A/N: Thank you again to user ForeseeObstacles for beta reading this chapter. You've been an absolute delight to work with, Foresee!

A massive thank you to all eleven reviewers of the last chapter, and indeed everyone who gave any form of feedback. I'm indebted to you, really, as your feedback means so so much to me. Thank you, really. If you do enjoy this chapter, let me know!

Sorry for the delay in updating; exams, real life drama and self deprecation have kept me away from writing for a little while. I think the end result should be worth the wait, however!

Warning - This chapter is considerably heavier than the others, in terms of the thoughts Jane has. There are mentions of extremely heavy subjects, such as attempted suicide and harassment, for example, so do consider that going into this. That being said, I really hope this doesn't detract anyone. It's definitely no heavier than most the stuff in the games, but it isn't as 'fluffy' as the last chapter.

See you all in the next one, and I hope you enjoy

Secret Sisters


"We must respect the past, and mistrust the present, if we wish to provide for the safety of the future."

- Joseph Joubert

"I just mean that … sometimes, you can't protect everyone you'd want to."

Wriggling, Jane sits up a little straighter, wiping the muck out of her eyes that exhaustion brings about. Even before the walkers, she wasn't… great at sleeping. Booze, cigarettes and drugs'll do that, she guesses. But now, even with a deficiency in all of these vices, sleep is like some elusive cat - only comes around whenever she's not looking for it. Not handy, when you've got all this - this shit pent up, tucked away just under the surface.

Definitely not the most comfortable of places she's slept, a restroom cubicle. Not that she's … entirely a stranger to sleeping in such a place. Usually, though, it'd be with a bottle held firmly in her grip, not a little girl, and there'd be the appalling and overwhelming smell of vomit, not the lingering smell of guts clinging to her clothes. Outside of her immediate surroundings, it's … quiet, ish, save for the occasional bump from the outside world. The door to the bathroom is locked, a vain attempt at keeping any walkers and bandits out while they sleep.

Clementine is curled up against her, a tiny smile touching her cheeks, even in her sleep. Since that night in the shed some two-or-three nights ago, the kid is like some lost puppy who's found its owner, always sidling up to her when she needs some shut-eye. And, hey, the kid isn't that bad for company, all things considered. Especially when she's not been as glum since the shed. Puke McGee is curled up in the girl's arms, his cheeks still a little flushed. Gotta be a cold, or a fever. Shit.

Her hand rubs up and down Clementine's arm as she leans her head back, exuding a frosty sigh to match her freezing fingers. Reddened and frozen digits clutch at the kid's arm, Jane wincing as she ruffles the girl's arm a little more, if only to maybe get some feeling back in her fingers. Listening to Clementine mumble mutinously as she slowly awakens is enough to bring a small smirk to Jane's face, giving the girl a little more of a squeeze.

"Rise and shine."

It quickly becomes clear that Clementine is many things, but a morning person she is not. A second squeeze is all it takes for the girl's eyelids to flutter up, however, a quiet moan accompanying the gesture. Squirming, she looks up, her brows furrowed a little, Jane biting at her lip to smother her chuckle. Jane listens to the puffer jacket rustle, feels the scrap of a kid shift position for a moment, weight persisting on her shoulder the whole time. Whining noises have Jane look down to the bundle in Clementine's arm, squinting a little at the baby boy whose face is crinkling.

As if on instinct, Clementine starts humming, the same tune Jane's sure she's been humming to herself, and she can't help but smile a little at the thought. Yet another thing she's taught the kid. God, what is that song? Jane racks her sleep ridden mind, turning over various ideas and thoughts, when her eyes widen in recognition. She looks away, towards some scribbles on the wall, her arm still loosely wrapped around Clementine as she lapses into silence. Shit.

Somewhere over the rainbow.

Jaime… Jaime had loved it. Nights spent with her sister held to her, not so differently from how she's got Clementine now, humming that song to lull the kid to sleep - if she wasn't prying herself free and going off to do something else, that is. Her lips tug down at the memory, a lump forming in the back of her throat as she listens to the little girl hum the song to the baby in her arms. Her grip tightens on Clementine.

Over the gentle sound of Clementine's humming, Jane can clearly hear the boy grizzling. Her eyes widen for a moment as she feels the weight on her shoulder shift, the blue brim of Clementine's hat coming into view, even as she makes to look away. Idly, Jane shifts her hand to the back of the girl's head, her nails scratching loosely at the black curls. Shutting her eyes, Jane hears the little girl's tiny giggle, feels her body wriggle a bit with her small laughter. A smile tugs at her lips, the woman persisting with the scratching motion for a couple moments more as she sits against the bathroom stall.

Temptation rears in Jane's mind, unsaid words in the back of her throat begging to be made spoken. Instead, however, she enjoys the comfortable silence, shifting her hand away from the back of Clementine's head. Her fingers flick firmly, grease and small tufts of black hair sticking underneath her fingernails. Euch. Her fingernails clear from the muck - well, clearer - Jane shifts, making to retract her arm from the scrap of girl curled up in her arm. Instead, however, the girl presses herself a little closer to her chest. Well, then. Jane's fingers wrap around Clementine's jacket sleeve, the cheap material crinkling a little under her grasp, a faint smile curling her lips. Not so bad.

"It's cold…" the girl's voice is small, even with her head laying on Jane's shoulder. She can hear the scrap of a girl's teeth clattering together, and clicks her tongue.

"Yea, I know," Jane smiles thinly, rubbing her hand up and down Clementine's arm - a half-hearted attempt to warm the kid up. The girl's smile widens, a little, looking down at the baby in her arms, then up at Jane. The baby whines, its face crinkling as it raises a chubby hand, pawing it against Jane's jacket. She sucks air in through her nose sharply, her eyes wide.

"I think he wants you to hold him," if Clementine's jealous of the fact, she doesn't show it, her tiny smile widening. Jane's feels her smile fade quickly in turn, looking at the bundle of liability that lays in Clementine's lap with pursed lips. The lump whines, pawing at her jacket again. Guh...

"Sure he'll live without."

Clementine frowns, a little, those golden eyes scrutinising Jane. She looks away, towards the green bag pressed against her uninjured leg. Save for the practically empty bottle of rum and packet of baby formula, the container - for want of a better word - is empty. Her stomach grumbles, the woman self consciously folding her spare arm over her torso.


Jane looks back at the baby, her lips tugging down. The tiny word rattles around in her head, her heart cracking against her chest. Probably still owe her a few… As if on cue, a chubby hand smushes against her jacket again. Her eyes flit to Clementine, watching as her eyes widen endearingly. And there are the puppy eyes. Damn, this kid's good. Sighing frostily, Jane outstretches her hands, raising an eyebrow as the little girl goes 'yes!' quietly, as if she's settled a bet or something.

"Sick of him already?" Jane smirks a little, but that tiny grin fades as the baby is transferred to her grasp, the uncertainty kicking in. You are holding a living, breathing, defenseless human being, that was brought into this world by a mother who wanted a child, and if you drop it - him - Clem will never forgive you. Her arms loosely clasp around the thing, jiggling him as he coos. Clementine seems to have not noticed the remark, grinning down at the boy. "Gah, why's he … doing that?" she bobs her knee restlessly, watching as the boy grizzles, smacking his lips and making those … baby noises at her.

"He's happy," Clementine mumbles, laying her head against her arm again. Jane looks down at the girl pressed against her, her lips twitching as the conflicting sensations spark and flare in her body. Cuddling a baby? Blech. Clementine wanting to sit this close to her, after everything? Much better.

"Glad one of us is," Jane mutters to herself irritably, the boy squealing and pointing up at her face. She feels the weight lift from her shoulder, and looks over to see the girl frowning at her. Not wanting to watch the kid lecture her, she looks back to the boy, the wide eyes and giggling lips of the thing. After a few moments, however, she hears a little pained gasp, and looks over with wide eyes. Clementine's hand is clamped over her - still kinda fresh - wound, her eyes clamped shut and her teeth gritted. A pained whimper breaks through the girl's grimace. Jane's heart cracks a little.


Poor kid.

"That, uh, still hurting?" Clementine cracks one eye open, a look of incredulity on her young face. Jane bites back the chuckle that threatens to burst from her lips at the oddly mature looks she gets from the little girl. "Right, yea, you wouldn't be …" she goes quiet, pulling a sympathetic face for her little companion. "It'll get better."


For a precious moment, she's sitting in her backyard with Jaime again, when she was younger and shit made more sense, helping the poor thing up after the scrap of sister had fallen over - hard - and left a nasty gash in her knee. The little sister whimpering and whining as Jane cleaned the wound out, Jane humming for the girl as she wrapped the definitely nasty cut up in the cheap bandages they'd kept in the medicine cabinet. Assuring the girl, half heartedly, that it'll be fine soon, and to 'please stop crying' so she can concentrate.

Jane hesitates, her throat dry as she remembers poor Jaime's whimpering and whining, both before the walkers and 'after'.All the while, Clementine staring back at her with pained eyes. Jane's mouth opens and shuts ineffectively, trying to find the words to reassure the tough-as-nails eleven-year-old sitting next to her. She licks her lips, feels her throat bob up and down, and coughs to clear it. The weight returns to her shoulder, and Jane shuts her eyes. Takes a slow and steady breath.

"Soon, Clem," she opens her eyes, wriggling her arms a little, mindful of the living thing perched in her awkward hold. "Real soon," she glances over at Clementine, watching as the girl leans back against her arm.

She looks back down at the baby, the little thing blissfully unaware of the horror that awaits when they get out on the road. The walkers, bandits, and whatever other sick shit. And he's just gonna … make it harder for them to get through it. Jane hisses out a sigh, half-heartedly shushing the boy as he squeals especially loudly. Shut the fuck up.

