The candles flickered, a flashing red glow on Bass's face that illuminated the small confines of his cage. It was like the fiery pits of hell itself were making his features glimmer. The wax had melted into the rocky surface, plastering the candles firmly onto the floor.
Like a rabid hellhound strapped to the chains of eternal damnation, he waited for Truman and his men to define his punishment. The night was howling with winds of change, like hell had indeed released its demons for a night of play. They really couldn't have chosen a more ominous night to hang the noose. All Hallows' Eve.
His mind was clouded with countless memories, images, tastes, sounds. The voices of his sisters singing a song that now seemed like centuries old. Miles choosing to follow Rachel instead of fighting by his side. The taste of the last gulp of whiskey he had before detonating the bomb. The roar of the explosion at the Austin courthouse where he'd attempted to wipe out Truman and President Davis. It was all floating in his mind like an array of shooting stars against a still, black sky. And yet, it was her laughter that resonated the loudest. It was her laughter that enveloped every memory flashing before his eyes. The finely imprinted image of her in his mind was a hauntingly beautiful one. The way her hair moved with even the slightest tilt of her head, the way her smile lit up her face and her blue eyes shined whenever she was happy.
What had become of Charlie? He wondered. The last time he'd seen her, they had parted ways somewhere in the Wasteland. She refused to follow him across the border into the California Commonwealth without manpower, calling it a suicide mission.
“I guess she was right.” He muttered to himself, forcing out a chuckle under his breath.
Bass remembered that previous night clearly. A few drinks at a bar in New Vegas and before he knew it, she was laughing at his jokes and looking at him in a manner that made him covet her in unimaginable ways. Bass had never felt a hunger like that before.
She must have realized what was happening between them because she put an end to it as abruptly as pulling the plug on a ventilator. Come to think of it, that’s sort of how Bass had felt the moment she rose from her barstool and bid him goodnight without further explanation or reason.
A bell rang in the Square outside, signaling the eleventh hour and shaking Bass out of his reverie. The chains of his shackles clanked as he adjusted his position, pulling his knees up to his chest. He leaned his head back, his eyes to the ceiling. It seemed he'd reached the point of resignation.
Perhaps this was the way he was intended to depart the land of the living. He wasn't delusional enough to think there was any kind of absolution for some of the horrible things he'd done in the past. Every man had sins, and he was as guilty as they came. No amount of praying would get him off the hook and into the doors of heaven. He’d come to terms with that long ago.
The shuffling of feet approaching his cell made his heart race. He could hear the guard muddling with the keys. His time had come.
He looked up to see a hooded figure, like a Grim Reaper coming to stake claim on his soul. But the gentle features underneath were anything but ghostly, although he’d be lying if he didn’t admit he’d come to think of them as unearthly on more than one occasion.
“I leave you alone for some time and this is the shit you get into?” Although trying to sound reprimanding, Charlie’s voice was sweet and warm, striking his heart with melancholy.
He intended to reply but his mouth failed to make a sound.
She tried key after key, of course the last was the one to work. “Jesus, Bass. You couldn’t even keep your stupid on check for two months.” Pulling on the handle of the cage she approached him speedily, undoing his shackles and the restraints that were binding his wrists.
Bass stared all the while, still trying to figure out if she was really there or if she was just a figment of his imagination. The flowery fragrance of her hair and the way her skin smelled of lemongrass and soap assured him she was real. The aroma infused with the natural scent of her skin was uniquely her.
“Charlie.” He managed to mutter.
She looked at him for what seemed like endless seconds. Blue eyes on blue eyes. Adrenaline still pumping through her veins at the thought of being discovered trying to help him escape. Charlie yanked his hand, helping him to his feet and without saying a word she threw a matching black robe at him, catching him off guard.
They walked out of the confinement area and into the town streets like two restless phantoms searching for salvation.
Bass noticed the Square was filled with people dressed in similar robes. It was like a scene from a sacrificial ceremony. As if Halloween night in the town had returned to a time of mysticism and occult practices. He felt like a character in a horror film, hopefully one that would make it out alive. Hopefully the one that gets the girl. Bass thought.
Keeping their heads down they were able to pass through the crowd unnoticed. Bass took one last look at the gallows that had been built in the Square just for him before he and Charlie scurried towards the woods and away from that place.
They had walked endless miles into the wilderness, ditching the hoods down a river bank and hoping the current would take the garments miles in the opposite direction. They had already reached her camp before Bass said anything.
“Why did you do it?” He asked, coming to rest among giant Sequoia trees and low lying shrubs.
Charlie smiled. “You’re welcome.” She replied sarcastically as she plopped herself atop the rolled up sleeping bag. She stared at the ground, every inch of it was covered in yellow and auburn leaves. “You went back for me once. I guess it was my turn to return the favor.” She puckered her mouth pensively.
Bass looked at her with narrowed eyes. The answer made sense but he didn’t quite believe it. “You could’ve just let me die. You’re gonna tell me the possibility of me paying my dues didn’t seem at all appealing to you?”
Her eyes widened, like he’d just offended her in the worst way possible. The glint of fear displayed in her pools of blue was quick but enough for Bass to realize the real reason for her act of heroism. She cared about him.
Charlie pursed her lips. “You shouldn’t say things like that.”
He furrowed his brow, cautiously approaching her like she was some kind of wild animal that might scurry away at the snap of a twig. “I know I’m guilty of many things. I’ve accepted the fact that one day I’ll be punished for everything I’ve done.” He paused, “I had accepted that tonight was that day.”
