A/N: Hay guys, been a while since I've made an update for this story and I believed that it was time that I did. Especially after the mid-season finally of the show this past Sunday. And if you all saw it like I did, I can honestly say that life in that world truly fucking sucks. My girl was in tears for a while after word with all the shit that went down, seems like the producers kill off a main character every mid-season so we better start preparing ourselves accordingly.
Anyway, Let's get to the next installment...and you better prepare for this one too.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Walking Dead.
Chapter 10: The Long Road Ahead - Part 2
The cool air did nothing to ease the tension. Jason's steel-gaze locked hard on to Ben's terrified eyes, hand around the teen's neck with the barrel of the pistol pressed firmly into his forehead. There was no quiver in his stance, that much both Carley and Lilly could see.
If he wanted to kill the young man for his treachery...he would do so without another thought.
"I..." Ben swallowed hard despite his fear. "I'm...sorry..." he winced when the pistol's barrel dug deeper into his forehead.
"You're sorry?" Jason asked as his tone turned as sharp as a knife. "Sorry doesn't excuse the fact that you BETRAYED US! Mark is dead! The rest of us were put at risk and that's all you can say?!"
Ben winced when the fighter slammed him against the side of the RV and making him yelp, "I want a fucking explanation Ben! I let you into our group, I trusted you, what the hell got into your head that told you to make a hidden deal with those bandits!"
"They had one of my friends!" the teen shouted. "Th-They said that they would let him go if I helped them. They stopped attacking the motor inn, I thought I was helping!"
"What you did was nearly get us all killed!" Lilly exclaimed aiming her rifle over Jason's shoulder at the teen. "You stole supplies that we desperately needed and gave them to people trying to kill us! No excuse you could give is enough to make what you did right!"
The teen looked between the two before looking at the ground. "W-What are you going to do with me?"
Carley looked around them, "We shouldn't be doing this here...we're too exposed." she threw in. Lilly looked over to Jason who remained still as a statue, eyes unblinking as several seconds passed like years.
Despite his rage, the older woman's words did penetrate in his mind. He moved the weapon away from Ben's head and stepped back. "She's right, we'll deal with this issue when we're in a more secure place." The teen let out a breath, but froze when the fighter sent him another death-glare. "Don't get comfortable, because I'm going to need some time to decide whether to waste the bullet or let the walkers have you."
Ben's face paled as Lilly shoved him back on the RV, rifle aimed at his back while sending the fighter a look over her shoulder as they disappeared inside.
Jason let out a sigh as he slipped the Glock back into his pocket. "I thought you were going to kill him right here for a moment." said Carley coming up to stand beside him.
"I wanted to...but killing him wouldn't bring Mark back." he replied looking back the way they had come. "The situation hasn't changed, we head for Savannah and find water transport. We'll put Ben's fate to a vote when we have a moment. Everyone deserves a voice in the matter."
The reporter nodded as they got back on to the vehicle together, closing the door behind them as they all took off down the road again.
An hour later after their last stop, the Macon survivors sat around the RV silently as they rumbled South.
Kenny at the wheel with Katjaa and Duck riding shotgun. Clementine was curled up in the window seat in front of the door leaning into Carley's side, the older woman's fingers running up and down her back calmly as she stared into space.
In the back, Lilly sat with her arms crossed, rifle in her lap as she stared unblinkingly at Ben who sat across from her with his head down and his hands bound with a bit of rope they had on hand.
Jason went through their supplies for what felt like the tenth time since they hit the road. They had a good surplus on them, but it would have been better had they grabbed what was left at the motor inn.
They had a two full first aid kits, several boxes of ammo for their three pistols and two rifles, enough food and water to last them two weeks, along with various other items that could prove useful such as rope, duct tape, two hunting knives, matches, etc.
Their stocks had been cut in half as a result of their quick escape, but at least they had something on hand.
Zipping up the last duffel bag and putting it back in the cabinet when he heard Katjaa's voice from the front. "Jason, a word, please." The fighter made his way up, standing between the two seats.
