Burn Them

A continuation of this thread - @Charlie Major

 Charlie was merciful enough to not pry and prod on the drive from Red Rock to his apartment. He was many things to her in the moment - a man come to make her handle reality, a savior, an understanding and faithful companion. Surely he had questions - they all did, she was confident of that - but he kept them to himself, momentarily sparing her from the pain of not even being able to tell him if she wanted to. As such, the ride was as peaceful as it could be, though apprehension of what the future might hold grew steadily within the woman in the soft silence.

 She held her meager belongings in her arms as she trailed along after Charlie to his door, trying to focus on the little things she had not realized she had missed besides the company of another. A heated shelter, the promise of a shower and a chance to detangle her unruly mane, of clean clothes and a soft place to sleep, if she could manage such a feat. Her shoes came off just inside the front door, and she found a place to set down her things with a quiet breath.

 "Can I use your shower?" The question was gentle and weary, and though she knew the answer would probably be a yes, she hardly felt like she was in any place to make demands.

It was home, as far as homes went. He liked it well enough--lived here for years now. Single bedroom, bachelor life. The fridge still had toothmarks from the early days of Timeshare, and the couch had since had to change from them, but all in all, not much changed around here. Having Isolde over would have normally demanded he clean up a bit before she come, but circumstances meant that he didn't even think about the old food in his fridge or the fact that he probably hadn't made his bed when he'd left this morning.

The one thing on her mind seemed to be getting cleaned up, and he very much couldn't blame her for that. Again, no comment on how terrible she looked, but she did. It was more than just a loss of luster. She'd been outdoors for a couple of weeks and didn't look much like she'd cared to even try and keep up with basic needs outside of food and sleep.

"Yeah, course," he said, and he dropped his car keys and wallet and phone on the entryway table. He lead the way further in, going for the closet where he kept a small handful of towels, of which he picked the best one and turned to offer it to her.

 Charlie didn't need to say how horrible she looked; she felt it. Not just in the dirt that caked every bit of her, but also the dirt that radiated from the inside. It kept her from noticing anything less than immaculate about his home - it was just fine as far as she could tell in her current state. That he didn't bring it up was another small kindness. She followed him deeper into the apartment, lingering with an uncharacteristic uncertainty as he rummaged through the closet, taking the towel from him gently, with a small murmuring of thanks.

 She held it daintily, trying not to soil it too much, though her hands were likely the cleanest part of her right now. Carefully, she started to head to where the bathroom might be. She paused, realizing she would need clean clothes - or at least feel better in them. She hated to ask for help for either of these things, perpetually bullheaded and independent even in her brokenness. With a woeful expression, the woman peered at her temporary caretaker and sighed, "Can I borrow a shirt, too?"

Oh, crap, he wished he'd thought of that first, so she didn't have to ask. "Oh, yup! Just a second." And he went past her into the bedroom/bathroom area that were, for obvious one-room-apartment reasons, through the same area. He almost asked her if she had a t-shirt or a button-up preference, but really... he had a feeling it wouldn't matter. Grabbing a shirt from the top of the stack in his drawer, it wasn't anything terribly interesting--just a professional soccer t that he'd had for a while.

"If you want to toss your stuff outside the door or whatever, I can always put them in the wash..."

Gave him something to do while she showered, among a few other things that came to mind as he started thinking forward.

 More sad lost puppy following. Isolde idly glanced around Charlie's bedroom, mostly out of an instinctive need to be familiar with her surroundings, and as such would also notice the bathroom door. She would take the t-shirt without fuss, just happy to have something clean. She watched his face as he offered to take care of the wrinkled old clothes, certainly dirty now, and her face formed something like a smile, but it was a very weary version. "Thanks," she said simply. With that, she turned away, moving towards the bathroom and closing the door behind her. She could figure it out.

 She stripped down, cracking the door open just enough to lower her clothes to the carpet outside the door, and made her way to the tub. Men's products lined the edge, no surprise there. Beggars can't be choosers. The temperature knobs were easy enough to configure, and before long the water was coming out scalding hot. She stood under the boiling stream for far longer than necessary, spending more of that time unpacking and packing her emotions than actually washing - although that definitely happened.

