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It is just one life

Chapter Text

If I had to pick a particular moment where it all started, then I would have to say it started that one night.

Me and my friends were walking back together from a party down the road, heading back to our collective dorms at college. We happened to all live in the same building but different floors. Either way, I was grateful for all three of them walking me back.

"Honestly Primrose, you're such a wuss when it comes to drinking" My friend Alex joked around with me, trying to give my head a noogie, displacing my styled brown hair. I grumbled and threw his hands off me, pouting and generally avoiding his touching.

"Just because you and Michael can chug an entire barrel of beer, that doesn't mean I have to as well" I grumbled, crossing my arms in a huff. I swear, this discussion happened almost every time.

"Guys, leave her alone. She's allowed to do what she wants" Tess told both boys off as they drunkenly tried to make me promise to drink more next time. She sighed, shaking her head when she realised that her words weren't really sticking with them at all. "Honestly, all four of us came to study at college and what do the both of you do instead of studying? Drag me and Primrose off to a party"

"Would be easier to study to be a Mechanic if it was less boring" Michael hiccuped, obviously not looking too well in terms of how likely he was to throw up.

"Or be a doctor" Alex agreed with him, to which Tess glared at them both. She was studying to be a Chef, and that was quite hard for her considering she was the only girl in her class-not to mention the added sexism in the industry. "Must be easy to study game design, eh Prim?"

"It's not easy" I stood by my claim, and I added another mental note that they had brought this up again. This always seems to happen when they drink, rehashing over old things that we already did argue over before. "I just want to be able to bring joy to people with games, like so many games have done with me"

"Pssh, I bet you just want to make your own version of that game you love. What was it's name again? The Walking Dead?"

"Leave her alone Alex" Tess told him off once more, looking like she was ready to deck him. Alex only laughed before he let it go, and we continued walking in relative silence. As much silence as we could have with two drunk boys practically stumbling around the place. "Wow, would you look at that?"

What Tess was looking at became clear once the rest of us looked at her, noticing her eyes trained on the night sky. When we stopped walking and looked up as well, did we see a beautiful sight. What looked to be a giant comet of some sort lingered in the night sky, a bright white rock leaving a blue trail behind it. It was truly amazing, and I couldn't help but whistle to agree with Tess.

"Quick you guys! Make a wish!" Alex told the rest of us, already bowing his head to wish for something.

"Isn't that for shooting stars? This is a comet" Tess disagreed with him, but he just scoffed at her remark.

"Whatev's Tess, don't wish if you don't want to"

While Tess did sigh at his remark, she soon bowed her head along with the rest of us making a wish. Mine, well... it certainly felt more selfish once I had muttered it softly into my hands. I could have wished for something completely unselfish, like someone finding the cure for cancer, or some sort of solution to world peace.

But... I loved the idea of giving the people in Telltale's version of The Walking Dead a better chance. Maybe not all of them, but at least giving them a bit of hope and saving some of them. Preferably most-if not all, if I had a choice.

"So, what did you guys wish for? I asked for my Dad to be allowed to retire early" Michael told us, and I had to admit, his was very sweet.

"I wished for bitches" Alex revealed, to which everybody else just rolled their eyes at. Typical Alex, saying stupid shit like that.

"I wished for medicine to advance a lot more. That way, it won't just apply to a single disease, but hopefully a lot more" Tess told the rest of us, and I very nearly grumbled aloud. Of course Tess chose one of the ones that I berated myself for. "What about you Primrose?"

"I bet you she wished for those characters to be safe in that game of hers"

"Alex, could you cool it for once in your life?!"

"Yikes guys, calm down"

I ignored the beginning of an argument between them, starting to walk again towards our dorm building that I could see in the distance. I wasn't likely to actually tell them what my wish was, as I was old fashioned. I believed that saying that you couldn't tell anyone about your wish or else it wouldn't come true.

Besides, the most likely response would likely be them making fun of me anyway. Ugh, why was I even friends with these three?

As I kept walking, I noticed their voices start to drift off, them being too busy in their fight to notice me walking off. I just held my hand over my heart, keeping that wish close to me.

If only it could come true.

I returned to my dorm room that night, but once I fell asleep things went really weird. Despite the AC cranked to a high temperature, I could have sworn that it got very cold after a long while. I was too tired to bother to actually get out of bed and check what was wrong, I just let myself drift off to sleep.

When I finally woke up the day after, I felt as though I had been I had been sleeping on the ground. My entire body seemed to ache, various parts of my bones seemingly grinding into the floor itself. ...And why did my head feel like it had been resting on rock?

When I finally opened my eyes, I wasn't looking at the roof of my dorm room or a wall, nothing that even remotely looked familiar to me. I lifted my head to look around, only to find... that I had been sleeping on the floor?

In fact, I could see the sky right above me, it being a lovely blue with slight tinges of orange, almost as if it was starting to get late in the evening rather than the morning. Just how did I end up sleeping through the entire morning AND end up outside?

I pushed myself off the ground and looked around to see where I had ended up. I was in someone's back garden, sitting on the green grass directly underneath a tree that also contained a treehouse. Off to my right was a porch that then led to a sliding door, which would naturally lead to someone's home. Normally, such a normal place wouldn't ring any bells at all for me. And yet, I knew this back garden and I especially knew that house.

When I did stand up, the only real injury I had managed to sustain was the typical uncomfortable pain that came from sleeping on the ground. I couldn't have been kidnapped, could I?

Well, the biggest hint towards that was the fact that there was no believable way for someone to kidnap me, and then drop me off into a game. This backyard looked so familiar to me, because it seemed almost identical to the one in 'The Walking Dead', at the back of Clementine's house. I even stood beneath a tree that looked like it had been pruned and maintained exactly the same as the one that she had.

And yet, that didn't answer my question about how I got here. I had to have been dreaming, right? There was no way someone had actually managed to replicate her back garden perfectly AND kidnap me during the night. The security on our campus was bad, but it wasn't that bad. And as much as I loved that game to pieces, the people and the story did not exist in real life.

I pinched my arm lightly, just enough to hopefully check if this was actually a dream, but not wake up from it. If this happened to be a lucid dream, I would have loved nothing more than to just stay in it for a bit.

A massive jolt of pain flared up from my pinch, causing me to hurriedly pull my hand away and wave my arm like I had somehow set it on fire. Forget a dull feeling of pins and needles, which was the usual reaction when I pinched myself in a dream, this sensation almost seemed to double the pain I usually would receive. What kind of a dream was this?

I ignored that question for now, looking back around the yard for a better clue as to what was going on. All the items seemed a little run down, as though nobody had been there for several days. Eerily similar to the setting of the game.

...So if this was a dream that involved me being a part of the game's events, then where were Lee and Clementine? Did Lee already come here and then leave with Clementine? If that was the case, then the chances of me surviving this dream was very slim. I only knew how to survive due to the luck that Lee or Clementine would receive, I would likely die after encountering the first walker.

Right as I was beginning to fear the worst, I heard the sound of walkers groaning beyond the fence surrounding the backyard, sounding like there was at least twenty of them. A number of them started to get closer to the fence, and at the same time a man grabbed onto the fence and haul himself up from the other side of the fence. An African-American tumbled over the fence, his fear of the walkers being so strong that he didn't even seem to notice me hide behind the tree.

He was just starting to back away from the fence when we both heard loud gunshots off in the distance, which continued on for a little while. Those gunshots were enough to make the walkers lose interest in the man who tumbled over the fence, at first lessening their banging on the fence before all together dissipating entirely.

Once it was safe, the man managed to haul himself up off the ground despite his injured leg, before looking around him at the backyard. Every mannerism, every movement was exactly the same. Even this man's face was the same, looking exactly like Lee Everett.

I didn't even get a moment to really think about it all, as he quickly looked around him, only stopping himself from calling out when he noticed me standing under the tree house.

"Hi there" He greeted me, a warm and friendly smile being sent my way despite what he had just witnessed. Thank god, the actual Lee was a nice person. I don't think I would have liked to find out that he was actually an evil sadistic person like some people played him. "Are you alone out here?"

If I had been perfectly honest with him, then I would have told him about Clementine up in the tree. But... If I did that, then Clementine probably would be able to tell him that she didn't know how I knew that, which would give the heavy hint that I knew more than the average person. So, I decided to just pretend.

"Yeah, I haven't seen anyone else around here" I lied to him, playing with the hem of my skirt to distract myself. "I hid back here when those walkers showed up"

"Walkers? Is that what you call them?" Lee asked me, obviously confused with the name. I didn't quite understand, when it finally sunk in that they didn't start calling them walkers until episode two. Crap.

"Uh, well, it seems strange to call them undead or zombies" I explained, but I couldn't help but cringe at the excuse I made. "Because calling them zombies makes them seem way too... unreal"

Lee didn't say much on my explanation, but he soon seemed to nod his head in agreement. For whatever it was worth, it probably wouldn't stick in his mind anyway.

"What's your name?" He asked me, and I responded easily.

"I'm Primrose" I greeted him in kind, nodding my head a little in a show of respect. Despite the fact I likely knew what his name was, I decided to ask him anyway, because it would be odder to not ask. "What about you?"

"Lee Everret, former history teacher" Lee returned my greeting in kind, already seemingly thinking practically as he looked over at the closed sliding door. "Have you tried asking for help in there yet?"

"No, it hasn't been very long since I have been hiding" I lied again, trying my hardest to make all my lies match up to each other.

"Alright, I think we should look for help in there" Lee suggested, and I nodded my head and moved close to him as we headed towards the sliding door. I couldn't escape the dread with knowingly letting the both of us walk in there, especially if there was a similar zombie in there to the game, but I didn't know any other way to get Clementine to come out of her treehouse. Lee knocked loudly onto the glass, hoping that there was someone inside to hear him. "Hello, anybody home? We need a little help"

"...Maybe the door's unlocked?" I suggested, and he immediately pulled open the door with a sturdy hand. The door jam let out a loud click as it opened all the way, allowing the both of us entry into the room. Lee smiled in appreciation at my suggestion, gently patting the top of my head in a fatherly way.

"We're coming in. Don't shoot, okay?" Lee warily announced this to any possible owners inside, before taking a tentative step into the house when he didn't hear a response. "Stick close, okay?"

"Like glue" I confirmed with him, following closely behind him into the house. The inside of the house was just as ransacked like it was in the game, various pieces of furniture turned over and thrown around carelessly. It looked more like robbers had just flipped the place over for valuables, but the still present television and electrical supplies told us otherwise.

"...These people might need more help than we do" Lee mentioned glumly, something which I could only really nod my head to. Sandra, the babysitter in the game, certainly had seen and experienced worse things than either of us had so far.

Lee immediately went over to one side of the house, checking out the turned over bookshelf, while I busied myself with the kitchen. I knew everything else didn't really matter, so I ignored it all in favour of the important details. I gently tiptoed around the pool of blood that led to the kitchen, and quickly scanned the note left behind on the fridge. It contained a phone number to the Marsh House, which I knew for a fact had to belong to the hotel that Clementine's parents stayed at.

That name caused so many conflicting feelings to spark inside my chest, with the majority of them being quite negative. That stranger at the end of the game, who caused so many deaths. If only there was a way to prevent any of that from happening to these people...

Maybe Lee would believe me if I told him about the danger there? If I even managed to survive that long in this dream that is.

I randomly opened one of the kitchen drawers, hitting the jackpot on what I was looking for, the walkie talkie. I grabbed it, and was about to leave the kitchen when I spotted the cup of water near the sink.

"Hey Lee, if you're thirsty there is a cup of water here" I notified him, and I could see his face perk up a little bit with the idea.

"Thanks" He thanked me, soon beginning to half-limp his way over to where I had directed him.

"Oh by the way, there's a pool of blood there" I warned him, turning my back on him for a moment. I had warned him in time, so surely I didn't need to do anything about it? "Just be careful that you don't-

Just as I had convinced myself he'd be fine, I heard him slip on the pool of blood and land with a crash onto the floor. I winced audibly, inching towards him to double check if he was alright.

"You alright?" I asked him, and he nodded his head as he pushed himself off the floor.

"Yeah, yeah I'm alright" He assured me, and I let him stand on his own without my help. Odd, I really thought that just warning him would have been enough. Is it just impossible for the story to turn out any other way than how the original went?

With that thought in mind, I carefully tiptoed past him as he went to drink the aforementioned cup of water. I decided that I needed to make things speed up a little, even if it was just to not get ambushed by a walker.

I shuffled over to the answering machine, pressing the button to listen in to the conversations it had recorded. Just as I had turned around to check where Lee might be, I saw him limping his way over to me. We both soon started listening to the monotone voice on the machine before long.

"Message one, left at five fourty-three pm *BEEP* Hey Sandra! This is Diana, we're still in Savannah" The answering machine soon brought out a woman's voice, who sounded quite chipper despite the world we were in. I knew the words off by heart almost, and I had to stop myself from mouthing the words she would say, especially so when Lee looked at me a little confused. "Ed had a little 'incident' with some crazy guy near the hotel so we had to get him back to the ER and have it checked out. Anyway, he's not feeling well enough to drive back tonight, so we're staying an extra day. Thanks so much for looking after Clementine and I promise, we'll be back in time before your spring break"

The first message ended cleanly, and the following one started as though things were perfectly fine in the world, as though life was still normal for these people. Oh how wrong it was.

"Message two, Left at eleven nine-teen pm *BEEP* Oh my god, finally! I don't know if you've tried to reach us; all the calls are getting dropped" The same woman as before, Diana, spoke but her chipper tone had dramatically changed to a scared and frightened version from before. "They're not letting us leave and they won't tell us anything about Atlanta. Please, please just leave the city and take Clementine with you back to Marietta. I've got to get back to the hospital, please let me know that you're safe"

The second recording ended just as smoothly as the first one, but I couldn't help but turn my back on the machine as it prepared for the next one. I knew it was coming, yet that didn't make listening to it any easier.

"Message three, Left at six fifty-one am *BEEP* Clementine, baby, if you can hear this, call the police. That's nine, one, one" Diana spoke, but her words were completely garbled due to the bad audio and the way she sounded like she was going to cry. Her final words on the answering machine were pleading, desperate for the little girl she loved to hear them. "We love you... We love you... we love y-"

The call ended abruptly, the machine announcing that there were no more messages for us to listen to. I could barely manage to look at Lee after it, as he picked up a picture frame that contained a family of three on it. On it was Ed and Diana, both parents lovingly holding onto their little daughter, Clementine.

Lee couldn't seem to find it in his heart to say anything to me, and I honestly had to admit that I couldn't either. Even without knowing these people, I could feel the emotions in this house.

Before long, the walkie talkie I had pinned to the waistband of my skirt flared into life, a scared little girl's voice coming through.

"Daddy? Sandra?" She asked us both, and I was a little shocked about how things had changed already. I was so used to Clementine just asking Lee if he was her dad, that being compared to Sandra myself threw me for a bit of a loop. Did I look like Sandra to her?

I pulled the walkie talkie off my waist band, speaking into it as Lee looked over nervously.

"Hello?" I whispered into it, purposely speaking into it with the same words as the story did. If I did change the story... then what was I supposed to do with moments that were destined to happen?

"You're not Sandra" She seemed to realise, and I nodded my head without really thinking about how she couldn't see me.

"No, I'm not" I agreed with her, soon directing my eyes to Lee to try and keep him involved. "And I don't think the man with me is your father either"

"Yeah" She agreed as well with that statement, but her voice fell short soon after. It was like she was afraid of me, which I couldn't blame her for.

"Are you okay?" I asked her, my eyes looking out towards the kitchen. Lee looked confused with why I was looking that way, and I gestured for him to follow towards the kitchen.

"I'm okay" Clementine said, whispering intently through the walkie talkie. "They tried to get me, but I'm hiding until my parents come home"

"Who is this?" I asked, mentally kicking myself for asking a question I already knew about.

"I'm Clementine" She answered, and I smiled at her introduction. "This is my house"

"Hi Clementine" I said, gesturing to myself and to Lee when I introduced both of us, despite the fact Lee didn't know she could see us. "I'm Primrose, and the man with me is Lee"

"Okay" She said softly, her voice still telling me she was afraid out of her mind.

"How old are you Clementine?"

"Eight"

"And you're all alone?"

"Yes, I don't know where anybody is" Clementine said, her voice still in a low whisper. "How old are you?"

"I'm twenty one and Lee is thirty seven" I told her almost fluently, only really noticing something was amiss when I looked at Lee's face. It was the moment I realised I had messed up, as Lee had yet to tell me his age.

"Okay" Clementine told me, but my focus was completely looking at Lee, who had now directed a very skeptical and wary look at me.

"How do you know how old I am?" He asked, his voice betraying the fact he had already pinned me as a stalker, or worse.

"I, uh... I might have seen you in the newspaper" I lied to him once again, noting how pissed he was starting to look. I double checked that Clementine couldn't hear either of us, the receiver being shut off on our end for the moment. "I don't think you're a bad guy though"

His face softened, even if it was just a little bit, and I thanked my lucky stars that he seemed to believe me. I mean, what else was I going to tell him? "Oh hey, I know you from a video game in my world"? As if.

