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I should have anticipated this, I guess. I don’t look back; I just have to get far enough away and he might get bored. He has to stay. He has to stay to protect them otherwise they are royally screwed.

“Lex, wait!”

I’m not responding. He has to go back.

I can hear him running even faster, his breath on the back of my neck. He then puts his hand on my arm and spins me around to face him. He is panting and red-faced. He just stares at me, his eyes swimming with tears.

“Were you just going to leave without saying goodbye?”

I look down at his arm.

“Let go of me ,Roman.”

I try to pull away but not before noticing that my nose is still bleeding; yeah, it probably would wouldn’t it, you bloody idiot. Broken noses tend to do that.

“What the hell happened? I’m guessing Rita didn’t take to kindly to it but what happened to make you want to run? We don’t run, we fight or we die. You can’t run from this Lex.”

“I won’t ask you again. Let. Me. Go.” I struggle even more pulling away from him.

He relinquishes his grip, almost defeated. He looks back at the base and inhales deeply.

“So, where are we going?”

“We are not going anywhere. I am. This doesn’t concern you, Roman. I am not staying in that place; John was the only reason I was planning on hanging around but now, I have things to take care of. You have to stay, I can take care of myself.”

I continue walking forward.

“Last time I heard that, you got shot. I am not letting you out of my sight Lex. Rita will be fine looking after the kids. How many times do I need to tell you? You matter more to me than anything and I will not lose you again.”

I pause and I think he notices because his breathing seems to relax again. Why does he feel like it’s his job to save me. It isn’t his place. I don’t want him to be the knight in shining armour. I just have to do this on my own so why is he making this so difficult for me?

“She isn’t in her right mind. She will hurt the kids if she isn’t supervised. People will die so someone needs to be there to make sure she doesn’t murder the children. Roman, you have to stay and I have to go. It’s just the way it has to be and you won’t stop me.”

He looks crestfallen.

If there is one thing I can rely on and that is that Roman will not stop until he gets what he wants. He doesn’t want to stay, genuinely. Why can’t he accept the fact that if he comes with me, the well-being of the camp will be compromised? In contrast, there is part of me that wants to let him. It’s selfish but protection is what I want. But I don’t want it. Ugh!

“Fine. Leave if you want but I will come with you. Look at me and tell me you don’t want me with you and I will go. I won’t bother you or try to come after you. Just tell me that and I will let you go. Lex?”

I look him in the eyes. I want to tell him that I want him there with me, to be with me every step of the way but I have to face the truth. The truth.

“I don’t want you with me. You’re a liability. You wanted the truth and I am giving it to you. Now go. Don’t make it any more difficult than it has to be. Just go.”

My voice cracks on the final word. I try to compose myself once again. I can’t think of myself. This is my war, not his. I’m not getting him involved in this.

He just stands there, blinking at me. He wasn’t expecting me to actually say it. I have shocked him. I feel obnoxious and vile. He thought I was a cold bitch before but now, I think I have excelled myself.

“You’re bullshitting me, I can tell. I need your permission to leave; I don’t need your permission to walk to the same place. You need me more than you care to admit.”

He holds my hand again and pushes me in front of him; I struggle again, trying to not to move my feet. I focus all of my abdominal strength into my feet, stopping myself from moving. However, he still manages to overpower me and just scoops me into his arms and lays me over his shoulder. I start kicking my legs; I feel one of my kicks landing on its mark in the centre of his ribs. I feel him being winded but he still continues. I then involve my arms, punching him in the back like a fleshy punching bag.

“Let me go you bastard! Let me go, let me go, let me go!”

“No, we have things to discuss but first, we have to find a place to lie low for a while and if you keep kicking me, I will drop you on your head.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Oh, try me.”

I relent in my physical violence. I’m still worn out from the blood poisoning. He’s just as stubborn as am I so it will be impossible to stop him once he is set on something. Why does he want to discuss things? It doesn’t concern him. None of this does.

“Now, that’s better isn’t it? I’m not getting kicked in the back and you get to reserve your energy. I know a little place we can talk about the plan of action; if you need to sleep, feel free.”

I hadn’t thought about it before. I am tired. I am exhausted. My energy reserves have been seriously depleted. I let my eyes close as the sun blares over the horizon.

When I wake up, I feel odd. The room is obscured by a sense of decay. It stinks of tobacco and damp. The walls are covered in mould and the corners are consumed by damp. Dust seems to cover everything; every inch is being conquered by dead skin cells.

“You’re awake. I said you could have a sleep; I didn’t anticipate you having a full eight hours. Now, why are you running? Second, where are you running to? And third, why did Rita break your nose and give you two black eyes?”

I feel groggy but I still pull myself up. I need to be honest. If I’m honest, he might finally understand why I want to be in solitude.

“First, I am running because I have been planning to for months. Rita just gave me the excuse that I needed. Second, I have no cocking clue. I just have to get away. Three, I told her what she was doing was wrong, she got pissy and I may have stubbed her cigarette onto her arm. Anything else?”

“Fair enough. You think that you’re the only one that she’s hurt. Except it wasn’t so much the physical kind of violence; actually, maybe it was. But you see the difference between you and me, I have never run. I have never turned away after one incident. I have dealt with it and moved on. Why do you always run?”

“I run because that’s what I know! That’s what John taught me. Run or die! Don’t question me because you have no idea who I am. You don’t know me, you’re just infatuated with what you want me to be. What the hell are you talking about? Hurt you? Yeah right.”

I shouldn’t be saying this. He doesn’t deserve this but I cannot stop until he leaves and forgets about me. He will in time. I’m sure I’ll forget about him eventually and move on with my life. She wouldn’t hurt him; she wouldn’t. He’s just bullshitting me to make me go back with him. I know his bleeding martyr act too well and it doesn’t take me in. Hell, I taught him the art of being a bleeding martyr.

“Don’t talk about you know nothing about! I am not infatuated with you, I don’t particularly like you. I love you. I love you more than I have loved anyone; why do you always push me away? Why do you feel you have to push everyone away? I want to be there for you because you need us. You need me.”

The audacity of him. I don’t need him. I want him but I don’t need him. I don’t need anyone. He doesn’t love me and I don’t know how many times I can say it.

“Lex, you want to know what she did to me? She touched me. When I was helping her with the drugs, she would force herself on me. I guess she...raped me. Yeah, she did. Didn’t give me a broken nose but she still hurt me. Yet I stayed. I stayed for you, to protect you. So this is my fight and I am coming with you. I am not staying there if you aren’t.”

What the hell is he going on about? Rita...raping him. I mean I would have seen unless it started recently. Is he genuinely sick enough to make up lies like that up about her? I don’t know what to believe but his intentions are clear as anything. He is trying to put me on a guilt trip; make me feel like I am a coward because I run away from something so minor. But why would he lie about that?

“I don’t need you! Why do you not get the message? Fuck off back to the group. I don’t need your bullshit on top of my own; I have to do something on my own and if I die, I die. I don’t need you and I don’t want you with me. Accept that abode that Erin found if you don’t want to go back there!

He looks crestfallen. I think I’m finally getting through to him. I just have to find other survivors and I guess, one day, I might come back. But I am never going to know until I take the plunge into the unknown.

“You know what, screw it. Do what you want. I’m going back and so will you once you come to your senses. Thank you for setting me straight before I really fell for you. Thank you for giving me the clarity to see you for what you really are. Goodbye Elektra.”

He hates me.

I can see the venom in his eyes.

At the end of the day, it is better to be hated than loved.

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