 Fuck that vampire bitch. Isolde crouched in the bottom of the tub, hugging her knees against her chest, eyes closed as she fantasized about dismembering the woman who had done this do her - slowly, starting with the fingernails and toenails, then phalanx - sawing away at ankles and knees and wrists and elbows. Pulling teeth. A whole myriad of gruesome, terrible ways to exact revenge. Ending it with fire. And none of it even remotely possible.

 She sobbed into her hands, quiet as she could. What to tell Charlie? Yana? The thought of struggling to say as much as she could was almost unbearable. Were there loopholes to this magic? Was it reversible? It seemed desperately unlikely. Had running and hiding been overly dramatic? Going home and acting like nothing had happened seemed... well, not better. At least this way, they knew something was wrong. Even if it meant pitching them into the torment of not knowing what.

 The dirt was scrubbed away, her hair mostly smoothed out long before her thoughts fell to silence. The water went cold before that even happened, but that was a good enough sign that she needed to get out. Gathering the pieces of herself back, she went through the motions of drying off and pulling on the shirt that Charlie had provided for her. It was oddly comforting, and though they were damn near the same height, it was still long enough on her lithe frame that she wouldn't accidentally flash the poor man.

 Towel in hand, damp hair resting in a sleek rope against her chest, Isolde stepped quietly out of the bathroom. She flicked off the light and stepped quietly across the apartment to seek out Charlie. For all her standoffish behavior earlier, her tepid scrambling to figure out the right move to make, she just... wanted to be held. And she would attempt to achieve just that when she found him, moving to press herself against the man without a word, latching her arms around him.

He'd left her to it, only going back when thanks to proximity and were-hearing he heard the door open enough for her to leave her clothing. He'd gone back for them, then, put them in the wash with what few articles he'd accumulated over the last week, too. A good reason to be responsible, really--he probably wouldn't have put the laundry off another day or three without the motivation.

She got the shower on--also easy to hear--which he was glad for because he didn't want to have to be weird and try and explain it to her through the door or anything. With the washer going, he closed the laundry closet door and cast his gaze around his home, trying to figure out what he was meant to do first. He imagined she'd be a while, but how long that while would be...

Well, start at the top. He went over to check his phone. Nothing, of course. It was dark out and he did consider texting Yana. Doubtless the Queen would be relieved to know Isolde was fine and well and that maybe Charlie could come back to work and life could be their own version of normal again. But... he glanced behind him, as if Isolde would be standing there, watching him. No... this really wasn't his call to make.

Absolutely he would gently suggest for that kind of action soon, but ultimately he had no idea what trauma had caused the guardian to flee her post, and he had no idea what would make it worse. If she fled back out the desert, he was reasonably fearful this time she'd go far enough to not be found by anyone at all.

So instead, he flipped over to the dominos app and ordered three whole pizzas. He was starving, and he imagined she would be even moreso. Had she spent the last two weeks eating nothing but wildlife? As appealing as that was to the more primal bits of himself that he was still becoming accustomed to, there was just a point in life where cooked, human food was as much about pleasure as it was about keeping up with an insane metabolism.

That done, on its eventual way, he went into the kitchen and decided... time to clean out the fridge and keep himself busy. Thankfully, there wasn't loads. A few take out boxes to just straight up trash. An open and flat beer that he couldn't figure out why he had kept. Something had spilled and had the cardboard bottom of a six pack stuck to it and so he cleaned that up, too... All the while listening to the white noise of the shower through his own walls.

Pulled out a few extra blankets, assuming he'd be sleeping on the couch tonight, but left them sitting on his dining table when he heard a soft knock on the door and went to tip the pizza delivery kid rather generously--generally grateful to the world that sometimes things worked out better than you feared.

So he'd been straightening up, pulling out paper plates when he heard bathroom door open a little while after the water had shut off. He turned around when he hear footsteps, just in time to find himself pulled into a hug that felt almost a little too desperate to actually be called a hug.

Adjusting his feet a little so he could return the embrace, taken off guard by it even if it wasn't unwelcome, he pressed his cheek into the side of her damp hair and patted her once before his hand settled on her back. "Hey," he offered quietly, almost questioning but not quite.