"What's up?" he asked looking between the two of them. Kenny said nothing and focused on driving, Jason turned to Katjaa as she cradled Duck in her arms, the boy's face looking a bit paler than before with sweat glistening on his brow. "Is duck feeling all..." he trailed off when he looked down to where Katjaa was holding him.
The boy's shirt had ridden up some exposing his side...along with a set of jagged teeth marks that were bleeding slowly.
"...No..." the fighter said, his own face paling slightly as his heart dropped into his stomach.
"Happened during the raid." said Kenny, his voice sounding tired and hollow.
Jason bowed his head, shoving down the guilt that was trying to creep up on him and focusing on the issue that had just risen. "What's the plan? I may be in charge of the group, but this is your son."
Katjaa looked down at Duck, "I'm going to keep an eye on him and see what I can do, from a medical perspective." she closed her eyes, "We thought you should know..."
Kenny turned to him, and the fighter almost recoiled at the broken look on his friend's face. "Better to stay honest with each other, you know what I'm saying." he said before turning back to the road.
"Jason," said Katjaa getting his attention again, "If you could tell Clementine we would appreciate it."
"Clem..." the feeling in his gut intensified. Clementine and Duck were close, best friends. Telling her would break her heart, but there seemed to be no other way around it. It would have been better coming from him than to have her figure it out on her own. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning back to the main cabin.
He made his way over to the bench where Carley and his charge were still comfortable and sat down on the opposite end. Clementine moved out of the woman's embrace and curled up with him instead, Jason lifting his arm and putting it around her as she got comfortable.
Carley smiled at the scene, but it faded when she saw the sorrowful look in the fighter's eyes. He sighed before speaking softly. "Duck's been bitten."
It was like all the oxygen had suddenly been taken from the room. Clementine looked up at her guardian. "Huh?" she asked having not heard him clearly.
"Duck, he got bit by a walker when we were escaping the motel." he explained hesitantly.
The girl laid her head back on his shoulder, swallowing hard. "I...don't feel good." she whimpered causing him to hug her a little tighter. "What about Mark?"
"He's...at peace, Clem." said Jason. "Gone, but unable to come back as one of them."
"Because you had to shoot him in the head...right?" she asked slowly, getting a nod from the fighter.
He felt a hand trailing along his arm and looked up to see Carley moving close to them. Putting her arm around Clementine as well and resting it on his shoulder, offering comfort to the both of them.
Jason smiled, looking down at his charge causing her to look back up at him, "I'm glad I have you," he looked over at Carley again, "Both of you."
"Me too," said the girl before looking forward again, "I heard you outside my treehouse that day and thought about dropping a hammer on your head...I didn't though." she admitted.
The fighter snorted a chuckled, "Wouldn't blame you if you did. But I'm thankful you didn't either." Carley smiled in amusement as well, the depression from before temporarily forgotten as they lapsed back into silence. The low rumble of the RV's engine and the slight dripping of the nearby faucet filling the void.
Jason blinked slowly, having seen Clementine doze off a moment ago. Carley following shortly after, her head leaning back against the seat with soft snores coming from her slightly open lips. The fighter blinked again and looked down when he felt his charge shift.
The girl sat up and turned to him...then lunged at him.
"CLEM?!" he shouted when he saw her pale skin and filmed-over eyes. The smell of death and rot coming from her torn lips as she tried to sink her teeth into his throat. "FUCK! WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!?" he fought her off, but despite her size and the fatigue that was hitting him he couldn't hold out.
One slip of the hand, and the small walker yanked his head to the side and chomped hard into his exposed neck-
-Jason bolted awake, unaware that he had even fallen asleep. Looking around still on alert, he found everyone still sleeping save for Kenny at the wheel and Lilly who had shifted herself into a more comfortable position at the table to keep watch, the dark circles under her eyes telling him she hadn't slept a wink.
Light poured through the surrounding windows, the sun still low behind the trees meaning that it was still early in the morning. "We got something up ahead." Kenny said from the front snapping him out of his daze. The fighter moved his charge so that she was laying on the bench before making his way to the front.