Clementine nods, heaving out a tiny little sigh. Jane looks over, raising a solitary eyebrow as she notices her little partner shutting her eyes. Clicking her tongue, she shifts the baby into a one-armed hold, the other slipping to the girl's shoulder and giving it a quick squeeze.

"Not so fast," she teases, her fingers clinging onto the scrawny shoulder for a single moment, whether it's for her comfort or for Clementine's, she's not entirely sure. The little smile Clementine gives her, however, makes one answer dance in Jane's mind. "We're moving," she cuts through her thoughts, holding the baby out for the girl. Carefully, and with little shushes and whispers from the girl, the boy is shifted from her arms and back to the - arguably safer - perch of Clementine's arms.

Some feeling races through Jane's gut at the sight of the girl cuddling the baby to her, one she can't place. She thinks back to after the … the shit at the rest stop, with that fuck getting his hands on her, shoving and screaming and spitting. Kenny. The knife slashing at his gut wildly, the scream of pain and the yelped 'oh my god!' she could barely hear as the desire to be done with Kenny took control of every fibre of her being.

Yelling how it was all his fault, on the spur of the moment, pressing herself to her feet and hurtling out the rest stop after him as he clutched at his gut, his one working eye alive with fury. The girl she was trying to help hurtling between them, her tiny hands raised at both of them, Jane's attention shifting to the little scrap of a girl for a half moment before raising back to the guy. Her blood boiling, her hands shaking as she clutched the knife, jittery as she realised how close freedom was.

Pain, pain in her leg. Raw, there for a fleeting moment and an agonising eternity. The sensation prickles in her leg, dragging her from the all-too vivid memory of the fight, instead the aftermath by the truck starts playing in her mind, like some old movie she'd watch with Jaime - probably The Wizard of Oz, something of a ritual for the young girl - the kid held to her chest with one arm and a bowl of popcorn balanced on her knee precariously, sat curled up on the moth-eaten couch as the movie played, the room otherwise shrouded in darkness. Her eyes shut as the biting cold comes back to her, the baby grizzling in Clementine's arms and the look of hurt, betrayal, confusion all lining the poor girl's face. The way she protectively held AJ, taking a tiny step away from Jane as she explains herself.

'I did it for you, Clem. For us. We're free, now.'

The way her last … friend had looked away for a moment, chewing her lip and bobbing the baby, tears brimming in her golden eyes plays in her mind. Jane's heart crashing against her chest, staring at the girl and begging for forgiveness, wanting nothing more than to be walking away from that fucking place with the girl in tow. The glint of hesitation in the girl's eyes, and in that moment, the realisation that she - Jane - was only 'second best' was - is? - all too real. And even now … it's kinda there.

With a low grunt, Jane pushes herself to her feet, rubbing at her temples as a headache thuds behind her eyes, the low temperature and her lack of sleep pounding away at her head. Shit. She looks to her right, watching the girl struggle to her feet while trying to hold the baby in her arms. Clicking her tongue, Jane reaches down and hooks a hand under the scrawny kid's armpit, hitching her up with a grunt - and then a gasp as her legs sears from the sharp movement.


"Jane? Are you - ?" A flash of impatience, fleeting but there - she can't be dragging them down, dammit. She won't drag them down, just 'cause she got herself stabbed in a fight with some stupid, psychotic -

"Gnh -" she bites back the cuss she wants to yell, restrains herself from slamming her fist against the wall. Not gonna slow her down. Little kid needs all the help she can get through this shit. Cold air hisses through the ever-so slight gap in her bandage, the chilled and frosty wind attacking the sliced flesh. "I'm… agh…"

She screws her eyes shut, grits her teeth together and hisses in a breath, that horrible sensation coursing throughout the affected limb. Sparks of a feeling not unlike an intense burn. Raw, agonising, debilitating for a precious few moments as the muscles seize and halt. The scream that wants to burst from her lips is restrained with difficulty, the woman swallowing. Stop. Fucking. Hurting!

"Is that feeling… better?"

"It's, ah…" Jane has her eyes closed, bright flashes appearing in front of her tightly closed eyelids. "It's better than it … was," she smiles weakly, cracking her eyes open and looking at the girl. "When, y'know, it was being stabbed."

Clementine ekes out a tiny - probably forced - smile, bobbing the baby up and down and looking at the hole in her jacket - euch, arm - with a tiny frown on her face for a moment. Jane grimaces, the dried blood that clings to her jacket serving as a powerful reminder - get that checked at Howe's. Sooner we get there, sooner we can properly patch that up. That thought alone is motivation enough for Jane, who starts to the door, laying her fingers on the door handle. She glances over her shoulder, flashing a quick smile at the girl, before tilting her head towards the door as she cracks it open.

Gotta be nearly there, now.

Venturing out the restroom and into the great big world outside, Jane takes a moment to inhale a crisp set of air, her eyes flitting about for signs of the undead. Clementine inches out behind her, looking over her shoulder and wrinkling her nose at where they'd just slept for a long couple of moments, the look persisting even as the door clicks shut.

"We're going to be there … soon, right?"

"Yea, we're uh …" her eyes narrow as she squints in the vague direction of the hardware store - or, uhm, she hopes is the direction of Howe's - her gaze sinking back to the girl. "It can't be much further. A day, maybe?" Clementine's face eases into a smile at the mention of 'a day', her lips twitching upwards - a look that's contagious, as Jane feels a smile touch her own features. "So, c'mon, partner," she tilts her head in the direction she's 'picked', starting her walk slowly, feeling her smile grow at the tiny laugh she hears from Clementine.

The sun slowly rises over the horizon, painting her surroundings in a gentle glow. The sunshine, the twittering bird song and the crunch of dead leaves underfoot are noises she hadn't realised she'd missed. If she shuts her eyes, it's like she's back at the family house, before life took one of those turns for the worse, helping Jaime catch butterflies with that ridiculous pink net of her sister's. The sun beading into her eyes, creating dazzling lights in her periphery as she inched along, sneakers pressing into the scattered leaves along the lawn. Swish. The net slamming down, another butterfly caught, urging Jaime over - watching the scrawny girl race over with jar in hand, giggling delightedly, Jane maybe cracking a small smile as the girl gushed over her new catch.

'You're the best sister ever!'

Tiny coughing yanks her away from the illusion she'd lost herself in, Jane opening her eyes with a bitter sigh and looking over her shoulder. Clementine's staring at the baby with huge eyes, bobbing him up and down. A fresh stain lies on her puffer jacket, all green and - shitty. Even as someone who knows the square root of fuck all about babies, save for the fact that they puke, piss and shit everywhere, Jane understands that coughing up greenish-brown stuff isn't … good.

"It's okay, AJ," she hears the small girl coo down to the baby. Inadvertently, Jane winces. "Y - You're okay, aren't you? You're tough…"

Jane looks over her shoulder, opening her mouth to say something. Her mouth slowly shuts as she notices the desperate look on the girl's face. If facial expressions and desperate pleas meant anything in today's world, if they offered even the slightest form of cure, then the intensity of Clementine's gaze would make the baby cured on the spot. Unfortunately for the kid, pleading can't kill illnesses. Whatever it is that the baby has, it's not … great.

"There'll be something at Howe's… Jane, there - there'll be something to make him okay, right?" the girl looks up, and Jane's mouth opens quietly again. Her tongue tied, the woman uselessly clears her throat, stalling for time against an eleven-year-old. Words dance to the tip of her tongue, only to scuttle away as she starts to phrase them, leaving her sounding like a gibbering wreck as lies, truths and something-inbetweens all darting around in her head.

"Uhh - uhh, yea," Jane coughs awkwardly, looking ahead again. "We're nearly there," she tries her best at reassuring her small travelling partner, an uncertain smile and a scratch of the back of her neck keeping the words company. "Then we'll … 'make him okay'," she looks away, wincing to herself as she does so. Shit, why did you … Her throat shifts in her neck as she swallows, looking away from the girl and retreating back to the silence she often hides behind. Or hided behind, until the escape from Howe's. Until …

Jane shakes her head, inhaling another set of crisp air. The faint smell of decay lingers in the air, the source of which is seemingly deeper into the forest. Save for the twitching of her lips that the smell brings about now-and-again, Jane barely reacts. A stark contrast from the girl behind her, who lets out a quiet moan, the sound of someone who's beyond appalled. Smiling, a gentle chuckle spilling from her lips, the woman takes a look over at the girl, the gentle smile touching her cheeks.

"Figured you'd be used to it, by now," Jane speaks up lightly. Clementine is determinedly looking away from the supposed source of the smell, her little nose wrinkling and her golden eyes narrowing, a little. Golden eyes slip back towards her, the woman shrugging a little at the piercing gaze. The girl pauses for a moment, before eeking out a tiny grin.

"You might be used to it…" the girl mumbles out, that tiny smile widening a little. Her nose wrinkles some more as her eyes settle on Jane's jacket, the woman widening her eyes as a smirk of her own inches onto her face.

"Hey! That -" she trails off, the smile softening. "Tuh!" her brown eyes settle on the faint imprints of walker guts on the girl's clothes, the dark liquid having had plenty of time to sink into the little puffer jacket of hers, the colour looking less baby blue and more bloodied brown. Clementine's gaze follows Jane's, and the woman watches with a degree of amusement as the girl's little nose turns up at the disgusting smears along her jacket. Jane settles for shaking her head, a small grin tugging at her lips. "You're a … mean bitch, sometimes," she smiles down at the girl, who awkwardly eeks out her own grin, a stifled giggle accompanying the facial gesture. Jane shakes her head, looking along the trail. Not so bad.