 The molten core of guilt was cooled some for the comfort of an embrace. Both woman and beast were grateful for the temporary reprieve, a small moment suspended in the present. She sighed against his shoulder, a deep breath that left her slightly deflated against his form. "Hi." A beat of silence. "Thanks."

 The smell of pizza was tantalizing, and perhaps the only reason she didn’t cling to Charlie for several more minutes. The cheetah might be perfectly content with a lifetime of antelope and varmint meals, but Isolde could not deny the intense allure of greasy, cheesy human food. Slowly, as if moving too quickly might disturb some delicate balance here, she extracted herself from him and lifted the towel to drape it over her head. It might have been comical if not for the sheer pathetic-ness of it all. She curled it away from her face and wrapped the long ends around her still-wet hair, and then reached down to pry a few paper plates from his grasp without meeting his gaze.

 It didn’t seem likely that he had bought pizza without the intention to share, so she wouldn’t ask to take any. Still, manners made it feel strange, so her movements were dubious and careful as she opened the still-warm boxes and pried several slices free to pile onto her plate. When she was done, she stood aside, eyeing the rest of his apartment. "Couch?" she asked quietly. Maybe he was the kind of man who preferred to keep food at the table. She didn’t mind either way, but she would wait for his preference before she made her next move.

The embrace didn't last long, but while it did it did have a soothing affect even on him. Timeshare was glad to have his favorite companion back, and Charlie was just a dozen levels of relieved--not the least of which was that she was willing to still treat him as something familiar, rather than default back to acting like awkward strangers.

They weren't... that. Not at all.

So the disentangle was slow and when she went for food he watched with the careful patience of a host but made no comment, as he often didn't tonight. At her question of where to go was given, he nodded. "Yup. Remote is over there, too, if you wanted to turn something on." Streaming services were just a way of life these days. The only reason he even had cable was to catch the occasional soccer match. And because it came with the internet.

He lingered back to gather up his own food, and offer, "Want anything to drink?"

 The couch was open game, and so Isolde would pad her way over to it. She considered not touching the remote, but eating in silence seemed like it would be uncomfortable, and she didn't think she would have the capacity to speak in between wolfing down the pile of pizza before her. So, the plate would rest on her lap, radiating warmth into her legs as she figured out how the remote worked.

 "Water," she requested quickly. Dehydration seemed a likelihood. "Please." She poked around Netflix before settling on an Avengers movie, mostly as a jovial sort of background noise, and then set the remote down so that she could start in on her food. She took large bites, far beyond lady-like, happy to let her brain be totally absorbed in eating for a short while. It seemed like this was nearing a point at which she should start talking, explaining herself to her host as well as she could. But first, pizza.

Having someone here was kind of weird.

Having someone here after she'd been missing for nearly three weeks was weirder.

It was interesting, he thought, as he rifled into the back of the fridge to grab a couple of bottles of water--both for her--, but if they had been more... human, he supposed... he would have called the cops ages ago. Filed a missing person report. Had them help or maybe do all the looking. But hey, we're not your average person anymore, so I guess we take care of things ourselves.

Briefly imagined a cop finding her out there. Figured it wouldn't have ended so nice. Was glad to have done it instead.

But he returned to her at the couch with a smile that was real even if it was a little weary. He hoped he'd sleep well tonight, after all of this. As she was busy wolfing down food in an unsurprising manner, he lowered both bottles of water horizontal into her lap and then sat down next to her. Not incredibly close, but not at the other end of the short couch, either. His gaze flickered to the movie, then to his own food and he sat back with his spine to the cushions.

This time when he didn't speak it was less about respecting her needing a moment, and more about putting food into his own face. It had been a few hours since he'd eaten, and that was always problematic these days.

 Mouth full, Isolde would deliver thanks in the form of a quiet, appreciative hum as Charlie brought her water. His nearness was nice, and for a moment, this could have been a normal night of pizza and movies. Alas, it definitely was not, but it wasn't something that bothered her again until she had cleaned her plate - and she did. After a few minutes, her plate was almost completely empty with the exception of the fine little grains that had fallen from the crust.

 She remained quiet, emptying one water bottle with relative speed and setting it aside with her bare paper plate. The second bottle would come to rest in her lap, and she would finally recline against the back of the couch. All the comforts and luxuries of a typical human life could so easily be taken for granted.

