Oh, Death, oh, Death, oh Death,
Won't you spare me over til another year
But what is this, that I cant see with ice cold hands taking hold of me
If the trees could speak, if the leaves could cry out, they would surely scream. They would yell a warning of what was coming, a panicked screech of desperateness to run and hide and sneak away into the nearest hole. The rotten death that moved slowly across fallen, crisp leafs and brushed mindlessly against rough bark. The horrid and hungry terror that carried an aura of fear, decay and truth, truth that the end was near, that the world was a scary place and to run from it was impossible; to seek solace and safety, to breed hope and love, it was all lies. Death was an absolute truth.
And death was coming: hundreds of it's soldiers moved agape and gurgling but moved together towards a distant ping of sound. A force unmatched, an army of misery. Their bodies swayed with faint purpose, slanted but secure in the way they shuffled and dragged along the ground: grinding twigs and dirt and small rocks into already punctured, deteriorated flesh. Bright, cloudy eyes glowed with blank interest and swirled in an empty slush of dull color. The sole purpose these creatures of death had was awaiting along cold train-tracks and they would not stop until they had reached that purpose and promise the ping had given them. Warmth flooding their mouths and streaming down their throats, the rip of skin to reveal their heaven. Screams of life draining, beats of life fighting, these were the things Death craved. And Death would obtain them in the end.
Kenny knew his distrust was rooted in the notion that the luck they had encountered thus far would soon turn sour. The wayward highway stragglers his group had found were good people on the surface, but he reminded himself that the St. John brothers were in that same boat at the beginning. He had no reason to think these people would rob them of their little rations or attempt to hungrily slit his throat with a switchblade, but he had no reason to not think that they would do it. Before everything, Kenny loved meeting new people: exchanging conversation, gestures of cordial and friendly greetings and seeing new faces had been something he looked forward to. Now all of that had changed. There was no more pleasure at fresh encounters, no comfort that came with shaking a strangers hand. Everything now was doubt, struggle and caution. Careful, he had to be careful. And, carefully, he watched as Omid and Lee worked atop the underpass on the wreck and how Christa, Carley and Clementine talked quietly amongst themselves.
Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. But I'll be damned if I let anything slip through my fingers, Kenny thought confidently. He had his guard up, his radar vamped with sensitive receptors cranked on high alert. Because at the slightest notion that things were wrong, that something was dangerous, he would not hesitate. Kenny would protect his people, even Chuck whom they met just 24 hours ago. That loyalty had always been there; but somehow, with his losses, it had intensified like the lines across his forehead.
Sighing, he settled himself on the rail of the train and extracted some relief from the progress they seemed to be making. Lee had handled the wreck situation, like he had thought he would, and all they had to do now was wait, patiently at least. Kenny felt another shiver of doubt as he thought about the welfare of the group at the moment. It was good, too good. It was a kind of security that their world used as a disguise to brighten moods and strengthen hopes, only to pull the rug out from underneath them. Kenny wondered how long it would be until they all came crashing down.
He didn't like having such negative thoughts, so he categorized them as realistic- because they were weren't they? There wasn't security or hope or anything bright. Just thinking of the word hope caused him to gaze up at Lee- frustrated and focused on the blowtorch he was using. Admitingly, Lee's speech to him earlier had gave him comfort...it had calmed him, and enlisted some effort in the way he held his head. The effects of that pep talk were wearing off now and the lack of numbers in their group froze the pulsing organ in his chest. He carried their faces in the fore-front of his mind, their voices in his ears and their smiles dancing vivid memories across his closed eye-lids. The emptiness grew each minute, his purpose faltered and his strength stumbled but he had to go on. He had to: fuck the doubt he felt and the sadness he inhaled. Kenny would survive, he would have hope...or at least that was how he chose to think.
Now if we can get back on track, I'll be fucking tickled pink, he spit over the railing and walked over to check up on Ben- hoping for some more good news.
His false sense of safety would soon be explained.