"Are you safe?" I quickly changed the subject, talking to Clementine on the radio rather than what me and Lee had been talking about.

"I'm in my tree house, they can't get in"

"That's smart" I said, tensing up because I knew that Sandra was nearby.

"Can you see me?" said Clementine, opening the door to her tree house ever so slightly, and then waving at us. "I can see you two through the window"

I sent a quick wave, before turning around, seeing a zombified Sandra directly behind us both.

"Watch out Lee!" I yelled at him, to which he swiveled around fast enough to catch her shoulders before she could take a bite out of him. He struggled with her for a moment, harshly showing her against the stove top.

I turned and ran, practically leaping over the pool of blood on the floor towards the sliding door. I expected Lee to be directly behind me as I turned around, but I was surprised to find I was the only one there.

Reality bit me in the ass, because I hadn't told Lee about the blood again. Just as I was hoping he would make it to me, he slipped over on the blood and banged his head heavily against the counter.

I could hear the door behind me slide open, me noticing Clementine standing there in fright straight away. I grabbed the hammer she was meekly holding, and I turned around...

...Only to see my worst nightmare.

Sandra had caught up to him, and was viciously taking a bit out of his neck. I didn't even have to doubt that he died pretty quickly, with the way the blood spurted out all over her face. I could only stare for the longest time, wondering how in the hell he didn't manage to kick her off and make it over to me, until it hit me.

In the game, Lee is controlled. He doesn't act of his own accord to save himself, it requires the player to act to save his life.

"NO!"

Chapter Text

I could have stood there watching Sandra eat Lee for the rest of time if Clementine hadn't spoken to me. I couldn't even comprehend what she was saying to me just yet, just that I understood that she was tugging me through the threshold of her house. I let her pull me out of the house, and I was aware enough at least to shut the door behind me. I couldn't lock it, but it was the best I could do.

"Are you okay miss?" Clementine finally asked me, which snapped what remained of my concentration back to her. Part of me really wanted to tell her that I wasn't, that nobody would be after seeing a person you really care about get eaten by a zombie. But... she wouldn't understand, would she? Not with how little I could tell these guys about the truth about this place, about this dream.

God, how stupid. I had gotten here literally minutes ago with the intent of saving people from being killed and I had already managed to kill Lee, one of the few people who actually would make it towards the end of the first season. Could I blame it all on the fact that I wasn't controlling him now? Or was it simply because I was stupid, naive and unthinking?

"Miss?" Clementine asked me again, which snapped me out of my own thoughts yet again. I looked down to her, her scared eyes looking past me into the house and seeing the shadows of Sandra and Lee in the dusk around us. Something in her eyes finally made me move, kneeling down to look her in the face.

"Hi Clementine" I greeted her, finally managing to utter the words I always had wanted to say to her in the past. My happy emotions were heavily mixed with sad ones, my smile more wistful than I had wished it. But, I wanted to be there for her. "I'm... I'm so sorry you had to see that. That you're going through this"

"You're going through this too" Clementine said plainly, and my smile became more genuine and less wistful the more I saw her kindness. "Did you know that man?"

"Yes, I did" I admitted to her, sighing and taking a deep breath in. "I... I really liked him"

"He seemed nice"

"He is"

She didn't seem to know what to do with my tone, or with my words. Part of her seemed like she wanted to correct me and tell me that I shouldn't say 'is' but say 'was', but she couldn't find it in her.

There was a side of me that doubted everything about this dream because of that stupid mistake. Because I got Lee killed, I doubted everything about myself, about my wish. If I couldn't protect a grown man, how was I supposed to protect Clementine? Or Kenny, or Duck, or Doug or... anyone really.

"What are you going to do now?" Clementine broke the silence, the small question meaning a whole lot more to me than what she had probably meant it as. She just meant to ask me whether I was going to leave her alone, but I saw it as more. What was I going to do in this dream? Just stand aside and watch everyone die with an apathetic attitude, thinking that I couldn't do anything right?

...No.

No I wasn't. I might not have known what I could do, but I had to try. Lee was important to me, sure, but I had to now do what I could in his stead. Do what he couldn't do, protect everyone. His life was just one life, but it would be the last one. I would do my damn best to make sure he was the only one.

It is just one life, but it will always be with me.

"I'm going to take care of you" I spoke confidently, my voice not wavering a single second. She didn't seem to believe me, but she soon saw the conviction in my eyes, the truth in my words. I would make it reality, I would take care of her and everyone else.

She finally smiled at me, the hope in her eyes being all I needed to know I made the right choice. I stood up straight, taking her small hand in mine.

"Come on, we're going to go somewhere safe before it gets dark" I told her confidently, already guiding her away the sliding door and down the porch. "We'll find some good people, and then we'll go find your parents down in Savannah. Sound like a good plan?"

"Yeah!" Clementine already sounded like she believed in me, her hand holding tight to mine. Both her and me somehow seemed to look back at the sliding door as we walked away from it, but for different reasons. Hers was because she was leaving the one home she had known all her life, while mine was a final goodbye and a final promise to Lee. I would do right by him, the best I could.

Me and Clementine immediately turn the corner once we were down the porch, already seeing two people off in the distance. One was a heavier built man with wild unkempt ginger locks, while the other was a more well built guy with short almost buzzed black hair. Shawn and Chet, both who still meant a lot to me even though they only showed for a short while in the game itself. The two of them were light heartedly bantering with each other about how their parents were going to be upset at them being late to get home, with Shawn mostly chuckling at Chet.

I almost expected Clementine to stop me to ask if she should stay at the house, just like in the game, but she didn't. If anything, she seemed confused with me stopping momentarily, looking up at me with her bright, almost gold eyes as if to ask me what's wrong. I just smiled at her, tussling her thick black hair before I pushed open the gates that separated me and her from them.

"Hey guys" I casually greeted them, almost forgetting that Lee doesn't greet them at all like that. Just like in the game however, they both turn around with fright in their voices and fear in their movements. I mentally tried to keep tabs on what parts of the game had changed and what was the same, before properly listening to them.

"Holy shit!" Shawn blurted out to the both of us before he could even properly see who we are, and Chet also seemed to agree with the sentiment.

"Don't eat us!" Chet begged of me, and I had to bite my tongue to not correct him on that. Begging a walker not to eat you wouldn't do much good at all.

"We aren't going to hurt you" I assured them, raising my hands in as passive a position as I could manage. They relaxed easily once they realised I was not dead, and that I seemed to be friendly to them.

"Whew, sorry miss" Chet apologised to both me and Clementine, and I had to stop myself from frowning slightly at the change of dialogue. Call me obsessed, but I distinctly remembered that line belonging to Shawn, and not Chet. I hoped this dream wasn't going to be wishy-washy about what had changed and what had remained the same. "Me and my pal thought that y'all were those things"

"Are you both okay?" Shawn asked us both, which nearly took me by surprise. The softness of his voice just reminded me of how I had fallen in love with his character, and I had to stop myself before my cheeks start to heat up. I just fiddled with my brown hair as I nodded my head, Clementine doing the same. "Thank goodness. I'm Shawn, Shawn Greene"

"My name's Primrose, this is Clementine" I introduced us both, noticing how Chet already knelt to Clementine's eye level when he greeted her.

"I'm Chet" He greeted her, to which he got a happy smile back from her. I knew I liked Chet for a good reason, and I couldn't help but feel proud to see him still be kind even in my dream.

"We need some help, there are walkers roaming everywhere and it's not safe for her here" I explained to them both, kicking myself mentally for calling them walkers again. They didn't miss that, the both of them looking a little surprised at my name for the undead.

"Walkers?" Shawn asked me, and I nodded my head to make it at least seem like I wasn't completely stupid.

"Yeah, I don't like calling them zombies" I told him, using the same excuse I had for Lee. At least this way, if Clementine had heard that bit earlier she wouldn't be able to tell the difference. "It makes them seem too unreal. Like a joke, you know? And I don't like treating all this like it's a joke"

"O' course" Chet agreed with me, and I almost breathed an audible sigh of relief. "It's a givin' that y'all are tryin' to leave, what with those things roamin' around"

"How about you two come with us? My dad has a farm not too far from here" Shawn asked us both, to which I smiled at without meaning to. "You and your sister will be much safer there"

"I'm not her sister" I quickly corrected him, almost literally smacking myself in the face with how stupid he sounded just then. No matter how I saw it, Clementine's skin colour and hair colour were clearly much darker than mine and we looked nothing alike. Even Clementine gave him a funny look with that remark. "I know it sounds really weird, but I just care for her a lot. Besides, I can't just leave a little girl on her own"

"On her own? Wait, where's her parents?" Chet asked me, and before I could answer, Shawn seemed to interrupt. I managed to catch Clementine looking a little confused at me as I let Shawn speak, likely due to the fact I had just said 'I just care for her a lot', which gave her the hint that I already knew her before this. I mentally kicked myself for that one as well, but I just smiled down at her to keep the lie going smoothly. She smiled back at me, which relaxed me a lot.

"It doesn't matter to be honest. I think I'd do the same if I ran into someone who needed my help, especially a little girl" Shawn backed up my statement without even really realising it, and I smiled fondly at him. I however, found that I had to look away when he finally turned his eyes back to me and he saw me smiling at him like that. "We should be going, not staying around here too long"

By the time Chet heard the walkers shambling down the street behind him, I already had my eyes scanning down the road. I saw them clearly in the bright orange dusk glow, and I moved myself forward to the cars blocking Shawn's truck without him even having to request for help.

"Nice, helping me without even having to be asked" Shawn complimented me, already sidling himself beside me as we started push the blue car out of the way.

"Make sure to push your weight" I teased him softly, speaking softly so that we didn't attract their attention that much. He just smiled at me again, and we truly began to push.

Like in the game, the car was incredibly heavy, the both of us truly having to push our entire collective weight against the car before it moved about a metre. Naturally, by the time we started pushing again, Clementine had already found a small little spot between me and Shawn and started pushing with us.

"Good girl" I praised her happily, finally being able to push the car fully out of the way with all three of us. Clementine was clearly happy with my praise, and I quickly turn my head to Shawn to see if we were done. We were, as he indicated this with a nod of his head. I scrambled to get Clementine into my arms and I already dashed over to the shotgun seat of his truck before Shawn even had to tell me to get in.

I bundled Clementine into the middle before shoving myself into the shotgun seat, already completely seated and seat-belted by the time Shawn started the truck. I quickly glanced into the trunk of the car to make sure Chet had gotten in, before Shawn sped off down the road.

"For someone who just stumbled onto a little girl in need, I'd say you did a very good job in keeping everyone here safe" Shawn praised me, and I smiled at him while I buckled Clementine into the middle seat.

Just as I got her securely tucked in, did I feel Shawn cut that one corner around the road, to which everyone in the car bumped and wobbled along with it. I couldn't fight the smile on my face, and from the looks of it, neither could Clementine.



As the sun completely set, I saw the brilliance of the farming landscape at night. Despite how pretty it all looked, I couldn't help but think about how I was supposed to help save Shawn in the incident with the tractor. Surely I should be able to save him, right?
Now I just had to figure out a plan for how I was actually going to do that. I sighed audibly, causing Clementine and Shawn to both turn their worried eyes to me. I smiled at them both individually to hopefully ease their mind and it seemed to work, both of them smiling back before looking back to the road again.

As I pondered about the future, there was something that briefly crossed my mind. If I was now taking the place of Lee in a way, did that mean that I had to watch out in the future to stop myself from being bitten at the end of episode four? The idea scared me, along with the idea of actually possibly dying if I wasn't careful.

I was brought back out of my thoughts as Shawn took a left off the road he had been following for a long time, and I could spy the big white country house loom ahead in the distance. The Greene home, that housed likely all of Shawn's family, including his not too stranger-happy dad Hershel. I just hoped he wasn't going to be smart enough to notice that I was lying through my teeth at several instances.

We finally stopped at the house, and I happily climbed out to stretch my legs. I turned around just in time to help Clemetine out of the car, half listening to Shawn and Chet talk to each other at the trunk.

"Hey Shawn, I'mma run on home" Chet repeated the lines I knew well enough from the game, and I had to stop myself from mouthing them in front of Clementine. "My momma's gonna be in a snit"

"No sweat man, I'll catch you tomorrow night" Shawn happily responded to his friend, an almost carefree smile on his face. Before Chet turned around to leave, he seemed to turn to me and Clementine to give us a final goodbye.

"T'was nice to meet ya ladies" Chet said his final goodbye quickly, giving me a friendly handshake before already turning to walk down the dirt road.

"Same here Chet" I said to him with, trying to hide a wistful smile from my face. I really wished I could tell him more than just 'stay safe', as I knew the moment he left this farm that I would never see him again. For all I knew, he would die literally seconds after he left here and I couldn't do anything for him. The best I could do was let him leave, with a renewed conviction to try and keep Shawn safe for him. "Stay safe"

Chet clearly was in a rush, as he didn't wish me safety before he walked off. Maybe he thought we didn't need it, or maybe he didn't realise how bad it all was. Either way, I hoped he would be safe.

By the time I turned around, Shawn's dad, Hershel, had already shown up. A grizzled farmer look was clear on his face, green overalls protecting everything on his body, just leaving his snow white hair and beard stand out. Even had I not known they were related, I'd like to think I would have still recognised the family resemblance between the two men.

"Thank god you're okay" Hershel said honestly, relief completely seeping from his voice as he walked forward to his son. His son was clearly more the hugger, as Shawn was the first one to try and hug him. I tried not to laugh, but I did let out a little chuckle which caught Hershel's attention, noticing me a lot earlier than I had hoped.

"I thought it'd be bad here too" Shawn admitted while he was hugging his dad, quickly letting go for his dad to explain how it had been for him.

"Been quiet as usual past couple o' days" Hershel told him, his country accent loud and clear. "Old Breckon down the road thinks his mare's gone lame, but that ain't nothing new"

Almost instantly afterwards he turned to look at both me and Clementine, his hands quickly finding a place on his hips as he looked over us both. I tried to find the courage to walk a bit more forward to talk to him, but I was still a little bit intimidated by him. You try having a crush on the man's son and then suddenly have his judgmental look directed towards you.

"You've brought a couple o' guests" Hershel said simply, his tone mainly being a little bit surprised. I was a little surprised too by how different his tone was from the game, it not being as judgmental as I was used to it being. Was it because I didn't look as intimidating as Lee does?

"Your boy's a life saver" I spoke honestly, smiling fondly at Shawn before looking back to Hershel.

"Is that so?" Hershel asked me, which I once again had to stop myself from widening my eyes at. It was clearly different in tone from the game, with Hershel even directing a side glance at his own son who had a similar smile to mine on his face. It surprised me so much so that I almost forget that he had actually asked me a question.

"Yes, really" I told him, a little bit more forceful in my assurance. There clearly was something a bit off sounding in my response, likely sounding like surprise. I just hoped he thought it was because I didn't expect the question rather than anything else.

"So it's just you and you sister then?" Hershel asked me, to which I nearly rolled my eyes at. Good to see that blindness runs in the Greene family.

"Oh, she's not her sister" Shawn spoke up for me, drawing Hershel's attention away from me for a second. "Primrose said she found her alone and didn't want to leave her behind. I know that I'd do the same"

"...Shawn, how about you run in and check on your sister" Hershel quickly made up some sort of excuse to lose his son, despite his tone seemingly saying that his sister was perfectly fine. Despite this, Shawn left anyway to do as his dad asked of him. "Young lady, take a seat on the porch please, I want to speak with you"

I pointed at myself to ask if he was referring to me, as technically he could have been talking to Clementine. He nodded his head at my gesture, and I was even more confused. I wasn't injured, but that was why Lee had to go the porch...

Either way, I made myself move over to the bench that's set up on the porch, smiling softly at Clementine who followed me there. She looked about as nervous as I felt when Hershel sat next to me, but I just tried my best to relax.

"What'd you say that your name was?" He asked me softly, his tone a lot less accusatory than it had been for Lee. Now that I think about it, he didn't even feel the need to ask if Clementine knew who I was before, which he certainly did do with Lee.

"It's Primrose" I easily answered him, and he smiled at the fact that I trusted him with my name.

"Nice to meet you Primrose, my name's Hershel Greene" He returned my pleasantries, and I smiled honestly at him. He actually seemed to be very nice.

"Pleasure's all mine" I said in return, taking note of how his eyebrows raised in what seemed to be pleasant surprise. Soon however, he directed his gaze over to Clementine, who just seemed to shirk away under his gaze.

"How did you find the girl?"

"I ran from the walkers in my neighbourhood, to end up hiding behind her house" I made up the most believable lie I could, it being the same one I had told Lee when I was standing under Clementine's treehouse. He raised an eyebrow at the name I gave the undead, but obviously he didn't seem to find it important enough to ask me why I called them that. "When I found her alone, I knew I couldn't simply leave her there"

He nodded his head slowly at my answer, before seeming to look through the door to his house. It almost seemed like he was expecting someone to come back, or to simply make sure nobody was coming. Was he looking for Shawn?

"My son seems awful fond of you" Hershel finally said to me, when he was sure his son wasn't anywhere nearby. I nearly choked on my own spit at the idea, a deep red beginning to spread over my cheeks. The guy I had a crush on liked me?