 Her gaze would move back and forth between Charlie and the movie that she had paid almost no attention to. She reached deep inside, grasping for her old self, the cool woman with diamond-plated resolve and all the confidence of a total badass. It was difficult, but Isolde clutched these aspects of herself as she watched her companion near the end of his meal, already tired of feeling so victimized.

 "I can't tell you what happened," she said quietly, and despite her strides for toughness, there was a crack in her voice. She frowned and looked down at the bottle in her lap. "I'm sure you were wondering, but... it's off the table." Even if he hadn't been, it seemed like a good place to start. And, well, finish, probably. Shit.

As he finished his food and Isolde seemed to come to some sort of decision, his gaze moved from the movie he'd only really been watching in order to keep himself from hovering over her and her needs, back to her again. When her voice spoke up, he felt a little flutter of upset, just... at how much all of this had hurt her. While yes, her disappearing had hurt them all, still had Yana worried and Mathis, too... he really didn't feel like she had done it to be spiteful. If anything, it sounded like she hadn't felt like she'd had a choice.

Off the table. Straight up, she shut it down. And it admittedly perplexed him, and he was pretty sure it had to be showing on his face, but he couldn't help it. Was it something personal? But if it was... what could it have been that would elicit that reaction? Had she like killed someone or something?

"Like... why not?" he asked, then immediately regretted it and reached out with a hand to her leg to rest there, firm and warm and, "No, wait, don't--that's not fair. I'm sorry. Don't answer that. This is just confusing."

 He was visibly confused. Isolde suddenly felt a pang of regret for her choice of words - saying it was 'off the table' might make it seem like it was her decision not to share. Maybe it would spare some of her pride to not even be able to say, 'well, my dumb ass looked a vampire in the eye.' Why not? Isolde wilted somewhat in the face of that question, but Charlie was quick to backpedal. Still, the answer, which she could not speak and only stew on in the privacy of her mind, wounded her.

 She looked down at his warm hand on her leg with sad yellow eyes, made indignant by the sudden lump that grew in her throat. One of her own hands moved to cover his, fingers curling under his palm. "I promise," she said quietly, the words breathy in a hard attempt not to cry. "If I could tell you, I would. Yana - I can't even..." She brushed his knuckles idly with her thumb, inhaling sharply and clearing her throat. He was going to have to get good at fighting, but this seemed like a really bad time to say as much. She didn't know if she could make this any more ominous than it was, but she'd rather not. "I'm sorry, Charlie."

With her hand curled over his, he curled his own fingers over hers and looked at their hands. If she could, she would. Not even Yana...

It seemed so out of character, he didn't understand and he so desperately wanted to, but he felt like if he tried to he'd just hurt her more than she already was hurting. Trusting her wasn't impossible. Considering everything he already felt it wasn't a stretch to place his faith in what she said. But all the same... She seemed so sad and it was so hard to know what to do when everything was ambiguous. She'd disappeared for nearly a month! A whole month! And now she was on his couch with no explanation for it.

But he believed she was sorry.

"Don't be sorry," he said, hating her guilt more than he hated the lack of answers. "Thanks for coming back with me."

 It could very well be said that shame was the thing that had pushed her away in the first place, and that shame was what had brought her back. At least, it had been a factor in letting Charlie take her away from her dusty, mine-riddled, temporary home. There was embarrassment and regret and fear in what she had done - what had been done to her - and more of the same in the face of chasing off someone who cared enough to come looking for her.

 She leaned her weight into him again without answering, letting the side of her head rest on his shoulder, eyes on the TV without really watching it. She was sorry. She still felt every bit of ruined and foolish and damaged - a rake without many teeth, a wire without spark. And no one else would figure it out until it was too fucking late. Her face squeezed uncomfortably, and she was glad not to be looking at him. She squeezed his hand a little harder, too, holding her breath for a moment and releasing it once she had gained some composure again.

 "Don't tell Yana yet. Please." She remained where she was as she spoke. "I'm not ready."

