If Cook knows one thing (just one), it’s that he’s got nobody.
They all hang around him – mothers, fathers, freddies – but they all leave him, knowing they’re too good for him.
He doesn’t even have Effy, but it doesn’t matter, because she stays.
(Run, she whispers in his ear, her mouth curving against the shell there, and he takes her hand. Run. Run. Run.)
The first two days after they leave (after he drives her out of there), she hardly looks at him. Seems gone to some place he can’t follow. He fills up the silence with loud chatter that draws her back to him, spiteful and sarcastic, but back.
(Run. Run. Run. It beats in his veins, burns against his skin when she kisses him, claws at him, whispers warnings and curses and never cries.)
“It’s you and me, babe,” he reminds her and she nods – she knows, has known it as long as he has, maybe longer.
“Where are we going, Cook?” she asks again, curling her hand behind his neck as he drives, pulling him towards her for a change.
(She’s a fucking seesaw and he’s the ballast.)
“Somewhere warm, princess,” he tells her, lets her turn up the music and smile that Effy smile. Knows it’s going to be okay, at least for now.
She follows him in to dark alleys and dank clubs, hangs on to him and eggs him on, lets him pull at her knickers and slide a finger inside her, pushing against him in time to the music.
“Harder,” she gasps (he’s never enough).
Not for mothers, not for fathers, not for freddies (who don’t call), not even for Effy.
(Run. Run. Run.)
Days bleed in together, and Effy turns him mad (turns mad herself), raising the challenge. Flirts with shop clerks and steals cigarette packs she makes him earn, in turn.
“Where are we going, Cook?” she asks, breathing smoke in to his mouth and he swallows, eyes stinging but still alive. Still breathing.
“What makes you think we’re going anywhere?” he says, earns a flicker of doubt in her eyes that’s actually real, answers it with a terrible grin. “Don’t you trust me, princess?”
“No, Cook,” she says, pulls him back to the dance floor. “But you’re all I’ve got.”
He doesn’t dare ask her if she wants better (knows she does, knows she won’t admit it).
She wakes next to him in the morning, ruffles his hair and sloppily kisses him awake.
“Where to today, tiger?” she asks, and this time it’s a real smile, the one he’s never seen her give anyone else.
(Not mothers, not fathers, not freddies.)
No, it’s just him this time.
“It’s an open road, love,” he says, rolls on top of her in the backseat of this abandoned car. “Wherever we want to go, we’ll go.”
Tries to kiss her but she squirms under him, not helping, and she laughs when he falls off the seat.
“Run, Cook,” she teases darkly, hand fumbling for the exit, and he scrambles out after her into the early morning sun.
(Run. Run. Run.)
He catches her at the highway; keeps pace with her until she stops, lets him outrun her.
“You coming?” he asks, panting, but wanting to push forward. She said so. She made it so. Grabs at her hand, helps her back up. She doesn’t say anything, just swallows, watching him, and when he steps, she steps.
(They run ragged until the next town.)