam's and a whole bunch of other strange yet wonderful Australian creations were, but she had barely scraped the surface, and her little girl was Australian through and through.
One evening, while Charlie was fast asleep on Raleigh's chest, Herc told her that Charlie was so incredibly like Chuck sometimes that it physically hurt, and Raleigh was glad because maybe she hadn't known Chuck for very long at all. But she was still learning about him nearly 4 years after he was gone.
Raleigh was pulled from her thoughts by frantic knocking on the door of her apartment.
She quickly moved to answer it in the hope that Charlie wouldn't wake up. She was ready to berate whoever it was at the door, except when she opened it there was a disheveled looking Herc Hansen, his apartment door still wide open across the hall.
His eyes locked with Raleigh's as he said two words that would change their lives forever.