"You are kidding me. You have got to be kidding me!"
Charlie couldn't help but smile a little at the genuine outrage in his voice. Shifting up into a sitting position, she looked for the man behind the voice, an amused smirk carefully plastered across her face. It was easy to pick him out from his surroundings, even in the dark. Sebastian Monroe was one of those rare people that could never go unnoticed.
Especially when they were royally pissed.
When her eyes found him after a moment of a searching, she saw exactly what she always expected to see when she looked at him – cool leather jacket, curly blond hair, dangerous blue eyes, and- Well that was different.
His expression, usually so condescending and detached, was nothing short of furious.
Pulling the blanket just a little closer, suddenly hoping she was fuly covered, Charlie almost didn't notice the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. It felt too unfamiliar – it felt like regret.
Later that night- or maybe it was early the next morning… Charlie honestly couldn't recall, she strode into Barkers, fully intending to get so drunk she wouldn't remember what an appalling mistake she'd just made.
After his dad had stormed off, Connor had asked her if she wanted to come back to his hotel room with him. When she refused, saying she needed a drink, he'd all but glued himself to her side and offered to join her.
A very short, two-word sentence later and she'd sent him on his way, fuming.
Cursing herself under her breath, she began to ask herself, not for the first time that night, why the Hell she'd ever thought it was a good idea to sleep with Monroe Jr. A clingy, wannabe dictator following her around was one headache she didn't need.
And then there was Monroe.
The fact that it would piss him off had always been a huge plus. But it hadn't just pissed him off. There was something in his eyes when he'd found the two of them lying there together…
It was something Charlie had only seen once before.
When Monroe had burst through the door to that seedy bar and seen her, drugged out of her mind and surrounded by men who could barely take their hungry eyes off of her. It hadn't been rage - that wasn't a strong enough word for it. It had been wrath and outrage and a terror so strong it had shaken her to her core.
Seeing that again tonight, it had given Charlie the strangest need to get away from Connor, as fast as she could. To curl up in a blanket somewhere, where no one could see her and-
Try not to fall apart.
Shaking her head, Charlie was grateful when the memory passed.
Hell, if there was anyone half-way decent in New Vegas, she'd probably go screw them right now just to convince Connor, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that their little hook-up didn't mean jack. Instead, for lack of a remotely-acceptable one-night-stand candidate, Charlie stalked toward her usual bar for a little peace and quiet. At least the bartender at Barker's wasn't a total asshole like the rest of them.
But that plan, like so many of her best ones, died a quick and painful death when she saw Monroe himself sitting at the far end of the bar, glaring bitterly at the five empty glasses in front of him. Reaching for his sixth, which the bartender was wise enough to bring before he asked for it and leave without making any attempt at conversation, Bass didn't even notice she was there.
Breath catching strangely in her throat, Charlie forced her eyes to stay as far away from him as possible as she walked over to the bar and slid onto her usual stool. Telling herself he was well on his way to being too drunk to recognize anyone, let alone her, she ordered a Jack Daniels and tried to relax.
Four glasses later, she was still as tense as when she'd walked in. Her judgment was maybe the only thing that the alcohol had actually affected.
Said alcohol convinced her it was a good idea to stare straight at Monroe for a solid minute. Until he caught her looking.
All the alcohol in the world couldn't have kept her from jerking away from his gaze with a less-than-ideal level of subtlety. Suddenly fascinated by her own crystalline glass of whisky, Charlie tried to ignore the fact that while all she wanted to do now was look at Monroe, he'd given her no more than a cursory glance before turning back to stare into his his own half-full glass.
Too lost in her own thoughts, she didn't notice the way his hand tightened on the glass, or how he didn't take another drink from his eighth glass of Daniels when he was easily capable of consuming twelve.
Another few minutes passed, the noise of the bar surrounding them both, until the sound of Bass' stool scraping against the wood floor brought Charlie's head snapping up. Tossing a diamond to the bartender, he muttered something about keeping his tab open and then, shrugging on his leather jacked, headed for the exit.
Not sure why she did it, Charlie immediately hopped up – swaying slightly – and tailed him out the door before it even closed. She could tell he'd heard her following him by the way his shoulders never relaxed. Quickening her pace, she watched him turn down an alley and then followed without hesitation.
Rounding the corner, she saw him, standing in the shadows, his back to her. Immediately, she stopped too, waiting. She somehow managed to outlast him, and nearly sighed in relief when he finally broke the silence.