Rey is bored. It is dark and the bus jerks as it winds its way along the county roads towards the prison. She can feel the eyes of the other passengers and she knows what some of them are thinking. She’s heard them say it; after all, she’s one of the first women some of them have seen in a long time.
Yet, it doesn't unsettle her like she knows it should . She is currently riding in the back of the prison bus, with merely a cage separating her from the inmates. Beaumont had insisted that she come along to administer medication should someone get out of hand.
Honestly, even when the prisoners get rowdy she finds it boring. She looks around the small space, curious about what supplies the guards keep for transport. There’s a fire extinguisher, an axe, and a duffle bag. Inside the duffel is a white jumpsuit, a thick blanket, and a rudimentary first aid kit. It is an odd assortment of things, but overall useful if the bus breaks down or if someone decides to cause trouble. It was expected to storm tonight and the roads were often blocked with felled trees after. However, Rey takes comfort that they aren’t more than a few miles away from the prison; it shouldn’t be long before they are at their destination.
She smooths the pleats of her uniform skirt and looks at each passenger in her view in turn. Beaumont keeps an eye on their charges from the front, while Snap drives them through the night. Most of the men on the bus are the average criminal, not rich enough to pay for their freedom.
Then her eyes fall on him . The tall one; Ben Solo. Despite his inherited wealth, he could not escape the hand of justice. She finds him fascinating, even more so now that she has seen him in person. He is a big man, so massive that his shoulders clear the back of the bench seat. She wonders how cramped his legs must be in the repurposed school bus. He is broad too, his shoulders nearly as wide as the bench. He has a mop of wavy dark hair that contrasts with his pale skin.
She remembers Dr. Kenobi saying that they think the man committed more atrocities than he was charged with. He has murdered enough people to be considered a serial killer. First, his uncle, then an elderly employer, finally some rich senator that was at odds with his family. He had made the first two look like accidents, but with the third one he was found at the scene covered in his victim’s blood. Desperate to show what a monster he was, the state even went so far as to exhume his father’s body, despite his mother’s protests.
As if he can feel her eyes on him, he turns to look at her, the sharp profile of his nose is made clear by the passing headlights of a car. Oh, yes. He is very interesting .
Rey rubs her thighs together to relieve the building tension. For a distraction she turns her attention to Snap’s driving while their guard, Beaumont, stands watch over the crowd of half a dozen men. Although Beaumont had tried his luck with her, she wasn’t interested and tonight she’s happy that she doesn’t have to feign interest in his stories. He seems to have a preference for working the medical wing, even when she doesn’t have patients.
Then a flash outside the window catches her eye and she gasps. There’s a streak across the road and Snap slams on the brakes in reflex, the bus fishtails and then there is the sickening crunch of metal and broken glass as they ram into the trunk of an old oak tree.
Rey flies forward into the cage, the wind knocked out of her before she falls to the dirty floor of the bus. Her breath heaves when there’s a reprieve from the commotion and her ears ring. She touches her face and can feel the hot blood ooze from a quickly swelling cut to her temple. She looks in front of her at the carnage, chaos distorting the shadows. She can just make out the prisoners moving from their seats, then the redhead that Beaumont had warned her about descends upon her coworker, snapping his neck before turning to the back of the bus and looking directly at her.
Her heart races. She knows his history too, and without the slim window of protection offered by guards, orderlies and her med kit she knows there is little to save her. As exciting as it is, she knows she needs to run.
She turns and tugs the ax out of the bracket, her med kit lost to the chaos, then she opens the door to the back, hopping down into the tall grass of the ditch. The ax is heavy, but maybe it’ll be a deterrent to anyone who gets any ideas. She doesn’t even look back, just starts running away from the scene. As much as she craves excitement and likes danger, she isn’t stupid and doesn’t have a death wish.
She darts across the road in the dark, seeking the protection of the woods. She can see the bridge down the road and knows that there’s some farms on the other side, so she goes the other way, hoping to outsmart them. Maybe she can find a place to hunker down until this all blows over.
