A/N: Phew, finished this in a day. This story is now complete! I'm debating about doing a sequel based 6 years in the future, putting her at 18 or so, but sorting out some details. Who knows though, maybe I'll get started on that tonight. Thanks all for riding this crazy ride with me.
For being young, Clementine could understand the serious of a situation fairly quickly. She didn't blame Kenny for what had happened in the woods. She had made a decision, and while it certainly was new experience that was slightly uncomfortable, she had partially liked it. Kenny's face after the occurrence was enough to tell her though that what had occurred wasn't a norm. She wanted the others to understand that it was her choice. She wanted them to understand, but she knew the chances of them understanding were slim. It would likely cause more tension between the group. For now, she would keep what happened to herself.
She looked between the people in the room, before her eyes fell to the ground. She was running out of time, and it would look suspicious if she continued just to stand there disheveled. She swallowed thickly, looking back at Luke. "Walkers, they took us by surprise," she said quickly.
"What? Walkers. How many of them?" Luke shot up from his chair, turning his gaze to the window. They hadn't come across many heards since moving north, but it was likely they might come across one again.
Both Mike and Rebecca went tense as well. "Jesus, I'm so tired of those things," Rebecca said with a heavy breath.
"It's not like we haven't dealt with them before, Bec," Mike stated, pulling out his gun from his side.
Rebecca's face twisted into annoyance. "I hate this world," she muttered under her breath, crossing her arms under her chest.
Clementine stepped in quickly. She didn't want them to go out chasing something that wasn't even there. Rebecca was already tittering on depression, and if she kept getting bad news…Clementine replayed what Lee had told her of Katjaa.
Even after losing Lee, she knew that he wouldn't have wanted her to give up. It was why she kept pressing on, but sometimes other people didn't have that drive anymore. Clementine didn't want her white lie to be the last straw for Rebecca. "Kenny and I killed them," she said, "There weren't many, but he's checking out the area to see if there are more," she covered her tracks. The one thing she didn't like about lying was that it always lead to more lies.
Luke nodded, his body relaxing. "Good plan," he stated before he gave her a smile, "You okay?"
Clementine rubbed her forearm, as she nodded her head. She didn't look at him. She felt bad lying to Luke. He was always so nice to her, but it was for the best. It had to be for the best. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just tired," she said softly.
"Mike got that water pump working. I'm sure we'd all be okay if you wanted to get yourself cleaned up. Right guys?" Luke remarked, glancing back at the other two.
"It works?" she said in awe, her face finally lightening up a bit.
Mike smirked, "Used to be a mechanic. Nothing stands in the way of these hands." Mike chuckled, clapping his hands together like a proud father.
Rebecca rolled her eyes. "Kid gets to take all the water…great…just great," she muttered under her breath.
"Rebecca," Luke scolded.
"Nah, remember you're supposed to teach me those knitting skills," Mike said trying to lighten her mood a bit.
"Whatever, I'm going back to bed," she noted and wandered off down the hall to her bedroom.
Clementine was about to head to a bedroom herself when the door behind her flew open with a tired defeated looking Kenny. When their eyes met, she caught his disappointment. She really wished he would stop making that face. Her lower half still felt sore, but she wasn't mad. It felt like he thought she was untouchable, and that hurt. She liked when he held her. It almost felt like home and she didn't have to worry about being an adult anymore. He was there to protect her.
"Did you see any other walkers?" Luke asked him as he entered.
Kenny's brows turned to confusion. Clementine silently told him through his eyes to go along with it. Her mouth formed a straight serious line. "Oh…yeah…walkers," he mumbled, running his hand through the back of his hair, "No, we got em all." He let out a half laugh, "Came out of no where. Didn't even know what to do, but shit, you know instinct takes over. You don't even realize what's gone on until your staring at your hands trying to figure how the fuck that just happened." He rambled on, kicking off his boots and tossing them near the coat rack, snow from his boots dropped all over the wooden floors.
Clementine's eyes widened, knowing that he wasn't talking about this hypothetical walker's attack anymore. He looked broken.
Even Luke noticed it, stepping forward. "You okay, Ken, you seem a bit…I don't know..out of it?" he asked.
"Leave him be, Luke. The man looks like he's going through some shit. We all have our moments. I get it," Mike said. He was still looking at the door Rebecca had gone through before he went to the couch. "Who wants to play a game of cards?"
