Author's Note: Yes I know it's been forever. When I took a break I never thought it would stretch out this long. Sadly muses and work and school are temperamental things, and I've been up to my eyeballs with the other two. I'm not quite sure how I misplaced my muse since I planed out this fic till the end, but somehow it happened. Well, I'm back now. I can't promise weekly updates as I did before (not for a while anyway) but I will try to update as soon as I can. Thank you so much for all of you who encouraged me to keep going with this. I apologize in advance if this chapter is short and seems slow, but I promise the next one will be better.
Sawyer garbed his discarded shirt off the fencepost and climbed in the passenger seat of the car since Kate had apparently staked a claim to driving. He was still a little unsure about what had happened last night or why they were leaving. The past two times they were forced to move due to obvious circumstances, but this time the move seemed random to him. He thought they had a good thing going in Lancaster. No, it wasn't the most extravagant lifestyle, but they managed and best of all it was peaceful. If Sawyer was honest with himself, he would have admitted that the idea of some day settling down in a place like this didn't sound half bad.
Of course, 'someday' was a long way away for him, and it may well have not existed at all for Kate. Which begged the question: why was she so eager to leave?
"Where are we off to, Freckles?" he asked casually, leaning back. Sawyer was about to put his feat up on the dashboard when Kate glared at him.
"Iowa," she replied firmly, turning the key in the ignition.
"You don't say?" Sawyer raised a single eyebrow. "Any particular reason, or you just feelin' up for a road trip?"
"I'm not going there because I want to," she glared at him, pulling the car back onto the dirt road. "I need to go."
"Yeah, you said that last night during your little trip for fresh air. But seriously, the hell's in Iowa?"
"My mother," Kate replied and opened her mouth to say something else but thought better of it. She pulled the car back on the road and began to drive back towards the town. She could almost feel Sawyer gaping at her in shock but refused to turn around and face him. Kate didn't want to hear anything from him at the moment because that would mean that she'd have to explain, and the truth was that she couldn't even explain it to herself.
Four years, she'd stayed away. At first it was fear, then caution, that kept her from coming anywhere near her state, let alone her home. Reflecting back on the decision, Kate thought it was rather smart of her. If she was uncertain of her chances now, she knew for a fact that she would have been caught all-too quickly had she not stayed away. She'd been sixteen when she became a fugitive and though her life had never been easy, Kate couldn't have guessed how difficult it would turn. If she had run back home, she was certain that she'd be wearing an orange jumpsuit instead of a summer dress.
Then why risk capture now? her voice of reason chided her. Especially after what happened in New York, why go back to the one place that was sure to still have the police department on high alert for her? Because, Kate thought, as the yellows, browns, and greens of the countryside whipped past the car, I got this far by trusting my instincts,and right now they're telling me it's time to go home.
But an hour later, by the time they entered the nearest highway, doubt once again tugged at her. She looked at Sawyer slouched in the seat next to her, gazing out the window with feigned interest. He wasn't about to press the matter, she knew that much, even if he did think this was the stupidest idea she ever had. Trouble seemed to find them no matter what, whether from his life or hers, so did it really matter that this time they were driving into it willingly. At least I'll know to stay on guard, she mused, but couldn't help voicing her doubt.
"You don't have to come with me, you know," she said quietly. "Chicago is sort of on the way. I can come back for you, if you like."
"Ditchin' me already, Freckles?" his voice was a mixture of amusement with a hint of confusion. "What? I ain't good enough to bring home to mama?"
"You know it has nothing to do with you," he could be such a child sometimes. "Ever occur to you I don't want you to go to jail for helping a wanted criminal?
"Ever occur to you that if they catch us I'll go to jail as a regular criminal?" Sawyer shot back, anger rising in his voice, before he caught himself. "Anyway, you should have thought of that two months ago. If we get caught, what difference does it make where?"
"Guess it doesn't," she grew quiet again, and this time it was Sawyer who broke the silence.
"Look I know you don't feel like sharing whatever happened or why you think it's so important to go back now, but at least do you know why you're going back?"
If she told him that they were driving across four state lines based on a whim, he'd thinks she was crazy and might even try to stop her. A half-truth was better than nothing though.