"You sure you're ok, sweetie? I know it must have been scary for you." Christa asked for the exact third time. Carley had counted. The women seemed to be having a silent argument through Clementine. Was she feeling ok? Did she have enough to eat that day? Wordlessly both Christa and Carley almost competed to look after the little girl sat down beside them. Somehow Carley disliked the way Christa looked at Lee almost skeptically. She was poised and ready to spring to his defense in that case. Carley knew how much Lee did for Clementine and she would be glad to tell the critics that. But there was also the feeling of someone doubting him that left her unnerved. Carley believed in him, the good he did for the group was admirable and the feeling of him next to her sparked the desire to defend him as well, truth be told.
Clementine gave a half smile as she smoothed her tights underneath her dress that was half-hidden by her hoodie. She wished they would stop asking her if she was ok- didn't they understand that if she wasn't she would say something? The effects of killing her first walker still left a flush in her cheeks while traces of adrenaline ran through her veins. She was feeling proud, and maybe a little queasy, but ok all the same.
"I'm ok, and it was scary, but I wasn't afraid." Clementine replied truthfully, amazed that after she had done it- she hadn't been afraid. That had been what it was like to feel like Lee, she thought suddenly and smiled a little wider. He was bravery to her and the fact that she had made him proud, caused her to think that possibly, with practice, she could be brave too.
Carley put her arm around her with a warm smile on her face, "You protected yourself, Clem, those shooting lessons came in handy."
Christa eyed the way Carley held her and the way Clementine's eyes glowed with appraisal.
"An eight-year-old, learning how to shoot a gun...never thought I'd see the day." Christa clipped under her breath, appalled.
"Lee taught me," Clementine chimed in, "It's good thing." she finished unsurely due to the expression on Christa's face.
"I know, honey, I understand why you need to learn." she assured her, brow furrowing. Carley shifted uncomfortably.
"We all have to do things differently now: precautions need to be taken for the betterment of everyone. Clementine is more than a child, Christa, she's a survivor." Carley said softly while Christa's eyes flashed.
"You said precautions need to be taken: how is letting an eight-year-old handle an armed weapon safe? Lee isn't her parent, so I don't see how you can let him shove a gun in her hand and call it right." Christa looked apologetic after she said spoken, not wanting to bring up anything revolving around parents. It was obvious to her that Lee wasn't her father, even though he certainly looked like it. She just didn't like the thought of such tiny hands wrapped around the handle of a gun. It made her hate their world even more and the fact that she understood it made her feel even worse.
Clementine's eyes widened slightly and did Christa imagine the way she involuntarily shrunk closer into Carley's grip?
Carley's expression was almost pitiful, "We all don't like what we're forced to do these days but we have to do it. What's right is being able to say that you can protect yourself from harm, and he's made sure she can incase the unthinkable happens. Look, Christa, you won't agree with everything our group as done or what will do, but you have to understand that if you stick around- it's just something you're going to have to put up with. You've known us, what, an hour? Any judgements you have about us or Lee, you should really reconsider them."
The way she said it, with clarity and confidence and composure, it caused Christa to simmer. She was right at least, she couldn't judge them. Not yet.
"Lee looks after me." Clementine blinked, looking away awkwardly. She didn't understand why Christa seemed so hesitant on trusting her group. Christa pursed her lips and cleared her throat.
"Yeah, I get it. I'm sorry if I come off as the judgmental type, just..it's been a long day ok?" Christa admitted. Carley nodded at her knowingly.
"I hear that."
And as both women exchanged glances, it looked to be the slow and rough beginning of mutual understanding.
Ben didn't see them coming at first. His eyes had glazed over as he stared into the distance, mentally mulling over Carley's words and the shifting feeling of unease inside him. He was arguably debating over his own self-worth to the group when they came into view as pecks on the horizon. They blended in with medium shades of orange and brown and black. Nothing to stand out, nothing to warn him. The fading light of day also helped cloak the approaching army of walkers. The herd. It was only when the horizon began to move, bobbing up and down, did his eyes narrow in curiosity. Suddenly, his heart dropped to his stomach and he rose slowly to his feet as paralyzing fear iced his body. They were there, they always seemed to be, ready to take everything away. Ben was convinced they were coming for him. It was as if they sensed his weakness and purposely sought it out; the end they brought was for him to find at their teeth. It took him all of five seconds to blink, breathe and begin to function again. He had avoided death up until now and he felt he was too much of a coward to give in yet. Ben could run a little while longer.