"You think so?" I asked him softly, my voice so quiet he had to lean a little closer to hear me. He apparently took my quiet words as a bad sign, as he sighed softly.

"If you are gonna let him down, let him down gently will you?" He asked of me, nearly making my head snap up in surprise. "It's been a while since he's had a crush before and I don't want to see him get heartbroken"

"Wait, how old is he?" I asked him, suddenly realising that I didn't even know how old he was. It certainly would be awkward if he ended up being twice my age or underage.

"I believe he's twenty three now" Hershel told me, his eyes looking at my face to gauge my reaction. Almost as if he could tell why I had asked that, a cheeky smile started to appear on his lips. "How do you feel about him?"

"I... I like him too, very much" I admitted to Hershel, almost wanting to hide my face in my hands with how hot it felt.

"It would seem that you are also fond of him" Hershel chuckled, looking very happy with himself. "Just to make sure of somethin', how old are ya?"

"Twenty-one"

"You certainly don't seem like it" Hershel admitted to me, explaining further when I looked at him confused. "You act much older"

"Ah"

Hershel suddenly looked over to Clementine, who had inched herself closer to the both of us until Hershel looked at her.

"I didn't catch your name darlin'"

"Clem-Clementine" Clementine introduced herself a little shakily, but I smiled softly at her to show I was proud of her.

Luckily for me, we were done talking by the time Shawn came back, who just sent a smile my way without realising what we had just talked about. I just smiled back at him, trying my best to ignore both the red in my cheeks and Hershel chuckling right next to me.

"Hey dad, I was thinking, we should reinforce the fence around the farm tomorrow" Shawn suggested to his father, which made Hershel frown slightly. Oh no, I knew where this was going.

"That doesn't seem necessary" Hershel waved off Shawn's concern with a simple wave of the hand, which only makes his son press the issue further with a small frown on his face.

"I don't know what you saw on the TV or heard on the radio, but there is some real..." Shawn tried to say without swearing, whispering the next part because of Clementine being near. "...Shit hitting the fan"

"Language" I tell him without really meaning to be rude, to which Clementine approved with a small smile. Hershel found it also funny, but that's not important. "But in all seriousness, Shawn is right. You really need to make this place safe for your family"

"Stuff like that doesn't happen around here" Hershel sighed, not really liking the idea from either of us.

"Dad, come on! I'm serious!" Shawn tried to explain in an exasperated tone to his dad, soon raising his head to look over to me. Hershel followed his eyes over to me as well, hoping for an explanation. "Primrose, you saw those things right? Tell him what you saw"

"These things, whatever you want to call them, they are nothing you have ever seen. Some will walk around with whatever of them hasn't been eaten by other dead. Legs cut off, arms missing, some being disembowelled while they were still alive and they can kill a grown man within seconds" I gravely told him, emphasizing each part of my story to make him listen, but I could see that he still didn't believe me just yet. I sighed and closed my eyes, not wanting to have to bring up Lee's death to push him over the edge... but I knew I had to. "I was with a man I really cared about when we stumbled onto Clementine's house. His name was Lee, and he is... was... a good man, the best man I have ever known. Hershel listen to me, alright? I had to watch him die because I made a stupid mistake. I ran away from one of those things and I didn't help him because I thought he'd be fine because he's a big hunk of muscle and... You know how long it took? Two seconds. Two seconds and he was..."

I couldn't finish my sentence, clutching onto my arm with a deadly grip to stop myself from crying. I could feel a gentle hand on my arm, and I opened my eyes to see that Clementine had placed it there to help me, a soft looks in her eyes. I tried my best, but I couldn't stop a single tear from slipping out of my eyes. Even now, I couldn't accept that he... that Lee was dead.

"...Alright" Hershel finally promised us both after the silence seemed to clear. I looked up to him, wiping the one tear away with the back of my hand while Shawn seemed relieved. "I believe you both. We'll work on the fence tomorrow"

"Thank you dad" Shawn spoke from the heart, obviously speaking for both of us.

"But you better not just leave it all to me" Hershel half-heartedly told his son off to lighten the mood, turning to me after his son laughed a little. "I've got the house full up with my family, but you're welcome to stay in the barn. We've got plenty of blankets and such"

"I'll help her find them" Shawn immediately offered to help, to which Hershel seemed to agree.

"Yeah, you might want to find one for yourself as well" Hershel told his son simply, who just seemed completely surprised. "While you were gone, I loaned out your bed to someone, so there is no room for you in the house either"

Shawn looked a little miffed, but didn't end up throwing a fuss over it. He likely didn't want to sound ungrateful after what his dad had just promised him about the fence.

"Oh, and Shawn?" Hershel stopped his son before he could help me up from the bench, who just looked at him, confused on what else he might want. "If you do touch each other in the night, use protection alright?"

Shawn's entire face seemed to turn a bright red, his face obviously showing that he felt betrayed and embarrassed by his dad. Hershel just laughed as he left the three of us, leaving both me and Shawn completely red faced. Clementine looked between the both of us, not getting the joke at all.

"What's wrong?" She asked me, and I just shook my head.

"Nothing Clementine, nothing" I assured her, coughing awkwardly as I stood up from the bench. "We should, you know, get the blankets and such"

"Yeah, you two can already head to the barn" Shawn offered for the both of us, and I readily took him up on the offer, already starting to walk towards the barn with Clementine. I felt tired enough as it was, so I didn't really want to stumble around in the dark for things that Shawn could just as easily get.

As I waited in the barn for Shawn, I noticed a trio huddled together at one side of the barn. All of them looked clearly familiar, one with his handlebar moustache and mullet, the young boy with dark brown hair and orange jacket, and his mother with the blonde hair.

But I knew who they were and that they were safe sleeping there, so I let them be with a smile on my face, just standing beside Clementine. Shawn didn't keep us waiting long, coming down with two bundles tucked under his arms. ...Wait, two?

"I was sure we had more blankets" Shawn said confused, handing one of the blankets to me for me to unfurl. As much as my face tried to light up again, I just thought about other possibilities to avoid more awkward interactions.

"Oh, uh, I'm sure me and Clementine can share one" I said quickly, but I soon realised afterwards that Clementine was looking at me in an apologetic manner. "What's up Clem?"

"I like my space" Clementine explained loosely, which made both me and Shawn pause. "Sorry, I just mean... I kinda kick. It's bad for sleeping"

"I might be able to find some kind of hay bale to sleep on..." I tried to come up with something else, already looking around for a bale of hay to sleep on. I didn't spot anything straight away, and Shawn just softly shook his head.

"We aren't getting new hay until tomorrow" Shawn told me, frowning slightly. "Besides, wouldn't you sleep very badly like that?"

I racked my brain for a different solution to the predicament. I mean, it shouldn't be all that hard for Pete's sake. It certainly should be a lot easier than trying to outsmart walkers at every moment. Oh my god Primrose, get it together.

"Maybe we could sleep back to back?" I suggested as a last attempt, looking over to Shawn as I suggested it to him. He rubbed his chin as he thought it over, and he nodded his head after a little while.

"That... probably would work"

In the end, I slept on the left side of the blankets so I still had my eye on Clementine, while Shawn was on the right. I quickly settled myself, trying to relax and go to sleep. I could feel the warmth of his back pressed against mine, and it helped to reassure me that he was still here, that he was still safe.

Some part of me was worried that falling asleep in the dream would make me wake up in the real world, leaving this all behind. I just took a deep breath in, and tried to reassure myself that it would be fine. I allowed Shawn's gentle heartbeat lull me into a sense of security and serenity, soon finding it a lot easier to drift off to sleep.

It felt a little odd falling asleep in a dream, like I was somehow going from one dream state to another. The only thing that seemed to be weirder, was the fact that none of this felt like a dream...

Chapter Text

I got woken up by sunlight streaming through the open barn doors, effectively serving as an unwanted alarm clock despite the warmth of it all. Just as I was thinking to myself about how it was too warm on the blankets, I felt movement from my back, which left me with a cold patch when Shawn sat up beside me.

"Hey, you awake Primrose?" I could hear Shawn gently ask me, a warm hand in contact with one of my shoulders.

"Yeah..." I groggily replied, trying to cover my eyes to block out the sunlight. He chuckled at my mannerisms, and I could almost feel the warmth spread across my cheeks at the idea of him chuckling at me.

"I'll let you sleep for a moment longer" He said to me, his tone still very lighthearted towards me. I could soon feel the warm hand leave my shoulder and I nearly whined at the loss of heat from that one as well. I could feel him stand up and leave the security of the blanket, leaving me alone on it. "I need to go find my dad for a moment"

"Sure..." I replied, still hearing the grogginess in my own voice. I could only really hear his footsteps start to trudge away from me, heading off towards the house and out of the barn. Once he was completely gone, I could hear shuffling in the blanket across from me, which made me think that Clementine was awake. "G'morning Clementine"

Despite my garbled words, she still seemed to understand it. She yawned slowly, quietly stretching in the blanket before she returned my morning wishes.

"Good morning" She wished me a good morning as well, her own voice having some notes of sleepiness as well. "Sorry about not letting you sleep in the same blanket as me"

"That's alright" I chuckled, finally managing to open my eyes. She looked like she had gotten a good sleep, and that just reaffirmed my decision to sleep in the same one as Shawn last night. I gave her a smile to show I had slept just as good as her, and it was returned in kind. "To be honest, it's kind of embarrassing to admit, but I... I think I actually slept better next to him..."

Clementine could only giggle at the admission, stopping shortly afterwards when a pair of footsteps made their way to the both of us. I turned my head immediately, already expecting who it was with ease. Just like I had expected, Kenny stood over me, his bristly moustache and mullet both still both having the dark tones of brown flowing through them. Unlike the future seasons that had him in them, there wasn't a single hint of grey in his hair, the only sign of age on his face being some laugh lines around his mouth and eyes. Combining that all with the fact that he had that gentle glow in his brown eyes, all just reminded me of why I fell in love with him as well.

"Hey, get up sunshine" He greeted me, almost making me blink and stare at him with the tone he took with me. It was so different from the one he ends up taking with Lee, someone who frankly he treats nicely until Lee possibly crosses him. His tone with Lee was so matter of fact, so simple in contrast to this... almost cheeky tone.

"I'm itchy" Clementine mumbled, rubbing one of her arms a little from the hay that she had partially slept on. I took the opportunity to sit up and finally stretch out my arms, almost perfectly anticipating Kenny's response to her remark.

"Well you slept in a barn little lady, lucky you don't have spiders in your hair" Kenny teased her, to which Clementine uttered a small gasp, staring up at her hair in shock. Kenny and me both giggled and chuckled at her response respectively, which made Clementine catch onto the fact that he was just kidding. "But I bet your pretty big sis' scared them all away, huh?"

Once again, I was taken aback with the sudden tone in his voice changing, an almost flirtatious tone to it all. It was like some weird kind of messed up fantasy of mine for him to flirt with me in the past, but I also knew that he was supposed to be married to Katjaa. I was stuck in a feeling of elation and utter confusion, enough for my cheeks to light on fire as he cast his eyes towards me.

Heck, I was even so surprised that I completely forgot to be mad at him for thinking I was Clementine's big sister.

"I, uh... I'm not her sister. But I do appreciate the compliment" I managed to get out of my mouth without sounding like a complete fool, even being able to hide any hint that I was affected by his words. "I'm Primrose"

"Primrose, huh? Pretty name for a pretty girl" Kenny continued dishing out the compliments, which seemed to keep having an effect on the colour spreading across my cheeks, if the pleased grin on his face was anything to go by. "I'm Kenny"

There was no doubt now, he was definitely flirting with me. I nearly broke character and was about to ask him what on earth happened between him and Katjaa, before we both got interrupted by Duck peering his head around the door of the barn.

"Kenny, we're gonna build a fence! There's a tractor and everything!" Duck excitedly shouted, his bright brown eyes shining as bright as any ten year old could have in the times ahead. It's a good thing he came along too, as otherwise Kenny might have noticed-

Wait, did Duck just call Kenny by his name? In the game there wasn't a doubt that he comes around and says 'Dad' before running off.

"We better get goin', or we won't hear the end of it" Kenny laughed to both of us, already beginning to walk out of the barn. Despite my confusion on everything, I followed behind him with a small hand signal for Clementine to follow us. "That's Katjaa's boy, Ken Junior. We call him Duck though"

Just another thing that wasn't the same as the original. He clearly states normally that Duck is 'His boy', and this response was just as misleading as the rest had been. There were so many things I had actually wanted to say to Kenny now that I had the chance to honestly just speak with him, but I accidentally defaulted back to a common response in the game simply because I was so flustered.

"Dodging or Quacking?" I asked him, not able to hide the massive grin on my face as I saw him smile at my question.

"Quacking"

"KENNY!!" Duck yelled out to the three of us, clearly under the impression that we were taking too long for his liking. Regardless of my confusion on the changes, I couldn't help but chuckle out loud with Kenny as we finally arrived at the two other people.

"We're heading down to Fort Lauderdale by the way" Kenny brought up the discussion as his pick-up truck came into view, nodding his head towards it just to further indicate what he was talking about. "You heading anywhere in that direction?"

"Macon, I know a couple of people from there" I half lied to him, unconsciously holding onto Clementine's hand as I kept thinking of how to stay in character. Technically I wasn't lying, as I did know people that lived in Macon, Lee being one of the major examples. They just didn't know who I was, that's all.

"Good" Kenny approved of the plan already, nodding his head with a smile. "Macon's on the way, and I honestly wouldn't mind having you two along"

"I'll just have to make sure that Clementine wants to go there as well" I told him, indicating to the smaller girl half hiding behind me at the strangers. "Have to make sure to keep in touch with the women in your life"

"Of course, communication's important" He affirmed, a smirk crossing his lips at the mention of women in people's lives. I almost felt dirty with Katjaa being right behind him, but I tried to play it off as if it was nothing by just chuckling and ignoring the heat in my cheeks. "Katjaa, Duck, this is Primrose and... What's the girls name?"

"Clementine" I answered for the smaller girl still hiding behind me, and Kenny repeated the same name but in a bit of a louder tone for Katjaa and Duck to better hear him. Katjaa smiled softly at Clementine behind me, trying to gently coax her out from behind my hip.

"That is a very pretty name" Katjaa complimented her, her voice almost exuding motherly warmth in her tone. Both that and her gentle smile made Clementine smile back and quietly thank her for the compliment.

Before any more conversation could be started between the five of us, we quieted down as Shawn came walking over to us. He regarded me with a small smile, which I returned before his attention got mainly focused on all of us.

"Well, we've all seen what those things can do, so we better get to work" Shawn obviously was referring to the walkers, his smile sort of losing it's shine for a moment as he was reminded of them, but he seemed to replace it pretty easily to not scare either one of the children. "The faster we get this fence built, the better"

"I wanna build a fence!" Duck said excitedly, which I just chuckled at. Both Kenny and Shawn seemed to agree, them laughing shortly after I had begun.

"Yeah? Well, I need a good foreman" Shawn immediately offered to him, which made my smile fall straight off my face. That tractor, oh god I had yet to think of a proper plan to make sure his leg wouldn't get run over. "You can sit on the tractor and yell at me whenever I take a water break"

"On the tractor? Cool!" Duck agreed with the idea quite happily, even more so when a quick glance to his mother told him that he was allowed to do so. Shawn told the rest of us that the two of them would 'hop to it' despite it being quite clear that it would just be him doing all the work on the other side of the house.

As everyone else went off to do their own thing, Kenny going off to work on his truck while Clementine went to go and talk to Katjaa, I was stuck standing there as Shawn and Duck went and turned the corner. I found my hand unconsciously trying to grab his shoulder, but my hesitation wound up with me just pawing my hand in the air where he stood just a moment before. Would he even have believed me if I told him that the tractor was a death trap?

I racked my mind for an idea of what I was supposed to do beyond telling him. Unless I had definite proof of what was going to happen, then there was no way it was going to have any effect on changing his mind about fixing the fence. In fact, the only thing that might happen was that they would consider me crazy or schizophrenic.

I sighed for a moment, turning my head to look at Kenny. He was still tinkering away inside the main engine of his truck, a concentrated look on his face as he tightened a specific bolt. If I talked to him, was there maybe a chance that I could convince him to help me push the tractor off Shawn's leg once Duck was safe?

Besides, I was still just plain curious about how he kept referring to Duck without mentioning that he was his son.

"Hey Kenny" I greeted him as I neared him, seeing his head lift up enough to smile at me. He gave me a similar greeting to mine, short enough to not waste time but not too short so it seemed like he was annoyed with my presence. I couldn't help but take a small glance back over to Katjaa behind me before I found the most courage I had to ask the first awkward question. "So... Is Katjaa your wife?"

"Katjaa?" He asked me, also looking over to my shoulder to look at said woman. Katjaa or Clementine must have waved at him, as he waved over my shoulder to one of them. "Nah, she's a good friend of mine from a long time ago. I keep in close touch to be something like a father figure to Duck though"

"Wait, so Duck isn't your son?" I asked him, not really able to hide the shock in my voice. First he told me that he wasn't married to Katjaa and now he says that he actually isn't the father of the child literally called Ken Junior. This was going so far out of the norms of the game that I wondered if I actually needed to go and save Shawn anymore.

