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Hard Decisions

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He needs to leave. Now.

She’s made it exceptionally clear that despite what he was beginning to think they are not friends, and he’s kidding himself if he doesn’t think that Bart will kill him the moment she grows tired of his presence. She’s an insane serial killer hiding behind the facade of being a ‘Holistic Assassin,’ a term she’d probably made up solely to justify her murder spree. If he doesn’t get as far away as possible as soon as possible…

He takes a deep, shuddering breath and schools his face into as casual of an expression as he can manage, stepping into the doorway of Bart’s room to address her. She’s staring open mouthed at the TV, completely preoccupied with the cartoons dancing around on the screen. He pauses for a second, wondering whether or not he shouldn’t just slip out while she’s distracted, but ultimately decides it’s better that she doesn’t come looking for him right away. “I’m going to go get something to eat. You want anything?”

Bart turns to look over at him. “Sweet and sour pork!” Her blue eyes shine at the thought of more Chinese food, and for a brief moment he reconsiders his plan of leaving her behind.

But then she smiles and he remembers the way she’d bared her teeth at him, threatening to take his head off if he so much as touches her again, and he feels his resolve steel itself. “I’ll be right back.”

On the way out of their hotel room he glances at the dirty duffel resting on the couch in the living area and surmises that it probably contains the personal items she had yet to offer back to him; most likely to discourage him from doing exactly what he was planning on at that exact moment. It doesn’t take him long to find his phone and wallet in the bag, and though he briefly considers taking some of her money too, the idea of stealing from her doesn’t sit well with him even if she was-- is --insane.

He waits until he makes it into the elevator before he deems it safe enough to relax a little. A quick look in his wallet shows that she’d cleaned him out and suddenly he knows where she gets all of her money from; he should’ve taken some of her cash when he had the chance. Luckily he still has his credit and debit cards, so getting home shouldn’t be much of a problem if he can find a bus station.

He jogs down the front stairs of the hotel leading to the road and notices that there’s still a stain on the asphalt from the last guy Bart had killed. Or more accurately, she’d just caused him to get killed. He doesn’t know if it counts as murder if you coax someone into traffic.

He passes the Chinese restaurant they’d eaten at the day before and against his will feels his lips twitch upwards. He remembers how lost she’d looked while walking into the restaurant and also her confused expression as he’d described what exactly pork was to her. She was so easily amused and awed by such basic things that in many ways she reminded him of himself when he was a child.

He also hadn’t realized how little of the world made sense before he met her. It made him think about things like why companies put fruit on a bottle if it wasn’t fruit juice, and why not just call ‘pork’ pig? The reasons he’d given her had seemed logical at the time, but if he was being honest, it was just the first thing that had come to mind.

He clenches his fist and shakes his head to remove the image of her innocent, wide eyed stare of wonder from his mind. That girl wasn’t Bart. Bart was an insane, vicious psychopath who wanted to kill him.

With his phone’s GPS it only takes him a couple of minutes to find a bus station. It’s luckily only a ten minute walk that he manages to make in seven, even while constantly glancing over his shoulder.

To his immense relief there’s a Greyhound leaving for his hometown in only half an hour, so he buys a ticket and plops down in the seat furthest away from the entrance where he can see everyone who comes in or out of the small building. He didn’t trust Bart not to figure out what he was up to and sneak up on him.

He expected that he’d be relieved, but what he doesn’t expect is that it’s so short lived. As he sits alone on the hard bench, waiting for his bus to arrive, he slowly begins to realize that he’d be going back to nothing. Back to feeling nothing, back to doing nothing, and back to being nothing.

As hard as he tries not to, he can’t stop thinking about Bart. He wonders if she’d noticed that he had been gone for too long by now. Maybe she was already looking for him, gun in hand and murder in her eyes, or maybe she just didn’t care at all. But then he remembers the things she’d said to him while they were both tied up and hanging from the bikers’ pyre:

I do think I’m gonna miss you, though.

Coming from Bart, who had probably always been alone and never cared enough about someone to miss them, that was saying a lot. How would she feel when she realized he abandoned her? That she’s all alone again?

A groan slips out of his throat, and he drops his head into his hands. There’s no way he can leave her behind. Before he can change his mind he runs out of the door and tears back towards the hotel. The Chinese restaurant is still open when he passes it on his way back, and an idea sprouts in his mind. Just in case she doesn’t forgive him right away, having a peace offering might make her hesitate before she destroys him.

With Chinese food in hand he slides his card into the hotel room door, gently pushes it open, and to his relief, finds that all of the lights in the room are off. He figures she probably hadn’t noticed exactly how long he’d been gone, so he can probably get away with saying that she’d fallen asleep before he had managed to make it back--she doesn’t have a great concept of time to begin with. He places the food in the mini fridge and tiptoes past her room to flip on the light to his own.

He almost screams when he sees that she’s huddled up on his bed and wearing the oversized jacket he’d stolen from the ambulance. She looks up at him from beneath her long, messy hair, and he’s surprised to notice that her eyes and nose look just a little bit redder than usual. “You came back,” she whispers raspily. She sniffles then, and the guilt he feels in response makes his stomach sink.

His first instinct is to lie, to say that there was a long line at the restaurant or that he got lost on the way, but he knows that nothing he says will really matter to her. She isn’t the type to care about excuses and justifications or listen to pleas and apologies. All that matters to her is what is and isn’t.

He slides onto the bed with her, reaching out for the hand despite her earlier warning that she’d rip his head off. When she curls her fingers around his, he lets loose the nervous breath he’d been holding.

“I came back.”