Just a quick bit exploring Vivian's perspective on having Dustin around.
Features characters from my Glory is Poison series.
The reality of Dustin being there tended to be rather liquid. Sometimes she’d ask him to do something and only realize he wasn’t there when she saw it wasn’t done. Other times he’d be there and she’d only notice it when a thing she hadn’t done herself got done. For the first couple years she’d had a hard time telling if she liked having him around at all. He didn’t know anything about survival and tended to be more of a nuisance than a help. Still, there was only so much that could go wrong with cutting firewood so for a long time she’d just had him doing that.
He’d snuck his way into learning how to do other things as well, quietly trailing along after her. Once this resulted in a rather amusing incident of him getting chased by a mother bear she’d seen but he hadn’t. She’d sat back to watch, and been surprised to see that he was at least smart enough not to try and climb a tree. In the end he lost the bear by gaining the high ground on a tumble of boulders and chucking small stones at the bear. Vivian had given in and let him start hunting with her after that. Sometimes.
Now, seven years on, she always missed him in the moments she realized he was gone. There was no bigger relief than coming home from a multi-day hunt to find him there working on some project she hadn’t had time for. He’d smile over at her, the corners of his eyes crinkling, and she’d stride over for a kiss. The next few weeks, hardly ever longer, would brighten up her life the entire time. Sometimes they wouldn’t talk for days, would just work together in familiar silence, but other times they’d recite terrible old plays to audiences of fat little camp robber birds, or dance to old bluegrass records Dustin stole for her.
Then, one day, he’d be gone. He always told her when he was leaving. It wasn’t a surprise. But she’d still wake up the next day forgetting that he was gone, and asking him to help with some project they hadn’t gotten too. It stung every time, but she’d never once asked him to stay. He had family and she wouldn’t ruin that. She wouldn’t go with him, either, because the idea of ever being back in a society felt suffocating.