J O H N
He wanted to believe that they could tackle anything that came their way if they did it together. But he knew better. He didn’t know what they would do when the past finally caught up to them, but they would live free as long as they possibly could.
They had a car, which was a different mode of transport for Mari. She was accustomed to stealing some poor unsuspecting civilian’s wallet and bus hopping. And somehow, she kept managing to allude the oh-so-great human hound. He had now retired that name and the life that came with it. Instead of chasing, he would do the hiding.
They travelled as far as they possibly could, all the way to California, even though he knew that was risky. But they had to resolve at least one enemy. They were being hunted by too many people and they had to make amends with the ones they could. Striker was the easiest one to go to first. Mainly because it was only John that he had a problem with for whatever reason.
Reaching the bar in no time, they rather impulsively entered the building, with no plan of how to make things right. But they weren’t themselves if they weren’t impulsive. Both as reckless as each other.
As they walked in, they didn’t quite know exactly what they saw. It was no longer a biker bar. It was a regular dive bar, the pool tables in the back and guys playing darts whilst chugging beers. The couple strolled up to the bartender and waited to be served. John wondered whether they were even in the same place as he had been to before. But he knew he wasn’t that stupid.
“Hey, what happened to the owners of this place?” John asked.
“You looking for the bikers?” a man down the end of the bar questioned, catching their attention.
“Where are they?”
“You didn’t hear? Fucking massacre downtown. I bought up this place before it was on the market too long and got it up and running,” the bartender, and evidently owner, answered.
John turned to Mari with a dumbfounded expression plastered in his face.
“Massacre?” Mari questioned with furrowed brows.
“You know them?” Mari and John just shrugged and thanked them. Then they took their leave. Although their problem appeared to be solved, all of it unsettled John. He could handle a known enemy, a known evil. But a potential unknown one that could wipe out the bikers?
“What the fuck happened?” she muttered as she strapped in.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Fuck, I don’t even know what that means. I guess it’s good for us, right?”
“Sure, if you think someone butchering the bikers good for us. I wonder who could do something like that,” she mused. “Maybe this means we should stick around in California. This is far away from all our living enemies, right?”
She had a point. The state was now relatively safe for them and largely populated so they could fit into the crowds.
“You want to live in California? For real? Like stop here and get jobs and a place etcetera?” he asked.
He didn’t know what was possible for them. He had fantasies of the life they could have together, but he knew most of it was just that, a fantasy. They could never stop looking over their shoulders. Not until all their enemies were dead. And they would probably be dead before that happened.
But perhaps they could have some sort of a life. One filled with possibilities. There was, of course, a limit, thresholds they could never cross. However, they could have a life.
“Okay,” she agreed with a hopeful smile.
He knew he would have to be the more realistic one of the two. Yet her youthful idealism encouraged him to ditch his cynical attitude. The age gap was no longer a problem as to whether his thoughts of her were appropriate. He hadn’t even thought about the other ways the age gap would affect their relationship. That was why a lot of them didn’t work.
Mari was different from the other girls her age. Her inexperience in the real world actually aided her maturity when she was out living the hard truths of life. There were both many differences and many similarities about them that made them suited to one another. And she wasn’t just some little child. He had thought that many times and had been proved wrong in many ways. He had underestimated her for too long and he could finally see the bigger picture. She was a young adult who was maturing and learning every day. And every day, she was a little bit more cunning and skilled.
Nothing else mattered though. He couldn’t care less about what people thought of their relationship. She loved him. And he loved her. Wasn’t that all there was to it? On this, he had no experience on.
“What’s going through that head of yours?” she asked, noticing the cogs turning in his brain.
“I love you.”
“I know.” She sounded smug but her eyes held the sweetest expression. “We should find somewhere to rest up and make a plan.”
“I have a friend around here. We’ll head there. I’m sure he won’t mind, especially since I’m not even being immediately chased by anyone. He’ll love you.”
“Your friends always hate me. Marcus, for one.”
“You stole his phone and then ditched it. He had reason,” John replied.
“Oh, I remember,” she said with a grin. “What’s this guy like? Stuck up like Marcus?”
“No. His name’s Ben and he’s safe. I’ve known him for most of my life. We’ll be fine there and then we’ll find our own place,” he declared confidently.
Soon enough, they arrived at Ben’s new apartment. He knocked three times and his friend met him at that door.
“John, it hasn’t been long,” Ben told him with a growing smirk. “And this little lady must have been the bounty you were searching for.” Ben invited the couple in and settled them down on the couch, Mari leaning onto John’s shoulder wearily. “And I see she’s more than a bounty.”
“I’m Ella,” she told him.
“It’s fine, Mari. He can be trusted,” John said. “Ben, Mari. Mari, Ben.”
“Nice to meet the girl who had John here fearing that he would taint his reputation,” Ben said, causing a smile to befall Mari’s exhausted face.
“He was right to fear that. It now has been tainted, by me.” John chuckled and kissed her head. “He fell for my charms.”
After a little more small talk, they turned in for the night, taking up residence in the guest bedroom. They curled up with one another and rested their weary bodies.
Mari was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. And he realized a lot of men had said that. And when they said it, he would roll his eyes and call them pussy-whipped. But now he was saying it. He knew what they meant. In his eyes, she was like a fucking angel.
She slept soundly, even though she could probably feel him watching her, like she always could. Her little nose brushed against his shoulder, the light air tickling him. Her hair rested to the other side, displaying her cheekbone and cute ears. Why were her ears so small?
The sun rose, waking the new couple from their slumber for a new day. They would have to begin to figure out their next steps. Most pressingly, figuring out truly what they were to each other. They named themselves boyfriend and girlfriend, but what did that mean?
Mari changed into another set of John’s clothes she looked utterly adorable in. She looked like a little doll in a grown person’s clothing. Fuck, he was even analyzing what she was wearing. Though, it was incredibly hot when she wore his clothes. And she did it a lot.
She began rooting through the refrigerator as she declared she was making breakfast. She whipped out the egg box and began mixing them in a bowl. And he just watched her work. He had no clue how to cook. Advantage, Mari. He knew he ate very unhealthily, with various vending machines in motel receptions and snacks from gas stations. He’d eaten better in the last few months than he had in years because of Mari insistence in eating a lot and well. It figured that she could cook.
“What are you doing?” Ben asked dozily.
“She’s cooking breakfast,” John replied.
“You eat breakfast now?”
“She eats every meal plus between meals. I had to feed her constantly. That’s partly why we’re together, because I decided I wanted to get something back for all those meals.”
Mari made a face at him and he smirked back at her in response. She stuck her tongue out at him childishly and he impulsively did it back. Fuck, Mari made him feel like a teenager again. But in a good way.
He still didn’t know how they would work yet. But he knew they would figure it out.