"Um, g-guys?..." Ben called out, hoping he was envisioning the mass force of walkers inching their way up the tracks.
They came out of no where, he thought horridly and whimpered weakly. Kenny jumped down from the train, glaring in the direction Ben was looking and felt the emotion drain from his face.
"Oh fuck." Kenny breathed, color abandoning him. Clementine hoped out of the train-car from where she had gone to get some water (her walkie beeped with left-over static that she hushed quietly) and joined both Carley and Christa as they blanched horror-struck.
"Now's the time to get that wreck out of the way." Chuck commented lowly, rising calmly from his log with his guitar in his hand. Kenny didn't even stop to acknowledge the obviousness of his comment, running towards the ladder of the underpass with his heart hammering.
"Clem," Carley sounded panicked as she said Clementine's name, grasping the little girl's shoulder with cold fingers. Clementine looked up at her with bright fear in her eyes.
"GET THAT SHIT DOWN NOW, WE'RE ABOUT TO BE OVER-RUN. LET'S GO, LET'S GO!"
"Get on the train, sweetie." Carley finished over Kenny's blares. Christa muttered a "C'mon" and eyed Carley before ushering Clementine onto the train. Carley inhaled sharply and looked up to see both Omid and Lee working profusely as they saw the upcoming carnage.
Hurry, for the love of God, please hurry, she screamed internally. They were so close now, she could make out the faces of the front line just barely. She swallowed, sickly transfixed and frozen in place. Carley was torn: half of her wanting to go to him while the other half wished to hurl itself into the train-car where a little angel watched worriedly. The larger half took out her hand-gun and popped bullets into it's place. If they needed more time, she would damn well give it to them.
"Lee." Clementine breathed frantically, she had to go to him. She was about to jump down from the train before Christa's strong arms wrapped around her.
"Let go! He has to get down!"
"He's coming, ok? He's going to get that thing out of the way first, then he'll come. I promise, sweetie, he'll be here. You have to stay put until then, here you'll be safe." Christa wasn't so sure about her abilities to diffuse situations such as the one they were in but all she knew was that their one-way ticket out of being eaten by those walkers was underneath her butt right now. Her own heart ached for Omid but she had to maintain that things would work out, that time was on their side. If she didn't, she would lose it completely.
Both girls jumped as they heard the sudden sound of guitar strings. Christa looked offended as Chuck played such a calm tune. He surveyed them with tired but smiling eyes.
"How can you play that right now?!" Christa exclaimed wildly as Ben swung himself into the train-car with a plunk.
Chuck looked at Ben and smirked, "There's never an inappropriate time for music." he replied slowly and in the same deep voice that made everyone's skin crawl with uncertainty.
"No? I'm pretty sure if you strum that thing one more fuc-"
"Hey! They've got it!" Ben cut Christa off as he stuck his head out to watch the tumbling mass of metal that swayed on a dangerous angle before taking a dive downwards. Kenny yelled something that sounded very much like "FUCK YEAH" before the train let out a sharp hiss. The chugging sound started up again and dust puffed up from the brakes as Kenny let them loose once again. Clementine shielded her ears as the wreck crashed to the ground, her mind on the fact that Lee wasn't there and she could hear a painfully loud lull of moaning wafting in from outside their small sanctuary. Christa had released her when she realized she wasn't going anywhere and when the train started moving, she let out a gasp as she hurried to the train-car's edge.
"Carley!" she cried, wind muffling her words as a gust chilled her exposed face. Carley looked back to see the train moving, she debated on firing a shot at the walkers almost approaching the end of the train before looking back at Christa who reached out for her.
