Author: PrintDust PM
Maybe Hell was rusted rotting pipes- drip, drip, dripping, lying in your own caked blood, and hope just a little out of reach. From the end of 3X04- Killer Within. Explores multiple POVs. Chapter 18- LoriRated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Daryl D. & Rick G. - Chapters: 18 - Words: 44,382 - Reviews: 270 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 39 - Updated: 02-04-13 - Published: 11-06-12 - id: 8680597
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Lori- January 17, 2013
It felt good to be sitting up and seeing clear signs that she was making progress in her recovery. Although the infection hadn't cleared up and she still felt like she'd been stabbed- which she had been, essentially- Lori could feel her strength returning. She knew that she would need to get on her feet as quickly as possible in order to pull her own weight in the group. With half of them gone she couldn't leave everything to Carol, and be a burden to her on top of that.
The baby beside her cooed softly and Lori turned to the infant. "One second. Mommy is just getting set up," she stroked the milky soft skin of Judith's chest. The baby's arms flailed with undeveloped coordination, colliding with her mother's wrist. "We're going to get you all clean…" Lori took her daughter's tiny fist in her fingers and opened it to inspect her tiny hands. Judith was awake, peering up at her mother with a serious expression on her face.
Lori tore her eyes away and turned to the table before her. She picked up one of the towels that Carol had brought in. They were still stained a rust colour from when they had been used for Hershel's leg, though Carol assured her they had been bleached. Lori left the towel folded in half to act as a pad and then lifted the baby. "Ouch," she muttered, taking a deep breath. The pain from her incision hadn't lessened much, but she pushed through it, determined to take care of her new daughter. She laid Judith down on the towel carefully and secured her with her hand.
Judith fussed, scrunching her face up. "Shhh," Lori comforted the infant by rubbing her chest. "I'll just be a minute," she promised making quick work of taking off the baby's diaper, keeping her eyes trained on her face as she worked. With the little girl completely bare she fished a cloth out of a bucket of warm water and began to wash her, keeping her voice low and soothing as she reassured Judith by babbling nonsense.
"You're giving her a bath? Can I help?"
Lori looked up to see Carl coming into the room wearing his favourite science dog t-shirt. She was surprised it still fit him with how much he had grown over the last couple of months. "Sure you can," Lori offered him a warm smile when he came to stand across from her on the other side of the table. She was so proud of her son for how naturally he had adopted his role as an older brother. She had been worried that after thirteen years as an only child he would resent the baby. Maybe the circumstances of her birth had helped him adjust more quickly.
She watched her son as he stroked his sister's head, smoothing her feathery hair, a small smile playing on his lips. "Was I this small when I was a baby?" Carl asked.
"You were smaller," Lori answered. "You were born a little bit early," she explained. Carl had been one of the smallest of the babies in the nursery and had fit neatly into Rick's cupped hands when he was a newborn. She'd had a picture of them together like that, but it had been left behind at the farm with their other belongings. She sighed at the loss. It had been her favourite picture of her two guys.
Carl leaned over to inspect his sister closer muttering that her belly button was weird. He inspected the umbilical cord stump which had been tied off with some string. Lori watched his face, smiling. "It's kind of gross… when will it look normal?"
"Well… it will dry up like a scab and then fall off… then it will look like yours," Lori explained patiently, washing Judith's feet.
Carl made a disgusted sound. "I've seen Walkers less gross," he commented, leaning in to look even closer. Despite his words his face remained curious.
When he leaned in further Lori's eye caught on a flash of silver. She looked closer to see that a thin cord that had come loose from his neckline. "Baby? What's that?" She asked, nodding to the string.
Her son straightened up quickly and tucked it back into his shirt. "Nothing," he answered, shrugging.
Lori raised one eyebrow, imploring him to answer her question. She held his gaze and he returned her stare, his jaw setting stubbornly. Their stand-off didn't last very long before he gave in and his resolve crumbled, his shoulders slumping.
Sulking, he pulled out the cord to reveal her locket.
Lori was surprised and her own hand went to her throat; she hadn't even noticed it was missing.
"I took it… I'm sorry," he said regretfully. He moved to slip it over his head but was stopped by his mother's hand on his arm.
She held the baby in place and used her other arm to lightly pull him around the table. Once he was in reach she pulled him into a hug. "It's okay," she kissed the spot above his right ear. "Keep it," she told him, releasing him.
He raised his eyebrows, the locket closed in his fist. After a moment he nodded and returned to his spot on the other side other table next to Judith's head. "You've worn it my whole life," he said, playing with his sister's hand while Lori put on her diaper.
"That's because I've had it your whole life," she told him. "Your daddy gave it to me on the day you were born."
His eyes filled with wonder and questions but he didn't ask them. Instead he moved around the table to pass her a pink and white sleeper with feet that looked like ballerina slippers. She accepted it and started to work the baby into the outfit.
"She doesn't like getting dressed," Carl noted, scrunching his freckled nose when the baby wailed with displeasure.
Lori smiled and nodded as she made quick work of putting Judith's limbs through the right holes. She was surprised at how easily things were coming back to her even though it had been twelve years since she'd last had an infant.
"Thank you," Carl spoke up over the wailing. "For the locket," he filled in, stuffing his hands into his pocket. "I'll give it to her one day," he promised, stroking his sister's hair.
Lori lifted the crying baby to her chest, her hand moving in slow circles over Judith's back to comfort her. Lori shushed the baby, gently bouncing her. Carl watched them for a moment before picking up the bucket of water and slipping out of the room.
