Bass isn’t sure when it shifts. One moment he’s pathetic, a sociopath, cold, empty, a killer. The next she’s bringing him Miles and stepping in front of the gun her mother is aiming at him, the way she stepped between Strausser’s gun and Danny. She even looks stricken, like maybe she will grieve when they stick the needle in his arm.
“Take care of your uncle, kid.”
Not all he wants to say, but he hasn’t earned the right to say more. He can’t call her “Charlotte,” then, for whatever reason. He’s let her down, again, won’t be able to save her family.
Her smile when he wakes, after Rachel (who’s still a-lying-cheating-conniving-bitch, but whatever) saves him (Charlotte’s doing, not Miles’s, he notes), seems to be as much for him as it is for Miles, and he files it away in his memory—what it feels like to make Charlotte Matheson smile again.
There’s relief under the confusion (she doesn’t know who Batman is, clearly—Ben and Rachel fail at parenting), and another smile when he saves them, uses that killing he’s good for to let her and her family live a few more heartbeats. It’s Miles who says it, though, that he needs him, and he tells himself it’s Miles he stays for, but as they melt into the high school halls, he doesn’t look back toward where Miles and Rachel have gone.
He keeps his focus firmly on watching Charlotte’s back.
They don’t need to speak, but he wishes they could when the disappointment floods her eyes as he makes for the exit. There’s nowhere to hide on his side of the hall, and they aren’t armed enough to make a stand. That look in her eyes, the stunned betrayal after so much approval, guts him, though.
It’s almost worth it when he kills the Patriot, lets her kill the other and she looks at him again.
“You came back.”
Almost like he’s her knight in shining armor, after all.
* * *
There’s something about a whole squadron of men burning around you that makes an impression. Faint shivers of horror slide through Bass as he lays awake thinking about it that night. Aaron’s a mess of shocked grief. Gene’s alive, at least, and pumping Miles with antibiotics. Rachel (the-lying-cheating-conniving-bitch) is sticking to his bedside like some kind of middle-aged-Juliet.
They’ve put Bass in one of the guestrooms, at least, given he carried Miles back to town, but God knows he can’t sleep. He just keeps seeing Charlotte’s eyes: the betrayal and the wonder, the disdain and the approval, back and forth in a dance that makes him as dizzy as his behavior must make others.
He closes his eyes to better hold the vision of hers, but hears the door creak open. Evening out his breath, he stays where he is, pretending to sleep, but tense, ready to spring into action if Gene’s come in here with a truly lethal needle. The step is light, though, as light as the scent of soap in the air.
The room is silent except for the sounds of them breathing: him, slow and measured; her, fast and uneven. He’s about to give up the pretense as the silence stretches, but then its broken by the slide of a zipper, the rustle of clothes, the slip of fabric over skin and onto the floor. His breathing all but stops when the sheet lifts, the bed dips.
Her skin is hot when it presses against his; the callouses on her hand are a delicious friction when they slide up his length—hard with almost embarrassing speed; she tastes like honey when her lips capture the moan that escapes his as his hips roll up into that stroke of her hand.
“Shh…Mom’s in the next room…”
An echo, another voice, another room, another set of furtive touches, but it’s just that, an echo drowned out by the reality around him.
He obeys, though, (no need to draw the ire of the wicked queen), and keeps his appreciation to silent sighs across her skin; brutal grips on the sheets when her mouth replaces her hand; blood-drawing bites to his lower lip when her lips find his throat and something even hotter, slicker, tighter encompasses him as her hips rock down against his.
She rides him with the reckless abandon and precise aim with which she threw snowballs; kisses him with the vicious demand that laced her barbed insults; comes with the silent intensity with which they both dispatch their enemies.
He can’t stop the cry of her name as he spills into her recklessly, but she swallows it down and milks him for every drop.
For all he might have fantasized about it a time or two (or two hundred), he never dreamed he’d truly know her like this, and, as they both come back down, he has a flickering thought of every other way in which he’d like to know her, let her know him. But thoughts of the future dissolve into memories of the past and coalesce in the moment of now when she snuggles and tucks in beside him and decides his chest makes a better pillow than her own, falling asleep to the sound of his heartbeat.
No doubt, they’re both too scarred for it to be relevant anymore, but for a moment, he remembers a dream about princesses and knights and happily ever after, and, as he falls asleep, the smile on Bass’s lips is small but real.