- CHARLIE -
Charlie let her beautiful light brown mare pick up pace as they put as much distance between themselves and Willoughby. She run a mental list of the things she had in her kit and her chances of lasting over a week seemed pretty dire. But she didn't turn back. She had to stay away or she'd burn the damn place down. It wasn't just the betrayal of seeing her mother play house with Miles, or her confusion over hooking up with Monroe when they were obviously the world's most toxic duo. She was also racking her brain trying to understand how the hell this got to Miles in the first place. She didn't think anyone had seen them walk out the bar together that night.
She wondered whether Monroe and Miles would kill each other off now that she wasn't there to break it off. And then she thought back to Monroe staring at her as if he was awaiting orders. She'd actively been avoiding him since they'd slept together and she could only assume he'd been doing the same. And it was probably for the best. Until she heard him say he wanted to marry her. The thought alone filled her with fury. She'd never pictured herself being someone's wife. It's not just that she wasn't the type to stay at home and raise kids, which was what women who didn't fight do in this day and age. She'd also always picture herself dying in some battle – the enemy always changed, but the final outcome remained constant. She had no future. People like her never did.
And as much as she hated admitting it even to herself, Miles was right about one thing – Monroe had no future either. His own kid deserted him, his only reason for living was fulfilling whatever delusions of grandeur he had left over from his fallen empire. She knew he'd jump at the first chance he got to double-cross everyone and build back his army. He could be ruthless and cruel, but then again so could Miles. She guessed it was what serving in the US Marine Corps instilled in them; army was different in the days before the Blackout she gathered. People chose to fight, they didn't have to.
She thought back to three nights ago, stumbling in the dark with him, feeling his warm, rough hands run down her back. She only remembered fragments of their night together, she could only speak for herself and she'd had way too much to drink that night. And sure enough it wasn't romantic by any means, but she could still recall his intense blue gaze holding hers, as they got lost in each other. It somehow felt wrong to lust over a man who had so much blood in his hands – including her family's, but it was beyond her control anymore.
- MILES -
Miles hadn't had all that much time to think before he reacted to the news that Bass had banged Charlie. Her indignant reaction to him confronting Monroe about it confused him a little. He had never considered her consenting to this; he'd only assumed Bass had taken advantage of her. He wasn't blind to the fact that she was impulsive and liked to have a good time, but Bass would be a new low even for Charlie who was obviously damaged in so many ways. So he stood there, wondering what to do with Monroe. He still wanted to split his head open, but it confused him that Bass was alarmingly docile.
Still Miles was pissed and couldn't well ignore the fact that he felt responsible for Charlie and Bass was bad news. He knew Monroe wouldn't make it easy for him but he had to make a point. He couldn't let this slide. He raised his fists with a pained expression.
"Come on. We're gonna do this. You and me. 'Cause I'm not just giving you my blessing to go on with whatever the hell this is."
Monroe rolled his eyes.
"Don't be a dick man. I really don't wanna fight you." His gaze remained trained on Miles, weighing his every move. But he kept his stance relaxed, proving his point that he did want to play nice.
Miles charged at him trying to throw a couple of punches that Monroe expertly blocked. But he didn't return the assault.
"Miles, you know I can take you." Bass warned him earnestly. And he was right. Miles knew he was no match for him on hand-to-hand combat.
"I'm not giving you the go-ahead to fuck around with Charlie, Bass." He tried a few more blows and finally landed one. He got him in the stomach and Monroe bent over gasping for air.
Miles stepped back waiting for him to recover when Monroe charged at him at full speed knocking him flat on his back. Now it was his turn to have his grip firm on Miles' neck as he pinned him to the ground.
"I said. I don't. Want. To fight you." Bass said underlining every word. He opened his mouth to say more right when thunder struck in the distance.
Monroe was in his feet much quicker than Miles. He rushed outside, his brow furrowed as he scanned the eerie sky. Black clouds gathered as far as the eye could see.
Miles stood at his doorstep, observing him quietly. If he didn't know any better he'd say he was worried.
Bass turned on his heels and headed back right past Miles and into the shack. He picked up his duffle from the dirt next to his shitty straw mattress and charged out.
- BASS -
"Are you coming?" he yelled as he headed straight for the storm raging in the distance.
"Are you nuts? You wanna walk? Down the highway? To find Charlie? Who could be anywhere?"
"We'll waste time going into town to get the horses." Monroe snapped back as he kept walking.
"You do know Charlie survived 23 years on this planet already, knows how to find shelter and make a fire, right?"
Miles was so nonchalant about the whole thing that Bass wanted to slap the amused smirk off his face.
"So you wanna take your chances and see if she drowns or fries to crisp? What's your problem? Why do you always let her walk out on you? You did it after Colorado too. Just let her run wild."
"And good thing you were there to rescue her. Right, Bass?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Bass stopped dead in his tracks and stared Miles down.
"You said you didn't touch her." Miles said. It was obvious he didn't believe him. His eyes searching Monroe's face, reminding him of all the times they played poker together and he tried to read his bluffs.
"Then what is this, Bass? You hooked up in the alley behind the bar like she's some cheap tramp. One hell of a first time I'd say."
"So your problem is that I didn't lay down the rose petals for your niece. Have you seen her, man? She's like a Porsche. I didn't fuck her. She fucked me."
Monroe's blood boiled just thinking about it. He was only a tad more sober than Charlie and could recall their night together with exquisite detail, down to the salty taste of her skin, and the softness of her blonde curls slipping through his grip. In fact he'd played back those scenes in his brain, trying to put his thoughts in order.
Another flash of lightning brought Bass back to reality, he didn't have time to waste arguing with Miles. But to his satisfaction he heard him trail behind him, cussing through his teeth as the storm caught up to them or they caught up to it and large drops made their clothes heavy and sticky.