She’s already breathless from the run, the pounding in her head doing nothing but hindering her progress. She runs into a thicket of trees for cover and finds a thick tree to hide behind, hoping that she can lay low long enough for them to forget about her over their new found freedom.
But her relief is short-lived when she hears steady crunching through the leaves and pine needles that cover the forest floor. She hopes that the darkness will help conceal her but she can hear the rustling of leaves and the heavy breath of someone approaching. Her own breathing sounds deafening in her ears, as her heart beats a steady tattoo that could wake the dead. She grips the ax in sweaty palms; it’s been a long time since she’s had to use one and she hopes she can get enough force in her swing to protect herself.
There’s another step, just on the other side of the tree, then a whistle. She’s unsure how to move, so she stays pressed against the tree, looking towards the sound. Then she feels someone grab the elbow and she turns, trying to wield her weapon, but she knows it's ineffective. She’s effective in getting her attacker to let go, but instead of making contact with him the head embeds in the tree, useless.
“Ah, ah, ah, honey now why would you do that? I don’t mean you no harm.” It’s the redhead. He’s not very tall but he’s sturdily built, she wonders if she could even take him in a fight and she curses not taking a spare moment to look for her medkit.
She runs a bit deeper into the trees but doesn't get far, her shoes slip in the wet decaying leaves before she trips over a root. She hits the ground hard, her palms scraping against the rocky dirt in her attempt to catch herself. She tries to get up but the man is already on top of her and she has to fight to turn over onto her back, doing her best to claw at the man’s face and kick at his groin. She makes contact and she feels triumphant but the relief of it lasts for only a moment.
“Stupid bitch,” he grumbles. Pain explodes through her cheekbone as he hits her across the face.
She blinks away the blinding white ache and does her best to regain control in the scuffle. His fingers wrap around her throat as his other hands fumble with pulling up her skirt.
Suddenly the man stills and gasps, as warm liquid spatters over her neck and through the front of her uniform. She blinks, confused until she sees the handle of the ax sticking out of the neck of her attacker. She scrambles back but not far enough before the man falls forward onto her. His last labored breaths bubble out of his mouth against her shoulder. She looks up to see the tall man, Ben, looking down at her with an anger and hatred that makes her skin crawl. It’s only now that she truly believes she’s doomed, she hopes her death is quick.
Instead of ending her life with one swift swing, he pulls the dying man off her and before she even can scramble away he's bending to pull her from the dirty ground. His touch is firm but gentle as he pulls her to her feet.
He guides her to the tree.
"Grab that," he tells her, pointing to a bag on the ground, it’s the one from the back of the bus.
She complies and as soon as the bag is slung over her shoulder he's walking them deeper into the woods. His hand is a tight grip on her upper arm and although she knows she should try to get away, she’s curious.
"Where are you taking me?"
"Away from that. He wasn't the only one there who'd hurt you."
"And you won't?"
The man snorts a laugh.
"I know what it says in my file, same as you."
"Your file paints you to be a monster." Rey tells him as she struggles to keep up with his long strides through the darkness.
That statement makes him pause and he turns to look at her, the moon only illuminating his sharp features and the shine of his dark eyes.
"I am. You'd best not forget that."
They hear yelling come from behind them through the trees and it gets his attention. She allows herself to believe that she's safer with him; he's killed for her and seems to be leading her away from the chaos.
A shotgun sounds and with that he's taking the duffle bag from her before bending down to sling her over his shoulder.
"Time to move," he grunts as he carries her off into the night.
His shoulder digs into her stomach and she can feel how the blood sticks and congeals on her skin and stiffens the cotton fabric of her dress. His strides are long but sturdy and assured.
They walk for a while before he sets her down in the tall grass of an abandoned pasture. It takes her a moment to reorient herself on her feet. There's a barn not far off and her companion pulls her in that direction as lightning flickers in the sky in the distance. The clouds start to encroach in on their moonlight and she hopes that the barn can provide good shelter.
When they walk into the barn they’re greeted with the scent of hay and engine grease. She takes in the surroundings of their refuge, looking for supplies or anything useful. There are tools and a workbench, along with two tractors and what looks to be an old car covered with a canvas tarp.