She scoffed. “You wanted to die a penitent man, is that it?”
“That’s not what I said–”
“Really? Because what I’m hearing is that you’re so ridden with guilt that you can’t even see that the reason I saved you is because I’ve already forgiven you for all those things.” She shouted, blurting out the truth all at once without even the slightest forewarning. “You always look at me like you owe me something. You don’t owe me shit, Bass!”
There was an aching thump in his chest.
Charlie’s eyes were wet. It was a reaction he hadn’t anticipated. He’d expected her to yell at him for acting alone, for getting captured and almost getting killed. He didn’t expect her to cry over the possibility of his death. It just wasn’t like her.
His mind suddenly went back to that night at the bar. The little hints at flirtation, the way she leaned into him whenever she laughed. The coy smiles between sips of whiskey. He’d been too preoccupied discussing his plan of attack on the Patriots and Truman to notice that she was asking him to leave it all behind for one night—maybe even for good. She’d put herself out there and like the idiot he was, he’d chosen to ignore it. After all, how could someone like Charlie ever look at him as anything else than a monster?
Bass didn’t think he deserved her then and he sure as hell didn’t think he deserved her now.
“You can’t fix me.” He said, crouching down to be at eye level with her. The fire crackled behind him, a wind rushing past them and sending a shiver down Charlie’s spine.
She had been closed off until then.
Easing her body towards him, she looked him dead in the eyes. “I’m not trying to fix you.” She took his hands between hers. “I’m telling you I forgive you for everything.” Her fingers drew invisible patterns on the top of his hands and she repeated, “Everything.”
Without warning, she pressed her lips into his mouth. The bristles of his mustache poking her upper lip as he reciprocated the drawn out kiss. It almost made him lose his balance. The exploration was slow at first, almost timid. But the longer the seconds stretched, the more ravenous they became. The little nips gave room to languid strokes of the tongue, until they darted into each other’s heated mouth and found refuge in newly discovered places.
Just a few hours ago, Bass had felt his life slipping between his fingers. And now, he felt more alive than ever.
They both came to their feet. Charlie’s hands ran down his back, clawing at the ragged shirt and pulling it over his head. Their lips separated only to take some breathes and then they were at it again. Her fingers busied themselves with his belt and his zipper, her hand sliding inside to grasp his fully erect cock. It felt massive in comparison to her fingers and she vastly enjoyed finally having the liberty to take him.
Bass sighed in response to her touch.
She palmed it with glee, stroking it and feeling her own need for him increase. The dampness pooling between her legs brought upon an ache that only he could appease. Charlie pulled his pants further down his thighs, freeing his length and allowing her to place a firmer grip around it. She continued moving her hand up and down his shaft, his kisses becoming more fervent and his hands tearing at her clothing. Feeling like he was ready to burst in her hand, he removed it, smiling at her before taking off the rest of her clothes.
Laying the sleeping bag on the ground, Charlie sprawled over it without a hint of shame, watching Bass crawl ever so slowly until he was hovering over her naked body and his stiff cock was teasing her wet opening. He reached down with his mouth, plucking at her firm nipples and moving his tongue over them in delectable ways.
Bass slipped into her, filling her inch by inch and making her moan and whimper in response. Her hollow felt snug around him but his cock glided comfortably with every pump. Bass realized he didn’t have to die to discover heaven, being inside her was proof enough it existed.
Charlie lifted her leg higher, bringing her calf to rest on his shoulder. The delicious force of his movements sent pleasurable waves through her body. He lifted her leg up a little higher, deepening the angle and almost immediately bringing her over the edge. The night sounds were filled with Charlie’s incessant moans. Her nails raked his sculpted arms, beads of sweat forming on her forehead as she came undone.
She was burning up, breath shallow and center pulsing. And she wanted more.
Charlie was soon on top of him. Her body rocked back and forth, hips moving in an undulated pattern. Bass could see her glorious form from below, hair falling over her face, long neck and perfect round breasts swaying with the movement of their bodies.
Behind her the sky was splattered with millions of stars, the streaks of the Milky Way forming rivers in the heavens worthy of marvel. And yet the most beautiful celestial body he could bring himself to admire was the girl riding his cock like it was their last moments on earth.
The look displayed on her face told him she’d reached a second climax. Her back arched and her body shivered as her release bathed his cock in warmth.
Watching her and feeling the heat seeping down her walls brought upon his own earth shattering orgasm. Charlie continued moving on top of him, rising and lowering herself on his cock until every last drop was drained from his shaft.
With him still inside, she brought her chest to rest on his. Charlie could hear his sped up heart against her ear, beating like timpani drums in an orchestra. His skin was covered in a thin layer of sweat. The heat radiating from his body was the perfect contrast to the cool autumn wind. She wanted to stay that way forever.
Charlie had been asleep for hours but Bass felt like sleeping was a waste of time when she was right there with him. He watched her resting features, her body still naked underneath the covers of the sleeping bag. She was a thing of beauty, a gift to anyone who laid their eyes upon her. And he didn’t know why but she had chosen to bestow her kind and loving heart on him.
Bass wouldn’t dare say it yet but he knew she was the only one he wanted to spend the rest of his days with, however many he had left.
He had sought forgiveness for all his crimes in all the wrong places. He never imagined she would be the one to truly absolve him of all his sins.