Title: Fifteen Minutes From Home
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Don't own them; just borrowing.
Summary: You don't have to run away, Katie.
Spoilers: Born to Run
Note: For Lost Riffs Day 4: hidden treasure.


Katie stomps the small mound of dirt down and rests her arm across the handle of the shovel. "There."

"You think it's deep enough?" Tom wipes his hand across his brow, leaving a streak of dirt.

She sighs. "We're not digging it up again and starting over. It's fine."

"Well, it better be here when we come back. Twenty years, Katie."

Walking back the six paces to the tree, she rests the shovel against the trunk and stoops to rummage through her backpack. "How do you know we'll be coming back here? Twenty years is a long time." She straightens to find Tom frowning.

"Of course we'll be back. We're like fifteen minutes from home...Hey, where'd you get that?"

She tosses him the can of beer she'd taken from her pack and pops the tab on another. "Wayne won't miss it."

A moment's hesitation, but when he sees Katie take a sip, he opens the can and drinks, making a face at the taste. "I don't know how you can drink this stuff."

She rolls her eyes and sits down, knees to her chest, back against the tree. "Don't be such a baby, Tom." But she sets the can down beside her without finishing it.

He ignores her comment (he'd have hit anyone else who'd made it) and moves to sit next to her so their shoulders are touching, facing the marred ground where they'd dug the hole. After several minutes of silence in the waning light, "What do you mean, how do you know we'll be coming back?"

"You know what I mean." She's leaning heavier on his shoulder, though her voice is still hard, stubborn. "What if I don't want to come back?"

"You'll come back." His voice is less stubborn. Uncertain. "You can't stay away forever."

She hmphs softly against his shoulder and she wants to tell him he has to come with her, that they can still be together, just not here, but she thinks she knows what his answer would be. He's never really understood how all-consuming her need to leave is. Not really.

"I don't wanna go home tonight."

He nods. "You want to stay at my house?" It wouldn't be an unusual request; nor would he ever deny her when she asked.

But this time she shakes her head. "Let's just stay here."

"Here?" He looks around, at the field, the cows nearby, the freshly-disturbed ground in front of them.

"No, genius, over there." She motions randomly with her hand, then shrugs. "Why not? We've got a blanket; plus, it's August. It's not like we're going to get cold."

"...Okay." He always hesitates, but never tells her no.

"Okay." She knows he never will.

It's completely dark by the time they're drowsy enough to sleep, and they lay down on the blanket, barely touching. Tom reaches for her hand and she takes it, squeezing tightly.

"You don't have to run away, Katie. I'll take care of you."

She holds on a little tighter. "Promise me."

"I promise." He thinks he can see her nod in the dark, but he can't be sure. "Do you believe me?"

Silence. Then her body shifts, curling up against his side, and she thinks, maybe.