A/N: Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed last chapter! Here's Shane's fate…


Chapter Eight

Yeah, who's the big man now, motherfucker? I'll blow your fucking brains out.

Shane took a step towards her. Vera cocked the pistol and he froze.

That's right, asshole. Not another step. You'll never hurt me again. You think you can just put your hands on me? I'll end you.

All of the sounds around her faded into a dim roar. She distantly registered shouting, but the noise of her own breathing and the blood rushing to her head overwhelmed her senses. She was in control. She would make everything right. This was revenge for what those assholes did to her. To Dani. To Dad. She would make him pay.

"Vee, for god's sake, stop!"

Vera blinked. Dani had appeared between the man and the barrel of her gun. What was she saying?

"It's Shane, Vera! What are you doing? Please just think!" Dani screamed.

It was as if her whole reality had been on pause, and suddenly Dani hit the 'play' button. She wasn't at camp with Dad and Dani. That was weeks ago. She lived on a farm now. She was at gun practice.

The sights and sounds around her came into full focus all at once. Carl's tearful face, Shane's look of bewilderment, Lori screaming at Rick to do something, damn it! With a jolt, she dropped her hand to her side, pointing the pistol at the ground. A second later, someone came from behind and gently disarmed her.

"Okay. We're all okay."

It was Rick. He calmly unloaded her pistol and handed it over to Shane, who was still staring at her, stunned. Vera felt equally stunned. For weeks, she hadn't allowed herself to go back to that day. And then it was like she was right back there, and she just wasn't thinking.

"I—I don't—" she stammered.

But what could she possibly say? They were either going to think she was completely insane, or some broken creature to be pitied. The latter sounded more unbearable.

"It's not her fault," Dani said. "We—"

"Shut your fucking mouth, Dani! It's no one's business!" Vera snapped.

Dani looked as if her sister's words had physically knocked her backwards. Her mouth snapped shut and she looked helplessly at her older sister. Vera just glared. She was angry; at her sister, at her father, at life in general. But mostly, she was furious with herself. She should have had her emotions in check. These people wouldn't let them stay now that she'd gone and done something so volatile.

"All right, sweetie. Just come with me. Let's go for a little walk."

Vera felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked over to see Lori gently ushering her away.

"Lori—" Rick started.

"We'll be fine," his wife replied. She flashed the sheriff her gun, trying to put his mind at ease.

Vera's outburst against her sister had taken her last bit of energy, and she allowed Lori to pull her away from the scene of her breakdown. She stumbled numbly through the tall grasses. The older woman steered them to a small clearing within sight of the shooting range, but far enough away that all they heard from the group was gunshots. She followed Lori's lead, sitting Indian-style in the grass. Walls of green surrounded them, making it feel ever more secluded. Vera exhaled slowly, finally feeling her shoulders relax. She felt Lori take her hand.

"So. When did it happen?" the woman asked.

There was no need to be coy. They both knew what she was talking about. What was the point in denying it anymore?

"'Bout a month ago. Maybe less. I don't know. Don't keep track of the days anymore," Vera replied. She was staring down at the grass, plucking at it with her free hand.

"Who was he?" Lori asked calmly.

Vera swallowed hard. "It was more than one," she said.

She heard Lori's sharp intake of breath. Vera gritted her teeth, waiting for the pitying words, the hugging, the commiserating tears. But they didn't come. Lori simply continued to hold Vera's hand, rubbing her thumb in a soothing pattern back and forth across her pulse point.

"Tell me what happened," she said quietly.

Vera paused. She honestly didn't know if she could talk about it, even if she wanted to. But sitting in the grass with Lori, she suddenly felt like the rest of the world didn't exist. It was just the two of them, talking quietly.

"My dad was out hunting. He ran into some guy. Dave. A real sweet talker. He was originally from Pennsylvania, just like us. Said he'd been running alone for days without a bite to eat."

She frowned, remembering her first encounter with him.

'Not enough people willin' to help each other out nowadays. You're daddy's a good man,' he said, smiling at Vera and Dani.

