"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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MurderWeasel
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Somehow we drifted off too far...
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The girls drove the new guy off. The group wasn't mugged or shot or killed. Charlie's and Aileen's aggressive and near-suicidal assertiveness actually paid off and backed the boy away, coerced him into letting out a meek little almost-apology. Aaron was completely stunned. He'd been expecting, well, he wasn't quite sure what, but he'd been getting ready to make a move, and now it was totally superfluous.

He wasn't going to complain. He wasn't going to worry. He was going to pull things together, get everything worked out, and carry on. He was going to see his plan enacted.

Well, okay, he didn't have much of a plan anymore. He was on his backup plan now, and it wasn't that applicable if they were all going to survive and make their way home, but it would do. It could tide them over until he figured out something better. It would at least keep them together, keep them from dissolving in the face of adversity. They'd bonded over this experience. They'd all learned a bit more about each other. Aaron was impressed with his allies, impressed at their ability to handle themselves, impressed at their competence now that they were unrestrained by worthless hangers-on, and, most of all, impressed by the way they were willing to put their lives on the line for those they trusted.

He'd have to be sure to maintain their trust. He'd have to retrieve his notebook before Aileen got to flip through it. There was something in there that it would be very, very bad if she found.

He reclaimed his gun, flipped the safety on, and stuck it in his pocket. Its weight was comforting.

He rubbed his eyes a little bit, then turned to Charlie and Aileen.

"H-hey," he said. "I... I'm sorry this ended up this way. I'm going to need to... find somewhere to think for a bit. I think I can s-still maybe come up with something, but it's going to... take some time to get everything figured out."

He glanced meaningfully at Milo's body there, hoping he looked sufficiently disheartened and upset.

"If you don't want to come, then I understand. But I... hope you will."

There. That was good. He was shaken, but not defeated. He was going to regroup. They were going to follow him. After that, how could they not? After everything they'd been through, after Charlie's hug, after Aileen's killing of Milo, well, they needed Aaron more than ever. He was their hope, their guidance, their leader.

Yeah. They'd follow him.

So he set off. This time, he made sure to keep his pace a bit slower, to not get ahead. This was supposed to be a learning experience for him. He was supposed to mend his ways. Might as well pick something easy that Aileen had seemed upset about.

Besides, it was dangerous to be alone at night.

((Aaron Hughes continued in Altering the Deal))
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No Such Thing as a Perfect Plan · The Felled Forest: North