"Damn it!" Carley swore under her breath as she saw that the ladder had been knocked down with the wreck. She looked up at Lee who was yelling something at her atop the underpass with fear constricting her throat.
"No, no, no, oh God, jump! Lee!" she screeched in her mind and took staggering breaths before sprinting towards Christa's hand and swinging into frightened little arms. Lee breathed a sigh of relief to see everyone was safe inside the train-car.
"Well our luck just ran out." Omid laughed nervously, feeling sick at the walkers that grasped the end of the slowly departing locomotive. He nearly wept at how both he and Lee were stuck on top of the underpass with no means of getting on the train. He couldn't lose Christa like this, not with what the future had in store for them. Every step of the way, he had to be there. Suddenly he began to hyperventilate. Hands on his knees, he keeled over in a state of hysterics.
"Oh, God, we're dead, we're dead! They're gone, great! Oh fuck, Christa, the ba-" Omid began, his eyes shut tight.
"The ladder's smashed to hell!" Lee replied but in a much calmer version of paralyzing panic.
"Fuck, I know!"
"We gotta jump."
This caused Omid to open his eyes and his mouth fell open as he observed Lee swing himself over the railing. Head swimming, Omid ran over to him, almost tripping over a traffic cone that stumbled onto his path.
"What?! No way. This isn't jackass!" Omid expressed wildly, looking down to see the nose of the train already through. This was the only way they were getting onto the train, he knew it but he was damned if he wanted to fling himself into the air!
"It's the only way, Omid. On three! One, two-" Lee had grasped the material of Omid's jacket and stumbled backwards as the man whipped himself out of his grip.
"Let go of me you crazy son of a bitch!" Omid's voice cracked with fright as he regained a tight grip of the railing behind him. Lee gave him a hard, unimpressed look and studied the drop for a quick second before exchanging a final glance.
"Have it your way."
Omid let out a startled scream as Lee let go of the railing and sailed through the open air like a professional, landing like a paratrooper on top of the train.
"Are you fucking kidding me?!" he exclaimed, palms slick with sweat. Omid gave a final 'kill me now' before hurling himself after him. His landing was less than graceful. Upon impact, his right leg slipped and groaned with the weight of the jump. Instantly he lost his grip and Omid fell to the side, screaming and flailing as he crashed onto the ground.
"OMID!" it was Christa and Lee at the same time, her cry radiating terror as she jumped down from the train and ran to him. Lee saw the walkers just twenty feet away and quickly got into the train-car, calling for them both as he stretched out his hand. He felt like running towards them: every fibre of his being wanted to help. Almost sensing this, Carley was next to him with one hand gripping the back of his jacket to keep him in place and the other held out. Their bodies collided against one another as they hung from the train, urging Christa help along a severely limping Omid.
When they came close enough, Lee grabbed onto Omid while Carley hauled Christa inside. All four of them fell backwards, breathing heavily and hearts racing like wild horses across a grassy plain. It was over, they were safe and that fact put a breathless smile of relief of Carley's face as she turned her head to look at Christa.
"Returning the favor huh?"
Carley laughed, eyes scanning over how Clementine hung onto Lee's back as he raised himself off the floor.
"Someone had to." she replied, getting a short bout of nervous laughter from Christa herself.
"How's the leg, Omid?" Lee asked, said man's face crippled with pain as he eased himself up on his elbows.
"Hell of a lot better now than when I was moving it." Omid replied truthfully, Christa examined it with a deep frown.
"What happened?" Ben asked, cheeks flushed from what they had just escaped.
"We can't all land as nicely as Johnny Knoxville here."
At Ben's expression, Omid winced when a flood of stinging bees attacked his leg. It took him a moment to register it as his girlfriend's hand.
"Ouch, hon, take it easy."
"Sorry, do you people have any medical supplies?" Christa asked, brows furrowed in concentration as she felt the heat coming from Omid's leg. His muscle was ripped but no broken bones, that much was obvious and the pain was incredible. Christa knew a thing or two about such injuries, she had been an avid soccer and basketball player in her youth. But they couldn't go to the nearest clinic for wraps or medicine now. They had to be resourceful and all of her and Omid's resources (little though they had been) was left atop the underpass.