Minutes bleed by at a snail's pace, nothing to distract her from her thoughts except for the grizzling the baby makes, the noise setting her skin on edge and her hair on end. Even after holding him, the noises don't … agh. A long long time ago, when baby sister had been born, Jane remembers vividly how she'd been scared shitless holding Jaime, who would stare up at her with big brown eyes and drool on her chin, making the exact same noises to her, excited squeals and chubby hands having the then young Jane be terrified of holding the baby - and later toddler - close to her.

"She's your sister, Jane."

Those same words, said over and over as she grew up, with different tones - varying from proud to disapproving - and volumes. Whether it was affectionately looking at the two when Jaime had just been brought into the world, or whenever the bitch had broken up an argument between the two - usually involving Jane 'being mean' or some 't have been … that long ago, but it sure feels like a lifetime ago. Jaime's lifetime ago.

"God dammit," she mumbles under her breath, the heel of her palm pressing against her temple. Thoughts upon thoughts of how it should have gone, regret over how it did go, in the last days, the constant yelling at the girl. 'I'm not gonna die for you!', and shit like that, when that was … probably the shit she didn't need to be yelling, when Jaime had been that bad. Especially after… fucking fuck.

Her gun lingers in Jaime's grip, Jane looking at her with wide eyes. It's late - too late. The moon hangs high in the night sky, bathing their surroundings in a pale glow. In the cramped confines of the apartment, she can clearly see the girl's form, standing bolt upright, shaking like a leaf. The gun rattles audibly, an incessant rattling. Quietly, carefully, she takes a step, only to hear a frightened yelp. Her little sister's tears are visible on her face, the moonlight painting them in a haunting glow.

"Jaime…" her throat feels too big, the acrid taste of vomit in the back of her mouth. Her heart thuds against her chest. The gun rattles more. Another quiet step towards the girl. A thick sob echoes in the quiet room, the gun's rattling going still for a moment. She wants to scream, her heart hurts from the fretful pounding in her chest. For a single moment, she's paralysed, watching the silhouette of the girl.

There's a loud click - the safety. A pained moan follows, then a visible shake of Jaime's head. Jane's heart beats faster still, the taste of bile becoming more pronounced.

"Jaime, puh - please … put it down."

Another sob. Jane feels her heart crack. A third step, further this time, the slide of the pistol glowing eerily in the moonlight. In an instant, Jane deeply regrets leaving the weapon in a place Jaime could find it. That's why she hid the pills, and the nail file… fuck fuck fuck…

"You don't - you can't do this. I've got you. Please. Don't … do anything stupid…"

Her hand reaches out for the pistol, her fingertips brushing gently against the cool metal. Brown eyes shift to meet her own as she pushes the gun downwards, wrapping her fingers around the weapon.

"Thaaaat's it … just … put it down … e - easy, tiger…"

The gun slips from Jaime's hands, Jane letting out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. As she makes to pick the gun up, the sobbing returns, the girl throwing her arms around Jane and burying her head into her chest, muffling her crying - looks like she's learned from the best after all. Jane hesitates, shifting her foot and nudging the gun away from them before wrapping her arms around the girl, the fingers of her right hand snaking to the back of the girl's shoulder length hair. Her nails scratch at the back of her head, the woman shutting her eyes and breathing shakily.

"I'm suh - sorry Jane… I juh … I want … I wanna see mommy and daddy…" her little sister chokes out, the front of Jane's shirt already damp from tears. Jane nods, her fingers still scratching at the back of the girl's hair and her other arm keeping her close to her. She hums quietly, the girl's favourite song from 'The Wizard of Oz' as she hears Jaime's sobbing get louder still, her eyes shifting to the door for a solitary moment before looking down at the mess of brown hair nestled under her chin, the back of it still moving with the gentle scratching from Jane.

"I know," she breathes back, pausing from her humming as she listens to the girl's crying get louder. She feels something wet and hot trickle down from her eyes, and pulls her little sister closer still. "I know. Shhshhshh…"

Her throat shifts again, the woman making sure to keep her face obscured away from the curious little girl in tow. The breeze attacks her face, a chill wind that pinks her cheeks and has her eyes water for a moment - at least, that's what she's going to tell herself. Chilled fingers press against her eyelids, massaging them gently. Her head thuds a little, the cold and the rum she's been sneakily helping herself to probably being the cause of it. With a grunt, she shakes her head, tearing her fingers away and blinking firmly. Gah.

The sound of tiny retching makes Jane groan loudly, looking over to see Clementine yelping and holding the boy in her arms at a distance, her nose wrinkling and eyes watering as the baby coughs and sputters. Her small jacket is coated in a fresh dose of the disgusting shit that comes out the baby's mouth, the woman resigning herself to likely having to hold the lump of liability while Clementine clears her jacket of the muck.

"Jane, can you - ?"

With a sigh and a shaky step towards the girl, her leg stinging like the absolute bitch that it is, Jane extends her arms for the boy for the second time that day, wriggling her fingers impatiently as she squints down at the brownish-green smears that are on the bloodied-brown coat.

"C'mon, clean up, then you're taking him back," she speaks stiffly and quickly, furrowing her brows down at the boy with a little more impatience than he probably deserves. Clementine meekly extends the blanketed figure to Jane, the woman letting out an agitated sigh as the helpless orphan is plopped into her arms, already fidgeting a little. His face is crinkled as he looks up at her, little smears of whatever shit he chucked up on Clementine flecked all around his mouth. Jane shudders, muttering out a 'gross' under her breath as she pointedly looks away from the baby, watching the forest as Clementine fiddles with her jacket.

The baby coughs again, Jane wrinkling her nose at the noise and chancing a glance at her clothes - nope, no baby vomit … yet. As the whining and mumbling starts, all inane squeaking and squealing to the woman's ears, Jane remembers back to the girl's 'advice' from a couple days back, to hold him in a certain way to get him to shut the fuck up. Uncomfortably, she does her best to mimic the hold she'd maintained back then, watching the baby carefully, gauging his chubby face for reactions. Wide eyes, slightly sagging mouth, but … quiet.

That's - good, right?

"Clem -"

"I'm just getting the -" her jacket pried off, Clementine looks down at the blue article with a wrinkled nose, like some artist at a half finished painting. Jane's eyes flit back to the baby, who seems infinitely calmer now that he's being held properly. Picky little shit. In an attempt to placate the boy, she awkwardly - hesitantly, uncomfortably - rocks him, staring at him with huge eyes the whole time. Fffuuuuck. She's suddenly all too aware of how fucking high up the kid is in her arms, how something making her jump'd make him fall a long -

Cursing quickly and colourfully, Jane pulls the boy a little closer, wary of all those little tiny things you have to do. Support his head, keep him warm, don't hug him too tight, don't let him be sick 'cause the smell is fucking disgusting, don't drop him, don't rock him too much or he'll get sick, don't let him cry, do not let him be sick for the love of fucking God.

All in all, Jane arrives at the conclusion that she has no fucking idea why people like holding babies so much. Or, ahh, liked holding babies so much. So much shit to worry about, on top of worrying 'bout getting jumped by walkers or bandits, and then the fact the baby might just decide, whether out of spite or out of hunger - who the fuck knows? - to start screaming its little head off, only making it that much more insufferable to be around. Her throat shifts as the boy whines, reaching a chubby hand out for Clementine, the woman hissing in a breath.

"Uhh… No, hey, don't … do that," she mutters out, staring down at the boy with large eyes. "What d'you want? You … hungry, or - ?" Jane wrinkles her nose, wishing more than ever that the baby had some form of vocabulary besides snotting, crying and puking. "C'mon, just -" she jiggles the baby a little, who giggles a little at the motion and points at her, drool on its chin. "Oh, gross," she mutters, looking away from him again, shuddering a little.

After what feels like way too fucking long, Clementine's inching back over sheepishly, the fresh-er smears more or less removed from her jacket - little bit of water and elbow grease seems to have been enough to get rid of the lumpy, viscous liquid that so often pours out the baby's mouth. She meets Clementine's gaze and carefully shifts the baby away from her chest, crouching a little to help the girl take a hold of the child. A tiny sigh comes from the girl's mouth, Jane sighing through her nose and averting her gaze as the baby is transferred back to the little girl.

"We're … nearly there," she assures the girl as the baby is shifted from one set of arms to the other. Clementine looks up, at that, her lips twitching into a tiny smile, one Jane's eager to return in kind. The girl's face exudes the kind of youthful eagerness the kid should be able to … hang on to, rather than smear herself in guts and hope she doesn't get shot or ripped apart by teeth and claws. But that's how she's alive. After a moment more of smiling like some starstruck moron, the woman forces herself to stand straight again, her fingers brushing against the handle of her gun. "Keep yours handy," she advises quietly, meeting the girl's gaze with a determined look of concentration on her face. Clementine nods, reaching quietly for her own and staring at Jane with wide eyes. "Just in case."

About fucking time.

Between the familiar surroundings of the woodlands - deja vu, she guesses - and the rotting smell that fills the air, Jane's pretty sure she knew they were there before she'd even seen the huge HOWE'S sign. Her eyes widen a little as they trudge out of the woodlands, arriving on the edge of the forest with her pistol held firmly in her grip and Clementine at her side. Dozens of corpses are littered all over the parking lot, thick clumps of 'dead' walkers with bullets through their skulls, slashes through their jaws, and dark blood over their fronts. Carefully, she runs her eyes along the hardware store before her, brows knitting together and brown orbs narrowing. Focus up.

"Can't see much from here," Jane speaks carefully, quietly, not looking away from the hardware store for a single second. Carver's not on her mind, nor is Troy - that fucking... asshole - but instead people like Tavia, or Bonnie. Snakes in the water, with their heads screwed on straight enough to weather out a herd, jumping like a rat from a ship whenever their cause is lost. Her nose wrinkles. Sounds like you. "C'mon," she jerks her head towards the store, raising her pistol a little as she does so. Half glancing at Clementine, she spots the girl twisting her own pistol under the baby's head, her golden eyes wider than usual in uncertainty.

