A Second Chance
A/N- Okay, so the song I used in this chepter is 'Hurt' by Johnny Cash (Yes, I know it's originally by Nine Inch Nails). I hope you enjoy this. I'm SO sorry for the long waits for an update! Please forgive me?
"Hey Lee." Carley said softly to the sleeping man. Her hands played with the fingers on his hand as she allowed a lone tear to roll down her cheek. "It's me…"
"I know you want to be here… it's probably killing you… being away from them again." She laughed sadly and scrubbed her hand underneath her eyes to wipe the tears away. Eventually, she sucked in a deep breath and calmed herself. "I just want you to know… I love you.
"You didn't have the best married life before the world went to shit and you ended up doing something I know you regret. I know I don't tell you nearly enough, but I really do love you, Lee. You've given me the family I've always wanted. You made me feel like a love-struck teenager again.
"With that said… I need you to know that you can let go." She choked, finally letting out the sob she had been holding in. "You don't need to hold on if you're in pain. I wouldn't want you to go through that.
"If you need to let go, I'll tell Logan all about his brave Daddy who risked his own life to find us again." She sniffed, desperately clutching his remaining hand. "And Clem… well, she won't be alone again. She'll have me.
"She called me 'Mommy' the other day." Carley laughed as she remembered the memory. "She was so upset, I didn't want to correct her. She remembers, you know? She remembers everything… me getting shot… you dying… Oh god, it broke my heart to see her like she was. Devastated.
"Anyway, you do what you need to, Lee." She sighed, leaning forward to kiss his sweat-soaked forehead. "I love you. And that I always will"
She stood and left the tent, wiping away the tears that had settled in her eyes. No way did she want the children (or her dad) to see her cry.
"How's he doin' Carley?" Kenny asked her when she rejoined everyone around the campfire.
"Better." She said quietly, sitting down and letting Clementine rest her head on her shoulder. "He's not as pale as he was yesterday."
"That's good." He nodded, not looking too great himself. He wouldn't say it, but he blamed himself for letting it happen. Weren't they supposed to keep a look out for each other? "Look, I'm so sor-"
"It's okay, Ken." She soothed, reaching out to touch his arm. "Knowing him, it'd have happened sooner or later." Clementine stiffened and Carley's grip tightened on her.
"I… I just can't help but feel like I could have done… something." Kenny sighed, leaning forward and cradling his head in his hands.
"If anything, we should be thanking you." Carley admitted, running her hand up and down Clementine's arm in an effort to comfort her. "Without you, he'd be dead."
A sharp cry filled the air and she groaned, standing up from her comfortable embrace with Clementine.
"Sorry guys. Duty calls." She sighed, disappearing within the confines of her tent. She was met with the sight of Logan bawling his eyes out while he clutched at his stomach. Carley's face softened as she knelt beside his crib and picked him up. "Oh, baby boy…"
"What's up, huh?" She asked softly, kissing his cheek and cradling him in her arms. "You hungry?"
Almost as If he knew what was coming, he quieted as Carley unbuttoned her shirt and he quickly latched on. His last meal was half a jar of baby food and she wanted to make sure his transition from breastmilk to solids was gradual as to not harm him. She winced slightly as the boy fed hungrily and smiled down at him.
"You'll be okay, right LJ?" She asked softly, stroking his spiky hair with her finger. He simply squeaked as a way of replying and looked up at her through his wide green eyes.
He moved his hand to touch hers as if to say 'it's okay, mommy' and finished eating. She brought him up to her shoulder and patted his back, earning a quiet 'urp' from him.
"Want to see your sister and grandpa?" She asked him before standing and taking him outside. Her father grinned at her and waved to the young boy when she came into their line of sight.
"He okay, Carley?" He asked, standing and taking his grandson in his arms.
"Yeah, he's just eaten so he'll be up for a couple more hours." She replied, looking around the clearing and noticing the lack of a certain bushy-haired girl. "Where's Clem?"
"She wanted to go see Lee." Kenny replied sadly. Carley simply nodded before resuming her place on the log. Before she could respond, Chuck and Ben began plucking away their guitars. It was a sad yet hopeful tune.
"I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real"
Ben picked up the next part, strumming a bit faster on his acoustic and looking down at his feet. Molly seemed to beam with pride, not surprising Carley. She knew something was going on between the two and had had it pegged since Lee had turned up with her in tow.
"The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything"
His voice was deeper than any of them had expected. After all, his speaking voice was very pubescent and crack-y. Molly beamed even more if it was possible and ginned happily, which Ben happily returned, allowing Chuck to take the lead for a while.
"I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liars chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair"
They both took the lead with Ben adding the high notes. Carley saw her father bouncing Logan on his knee and clapping his hands together in time with the beat. It made her heart skip a beat. Somehow, she found that seeing her son so happy made the world just that little bit more bearable.
"Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here"
They both strummed hard for the final chorus, obviously loving the experience of playing in front of everyone. Ben, especially.
"And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
If I could start again
A million miles away
I will keep myself
I would find a way"
The guitars rang out and everyone clapped slowly. Molly stood and embraced Ben, who was blushing brightly.
"That was great, guys." Carley smiled as she clapped along with the rest of the group.
A scream pierced through the camp site and Carley bolted out of her seat, her heart hammering in her chest as she dashed towards the source of the sound. To her horror, it led her to the tent Lee was in. A long groan was coming from inside and she heard the clicking of a gun being loaded.
Carley barrelled through the opening and stopped short. There, in the corner of the tent was Clementine curled in a ball with a gun clenched in her hand, rocking back and forth with her head buried in her knees and muttering. "Just eat me! I can't do it again! Don't make me do it again!"
Lee was laid on the ground, groaning and reaching out to the young girl with what he must have thought was both of his hands, as his stump was waving madly too. His head was covered in sweat and his skin was pale, yet his groaning sounded suspiciously like…
"C-Cle-m… I'm… I'm okay…" His voice was gruff from lack of hydration and his eyes were darker than normal being slightly bloodshot. But he was there.
"Clementine!" Carley shouted, deciding to take care of the young girl. She took the gun from her shaky hand and brought her in for a hug. "It's okay, look."
Clementine moved her head away from Carley's chest and let out a half-sob/half-chuckle. Lee smiled at her sleepily and reached out his right hand to hold hers. Carley let go of Clementine before joining her in kneeling beside the man.
"Hello you…" She smiled as she ran her hand through his short hair.