"He looks a little like me, don't he? But no, he isn't" Kenny smiled, chuckling a little at the idea of how similar he looked to Duck. "Katjaa insisted on naming him after me"

"What happened to the, uh..." I began to ask him, only really trailing off near the end once I realised I wasn't sure how to word it without possibly being rude. Luckily for me, Kenny seemed to know what I was trying to say.

"The actual father? Bailed on Katjaa once he realised that she was pregnant, can you believe it?" Kenny said, frowning intently with the idea. It certainly was a rude thing to do, but for some reason my mind was completely stuck on one aspect of what he had been talking about.

"So you're single?" I asked him aloud without meaning to, only realising that it had actually been said by me when his frown turned into a cheeky smirk. Oh no.

"You seem awfully interested in my relationship status" He teased me, and I could already feel my cheeks catch on fire with just his stare alone. The words were just causing them even redder, and I had to stop my hands from covering them lest I give away that I was flustered. "Is that the only reason you came here to talk to me?”

“What?! No, I um... I also came to ask something else” I fumbled for an excuse in my brain, already seeing it crash and burn the moment he raised an eyebrow with that ever present smirk on his lips. He destroyed my words with a simple sentence.

“And what might that be?”

...Shit. My brain completely shut down then, grasping at the first thing that popped into my head. Which wouldn’t you know, happened to be one of the normal questions that Lee could ask Kenny in the game.

"How's Duck doing?" I recited the question, only realising it was the stupidest thing I could have asked out of all the questions I could have picked, especially so when a short silence fell over the both of us.

"That wasn't really why you came over here, is it?" He teased me, a short chuckle somewhere in the latter part of his sentence. I already felt like such a failure in terms of lying, so this didn’t really make my prospects look good.

I just decided to end my string of lies there, slumping my shoulders in defeat and sighing softly.

"...No" I admitted to him, to which he just chuckled at again. Glad to see he at least got some form of happiness from my blunder. At least he granted me some peace, taking my earlier question as a serious one and letting my mind restart.

"But, he is a little shocked from what's happened" Kenny mentioned, sounding a little like he was trying to remember something that had happened recently. "Katjaa's got a sister up in Memphis that we were coming back from visiting, when we got to a petrol station, some guy grabbed him"

I gasped softly as he mentioned that part, playing the role I was supposed to. A perfectly normal twenty-one year old girl, who definitely didn’t have any paranormal powers of being transported into dreams. And also someone who definitely couldn’t and wouldn’t literally recite the words out of his own mouth.

"I honestly thought it was someone trying to kidnap him. I was on the fucker-

"Language" I told him off before I realised what I was doing, which made both him and me freeze for a second and look at each other. He just laughed softly once he realised what I had actually said, apologising for his use of words.

"Haha, my bad, my bad. But yeah, I was on the guy in about two seconds flat and... Christ. ‘Just lucky I was there I guess" He continued the story, sighing a little as he recounted the walker he had no doubt encountered. "Anything else you wanna ask?"

"Do you need any help with your truck?" I went for another easy question that was in the original game, mainly to just ignore the fact I had low-key flirted with him earlier.

"Nah, I think I got it" Kenny turned down my offer after he took a quick peek into what he still needed to do, which I berated myself a little for. Honestly, if his answer in the original to the muscly Lee was a ‘No thanks’, then honestly what was I supposed to offer him? "Do you need any help?"

"With what?" I expected the question from him, already thinking about how I was going to respond to him later. I mean, it was obvious he was going to ask about Clementine, right?

"It must be hard for a young girl like yourself to go through things like this" Kenny’s voice dropped a couple of octaves in order to not scare Clementine nearby, his soft brown eyes swimming with concern. It was unexpected to say the least, and it must have shown on my face because he found it necessary to keep talking. "Do you have anyone you can depend on right now?"

"Well, there's Shawn and Clementine" I rattled off the first two names in my head, and I could already spy Kenny frowning slightly at my short list of people.

"...I guess. Just don’t forget, Shawn is most likely not going to come with us" Kenny reminded me, momentarily leaning over the engine of his truck to tinker with it. "And Clementine is young enough that you need to take care of her instead of the other way round"

I fell silent once I realized he was right, racking my brain to find something else. While I certainly would be able to keep Clementine around, I was devoid of any real accomplices from this farm on out.

What if this in altered world, Kenny had enough gasoline to just keep going on after he dropped me off in Macon? What if the group staying in the drugstore isn’t there then? Would I just have to run through an entire town (Which I fibbed about knowing well), getting myself hopelessly lost until I got myself and Clementine killed?...

"...Look, depending on how Macon is, maybe you and Clementine could come with us down to Fort Lauderdale" Kenny gently offered once he saw the distraught look on my face, making my head lift up to look him in the eyes once more. “There’s no way I’m just leaving you two in a town unless I’m certain you both will be safe”

"I... Thank you” I genuinely thanked him, doing my best to show a positive smile to him. It seemed to have worked, as he smiled softly back at me. “I guess I should let you get back to your work for now”

“Ugh, if you must” Kenny joked with me as I turned around, and I could tell he was happy when I let out a hearty laugh. I didn’t go far from him however, moving closer to some new hay bales that had Katia and Clementine perched on them.

"Hello ladies" I greeted them both just as Lee would, but as usual in this dream, the response people gave me was far from the norm.

"Hello Primrose" Katjaa cheekily greeted me, her voice full of honey but also with that same amount of parental teasing for it to be a deadly combo. "Did you enjoy talking to Kenny about whether or not he was available?"

"Wha-

"You two weren't that far away, we could easily hear you" Katjaa continued, cutting off my attempts to lie or weasel my way out of the discussion. Oh my god, I can see where Kenny or Duck might have gotten it from. "I suppose it would be good for him to find someone to brighten him up a little"

Clementine giggled at my blushing cheeks, a warm smile on her face as she peered around my body to look at Kenny. Oh god was he listening, I bet he was.

"You two should kiss!" Clementine suggested, which immediately garnered a reaction from both adults around me. Katjaa just gently snickered under her breath, while Kenny just burst into laughter directly behind me. Yup, he was listening.

"I, uh... I'm going to check up on Duck and Shawn" I hurriedly made up another excuse as I power walked away from the three of them, the sound of Kenny’s happy laughter still following me around even as I turned the corner of the house. I did manage to catch the last teasing remark from Katjaa however.

"You do that"

Now much safer from people suggesting that I kiss a man, I looked ahead to find both boys hard at work. And by hard at work, I mean that Shawn was working hard on the fence, while Duck was bouncing up and down in the seat of the tractor. I waved towards the excited boy, getting a excited wave in return. I did look a little worried as he fiddled with a random lever, almost feeling the urge to just pull him off the tractor itself due to the danger of it roaring to life.

...I was a sixty kilogram female with little to no muscle whatsoever, mainly because I spent all my time staying inside and playing games. How on earth was I going to push a heavy tractor off a grown mans leg?

"Hey Primrose, come to join us on the dark side?” Shawn joked with me once he saw me behind him, which was enough for me to return my attention to him. Maybe if I just got him to talk to me, he’d be more aware of the tractor when it turns on?

"Hey Shawn” I greeted him with the most positive attitude I could muster, hiding my fear and uncertainty behind it. “Is that comment simply because there is shade on this side of the house, or is it a reference to a movie?”

“It’s a reference to Star Wars obviously” Shawn laughed, rolling his eyes as though it couldn’t be anything else. Before either of us could continue with our bad jokes and movie references, Duck suddenly piped up with a suggestion, distracting us both.

"Primrose! You should kiss Shawn!"

...What's with kids these days and kissing?

"What? Why?" I asked him, trying to push most of the embarrassment off me by laughing, rubbing one of my cheeks in what I thought was a subtle way of hiding my blush.

"Cause Shawn likes you!" Duck answered simply, to which Shawn hurriedly shushed him by putting a finger on his lips and loudly making a hushing noise. Only then did Duck seem to catch on that it apparently was supposed to be secret, closing his mouth and suddenly finding the tractor a lot more interesting than the both of us.

"...So, uh, what was it you come to talk to me about?" Shawn tried to change the subject, laughing a little as he rubbed the back of his neck. It seemed like I wasn't the only one who blushed easily, as I could see the red spreading across his cheeks as well. If anything, that made me feel a little better.

"Did you speak to your father this morning?" I took his change of subject easily, and he laughed a little more when he recalled what he had exactly asked his father.

"Yeah, turns out that my bed wasn't occupied" Shawn explained, scratching the back of his head as he looked anywhere but my face in embarrassment. "And he hid the darn extra blankets"

"Sneaky" I teased him a little, chuckling a little as he laughed with me. "One would almost think that he was trying to set us up together"

"It would seem like it, right?" Shawn kept talking, obviously finding it better to keep talking than dwell in silence. But even as he kept speaking, my attention was suddenly drawn back over to Duck.

He was fiddling with the same lever as he had before, one that seemed to look a little like it controlled some sort of hand brake on the tractor itself. Unlike before, it seemed to clunk down into an open position, which startled me greatly.

I hadn't counted the extra time I had taken to talk to Kenny and Katjaa, which sped up the actual process of when the tractor would come on. I didn't have the luxury of sneaking away to talk to Hershel like Lee did, Duck's hand reaching for some sort of key in what I assumed to be the ignition.

I just managed to hook my fingers into Shawn's white cotton shirt as the tractor roared to life.

Chapter Text

Both me and Shawn crashed to the ground when I pulled him towards me, the both of us just barely missing the tractor as it charged past us. My head reeled for a moment as I smacked it against the ground, with me groaning heavily from the pain.

"Oh my god! Primrose, are you alright?" Shawn hurriedly asked me, one of his hands tenderly touching the back of my head as he hovered over me. Despite the flinch of pain I inadvertently gave, I nodded my head.

As I cleared my head, I opened my eyes to make sure Duck was fine as well. He did seem to be, him still perfectly perched on top of the tractor, him only being frightened from turning on the tractor and nearly running the both of us over. Thank goodness, nobody actually seemed to be hurt.

"You saved me" Shawn seemed to catch onto what happened a bit slower than me, his voice almost breathless when he realised how close we had come to getting run over. "I don't know if you saved my life, but you certainly saved me"

"Yeah..." I agreed with him, my own minding sort of reeling from what had just happened. I had done it, I had actually managed to keep someone safe who died in the original game. It was... a little hard to process at that point.

Right as I was about to ask Duck to get down from the tractor, did everyone else come racing around both corners of the house. Hershel came a couple of seconds later than the others, carrying his rifle in his hands protectively.

"What happened over here? Is everyone alright?" Hershel managed to ask before anyone else, Kenny and Clementine both moving forward to me to possibly hear my answer before anything else. Shawn managed to beat me to it, my own brain still slowly trying to recover from the knock to the head I had received.

"Yeah, everyone's alright" Shawn answered for all three of us that had been involved, both me and Duck still reeling a little from what had happened. "The tractor suddenly came on, but Primrose pulled us both out of the way in time"

Several people let out a breath of relief, Hershel especially included.

"Good, that's good" Hershel said, obviously relieved. Right as he lowered the rifle in his hands, a familiar noise rang out from just outside the fence, a low menacing growl that was steadily coming closer.

"Duck!" I called out to the boy, noticing his head turn to look at me, but him still being too forgetful to actually get off the tractor. The walker directly behind him grabbed him hard by the shoulders, almost pulling him directly off the tractor seat as he screamed in fright.

I wasn't the only one to spring into action, both Kenny and Shawn charging forwards at almost the exact same time as me to help Duck. I could spy Hershel lifting his rifle, but the moment the rest of us got in the way, he lowered it back down just in case he accidentally shot one of us.

I knew I likely wouldn't be strong enough to punch a walker off of Duck, so I just scrambled onto the tractor with Duck, wrapping my arms around him and pulling my entire weight against the strength of the walker. While I did that, Kenny ran forward and punched the walker directly in its eye, which made it lose its grip on Duck. Shawn, while arriving a little late to the party compared to me and Kenny, managed to pull Kenny back from the fence, the both of them narrowly avoiding the grabbing hands of a different walker that had snuck up in the meantime.

The four of us hurriedly backed away from the fence and the tractor, looking on at the three walkers that had shown up and were trying to break down the fence.

"Move!" Hershel ordered us out the way, and we all scrambled off to the side right as he fired his first shot. It nailed the first walker directly in the head, but the remaining two managed to break down the fence in the meantime. I wondered for a moment if I would have to run and grab a weapon, but Hershel smoothly took care of the other two walkers, leaving us in relative silence beyond the noise of the running tractor.

Once I was certain we were well and truly safe now, I finally let Duck go from my tight grip, allowing him to run back into his mother's arms. In replacement, Clementine ran over to me and hugged me tight, with my hand petting her head softly to calm the both of us down. I cast a glance to either man who helped me out, seeing them try and come down from their adrenaline high just like I was. I quickly smiled to either of them to show I was fine, and I managed to get a soft similar smile from both of them.

Hershel was the first to break the silence, walking over to the six of us with a slightly shell-shocked look.

"You two were right" Hershel conceded to both me and Shawn, but neither of us particularly felt like we had 'won' an argument. "This place is nowhere near as safe as I thought it was... So you guys might want to hurry to your own homes and take care of your loved ones"

...Which meant I had to leave with Kenny and the others to Macon. Right as I had managed to save Shawn, it seemed almost like the dream couldn't wait to get rid of me.

I raised my eyes to the sky in an attempt to distract myself from this news, and I noticed something odd going on with the sky above me. It was like some god had skipped a stone over water, the sky rippling this way and that in a strange manner, before it seemed to return to normal. Except now instead of a completely clear sky, there were small tufts of white cloud hanging around in the sky. I looked back down at the others to see if any of them had noticed it at all, but they all seemed to be saying their goodbye's to Shawn and Hershel. None of them had seen it... so was I imagining it?

"Dad, before they go, can I quickly have a word?" Shawn's words seemed to stick in my mind much than anyone else's, and I got even more curious when I noticed the serious look exchanged by both men. I only really got distracted by Clementine tugging on my wrist, her clearly wanting to speak to me.

"What are we doing?" Clementine asked me, looking a little worried with the idea of going too far from Atlanta.

"I think we should go with Kenny and the others down to Macon" I told her truthfully, tapping my chin as I thought of a couple of other reasons for why she might like the idea. "It's safer there, and it's not that far away from Atlanta. Not to mention it is in the right direction towards Savannah, where your parents were staying, right?"

"...Did I tell you that?" Clementine asked me, looking a little confused on me knowing where her parents were. I looked confused down at her, until it faintly jogged in my memory the final clue. In this dream she didn't tell me that her parents were in Savannah, because I hadn't asked her then where her parents were.

"No, but I figured as much from the answering machine in your house" I quickly made up a lie, digging as deep as I could into my memory of this game for any potential clues. "Your mum mentioned that she was still in Savannah on one of those messages"

"Ooh, okay" Clementine seemed to accept that reasoning, and I thanked my lucky stars it sounded believable to her at least.

"What do you mean you want to go with them?!" Both me and Clementine could hear Hershel shout out in surprise, us both stopping our discussion for a moment in confusion. Clementine turned her head to me for a moment, her eyes showing she wasn't sure about something.

"We shouldn't eavesdrop" She said softly, before I patted the top of her head in an almost cheeky manner.

"It's not called eavesdropping, it's strategic listening" I chuckled softly, seeing her eyes light up with that childlike innocence, her quietly hushing me with a single finger. That's my girl.

"She saved my life dad" Shawn argued his case not too far away from me, both him and Hershel clearly too wrapped up in their discussion to notice either of us. "Plus, you heard Kenny. He's heading to Fort Lauderdale, not Macon"

"He's dropping them off there"

"Sure, but he's not likely going to stay there for that long" Shawn sighed softly, obviously sounding unsure about leaving me under Kenny's charge. "...What if it's so much worse down there than it is here? I can't let the two of them go on their own"

"Something tells me that's not the only reason you want to go with them" Hershel said, and I could have sworn I could literally tell from his tone that he was raising an eyebrow at his son.

"I... Yeah, I guess that's true" Shawn admitted with a soft laugh, sighing a little as he gathered his courage to admit what he thought. "I... I think I like her, a lot. I just want her to be safe dad"

"I sure hope that you're talking about Primrose"

"DAD!"

"I'm just yanking your chain" Hershel laughed heartily, his laughter almost drowning out because of the splutters and protests from Shawn. Eventually they both managed to calm themselves down, leaving a slightly tense atmosphere behind after they were done. Hershel seemed to give in first, sighing heavily before speaking up again. "It's not my decision to make Shawn, you're a grown man who can make his own decisions. But do promise me you will do your best to stay safe if you do go"

"Of course" Shawn admitted easily, and I decided to beat a hasty retreat at that moment. Clementine seemed a little surprised when I tugged her along to the truck, but she didn't make all that much fuss about it. Their conversation seemed to be mostly over anyway.

"So, we ready to go?" Kenny double checked with both of us as we neared him, and I nodded my head. I didn't have much on me after all, and Clementine had the same amount. Just a walkie-talkie was perched on my skirt and Clementine had attached hers onto the other side of my skirt, which was all we had.