"What's up?" he asked looking out the windshield and seeing what Kenny had.
"Road's blocked." said the fisherman pulling the RV to a stop. Up ahead, a train was stopped on the tracks crossing the road. The back end having derailed and making it impossible for them to pass. "Now we gotta deal with this."
Jason stepped off first, observing the scene before them and trying to figure out how to get around it. The others joining him shortly, Lilly keeping Ben ahead of her with her rifle at his back. "Any ideas?" asked Kenny looking over the train.
"We can only go around this by foot, but we can't afford to do that right now." said the fighter as he looked around their environment, "At least we're in a safe place, all the foliage will keep the corpses or anything else from sneaking up on us. So at least we have a moment to collect ourselves."
"We could go check things out while everyone else takes a breather." offered Carley taking out her pistol and reloading it. Jason nodded and turned to everyone else as they gathered around a fallen tree.
"Everyone relax, Carley and I will check out the train." Jason knelt down in front of Clementine. "Clem, stay close to Kenny and the others, okay? We'll be back soon."
The girl nodded and sat down beside Katjaa who was still holding Duck. The boy's complexion having gotten a bit more pale since he last saw him. "Jason, if you happen to come across anything to drink onboard, I think Duck's a bit dehydrated." she said looking down at her son.
The fighter nodded before turning back to the train, Carley at his side as they ventured toward it. "Be careful in there guys." Kenny called to them.
"Think we'll find anything?" asked the woman as they stepped up to the open car ahead.
"Don't know, but it's not like we have a lot of options." Jason replied as he looked back toward the others, centering on Duck when the boy suddenly coughed, his mother fussing over him immediately.
Carley's eyes turned sadden. "How long do you think he has?" she said dreading the answer.
The fighter sighed, "Hard to say...Can't possibly imagine what Kenny and Katjaa are going through with this." he turned back to the train, "We should split up, I'll check the front, you check the rear car. Keep your guard up, no idea what could be waiting for us."
Carley nodded as she hopped up into the opening to the rear car. The fighter moved toward the small step ladder and pulled himself up on to the walkway between the cars and moved along the outer railing. Finding a couple of cabinets to his right and checking them over.
The first one revealed a section of the train's engines, after flipping a few switches he discovered that the freight was unresponsive. Closing the doors, he checked the next compartment which had a small assortment of tools lined along the inside. Holstering his Glock, he picked up a large wrench the size of his arm and tested its weight. Satisfied with his find, he closed those doors as well before heading toward the control car at the front.
Pausing at the door, Jason peered through the dirty window and could make out form that was slumped over the controls inside. "Fuck." he cursed under his breath as he raised his new weapon. Grabbing the door handle, he counted down from three in his head before yanking it open and going in, slamming the blunt tool on the corpse's head sending it slamming into the console before it.
No response. A closer inspection showed that the man had been dead and stayed that way given how the front of his head was caved in and the window ahead was broken and covered in old blood. Most likely from when the back-end of the train derailed and the sudden stop sending him into the window face-first.
Taking the body from the seat and moving it to the floor, Jason got a look at the console and found everything dark. Save for a blinking light on the left. Shrugging, the fighter pressed the switch, hearing a loud hiss from outside close to the tracks. "The breaks." he said to himself, turning to the door when he heard someone approaching.
"This fucker still works?" asked Kenny as he and Carley stepped inside.
"Looks like it." replied Jason as the fisherman took up the driver's seat.
"I'll be damned. How the hell do we get it movin'?" he asked looking over the controls. "Did you find any instructions or something laying around?"
"Found a map of the train tracks back in the box car," said Carley holding out a clipboard with a map of Georgia with various lines covering the state. "This track looks like it heads straight to the coast in Savannah."
Jason took the map and read it over, nodding to himself with a smirk. "Appears that we just found ourselves a new transport, if we can get it moving again."
"It would be safer." added Kenny. "Doubt any walkers would be able to stop a freight train at full speed. We can put thousand of the fuckers between us and the coast and not have to worry about it!"
