Safe

This did not turn out quite like I intended.  Like, within a mile of it. 

Post-apoc fae apoc, Cya (the woman), and an unknown viewpoint male fae.

🚐

He was not, not exactly, stalking her.

For one, he already knew where she lived.

Everyone in this area of the world knew where she lived.

They might not have put one and one together and realized that she was who lived there, but she did not always bother with a disguise, and that particularly red hair was like a flag.

Like a beacon. 

He wasn’t stalking her, but he was aware that she was a woman travelling, often with children, and that the world had gotten hard and cold in the last twenty years.  He knew that she might be unsafe.  He knew that she might get in trouble.

He wasn’t hoping trouble on her, but he was watching very carefully for it.  once, he’d shooed off a pack of wolves, sending them in another direction.  Another time, he convinced a group of bandits to bother someone else.

The third time, he turned around and found him face to face with her.

“You can stop following me now.”  Her tone didn’t say can, it said will.  You will stop following me now.

“I want you to be safe,” he protested.

“That’s great.  That’s absolutely awesome.  You know the best way to do that?  Not distracting me by following me around.  The world might have broken, but stalking is still against the law where I come from.”

He didn’t ask where she came from or why she thought there was still laws: she came from the Ranch, and if the Ranch said something was against the law, it would be.

Too late, he realized she’d been fishing for exactly that.

“So you know who I am.”

It wasn’t a question.  He answered anyway.  Or, at least, he cleared his throat.

She kept going.  “Then why in the names of the seven thousand dead gods would you think that I needed to be kept safe?  And by… you?”

He managed half of a word this time.

She wasn’t done with him yet.  “If you know who I am-”

“I-”

“Then you know that I am well-protected. If, for some reason, you don’t think that I can protect myself, which-”

“Look,” he managed, wedging the words in before she could say something else, “this isn’t the world the way it is before the gods came back.  There are monsters out there.  There are weirdos.”

“Mister,” she told him, with a smile that she might have meant to be cheerful but which was suddenly terrifying, “we are the weirdos.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4nPJh0jms4

He took a step backwards, wondering if he really did know who she was.  “I want to protect you,” he muttered.  He did!  “I don’t want you to get hurt out there by some creep that wants to take you home and-”

“Then stop wanting to ‘take me home and-’,” she countered.

“I don’t!  I don’t want to do any of that to you!  I just want to keep you safe! I-  That’s all I want.”  Thinking of some late-night fantasies, he stopped short of promising that was all he wanted.

Nearby, a wolf howled.  The woman hissed.

“Fine.  Come on, then, you might as well share my camp.  If you mean it… well, come on.  I don’t want you to get eaten, after all.  I’d better,” she added, with sweet malice, “keep you safe.”

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