Before Kenny could usher us both into the truck and leave, I could distinctly hear the padded footsteps of shoes on grass making their way over to us. My excitement made me already look behind me, especially after I noted a distinctly confused look from Kenny directed to whoever was behind me.

"I hope there's room for one more" Shawn happily told us, and I swear I had to fight my urge to jump up and down on the spot. Kenny, however, was far less impressed.

"...I thought your family was here?" Kenny seemed to ask him, waving Clementine forward to put her in the truck even as he spoke. He seemed to find a spot next to Duck in the back seat of his truck, and gently told her to buckle herself in.

"They are, but..." Shawn got distracted for a moment as he looked at me, before continuing with his conversation. Even if I hadn't managed to overhear the conversation he and his father had, it was very obvious what he was unconsciously saying. "...I have a good reason to come to Macon as well"

"...We have room in the back-bed of the truck" Kenny seemed to reluctantly say, almost as if he still didn't seem to gel well with the idea. Shawn seemed to somehow miss this hesitation from Kenny however, happily climbing into the back of the truck with a cheerful thanks directed towards Kenny. I just giggled at the heavy sigh from Kenny, and followed him towards the truck myself.

"Seeing as Katjaa's already in the back seat with the kids, that means you get to ride shotgun" Kenny offered to me, opening the door to the seat he had mentioned. I giggled once again at the kind of old fashioned gentlemanly manner he presented, curtsying for a brief second before clambering up the steps into the seat.

"Why thank you, good sir" I cheekily addressed him, before buckling myself into the seat. I could hear snippets of laughter from Katjaa and Clementine behind me, and something that sounded like a booing noise from Duck. Oh yeah, that's right, Duck was firmly in the Shawn camp in terms of kissing. All three of them managed to quiet down when Kenny joined us on the driver’s side of things.

"Alright, let's make some tracks" He gruffly said, turning the engine on until the purring sound of engine shook the entire vehicle. "The sooner we get somewhere safer, the better I'll feel"


 

Two hours passed by since we had begun driving, and I honestly felt like I was going to drift off to sleep in the seat next to Kenny. We hadn't seen anything on the way down the highway Kenny had chosen, no walkers and most definitely no people. Duck and Clementine had begun a game of I-Spy for a little while down the road, but it seemed as if they too were too bored with continuing that one on when the only thing around was road or grass.

"You alright there? You look like you're about to get real acquainted with the window" Kenny roused me from my half asleep state, and I lifted my half squished face off of the cool window surface.

"Sorry, sorry" I apologised for some reason, despite the fact that I had literally done nothing wrong. Kenny seemed to at least find it funny, chuckling a little to himself.

The game hadn't honestly prepared me for this, all the times in between the actual events of the chapters. All the time skips, sometimes ranging from hours, days, weeks... hell, there was a portion of the game in the sequels that skipped literal years between chapters. I guess some part of me had believed that this dream would skip over those unessential parts as well, but so far everything had felt so close to real time.

Just as the thought of this all being a dream popped by in my head, I pinched another portion of skin under my fingers to test the validity of that claim. I twisted the skin a lot harder this time, not that afraid of really being able to force myself out of this dream after everything that had happened. Just like the first time, my skin stung so brightly as it would in real life...

"You look bored" Kenny stated plainly, his eyes glancing from the road into the rear view mirror for a brief second to look at his other passengers. "Seems like the others feel the same way, everyone is asleep besides Shawn out back"

"Considering how he could fall out of the truck if he did, that's probably a good reason not to" I laughed a little as I thought about it, looking out of the window once more to see if I could find anything interesting. Still nothing, just barren dry grass that had gone yellow from the lack of rain. "Sorry if I'm not a good partner to ride with, I guess I just... thought America would look more beautiful than this"

"Hah, nah. These stretches of highway can be the most boring thing you've ever seen" Kenny seemed to agree with me on the fact it was boring, waving one of his hands in the air for a moment before returning it to the steering wheel. Almost as if my words had only just begun to make sense to him, he came to the realisation of one of the things I had mentioned. "You're not from America?"

"...No, I'm not" I confided in him the truth for the first time we had talked about me and who I was. I knew I would be safe if he had questioned me about how I knew people in Macon due to the specific words I had chosen at the time, but for some reason I was tired of continually spinning lies to not seem out of place. I just wanted to speak honestly for once and who else than Kenny, the man who I trusted with my life (Both in game and in real life) to tell it to. "I'm actually from Britain"

"That explains the lack of an American accent" Kenny chuckled again to himself, sparing one more glance to the passengers in the back. Unlike Clementine, Kenny didn't seem to find it particularly odd that I wasn't from the city of Atlanta, nor did he seem to question the fact that I didn't make a single mention about my family so far. In a way, I was really grateful for it. "What made you wanna come to America?"

"Just the fact I know some people in Macon, to be honest" I admitted to him with a shrug of the shoulders, trying to act as blase about it as I could manage. "I had always wanted to meet them in person, not through a computer screen, you know? That, and I wanted to... help them"

"They in a spot of trouble?" Kenny completely bypassed the remark about them being through a computer screen, likely just him assuming that I was talking about video chatting and messaging each other online. I wasn't about to correct him.

"You have no idea" I sighed softly, thinking about all the things that could go wrong in this dream. I had managed to save Shawn by a lucky break, but what if that was just a one time fluke? For starters, what if by saving him once he would just be subjected to an even worse fate? The worst of my thoughts culminated in what was going to be several years in the dream from now, my eyes drifting towards Kenny. Either Clementine would choose to shoot him at the end of the second season, or he would be launched from a vehicle and then sacrifice himself.

My upset emotions must have shown clearly on my face, because a mere glance at my face caused Kenny's own to soften several degrees. Very carefully, he pulled one hand away from the steering wheel to hold it out towards me. It almost looked like he was going for my shoulder at one point, but I slipped my hand into it before he could make it there. He didn't seem to mind my hand being there, gently squeezing it with his much more calloused version.

"Hey, things will work out" Kenny reassured me, his warm words obviously directed towards me despite the fact he was still intently watching the road. At least I didn't have to worry about bad driving practices at this point. "They might seem scary, but we'll work them out. I'm always in your corner"

I couldn't help but squeeze his hand back after those words, my entire being feeling like it was in bliss. It wasn't an overstatement to say that words had the biggest effect on me, and Kenny was definitely a man who was good with his words, southern drawl and all.

The moment didn't last as long as either of us would have liked, Kenny pulling back his hand softly as his eyes scanned over something on the right side of the highway we were heading down. I followed his gaze, noticing that he had seen a gas station long before I had. And by the way he was slowing the truck down, he seemed intent on checking it out at the very least.

"We're running low on gas" Kenny somehow seemed to predict my question of why we were stopping, and the meter on his dashboard agreed heavily with his statement, the red needle dangerously dipping closer to the empty symbol. "We're gonna have to stop here for a moment to check the place out"

Chapter Text

"Stay in the truck, alright? We'll be back before you know it" Kenny said to Katjaa and the kids still securely staying in the truck, leaving just me and him to climb out of the main cabin.

Glass crunched underneath my feet as I landed on the concrete, the entire place looking like someone had taken dozens of glass panes and purposely took them there just to smash them against the ground. Kenny seemed to notice the derelict state of the gas station as well, cautiously moving to the closest gas pump and trying to pull out the nozzle. It didn't come out, still securely locked into the machine via a mechanism that would only be unlocked by someone manning the inside of the gas station.

"Not a self-serve machine?" I asked him, taking a closer look at the nozzle and then towards the building of the gas station itself. There were no lights on inside, which wasn't exactly a reassuring thing to notice.

"Nah, it looks like we're just gonna have to get someone to unlock it for us" Kenny grumbled a little, relinquishing the nozzle and already making long strides towards the gas station to find someone to help us. "Come on, stick close. I don't wanna find out the bad way if this place is safe or not"

"Hey guys, wait just a moment! I want to-Oof!" Shawn stopped us momentarily, tumbling a little inelegantly out of the back-bed of the truck and onto the ground. He seemed to recover just as easily as he had stumbled out, brushing one or two stray glass fragments off his pants. "I want to come and stretch my legs"

Kenny sighed heavily, but didn't make an affirmative or negative response to Shawn's request, instead just heading towards the gas station once more. Shawn followed closely behind me as we reached the front door of the gas station, a bell on the front door letting out a chime as Kenny pushed open the door.

"Hello? Anybody here?" Kenny called out into the dark gas station, the rest of us keenly listening to try and hear if anyone had responded or made some sign of response. Nothing, not even the freezers and lights were buzzing with electricity, the power likely being cut off. It was dead silent, the only sound that I could make out being the tense breathing of the men beside me. "...Huh"

Kenny led the way into the store, carefully stepping around various chip bags and food that had fallen off the shelves, heading towards what I assumed to be the main counter. As he began to ring the bell at the counter, me and Shawn instead started to wander the long aisles, searching for any sign of someone being here in the last couple of hours. In the second aisle that I checked, there was a particular set of hunting and fishing supplies were still strung up on hooks, the amount of survival knifes there catching my eye. I was just feeling the sharpness of one of them when Shawn came down the other side of the aisle, looking curiously at my new interest.

"Hunting's your hobby?" He asked me out of curiousity, and I already shook my head on instinct.

"No, I just thought it might be a good idea to have one of these" I mumbled loosely, picking up the blade and experimentally swinging it from one side to the other. It was heavier than I had expected, my meagre muscles not being able to really balance it as well as I had hoped. "Just in case we ran into more walkers"

"It's a bit soon to be nicking things from empty stores though" Shawn said, gently taking the knife in my hands away from me and hooking it back up onto the shelf. "For all we know this thing will blow over in the next two days, and then this knife won't really be useful for anything else"

I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from denying that possibility, being a little bit envious of how optimistic he was about the chaos that had happened in the last few days. If only he was right, maybe then so many things wouldn't go wrong.

"...Yeah, I guess"

"Well, bad news is that there doesn't actually seem to be someone here" Kenny walked over to the both of us, sighing a little with the bad news he was delivering. "So either we split from here and hope that there's another station further along, or we do the... not so legal option"

Shawn just looked confused at what he was insinuating, but I raised one of my eyebrows in an attempt to make him keep going in his explanation. He sighed once more, shifting somewhat uncomfortably from one hip to the other with our scrutiny.

"...We can open the front desk and get the pump unlocked ourselves" Kenny explained, already beating the both of us to the punch before we could mention anything about the legal side of things. "I know, I know, it's considered breaking and entering. I'm only suggesting it because of the dire circumstances, nothing else"

"I think we should do it" I agreed with Kenny, noticing quite easily that he seemed happy that I wasn't berating him for it and simply because I had taken his side. Shawn frowned slightly at the suggestion, and I could already tell he was going to protest further unless I somehow placated him. It wasn't inherently a bad thing, him being against random looting and such, if anything I was quite happy he was like that. "We can still leave money on the counter to pay for it, and we won't cause any real damage"

"...Fine" Shawn eventually relented, clearly not a hundred percent alright with it, but allowing it just enough so that me and Kenny could run with it.

The three of us made our ways back over to the front desk, seeing the rolled down shutter on the one side with a shut door on the other. Just looking at the rolled shutter door was giving me flashbacks to another scene that was originally held in the games as well, so I inched away from that before one of them could suggest that I try and crawl through it.

Almost as if Kenny had managed to read my mind, he tugged against the rolled shutter, only to hear it come to a heavy stop against the lock. I silently thanked whatever god had been looking out for me right then, moving over to the door while Kenny heaved against the shutter again.

"Darn, doesn't look like we can just slip in through this one" Kenny grumbled a little, finally relinquishing his grip on the shutter as Shawn came to stand beside him. "Do you happen to have any ideas on how to get this open?"

"My forte isn't exactly in breaking open locks, sorry"

While the both of them seemed to converse awkwardly with each other, I knelt down to peer into the gap between the door and the wall. I could definitely spy the door being closed, and a quick check by rattling the door knob proved to me that the door was locked. I was reminded of some dodgy advice that Alex, my trouble making college friend, gave to me, and I fished around the door to look for something thin that I could stick in between the door. I found a small plastic card on the floor, looking to be an abandoned store identification for some worker, and I started to fiddle with the closed door bolt.

Due to the fact the station seemed to have been quite old already, the door didn't stay locked all that long, a loud resounding click informing me that I had managed to at least do something with the door.

"Hey guys, I think I-

My words got cut short when the door suddenly threw itself open, the steel smacking into my shoulder as it swung into me, something tumbling out at the same time. Whatever it was, it managed to land on me and trap me underneath it's massive weight, knocking the breath right out of me. When I finally managed to regather my thoughts, I was met face to face with the snarling, rotting face of a walker, one that quite happily grabbed my shoulder to stop me from even crawling away. The walker opened it's ugly mouth too wide for my liking, unhinging it's jaw like a snake would, clearly lunging straight for my exposed neck.

"HEY!!" Shawn shouted at the walker, practically sprinting and drop kicking it off of me. The kick was strong enough to throw it off me, the walker tumbling a couple of feet away towards the same shelf I had been looking at before, the knives and sharp objects dangling menacingly over its prone form. Shawn however did land on me in the process of that, leaving me still trapped and unable to help.

Kenny seemed to have an idea about the shelving before I could mention mine to him, him leaping over both me and Shawn and then ducking around the shelf towards the other side. Right as the walker seemed to have somewhat recovered, already making grabbing motions in the air towards me, Kenny threw the shelf over on top of it, the various sharp objects and dangerous hunting supplies skewering the walker all in one smooth motion.

For a second I just lay there, looking over at the now truly dead walker, my mind in a state of shock. My mind took in the gas station uniform he still was wearing, likely meaning he had locked himself in the front counter, the glaringly big bite mark that had been taken out of his neck and now the pooling blood over the old tiles of the station.

It all seemed so surreal, the biggest shock being simply that I hadn't expected it. I had only been expecting the interactions that happened between Lee and the scripted events in the game, so much so that my mind had completely bypassed the possibility that there were other parts where I had to be paying attention, a very real reminder that I really could die in this dream at any moment.

"Primrose! Prim, hey, you alright?" I got roused from my thoughts by Shawn, who was shaking my shoulder in a bit of a worried manner. I blinked once or twice, properly making sure I was listening to him and coming back to the real world. His question seemed to sink in a little late, my mind suddenly freaking out at the possibility of being bitten. My hands shot up to my neck, feeling the skin in a feverish speed for any blemishes or feeling of torn skin. Once I could find nothing there, I turned my head slightly to the side to inspect the shoulder that had been grabbed, seeing nothing but a few steaks of dirt and grime over my peach shirt. Only when I saw that and felt that I was fine with my own hands, did I finally manage to calm my racing heart. "Prim, you're scaring me"

"Sorry, sorry" I apologised, taking in a deep breath to clear my mind once more. When I looked over at him, I could only spy unbridled worry in his eyes, which I wished I could take back somehow. "I'm alright, I just... I just got a massive fright from that"

"No kiddin'" Kenny seemed to be just as frazzled as I had been, him nervously exhaling and taking in a shuddering breath from how much adrenaline was probably flowing through his veins. His hands seemed to shake slightly as well, him nervously rubbing them up and down his pants to do something with them. "Jesus, we didn't even hear that guy at all. It was like he came out of nowhere..."

Shawn didn't particularly add anything to the conversation, instead choosing to look me deep in the eyes to make sure I wasn't lying to him about being fine, both of his hands securely holding both of my shoulders to keep me steady. I tried to give him a smile, but it evidently appeared to be quite weak, him looking slightly more worried after my attempt at a smile.

Kenny seemed to be able to feel the tension in the air, looking back over at the now dead walker and back over to the truck outside, Katjaa and the kids inside not even seeming like they had realised what had happened inside the store. We could have all died, and they probably would have been none the wiser.

"...I think we should go" Kenny decided for us all, extending a hand out to me to help me up from the floor. I did take his hand, allowing him to help me up while Shawn managed to pick himself up. Once he was certain neither of us was about to take another unexpected tumble, he took off towards the truck outside, his hand still tightly wrapped around mine as we sped-walked back. "We should be able to make do with the gas we have in the truck until we reach Macon, where we should have a lot more security than here"

Shawn and I said nothing to that remark, but for different reasons. Shawn likely simply felt that he had nothing to add to that statement, instead busying himself with climbing back into the back-bed of the truck and preparing for the last stretch of the road. Me, on the other hand, I felt it was going to be a moot point to mention about how wrong that statement could... No, would be proven wrong.

But like Kenny and Shawn, I was not keen on going back into that gas station and rummaging around further. Not without a proper weapon, and not without my mind coming back into order.

Kenny opened the door to the shotgun side of the truck, gently ushering me back inside and making sure I was safely perched on my seat before closing the door. Katjaa stirred a little in the backseat, opening her eyes for a moment to look confused about why we were back so early. Neither Kenny or me really said anything in terms of explaining, mainly in fear of frightening the two children in the back, and Katjaa somehow seemed to sense that this was not the right time to ask questions about what had just happened.

