The Kid was outside. Whatever he was doing was a mystery, but they could hear him kicking things around in a passive fit, silent on his own anger. Butch sometimes felt amused by the little displays of fire in the Kid's usually placid eyes, but now, he only felt a little numb and a little confused as to how things had went sideways so quickly. He was sitting at their little table, on a rickety that poked and prodded, and thinking. His leg was shaking, and he couldn't stop it, not as he watched Etta, dark hair pinned into a knot at the top of her head, begin to pack. Dresses and stockings and shoes, books, stuffed into suitcases. The sight made his heart ache, and with that came a steady feeling of nervousness, a fear of what would follow when Etta disappeared onto a train and left them behind like sorry puppies. The sun was beginning to set, and with every inch of darkness that crawled foward, the nervousness worsened.
"What are you thinking about?" Etta asked. She hadn't looked up from her packing, but the concern in her eyes was evident. Butch considered his words but the first response that popped into his head wasn't a good one, so he stayed silent and listened to the sound of shoes clicking on wood, repetitive as Etta went back and forth, walking into a room and then back out again. "What we're gonna do without you." Butch said, dragging his fingernail against the table, producing a dry scratching sound. Etta smiled, but there was no humor and no happiness. Butch wanted to touch her, but just wiped his hands against his pants, as if to rid himself of the urge.
Bolivia was supposed to be a good place. It was supposed to lead them to that life that they'd all been wanting for years and years, but, instead, one of them was packing and the other two would remain behind, two souls with no home. Etta had become such an integral part to their little group in recent time, and life without her seemed like a dreadful ending to this story. Butch knew that part of their temporary success had come from her, but besides that, Etta was a lovely woman, really. Clever and patient in all the right ways. She didn't want to see them die, and Butch supposed that he could respect that.
One more dress folded, one less moment together. Etta sighed and raised a hand to her eyes, lips pressed thin. "This wasn't supposed to happen." She said softly, voice like gentle wind. "I love you, and I love him, and you both love me. But I cannot bear to watch you two get shot down, I cannot bury you." Etta took a deep breathe and composed herself, to the point of it didn't seem like she'd just been about to lose her bearings at all. Butch was unable to resist the urge to hold her close, this time, and stood, crossing the room and walking over in a few quick strides.
Etta went into his arms easily. Butch admired her strength but loathed her stubbornness, as hypocritical as it all sounded. He stroked her hair and kissed her, deep and loving. Etta broke away, but it was only to raise her hands and rest them on the back of Butch's neck, cold yet steady. "Forgive me for this, but allow me to...make my own choices in life." Etta whispered, and Butch almost laughed, nearly tossed his head in order to cackle to the heavens, but didn't. "There is nothing to ever forgive." Butch kissed her again, arms around her waist, firm and secure.
The door slammed open, and footsteps started, then faltered, fading away. "Oh." Sundance said, clearly apologetic in his own way. Butch turned to look at him, to really look at him. Butch could see tired blue eyes and messy blonde hair, a face that looked older than his actual age. "Should I go back outside?" He asked.
Butch shook his head, but didn't say anything. Just stretched out his arm and Sundance, eyes narrowed in that typically suspicious way of his, walked foward.
How would they do this?
There was a bad feeling broiling in Butch's stomach, a whirlwind of nervousness and fear. He didn't know why he felt such a way, but it felt fitting. Etta, their bind and glue, was leaving. Sundance looked like he was unraveling. And Butch didn't know what was happening, only that this place had turned out to be much more trouble than previously expected.
Etta raised her hand, placing it on the side of Sundance's face and rubbing her thing over the smooth skin on his cheek, brushing against stray strands of golden hair. "I'm gonna miss you." She said, and The Kid lowered his head, resting it against her shoulder. After a minute, he wrapped his arm around her back.
Butch couldn't shake the feeling that this might be the last time that they see each other ever again.
He felt like taking the world by its shoulders and demanding to know why it hated them so much.
"Hey, now. At least we got more determination not to die." Sundance said, looking back up. "I gotta see this beautiful face at least one more time." He smiled, and Butch felt a little proud, because The Kid at least had one romantic bone in his body.
The suitcase lay, half-packed.
Etta was leaving.
She wasn't coming back.
It felt a little awkward, but in Butch's opinion, it would've been worse if he hadn't done it. And so he walked a few paces and wrapped his arms around both of the only two people in this world that he loved, a woman who was leaving and a man who was staying. He adored both far beyond than what words could describe, but this world wasn't meant for them.
Butch considered tossing caution to the wind.
The Kid and I will take another chance at going straight. We'll go wherever you want, even that with all those kangaroos, and we can live happily ever after. You, me, and Sundance, living in a shack for all we care. Happy and healthy and together, just like we were meant to be.
We can grow old together. Sundance will start complaining about his back. You will still be as gorgeous as ever, even with the grey in your hair and wrinkles on your face. I will probably be bedridden, but you two will keep me young.
Whatever we face, it'll be together.
But he couldn't. The words didn't come, and even if they did, then it wouldn't be right.
Sundance and he couldn't make a normal life, try as they might.
Butch treasured the moment, this final few moments where they were all together. The two people he loved, and this stupid world in which they lived.