A/N: I have fallen in love with this fandom, it is that good. That said, I don't own Longmire and I do not profit off this at all. Enjoy!
They make rules right from the beginning, guidelines not allowances. No sleepovers, that's number two.
This isn't courtship, not dating either. It's an outlet, a kind of secret haven they can retreat to—Cady feels like she's owed something like this, because relationships never work out and being alone is too hard.
But the more it goes on, the more they end up breaking their own rules.
Branch buys her wine, they drink it late at night and by the time they're kissing he's too drunk to drive home.
They're not exclusive, but when Branch talks to other women he can't help but feel guilty so he ends up knocking on her door at one in the morning.
He fixes the hinge on her front door, badly but she doesn't tell him that. They can, after all, keep secrets from each other.
The pressure of keeping them a secret starts to climb though, and when Walt begins to question her, Cady finds herself forcing the smile. Branch ignores the curious hints from Vic, and Cady jokes to Henry.
When Cady takes a late night call from Walt, Branch walks in on her saying, "I love you, too," words that don't and will never apply to them.
"So do you want me to go?" he says because he understands how fragile this is really, how devastatingly breakable.
She looks up at him from her bed, and after a moment she shakes her head. She smiles and reaches out to him, kissing him deeply. Maybe love is what Cady craves, but she'll never admit to that.
They fight all the way to Jackson, about little things. The air pressure in the tires, who should pay for the room—"Is this a good idea? Someone might find out."
It doesn't matter; it never did, because secrets don't stay secret for long.
Branch laughs about Walt's suspicions, but Cady can't bring herself to sneak about anymore. He offers to quit the race for Sherriff if it will make her feel better, a genuine offer and it's then that Cady realises they have to end it.
He leans across the bed. "I don't want this to end."
Cady feels the sheets tighten against her skin, around her legs and Branch's eyes are honest and good, and is she just using him?
"I'm sorry, Branch," and she takes a shower while he leaves.
The rules change, and it's hard for the both of them to ignore what once was but Cady thinks it's better than sinking so far into something she won't be able to climb her way out of.