Though he kept his eyes down on her lap where their hands sat, he did lean his head down against hers as she rested against his shoulder. There was just so much going on inside her right now, and he felt his own spirit stir in empathy he didn't quite understand. But he did know he felt better with her here, to be able to touch her and see that she really was alright.

Her plea made him glad he'd already hesitated to act on reporting in. He nodded at first, but it was subtle where he was leaned against her, and he cleared his throat a little to answer. "Don't worry. You're a secret that's safe with me while you need to be."

Unless it somehow become more dangerous to harbor her than not...

But no, he wasn't some tattle-tale and he could tell enough to know that this was important.

 Isolde would smile some for his words. For a second, she entertained the idea of just... hiding here forever. That was, of course, not plausible. Yana would be able to smell her on him, or something else would surely go sideways. Beyond that, it wouldn't be right. Her Queen and dear friend did not deserve that kind of deception.

 "Thanks," she whispered. A soft sigh. "I will tell her soon. I won't make you harbor a secret fugitive for too long." That would surely be too hard on him. There were several things she needed to do before then, though. Have her car towed somewhere safe. Maybe ask Charlie to go to her apartment to get her some clothes, and real shampoo and conditioner. For now, though, it was nice to just... be here. Safe and comfortable, with someone who was probably the least judgmental person on the face of the earth.

 "How are you?" She asked after a moment. She hadn't even asked him, too absorbed in her own tragedy. Probably tired, but... she had just woken up a few hours ago. Perhaps selfishly, she didn't want him to go to bed. She didn't want to be alone just yet.

Secret fugitive... Well, for all it wasn't perfect as labels went, it did convey the right feeling, he supposed. The need to keep her presence here from getting out before she was ready, combined with the fact that while... not unwanted, she was unexpected by now. He wasn't even sure there was a word for that, though. A woman who was so desperately wanted back by everyone but needed to do it on her time. If Yana was cross with him for keeping this to himself, he wouldn't be surprised, but it was a risk he'd take for things more important than a few pinged feelings.

She asked how he was doing and he was almost surprised at it, as if his own well-being hadn't particularly crossed even his own mind. He shifted a little, to weasel a hand around behind her, between her and the couch, to tug her a little closer as he didn't actually debate long on how to answer that. "Better," he said. Surely she understood why that was. "Tired. This is surreal but also... yeah. Better."

The big problem solved, he was much happier to sort out the pieces of what he'd ignored or were freshly facing him now.

 For as prickly and distant as Isolde could be, she was perfectly content to be this soft. To let her current weakness include a need to be held, to ask without speaking and to receive without feeling like she needed to pull up her guard. Charlie’s arm around her was somewhat unexpected but by far welcomed. She yielded to the tug, leaned into him a little heavier for it, listening to the vibration of his voice through his body as she closed her eyes.

 He was better now, so it didn’t take a genius to figure out that yeah, he definitely hadn’t taken her disappearance well. Saying “good” felt out of place, even though Charlie would probably understand what she meant. She bit down on another apology, even though she felt every bit of it. At least she could soothe feelings hurt by her leaving. Instead, she said nothing, merely humming a soft sound of acknowledgement.

 Isolde released his hand in favor of turning into him and wrapping both arms around his torso. For a moment, she considered telling him he could go to sleep if he wanted - he was tired, after all. At the same time, saying as much felt strange. She didn’t really want him to go, but giving him directions either way didn’t sit well for some reason. He didn’t need to be told what to do in his own home. She wondered if he felt like he had to walk on egg shells; she sort of did.

She turned into him without a word and he relaxed into the hold they had mutually on each other, his other arm coming around to really secure them both right there for a moment. He dropped his cheek down against her hair, nuzzling a little bit of comfort in lieu of words. She already knew his part in this, having come to look for her, going until he had. Tired but better. And she, so traumatized by something that she'd run, and no words left because she was back but unable to explain.

Easier not to say too much. Maybe if something came to mind, but forcing it felt wrong. The silence didn't need to be filled.

The contented sensation he felt was as much himself as it was Timeshare. A little feline influence had him thinking she smelled nice. And not just because she'd finally showered, really. It wasn't him admiring his own choices in bath products. Just something about her very personal signature scent that had nothing to do with synthetic perfumes or anything like that. An underlying thing that he surely would have never put together in so many words if he hadn't been chomped by a cheetah one night nearly a year ago.