"My major is auto mechanics, Kenny. Not engineering." said the fighter looking over the various consoles around them,
The fisherman shrugged, "How hard can it be? They can't have kept instructions for this beast too far. We just gotta look for them."
Carley tapped Jason on the shoulder, producing an old bottle of water from her pocket. "I found this in the boxcar too, I'll take it to Katjaa and keep an eye on things while you guys work." Jason nodded as she left the lead car of the train before beginning his search.
It didn't take long given that the lead car wasn't that large, in the end he found a notepad posted the the opposite side of the controls. The front page having been torn off but the remaining piece at the top reading 'Engine Startup'. "Kenny, think I got something." he said running his fingers over the page beneath the torn one. "Instructions on how to start the engine."
"What do they say?" asked the fisherman.
"Pages are gone. But I think I can see the indentations form the pen on the ones underneath." an idea suddenly hit him. "Hold on, I think I might have an idea. Be right back." he turned to the door behind him that led to the front walk at the head of the train and stepped down to the ground.
A loud snarl caused him to spin around fast, brandishing his wrench only to find a walker thrashing wildly from inside a car that had taken a header in the nearby ditch. The undead attempting to reach him even though it was strapped in the passenger seat by the belt.
"Guess these things aren't as 'life-saving' as we were led to believe." he couldn't help but think out loud as he approached the car. Looking inside he didn't find anything useful, but it was better to deal with the walker incase it managed to break free.
Checking the door handle and finding it unlocked, the walker began thrashing even harder as it opened with its prey just out of reach. Looking from the undead to the door in his hand, an idea quickly formed as he looked at the corpse with a sadistic grin. "You want food?" he asked leaning forward, grabbing the outstretched arm that came at him and pressing his other hand to the seatbelt buckle. "Come and get it." he moved back as the walker lunged, waiting for the right moment before slamming the door hard against its head, crushing it against the door frame with a crunch and splattering rotten blood and grey matter against the side of the wrecked car.
Once dead, Jason stepped back from the car and made his way around the front and back toward the group. Everyone was settled in well and waited patiently for him and Kenny to finish up. Carley looked up from her spot beside Clementine and nodded, the little girl smiling at him as she went back to the picture she was drawing.
"Hay guys." he said approaching them. "Everything alright?"
"More or less," replied the reporter sending a concerned look over to Katjaa who was gently giving water to Duck. The boy weakly swallowing the bottles contents before settling back against his mother's shoulder.
The fighter nodded before turning it attention to Clementine. "Hay sweetheart, think I can borrow one of your crayons for a bit?"
His charge nodded as she went through the box beside her, pulling out a dark-grey one and handing it to him. "Will this work?" she asked.
"Perfect." he replied taking the crayon and pocketing it. Ruffling the girl's hair a bit before turning toward Lilly who kept her gun trained on Ben who sat slumped against a nearby stump staring at the ground.
Clementine followed his line of sight, "What's going to happen to Ben?" she asked looking back at her guardian.
"Don't know yet, Clem. He betrayed us, and because of that we lost Mark and Duck was bitten. I'm going to let everyone have a vote on it before I decide." said Jason.
The girl looked concerned and turned back toward Ben. "You're not going to hurt him, are you? He made a mistake."
Her guardian shook his head, "He should have told us what was going on. Instead he put everyone at risk, that's not what a group does. We always tell one another what's happening and work together to solve things. We can't afford to have someone doing things like that when so much is riding on even the slightest mistake."
"Will I have a vote too?" asked Clementine.
Jason nodded, "Of course. Your part of the group, so your vote matters as well."
Nodding, the girl went back to her drawing. The fighter sending another look back at their 'prisoner' before making his way back to the train. An array of thoughts bouncing around in his head that he tried to sort out along the way.
In the end his idea had worked. Using the crayon Clementine had given him, Jason was able to make the instructions for the train appear by rubbing the colored wax gently over the indented page. Thankful that his charge had shown him her artwork back when they were at the motor inn.
It took him a few minutes to decipher what the page was telling him, but it proved beneficial when the whole train came alive as power returned to the train. But they were still unable to go anywhere as long as the lead car and box car were still attached to the wrecked half.