“What’s the plan?” Rey asks, walking over to the vehicle.
“Shelter here, think of what’s next.” He tells her. She knows the look on his face. There is no plan, this was as far as he knew how to go.
Rey thinks a moment, taking the bag and resting it on the hood of the car before searching through its contents. Her medkit is inside. She thinks about giving him just a little prick, enough for him to go to sleep, but she’s curious to see where this goes. She doesn’t feel like there’s danger lurking around his presence. After all, if he wanted to harm her, he has had ample opportunity.
Rey’s own mind is running a mile a minute, jumping from plan to plan. Perhaps it’s a chance to escape her dull life. Just like nursing school was a chance to escape the horrors of her old one.
She kicks off her shoes first and tugs off her nylons, then unbuttons her dress and slips it down her shoulders.
She hears his throat clear.
“Wh- what are you doing?”
“You’ve killed people and yet you're shy around a little nudity?” Rey asks flippantly, thunder cracks and she can hear rain drip onto the roof and patter on the ground outside. She walks towards the barn door and steps out into the night. She uses the opportunity to rinse off the caked-on blood and dirt and rinse out the cut on her forehead.
She is soaked when she walks back into the barn, from the cold. In her absence, Ben has found a lantern, and she examines her nylons in its soft glow. They’re a tattered mess but she keeps them anyway; one never knows when something like that will be useful. She applies antiseptic to her cut, taking her time despite the chill. She reaches for the jumpsuit in the bag and puts it on. It’s a bit too big for her, but she’s relieved that she’s not drowning in it.
Her next step is to take the tarp off of the car to see if it's functional.
It's a 1930 Buick Roadster, common enough that it should be easy to find parts for if they can get it on the road. The bonus is that it still looks as if it’s in good shape. She takes up the lantern to inspect it closer. The wires and hoses seem intact and she wonders if it's out here as a temporary storage.
She can feel the heat of her travel companion come off of him in waves as he hovers over her back.
"Go outside to the back, see if they have their own gas pump." She says, not wishing to have an audience.
He turns and goes outside into the rain and she gets into the cab to look for the keys. They're not in the ignition, but when she pulls down the sun visor they fall into her lap.
She puts the keys in the ignition, checks the battery in the floorboard and leans down to open the gas. She starts the car and whoops in success before adjusting the timing and the throttle.
Ben walks back into the barn, eyes wide with surprise.
"It works?" he asks over the noise of the engine.
"Yup! Was there more gas?"
“Show me.” She says turning off the car.
She knows that the tractors are prewar and are likely to use all purpose fuel rather than the more popular diesel the newer models run on.
He shows her the pump and she lifts the nozzle, the scent is of gasoline rather than the more oily scent of diesel and she feels nearly triumphant.
“We’ll need to make sure the car is filled up and try to find a jerry can or two to make sure we can keep going outside of their search radius.”
“How do you know all of this?”
There’s a note of suspicion and she would laugh at how the tables have turned but she’s on a mission.
“Grew up working on machinery, and have worked in corrections since I graduated nursing school. Cops and guards never shut up about how smart they are.” She says as she walks back into the barn. Ben goes looking for a jerry can and she checks how much fuel is in the car, it's about half way filled judging by the meter. She drives it out into the rain to fill it. By the time she’s done he’s next to her holding two jerry cans.
“Excellent. Check to see if there’s anything useful. Make sure you grab the ax and the dress, we’ll dump them when we get farther away.”
She sees his eyes flash distrustfully.
“You think I’m going to abandon you?”
That makes him blink, she sees how it takes him by surprise before he’s nodding and going back into the barn. She does her best to cover her work, not wanting excess water to get into the cans.
He’s coming back by the time she’s loading them into the trunk. He’s got a tarp, a rain poncho and a bag of tools, it looks like he’s found a change of clothes, too. The flannel is open over his bare chest and his pants look ready for a flood but it’s better than the prison uniform.
She nods, helping him to hide the ax and her uniform under the tarp in the trunk.