Familiar. And the sort of thing that now he'd come close to seeing it disappear he realized he'd grown... a bit attached. Isolde was a comfortable bit of his life that he was still figuring out, but wanted nonetheless.

So he squeezed her a little tighter, mindful of her posture in case there was any tension, and then shifted enough into his spot so that he could press his face into her neck and just keep her there a little longer.

 This was... different. Unusual in so many ways, but not bad. She didn't think they had ever touched this much before - a brush of the hand, a nudge, a hug, but this was straight up cuddling. And as much as the situation warranted it, as much as she felt on some deep level that she needed it, she wished it didn't have to come about this way. Somehow, though, she realized that was over-thinking things. There was something to be appreciated in the simplicity of it all - her beast was capable of that much, silent and content against Timeshare. Just embrace the man. He deserved it either way.

 The intimate press of his face against her neck was so wholesome and affectionate, warming her heart to the point that her eyes stung with a fresh round of tears. She shifted her weight, pulling one arm free to re-thread it around Charlie's shoulders so that her fingers could cut through the hair at the back of his head. She savored the feeling of it parting against the creased between her fingers and under her palm, and the sound of his beating heart, the sensation of his warm breath on her skin. The other hand rubbed gentle circles against his ribs through his shirt. Poor, sweet Charlie.

 Her wet eyes closed as she held onto the moment for a while longer, moving her head just enough to stroke her cheek against the longer, wilder locks of hair at the top of his head. She did not deserve this kind of peace, but she was grateful for it all the same.

 "I probably won't sleep tonight," she whispered against the top of his head after some time of comfortable silence. "You don't have to stay up for me."

He might have overthought all of this a lot if he hadn't just spent the last couple of weeks wearing himself down over her and her welfare. Touching her was usually a lot more of a conscious decision, still growing into the tendency that weres had to touch... though perhaps it was doing himself a disservice to think that that was all this was.

It wasn't, he knew that, but exploring that at this particular moment wasn't the motif.

Comfortable right here, glad for her reciprocation, enjoying the feelings of relief and contentment after many days of anything but that, he was disinclined to move, even when she spoke up after a while.

"Probably won't for a bit, either," he said, though exhaustion tugged at him and begged to say otherwise. He ignored it. "Want you to take the bedroom, anyway. That way if you need some privacy or whatever..."

Also, it was more comfortable. And he'd been sleeping in a bed for weeks where she'd been sleeping, presumably, in a mine.

 He certainly sounded tired, especially since he'd admitted it just minutes ago, but he spoke with a resolve that suggested he might stay up with her anyway. She made a little sound that was almost a laugh, rolling her eyes. "No. I am not taking your bed from you," she said, words firm even as she continued stroking his hair. It was too much; more than she deserved by any means. She would be fine on the couch; it was leagues more comfortable than barren earth. There was, of course, another notion that could serve as a compromise, but... could also cross some invisible line.

 "We could... share it," she suggested, uncertainty clear in her voice as she spoke. Her body tensed some, uncharacteristically concerned that it might be taken the wrong way. "I just. Don't want you to struggle to sleep on your couch when I may struggle to sleep at all. It would be wasteful."

Even snuggled up into her, he was prepared to put his foot down and make a point of it all. Ultimately, though, he was pretty glad to have remained where he was when she made her next point. In spite of the decidedly innocent nature of her suggestion, he was pretty sure he was blushing a little. Hadn't occurred to him that she might be okay with that. He was okay with that, he really was, but he could tell from the slight shift of her muscles that it sounded a certain way to her, too.

So he turned his head enough to get an eye on her without really resurfacing properly. "If you're down with that, I think that's better than trying to win a fight in trying to get you to take it."

See? It wasn't that weird.

Definitely had appeal, and not even in the obvious way. Charlie really was just loathe to put her out any more than she had already put herself out. Having her close at hand would settle some of his still-weary nerves.

 It wasn’t that Isolde couldn’t be interested in the suggestive thought that came with her proposal - but now was, obviously, not a good time for that. The recovery period was newborn; there were many obstacles to overcome before she could even really dip her feet in any unspoken feelings between them. At least it seemed that they were on the same page. Even without seeing his face, Isolde was sure she could feel something like embarrassment coming from Charlie, and she smiled a little for it.