Quietly, carefully, she moves across the parking lot, her gaze sweeping left and right across the parking lot as she does so. The store is eerily quiet, which she's … grateful for, in a sense. Navigating past the slew of corpses and near rivers of blood is secondary to her, the woman sparing half glances at her feet as she trudges over the greying and mottled bodies at her feet. Euch. Her lips tighten as she spots a particularly disgusting corpse hunched up against the loading bay, his skin torn away in strips, leaving only cartilage and bones. A ripped-up camo jacket is barely hanging together around the mauled form, the woman feeling some surge of … something. Trumph? Justice? No, shit… fuck.She stares at the body for a beat longer than perhaps healthy, the hand not holding her pistol balling into a tight fist as her teeth grit together.

Serves him right.

She shuts her eyes and shakes her head, letting the boiling hot feeling flood from her form before looking back to the girl in her charge, who's staring at a scrap of a bloodied flannel shirt with sad eyes. Jane frowns a little, trying to remember what happened … that night, the night they escaped. She racks her brain desperately, only to remember -

Ahh, shit. Sarah's dad.

She makes to call Clementine over, to tear her away from the grisly sight - or the grisly memories - only to see the girl move away of her own accord, her chin tucked in as she bows her head. Jane sighs, shaking her head a little at the thought of the group that died along the way - fuck - before looking back to the loading bay, nudging the remains of Troy away with a dismissive shift of her boot.

The loading bay is higher than her, the woman cursing under her breath as she looks at her leg wound. She jerks her head towards the loading bay as Clementine looks over, the eleven-year-old picking up the pace a little to stand next to her, looking up at her with wide eyes and bobbing the baby quietly, shushing him even as Jane starts to talk.

"Need you to keep an eye out," Jane murmurs, squinting into the bloodied loading bay. "Then I'll help you and ih - him, him - get inside," she points at the baby, and the little girl gives an extremely tiny nod as a reply. "Alright, good."

Cursing foully, again, Jane drops the gun on the loading bay floor and presses her palms against the bloodied floor, grunting as she pushes herself up, like someone trying to crawl free from a swimming pool. Fuck! Her leg sears in pain - red hot, searing - but after a little jump and a painful couple of moments, she finds herself standing inside their - hopeful - new home. Turning back to the girl, she crouches down and offers her hands. The girl looks at her with a tilt of her head, and Jane beckons slightly, looking over her shoulders as she does so. She feels a jump in her throat as she feels a much lighter - but definitely way fucking scarier - weight press into her arms than expected, Jane carefully depositing the boy … on the floor, before reaching back for the girl.

"Gimme your hand," she breathes. Clementine nods twice, putting her tiny warm hand in Jane's larger one and looking up at her with wide eyes. With a gentle smile, a harsh pull and grunt of exertion from the pair, Jane succeeds - mostly, anyway - in hauling the girl inside, too, stopping only to scoop up her own weapon before standing fully again. "Eyes and ears."

The smell's the worst part, the loading bay seeming to have weathered the brunt of the herd. More walkers are inside, outstretched claws and wide open jaws. Bullet holes riddle their corpses, whether from frantic firing or 'disrespect' for the dead, Jane's not entirely sure. Looking away from the centre of the room for a moment, she twists and walks towards one of the cardboard boxes backed up against the other - closed - loading bay door, her lips pursing and her head tilting to one side. Gun still clamped in her right hand, she uses her left to brush along the items being stored in the container, stooping over to rummage. Ammo, ammo and ammo. Great.

She moves to join Clementine, the girl staring at a body wrapped up in a fur coat with his head caved in. There's little left to make the man recognisable - his jaw's just gone, his skull painted in dark shades of red, or, at least, what's left of his skull. His greying hair is flecked with the colourings of his own blood, and Jane just about spots an eyeball hanging out of its socket before she tears her gaze away. Her eyes shift to the girl standing next to her, then back to the body, sick curiosity getting the better of her, even as the taste of vomit starts crawling up her throat again. That fucking monster…

"I don't …" her throat seizes for a moment, her voice gentle as she looks down at the girl again. "I don't know how you were able to watch… that…" she brushes past the girl, looking back at the small companion as she does so. Tougher than me. She's not entirely sure why she's surprised the girl wanted to … watch the guy get murdered. This is the kid that's put up with so much bullshit, but kept pushing regardless. Still, even she's grateful that she didn't stay behind to watch Carver get his skull obliterated, and she likes to consider herself something of a tough little bitch. She glances over her shoulder, to the girl staring down at the disfigured corpse with a little frown on her face.

"I wish I hadn't," Clementine speaks miserably, looking to the quiet baby in her arms and giving him a little jump as she inches away, looking as ashamed of herself as she sounds. Jane's features soften, the amazement and horror giving way to pity. Poor kid. She shakes herself from the reverie, dragging her leg as it seizes for a painful moment and looking down at a handle of boxes that lie in front of her. Her lips stretch to a grateful smile, though she's not sure who she's … grateful to. Carver? Hnh.

Carefully, slowly, she lowers herself next to the sparsely packed cardboard boxes, rummaging inside with quiet sweeps of her hands. The contents rattle against one another, cans of food and boxes of something shifting audibly. She stiffens as she hears a clink from the box, pausing to look around the store. No one - or nothing - comes running to investigate, however, and Jane feels her muscles loosen. Could be a lucky break. Smiling gently, she glances up at the girl, clearing her throat gently.

"Here's the food," her attention is caught by a smaller cardboard box held within, Jane reaching for it with a slight frown. An excited gasp comes from her without her even meaning to let it loose. "Clem, there's formula," Clementine's eyes snap over to Jane, her tiny smile returning. Jane sighs, relaxing, "Bonnie was right."

She watches Clementine cast an eye around the loading bay, Jane mimicking the action as she glances back outside. Not your worst idea. Besides the rotting corpses both inside and outside the hardware store, there's a sense of homeliness to it … kinda. Maybe it's just because of the weeks she'd spent trapped in here before Clementine and her group showed up, but something about the bloodied store reeks of familiarity, of routine and - in this world gone to shit - that's … kinda welcome. Her brown eyes flit about as she eases herself to her feet, grimacing and gasping a little as her … Fuck.

"We'll get him some food in a bit," Jane keeps her voice gentle for the girl, shifting so she's standing in the way of Carver's body, whom Clementine keeps - seemingly inadvertently - glancing back to. The girl glances up at her, her eyes widening in confusion. "We're gonna check the roof for people, too," Clementine nods her agreement silently, going back to twisting her gun in her tiny hand again. Jane clicks her tongue, looking out the bay doors again. No walkers.

Moving carefully, Jane indicates with a tilt of her head for the girl to follow her. Her footsteps clump against the tiled floor, her pistol rattles ever so slightly in her tight grip, half expecting to see Tavia prowling around, raising her rifle, a furious leer on her face - the kind she'd see whenever Troy would be running his fucking paws all over her, Tavia letting out a dismissive 'tuh' as she stalked on past, turning a blind eye to the supplies that were exchanged for -

"You weren't lying, right?"

The voice is tiny, quiet, miserable. Clementine sounds … desperate. Jane shakes herself from the thoughts of the dead fucking pervert, looking back down at the girl with a tiny - forced - smile curling her lips. She tilts her head and raises an eyebrow at the question, masking the things she does feel about the question with that quirked facial expression. She doesn't trust me. That single thought, the burst of emotions that swell in her chest at the realisation, has her forced smile slip off her face as her gaze sinks to her boots.

"Lying about what, tiger?" she speaks delicately, carefully, putting on the cheeriest voice she dares in light of … everything. They pause next to the stairway leading up to the greenhouses, Jane folding her arms and looking down at Clementine. The 't' word seems to have a profound effect on Clementine, her miserable look thawing for a brief moment before her uncertainty returns. An uncomfortable silence billows between the two as Clementine looks down to the baby curled up in her arms, her mouth opening and shutting like a fish out of water.

"Mike and … Bonnie…"

Jane's eyes widen at the names, looking back up the stairwell with a slight frown. Her gaze softens as she remembers with a sinking heart the night they fled, just hours before what happened at the rest stop. So much shit has happened in the past week, she can hardly believe that it's all happened, even less that it's happened to her. The crack of the gunshot in the middle of the night, hearing Kenny hurtle past, Mike and Bonnie's yelling further into the forest as Kenny chased after them, almost fading out as her gaze had fallen on the small girl curled up in a ball, hand pressed over the wound that was geysering blood.

'I got you, just … hold on, Clem, please!'

She doesn't know if the kid heard her begging that as she clamped her hands over the wound, her pale hands shaking as she wrapped the gunshot up, cradling the girl to her chest as she waited for the last 'adult' of the group to come back with the keys, his eye widening as he seemed to remember what spurred him to chase the two traitors into the woods. Her heart thumping as the girl's breathing got more and more ragged, holding the scrap of eleven-year-old tight to try and share some kinda warmth as the piece-of-shit truck didn't start for the sixth or seventh time.

She shakes her head, looking back at the girl as she distances herself from the thoughts of the group that had torn itself apart in front of her. The golden-eyed child is staring up at her, her head slightly cocked over to one side, her lips tugging downwards. Jane allows herself to smile, again, placing a foot on the stairwell and tilting her head towards the top of the stairwell. As she starts to climb, she speaks quietly, her voice giving off the tiniest echo in the cramped quarters.

"You think they're going to come back?"