But thankfully, Jason had the tool for the job as he made his way back to the box car, going through to the other side and using his wrench to pry the coupler pin connecting the cars free making it so that they could move the freight. "Kenny! We're loose!" he called up to the lead car before making his way back through the boxcar.
"You touch any of my stuff?" he froze when he heard the grizzled voice when he pulled himself up. Standing in the other opening was an older man with shaggy grey had and beard, his clothes covered in dirt and grime almost making him look like a walker if one were to look at a distance.
Seeing the man waiting, Jason decided to answer honestly. "Just the map of the train routes and a bottle of water for the little boy outside. Nothing else."
The man nodded, "That's all fine, you can have that stuff. Got the routes all up here." he said tapping the side of his head. "Guess it's no worse for wear." he added looking at his things. "Name's Chuck, Charles if you're fancy."
The fighter shook his hand, "Jason."
"That you're crew outside?" asked Chuck.
"Yeah, I take it you've met them?"
"Yeah. I saw you all walking through here and thought about scaring the pants off of you. But I couldn't force myself to do it. Looked like you all have been through a heap of trouble." said drifter. "Everyone seemed to warm up to me right quick in the sunlight. Nice bunch you got here."
"Thanks." said the fighter as they jumped down from the boxcar and went over to the others. Clementine getting to her feet and running up to him.
"You met Chuck!" she said as the man sat down on the fallen tree and began strumming on an old guitar.
"I did." said Jason.
"It's so nice to meet someone normal for a change." said Katjaa.
"More like a breath of fresh air." added Lilly while leaning against a nearby rock.
Clementine smiled back up at her guardian, "He gave us candy, even Ben." The bound teen in question paused in mid-bite and blushed at the sudden attention.
Chuck nodded, "It was no trouble, happy to help good folks who need a hand."
"Thank you, and your welcome with us." said the fighter honestly.
"Much appreciated." they all turned when Duck suddenly started coughing. The older man standing and kneeling in front of the mother and child. "I'm awfully sorry your son's not feeling so good.
"Thank you for your concern." said Katjaa.
Chuck nodded, "Well, with a little TLC I'm sure he'll be fit as a fiddle in no time. And I'll offer ya'll whatever I got, although it ain't much."
"And we'll do the same." said Carley coming up to stand by Jason. "It's always good to have some good company."
Kenny took that moment to make himself known. "So, are we all set? We're cut loose?" he asked Jason.
The fighter nodded, "We're golden." he turned to the group. "Alright everyone, gather all the supplies we got and load them into the boxcar. We're taking the train to the coast." The others all started moving as he turned to Chuck, "Need a ride?"
"Well, it seems like ya'll are taking my home. So I guess I can tag along." he said with a smile. "Haven't found anything better for keeping the creepy-crawlies out than that boxcar." With that he jumped on, helping everyone load the supplies from the RV onboard.
Clementine and Katjaa bringing up the rear, the little girl looking at her friend in his mother's arms as she carried him. "Duck's sick." she said sadly.
"Get on the train, Clementine." Kenny said sharply making her slump before climbing on the train. Jason sent a burning leer at his friend for speaking to her that way, but any comment he was going to say was cut off when Katjaa spoke.
"He's getting sicker." she said cradling Duck closer.
The fisherman tensed, "Let me have a look at him." he leaned in, Duck raising his head weakly to look at his father before slumping back down again. Kenny's eyes widened a bit and leaned back.
"Kenny," said Jason "We can't ignore this. I know it can't be easy-"
"Let's just get going." Kenny said cutting him off sharply. "The sooner, the better."
Katjaa shook her head at her husband, "I think Jason just wants to talk this through, Ken."
"It's TALKED THROUGH." the man barked. "Get on, Kat. I don't want to hear any more of this nonsense until we get to where we're going." without another word he stomped up the steps and headed toward the control car.
The fighter watched him go, Katjaa shaking her head. "I'm sorry about him," she said lowly.