 His response elicited another half-hearted laugh. As if he could win that fight. She kept such confidence to herself, but tugged gently at a strand of hair as she considered voicing as much. "Alright then," was her simple response. Maybe she was too tired to fight anyway.

He sighed, but it was a pleasant deflation in the midst of their overturned lives, and he stayed where he was for a few more heartbeats before he carefully extracted himself from the hold, patting her leg again with his hand. "Okay... you want anything more to eat before I go put it all away?" Enough for at least half a breakfast between them in the morning. They could have pizza and eggs or something.

Still a little warm in the face from their freshly made decision, he rubbed a hand over it and shifted in his spot as if he went to stand, but also to give himself a little breathing room while still also not completely removed from her personal space.

 This was nice, in and of itself, and also because as it served as a good distraction. For as new as it was, it was very... normal. There was no need to think of vampires right here. No need to feel too guilty for anything. Even as he pulled away, she was feeling warm and safe, settled in a lapse of calm between her last fretful moment and the next one that had yet to come.

 "No," she assured him. Truth be told, she could probably eat every last slice of pizza that remained, but she was honestly content with what she had. Maybe she would eat more after he fell asleep and she was wide awake. Isolde rolled away somewhat to allow him the space to move as he pleased, sinking further against the couch. Her own beast chattered quietly in her head, displeased with his departure, but otherwise calm. He would be back. Watching him, she gently questioned, "You okay?"

Okay. Food away was easy enough when it was already in its own boxes and he didn't even need to make room in the fridge. Just shove a few bottles around and there, perfect. It was satisfying for all it was mundane, and he went around the kitchen a moment, rinsing his hands and putting a couple of old glasses in the sink. Stuff for tomorrow Charlie to worry over.

He paused at her question as he dried his hands. Nodded. "Yeah. Been a long month, but it's paid off, so I'm okay." he dropped the towel onto the counter rather than hanging it back it belonged, then went to keep himself busy a moment longer by pointlessly straightening out one of the four chairs at his small dining table.

"Just haven't had any real life drama in a while. Haven't... yeah, just a lot of feelings."

 Isolde listened to his movements, the whir of the fridge as he opened the door, running water, glasses going in the sink. Her head rolled against the couch, still-wet hair likely leaving a little blob of dampness there. It had been a long month. She bottled up her guilt again, for his sake. Charlie should be able to share his feelings without being made to feel bad for it. He crossed into her line of sight once more, and she leveled him with yellow eyes as he adjusted a chair's position.

 She wondered if something was going on in his head that he wasn't saying. Was he feeling awkward? Unsure of what to do with himself? Maybe she had been too forward.

 He spoke again, and she listened carefully. Charlie was apparently used to things being relatively calm, aside from the whole Timeshare thing. A lot of feelings. Isolde looked at him as if enough staring might enable her to see all of them on his sleeve. She wanted to know, but she didn't want to be any more invasive than she might be already. He should only share if he was comfortable.

 "My calling in life is to cause drama," she said, and it was meant to be a joke, but the delivery felt kind of. Off. Maybe it was too soon. She sighed. "You can talk to me. If you want to." These words were softer, more genuine. Charlie had seen her at the most vulnerable she had been in years, and he was somehow being exactly the kind of person she needed. She wanted to be able to return the favor, if he needed it.

Her eyes were still yellow, he noted. He started to wonder if she... knew. Also wondered why it was that they'd done that. Would asking either of those implied questions be butting up against the things she wasn't going to talk about? It made a part of him feel a little on edge, simply because that was a sign she was still stressed... right?

But she did seem rather relaxed, even as she offered to hear him out on anything. He came back over to where she sat and rejoined her, making himself comfortable and looking at her. How much to say, when so much of it was about her in the first place?

"It's just... funny. Coming into all of this. You don't realize how much perfect strangers are going to become so important to you in such a small amount of time. Not just you--" he said, to not make her feel like this was all on her, but it felt mean to say it, especially because while true, it wasn't the spirit of what he was saying. "But, okay, maybe a lot of it is you." He realized the movie was still going on when his eyes moved to the television for a second.