"Do you?" Clementine persists, looking up at her anxiously. Jane looks back at the girl, shaking her head the tiniest bit. The girl looks down at her sneakers, and the woman can't not notice the slight frown on the child's face. She shakes the thought from her mind, her throat shifting in her neck as they finally make it to the top of the stairwell, Jane pushing the door open and holding it for the small girl in her presence, who shifts out nervously, glancing out over the roof. Remembering with a slight shudder what Clementine had kept looking at in the loading bay, Jane swiftly decides not to let curiosity get the better of her on this occasion, too.

"They won't come back. You don't … have to worry about that, okay?"

For a long moment, Clementine doesn't talk, looking down at the baby boy in her arms and seeming to give herself a moment to think. Jane stands uncomfortably, patiently, not moving as she waits for the girl to share her thoughts. Seconds crawl by, the woman staring down at her small friend. Finally, after what feels like hours of standing and waiting for the girl to just say something, Clementine quietly clears her throat.



"Okay," the girl repeats, nodding. "I'll - try not to…" her voice trails off, and she looks nervously over the roof again. Jane pulls a face, making to look over the edge next to her. Pauses when Carver's mutilated body paints itself in her mind's eye again. Ugh.

Settling for a brief nod, Jane beckons for the girl to follow her to the greenhouse, Clementine taking several smaller steps to keep up with her. The de facto 'guardian' nudges the door open with her foot, raising her pistol as she takes the first step inside the quiet room. Satisfied no one's hiding inside, she eases her weapon into the holster strapped to her leg, looking around the room quietly. Bowls lie empty on the tables next to the multitude of plants, a slight smile tugging again at Jane's lips. Clementine still lingers outside, despite Jane's second insistent beckon, looking around the roof with wide eyes. Shaking her head, she sighs, and takes another cursory glance around the greenhouse.

Her fingers graze over a set of shears that lie next to a potted berry plant. Maybe this place isn't such a bad plan long term after all. Move the walkers out to get rid of the smell, fix up the 'extension' Carver had insisted on maintaining, keep growing plants and her and Clementine can stay for … shit, who knows how long? But it's better than sleeping in toilets, or sheds, or tiny cabins. Huh. Her brown eyes track across the room one more time before she backs out, easing the door shut behind her.

"Greenhouse is in good shape," she calls over to the girl, who looks over quickly. Clementine visibly relaxes at the news, her shoulders slumping a little and her smile returning to her face. "Y'know, maybe we should stay here a while," Jane looks back to the greenhouse, resting a hand on her hip and squinting through the glass. "See how it goes," out the corner of her eye, she sees Clementine's little smile widen a little, and Jane quickly focuses her attention back on the greenhouse. Don't let her catch you grinning like a moron.

She expects Clementine to talk, to give her opinion in her quiet voice. Jane quietly waits for that opinion to be voiced, looking back at the greenhouse with a lopsided smile. Without all the assholes that used to scurry around doing as Carver pleased, this place isn't … so shit. Especially with the company she's keeping now. And speaking of her company… Clementine's not where she'd been a moment ago, instead looking over the parking lot, Jane looking over with wide eyes.


A look of worry - of fear and uncertainty - has slipped over Clementine's face, her skin paling. Jane treads over quickly, her heart in her mouth. She squints over the edge of the store, the previous serenity of the moment shattered into a million pieces as her gaze settles on the same sight Clementine's has.

Three people - a guy, a girl and a little kid - are inching towards their store. Jane's eyes narrow as she sizes the three up, her lips tightening. She doesn't recognise them as people from Carver's camp, but that means … nothing. Thoughts and worst case scenarios start whirling in her mind, her heart rate only quickening as she stares down at the three. Fuck fuck fuck.

"C'mon," she breathes to the girl, sparing her a quick glance before striding back towards the stairwell they'd emerged from moments ago, her throat tightening. All this shit, can't catch a fucking break for a single moment. Her shoulders square slightly as she treads down the stairs, her uncertainty giving way to … fucking… The words didn't come to her as her feet guide her to the pen, Clementine taking several shorter and faster steps to keep up. Their footsteps echo in the cramped stairwell, memories of the tight confines all too fresh in Jane's mind, one of many spots for their - forced - 'arrangement'.

Cautiously, she takes the first step into the pen, shaking the thoughts as best she can. As she steps inside, her eyes squint at the group of three as they seem to spot them, the guy's eyes widening as he makes eye contact with her. Jane's heart pumps faster. Her gaze flits between the small group, trying to spot some kind of weapon across the three. No knives, no guns …

"They don't look armed," she breathes to her little companion, her eyes refusing to move from the small group in front of her. Uncomfortably, she comes to a halt, folding her arms over her chest as she does her best not to falter in front of the group. Hold eye contact, don't look away, make him talk first. Her throat shifts in her neck as she waits, the young boy hiding behind the woman's legs and looking around the building with huge eyes.

"This … your place?"

His voice is gravelly, his tone one of a man at the end of his rope. Down on his luck. Nothing to lose. Dangerous. Jane frowns, a little, looking down to Clementine. The last time she'd spoken to a stranger, Clementine's group had gotten shot at days later. Clementine had tried to talk to the teenager, and then … We had to. Rebecca and Luke needed it. Something in the back of her mind makes her bite her tongue, however, her gaze going back to the group, scrutinising them with a watchful eye.

"G - Go away," Clementine's voice is stronger than Jane expects, the woman making a double take as she looks to the little girl. Her throat shifts in her neck as she stares at the girl for a moment longer, before looking back to the redhead guy as he starts talking again, his tone shakier, skittish.

"Ah - Ah'right, just, wait a second. Jus' hear me out…" his plea is gentle, gentle enough for Jane to take pause. Clementine's resolve seems to shatter as soon as it came, looking down at the baby bundled up in her arms and giving him a miserable look. The baby looks at Clementine with big brown eyes, blissfully unaware as to the tension that fills the air, an electric cloud that hovers between her and the strangers outside. Jane makes to unfold her arms, to just … do something to keep the kid calm. She hesitates when she remembers her present company, instead uncomfortably keeping her arms pressed over her chest.

"We need help," the woman squeaks out, her hand on the boy's shoulder. A play for sympathy, in Jane's mind. Nice fucking try. That idea turns out to be … less certain, to Jane, as her gaze slips to the boy, who looks down at the parking lot ground with sunken eyelids and a trembling lip. No red stain seeps through his clothes, however - not a bite - but the way his fingers lace over his stomach…

"My boy … he ain't - he ain't doin' so good…"

"What's wrong with him?" she cuts through him immediately, focussing her gaze on the boy. He looks anxious, his eyes widening as he shuffles behind the woman's legs again. Jane feels the knot in her stomach tighten as the woman - hardly older than me - looks down at the boy, whispering something she can't hear.

"Look, uh-uhm, don't worry, he ain't, uh, he ain't bit. Jus' … hungry," Jane looks back to Clementine, who looks over with wide eyes. Subtly, carefully, she shakes her head a little for the girl. The eleven-year-old looks back to the fence as the man takes another step towards them, raising his hands in some attempt to look calm. The panicked, almost frantic, look in his eyes does little to loosen the knot in Jane's stomach, however, something about him setting her skin on edge. "We been walkin' for weeks. Ran outta food 'couple days back."

Clementine's gaze softens visibly, Jane looking over to see her little companion staring at the boy hiding behind the woman's legs. Jane struggles to keep the icy look on her face, in spite of everything. The man licks his lips, his attention drawn to the boy curled up in Clementine's arms. The redhead nods at Jane, making her slightly raise one of her eyebrows.

"That'chu'r kid?"

Jane blanches at the idea, swallowing thickly and looking over to Clementine as the baby grizzles, a chubby paw reaching outwards. Jane looks at the baby, watching the helpless look in its eyes, her own gaze softening for the first time near the boy as Clementine bobs him up and down, placating the child before he starts screaming. The baby's gaze focuses on Jane, a louder whine accompanying the change in attention, and she does her best at a tiny smile.

"Where you girls been?"

Her frown returns, looking away from the guy and unfolding her arms, the question - intrusive, none of his fucking business - having her puff herself up a little, like a cat defending 'its' territory. The idea of explaining everything that had happened - leaving here, the group dying, the fight, crawling their way back here with barely any supplies - has her nails digging into her palms. Clementine throws her a worried glance, her eyes widening and mouth opening uncertainly. Jane takes a single step closer to the fence, her lips tightening.

"Why do you care?"

"Woah, I - I didn't mean nothin' by it," he stammers out, awkwardly, his hands still raised at chest height. Jane looks away from the guys face, leering at the floor beneath her with a disgusted look, like she's just trodden in shit, or seen Troy. Back here, she's only just realised how … fucking shit, he was. Fuck. Her thoughts dance away from her, making her take a pause as she tries to focus again. Difficult, when she remembers his clammy hands and disgusting breath, the furious muttering in her ear, the grunting he'd -

"Ple - please step away from the fence" Clementine's the one to quell the man's uncomfortable stammering and abruptly pull Jane from her thoughts, the girls tone surprisingly even. She's just doing the tough thing, as per usual. The man blanches, before some forced smile curls his lips and he takes a theatrical step back, his hands still held high. The feral look in his eye remains, however, exaggerated by the lenses of his glasses which, when combined with his forced grin, has Jane's pulse quicken all over again. Her fingers twitch, now that they're not tucked into her armpits, desperate to try reassure the kid next to her, all too aware of Clementine's quiet and quick breathing.

The man's face has her folding her arms again, looking down at her little friend once again. "Keep an eye on him," she murmurs, all too aware of how nervous and skittish the man's becoming with every passing moment. Clementine gives a tiny nod, almost imperceptible, her young features contorted into an expression of scrutiny for the man before them. Still standing a ways from the fence, he rests his hands on his hips and runs an unimpressed eye along the building.

