It was one thing to agree to this misadventure - wasn’t like you had anything better to do, really, and it was high time you went and did something selfish for once instead of trying to save the whole damn world. It’s quite another to actually go through with that plan, wander off and try to sort yourself out and… oh, yeah, have zero contact with anyone other than the current source of your confusions. Desperation, you’re pretty sure, does not lead to good life choices.
The problem isn’t whether or not you like Bass, because the number of times he’s saved your life solves that problem for you - after half a dozen, you figure, you almost have to like the person in question. No, the problem is whether you like him, which is either the best or worst idea of your life. Because on the one hand, he’s almost hit genuinely decent human being status, but on the other hand, he’s nearly twice your age (but doesn’t look or act it) and spent a decent bit of time as a murderous psychopathic tyrant (but is none of those things anymore). And then there’s the small problem of your abysmal taste in men, which you clearly inherited from your dearly departed mother. So… either way, you’re probably screwed.
You don’t even consider that he might see you in that way, because at this point you’re pretty sure that’s impossible. Between the fact that you’re his (former?) best friend’s niece (a minor detail considering that very little of your uncle has rubbed off on you) and the fact that you slept with his kid (once, because you were bored and needed to get off and you figured you might as well throw a bone thataway), you don’t think you stand a chance. Probably better that way. Eventually you’ll get over this, fall for someone your own age, settle down and have kids and maybe adopt a feral cat or something…
You’re so lost in contemplation that your focus is off, you’ve fallen quite a few steps behind, and you don’t notice either of those things until someone grabs you. Great, because a random attack is literally the only thing that can make your afternoon worse. You try to elbow your attacker in the stomach, but he’s got a knife to your neck and oh god you totally do not want to die in the middle of nowhere in KENTUCKY but what other choice do you have?
Right - you still have your voice, and while that’s normally not something you’d consider an asset, right now it just might be. So you scream, loud and higher-pitched than you plan but still distinctly human, and you hope you’re not going to get your throat slit before your traveling companion gets the chance to at least try to save you.
"Get your hands off my wife!"
You’ve never seen him so livid, so absolutely ready to do damage, and you’re almost afraid that some of it might be directed at you… but then you process the last word he said and… shit. Out of all the possible ways to establish what’s going on here, he had to go with that one. If you weren’t currently relying on him for your continued survival, there are quite a few threats you’d fling his way, and even as it is…
In a fluid motion, the asshole with a hunting knife is no more and you have never been this turned-on by bloodshed. You take a few moments and let go of the breaths you didn’t know you were holding, your body is shaking for no apparent reason and then there are arms around you again, the right ones this time, and you are safe.
"You okay?" he asks. There’s no judgment in his voice, no patronizing implication that the last two minutes wouldn’t have happened if you’d been a little more aware of your surroundings, and you’ve never been so thankful for something so small.
"Yeah," you whisper. "I’m gonna be." A pause - is now the right time for a confrontation, or should you wait until your heart rate returns to something a bit closer to normal? Recklessly, you decide on the first option. "Why did you call me your…?"
"Slipped out," he shrugs. "Seemed like a good idea. Is that enough for you?"
"You could’ve said anything," you counter. "Could’ve said I was anyone, and you picked that.”
"And this is a problem because…"
You realize, better late than never, that you’re not going about this the right way. “It’s not. I’m just… confused. Are we going to pretend to be together now, for safety, or…?”
From your current position, you can’t quite see him roll his eyes, but you can envision it perfectly. “I slept six inches from you last night, Charlie. We look after each other. For intents and purposes, far as anyone’s concerned, we are together. Only thing is it’s not physical.”
Yeah, you want to point out, but that’s because he’s an idiot who can’t see you’ve been crushing on him on some level for months. “But what if it was?”
"Don’t offer me things I can’t have."
"It’s a legitimate question! What if that did happen?”
"Are you trying to play devil’s advocate, or are you suggesting things?"
You turn around to face him, smiling, before leaning up and kissing him for half a second. “What do you think?”
"You don’t owe me anything." He’s trying not to cave in, you can just tell, and it’s almost hilarious to watch him try. He wants this, same as you do - it’s just a matter of time.
"Would’ve fucked you a long time ago if I thought I did," you reply. "But clearly that hasn’t happened."
"If that’s what you want." He looks away for a moment - whether to compose himself or make sure there’s nothing on the horizon, you’re not sure - and then back to you, not quite smiling but content. "I’m not gonna push you, Charlotte."
"Good," you laugh, kissing him again. "Because no offense, but you’re confusing as hell and it might take me a while to get used to… things." Or maybe no time at all, but he doesn’t need to know that just yet… or ever…