3.

She wakes up. She's back in Austin. Her nightmare is there in the dark with her. Her thoughts are filled with the darkness of the day she can never erase. Guilt and shame and fear and broken feelings find her, wrapped in Bass' sheets.

She can't stay. The weight of the feelings pressing on her shoulders makes her have to leave his bed and him before he wakes up. Because what she might find in his eyes when he sees her like this, might break her.

Bass wakes up the moment he feels her move out of his damn bed. It is still dark outside. The town outside is quiet. A jolt of adrenaline fills his blood. Old pain fills his chest and the memory of Miles' betrayal in Philly is too close. He tries to swallow away the bitter disappointment about her leaving his bed. And him.

He really thought they had moved beyond this point of her leaving him in the middle of the damn night. Leaving him and his bed like they are some dark secret under the cover of the dark sky of a long night. Hell, maybe there are.

'So what, you were just going to sneak off?' His voice is rough and deep and violent with its accusation.

Charlie wishes she wasn't able to hear the depth of his hurt hidden inside of his words. It's too much. What it implies, is too much. She closes her eyes and tries to breathe. She fails.

She is stumbling to his door. Her step is missing her usual strength. A raw deep sob escapes from her lips. It's the sound of loss and other fucked up things he knows so damn well. It is the moment he realizes something is very wrong. It's like cold ice running through his damn chest. He quickly moves out of his bed and he's with her in a heartbeat. Her breathing is still out of control and when his chest brushes her arm, he can feel her tremble. His mouth is dry with worry.

Charlie tastes the salt of the memories she is trying to push away in the back of her throat. She feels the wall of his tall male strength so close to her.

'Jason…I…' Her heart creates just one word. One word to make him understand.

Her voice almost breaks his heart. Dammit. Old rage and regret and shame and guilt for not being there when she had to do what she had to do in Austin wakes up. The memory of her standing in an alley in Austin, across from him and next to Miles and so defeated still almost brings him to his knees.

And just like that, his arms encircle her and he pulls her against his chest. 'I'm sorry…' his voice is low and deep, his lips are close to her ear. He asks her to stay and tells her that he will hold her without any words and a slow kiss in her hair. Her head rests against his shoulder. The night is quiet and his scent close to her is all that matters. Charlie can't move. He carries her back to the bed. He never stops holding her. The strength of his wide chest is close. The morning still far away. The sun that will bring morning light too. But she knows he will be there the moment it will arrive.