"Don't, Kat. I understand." he said, reaching out and running a hand over Duck's head. Wincing when he felt how hot his skin was from the infection running through his system. His gaze going to the ground as he breathed deep as the guilt from earlier began to seep into his being, "I'm sorry. If I had fired sooner, done a better job defending everyone, then maybe..."
He felt a hand on his cheek and looked up at the woman before him. "Don't do that to yourself, Jason." said Katjaa gently. "You took so much on your shoulders when you agreed to lead this group. No matter what happens, you can't see every outcome. And no one blames you for what has happened, I certainly don't."
Jason nodded before looking her in the eyes, "How are you doing with this?"
Katjaa looked at her son, her eyes glistening with tears. "I know he...doesn't have much time left." she whispered as trails began descending along her cheeks. "I'm just trying to make the most of it..."
The fighter closed his eyes, feeling his own tears start to gather. It wasn't fair. Duck was just an innocent kid, along with countless others in this world who lost their lives to the plague. He didn't deserve this. "I just wish there was something I could do." An arm went around his shoulder and he was pulled into a small hug.
"You've done more than enough, for all of us." said Katjaa as she stepped back, adjusting the boy in her arms and giving him a weak smile before getting on to the train.
Looking back in the car, Jason began making his way to the head of the train. Stepping into the control room where Kenny was already in the driver's seat. "Ready?" he asked looking back at him.
"As I'll ever be." replied the younger man, reaching forward and grasping the throttle. The lever pulling back as the freight came to life and began to slowly roll forward. Gaining speed little by little and in minutes, the trees began to flow past them as they chugged along the tracks.
The two men at the helm couldn't help but smile at their fortune at finding the train perfectly operable. But the feeling flowed off Kenny's face like water. He shook himself and focused on the site ahead, ridding himself of what he was thinking of and focusing on driving the train.
Jason had seen the change in his friend and knew what it was. The man attempting to keep himself in denial, but the mask was breaking all too easily. And he was afraid of what would happen when it completely falls off.
Turning back to the front and the expanse of track before them, the fighter couldn't shake the feeling of dread swimming in his gut. His instincts telling him that things were about to get a lot worse very soon. A feeling he knew all too well at this point.
And one that was rarely wrong.
The surrounding forest fluttered past as the loud rumble and screech of the trains wheels on the track echoed in the air. Onboard, the survivors were all gathered in the boxcar doing whatever they could to pass the time.
Carley had taken over watching Ben for Lilly who sat in a corner slumped forward asleep. Jason stood with Chuck watching the scenery pass by out one of the open doors , Clementine sat hugging her knees as she watched Katjaa tend to Duck.
The boy's skin had gone nearly ashen, his breathing very shallow and he looked barely even conscious.
Jason looked their way, helplessness gnawing at his insides knowing that there really wasn't anything that they could do for him. "Got to be hard on ya, eh?" he looked over at Chuck who kept his eyes on the passing forest. "Four adults, taking care of three kids. No disrespect, son."
"There were others." said the fighter solumnly.
"Dead get 'em?" asked the drifter, the younger man shook his head. "Living, huh? Guess the world really has gone crazy."
"Jason! JASON! I need you. Right now!" Katjaa suddenly exclaimed. The fighter was by her in a second, while Duck was coughing violently in her arms. Dark colored blood dribbling down his chin as she tried in vain to sooth him.
"What do you need?" Jason asked concerned.
The woman motioned to the rag on the floor by her feet, "Would you mind getting this off his face? My hands are full here." she said while rocking her son.
He picked up the rag and gently wiped it around his mouth, removing as much of the blood as he could. Staining the already dirty rag with the substance. "He's out of time." said Katjaa fighting back tears. "We need to stop this train. Please, get Ken and have him pull over."
Jason nodded wordlessly as he stood back up, making his way to the door between the cars and stepping outside. Moving along the outer walkway and preparing himself for the conversation he was about to have with Kenny. Trying his best to plan what he was going to say as he stood before the door leading to the cab.
Taking a deep breath, he stepped inside, closing the door behind him as he looked at the man's back. "Kenny, you need to stop the train." he said clearly over the sounds around them.