"This place needs a lotta work." he drawls, the sudden change in voice being enough for Jane to widen her eyes a little. He's desperate. Still, she feels a little twitch go across her face. In the back of her mind, some semblance of irritation rears. Maybe some vain sense of pride, or some shit, both from her past work on doing all the work she's done on the place, and the fact she's made to stake a clam in this place, and some stranger is trying to bargain his way into her new home.

"Yeah?" Jane's answer is sharp, cutting, brusque. She shrugs a little, narrowing her eyes at the guy, her arms tightening around herself. He needs to go. Just in the corner of her periphery, the handle of her pistol glints up at her in the early morning sunshine. Just in case.

Seemingly forgetting what Clementine has just asked of him, the man steps closer to the fence with an eager, frantic, grin curling his lips, his family inching closer also. She notices a similar - albeit forced, smaller - version of the look appear on the woman's face, too, the boy still seemingly lost in the throes of … whatever's making him 'not do so good'. Jane bites back the cuss word that dances on the tip of her tongue, instead gritting her teeth and letting him talk.

"Ahh, we - we could help you!"

Jane frowns uncertainly, her arms unfolding apprehensively, unsure how to hold herself as she looks to her friend with slightly narrowed eyes, shaking her head the whole time. She lowers her voice carefully, wary of the family standing just outside. The greenhouse has food, sure - in the future. But unless everyone starts munching baby food, there just … isn't enough for three adults, two kids and a baby.

"There's not that much food left," Jane warns Clementine, her voice a low whisper. Clementine looks over, her eyes widening a little, and Jane shakes her head again. Not lying. The girl's gaze slips to her sneakers, sighing through her nose. As if deep in thought. Always pausing in conversation, always thinking of … something.

"Please…" the woman eeks out, stepping to be closer to the man, reaching her hands out towards the little girl slightly. Jane shuffles a little closer, watching the strangers warily. "We - we won't make it another night, out here…"

The baby starts whimpering and whining, Jane wincing and looking over at the noise. Clementine gasps and starts bobbing him up and down, humming a little - that same song - to silence the infant's cries. Sure enough, after a few moments of the actions, Jane watching the girl with a soft gaze all the while, the baby - orphan, liability - goes quiet, again, save for sneezing a fresh globule of disgusting shit all over Clementine's jacket. The girl wrinkles her nose, but says nothing.

"Look -" Jane's eyes shift to the man, noticing the hardness of his words. He's losing patience. "I know you don't know us," the woman shifts closer to him, reaching out a tender hand. Jane holds her breath, watching as the man tenses. "And I know a lot ofpeople out here say a lotta things," as the woman's hand touches his sleeve, the man tears his arm away, a harsh and aggressive motion, making Jane's eyes widen. It's like … that? The woman looks terrified, stepping backwards as quickly as she'd approached the man, Jane noting the glint of fear in her eyes.

Worry and fear spark in her eyes, the same as every night after their 'arrangements', his threats still ringing in her ears, fingers grazing red marks on her neck, wincing at her reflection. Everything hurts. She aches, doing her best not to show how sore she is. Her cheeks burn with shame. Her left hand holds the extra food she's gotten from … this, the right turning up the collar of her jacket, numbly zipping the garment up. She flashes herself a brief smile, before inching - painfully, tenderly, with the slightest of limps - towards the pen, to where she can finally rest and try to forget him for a couple of nights.

Don't cry.

"But I'm askin' you, a - as a father," his voice cracks, Jane sucking in air through her nose as her eyes shift to the boy standing behind the man and woman's legs. Fuuuck. "Please. Don't turn us away," his voice is wobbling, that glint in his eyes hardening. Jane lets out a shaky breath, looking down to Clementine as the girl looks up at her.

"I dunno, Clem," she murmurs, her eyes darting between the desperate man beyond the fence, and her companion behind it. "They could be anybody. Do we really want to go through this again?" Jane's question is rhetorical, something she hopes the girl understands. No way she wants to go through all the motions of watching a group die, all over again. Still, her eyes keep slipping back to the family, her throat feeling wet as her gaze keeps landing on the boy. Shit shit shit, why did they have to have a kid?

"Please… we'll die out here…"

Just tell them to fuck off. They're not Clementine, you don't care.

"Just give us a chance - give us a chance to prove ourselves. You won't regret it, I promise you."

Shit, I - I can't do this, he's a kid. But so's Clem ...

"You have to let us in…"

Say something! Anything!

Clementine stands silently, her eyes wide as she looks between Jane and the family. Uncertainty holds the pair, Jane tightening her arms around herself. As she opens her mouth to talk, however, Clementine does so too, Jane biting her tongue as -

The sun's gone, sunk behind the horizon and replaced with the pale moon. It's been a long day, to say the least. Carefully, quietly, she inches over to the guardrail Clementine is sat by, her hands shoved into her pockets as she observes the little girl's demeanor. She's sat just like how she was when she - when she had left her, after the observation deck, her legs dangling over the edge of the building and her hand wrapped around one of the railings. After getting some food in the baby, Clementine had left him in the break room, mumbling out something about having a headache before shuffling out the room, Jane's quiet 'how're you holding up' dying in her throat.

That'd been … hours ago. Thankfully, the baby's been … quiet. The formula had been enough to placate the thing, and for the last couple hours it's just been napping in a cardboard box Jane had dropped a blanket in, leaving Jane alone with her thoughts as the baby sleeps. Not something she wants to be stuck with, which is why she's here with Clementine, now.

Mostly, anyway.

Jane stands awkwardly next to the girl as she comes to a stop near the guard railing, resting the heels of her palms against the painted metal, the dry yellow coating peeling off in clumps, revealing brown rust clotting underneath. Her gaze shifts to the top of the girl's head, the blue and white baseball cap obscuring her view of the little girl's face. Clementine's shoulders are tucked up to her ears, however, and her head is visibly bowed. Doesn't take a genius to know how she's feeling.

"Hey, you," Jane keeps her tone light and gentle, giving the girl a little nudge with the toes of her boot, watching her carefully for a reaction. Just in case the girl chooses to look up, Jane eases a little smile onto her face, expecting - hoping? - the girl will at least say something.


After a few seconds more of waiting for a response, and being rewarded with just more silence, Jane hisses out a sigh, looking back out over the lot. The guy'd been right, the place does need a lot of work. The wooden fences barely hold together around the extension, shoddy nail jobs being the only thing that keeps the thin wooden planks from peeling off the walls. Still, beats the world beyond the walls of the store. With some hard work, and time, this place'll be as good a place as any to call home.

"You … did the right thing," she keeps her tone gentle as she watches the girl out the corner of her eyes, her grip on the guardrail tightening. When the girl doesn't speak again, Jane continues. "You - we didn't know who they were," she shudders at the memory of the man's furious leer as the girl raised her pistol, the threat he'd yelled. He might come back. "I'm … Thank you."

That gets the little girl's attention, Clementine looking up at the two words and blinking. Her lips tug downwards, but her eyes remain dry. Jane doesn't envy her, in this moment, realising with a frosty exhale that her own demons are probably preferable to whatever is bouncing around in the child's head. Her hands push away from the guardrail, Jane making to leave, only to pause as her eyes locked with Clementine's, her heart sinking at the hollow look in the girl's eyes. The eleven-year-old opens her mouth, and Jane sucks her breath in - is she about to talk? - only for her shoulders to slump as the girl's shoulders slump, too.

Jane makes to move away, easing herself off the guardrail and taking a single step back, but pauses when the girl holds eye contact with her, her golden eyes wide. A glint that lingers, something Jane can't place. Desperation, maybe? A need to know she did the right thing? Shit. She holds her ground, folding her arms tight across her chest as her heart pounds. Temptation creeps up in the back of her mind, to escape to her 'comfort zone', finding something to do to distract herself. But then the thought of Clementine dealing with this shit alone crops up in her mind,

'She's your sister, Jane.'

The words muttered by her - late - mother reverberate in her head, Jane hissing out a sigh and resisting the urge to walk away, instead inching closer a little, her tongue tying for a moment as the silence hangs between the two. After a little longer, words finally return to Jane, her brown eyes casting around the roof, just in case, before clearing her throat and looking down at the girl, holding eye contact as best she can.

"You … want me to leave you alone?"

Clementine shakes her head mutely, quickly and immediately - almost frantically - still staring up at Jane.

"Want me to get AJ? Maybe you can …"

Again, there's a tiny shake of Clementine's head, her golden eyes shifting to the gravelly floor next to her. The little girl audibly takes a breath, Jane watching her companion carefully, gauging the kid's face for something she can - use, or read. A mask of misery is all that meets Jane's eyes, the woman exhaling slowly. Quietly, she starts speaking, her tone slow and cautious.

"D'you want to … to talk?"

Slowly, quietly, Clementine finally looks away, another little sigh coming from her mouth. Jane takes that to mean a defeated 'yes', clicking her tongue and curving her fingers around the shoddily painted metal, waiting for the girl to talk as her gaze roams around the forest opposite the store, taking in the sights of the tall trees, the rotting corpses and the stars twinkling above.

"Why are you … thanking me?"

Jane licks her lips, counting out the seconds it takes for her to think of a reply that the kid'd … get. They might be bandits. They might be nice. We don't have enough food. They had enough food to feed loads of people, before. That's because they had more people to grow crops. So why did we let more people go? Every fucking reason she thinks of, Clementine's voice whispers an argument in the back of her mind. The feeling in her gut nags at her, tells her that the risk of letting them in was greater than the reward they might've brought. Realising that'd probably be lost on the girl, she who tries to hold onto her innocence despite all the shit the world has thrown at her, Jane breathes out slowly and meets the golden eyes with her own brown orbs.

"'cause I know what you did wasn't easy, for you. For anyone."