Lee licked his bottom lip in thought as he looked over at their backpacks in the corner of the train-car, "Bandages, some Ibuprofen, maybe." he replied unsurely, rising from the floor with Clementine holding his hand gratefully.
Omid shrugged, the Ibuprofen might help although he wasn't an expert.
"Maybe?" Christa sassed, going over to search the bag. Lee followed her carefully and she scoffed knowingly. "If I was going to steal from you, I would be a bit more sneaky about it."
"Sorry," Lee replied with a small smile, "Just taking precautions, we really don't know you people yet."
"Precautions." Christa repeated, thinking of Carley now as she removed a beaten bottle of pills from one of the pouches. "You're a careful bunch, and don't worry. If we were going to kill you people and steal your train, well, we just had our chance."
Carley ran her fingers through her tangled, thin hair with a look of amusement in her eyes, exchanging a look with Christa as she brought two pills over to a pitiful looking Omid. Their relationship with these new people was somehow unclear but there are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and surviving a herd of walkers is one of them.
When God is gone and the Devil takes hold
who will have mercy on your soul?
Oh Death, oh Death, oh Death
Late afternoon light flooded into the horizon and Clementine bent closely down to her page to scrutinize what she had been working on for the past hour. Lee had handed over a note-pad he had found on the train to her and Clementine had been excited to use her few drawing tools she still had stashed in her back-pack. She drew mindlessly and content in her corner of the train-car as everyone shifted around her. Chuck took his nap now, his snores a strange comfort. Omid talked somewhat forcefully to a tired looking Ben while wincing occasionally as he moved his bad leg every few moments. Christa was outside, talking to Carley, Clementine bet, while Lee and Kenny were at the head of the train. Food had been rationed and although she wasn't hungry, Clementine longed for the s'mores she had talked about with Lee. She wondered if that made her spoiled or a brat, something along the lines of not appreciating the crackers Lee had given her. Nevertheless, Clementine drew just as happily as she would have if she had a belly full of chocolate and sundaes and her mother's famous spaghetti.
But despite her relatively good mood at how they were all safe and fed, little Clementine wore a small frown on her face as she thought about what her radio-friend had told her. Clementine had been shocked to find that when she tried her radio back at the underpass, it had worked! She was so relieved to hear his voice and fought hard to keep her voice down so the others wouldn't hear. He told her he had been traveling, that he had searched for her at the motel but found it over-run and he had asked multiple times if she was safe. Clementine felt odd answering his questions, especially the peculiar ones he had asked about Carley and Lee, but he already knew so much. She trusted him, she was young and that trust came from her relief at talking to another living human being. Clementine believed him when he said that he was already in Savannah and that he would be joining her parents soon. She soaked in his words greedily, enlarging herself with the perfect images he carefully implanted in her head. She saw her parents: alive, happy, and waiting for her and tears of pure emotion rolled down her cheeks. Soon she would see them...and all she had to do was keep it a secret. This man was her friend, her confidante, someone she could trust.
Well then why did she feel so guilty for keeping him to herself? Clementine swallowed hard and gave her head a shake, the day was wearing heavily upon her and as she finished her drawing, the soothing effects it had slowly faded. Giving it a final look over, she smiled shyly to herself and gently laid in within her back-pack, taking care not to crinkle the page. She was thinking about showing it to Lee when she looked up to see Chuck looking at her. Startled, she looked away. She really liked Chuck: he was odd and endearing but his words to her, about how she would end up like Duck, still bothered her.
"How are you doin', girly?" he asked, quiet but serious. Clementine quickly looked over to both Ben and Omid: the former was asleep now and the latter looked lost in his own train of thought. She was left to fiend for herself in this awkward conversation.
"Um, good." she replied honestly, although 'good' carried a different meaning. She was safe.