"My dad sometimes sends me money to a motel along the way," she said careful. "Plus I have a friend around there I can trust. Hopefully I can get some news about my family, maybe even something from my uncle."
"This the same friend you 'played in the barn' with?" Sawyer jabbed slyly.
"Tom," Kate rolled her eyes at him before turning them back to the road, "his name is Tom."
Once again her tone told him it was best to drop the subject. Sawyer had been a little surprised to hear that the friend she spoke of so often and with such fondness was man. Even while he teased her, he imagined Kate as a child laughing and running through the countryside next to another young girl. A boy in her stead painted a far different picture, and suddenly Sawyer's mood darkened. He propped his chin on the heel of his right hand and looked out the window. Kate didn't seem to notice.
"It's about a three to four day trip," she thought out loud. "If we drive no less than six hours a day, that is. We can stop outside of Pittsburgh tonight, then again tomorrow someplace west of Cleavland. Better avoid the cities themselves."
"Sounds like you got it all figured out," the southerner muttered, and this time she caught the moody tone.
"Is there a problem?" Kate asked, mildly annoyed.
"Nope, everything's just dandy," suddenly he thought of something and his face lit up in a wicked smile. "So, Pittsburgh, you say?"
"Somewhere outside of it, yeah," she replied, unsure where he was going with this. "It's a little past one now, so it'll be six or seven by the time we get there, and by the time we find a motel..."
"Ain't gonna need a motel," Sawyer's grin grew larger. "Pull out on the next exit and let me drive the rest of the way."
"Why?" but she was already maneuvering the car into the far right lane. "What are you up to this time?"
"You'll see when we get there," Sawyer leaned back in his seat, arms crossed, looking particularly pleased with himself. Kate didn't know whether she should be grateful that he didn't remain in a bad mood or worried about what he was plotting.
They came up on an exit a few minutes later, and Kate vealed off the highway, pulling the car up to the nearest gas station so that she and Sawyer could switch places and to fill the now nearly-empty tank. They had used the car sparingly while in Lancaster, but there hadn't been too many gas stations in the area where the main form of transportation was still a horse-drawn wagon. After the long stretch of highway, the road began to alternate between more open country where there was practically no other traffic to more highway that were practically choked with cars, since this was the road that connected Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia, the three major cities of Pennsylvania.
Around four in the afternoon they pulled off the highway once more. There were no fast food places, but the smells coming from a small market down the street were quite appealing. The farmers selling the food were not Amish, but rather local growers who sold their fruits and vegetables along the common travel routs. There was even a small deli section where each grabbed a sandwich and a bottle of freshly squeezed lemonade. Kate also threw a few apples and peaches into a brown paper bag on her way to the register, while Sawyer meandered casually through the isles of tables with various sorts of produce piled on top of them. His back was to her when he picked something up, sniffed it, and tossed it into his own paper bad.
She didn't pay it any attention until after they got back to the car, and Sawyer was once again seated behind the wheel, his purchase stashed away in the side door pocket. Kate eyed it curiously, then reached into her bag, pulling out a greed apple almost twice the size of her fist. She bit into it, glad that it was the hard sour kind instead of the mushy sweet one, and then pulled out a second, holding it out to Sawyer.
"Want one?" she asked, her mouth full with the juicy pulp.
"Thanks, but later," Sawyer waved it away.
"What's in the bag?" she finally asked, curiosity getting the best of her.
"That's for later, too," the corner of his lips turned up in the same devious smirk he had on since he started driving.
"Since when are food purchases so mysterious?" Kate didn't wait for an answer before she reached across his lap for the bag, but Sawyer caught her wrist first.
"Later," he tried to shove her back gently. When she didn't relent, he leaned forward and pressed a quick kiss to her lips. Kate was so started that she stared at him wide-eyed, and Sawyer was pleased to note that the look on her face didn't hold a trace of annoyance.
"Later," he repeated in a softer tone before straightening in his seat and pulling out of the makeshift parking, the wheels picking up clouds of dust behind the car. Out of the corner of his eye, Sawyer could see Kate stubbornly fold her hands under her chest, probably mentally cursing him, but she was smiling nonetheless. Pleased that everything seemed to be going according to plan, he veered towards the next highway entrance.