"I think I'll wash up," she said softly, giving Kenny another nervous look. He was avoiding her again, and she could sense the distance creep up between them. It felt like it had felt this morning.
"I'm going to get the fuck off my feet," Kenny muttered, "Any of these bedrooms empty or all the women enjoying this like some dumbshit spa resort."
"Yeah the one to the left. It's also got a bath, Clem," Luke answered, giving her a smile before going back to the couch, "What are you thinking, Mike? I play a mean hand of poker."
Mike laughed, "White boy, you don't have a poker face. If you're up for losing your pride, I'm down."
"I have you know I saw Lady Gaga once," Luke said with a smirk, grabbing the cards from the table to shuffle. Mike only laughed harder in response.
Clementine didn't pay attention to them. Her focus was on Kenny who seemed to move for no better word like a zombie across the living room to the bedroom. She followed him quietly and noticed how he hesitated at the door of the bedroom before living it open for her. She followed in and shut it behind her.
She turned back around to see Kenny fall face first into the bed, sighing roughly as he pulled a pillow underneath his head.
He looked like he had been physically hurt with how he mopped around. Him and Rebecca would make quite a pair right now, and it was beginning to piss her off.
"Kenny, stop this," she demanded, crossing her arms over her chest, her eyes narrowing as she took in the lump on the bed.
His good eyes opened and he shifted in the bed. He frowned, "Don't give me that look."
Her lip pouted out in annoyance. "You're acting like a kid. If what we did was so bad, shouldn't I be the one throwing a fit like a little girl instead of you?" she said matter of factly. He really was acting childishly. She held a large amount of respect for the man. He had gotten her out of some tough spots in the past, but right now, seeing him so upset….it hurt. It made her feel like she did something wrong. She hadn't been good enough for him, and she had tried to so hard. She pressed her lips together, keeping her emotionless mask in place. She wouldn't let him see that she was hurt.
He rubbed his hand over his tired face before he sat up on the bed. "Clem, it's not like that," he groaned in frustration, "You're too young to understand. God Lee would have my ass if he knew how much I fucked everything up."
She huffed, and threw his hat onto the bed before storming to the bathroom and slamming the door shut. Okay now, she was acting like a kid, but what was she supposed to do. She felt like she had given something to him, and he was throwing it away like yesterday's trash. Her breathing became unstable, as she leaned her head against the door.
She wanted someone to talk to, someone she could trust. Why wasn't Lee here? She closed her eyes for a moment before she pushed herself off the door. She didn't need anyone to survive. She had herself. She walked to the mirror and took in her face. Her lips looked red and her cheeks were dirty. She tilted her head and caught sight of the bruising on her neck. "Hm," she noted.
Her body felt weird and a bath would definitely feel nice. It had been a long time since she had a bath.
She started to peel off her clothing that had become like a second skin. She tossed it to the ground, grabbing one of the towels and wrapping it around her as she went to the tub. She turned the handle and water spurted to life. There was gross mud that spewed out, but the water soon became clear, washing the dirt away. She plugged the bottom of the bathtub.
There was a soft knock at the door.
She pouted out her lip before going to the door. She opened it and looked up at him. "What?" she asked coldly.
Kenny stared down at her before he pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. "Clem, I wish you'd stop throwing this shit attitude at me. I'm trying to be the grown up here. You hear me," he stated, before he shook his finger, almost in a scolding motion like she had done something wrong.
She stared up at him silently, with blank eyes, before she slammed the door in his face. She wasn't going to sit there and listen to him put his guilt on her. She turned back to head to the tub, but the door flew open.
"Don't slam the door in my face, young lady," he growled, coming into the bathroom.
She turned and looked at him with her own anger and hurt. She knew better then to get into a fight with Kenny's rage, but he was pushing her. He was the one pushing her away. He was the one throwing a fit. She hadn't done anything. "What do you want from me?" she finally said in frustration.
Her words seemed to snap his anger back because his face relaxed as he took in the girl before him. His eyes closed shut, his jaw tightened, and his hands turned into a fist at his side. He finally got onto his knees and wrapped his arms around her, his head falling into her stomach. She could feel him shaking as he started to cry. She stood there stiff, not knowing what to do. The only time she had seen Kenny cry was when Duck had died, but even then, he had hid it from her.
