The first time they meet she's in wet ripped jeans that she ripped herself hours before. They're muddy too. The rip hints at a scrape on her outer thigh, the material tinted in red, and they hang off her thin hips, the sharp jut of her bone peeking over the edge. Her shirt isn't white, like you'd expect it to be, but a dirty light colour that looks to be washed out and too thin on her frame. She has no jacket.
They meet, literally running into each other, outside a bar trying to escape the rain. When she hits his side all she can think of is warmth and leans in just a little more. His hand steady her as she sways and then they look at each other.
She flushes under the bar's sign, words stammering out as she apologises. He's so tan that even if he did blush -- she doesn't think he would have -- she can't tell under the dark sky with it's the heavy rolling storm clouds skimming the horizon. He takes her apology in good gruff graces that make her smile. He's huge, golden but dark, his leather jacket sits heavily on his shoulders and his boots look warmer than her dingy sneakers. Her toes curl at the thought. She's been cold lately a lot.
Pushing back to the door, she almost makes it through when his hand closes over her shoulder and she freezes. It hadn't been the plan, because she really need to be warm and dry tonight with no trouble licking at her heels, but he had been there and her fingers have become used to surviving even when she wishes she didn't have to resort the methods she's learned to use.
His wallet burns in her back pocket.
He raises his eyebrow and she knows she's caught. It surprises her. Not many people catch her, letting slip through the cracks of their lives.
(They meet for the first time when she's in ripped jeans she had to rip herself because they got caught in a fence, he's in heavy black boots that look warm, and she steals from him. He lets her.)
He touches her shoulder, his eyes trail her face with something close to understanding, and only ask for the pictures in it back -- it's only one, a grainy worn thing with crease marks to deep that you can barely see the face in it -- and then she smiles and tells him she'll buy him dinner. When he laughs she feels like she's swaying again. Even his laugh his warm. It washes over her and she wonders if that's why she doesn't run away from him.
It starts raining during her second beer, her belly full, and she's warmer than she's been in months, years maybe. Her body leans in closer to his, but there's still space because she always needs space. To run, to breathe, but mostly to run.
When she pays she hands the wallet back to him and he tucks into his jacket where she knows she could steal it again. She knows he knows too.
(They meet when they're both wet and cold and so tired. She steals his wallet and he lets her. She buys him dinner with his own money and in the bar (he narrows his eyes at everybody who's eyes linger too long on the stark parentheses of her hips, so sharp under her skin, where her jeans hang and she doesn't notice). She eats like a lion, taking huge bites that she knows will probably make her sick but she's so hungry and grins up at him when he pushes his fries at her. He nurses one beer the whole time). (She won't know this yet, but this is strange for him.) She drinks three, she's old enough, she just never looks it.)
The rain lasts a while and they stay in the bar. When he asks where she's going she shrugs, because she still hasn't figured it out. When she asks where he's from -- his accent is so strange and new and sometime she remembers how little she knows of the world -- he tells her he's not sure either. He's moved around a lot. (He's never been sure; it always has felt he's been on the move, running away from something, towards something else. It's kinda the same for her, but they don't know that about each other yet.) She tells him she wishes she could move around a lot. His eyes regard her in such a way that make her thin shirt seems thinner.
Here, he says, his jacket suddenly now on her shoulders, smelling like leather and pine. His wallet is heavy at her side. She thanks him.
The rain stops.
Outside the bar they stand under the striped awning and she huddles herself in his jacket for one more second. She's about to slip it of her shoulders, his wallet safe in his pocket -- she can't take again, won't let herself take it again -- when he stops her.
Do you need a ride somewhere?
His eyes remind her of the sky and her toes wiggle in her worn shoes at the warm flush that shoots through her. She's been so tired and yeah, she wants a ride. She never takes them from others. People who look at her with hungry and mean eyes, who remind her of why she runs. He looks at her like he wants to make sure nobody eats her up and sucks her dry.
Around her shoulders, his jacket is soft and warm. Not as heavy as she thought it'd be. Her back feels protected and she's not shivering anymore.
The answer ends up being simple.
"That's just where I thinking of going too," his smile, the first one she sees (but not the last by any means), reminds her of the sun. She had a feeling it would.
He leads her to a bike and helps her get on. She's never been on one before and she already like the feel of it under the thighs. The rip of her jean strains and he touches it edge of it where there's still some dried blood. Looking up at him she swallows, her cheeks heating.
"Ripped it on a fence."
He nods. "We'll stop and get you something for it." He gets on and she leans forward on instinct, her arms around his waist and she feels a hand cover one of hers for a second as if making sure she's held on okay, before the motorcycle comes alive under her. Her thighs vibrate with its power and she rest her cheek at his back. His shirt is a dark colour, warmed by the sun and she smiles against the material.
(The first time they meet she's in ripped jeans and steals from him. He lets her. She smiles and buys him dinner. He laughs and wraps her in leather.
There is no second time. There's no need for one.)