“You know how to drive?” She asks him, she’s soaked and tired but knows that they can’t stay.
“Yeah.” He looks at her skeptically.
“If we get stopped it’ll look less suspicious if you’re driving.” He nods, getting into the driver seat.
They make their way towards Virginia, hoping to get far enough away to evade capture. There’s choices, to try to blend in a bigger city or to hunker down in a small sleepy area. Maybe get lost in the mountains on the way.
They drive through the rain and the darkness until the sun peeks over the mountains when they finally pull over. They’ve crossed the stateline but still need to make it farther before they’re comfortable. Rey’s still wearing the jump suit and while Ben naps in the back seat of the car she takes it upon herself to explore the area. She picks up a few glass bottles and tin cans she finds lying in the ditch, it’d be an easy way to make some pocket money and she puts them in the duffle bag that she has slung over her shoulder.
The wood is filled with rabbits and she sets a few snares for them. It wouldn’t be much but it’d be an easy meal if they were so enticed to get caught.
She takes note of where she’s left the traps and she continues on her walk. She stretches and enjoys the heat of the early morning sun on her skin. Walking until she comes across a small gathering of houses, there’s not much here and she’s surprised to find that there’s a general store. She doesn’t approach closer, just watches, waits.
She sees a woman hanging her wash, while an older gentleman sweeps the walk in front of his store. She stays hidden in the copse of trees, watching and waiting to see what opportunities arise. There isn’t much of one, she realizes that she’s going to have to get them some clothes.
She spies an apple tree and collects a few of the windfalls before she works her way back through the woods, making her way back to where she had sprung traps for the rabbits. She’s thrilled when she sees she’s gotten two. Pleased with her haul she makes her way back to the car only to find Ben leaning on the hood looking around worriedly.
“Where’d you go?”
She’s surprised at his reaction, unsure if he’s angry or worried.
“To look around. I found us some lunch.”. Rey says, holding up the rabbits.
His eyebrows lift in surprise and she takes pride in it. She thinks she surprises him more than he does her. Interesting.
She lays out her finds in the grass.
"If you start a little fire I can fix us some breakfast."
She finds he doesn't speak much to her, when he does it's with purpose. It’s a pleasant change from men like Beaumont.
She gets to work gutting and skinning the rabbits before finding a stick to spear them on for roasting, she spears two of the apples, too. She wishes she had some seasoning to put on it, but it’s better than nothing right now. She’s careful with the skins, hoping that she can sell them in one of the towns.
When the meat is done she pulls it off the fire and offers him the larger of the two.
“Here.” She says, and again he seems surprised by her.
“You think I’d just let you starve?” She asks before biting into her own bit of meat. It’s tough and chewy, she didn’t miss this part of her old life.
“You’re a woman alone. You work for the penitentiary. You’re a nurse.” He says as he seems to check off his observations. “In the course of the last 12 hours you’ve watched me kill a man, fixed a car, procured food, cooked it and shared it. You’re not what I expected.”
“Same can be said for you.” She says as she bites into the tender flesh of the apple, it’s still steaming inside so she has to blow out the excess heat. “You’ve killed a man who was willing to do unspeakable things to me. You carted me away from danger and yet… I feel like you would have been happy to let me go.”
“No… not… not happy.” He replies, scowling at his lunch.
They continue through West Virginia, they stop in a little bar and with a flash of a grin and a little press of her hand against his chest, she’s able to lift a wallet off a man in a nice suit. It helps them get the rest of the way to Virginia, despite Ben’s protests about her way of getting money.
“He had plenty, he won’t notice it.”
“He could have caught you.”
“He was drunk enough I’ll just be a face in the crowd.”
Ben looks at her, considers her for a moment before turning to look out the window.
“Impossible.” He mutters, his hands fidgeting in his lap.
“Who, me?” Rey teases.
“No, just another face in the crowd.”
His comment quiets her, shocks her even, and she refocuses on driving through lush forests and mountain roads. The dark abyss that is her old home state.
She sighs in relief when they cross state lines but They don’t pull over when they’re well into Virginia, the crimes of Kentucky and West Virginia behind them. They pull over into the shade and Rey pulls the map out of the glove box.