"Alright, let's get these last miles out of the way" Kenny sighed deeply, turning the keys in the ignition until the engine purred back into life, allowing us to slowly drive away from the gas station. "We're going to be alright"


 

After about one hour, we reached what seemed to be Macon, the majority of my knowledge of what it looked like coming from the game itself. There were plenty of overturned vehicles, almost as if the walkers had been doing nothing but tipping them over to get to the people inside. Like a morbid case of sardines in a can, slowly being peeled back.

The truck slowly seemed to come to a crawl, the engine sputtering in an attempt to keep going despite its lack of gasoline. Eventually it did end up succumbing to the lack of fuel, the engine dying out with a low whine a little bit into town. Kenny attempted to twist the keys to try and turn it off and on again, but he didn't even get a single peep out of the engine.

"Well, this is as far as we're goin'" Kenny sighed, removing the keys from the engine and looking at me before he glanced out at the mess outside.

"Then I guess it's far enough" I automatically stuck somewhat to the lines from the game, not sure what else I was really supposed to tell him. By the time I had opened the door, Shawn had already clambered out of the back-bed once more, sidling up to me while we were in an uncertain environment. Clementine allowed me to help her out of the truck, her hand nervously holding onto mine even as her feet landed on the concrete.

I nervously glanced up at the sign of the drug store coming up on our left, being reminded of Lee at the sight of the red neon lights. If only he was there, then maybe the notion of trying to save everyone here wouldn't be as daunting as it felt... Would he have even believed me if I had told him the truth?

"Look!" Duck called out to the rest of us, pointing down to the right street from the drug store, clearly pointing over towards a particular set of cars. Right around the side of the overturned jeep was a pair of legs that were clad in some off colour blue jeans, their owner obviously grabbing something around the other side in a frenzied manner. It looked a little off... and far too familiar.

I managed to reach out my available hand over to Kenny's shoulder before he could open his mouth and shout out to the walker, him pausing almost immediately to look over at me confused.

"I don't trust that guy" I reasoned with him, giving him the most serious look to ensure my words stuck. Clementine seemed to be able to sense the tension in the air, pressing close enough to me that her head was leaning against my hip. "Just... after the gas station, assume the worst unless you can tell otherwise"

His eyes seemed to say that he recognised what I was saying, nodding his head firmly with a determined look in his eyes. The walker, in the meantime, had peeked around the side of the jeep despite our best efforts to whisper. The face was certainly grotesque in nature, half of the skin looking it had been ripped off by some rabid animal, small flaps of skin still hanging on barely by a thread. Kenny, Shawn and I managed to curb our initial instinct of freaking out, Katjaa and Clementine managed to only settle for an almost silent gasp from either of them, but distinctly the loudest noise came from Duck, who loudly let out a shriek of fright at the sight. Katjaa tried to hurriedly hush him and calm him down, making sure he was still close to her, but the damage had already been done.

Almost instantly, what seemed to be hundreds of walkers came all crawling out of the woodwork, all of them all keenly attracted towards the six of us there. We all pressed closer to each other, Katjaa and Duck naturally coming towards the more protective circle that me, Kenny, Shawn and Clementine were making.

"What's the plan?" Shawn couldn't help but ask me, panic starting to border into his voice from how close some of them were beginning to get.

"Wait here for a short while, there's probably someone around who might-

And right on time, the first gunshot sounded in the air, taking down a walker that was just reaching out its hands towards Kenny. I turned my head to see a brown haired woman in a typical reporters outfit, lifting her gun up to fire a number more rounds around our heads. Despite how close some of the shots did get to our own heads, all of them hit their true targets in a spectacular fashion, felling walkers left and right.

"Come on, run!" A man called towards the entrance to the drug store, ushering us all inside with a frantic wave of the hand. I took off immediately with Clementine in tow, and both Kenny and Shawn followed behind me in tandem, Katjaa and Duck not far behind them. Once we were inside and the reporter lady followed us in, the man hurriedly pulled the iron gate shut, slipping a lock onto the gate and shutting it right as the walkers started banging on it.

Right out of the frying pan, and into the fire we went.

Chapter Text

The door had just barely shut when the fighting began, the majority of the verbal assault coming from a woman with long brown hair, who definitely seemed to be the leader of the group who had saved us.

"We can't take risks like this!" The woman angrily sneered over at the woman with the gun, who seemed to snap back with the same ferocity.

"And we can't just let people die either!"

"When I say that door stays shut no matter what, I fucking mean it!" She seemed to continue, but she was at least lowering her voice not to attract the walkers outside, which I was grateful for. She glanced over at the six of us when a larger man started to argue in her favour, her eyes catching on me for some particular reason.

"Or worse, they could have led them right to us" The larger man argued, clearly referring to the walkers directly outside the door, who still sounded like they were intent on bringing the walls and front door down.

"We don't know who these people are, they could be dangerous" The woman came back to the argument after the larger man, who I knew to be her father, taking her eyes back off me to look at the other people in her group. She clearly was still trying to make them understand that she thought it was a dumb move to save us, but it was clear the reporter was having none of it. Besides, it's not exactly like they could just un-save us and toss us into the street without having some walkers slip into the drug store.

"Hey, excuse me for a moment, what's your name?" I interjected into the conversation as smoothly as I could, speaking directly to the leading woman. She seemed to scowl slightly with the fact I interrupted her lecture, but she begrudgingly gave me her name.

"Lilly" She curtly responded, and I thanked her by nodding my head slightly. It wouldn't do for me to already mention her name without her actually mentioning it aloud, that would just raise way too much suspicion.

"We understand what you guys risked a lot to come help us, it's not that easy of a thing to keep a group safe and we really appreciate that" I tried my best to come at it from her point of view, gently placating her despite the fact I knew she wasn't the one to make the decision to come and help us. Her frown seemed to soften, even leaving entirely as I spoke, and she looked far more relaxed and calm then. "But we really should try to calm down. The walkers outside seem to react to noise, so we should quiet down to make them wonder off from here"

"Honestly? The teenage girl is the one who's speaking up for your group?" The larger man said, already trying to ruin the peace keeping I was trying to maintain. "Shows how much balls the rest of you have"

"She doesn't need our input right now, she's doing just fine" Shawn came to my defence, crossing his arms over his chest in a defiant yet non-confrontational manner. "Besides, who says that it has to be a guy who does the talking? Talk about old fashioned"

"What are you, a hippy?" He continued to try and argue with us, obviously agitated beyond proper reason because the others had tried to save us. I was about to step in once more, when Clementine gently tugged on my hand.

"What is it sweetie?" I asked her, tilting my head downwards to notice that she was hopping a little from foot to foot like children did when they needed to go to the bathroom. Oh yeah, that's right...

"I... I have to pee" She whispered to me, obviously hoping I could help her out in some manner. I regretfully sighed a little, before gently speaking to her.

"I'm sorry Clem, I'm really busy right now" I told her, seeing her just look back at me sadly. "Once this is all sorted out, then I promise I will help you look for a bathroom"

"Holy shit..." The larger man muttered quite loudly, obviously looking at one of the six of us in a shocked manner. "Son of a bitch! One of them is bitten!"

My head immediately turned to look over at Duck, who had been perched on a chair nearby at some form of a counter at one of the room by Katjaa, him looking slightly shell-shocked from the horde of walkers he had just seen. But oddly enough, he wasn't covered in grime at all, nor was there any signs that he had actually been grabbed by a walker. If anything, my memory was telling me that because we had all huddled in a circle, he hadn't been touched by one of them unlike the original timeline.

"She wasn't bitten!" Kenny immediately came to somebody's defence, causing my head to swivel further around to just look at him in confusion. At the mention of it being a female, my head then quickly scanned around for Clementine, who had disappeared in the meantime. She had slipped away from me towards the single bathroom just a bit away from the door, but she didn't look like she had been grabbed either.

"I wouldn't go in there Clem, you don't know what's in there" I warned her softly, despite the fact I knew the door was going to be locked. I wouldn't tell her where the key was supposed to be, as that was way too dangerous at this point in time, but I at least thought the warning was necessary.

"The hell she wasn't" The larger man brought me back to the discussion, looming over me in a menacing manner. I was still thoroughly confused on who on earth was supposed to be bitten, when I noticed that almost every one of their group was looking at me. Only that was the most conclusive clue, which suddenly made me think about my shoulder that had been grabbed by the walker back in the gas station, with the hand print of grime over my peach shirt. "We have to end this, now"

"Are you fucking serious right now?" I accidentally broke my rule of not swearing around the kids right then and there, angrily throwing my hands in the air like he was being utterly stupid. Which he was being. "Yes, I got grabbed by one an hour or so ago, but I wasn't bitten!"

He completely ignored what I said, taking a couple of steps towards me in a cold manner, obviously intent on doing harm to me in some way. Kenny and Shawn both moved in his path, the both of them bristling heavily at the mere idea of letting him near me.

"Over my dead body" Kenny growled at him, his voice dropping several octaves as he clenched one of his fists until his knuckles turned white. Shawn wasn't nearly as threatening looking as Kenny was achieving, but he too seemed to be ready to potentially fight him if necessary.

"We'll dig one hole for all of you" He threatened all three of us, causing even some of his own associates to move between the two offending parties to stop the fighting.

"Dad stop, she doesn't even look like she's been bitten!" Lilly tried to calm down her father, but it looked like he was having none of it.

"We shouldn't kill someone just based off a hunch Larry" An Asian man spoke up out of the group, him being the one who locked the gate with the padlock outside. The other two also seemed like they wanted to say something, but Larry shouted over all of them.

"Don't you people fucking get it?! We've already seen something like this happen! We let someone with a bite stay in, and we all end up bitten!"

"Shut up! You're going to attract all of the walkers outside towards us!" I furiously whispered at him, hoping that he too would change to whispering to match my noise level, but he seemed like he was going to go straight back to yelling anyway.

"We've got to throw her out, or smash her head in!" Larry went right on ahead, causing everyone to become more and more agitated as time went on. God, I sure hope that when the walkers start banging on the walls that the group of gunmen at least manage to show up in time.

"Shut the hell up, unless you plan to make me and Shawn kick your ass!" Kenny retorted, Shawn grunting his approval with the idea, which just seemed to make Larry laugh.

"You two?! What a joke, the both of you look like you'd lose two seconds into a fight! What makes you think a scruffy farm boy and your weak ass are capable of bringing me down?!" Larry almost seemed to try and make himself look taller than he already was, despite him already towering over the both of them.

"Everybody chill the fuck out!" The reporter lady tried to make everyone come to a standstill by shouting over them all, but everyone seemed too aggravated and highly strung for that to work. I sighed heavily, before moving my hands to the bottom of my shirt.

"I honestly didn't want to have to do this, but if it makes the rest of you all calm down, then I guess it's necessary" I grumbled, before using both my hands to quickly slip my shirt off my body and over my head. I managed to hook my right arm around my chest so that I was at least somewhat decent, while my left dangled the shirt in the air beside me. Everyone, and I mean everyone, stared at me as I stood there defiantly. "Take a good long look right here. You know what you don't see? A bite, that's what"

"Prim, you don't have to-

"No, it's fine" I sighed once more, accidentally cutting off Kenny, turning around briefly to be able to slip the shirt back over me. Once I turned back, various members of the opposite side seemed to look apologetic that it had to come to that, while the people in my group seemed to just look livid at them that I literally had to take off my shirt in front of them to prove I wasn't bitten. "Now, can we please be done with this nonsense and just calm down?"

Just as soon as the rest of them had all listened to my request, loud shriek sounded from over near the bathroom. A walker stumbled out of the bathroom, landing on the floor with a loud thud, Clementine just barely missing it's grabby hands in the air when she back pedaled away from it. She had to have gone looking for the keys herself after she couldn't open the door, shit!

"Jesus!" Larry let out a surprised shout, but I didn't bother to look at any of the others around us as I ran over.

I considered doing a drop kick like Shawn had done to save me at the gas station, but I decided against it simply because I wasn't sure if I could actually pull a move like that off safely without training. Instead, I got close enough to the walker, planted my first foot into the floor and proceeded to launch my entire body weight into a kick from my other leg. My foot landed directly in the chest of the walker, launching it straight back into the bathroom, it landing on its back on the marble floor.

"A little help would be appreciated here!" I called out to the others, expecting to be saved by the reporter once more with her trusty pistol at the very least. When I looked over at her however, she was still standing there in shock, not really registering that I had essentially asked for her help. "ANYBODY WOULD BE GREAT!"

The walker had gotten up in the meantime, now lumbering it's way over to me. I picked up a can that was on a shelf nearby and proceeded to throw it at its head, the metal bouncing off with only a small stagger in its path as a result. Kenny and Shawn had at least seemed like they had heard me, already running towards us to help out, but I could tell that they would arrive too late before it would grab me.

I was just about to prepare myself to actually wrestle with the darned thing, when a guy ran forward from behind me, reaching around me to stab a screwdriver right into the rotting temple of the walker. The walker fell easily after that, giving me and the guy who saved me a moment to breath and take a moment.

When I looked at his face, I recognised it as the slightly dorky and nerdy face that belonged to Doug, his light brown hair and brown eyes looking just as alert as they were in the game. He took a deep breath in, obviously not quite comfortable with the idea of tussling with a walker up and close, but at least not seeming like a complete wreck from doing so.

"You alright?" He asked me once he was certain that the walker wasn't getting up, giving me a once over to check that I still hadn't been bitten. I was so surprised it was him, the one that everyone in game and out of game would not pick first in terms of killing zombies, who had been the one to save me.

"...You saved me" I mentioned quietly, only slightly registering the fact that Shawn was quickly checking me over for bites once more.

"Ah, well, it's not that big of a deal" Doug shrugged the notion off, as though the idea of heroically saving people was just another day at the office for him. Which in a way, wasn't completely wrong, as he had done the same for Carley when she needed his help. "I'm sure you would have done the same for me"

"But still, you did save my life" I thanked him, giving him a heartfelt smile, which he seemed to return with a slightly sheepish look in his eyes. "So thank you"

One good thing that seemed to happen from that, was the fact that no gunshot had gone off from Doug's manner of execution for the walker, which meant we had not made nearly enough noise for the walkers to keep banging on the outside. And so, we were all allowed to finally relax... for a bit.

"We almost died because of that thing! That was stupid!" Larry started to yell the moment we had some peace, and I honestly ended up rolling my eyes in response to his temper tantrum. I knew getting him to stop now was likely going to go nowhere, so I let him have that. "That was-AHHH!"

I already expected him to have a negative effect from his high stress levels, and it came true when he fell to the floor, clutching chest in pain. His daughter, Lilly ran over to him to double check on him, while Katjaa moved closer due to her vaster first aid knowledge.

"Is he alright?" Katjaa asked Lilly softly, putting a reassuring hand on Lilly's shoulder to make sure that she knew that she wasn't alone. Lilly took in a deep breath, obviously a little rattled, before shaking her head. "It's his heart, isn't it?"

"M-My pills..." Larry mumbled in a slurred manner on the floor, seeming at least somewhat verbally responsive to us all.

"So that's why you guys are here" I brought up, looking over at the locked counter, another roller door shut in place to keep people out. "You wanted to get the pills from here, didn't you?"

"Yes! We've been out for far too long by now" Lilly brought up, looking in a harrowed manner at the locked counter. "We've been trying to get into the pharmacy since we got here, but we've had no luck"

"Then it's a good thing we're here" I announced confidently, looking between Shawn and Kenny before I looked back to Lilly. "We'll get into the back somehow and get you those pills"

"Thank you so much" Lilly thanked me, the relief clear in her voice. She looked over at Shawn for a moment, obviously needing his help in some manner. "Shawn, right? Can you help me bring him over to that set of shelves there? It'll be easier for me to keep an eye on him there and keep him calm"

"Of course" Shawn agreed readily, already moving to help them.

"Everyone else should get comfy and look for anything useful, we might end up being here a while" Kenny naturally took on the role of a leader now that both Lilly and Larry were indisposed, something which I was endlessly grateful for at that point.

"I'm starting to think this drug store isn't really that permanent of a solution" The Asian man frowned, looking at the creaky boards and the patched up windows that ended up being our makeshift shelter for now.

"You're right, this ain't exactly Fort Knox" Kenny had to sigh and agree with him, placing his hands on his hips.

"You have an idea, I presume?" I asked the man, and he nodded his head. I had to pretend as if I didn't know anything about what he was going to say, despite the fact like Kenny, I could likely have quoted the words straight out of his mouth.

"Yeah, we need to go out and collect gas out in the town so that we all can get out of downtown Macon, fast" He said simply, confidently standing up from the wall and moving towards everyone gathered towards the circle of people in the center of the room. "Primrose, right? I'm Glenn, and trust me, I'm the best person for this job. I know this place like the back of my hand"

"I'm guessing you're a local here?"

"Born and raised" He seemed really confident, but I couldn't help but pick the walkie talkie that I still had from Clementine's house to hand it to him. "What's this for?"

"It's in case you run into trouble, Clementine's got the other one" I thumbed over my shoulder towards her, where she was sitting on a cardboard box in the middle of one of the aisles. "Don't hesitate to reach out if you need it"

"Will do" Glenn gladly accepted the item from me, before gently patting the side of my arm in a quick goodbye. "I'll see you soon"

"And you there, are you still good to keep lookout?" Kenny directed his attention over to Doug and Carley, the nerdy guy and the reporter still hanging around near the front door. I couldn't help but notice that he had skipped over both Lilly and Larry, but this likely was simply because I had already asked for hers and everyone managed to hear his earlier.