"What kind of good?"
"Well, there's good as in happy and there's good as in 'I don't want to talk about how horrible I really feel' so which good are you?" Chuck eyed her with concern mingled in with his slow and deep drawl, Clementine felt uneasy. She wasn't sure how to answer.
"Uh, the first one?" she tried with a nervous shrug of her shoulders. Chuck was silent and stared, her skin crawled.
"You're still thinking about what I said." It wasn't a question, Chuck knew she was. She took a breath before returning his gaze, no words came to her. Feeling slightly guilty that his truth had troubled her, Chuck crossed his arms across his chest and puffed out a haze of chilly air before he looked at her again. He wasn't sure how to phrase it correctly.
"And I'm sorry if it hurt your feelings, girly, but that was what I believed."
She caught the end part.
He chuckled at her observance, "Yeah, past tense. I can see something's changed in you, something...stronger. I know I haven't known ya for long, but I know the difference between a scared, helpless child and a determined, firm young lady. Lee taught you a few things, but it's important you keep learning. Understand?"
Clementine tilted her head a fraction as she studied him without shyness now, realizing all he had said to her before had been the push she needed to will herself to change from that helpless child she once was. Chuck wanted to help her, not scare her. And she was thankful for that.
"I understand." she replied quietly, nodding lightly as she blinked away her hesitance. Chuck nodded as well: content and relieved that the ball of hope for this little girl was rolling. She gave him a tiny smile as she passed him, back-pack in hand moving towards the train-car door. He spotted the drawing peeking out from inside and he felt warmth flood into him. When she left, he got up and stretched, Omid looked up.
"How's your leg, buddy?"
"The same, only warmer now. Is that a good sign?"
No, Chuck thought darkly but actually shrugged with a frown.
"I'm not any medical type, got no idea- none of us can know for sure." he said, settling in where Clementine had been and bringing his guitar across his lap.
"Guess so. How much further do you think until we get to the city? Hopefully there'll be help there..." it was obvious the man was trying to convince himself of that. Chuck indulged.
"I'd say we'll reach Savannah in the morning, so you people are going to stay? I heard your lady going off about how it was a suicide mission."
"Well, you're the guys with the kick-ass train," his laughter was cut off by a sharp inhale of pain as he sat straighter. Ben stirred. "We're here now, and besides, you seem like a great bunch- my first pick for a zombie apocalypse."
"Your lucky day then." Chuck tipped him a wink as he started to pick up a tune. It was mellow and soon put Omid in a content lull of solace. Ben's eyes were open as he dully rehashed over the day's events, Carley's words repeating in his mind. Chuck was soon lost within his own thoughts and his lips parted as words seeped onto his tongue.
"Each man diminishes me, for I am mankind..." he spoke, his voice raising the hairs on Ben's arms.
"I've heard that before." Ben said quietly, the words familiar in his mind and stirring up memories of stuffy English classes with Susan and Travis and people he had lost.
"We all have son, we all have." Chuck didn't look up from his guitar as he replied, and continued on with his slow strum.
No wealth, no ruin, no silver, no gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul
Well my name is Death, none can excel
I'll open the door to heaven or hell
From what she gathered as she passed Carley and Christa, Clementine knew them to be talking about technology. Apparently Christa wasn't so savvy either, and openly complained about the multitude of options on her old cell phone that she didn't know what to do with.
"Well at least there's no double A batteries with cell phones," Carley remarked thankfully, spiraling into the famous tale at the drugstore as Clementine smiled at her. The women talked to her for a short while, but Clementine urged to see Lee and she quickly made her departure. She liked how friendly Christa and Carley were being: but she thought faintly of long that was going to last before something went wrong. That thought-process was involuntary.
She found Kenny and Lee in silence: Kenny staring out at the tracks while Lee relaxed nearby on the floor resting.
"Hey, sweet pea," Lee said, breaking off into a yawn as he got to his feet and stretched he muscles in his arms. She smiled up at him as Kenny gave her a once-over.
"What are you doing up here?"