She unfolds it onto the hood of the car and Ben is there standing next to her. It’s moments like this that he’s uncertain, when there are too many decisions.
“Where should we try to settle?”
She likes the idea of the DC area, close enough to blend in with travelers but not so close that they have to live in a large city.
He’s quiet for a long time and she turns to look at him to find him staring at her wide eyed.
“Of course,” she softens her demeanor, takes his hand. “I think I’d like to keep you, if you wish.”
With that little encouragement he studies the map, his body brushing against hers as he peers over her shoulder. She likes how warm he is, even through layers of fabric.
“How about here?” He suggests, pointing to a dot on the map.
“Sure, it’s a bit bigger, close enough to a big city to blend in.”
When they reach their destination they scope things out, there’s a lot of restaurants and hotels.
Ben finds a job working as a firefighter, it’s surprising that they pick him but they seem to like his innate size and strength and his willingness to be at the station whatever hours they need him.
Ben and Rey set up a temporary camp in the woods. She wakes every morning to check her traps. She likes wearing the jumpsuit, it’s comfortable and she ties her hair up in a scarf. Ben tells her she looks like a rabbit before kissing her nose and heading off for the day.
She tugs at the ends of the scarf and amuses herself with the idea of the rabbit, catching rabbits. Rey struggles with finding the appropriate place to sell the rabbit skins here. She doesn’t know what compels her to do it, maybe it’s the hope that someone who can use them will find them and give them a new life. But there’s a bridge not far from where they camp, its not very busy but it sees a fair amount of traffic from people of all areas of life. She takes the rabbit skins there, like setting an old grass cutter to the curb for someone else to make use of. She knows she can’t just leave them laying in the dirt, so she hangs them up, hoping that anyone passing under it may see them.
She goes in the early morning, after the sun has risen but before the summer heat starts to make the humidity unbearable. She always carries her ax, after her time in the prison and being on the run she’s always afraid of being recognized. Usually there’s nobody around, maybe just a stray passing car, but one day she comes across three teenage boys on bikes.
She doesn’t think much of it, just swings up and rests the axe on her shoulder as she walks away from the bridge, and into the thicket where the boys can’t follow unless they give chase on foot.
By the following week Ben has procured enough money for them to get a little apartment. It isn’t much, just a one room attic with a hot plate. But there’s a refrigerator and a bathroom. The ceiling is barely tall enough to fit Ben’s large frame. It doesn’t matter, the place of their own allows them to feel like they’re not on the run and by the second night they stop sleeping on opposite sides of the room.
Shortly after, she’s able to start work, too. She doesn’t take up nursing again, afraid that it’d raise too many questions, so she finds a job as a waitress. It keeps her busy and it’s too public of a job for anyone to think she’s someone she’s not. Not that anyone is looking for her, the news reports all suspect she’s dead and that Ben went west, it’s for the best.
One day she’s cleaning tables when she overhears one of their regular coffee clutches.
“You know my son won’t even bike himself to school anymore?”
“He said to me that there was a bunny man with an ax by the bridge.”
It got Rey’s attention and she listened as discreetly as she could.
“I thought so, too. Especially when he said that the man swung an ax at him and his friends. I thought he was just looking to not go to school”
“Jimmy doesn’t want to go to school either, I don’t know how he thinks he’s gonna have some stuffy office job.”
“Well, I called the sheriff, asked if there were any strange reports and he said there was. Said that there were enough reports they needed to do an investigation.”
That got the table’s full attention, Rey’s too.
“They found evidence that someone had been camping out there. They found an old campfire and dismembered animals.”
Rey smirked, it seemed like an exaggeration, they were always careful about leaving a trail.
“But whoever it was, they were gone. But then I remembered those reports about that murderer on the loose from Kentucky.”
The table gasped and it made Rey’s heart still.
“Do you think?”
“Well, whoever it is, they're gone. Moved on, no trace of ‘em. Except that the sheriff said that there’d been rabbit skins hanging on the bridge for two weeks that they had to keep taking down. Guess they thought it was some superstitious local.”