"It's Doug, and I'm all good" Doug declared, Carley coming out from beside the shelf to introduce herself after Doug.

"And I'm Carley"

"Okay Carley, you'll shift in with Doug when he needs it. For now, get some rest. You're a good shot, and I'd like to keep you that way" Kenny quickly got a firm nod from her, earning her approval for the plan before he shifted his attention over to Shawn and me. "Shawn, once you're done with helping out Larry, I'd like you to search these shelves for any kind of supplies. If you think we can use it, you take it"

"Quite a different situation than the gas station, huh?" Shawn couldn't help but try to make a small joke, gently nudging me with his elbow. I did giggle a little, but Kenny quickly sent a glowering look his way, obviously not liking the joke at this point in time. Not when the memory of the gas station walker was too fresh in our minds. "I'm, uh... I'm going to go over there"

"You do that" Kenny seemed to grumble as Shawn passed him by, almost looking like he was a strict father who wanted to make sure nobody went after his daughter. But instead of a daughter, I couldn't help but hope that he saw me in a different light. "Prim, I assume you're good to start searching around for a way to get into the back?"

"...Prim?" I couldn't help but ask him about, earning me a little bit of a grin from him. It wasn't the first time I had been called that, Alex my old college friend had often called me that, much to my chagrin. Even Shawn had called me that earlier, but I had mostly not responded to it because of how much shock I was in at the time. But despite those two times, I couldn't help but... feel quite happy that Kenny had decided to give me that nickname too.

"You don't mind, do you?" He seemed to tease me, his grin switching more to a smirk, already getting to work on the blush in my cheeks. Thank goodness the lighting in that building was horrible.

"...No, no I don't" I left it at that, leaving him with a shy smile before heading to my task. I briefly considered looking around inside the store for the energy bars that you could find in the game, but a quick glance told me that Shawn was already doing that. He was instructed to look for supplies after all, not to mention I didn't actually have an unlimited amount of time to get everything done.

So rather than talk to people or look for those energy bars and batteries, I headed straight for the door to the office. The scribbled words on the door saying 'alive inside' wasn't very comforting to me, but luckily Clementine came along to ask if she could come along.

"Can I come with you?" She asked sweetly, already placing her hand on my waist so that she had some sort of support for me and her.

"Of course you can" I gladly told her, twisting open the door. I could already spy the signs of drag marks on the floor, going directly through a shallow pool of blood straight on the other side of the room. I shifted my hip slightly so that I could instead hold Clementine's hand, taking a number of tentative steps into the office. "Stay close sweetheart"

Chapter Text

There was a deep red stripe of blood that greeted us the moment we entered the office, leading back towards a dirty mattress in the center of the room. The old couple that I knew had resided in here were likely the ones that ended up causing it.

"...You guys deserved better" I quietly murmured, turning my eyes away from the last evidence of their lives. I had to concentrate, there wasn't as much time for grieving as I would have liked.

Clementine peered around me to get a better look at what I had been looking at, but I didn't stick around to really explain what it was. Instead, I moved over towards the door at the far end of the office, the small window on it showing that the door led to the back of the pharmacy. I warily pulled back a wooden pallet, making sure I didn't disturb the rest of the barricade or possibly set off the alarm, when an old cane clattered onto the ground from behind the pallet.

"What's that?" Clementine asked me, looking at me picking up the cane and testing the weight of it in my hands.

"Someone's cane" I answered as vaguely as I could while still being truthful, mainly because it would strike Clementine and others as weird if I knew who this cane belonged to before I had even mentioned ever meeting them in real life. "It probably helped them walk around with a bit of assistance"

"Does that mean they were sick?" She asked me curiously, her question coming from a place of ignorance rather than dislike or rudeness.

"Not always Clem" I gently tried to educate her on the truth of it, hoping to at least pass on some of my knowledge over to her as she began to grow up. "Sometimes they just need some more help with walking around. When my grandfather was sick, he didn't need one"

"You don't talk about your family much" Clementine stated this fact in the same vain as her question about canes, one that simply was a child's curiosity. "Why is that?"

"Oh... I don't know, nobody really asked me about them. It also seemed like a bad time to bring it up when we were trying to run from walkers, you know?" I explained it the best I could, giving her a patient albeit sad smile to show I wasn't really mad at her or anything. "Besides, I can't see them. They're in a different place than me right now"

"Like me and my parents?" She asked me, and I had to curb my initial response of denial, not wanting to hurt her innocent curiosity with confusing words and meanings.

"...Sort of" I left my answer at that, leaning the cane in my hands against the wall next to the door we had both come through. That way, maybe we would be able to grab it in time to help us against the horde of walkers later on. I did an about turn on the spot and headed back over to the remainder of the barricade in front of the door, which was now only a big sturdy wooden desk. "Do you want to help me move this out of the way?"

"Okay!" She enthusiastically slotted into place beside me, not even noticing or caring about the sudden change in subject. I gave her a quick warning of watching her fingers in the drawers, and she readjusted her grip on the desk before we started to heave against it. It was a lot harder to move and manoeuvre with our distinct lack of Lee, but we eventually did start to make it scrape and groan against the floor.

"How are you handling everything so far Clem?" I couldn't help but ask her as we came to a bit of a break, her smiling nonchalantly at me as a staple response.

"Yeah, it's not that heavy"

"I meant more with the walkers outside" I had to slightly correct her on that, knowing that she likely wouldn't start talking about the bad stuff if I didn't prompt her on it. Her smile lessened to several degrees, but it seemed like she was still trying to brave just for me.

"They're not very nice" She put simply, which I had to agree with on all accounts. "They should be called meanies rather than walkers"

I couldn't help but laugh in response to her statement, almost bending double over the desk in utter euphoria. It was so out there from the original game that I couldn't help but treat it the same as I would only other joke that she would make. My laughter was well received by Clementine, who also giggled along with me. Once we both had calmed down, I just started to shuffle the desk again, letting her help where she felt she could. It wasn't long before she brought something else up however, this time being completely unprompted by me.

"Is there someone you love?" She asked me, making me pause for a moment. I supposed that it wasn't completely outlandish for her to ask me that, as she had suggested that I kiss Kenny earlier that day. Even so, I really was hoping this wasn't her attempt to learn more about my family, as I really didn't want to give away that I was off somehow.

"...You mean like family?" I slowly asked her, busying myself with the desk while she formed her response.

"I mean like Kenny and Shawn" Clementine explained, causing me to mouth a silent 'oh' before she pressed on. "I really think they like you"

"I'd like to think they do" I chuckled, trying to make the red in my cheeks go away by pushing the desk some more. I was about to ask her where this line of questions came from, when I saw her concerned face. "Why, what's wrong?"

"Promise me that you won't forget about me because of them, okay?" She said so nervously, causing me to immediately drop what I was doing with the desk and drop down on my knees to her eye level.

"What?! Wait, where is this coming from? Why do you think I would do that?" I asked her frantically, worried that somehow I had given her the impression that I would abandon her because of them.

"I don't know... Sandra did it when she got a boyfriend" Clementine admitted, playing with her hands as she recounted something that seemed to be a painful memory for her. She had already gone through so much on her own... "She wouldn't really care about me after he was with her, he would be the only thing she would think about when she babysat me... And when the walkers came, she was more worried about him than me"

"Oh Clementine, honey" I softly whispered to her, gently taking her into my arms and rubbing soothing circles into her back. She seemed to sniffle a little on my shoulder, but I wasn't concerned at all about getting my shirt wet. If that was what she needed, then she could stay there as long as she wanted. "I could never forget about you darling, I can promise you that. I'll make a pinkie-promise with you right now if you want, that I'll never let a boyfriend or girlfriend come in the way of me caring about you, okay?"

I did as I had promised her, letting her come away from me and holding out my pinkie towards her in a show that I was serious. She sniffled a couple more times, before she lifted her pinkie in response to mine, gently wrapping her tiny finger around mine and shaking once up and down.

"...Thank you" She sniffled a couple more times, before shaking her head and trying to seem positive. "What do we do now?"

"Hmm, I think we've pushed the desk far enough away so that the door isn't blocked anymore" I decided, not really finding it all that necessary to have it pressed up against the wall like Lee could get it. "For now, I guess we'll do what Shawn is doing in the other room and look for supplies"

"Shouldn't we be trying to go in there?" Clementine reminded me, pointing over my shoulder at the still shut door to the back of the pharmacy.

"Not until we find some keys" I countered her point quite easily, her tilting her head in confusion. "It's locked"

"Oooh, okay"

Clementine joined me shortly afterwards in digging through the desk's drawers for anything handy, the majority of the useful items being snagged by me rather than her. While Clementine was the one to find the first aid kit, it didn't have anything useful beyond a single plaster, which she offered up to me with a smile. I, on the other hand, found a remote in the top left drawer, which I took with me immediately because I knew it was going to be a big help in the coming hours.

One problem between me and Lee, was that I didn't have infinite space in my pockets. I didn't even have any pockets on me, with my shirt and skirt both missing that crucial detail. In the end, I just decided to hold the remote in my left hand, with the idea that I'd give it to Doug later for safekeeping.

"Primrose, what's this?" Clementine jumped ahead of me in terms of searching, holding up the picture frame that showed a picture of the family that owned the drugstore.

I gently took the picture frame off her, being careful of the broken glass at the side and slid out the picture itself from the frame. It showed an elderly couple with two sons flanking either side of them. One of them was clearly the walker we would have to deal with later on, but the other... Clearly was Lee. I found myself getting a little lost in the memories of the things Lee did for everyone else, and the little things he would mention about his family before the dead started walking.

Little things like that made me realise how truly evil it was to wish for a zombie apocalypse. Those people would gladly trade so many peoples good lives, happy families and dreams for the future, and for what? The feeling that you get to be badass once or twice when you take out one of the dead?

Clementine glancing around the picture brought me out of my stupor and anger, reminding me of the situation I had truly found myself in. Even though it was a dream, this walker infested world was as real as could be, so much so that I could easily mistake it for reality. And in that reality, Clementine would recognise who Lee was, and probably also remember the act that Lee and I had actually met for the first time underneath her tree. It likely hadn't sunk in yet for her, but if she were to see this photo, then it likely would connect a lot of the dots about how it was strange how I knew who he was and where he lived.

And so, with a heavy heart, I brought my other hand up to the painting, and tore it in two to take Lee out of the picture.

"Did you find anything?" Carley spoke up out of nowhere behind me, nearly making me jump several feet into the air simply from shock. I whirled around to see her standing there, disapproving look and all that was an exact match to the game. I sneakily dropped the one half of the picture I had ripped onto the floor, hoping that she wouldn't notice it there.

"Yeah actually. I found a picture here in the office" I smoothly tried to subvert the truth from her, flipping the picture around so that she could see it and be completely interested in that without her noticing the other half. She took it from my hands for a moment, inspecting it with a distinct frown etched into her features. "Me and Clementine haven't found the keys in here, but it might help us identify a walker outside that might have some keys in their pocket"

"...Okay, makes sense" She nodded her head slowly at the information, handing back the picture once she found that she couldn't get much more clues from it. I took it back from her, but I could tell somehow that she was going to say something in an angry manner towards me like she did towards Lee in the game. "Look, I'll just say this once, but we really have no time for romance"

"...What?" I blurted out my question, unsure how else I was supposed to react to her statement. Was... Was she referring to me and her? I honestly didn't think I had interacted with her in any way that wasn't platonic. Hell, I couldn't even remember me and her interacting at all in the last hour.

"The way you interact with those two from your group, Kenny and Shawn? It's distracting both them and you, and we can't afford for that" Carley explained further, and it definitely made more sense than my first idea on what she was trying to say. She didn't strike me as a woman into other women anyway.  "I get it, you guys know each other longer, but currently those two are thinking very narrow-mindedly. They think of you first, regardless of what actually might be going on, and that'll backfire on everyone when we need them to think of the entire group and not just you"

Part of me wanted to point out the hypocrisy of her being the one to point that out to me, especially considering how she, Lee and Doug often would interact with each other in the game, but another part of me had to admit that she was right. If Lily or anyone else needed help, and they decided to come to my aid instead of them simply because they knew me longer, then I could see how that might be a concern for Carley.

"Okay, I'll have a bit of a talk to them later about it" I relented quite easily, apparently a little bit too much so, because Carley almost seemed shocked on the fact that she didn't have to argue with me about it. "You guys have probably lost people too, so it's only fair that you want everyone to take care of each other equally now"

Carley looked away from me, slightly turned down towards the ground as she processed my words. Eventually, they did seem to sink in fully, her turning her head back to show a shy smile.

"Thanks" She quickly whispered, before turning around and leaving through the door back to the main part of the drug store, evidently quite content with the answer I had managed to give her. I was about to just put the rest of the picture into my left hand as well and follow her back into the drug store, when I heard the sounds of someone picking up paper behind me. By the time I had turned around again, Clementine had picked up the torn side of the picture that held Lee on it.

"This is the man that you met at my home" She put simply, lifting her eyes for just a moment to see what my reaction was going to be. In the end, I sighed heavily with the fact I hadn't managed to hide it from everyone, but I nodded my head to show she was right. "And you were trying to hide this from that lady"

"...Yes" I decided not to lie to her, as it was far too late for that anyway. Besides, she was a smart girl, she likely would have figured something out sooner or later.

"Why?"

"Lee... He was..." I thought a little bit about how on earth I was supposed to explain something like this to her, deciding to fib around halfway through my thought process. "He wasn't seen as a good man by other people"

"What did he do?" She asked me innocently, offering the torn piece back to me. I gladly took it back from her, flipping it over to look at his happy face. His blissfully ignorant, perfectly alive face.

"He killed someone, before the walkers rose up. The man that he killed was... In love with his wife" I decided to just rip the band aid off in terms of explaining, not really beating around the bush. I could see her eyes widen at both of the things I had brought up, but I knew it was important for her to hear the entire story. "What that man did wasn't nice at all, but he didn't deserve to die over something like that. But just like that man didn't deserve to die, I believe that Lee wasn't a bad man"

"Oh" Clementine said just that at first, clearly a little overwhelmed with all the information. I decided to be silent for a while with her, letting her process it all one by one. Several minutes later, she seemed to have thought about it enough, because she wanted to ask another question. "So... What kind of man do you think he was?"

"A good man, but one that made a big, big mistake" I firmly told her, making sure she knew that I was emphasizing both parts of my sentence as being really important. "Killing someone else who isn't trying to hurt you or other people is never going to be a good thing, but accidents and mistakes are sometimes made"

"How do you make a mistake like that though?" Clementine clearly couldn't understand the feelings of being in that situation, and I had to admit that I likely knew just as little about that as she did. Even so, I still did my best to give her an answer. "I would never want to hurt someone"

"When people lose the ones they love, whether it is by them dying or something else, it makes people really sad. Sometimes, that sadness can come with feeling very lonely, or they can come with a lot of angry feelings" I sighed, deciding to put both pictures into my left hand with the remote I had pilfered from earlier. "When people are really angry, they often don't think very well. They can sometimes forget about how other people feel"

"...Have you ever felt like that? Getting so angry that you don't think well?" Clementine asked me, following close behind me and I began to slowly head towards the door to the drug store.

"No, I luckily have never gotten that angry" I thanked my lucky stars that I didn't have to lie to her about that one, being able to say something completely truthful this time. "I have gotten really sad though, and sometimes very lonely. I wished a lot of times that I could help them, but sometimes the sad thing is that often there is nothing you can do"

"Oh" Clementine said simply once more, obviously needing a little more time to process this new amount of information. She did seem to be accepting new information faster than before, as she only needed one or two minutes before she felt confident to speak this time. "I'm going to make a promise to you as well! I'm never going to make you feel sad or lonely, no matter what"

I couldn't help the smile on my face, my hand naturally reaching out to hold hers as though I had been acting as her defacto parent for years now and not days. In a way, I suppose I had been, but she had never been able to really respond or grow in that time, while now every word I said helped her grow.

"I'd like that" I agreed to the idea of her new promise, the both of us certainly seeming quite content with both of our promises. Now armed with a renewed conviction, and some handy items that we would no doubt need in the coming hours, both me and her headed back.

Chapter Text

Clementine and I came back into the drug store, but nothing seemed to have particularly changed much in our absence. The only one that seemed to have moved in the meantime was Carley, poking over the old radio that would help her reach a news station later. But not without my help of course, because apparently she wasn't smart enough to check the thing for batteries.

Now that I think about it, that was really sexist to depict her like that in the game. Being a pretty reporter doesn't mean she had to be stupid at the same time... Or who knows, maybe they had done that to counteract the fact Doug was the really good one with electronics?

"Hey Prim, have you got a moment?" Shawn asked me, moving towards me with two fists full of items. I glanced downwards at Clementine's walkie talkie to make sure that Glenn hadn't asked for help yet in the meantime, noticing it being completely silent in her left hand.

