It's a beautiful night, warm and clear, without a cloud hiding the sky.
Arthur is smoking alone, leaning against the trunk of a solid tree, a few steps away from the camp. He still gets to hear the sounds, Javier's guitar, the girls singing, and someone else laughing, but this way it's quiet. Calmer.
He's glad they feel like celebrating - someone contributed with more money than usual to the camp funds, and one of the few odd jobs they're all doing actually went well. It's nothing much, but Sean said it was good to celebrate even smaller successes, and for once, Arthur agrees with him.
Sometimes they tend to forget that the morale of the gang is important too.
Hearing their laughs is good for him, too. Until the moment Tilly took his hand to dance, Arthur hadn't even realized just how much stressed he was.
Now he's a bit less stressed, with a decent amount of alcohol in his body, and still a bit breathless from all the dancing around. Arthur knows he's not a great dancer, but he's still better than Sean. And at least he managed not to step on Mary-Beth's feet, unlike Kieran.
"You done with the party?" Arthur asks to the darkness around him, and Charles Smith makes his way out of the cover of the dark.
"You heard me coming."
"Please. I know you did it on purpose. If you didn't want to be heard by me, you could’ve done that without any problems."
"True," Charles huffs with a laugh and steals his cigarette.
Arthur hums something under his breath, eyes turned to the starry sky above them. As much as he doesn't like this goddamn place, with all the humidity and the rednecks, he has to admit this particular evening is stunning.
If Hosea were here, he'd say Arthur is looking at the sky to avoid looking at Charles. And he'd be right, because Hosea is usually right. As much as the starry sky is beautiful, Arthur knows there's someone much more gorgeous right beside him, and he also knows he'd made a fool out of himself with so much alcohol in his body and no one around.
So it's safer to look at the sky.
"You weren't enjoying yourself?" Charles asks after a while, leaning against the same tree. He's so close Arthur can almost feel Charles' hand touching his own. Too close not to look at him and, goddamn.
Charles' eyes and his quiet smile are a greater marvel than any starry sky - and isn't that something straight out of one of Mary-Beth's books? Arthur feels like a fool, standing there with such thoughts swirling in his mind. But then again, Arthur often feels like a fool when Charles is involved.
"No, I just needed a moment of quiet. You know me," Arthur huffs and Charles smiles again.
"Didn't know you knew how to dance."
"Well," Arthur lets out one of his trademark self-deprecating snorts. "I don't. I know how to move around without stepping on someone else's feet. That's all."
Charles rolls his eyes - and this just further proves that Arthur should've kept looking at the stars.
"Would you dance with me?"
Arthur feels suddenly completely unable to talk. To breathe, even, and that's not the cigarette's fault. His throat feels dry and parched and Charles is looking at him like he's waiting for something - for an answer, you big dumbass - and all he can do is just stare at him with eyes wide open and no words.
Charles' smile looks more like a grin. The same exact one he always sports when he manages to compliment him and Arthur's face gets all flustered. He doesn't talk, and Arthur still is unable to answer.
But Arthur feels like he should know, by now, that Charles Smith is a man of actions, not words.
A few seconds later, Arthur finds himself extremely close to Charles, with a hand on his shoulder and Charles leading the way. A few seconds later, they're dancing.
Arthur feels his heart hammering wildly in his chest, and as much as he tries, he can't tear his eyes away from Charles. They've kissed, they've fucked, they've done many other things way bigger than this. And yet this feels so much more intimate, much gentler than anything else they've ever done.
Charles leads him steadily, and a few seconds later Arthur's heart calms down. It's different from what Arthur was doing at the camp, half an hour ago. It's different, less relaxed, and slightly more awkward. Arthur stumbles once, and Charles loses his footing another time.
It's still the best dance Arthur has ever had in his entire life.
Above them, the stars shine bright.