I loved to hear her laugh

Amazingly beautiful laugh.

With our grain supply assured Benny was able to crank the still into high gear, and we began making frequent shipments to the Blue Army camp and trading with the other civilians in the area. I learned the area around Benny's still like the back of my hand; I had multiple routes, some obvious and easy to follow and others more hidden with switchbacks and hazards. I made a point of exploring the area since my life might depend on being able to run from some better-armed person in the dark, with ten liters of booze strapped to my body.

Several times I was stalked but Benny had given me good advice about how to lose my followers. He'd been doing this himself for a long time, and would be doing it alone now if he hadn't chanced upon me when the transport dropped us off.

I saw Cath frequently, and got updates on her crush. Since the Commander was clearly out of her league I also got to hear about soldiers more on her own level who interested her. Since she didn't see me as a potential partner I became the Platonic friend who got to hear all the things she wouldn't want an actual lover to know.

It sucked, but not as much as being entirely apart from her would have.

With her Commander's permission, I took her out to see the still and meet Benny. Benny was okay with this as long as I didn't show her any of my special hidden paths. Eventually, he promised, we would be discovered anyway. Although Cath did promise to keep our secret, good trade was our best defense.

"So this is the girl you followed into war, Walt? Miss, I'm Benny."

"Lieutenant Cath, pleased to meet you."

"Well I can certainly see why you did it, Walt."

He bowed graciously, smiling, and Cath laughed.