There's another long silence, uncomfortably long, broken only by Clementine shuffling on the tarmac. The girl lets out a little noise as her mouth opens, clearly stuck on her words. Jane watches the girl as her mouth opens and shuts time and time again, that little uncertain squeak coming out with every opening. Jane wriggles self consciously, opening her mouth to try and calm the girl, stopping in the action when Clementine finally seems to find the words.

"No … it … it kind of -"

Jane's eyes widen, understanding what the girl means even before she's finished speaking. That, deep down, all of the bad shit's only getting easier as time goes on. The tough things they have to do are only getting easier with every passing day, something she's all too familiar with. After Jaime, shit stopped … stopped mattering. Consequence, accountability, it hasn't … meant anything, to her. All that's mattered is surviving, one day to the next.

That is, until Clem. Then surviving became … living. And she's going to try keep it that way.

"Right," Jane mumbles out gently, quelling the girl's uncertain mumbling. Clementine stares up at her with huge eyes, watching her talk with undivided attention. "But that - you still did the right thing. It might not …" she swallows. "You might not think it right now, but I … I know you did, Clem," if she was just a touch closer, she'd reach a hand out to the girl's shoulder. Instead, she keeps her fingers curled around the metal. Clementine looks down at her sneakers meekly at those words, a tiny - miniscule - smile touching her young, and so often sullen, face.

The silence is more comfortable, Clementine looking less shitty now. The girl remains sat still, the foot that dangles over the roof kicks back and forth. Jane hesitates for a moment, her lips tugging upwards into her own small smile, before she lowers herself so she's sat next to Clementine, her legs tucked to her chest to ward off the chill as best she can.

Speaking of the chill…

"You've got to be cold," Jane smiles lightly as she says the words, raising an eyebrow at the tiny girl. Despite the tiny jacket around her form, Jane can clearly see Clementine shivering, doing a much better job at hiding it than back in the shed. In fairness to the kid, it's still fucking freezing.

"A little."

Jane licks her lips, smirking a little at her own 'wit' for what's to come. "This isn't a play for more rum, is it?" Clementine looks over, her little smile growing larger, silently shaking her head. Jane nods once, grinning a little, before shifting her gaze over to the corpses that line the parking lot. The smell is overwhelming, so much death in one spot. So many people died, here. Friends and foes alike. Shit.

She hesitates over her next words, her gaze lingering on the torn shirt Clementine had been staring at earlier. All too vividly, she remembers Sarah's screaming, looking over as she felled a walker to see a man being torn to shreds and the teenager shrieking and screaming, Clementine looking up at her with huge eyes, gunfire and screaming combining into some horrific crescendo of noise, Jane watching as the teenager runs away, leaving Clementine on her own -

You did that before.

Jane shakes her head, grimacing at the mistake - the fucking mistake - that keeps sidling up to her, every time Clementine scoots close to her at night. The night she turned her back on the group, slipping into the night rather than stay after the day that group had. If she hadn't heard the shots and the frantic yelling, she might not've come back…

Three days.

A chill wind attacks her, a whispering gale that has Jane curl up a little, reddened fingers clutching at her jacket sleeves. The morning sun holds no warmth against the chill of these northern states, the woman sneezing and groaning. Probably gonna catch a cold. Her hand rubs against her face, under her nose and her mouth, muttering mutinously about the bitter weather, the pure bullshit which is northern America. Amidst the woodlands, not too far from where she left Clemen -


Even now, those wide golden eyes swim in her mind's eye, innocence and hurt intermingled into one miserable expression. Jane kneads her forehead, gritting her teeth. Thisis what she gets, for letting herself get attached to someone. But she'd been … she can't explain it. Everything Jaime was, and everything Jaime neededto be. Or … something. Her eyes seal shut, her palms rubbing against them as she bites her lower lip, rocking back and forth the tiniest amount. Maybe she shouldn't have …

Shaking her head, firmer this time, she eases to her feet. She's been alone before - long before that group showed up - and being alone suits her just fine now. Groups just slow you down. She doesn't need them. They have a baby, now, they're liabilities. More trouble than they're worth. All of them.

Almost all of them.

'So, c'mon, partner …'

The smile she'd … she'd earnedfrom calling her that little name, encouraging her that she'smore than just some little kid, to some little girl she barely knows, yet there's something - something there, between them. Some … mutual understanding, or - or some bullshit like that. From an eleven-year-old. Jane shakes her head, again, her fingers interlocking as she presses them away, listening to the joints click and crack together. If she was gonna stick around the woods longer, she'd consider starting a fire, but since she's -

A volley of gunfire, closer than she likes, has her stand bolt upright, her breath catching in her throat. Her fingers graze over the knife tucked in her sheath, her breathing getting shorter and uneven with every moment the gunfire lasts. She hesitates, looking between her destination further into the forest and the source of the gunfire. Whoever's there must be seriously pissed. O - Ohhh, shit.


Without fully thinking what she's going to - to do, she breaks into a run towards the noises, hoping with every fibre of her being that the little kid's hanging on, that she's clear from the gunfire. Thick crunch noises rise up to meet her, the frozen ground and snow coated underbrush digging into the soles of her footwear with every rapid step.

Please be okay please be okay please be okay…

Feels like a lifetime ago, but it can't have been … it was, what, a week ago? Maybe a day or so more? The reason she even came back is staring up at the stars, seemingly lost as her golden eyes track the white pinpricks in the black velvet of space. Content with just sitting in silence, not alone - for once - Jane wraps her arms around herself, exhaling slowly and watching as her breath transforms into some heavy mist before her very eyes.

Weight on her shoulder, the same as the weight she'd felt that morning, has Jane move her gaze away from the stars, opening her mouth to say something, but stopping when she sees Clementine close her eyes and shuffle her head on her shoulder. Settling for letting the girl relax as opposed to pushing her away, Jane carefully moves the arm Clementine is laying against, wrapping it gently around the scrawny shoulders of the little girl and breathing out a slow sigh. Her brown eyes shift to the person pressed against her, and she smiles a little.


A pause.

"No," the girl's voice is quiet, defiant, just like Jaime's when she was little, and mom'd ask if she wanted to go to bed. Jane chuckles through her nose, shaking her head a little and watching the girl's face. Relaxed, eyes closed, lips parted as she breathes in and out slowly on Jane's chest. Not so bad. Again, her fingers scratch idly at the back of Clementine's hair, humming quietly to herself - or to Clementine, she's not … entirely sure. She pulls a face as her fingers snag in a knot in the girl's mess of blackish-brown hair, grimacing a little. Ach.

Hearing Clementine giggle, though, feeling her little body wriggle with the effort of suppressing her laughter, puts the gentle grin back on her face. Carefully, she pulls her fingers free, taking in a breath of air as she does so. Hugging people isn't her … forte. Never has been. So why … ?

"Guess you can take watch tonight, then," she teases without thinking, raising a single eyebrow as she looks down at the eleven-year-old. Clementine's eyes snap open, looking up at Jane with huge eyes, only serving to make Jane chuckle and look away, shaking her head. "We'll just lock up the break room. Sure it'll be fine."


Jane licks her lips, remembering how just minutes ago she'd been so … different. So withdrawn, quiet, miserable, looking almost fragile in her self-imposed isolation. And yet, and yet, now that they're talking, with the girl acting like Jane's some Big Sister, someone she seems to trust, despite all the shitshe's pulled, the lying and all the - the bullshit she's put on Clementine's shoulders. But underneath the cheer - forced, so obviously - Jane can hear the misery that traces the edges of Clementine's words, the doubt and fear that plagues everyone who's walking this 'difficult road', to a point. But it had been too much for Jaime, and it can't - it won't - be enough for Clementine. Right?

"You … haven't been eating, much," she starts slowly, watching Clementine for a reaction as best she can. The girl bows her head, not meeting her eyes. The woman sighs through her nose. "Is it … just what you said, before? In the shed?" Jane knows immediately that there's more to it, that grief isn't the sole motivator behind how Clementine is. She hesitates, tilting her head, carefully moving her hand up and down the girl's arm. That - that had made her smile back in the shed. Is she doing hugging right? Jaime hadn't -

Right, yea, bigger things at hand.

"I shouldn't have made those people go away."


"Yea, you should have. I told you, you did the right thing, Clem."

Clementine wrinkles her nose, looking out over the parking lot. Her little brows are knotted together, her lips a slight pout. With every passing second, Jane finds herself wishing more and more that she'd taken action, that she hadn't frozen up and Clementine had been forced to make that decision.

'What if we're dangerous?!'

'What if I am?'

She hadn't looked angry, or scared, or even upset. In that single moment, spitting those words at the furious man, gun firmly in hand and baby cradled to her chest, she'd just looked … tired. Resigned, almost. Jane's eyes had widened at the sight of her pulling the gun from her pants, for a single split second wondering if a firefight was about to emerge, only to see the girl scaring the family away, the look of guilt that had lined her features as the boy looked back at them with huge eyes.

Even then, as Clementine had mumbled out something an old friend had apparently once told her, Jane knew that the girl hated what she'd done. Her refusal to make eye contact, the way she just failed to smile for anything, even for the baby, the slouched shoulders and bowed head, scuffing shoes, quivering lip and sunken eyes.

Poor kid.

"The right thing … sucks, then."

"You're telling me."

'F - Fine! You want to stay here, with them, then you can! You can just stay here, and die!'

The rooftop, the smell of the walkers growing further away, the distant screaming. The tears that had silently tracked down her face as she kept running, her chest on fire as she ran and ran, further away from the hell that building was. It wasn't meant to happen like that, Jaime should be here. She'd tried, agonised over trying to keep her - fuck, just alive. Cutting her hair despite the shorter girl's protests, soaking her in the walkers guts to help them shift through the herds even as she snotted and cried at the disgusting feel of blood, clamping a hand over her mouth when bandits came looking for them, holding her to her chest to silence her cries in the night, sacrificing happiness for survival. That's … necessary.