"Wondering what you're doing up here." she replied and he laughed shortly before bringing her inside from the doorway.
"It isn't much fun, how's everyone doing?"
"You got the girl on patrol?" Kenny asked oddly, leaning back in his chair as Lee propped Clementine up on top of the machinery next to him. Lee gave him a look to which Kenny raised his hands in innocence.
"Hey, not saying it's a bad idea! In fact, it's smart. She's only a little girl, they'll open up to her and she can spot the crazy before it becomes bat-shit crazy." Kenny laughed at himself and appraised Clementine. She blushed.
"Sounds like a detective." she said in a small voice, looking at Lee now.
He didn't look so amused, "Clem, you don't have to think of yourself like that. Those people aren't crazy." he added especially for Kenny.
"What? We didn't think Lilly was crazy and look how loco she turned out." Kenny saw the look on Clementine's face and cleared his throat, exchanging a level look of acknowledgment from Lee.
"But...I will say that these people do not seem entirely useless."
Lee sighed, at least that was better.
"Christa and Carley look like friends." Clementine added brightly, nudging Lee to gaze out the cab window. His eyes lingered on Carley who was speaking and seemingly whatever she was saying made Christa burst out laughing. He was surprised, perhaps he had imagined the tenseness between them earlier.
"Yeah, yeah they do. That's good, and Omid seems like a nice guy." Lee nodded his agreement and smiled at Clementine. She grinned back, he tapped her hat and laughed as it fell over her eyes.
"Hey!" she exclaimed, fixing it while Lee dodged a well aimed kick. Kenny observed them with detached sadness and almost fell into silence.
"A hell of a lot nicer than that hobo." Kenny spoke up, interrupting Lee from giving Clementine a well-intentioned poke in the ribs.
"Chuck is..." Lee attempted to frame an accurate description of the older man. What exactly was Chuck? His temper flared when he remembered what he had said to Clementine.
"Not trust-worthy." Kenny finished for him confidently.
"I think he is," Clementine argued, feeling less tired now with Lee by her side, "He's quiet, but he hasn't lied to us about anything. And he hasn't tried to eat us, so that makes him better than other stranger's we've met. Plus he plays the guitar pretty good."
Kenny, evidently, was surprised that she would say such a thing. His laughter was somewhat hesitant on it's way out and he looked at her with raised eyebrows.
"Well we really can't be sure about any of these people, not yet anyways." Lee corrected her and she nodded her understanding.
"Oh my, that fucking guitar. I swear if I hear Johnny Cash strum that thing one more time, I'm going to fling it from the goddamn train."
Clementine looked troubled, "Swear."
Kenny looked confused before getting up and declaring how he was about to have fun trying to take a leek. When he left, Clementine hopped in his chair and giggled as she spun it around.
"Be careful you won't get sick." Lee said warmly, she stopped like a pro and blinked away momentary unbalance.
"Do you still have that drawing I gave you?" she asked, her eyes finding his breast pocket. Smiling, Lee took out the piece of paper that he had folded neatly and spread it out as best he could. The four-leaf clover brought her a silly peace.
"I said I'd have it always." he reminded her, putting it back next to his heart.
"I know, I just wanted to make sure that you were still lucky."
"I've still got you, don't I?"
Lee would not have looked so pleased if he knew just how much longer he would have her.
Night fell upon them, it was just as quiet as the previous one. Lee and Clementine stayed in the cab (Lee insisted Kenny get some sleep) while everyone else piled into the train-car. Carley had joined him in the middle of the night, and the brief touches they shared had to be concealed quietly in the dark as Clementine was balled up in the corner with Chuck's blanket again. Carley told him what she thought about the new people and that they could be trusted, Lee believed her but reserved his judgment due to his urge to take her in his arms. Their relationship was excelling, that much was obvious.
Lee had snuck a few minutes of sleep here and there, but remained alert. It found that it was worth it when the tops of buildings came into view. Savannah at last. The expanse of the city crept it's way through dwindling layers of forest and he strained his eyes to focus in on the fences and overall abandonment of the landscape before the actual city itself. He took that as a good sign; fortified by the breath-taking shift into morning that painted the sky pink with cloud-cover.