It calmed Rey to know that the sheriff didn’t think anything of it. It meant Ben was safe.
Now every fall she heard little whispers of kids being scared of bunnyman bridge, it was usually worse around halloween and April fool’s. The rumors continued to swirl and she and Ben reveled in sharing stories about what they’d heard.
They grew close, in their time together. Rey learned to soften some, while he remained fiercely protective of her. She learned he wasn’t the villain of his story. That the senator was guilty of the first two murders, and that Ben had confronted him about it. But the Senator got the last revenge on Ben’s family by letting the crimes fall on him. It only made her love him more fiercely.
Now, on slow Sunday mornings while their neighbors attend church they are found tangled up like clinging vines. Ben is as attentive as he was protective, all encompassing and all consuming. None of her prior backseat fumblings compared to the way he pulled out every coil of pleasure from her.
She finds it is a much nicer way to spend her morning than in some stiff wooden pew, fighting yawns, and enduring the gossip she already listened to all week long.
“What if we got a house?” Rey asks Ben as he kisses the tender skin of her inner arm.
He’s just getting started and he doesn't take the bait of her interruption, plucking at her skin with his lips as he rolls her onto her back.
“How?” He asks as he pauses his good work to meet her gaze.
“It’d be easy enough to fake some documents. We’ve saved quite a bit of money, by the time we find something that fits we’d be able to save up some more.”
“You want that with me?”
Sometimes it amazed her how temporary he thought this was, although if she was honest she wasn’t perfectly free of those thoughts herself.
“Of course I do.” She says as she cups his cheeks and kisses his nose. “You’re mine and I’m yours.”
He gifts her with one of his rare beaming smiles before capturing her lips with his. His large palm hitches her leg over his hip, she’s still naked from the night before and it takes very little enticement before he’s got her thighs spread and his tongue is tracing lazy little circles around her clit.
Her fingers card through his thick hair as she rocks against him. He always hums encouragingly with each whimper and rock of her hips. She swears that his favorite part is when she comes on his tongue, hers is when his thick fingers that spread her open as she falls apart.
His name is on her lips as she comes down, his lips leaving a slick trail as he settles between her thighs. They aren’t married and he’s had a vasectomy so she’s not worried when he pushes inside of her. He rocks his hips as he savors her, lets them both adjust. But it’s never long before he speeds up or rolls her over so he can drape himself over her back, his fingers circling her clit until she shatters around him in a breathless scream.
He’s never far behind, his already large cock swelling and spilling inside of her. Sweat beads at his temple, even though the radiator isn’t working like it should. After they’re both sated and returned to this planet, they soak in the tub together. Ben makes her breakfast, while she changes the sheets and gets their laundry sorted for washing the next day. It’s a nice domestic routine and somehow she doesn’t find it boring.
The feeling of contentment grows when they have their own home, and Ben gets a new job with an ad agency. They are surrounded by their own things and no downstairs neighbors that Rey has to worry about hearing her cries of pleasure. She’s still amused that people continue to speak of the bunnyman. It probably doesn’t help that last year for halloween she made Ben a little bunnyman costume and made him stand by the bridge to spook the trick or treaters.
They’ve been living in their little house in their quiet neighborhood for quite a few years. She thinks Ben’s smile lines are a wonderful thing to wake up to everyday. They never officially married, but they have paperwork that says that they are. They have neighbors that they have occasional dinners with and their life is very ordinary. It’s something they both thought they’d be denied.
It’s just an ordinary Saturday when Rey hears on the radio station that the state is having a contest to increase tourism. She’s quick to find the corresponding form in the paper that Sunday.
“What do you think, Ben?”
She asks as she sits at the kitchen table looking at the entry form.
He hovers over her, taking in what the sheet says.
She can see a smile teasing at the corner of his lips before he leans over to drop a kiss on the apple of her cheek.
“Easy. Virginia is for lovers.” He says in a low rumble that makes her wonder if they’re going to get the garden planted this afternoon.
“I like it.” Rey says with a smile of her own.