"I want you to forgive me," he whimpered into her towel. Her hand slowly threaded into his hair. She looked down at the mess of a man before her. She didn't know how to respond to him. How do you respond to someone that you almost feel like you're the reason they're broken? She ran her fingers into her hair, her eyes staring at the image of them in the mirror. She wanted t slap some sense into him.
"Kenny, you have to stop this," she said softly, she bit her bottom lip. She felt tired, tired of being the shoulders that held the people in this group up. She wanted someone to support her. "What would Katjaa or Sarita think? You need to get a hold of yourself. You're the leader," she responded.
His crying slowed until they were dull sobs. He nodded into her towel before he lifted his face. He rubbed his face with the palm of his hand before, he pushed himself up. "You're right, Clem," he said softly, he ran his hand into her short hair, cupping her face and pulling it to lock with his. "I put so much shit on you. You don't deserve this fucked up shit," he said, patting her cheek before turning away. "I'll fix it."
Her brows furrowed as he left the bathroom. She wasn't sure what he meant by that, but she caught the tub abut to over flow. She cursed and turned off the water right in time. She sighed, she just needed to forget. She wanted to remember the time before the dead walked the earth. Her parent's laughing over dinner, playing with children her age, and even going to school. She placed the towel on the counter and got into the tub. It was luke warm, and she sighed as it touched her skin, holding her breath, she dipped her entire body under the water, staring up at the ceiling above.
Life had been so simple, but in that life there was no Lee, Carley, Lilly, Christa, Omid, Ben, Luke, or Kenny. She had met so many people in this new world, and while it was hard, she couldn't imagine her life if she hadn't had met those people. They all had an impact in who she was becoming. She broke through the water, sucking in a deep breath. She slowly started to wash herself with the cloth, rubbing off the dirt. She stayed in the tub, her thoughts jumping through each choice she made to get to this point. How things went wrong and others went right, yet she made it here. She wondered when death would be at her own doorstep to take her away.
It had been a good ten minutes before she unplugged the tub, and the water started to drain. She dried herself off, rubbing her short hair before putting her clothes back on. She still had the towel, laying over her head as she opened the door to the bedroom. She suspected to see Kenny sleeping, but there wasn't anyone there. It had gotten darker, but a candle was lit on the nightstand. She went over to the candle and saw a sloppy written letter.
You're my little spitfire, and I sometimes think that the reason we ran into each other a year after Savannah was Lee's own master plan that he put together from the beginning. I love you, darling. I would do anything to protect you, which is why I'm leaving and going my own way. You got Christa now, and I'm sure shit head Luke can manage to take care of you. Even if they can't, I know you can survive. You're a survivor through and through.
She read the letter over and over again. Her eyes wet as her grip in the paper tightened. Her heart cracked. Had he really left? Left he after all they had been through…
She bolted out the door into the living room. "Kenny! Where's Kenny?" she said in sharp gasp of panic.
Mike and Luke were still playing cards. Luke looked up. "What's up sweat pea?"
"Where is Kenny?" she said again, her eyes bolting everywhere for him. He couldn't have gotten far.
Christa walked through the kitchen door right during the outburst. Her head tilted in suspicion. "He left about ten minutes ago," she stated, "He said he's doing another patrol."
Clementine looked at the door in a panic. She could catch up to him. She could stop him. After everything, she didn't want to lose him. She didn't want chase him away. Tears kept slipping down her face. She ran to the door, pulling on her boots and bolted out the door.
"Clementine!" Christa shouted after her.
"Shit," Luke cursed.
She could hear Luke right out the door behind her, but she kept running through the snow. The snow had gotten thick, making running that much harder, her fit kept breaking through, her boots feeling with its wet coldness in every step.
"Kenny! I'm sorry! Kenny! Please come back!" she called for him, crying. Why was she so mean to him? She kept pushing into the snow until she tripped on a hidden tree root. She went face first into the snow. She cried, clawing into the snow, trying to will Kenny to come back.
She felt two arms pick her up, as Luke pulled her up into his chest. "Clem, what happened?" he asked, worried, as he started to walk her back to the cabin.
She buried her face into his shirt. "He's gone. He's gone again," she said through shaky sobs, "I lost him again."
"I'm sure he'll be back," Luke said softly.
It was a pretty lie he said, but she knew it was only a lie.
No, he was gone…he was gone…
You'll be alright, honey, she heard Lee's voice comfort her, but it only served as another reminder of what she had lost.
She might be a survivor, but she didn't want to be alone anymore. Because what is the point in surviving, when you're the only one left?