Wanting to share his view, he looked over at Clementine who was still fast asleep. His eyes befell a hint of a page poking out from her back-pack and curiously, he ventured over quietly to take a look. He smiled as he crouched down and mindlessly covered her exposed arm with the edge of the blanket. Reaching inside her open pack, Lee carefully brought out the page and he cherished what he saw.
It was Carley, Clementine and himself all holding hands with broad grins on their faces. Lee was touched and felt his love for Clementine pulsate like a heart-beat. They were a team, a family, a bond. Lee barely heard the door creak open behind him, he snuck a look to see that it was Kenny, who seemed in much better spirits than what he would have been after another sleepless night. Quickly, Lee put back the drawing and stood.
"Next stop, the Atlantic." Kenny said, taking a gander at the approaching destination. Lee paused, remembering how he hadn't told Kenny about him and Clementine's plan to look for her parents. He told Carley about it last night and she was with him fully. He hadn't expected any less: they saw eye-to-eye about what was right for Clementine.
"Look, I forgot to tell you about Clementine's parents-"
"Fuck, thought they were dead."
Lee tensed at the volume of his voice, "They could be. The point is, we're going looking for them. It's me and Clem's plan. If they're alive, it's here in Savannah."
Kenny narrowed his eyes, "That's not the plan. I thought you agreed with me about the boat."
"I did. I still do, but I'm doing this for her, man."
Both men felt old sparks.
"I'm not putting these people in danger for nothing. You know as well as I do that those people are gone." Kenny breathed, his face angry as he lowered his voice now. Lee face was expressionless, knowing the upcoming drama that would tear at them once again.
"Maybe it's best if we-"
Lee was cut off by a sudden, erratic buzz of static radiating from Clementine's back-pack. They both exchanged a look before Lee curiously retrieved the radio. Wasn't it completely broken? That's what they had all thought and that's what Clementine had told him. It was a sentiment. Clementine's mouth twitched but she didn't awake from her slumber, she was out cold.
Radio in hand, Lee turned towards Kenny as there was a break in the buzz.
"Cl...tine..." it was a voice: incoherent, but still audible. A goddamn voice. What did that mean? What-
"The fuck?" Kenny muttered.
"I don't know." Lee shook his head.
"I can't wait till you get to Savannah, Clementine. I've got your parents right here! And, you be sure to find me, whether Lee want's you to or not. Now, what I need-"
There was no reason for the animal to growl from it's cage, but upon hearing that voice: so insisting and false and friendly...an unexplained swell of anger surmounted inside Lee's body. Questions addled his brain but all was summarized with his next words.
"I thought that fucking thing was broken."
Lee looked at Kenny with his surprise evident on his face.
"So did I...who the fuck was that?! If he's convinced Clementine that he has her parents."
"Well, he has in her the palm of his hand," Kenny looked over at her for a moment, what secrets had she been keeping?
"You might want to rethink your plan."
Kenny was right about one thing: there was a lot that needed to be taken into consideration.
Oh, Death, oh, Death
My name is Death and the end is near...
Song: Oh Death- Jen Titus (shout-out to Supernatural fans!) It's a creepy song that I've picked to go along with a very creepy conclusion to episode 3. And to clever Harry Potter fans...did you catch a reference hidden in there?
Well, hello there! Should I run and hide? We're good? Ok, good.
Here's your long awaited update. You know I'm sorry, guys, I really am.
How will Lee take Clementine keeping the stranger a secret? What do you think of the friendship (?) forming between Carley and Christa? I would love to hear all your thoughts/concerns in the reviews. :)
Yes, I am keeping the pregnancy plot and that conversation between Christa and Omid is coming up. There I will explain my thought-process as to how they are going to deal with it. Yikes, it's a pretty touchy thing too.
Thank-you for the response to my tumblr as well. (lee–everetts)