"Dad brought him back to our campsite. Gave him a bite to eat. The whole time he was just smiling, thanking us for our hospitality. Dad even offered to let him stay with us. Said it'd be good to have another man around, but Dave said he was going to try to meet up with family. So we said our goodbyes and that was that. Only it wasn't." Vera closed her eyes.

"Take your time, sweetie," Lori encouraged.

When she was certain that she could speak without crying, Vera continued. "He came back with a group that night. All men. All armed. Eight of them. He decided to 'give the boys a treat.' That's what he said when they showed up at our tent."

"Eight?" Lori repeated. Vera could hear the horror in her voice.

"I think so. I don't remember how many exactly. I just remember…" Her voice broke off mid-sentence. She just couldn't complete the thought.

Lori filled the silence. "It's okay. If you don't want to continue…"

Vera shook her head. She was so close to finishing the story. She had to do it. Maybe it would be better to get it all out at once.

She swallowed hard, desperately trying to keep the tears from falling. "Dani screamed so loud. I know she was a virgin. It was so much worse for her."

"Did one of them do this to you?"

She felt Lori's finger trace along her scar and unconsciously jerked back a few inches. She brought her hand up to cover the ugly mark and nodded.

"And my dad…" A few tears escaped. Her free hand formed a first, ripping grass from the earth and crushing it in her palm.

"What about your dad? Did they kill him?" Lori asked.

She shook her head. It was so much worse than that. It was too awful to say. She could remember his eyes when it was all over; so distant and empty.

"They made him watch," she said in a tiny voice.

It was hopeless now. Tears streamed down Vera's face, and Lori pulled her in for a hug. Vera didn't resist. She buried her face in Lori's shoulder and let herself go. The shame, the pain, and the anger all came pouring out of her. She cried like she hadn't since she was a child. Her body shook with the force of her sobs, and after a few minutes, she felt exhausted. Even when she felt as though she had no more tears to cry, her body continued to shake in the older woman's embrace. Lori rubbed her back, soothing her like she was her own daughter.

"I wasn't even thinking about him. I just… reacted. I know Shane isn't like that," Vera murmured.

Lori didn't reply and Vera pulled back a little and gave her a questioning look. The woman seemed deep in thought, and it took her a second to realize that Vera was waiting for a response. She immediately pulled Vera back in for a hug.

"You're safe now, sweetie. No one here is going to hurt you," she murmured in the girl's ear. "The farm is safe."

"Everyone's going to think I'm crazy now," Vera muttered.

"Don't be silly," Lori said immediately. "Believe it or not, you're not the first person in this group to snap and point a gun at someone. If anything, this just proves that you're one of us."

Vera pulled back and let out a tiny laugh. The statement was so absurd that it took her a moment to figure out if Lori was serious, but it quickly became clear that Lori was being genuine.

"I have to ask you something, Vera."

Vera looked over at her, waiting.

"Is there any chance you and your sister could be pregnant? I'm assuming that these men, these monsters, they didn't use protection."

Vera swallowed hard. "Yeah. We don't know." This was the thought that had been plaguing her for weeks. "I used to be on the pill, but I stopped taking it when this all started. It didn't seem important." She let out a bitter laugh.

"We'll figure this out. No matter what," Lori assured her.

"I won't have one of their babies. If I am. I won't do it, Lori. And I won't put Dani through it either," Vera said fiercely.

"We'll figure it out," Lori repeated.

Vera nodded. She didn't know why she trusted the woman, but she did. Lori stood up and offered Vera a hand. She felt like she had just been hit head-on by a Mack truck. Her face was blotchy and every muscle seemed to ache from being put through the emotional wringer. And yet, when she allowed Lori to pull her up, she felt somewhat lighter. The woman put an arm around her and together they walked back to the group.


End Note: Friday was my birthday and none of you got me anything. I'm trying not to be hurt that you didn't magically intuit the date of my birth and know exactly what to send me. A review would make a great belated birthday gift though.

Just kidding! You are all amazing. I wasn't kidding about the review though. I never kid about reviews.