Kenny glanced over his shoulder and narrowed his eyes before facing front again. The fighter gnashed his teeth, "Kenny!" he said attempting to get his attention again, reaching into his back pocket and producing the bloodied rag. "Ken!"
"What?!" demanded the fisherman looking back again., "What the hell's that?" he asked seeing the rag.
"Your son's blood." Jason said seriously. "He's getting worse."
"Get out of here Jason." Kenny said sharply.
"He's dying Kenny." the younger man stated.
"Nobody knows shit! He'll be fine!" Kenny shot back. "What's the goddamn deal? He's a little sick, but we can't just quit. It's a scratch! He's not like the others. Jesus, all ya'll are just makin' it worse!"
Jason threw the rag aside and grabbed his friend's shoulder. "This isn't just about Duck, Kenny!"
"Is that right?!" the man stood and spun, putting his face in the fighter's. "You think we're pals and you know me? You're some bloody knuckled grease-monkey who thinks he can pick me apart like some kind of fuckin' shrink?"
"It isn't like that!?" Jason fired back ignoring the verbal jab.
"The hell it's not!" Kenny spat. "What exactly do you got to say? Just fuckin' say it!"
There was a tense silence as the two stood practically nose to nose. "You blame yourself for Duck being bitten." Jason said straight to the point. "That what happened to him was somehow your fault. But more than that, you feel like a failure because you weren't there for your son when he needed you the most."
Kenny's expression melted into one of sorrow and self loathing as he lowered his head, "This shouldn't have happened to him...it isn't fair. It should have been me."
"Nothing's fair about this whole fucked up situation, Ken." said Jason feeling his friend's pain. "And I agree, this shouldn't have happened to him. But you're wrong about blaming yourself. You can't control everything, and you did the best that you could despite all the chaos. But right now, your family needs you. Katjaa can't get through this without you. Please, stop the train man."
The fisherman closed his eyes and breathed before turning back to the controls. Pulling on the breaks and bringing the freight to a slow, steady stop before climbing out and making their way to the box car where everyone was gathered around the open door.
Katjaa stood by Duck's prone form, the boy's breathing was raspy and he was barely clinging to consciousness as she stroked his head and face. Clementine sat next to them with tears in her eyes as she looked on while the others kept their distance out of respect.
"Ken, it's...I think it's time." she said with her voice breaking.
Kenny lowered his head again, tears gathering in the corners of his own eyes before looking toward the rest of the group. "The boy's been bit. In case you haven't figured that out." he said causing a few to nod in understanding. Chuck bowed his head and closed his eyes in silent prayer.
Jason put his hand on Kenny's shoulder, "Take what time that you need."
"There ain't no time left to take, Jason." he replied with his voice cracking. The man turned to his wife, "What are we gonna do?"
"We can't allow him to become one of those things." Katjaa replied solumnly.
"But...what if he doesn't?" the fisherman asked pleadingly.
"Kenny, I love you very much. I love our son more than life itself." the woman said in tears. "I need you to hear me. What you're saying, that he may not turn, is foolish."
"But...there's...come on, Kat."
"No." she said turning to him fully. "If you can think of a way, then you let me know."
Kenny put his hands through his hair, "Isn't there some sort of pill, or something we can just give him...He can just drift off to sleep, right, hon? I mean, Jesus, this is our son!"
"I KNOW. But we both know that it's...here. Or nothing." Katjaa said pointing to her temple.
"Well...fuck...just...who then?" Kenny asked desperately. "You want me to-"
"I'll do it."
All eyes turned to Jason who had his eyes closed. He opened them trying to fight back the tears that were gathering in his own eyes. "I'll do it." he repeated. "No parent should ever have to do this. I won't let either of you carry that with you for the rest of your lives."
"Jason..." Carley said barely holding it together herself.
"He's...He's right." said Kenny. "We can say our goodbyes before..." he couldn't even finish.
Katjaa shook her head, "I don't know," she looked toward the fighter. "Jason, you'd be doing this family a great service."
