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Tell Me Something Hidden

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Despite what some people might say to the contrary, you have a few limits, and going for a little walk in the middle of a torrential downpour is pretty high on that list. If it were just raining a little bit, you’d deal - you probably need a bath anyways - but you’re pretty sure you just heard thunder and you have standards. “I’m gonna look for shelter,” you decide, putting your hands on your skinny hips and giving your partner a look.

”Knew you had to have a weakness,” he laughs, but he doesn’t seem inclined to make a big deal out of it.

"Hmm… didn’t I hear Miles saying something once about how you don’t like storms?" you counter, because you’re pretty sure you did and it sounded like a bit more than an offhand comment. Not that you’d be surprised if it was - you have learned never to trust anything your uncle says about another human being unless someone more predictable confirms it - but you’re pretty sure…

The familiar crash of thunder confirms your plans - next abandoned structure you see, you’re ducking in and staying there until this blows over. What Bass does is his own problem as far as you’re concerned, although you’re pretty sure he’ll follow you, just like always. Figures - some girls have dogs, you have a man who’ll probably die protecting you. And to think you used to think your life was boring…

Next abandoned structure turns out to be a shed of the variety that was probably in bad shape before the blackout. It’s not much, but it’d at least lower your chances of getting struck by lightning (another way you’d rather not die - you’ve been making a list lately, it’s getting surprisingly long). Doesn’t seem to be any wildlife living in there either, which is either a good sign or a terrible one. Whatever, it’s at least worth a shot.

"You’re kidding," he mutters, slipping into the space behind you. It’s easy to see the possible problems with the shed - dark, old, and missing just enough of its roof that actual protectionfrom the storm is a 50/50 shot - but still, you honestly think he ought to have a little faith in you by now. Apparently not.

"I am not getting struck by lightning," you reply, turning just a little to face him. On impulse, you reach out for his free hand, callused and scarred but solid and gentle as his fingers entwine with yours. You could do worse than this, you tell yourself - maybe you’re not sure how, but it’s entirely plausible and somehow that’s the most reassuring thing that’s happened to you in weeks.

Finding a comfortable position proves harder than you expect, and you eventually settle for leaning back against him, figuring you may as well. It’s nice to feel another person’s heartbeat - you could get used to this, maybe, though preferably without the element of being soaking wet. That, as far as you’re concerned, can stop being a thing any freaking minute now. The rest of it, though…

"You okay?" he asks after a while, and of course he’s wondering about you, never mind his own possible issues under the current circumstances. (You will never understand that set of tendencies, and you’re perfectly fine not knowing why he always seems to straddle the line between protectiveness and self-denial whenever you’re involved.)

"I’m fine," you shrug. "But are you?" Am I even allowed to ask that?, you almost want to say, but you really can’t. It’s weird for you, wondering what your actions might do to another person. You’ve gotten used to recklessness, but you’re starting to think it’s time to go another direction. There are things left to be done in this world, and better you than someone with more questionable standards. You’re just not sure how that fits in with… well, this.

"Just memories," he replies, kissing your forehead. "Nothing you need to know."

"But what if I want to know?"

"Are you ever gonna stop with the useless questions, Charlie? It doesn’t matter."

"It does," you insist, and maybe it’s not your place to wonder such things but that won’t stop you. Whatever’s running through his head right now, it’s enough to make him a different kind of distant than usual and that bothers you. If you’re going to stick around, you want more than that. You expect honesty from people, not… not this.

"Been near too many explosions in my life," he says after a few minutes’ more silence, almost the second after you gave up on getting anything resembling an explanation. "It’s just a reflex."

"Okay." You’d figured as much, but it’s nice to be confirmed. You squeeze his hand, wondering if this might be an acceptable time to kiss him, and decide against it. (You’re not used to having to think through stuff like that, but you’ll figure it out soon enough, if nothing else you have time for that.) "Sounds like it’s going away… we could leave here soon…"

"And wade through a swamp?" he counters, and you can almost see him smiling. "If that’s what you want…"

"Or we could stay here for the night." It’s late enough, you’re tired enough… not your ideal option, but you’ll accept it. "I don’t really…"

"I didn’t mean to worry you," he interjects, and it’s an almost surprising admission but it fits. “Just not used to being around someone who cares and doesn’t know everything.”

"Get used to me," you reply, and now is a much safer time for a lingering kiss. Much safer, you think as you hold on longer than you should, and you could definitely get used to moments like this.

"You’re going to be the end of me, Charlotte," he says against your skin, and you know it’s not supposed to be but it feels like the highest compliment you’ve ever received.

"Nah. ‘Least, I’m not planning on it…"