"I was thinking we might as well stop for the night," Miles said, slowly. "I figure if we stop now, we will get an earlier start tomorrow."
"There is no way we're making it all the way to the camp by nightfall tomorrow." Rachel told him. "Charlie just can't do that."
He sighed, he'd learned long ago it was useless to argue with Rachel, he couldn't win.
"Miles, I'm fine." Charlie was trying to insist and break up the argument before it began.
"No arguing. I make the rules."
"You're not the general anymore."
"Not that you listened to me when I was." he grumbled at her. "I just need you to sit down, rest, eat some crackers, okay?
Charlie looked like she wanted to argue back but didn't say anything.
"Please, just keep your mouth shut." Miles suggested with a look at Rachel, who looked surprised at Miles' words since he was agreeing with her for once.
"It'd be best for the sanity of us all," Aaron mumbled, quickly moving out of Charlie's range as she pretended to smack him. He considered the Mathesons his family since he had no other, but they could definitely be stubborn at times and he'd learned the hard way it was best to stay out of the way when they got into certain moods.
"Sit, rest, eat. Now." Miles attempted to order her again. "I'll look for another happy pill, okay?"
"You know they're gone." she told him. "I'll be okay. I can always break into your alcohol stash."
"You won't have to break into it, I already know where it is." Rachel told her in all seriousness.
"She's underage." Miles pointed out, why he didn't know because did anyone even care anymore? He wasn't sure.
"Not that that stopped her three years ago." Aaron remarked, laying out crackers again.
"Aw, come on. That's not fair." Charlie protested. "You have to bring that up now?"
"Better now when you can't run." Aaron turned to the other two. "Ben and I used to run a still, for bartering. Charlie here, decided to convince her brother to break into it one night. She and Danny had quite the miserable time of it for a couple days." he told them.
Rachel smiled, it was the kind of story she'd wanted Charlie to tell her but her daughter hadn't yet forgiven her enough to give.
"Yeah. Didn't say I thought she'd never had it before." Miles amended his earlier statement.
"I could've told you that." Charlie muttered, mad at Aaron now.
"Whatever. It's a lousy medicine anyway, it'd only make you drunk enough to forget it and then you'd be both hungover and in pain." he sounded annoyed. "Now, can we just have some dinner?"
Jason didn't know exactly how far he was from his father's camp nor did he know exactly where he was. He didn't care, he figured anywhere was better then being there.
He suddenly slowed his pace, he could hear voices and see a light, possibly a campfire up a head. There had been few signs of people in the woods the past two days and he was immediately leary of fellow travelers.
Far as Jason could tell, he was still in the Plains Nation. Did the Militia have any hold here? He wasn't sure and didn't want to find out the hard way by running smack into a camp. Even if they did have food there. He hadn't ate much for the past two days either.
On the other hand, it would be good to know who he was sharing the woods with this evening. He crept closer.
There was a fire burning brightly in a small clearing. No food was cooking that he could smell, to his disappointment, if they were allies he would've liked somethng to eat. He could only see shadows, not people, so he crept a bit closer.
Miles walked the perimeter of their camp. He'd finally convinced Charlie to sit and eat something, even if it was only the crackers. Their supplies were dwindling to nearly nothing, and those stolen crackers and cookies would have to last til they reached the militia camp. Miles hoped they would be able to get something there at least, even if Aaron had to steal it again. It was the reason he was pressing so hard to get to the camp by nightfall the next day, he didn't like pressing Charlie into such a strenous hike like that anymore then Rachel did, but what choice was there?
He walked the perimeter again, certain he had heard something in the bushes beyond their camp. He threw a look over at the others, still sitting by the fire. They were quietly talking or something, undisturbed. Maybe it had just been a squirrel? He wanted to be sure so he walked a second time around.
This time he ventured into the bushes a little ways.
Jason shrank back behind the bushes, trying not to be seen or heard as he thought about what to do. The footsteps were getting closer and closer, he had only seconds to decide on his defense. Taking a deep breath, he stood up slowly. "Don't shoot, please." He kept his weapon at his side, ready if needed, but not pointed at anyone.
The footsteps stopped suddenly. The woods seemed very quiet, then a familiar voice spoke, "Jason?" Miles sounded shocked.
"Miles?" Jason was confused at first. "Miles, is that really you?"
"Yeah, kid. What the hell are you doing way out here? Charlie said you were staying with your dad."
"Things change." Jason stepped out from behind the bushes. "Charlie found you guys? She's okay?"
"She's doing okay." Miles was reluctant to give the boy much information, he still didn't trust Jason entirely even if he had helped Charlie escape.
"Glad you weren't militia, figured I'd be shot and dead by now, taking a chance standing up like that." Jason tried again.
Miles gave in. "You wanna see Charlie, don't you?"
"Could I? I've been worried since I left her in the woods."
"Fine. We're camped over there. You got any food or provisions on you?" Miles was hoping he did.
"Sorry. I was lucky to get away at all. Good old dad figured out I was the one who helped Charlie escape."
"Couldn't possibly have been that hard for him. A rock probably saw that one coming." Miles muttered, leading the way through the darkness, toward the campfire that burned brightly a dozen yards ahead.
Miles sauntered into camp, Jason only steps behind him. "Hey, Charlie. Brought you a present." He pushed Jason toward her.
"Jason?" Charlie asked. Her tired eyes brightened considerably.
He knelt in the dirt in front of her. "Yeah, I'm here now. You doing okay?" He brushed a gentle hand across the bandage on her shoulder, feeling a familiar ripple of anger go through him. His father had given him a promise that Charlie would not be hurt and had broken it as easily as a glass.
She nodded slowly. "Yeah, I'm okay."
"Good. I've been worried." Jason briefly wondered what would happen if he tried to kiss her but decided he didn't want to be on the receiving end of Miles' gun. He knew the man could shoot very accurately.
Rachel stood up and came over to Miles, who was watching the happy reunion with mixed feelings. "We hardly know this kid. For all you know, he is going to bring the militia down on us in the morning.
Miles shook his head, eyes still on Charlie. If that boy tried to go in for a kiss... "No, he won't do that to Charlie. Us, maybe, her, no. He won't risk it."
"You're willing to put everything and everyone on the line just because he likes her?" Rachel said, in disbelief.
"Yes, Rachel, I am. Leave it at that."
Realized it'd been a couple weeks since the last update, so I'm updating :) Y'all wanted a happy Jarlie reunion and there you go! Suggestions, comments, reviews, etc are always welcome!