The sound of rain echoed through the prison like water dripping in a tin can. Lori listened to the sound, staring at the top bunk in her hospital room. She was grateful for the downpour and felt hopeful that it would wash away the smell of death that permeated the prison yard. But she also worried about what it would mean for Rick and his rescue mission. She tried to hide it from the others but she was terrified that they wouldn't come back, though she knew she wasn't the only one.
A sense of premature despair had settled over the group left behind that seemed almost palpable. Beth still hadn't come out of her room, refusing to even speak to her father and they all worried that this would be a repeat of what had happened back at the farm. There was little Lori could do about it though, since she wasn't even sure she would be able to manage the stairs at this point.
She winced as Hershel cleaned her incision.
"Sorry," the old man drawled. He glanced up at her face and offered an apologetic look to match. "It's getting red around the stitching… it's a sign that the infection is getting worse, not better."
Lori nodded, turning to look back at the top bunk. Figured that she would live through the surgery against all odds and then die from an infection. Figured nothing would go right in this cruel world. Her eyes blurred with tears and the slats that supported the top bunk swam before her. She felt so ill and miserable, like she had when Shane had told her Rick was dead. The world had seemed so hopeless without him, and every second that went by where he wasn't there seemed to be another failing on her part.
She was supposed to keep him safe as much as he did her and their children. She was supposed to fight for him too. Instead she let him go out time and time again and put his life at risk. If he died and something happened to Judith or Carl as a consequence that would be on her too.
"We'll clean it more often," Hershel told her, reaching to take her hand. "And we'll increase your antibiotics."
Lori looked over at him and tilted her head, catching a flash of concern in his eyes. She took a breath to ask him what was wrong, but he silenced her by patting her hand. And then he released her and pulled himself up, using the top bunk as leverage. He reached for his crutches. "We'll get you on your feet today."
He ambled out of the room; he was surprisingly steady for someone who had had both his legs not too long ago. She watched him go, her hand drifting down to rest on the fresh bandages he had dressed her incision with. The disinfectant was still stinging and she laid back to close her eyes, pinching her brow.
A few moments later Carol came in, dressed in a fresh pair of clothes and her hair freshly trimmed. Lori shook her head forcing a smile. "You look good," she complimented the other woman, truly meaning it.
"It's the baby," Carol approached the side of the bed. "She's so beautiful, Lori… there's just something about new life that makes everything feel a little brighter."
Lori nodded in agreement, though she couldn't shake the melancholy that had settled over her. Carol seemed to spot it right away and the other woman took a seat beside her on the bed, her hand moving to rest on Lori's just as Hershel had done before. "You doing okay?" Carol asked.
Lori nodded, twisting her lips. When Carol didn't look away she felt her resolve weaken then crumble. "I'm just worried about Rick," she admitted, waving her hand in an attempt to be nonchalant.
Carol tilted her head, offering a sympathetic look but didn't say anything.
Lori smiled sadly, knowing that there was nothing the other woman could say. She couldn't promise Rick's safety, or that he would come back in one piece if he did at all. If there was one thing they had learned after all this time, after all the losses and the tragedies, it was that there were no guarantees in this world.
"Come on," Carol entwined their fingers and motioned towards the cell door. "You'll feel better… maybe we can even get you some fresh air."
"Ahh," Lori sighed, moving her legs over the side of the bed once Carol had gotten up. "The little things in life," she mused, bracing herself against the pain radiating from her abdomen. Carol slipped herself under Lori's arm and rose slowly, pulling Lori up with her. A small cry leaped from Lori's throat as her incision pulled. She turned her face, her forehead resting against Carol's cheek.
"Take your time," Carol said, supporting Lori's weight as the injured woman tried to find her feet underneath her.
Lori's legs trembled badly and she fanned her free hand over her incision. She felt like her stitches were straining against the weight of her insides as gravity pulled everything down. "Jesus," she muttered, bending over slightly at the waist.
"Do you need to stop?" Her human crutch started to guide her back towards the bed.
Lori resisted, releasing her hold on her abdomen then swiping away the sweat that had begun to build along her hairline. "No," she shook her head, reaching for the wall to further steady herself. "I can do this." Her voice held a determination that she herself doubted, but she ignored the niggling fear and discomfort.
She pushed herself to take one step, then another, promising herself that it wasn't much further to go. Lori set a goal for herself. She would make it to the stairs, and then she could sit and rest- or pass out, if the black dots dancing in her vision were any indication. Biting down on her lip, her chest heaved with each breath.
When they were halfway to the steps, Lori paused in front of a cell where Carl and Beth were sitting side by side, Judith sleeping in Beth's arms. Carl shot to his feet alarmed at the sight of his mother pale and trembling, barely on her feet. He took a step forward but was stopped when Beth rested a hand on his shoulder. He looked down to the blonde girl and she shook her head. His gaze darted back to his mother who offered him a weak smile.
Carl returned it then slowly sank down into his seat on the bunk. Lori gave him one last reassuring look before carrying on towards the steps. She glanced around the prison, and at a man she didn't know who was leaning against the wall. His blue jumpsuit gave him away as one of the prisoners whose life Rick had spared. She eyed him wearily as she was lowered into the second stair.
Lori looked around again, taking a deep breath. It felt good to see something other than the four walls of her cell. She looked at the windows, the rain splattering against the glass, then to Carol who was offering her a cup of water, her face radiating with joy.
Lori figured it must have been infectious because she smiled back with a throaty laugh. "That was great," she breathed. "But you might have to carry me back."