Author's Note: This show rocks, end of story. The last two episodes were pretty awesome and are good lead-ups to the season finale. If you haven't seen them yet, be forewarned that there are spoilers from here on out. AMC owns Hell on Wheels and the characters within. Thanks for reading and feel free to let me know what you think! :)
You swing at him hard, a reaction even you had trouble predicting, but keen as ever Cullen Bohannon catches your delicate fists and lays them at your sides. You hadn't expected his remark to sting so much but it's the fact that he's right that hurts the most. Cullen never fears telling a truth, even if it's a painful one. In this moment you despise him for it but over time you've grown to admire his honesty and the way he can put things so plainly for one to see.
"You're hurting me." And he lets go, just like that. You know it's a lie and you almost didn't say anything except it slipped past your pretty lips before you could close them. To complete the scene, he appears maddeningly indifferent to your arrangement and the anger he's provoked... so why has he bothered to point it out if he doesn't actually care? With a hardness settling in your stomach, you turn on your heel and make way for the lavish train car you've come to call a residence. If you'd chanced a backward glance you might have noticed his eyes darken to watch you go, but all you're thinking about is finding a quiet place to sit and plan for the days ahead.
There is a chair by one of the windows, the mid-morning light illuminating its burgundy cushion, and you take a seat, back straight with hands glued rigidly to your thighs. You wonder how Thomas is faring, hoping that the doctor and Eva can keep him alive or at least comfortable throughout the long journey to Illinois. There was a point in time at Hell on Wheels that you'd forgotten he had a family, though all you wish for now is their reunion. On the other hand, a strange fondness for Thomas has flowered within and you can't deny that his abrupt absence is starting to burn a hole through you. It isn't his money or his doting and he's hardly the picture of an honest to goodness man. He's arrogant and at times downright callous, not to mention bent on personal gain. However... Thomas Durant always finds a way. Even if he has to blow up a mountain to get to the other side, his will is as unrelenting and fierce as the wilderness around you. From nothing he's crawled his way up to the top and now, facing such a death, you feel a surge of confidence that he'll make it back alive.
In the meantime, you're left to immediately manage the railroad and all the people gathered here. You're on your own, a woman in a man's world, giving orders to those who feel no obligation to listen. How will you protect the weak from the strong? The poor from the greedy? Who will live and who will die while Thomas is gone? Your head finds your hands, which are sore from gripping at your pant legs. The full scale stress of the circumstances begins to come to light and your heart pounds in your temples, the momentary inspiration giving way to apprehension. You exit the stiff, unyielding chair and alight to the bed where, just the previous morning, you and Thomas woke peacefully side by side.
And although you smiled, inside you curled up while you spoke to him of an uncertain future. There is no doubt you'll see the railroad through until the very end but the mystery of what's to come positively looms. You breathe in the scents of cigar smoke and ink and an expensive aftershave. Nothing about them is familiar even though you've mingled in them for months, but they provide some comfort. Then it hits you like a train that you may need this. If Thomas Durant dies, what happens to Lily Bell? You are free from this bed where you and he often slept and sometimes didn't but are you truly free from Hell on Wheels? Had Robert's dream really become that much of a prison? A sob edges up your throat and the idea of losing another brings fresh tears. For all their differences, the two men were similar in some very important ways.
You shake your head at yourself and pull it together some. The moral and friendly support will never go unappreciated but all else must cease. His wife and his family need him desperately and have for far longer than you. Perhaps Thomas Durant had merely provided the stepping stone to a path that you will henceforth have to travel down alone.
Were Cullen Bohannon around to tell you the truth of the matter, it's likely he would agree, even if his heart broke a little while saying so.