This week, this week of pure fucking hell, is a testimony to that. Asides from tearing herself free from Howe's, and meeting the company she keeps now, everything else has just been… fuck. Watching Clementine struggle to kill Nick, having to look away and do her best to tune out Sarah's gut wrenching screams, that stupid mistake she'd made with Luke, then watching him die and everything spiral out of control.


She should've done something other than that. Making Clementine shoot Kenny that - that's not what she wanted to happen. She just wanted to be away from there, away from him, with Clementine in tow, the two of them against the world. All the shit behind them, no one to hurt them, just some time to relax, to process, to mourn. Not to - not to have this.

But, hell, it might not be quite what she'd had in mind when she hid the baby. But it's … close enough.

"So … when you shot Troy -" Jane winces at the name, swallowing, but does her best not to say anything. "You did the right thing. Because you were helping us. You were helping me."

"... Rrright, yea."

"But …" Clementine fidgets, again. "That's not … Lee said that - that killing people's … always bad. Always." Who?

"That why you're upset? 'Cause of what … Lee, said?"

The eleven-year-old pauses, tilting her head to one side, starting to shake her head. She hesitates in the action, though, before meekly nodding. Jane clicks her tongue, averting her gaze. Clementine fidgets away from the arm for a moment, changing how she's sitting before leaning up against her again. The girl mimics Jane's usual posture, her legs dragged to her chest and arms wrapped around them, something Jane grins at, a little, waiting for Clementine to answer.

"I just … am I …" the girl swallows, audibly. "Am I… bad, then? Because of Kuh -"

"No," her answer is short, swift, mechanical. Her fingers trace the bandage, hissing in a breath as the cold breeze sifts through the slight gaps in the white dressing. "No. It's not … it's not just about being good or bad. It's …" she clears her throat, thinking hard. "You did what you thought was right. Like with Sarita, right?" Clementine flinches at the name, her eyes widening, but doesn't talk. "It didn't go how you wanted it to, but … that's life."

"What about … the people I scared away?"

"What about them?"

"Is that life?" the way Clementine mutters out the word, bitter and miserable, has Jane's heart crack. She fiddles with her boot laces, tugging at them to stall for time. This whole feelings stuff is so far out of her comfort zone, words can't even begin to explain it. Her eyes track to where the family had retreated to, the woods, and she hesitates.

"If you didn't do that, they could've … they could've been bandits, or murderers, or worse. They were -" Too much of a risk? Liabilities? Dangerous? I dunno. Shit. Think. "They were … more trouble than they were worth. You saw how the guy was, how scared that girl was -" Clementine nods slowly, frowning a little. "That's just the way these things are, sometimes. You can't always do what's best for everyone. You did the right thing, for you and for me, and that's … all anyone can do."

Again, the girl nods, a little firmer this time, as if trying to convince herself. Jane moves her arm, wincing as she feels pins and needles from keeping it draped around the girl for so long, and for a moment just wriggles the 'appendage', trying to get feeling into it.

"That … everything?" Jane asks awkwardly, pushing herself to her feet and shivering. "'Cause it's cold as shit out here, and you need to sleep," the girl opens her mouth to protest, but stops when she sees the grin curling Jane's lips, instead shrugging and easing herself to her feet.

"Is it going to be comfy?"

Jane chuckles, raising her eyes to the heavens and shrugging a little as she leads the way to the stairwell, her lips twitching to a smirk. Her hands brush against the handle for the roof door, gasping a little at the freezing metal - need to get gloves, or something - before wrestling the door open, breathing out a sigh of relief as she takes the first step inside the hardware store, waiting for the girl to scurry after her. With the eleven-year-old out of the chill, and less likely to catch some filthy fucking illness, she clunks the door shut, leading the way down the stairs with echoing footsteps.

"Better than the ground, or the deck," Jane speaks teasingly, thinking longingly of curling up in one of the comfier seats in the break room. Definitely better than the wooden floor of the deck, or the concrete of the pen. She pauses as she catches the armory door in her periphery, her breath hitching. Where Troy had first…


She shakes her head, sparing a half glance at Clementine with with a stuttering start of 'wh - what?'. Jane ignores her for a second, taking the moment to look around the hardware store again. Blood. Dead bodies. No Troy, no Carver. Just her, Clementine and the baby. Swiping some hair out of her face, she looks back to her small companion, who stands awkwardly by the break room down, looking at Jane like she's about to explode.

"S - Sorry, yea, uh…" she looks back towards the armory door, the thought of sleeping back in Howe's suddenly not seeming so appealing. Her heart feels too large for her chest, but she bites back the worry with a swallow and a grunt, shaking her head again. "Just … thinking."

"About the bad sh - shit?"

Jane laughs through her nose, nodding slowly and looking at Clementine with an amused eye, pleasantly surprised she's picking up all her little 'sayings'. "Yea. The bad shit, Clem." Clementine opens her mouth, by the looks of it to ask another question, which Jane - perhaps … harshly - interrupts. "It's not … let's not talk about it, okay?" Clementine closes her mouth, looking to one side before nodding quickly, a short and tiny gesture. Jane nods too, crossing to the break room and fiddling with the handle.


Wordlessly, she pushes the door open, feeling something eat away at her from the inside as she looks back to the girl for a moment, opening her mouth to ask if she'd want anything - a drink, something to eat, she doesn't know - but stops when she hears a yawn from the girl, her grin twisting back onto her lips.

"Thought you weren't tired," she points out, her voice teasing as she watches the girl lift AJ out of the little cardboard box, swaying him gently in her arms. The boy gives a tiny gurgle, the noises making Jane wrinkle her nose and look away.

"I'm not."

"Yuh-huh," Jane hums lazily, slumping in one of the chairs and instantly relaxing. Her eyes open as quickly as they shut, however, looking at Clementine awkwardly. What with her recent 'habit' around sleep time, Jane has the distinct impression the girl might want -

Ah, yep.

For a single mean spirited second, Jane considers just shutting her eyes and going to sleep. Yet, again, those stupid words her mother would always say come crawling back to her, mumbling doubts into her head, enough for Jane to relent and stand slowly, squinting around the room.

A ratty couch, moth eaten and definitely well worn, seems big enough, the girl already inching towards it and looking at Jane with wide eyes. With a nod, and a bitten back grimace about giving up the best seat in the 'house', the woman steps over and perches herself on the edge, watching as the eleven-year-old almost immediately huddles up to her, the baby curling up in her arms. Jane chuckles, shaking her head, and fiddles with the girl's hat.


"Mmhmmm…" Clementine wriggles a little, her face smushed against Jane's chest, the woman chuckling lightly. The girl smiles warmly at that, her eyes shut and the baby rocking gently in her arms. Jane nods once, her fingers idly fiddling with the tatty cap for a moment longer, making to shut her eyes but stopping when - "Thank you, Jane."

She blinks. Her heart melts.

"Uh - uhm … yea," she stammers out, feeling a heat rise in her cheeks. "You, uh, you too, Clem," she mumbles, scratching at the back of her neck. "Just, uh, get some rest, okay?"


Jane doesn't catch sleep so easily as Clementine drifts off almost instantly, with a faint smile touching her cheeks, her breathing getting slower and deeper as time passes. Instead, Jane stays bolt upright for what feels like hours, her fingers still fiddling with the girl's hat as she rests, her mind racing as she tries to shut out all the bad memories of this hellhole, half expecting Troy to burst in at any moment. He's dead. Stop thinking about it!

'Think we need to talk 'bout our 'rragnement, bitch.'

He can't get in. He's gone.

'You tell Bill where these supplies're goin', and I will fucken' kill you. You un'erstan' me?'

Just go to sleep. He's not here.

'You wanna eat, you bett'r put more in'ta it than that.'

Her eyes crack open, darting about the dark room. She swallows, looking down at Clementine, already blissfully asleep, AJ's eyes glistening in the moonlight, staring up at her almost accusingly. She tries to smile.

'Should be thanken' me I'm puttin' it there. I don't want no kids, you don't either.'

Fucking psycho, fucking psycho, fucking psycho…

'Ain't no way you're ever leavin' without my help, you stupid cunt.'

Eyes wide open, now, she still looks about the room, feeling her heart crack faster against her chest. This was a mistake. She can't live here. Shit shit shit. Her throat feels dry, her stomach rubbery, her eyes wet. She swats at them, trying not to make any noise, biting her lip. Clementine wriggles, mumbling in her sleep, but the smile is still on her face. How is she smiling?

'Git back to the pen, 'n'don't let me catch'yew tryna get outta this again!'

She jams her eyes shut, her grip on Clementine tightening, like she's some teddy bear or security blanket that she needs to anchor herself to reality, away from all the bullshit this world has to offer. She grits her teeth, thinking over and over again of whatever she can to get the sick fuck's face out of her head. Why did I come back?

For Clementine.

Jane's eyes shift to the little girl next to her, the small scrap of survivor seemingly unaware of the distress - fucking pathetic, freaking out over a dead guy - Jane's in. She takes a shuddering breath, rubbing at her face again and sparing one last look at the door.

You're fine. She's fine. You're both fine.

Her grip still tight on Clementine, and with one last anxious look around the room, Jane hesitantly closes her eyes, exhaling a slow breath as she does so. For a half second, she's almost tempted to make a reversal of the request Clementine made, to wake her up, but remembers herself just before. Uneasily, she feels the tiredness of the day - the entire week - crash down around her, and quietly succumbs to sleep, trying to block out the memories from … here, remembering with the tiniest smile possible the words Clementine had mumbled on the roof, the reassurement which wasn't meant to be reassuring.

'So … when you shot Troy, you did the right thing. Because you were helping us. You were helping me.'

It's better Clementine thinks of her like that, than how she thinks of herself.