"I just really hate the idea of anything happening to you."

 He came back, settled in, and Isolde found it easier to look him in the face now than it had been earlier. She kept her knees together, legs curling up beneath her on the cushion, whole body angled now to face him as she listened. It was funny, wasn't it? Coalitions - any Were group, she guessed - could do that to you. Her mouth framed a small, but genuine, smile at his words - the admittance that she was important to him. Maybe she already knew it, but it felt good to hear it. She wasn't sure she deserved that kind of place in his heart, but the thought alone was pathetic, much less actually voicing it.

 He looked at the TV. Her eyes stayed on him. The same thing could very well be said about any good person in his life, right? But this was different. She could just tell. This was... more personal. A beat of silence spanned beyond his words, and Isolde would lift a hand to touch his face. She leaned in and planted a soft kiss on his other cheek. "I appreciate you," she said softly. Maybe it was a statement that didn't really do her feelings justice, but it was close enough for now. "I won't do this to you - any of you - again."

He blushed a little in the bad lighting of his living room, because how could he not? He was already six levels of vulnerable tonight, and she was just... His hand fumbled up for hers that was against his face and he grasped it tight but let her decide where it lingered while he took a deep breath, closed his eyes only a moment, and managed, "Thanks. I... It's not that I feel like you did this on purpose. At all. I never thought that." Managed to make eye contact with her again and smiled in spite of everything. Tepid but true.

"I'd rather have reason to worry about you than to--well, sorry, this is hard to put into words, it probably doesn't make any sense, but if worrying is the price of knowing and caring about you, I'll take it."

Would that make her feel better at all? He supposed that wasn't the point. Charlie just had a lot going on in his own head worth offering to her.

 She could feel the heat in his face, even as he gripped her hand. The deep, steadying breath, the press of his eyelids as he seemed to seek some sort of grounding. She had done it on purpose - at least, she had left on purpose. Maybe that wasn't what he meant. All of the things that came with an abrupt goodbye with no explanation - that was what he was talking about.

 Isolde returned his little smile, hand still on his face, thumb running little circles against the stubble on his cheek. Her smile for his next words was somewhat melancholic. The price to pay for caring shouldn't be worry, but... even without dire circumstances, that was sort of a package deal. "It makes sense," she assured him quietly. Her hand moved from his face to run down his chest, coming to rest on his leg. Her eyes fell there, too. "If I have my way, that'll be the worst of your worries where I'm concerned." Another little smile.

"Good," said softly and without demand for promise. He trusted her, he really did. Trusted her enough that this whole gaping chasm of lacking information seemed like something he could ignore. Or at least not stare at and contemplate how to jump it. Nothing about Isolde felt like trickery or purposefully being difficult. And the fact that she was here, with him, willing to give him time of day ever, let alone right now...

"I'm... really really glad to have met you, Isolde."

It was the sort of sentiment worth repeating, as often and in as many ways as possible.

 She was glad to have met him, too. Glad, as bad as it may have sounded, that he had been bitten by some jackass cheetah and found his way into their fold. Glad that he had spent so much time searching for her, that he had even felt the urge to do so. Glad that he had found her. Glad that she was here, even if it meant preparing for the next, harder steps. Her eyes returned to his face, little smile remaining as she rested her head against the couch again.

 "The feeling is mutual," she assured him, patting his leg gently. "Tell me that again in a few weeks. When things aren't so... this." A quiet little laugh. It wasn't that they were any less valuable now - but she might be able to appreciate such a sentiment even more then. Quietly, she added, "I like to hear that."

Tell her again.

Something about that sentiment tightened his chest a little, but in the super pleasant way that made him smile a little more in a way that seemed less tired than most of his other ones of the evening.

"I'll make sure to remind you."

Maybe by then, even more tender thoughts would be forthcoming, but for now the simplest ones were best.

Adjusting in his spot, putting his shoulder towards her and giving her some space to get comfortable, he took her hand from his leg just to hold it. Maybe they could finish the movie, call it a night after that. No longer did he have to worry about waking up in the morning and contemplating where he'd search for the day. No more did he have to wonder if she was okay.

He'd sleep well tonight.

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