"I owe you more than you realize." he said looking at Duck. "You've been like a family to me, a real family. For once I felt like I belonged somewhere, with people I could trust. If I could spare even just a sliver of pain...I'll do what I have to."
Katjaa walked up to him and hugged him, "We'll take Duckie into the forest. So Clementine doesn't have to see. Give us a moment to say goodbye." He nodded in response as the couple picked up their child and carried him into the trees out of sight.
"J-Jason?" the fighter turned and looked down as Clementine approached him. "What's happening?"
He knelt down to her level, "Duck's dying, Clem." he said as gently as he could.
More tears fell from the girl's eyes, "I know...what are you going to do?"
Jason reached out and wiped a few tears from her face. "I'm going to make sure that he doesn't become a walker. He doesn't deserve that, no one does." Clementine hiccupped as he pulled her into his arms, "I know it hurts, sweetheart. But things will get-"
"What the fuck!" Lilly exclaimed with her rifle up.
"Carley! Lilly! Get everyone on the train and stay alert!" Jason shouted out before running into the forest after the gunshot. Trees rushing past him as a went full sprint, dodging branches and rocks as he followed the path the family had taken.
A few minutes passing before he came upon a clearing, eyes widening when he saw what was before him.
Duck laid slumped against a nearby tree. Kenny was on his knees cradling Katjaa's body in his arms with a steady stream of blood dripping from the hole that ran through her temple that pooled on the forest floor.
"KAT! KAT! KATJAA!" Kenny wailed as if trying to will his wife back to the land of the living. Pressing his face into her neck as he cried. "Why, Kat. Honey, oh fuckin' God..."
Jason's knees buckled, fighting with everything he had to stay upright as his chest felt like a knife had been punched through it. "God...no..." he said feeling a bit of strength leave him seeing all of this and feeling helpless to do anything.
Kenny slowly reached up, closing his wife's unseeing eyes before turning to look at his son. The boy's skin now almost transparent and the dark circles around his eyes very pronounced meaning his time was now up.
Picking up the gun from Katjaa's limp grasp, the fisherman stood up and stood over Duck's form. Jason coming to stand beside him as he stood motionless. "I...what do we do?" he asked sounding completely lost and hopeless.
The fighter reached out and gently took the gun from his hand, "You've suffered too much, Kenny. I made you and Kat a promise, and I'll honor it." he said honestly. Kenny said nothing and just looked away.
Weapon in hand, Jason felt the knife begin to twist in his heart as he raised it slowly. Aiming at Duck's forehead even though he was shaking a bit. The tears he had been fighting back beginning to fall as he clenched his eyes. "I'm sorry..."
The group sat in silence for several minutes after hearing the second gunshot. None of them taking their eyes off the treeline as they waited for the others to return.
Eventually they saw movement. The forms of Jason and Kenny coming out of the woods. Shoulders hunched as they separated, the fisherman going straight to the engine car without a word while the fighter entered the box car.
"Jason?" asked Carley when they didn't see Katjaa following them. "What...What happened?"
Jason said nothing as he stood in the middle of the box car, he looked up at her and she gasped when she saw tears falling from his eyes. His strong appearance completely broken as his shoulders started to shake.
The reporter practically ran to him and embraced him as tightly as she could as he fell apart in her arms. Face buried into his her shoulder as all of the pain and grief he had buried deep within himself for the last few months finally broke the surface.
Lowering them both to the floor, Carley began to cry as well as another set of arms wrapped around them. Clementine joining in as she cried into Jason's shoulder, her own little heart breaking after everything that had happened and just focused on holding on to the couple as the older woman wove and arm around her too.
The others didn't say a word as the train started up again and began to make its way East once more.
A/N: I know you're all pissed. Expecting Duck and Katjaa to live. And I wanted to, believe me I did. But I had to keep the realism of the story intact. In a world like this, it's never fair who lives and who dies. And those that appear strong can always break when it becomes too much on their minds and hearts.
Jason's not made of stone, he's human. And he broke just as anyone else would have in that situation. Even Rick can't keep his emotions in check when things got really bad for him and his group.
Review and PM me guys, I'm always checking.