"Wait over there for me Clem, I need to do some other things around here that might be a bit scary" I gently instructed her while giving her the two halves of the picture and the television remote, and she nodded her head with a smile, moving back to her cardboard box near the middle of the room. "What's up Shawn?"

"I found some useful stuff around the store" Shawn explained, slowly opening his closed fists so that the items didn't tumble out onto the floor. In his left hand were around four energy bars, while in his left sat two perfectly usable batteries. Well what do you know, the game was actually going along with the original timeline... If you didn't count the extra energy bar, that was a glitch. "I was thinking that we should start handing out the food, as we'll probably need the energy when... you know, problems happen again"

"...And why haven't you done that already?" I asked him, my arms unconsciously crossing over each other in front of my chest. While I was always more than happy to hand out the food in the game, being actually in this dream was another situation. I couldn't just do a reset on this if I somehow managed to royally piss someone off, and I knew that food was going to become a very real problem later on. As such, I was going to suggest that Shawn just hand them out himself to save me the trouble, but...

"For starters, there aren't enough energy bars to go around for everyone" Shawn sighed, obviously doing a quick count in his head about who happened to be there. I counted along with him, counting at least ten people hanging around, including myself. I usually wouldn't have included Kenny, Katjaa, Larry or Doug, but something told me that if I made the mistake of assuming they didn't want one, it would come back to bite me in the rear. "Plus, I don't think some people would be happy with me handing out food anyway"

"Let me guess, it starts with 'K' and ends with 'enny'" I couldn't help but add in a joke to lighten the mood, which earned me a hearty laugh from Shawn. A number of people suddenly shot us both a look, partly due to how unexpected the laugh was and because if we were too loud we would draw walkers back towards us. We both apologetically smiled at the staring parties, and they soon returned to their own thing.

"Uh, no actually" Shawn giggled soft enough to not grab anyone or anything's attention, which made me smile. "I was thinking more along the lines of 'L' and 'illy'"

"A completely valid option out of those two" I giggled back, making sure to keep my noise down. I was going to have to do that a lot more, what with literally every walker surrounding our drug store at that time. Eventually sighing softly, I held out my hand for the energy bars. "Alright then, I'll see what I can do"

"I owe you one" Shawn quickly thanked me, before scarpering off to look for more supplies. I made a mental note to ask him for batteries later on when Carley needed it.

With an entire handful of food, I already beelined towards someone who I knew was getting one of them without even blinking. It didn't matter what someone told me otherwise, Clementine was going to get one of them. She inclined her head up to look at me the moment I neared her, wondering what I was doing back so soon after I had asked her to wait there.

"Hey Clementine, are you hungry?" I asked her, noticing her nod straight away. Juggling the four energy bars around in my hand, I managed to get one out without dropping all the rest. "Here you go hun"

"Thank you" Clementine gladly took the bar from me, smiling softly as she opened the packaging straight away. She didn't chomp it down, instead choosing to take small little nibbles from the thing like it was a treat to be savoured. I couldn't help but smile, gently patting her hair down before moving on to other people.

Kenny raised his head to meet my eyes as I moved near him, Katjaa and Duck. He, of course, sent me a warm smile once he saw it was me, with Katjaa doing something similar with the warmth that only a mother could really imitate. Duck on the other hand, completely seemed unable to grasp that I had walked nearer to him, staring off somewhat blankly in the distance. Not all that surprising, as the entire day had likely been filled with enough confusing and frightening things.

"Hey guys" I decided to greet them despite the fact two of them had already seen me, and finally Duck perked up a little, at least managing to turn his head at the sound of my voice. "How's everyone doing over here?"

"We're alright, considerin' the situation" Kenny sighed deeply, turning his eyes to the still somewhat 'in fairy land' version of Duck. "I'm a little worried for Duck, ya know?"

"Look baby, Primrose has come to say hi" Katjaa gently tried to coax some sort of response out of her son, but she didn't get much more than a blank stare at herself and then me when my name was mentioned. "Do you want to say hi to her?"

"...Hi" We finally got a single word out of Duck, but it was enough for me to give him a patient smile. The boy was trying, that much was clear.

Kenny shrugged his shoulders at me when I looked at him afterwards, but neither of us really knew what to say to reassure Katjaa or bring Duck out of his stupor. Katjaa settled for softly hugging her son, who at least seemed to hug her back.

"Well, I might have something that you want" I tried to bring the mood back up, juggling the last three energy bars until I found another single one for me to grab with my other hand. Duck was already paying quite close attention to me when I was juggling them, as he seemed to find that interesting if nothing else, and his eyes finally seemed to light up with a familiar looking emotion when I held out the energy bar to him. "Here you go Duck, it's all yours"

"...Thanks Primrose" Duck did sound a little more animated than before, gently taking the bar from my hand, giving me a smile in return. Almost immediately, he broke the bar in half, and seemingly offered the other half to his mom. "You want some?"

Katjaa smiled at him, but turned it down with a shake of the head. Once Duck was certain that she was serious, he turned around on the bar stool to then offer it to Kenny, but he also seemed to turn it down with a gentle wave of the hand.

"Well, I'm off to go do some more work" I smoothly decided to beat a retreat before Duck could offer me it, my intentions clear that I wanted him to keep both halves of it. Duck did seem a little confused as to why everyone else wasn't hungry, but didn't seem to make all that big of a deal of it.

"Hey, Prim" Kenny called out my name before I got too far away, stepping away from Katjaa and Duck for a moment to follow me. "I don't know if I said this earlier, but I'm sorry you had to... Take off your shirt earlier to prove you weren't bitten"

"Oh, that? I guess it was a bit uncomfortable, what with everyone staring and all, but it wasn't that big of a deal for me" I reasoned, but I could see from the hurt look in his eyes that he still blamed himself for it. "Kenny, trust me, I'd rather flash a bit of skin than deal with someone trying to bash my head in"

"...I get that, but what if this isn't the first time? Are you fine with the idea of having to disrobe for anyone simply because of the danger that you "might" be bitten?" I could tell it was a sore point for him, him seeing the entire interaction as a failure because I had to fall back on something that aggressive. And from what I had picked up on, Kenny had a soft spot for me, which would have made his uncomfortable feelings just amplify themselves to an even greater degree.

"It's not going to become a thing that I do every time Kenny" I spoke softly to him, my hands finding themselves on both of his shoulders, standing just a little on my tiptoes to be able to look him in the eyes on an even level. "I promise, okay? It was a one-time thing because it was an emergency, nothing else"

I could practically feel Carley's penetrating gaze on my back as Kenny looked into my eyes with a sense of longing. After a couple of seconds of us staying there with nothing much changed, he seemed to accept my promise, letting me step back from him with a soft sigh. We split there, Carley seemingly giving more approval to that choice than anything, keeping a closer eye on me as I passed by her towards Doug.

Doug was still intently keeping watch, his face pressed to the door of the drug store to listen for anything. Occasionally I could spy him opening the door a small crack, peering outside for a moment before any walkers noticed the light coming from the door. He noticed me the moment I entered his space near the door, closing the door for now to ensure any conversation wouldn't carry to the walkers outside.

"Hey there, Primrose right?" He asked me, obviously because I had been missed in the entire introduction phase that had happened earlier. I could notice his hand had a slight jitter to it, almost as if he was excited or frightened. "Man, my blood is still pumping from earlier"

"Ah, with the walker that was trying to get me? Yeah, I can see that. I probably will have enough adrenaline to last me for weeks on end" I let out a bit of a sigh with the memory, my eyes turning slightly to glance at the walker, who was still draped over the floor with a screwdriver through its skull. "You don't strike me as someone who usually goes fighting with screwdrivers on a day to day basis"

"I know! That's my same thought too whenever I actually take one of them down, oddly enough" Doug seemed just as confused as I was, but his confusion was not likely due to the fact he had expected someone else to do it. No, as far as he was concerned, it was probably perfectly normal that Carley didn't come to my defence. He mimed a stabbing motion in the air, as though he was driving down some kind of tool into a walkers skull, his entire face screaming that he didn't understand it. "It's just... It's as if I have some sort of instinct to do it"

"Well whatever it is, I hope it's something I can have too. I'm going to need a lot more bravado and skill to really make a difference in this group" I half joked with him, trying to hide the slight anxiousness that came with not knowing what exactly was going to happen.

"Hey, you went ahead and charged at a... What did you call it? Walker?" Doug interrupted his sentence midway through, once again reminding me that they didn't start calling the dead 'walkers' until episode two of the game. Well, it was far enough along that I may as well just keep calling them that, as it would look weird to suddenly start calling them something else.

"Uh, yeah... A walker" I shrugged, not sure what I was supposed to do other than admit I had said that. "Because they walk everywhere and anywhere... Plus it is a different name from zombie, which to me sounds too unreal for what we're going through right now"

"That's fair enough, I don't have a better name for them" Doug seemed to accept it even easier than Lee or Shawn had done, seeming like he wasn't all that concerned with what we were going to name the dead. Which was fair, considering the fact we had way more important stuff to do than argue about names. "Whatever it is, you charged at it to keep your sister safe"

Cue one dramatic sigh and a heavy dose of eye rolling.

"She's not my sister" I said once more, mentally counting the amount of people so far that had mistaken me for some kind of family relation to her. Doug looked a little sheepish for assuming when he saw my obvious irritation at the subject, smiling an apologetic grin at me. "I'm making sure she's safe until we find her parents"

"That's very kind of you" Doug complimented me, and I could swear that I could feel some kind of anger being directed at the back of my head. It likely was Carley again, and I was wondering if it honestly was just the fact people paid attention to me that was driving her up the wall. "Just let me know if there's anything I can do to help"

"Of course. In the meantime, are you feeling hungry at all?" I couldn't help but quickly ask him, just in case the dream had fiddled with the original timeline so much that he would accept food from me right now. As I had sort of expected however, he turned it down with a firm shake of the head.

"No thanks" Doug already managed to tell me no before I had even begun to juggle the energy bars, which saved me a little time if nothing else. "Full on adrenaline, remember? Unless you want to see me literally trying to go up the wall, I wouldn't recommend it"

"Duly noted, don't combine a hyped up Doug and food" I couldn't help but make a jest in response to his final statement, which was enough to earn a few very natural sounding chuckles. He made sure to keep it down of course, as he didn't want to be glared at like Shawn earlier. "Keep a good eye out"

Doug gave me a quick salute, one that almost reminded me of the boy scouts, before returning to his job. I bypassed Carley on my way over to Lilly, who seemed somewhat torn between poking and prodding a radio that wasn't working in front of her or following me around with her eyes. I decided that ignoring was the better solution at the time, stopping directly above Lilly, who was still talking softly to her father.

"Hey, are you both doing okay?" I asked them both, earning me different response. Larry seemed to sort of register that I was there, tilting his head slightly to notice me, but his communication was purely non-verbal. Lilly herself looked up at me with a slightly apologetic look on her face, looking almost like the opposite to the cold and hostile version I recognised from the game.

"I don't think I managed to catch your name earlier" This too was a lot softer and politer than the in game version, almost seeming like she didn't think any ill-will of me at all.

"Primrose" I told her as she stood up, almost seeming like she would be towering over me if she happened to be wearing heels or platform shoes at the time. She was taller in real life, or dream, then I remembered her being.

"You know my name, and this is my dad Larry" She quickly informed me, in case I hadn't managed to catch his name during all the fighting earlier. "Look, I'm sorry about earlier"

"I-Wait, what?" I got caught off guard by the immediate apology, expecting her to immediately come to her father’s defence like she would in the game, but this too was different.

"My dad had no right to treat you like that the moment you came in the door" Lilly explained to me, obviously ignoring the grumbling and growling coming from her father on the floor. It almost sounded like he was trying to tell her to not apologise to me, but she didn't seem to even give him the time of day right then. "I know people being bitten is bad, it's really bad, but he didn't even double check. He just jumped straight to violence and was seeming like he was willing to kill more than just you and... Christ... I'm sorry you had to go through that"

"Oh, I... Uh, thanks" I obviously was unprepared with my response, sounding closer to a babbling idiot than someone who was legitimately thankful, but Lilly just seemed to be quite happy with my impromptu acceptance. I think the main reason why I searched for the next energy bar in my hand was simply because she apologised, which was a lot more than I had ever expected from her. "Here, please take this"

"Are you sure?" She gingerly took the bar from my hand, seeming as though she was extremely surprised to even receive one from me. I suppose that was likely her train of thought, as she had just finished apologising to me. That usually was not the time someone gave you a gift or some food.

"Of course" I finally felt like I had gotten my proper voice back, assuring her that I wanted her to have it rather than mumble like I had done before. "Running a group isn't easy, and I can tell it's stressful for you"

"...Thanks, that's really sweet of you" Lilly thanked me in return. True to the game, she did avert her eyes from looking at me directly, but the smile on her lips was definitely not game canon... but I couldn't say that I hated that change. I could hear Larry getting really agitated after that exchange for some particular reason, and I took that moment to beat a hasty retreat before I caused another heart attack to the older man.

I passed by Clementine on my way to Carley, watching the walkie talkie in her hand in case it happened to spring to life before I got to the reporter. It was dead silent, no calls from Glenn, nothing. I did get a small smile as a greeting from Clementine however, which made that small excursion all worth it.

Finally arriving at Carley, I could tell she wasn't even trying to pretend to get the radio working, her eyes glued to me the entire time. I quickly glanced behind me to make sure she didn't happen to be looking at something else entirely, but sure enough, nothing was there.

"...Am I upsetting you by talking to the others somehow?" I asked her before I turned back to properly look at her, but I could hear the heavy sigh coming from her. "I know you said that we have no time for romance, but I really don't think just talking to the others automatically lead to immediately wanting to bone them"

"I worded it wrong before" Carley let out another sigh as she pushed herself off from the aisle she had been leaning against, crossing her arms over her chest as she focused on me. "Romance is fine, but the part I have a problem with is the side of people that suddenly ignore everyone else once they’re in a relationship"

"Oh! So you're fine with me possibly getting into a relationship with someone, as long as they pay equal attention to other people as well?" I asked her, but I could already spy the small frown beginning to form on her face. "...It's not? So you're fine with romance between others, but I'm the exception to that for some reason. Why?"

Finally, I got some kind of response from her that was giving me a clearer picture of what she wanted. She didn't say anything at first, instead opting to slowly pan her eyes down from my face to my feet, trailing back up my body. She lingered quite a long time on my skirt, then my chest before returning to my face.

"...Take a guess" She said softly, her voice taking an almost... sultry tone. I could feel my face start to heat up from the attention on me, fiddling a little with my skirt to fix it further downwards in a nervous fidget. Despite my frazzled appearance, and mind, I did have at least one guess as to what she was referring to.

"You heard me say boyfriend OR girlfriend to Clementine in the office" I tested the theory out loud, which earned me a smile from her. I don't know where my confidence was suddenly coming from, but the following statement rolled out of my mouth before I could really stop it. "I didn't think you were into women as well"

"Nobody ever does" Carley casually said with a grin on her face, turning back around to poke at her radio again. "Seeing as you're here, do you think you could help me with this?"

"Sure, I'm sort of handy with electronics" I accepted her request for help, quickly scanning around the room for our resident searcher of supplies. Once I saw him, I waved him over to me to borrow the two batteries from him. "Sorry, but I'll be borrowing those for a moment, okay?"

"No problem" Shawn happily handed them over, looking very pleased on the fact he was helping out in any manner. "Just let me know if there's anything else I can do"

Shawn left me and Carley to our business, the latter looking much more pleased once Shawn had gone to do something else. She was a little like Kenny, much happier once Shawn was no longer paying attention to me. Was their condition jealousy or envy?

I let that question slip away for the time being, returning to the task of getting the radio to function. Without really blinking an eye, I picked up the radio and replaced the batteries in the back, flipping it back around to the correct side before casually pushing the power button. The radio immediately flared to life, a heavy sound of radio static on it before it locked onto the station that Carley had been looking for.

"You got it working" Carley said, almost a little confused with how quickly I had managed to do it. She seemed like she was going to ask me more on the subject, but a particular news broadcast started announcing various things to survivors.

"Primrose" I could hear Clementine call for me, making me give Carley a quick wave before slipping around her to see what she wanted. She held out the walkie talkie in her hands, obviously wanting me to take it from her. "Glenn wants to speak to you"

"Hey Glenn, you need some help?" I asked him the moment I pushed down the button, not really wanting to dawdle in case this dream state decided to actually make him get hurt if I didn't hurry.

"How did you know?" Came the immediate response from Glenn, to which I shrugged my shoulders. Only realising later that he couldn't see my shoulders go up and down, I quickly made up a response to placate his possible worries.

"It just seemed like the most likely thing you'd contact us about" I explained loosely, noticing several eyes looking towards me as I spoke. Everyone was keen to hear back from him, but this new information that he might be in danger was not what they were hoping for. "Are you stuck somewhere?"

"Yeah, I'm actually hiding around the motel near the North - Eastern exit out of Macon" I made a mental note to take someone with me who actually knew the area, listening to him further. "A number of the roaming guys around here sort of cornered me. I'm hiding in the ice machine on the outside of the building, but they're not leaving"

"Don't worry man, we'll have a team coming out to you" I assured him, hearing an immediate sigh of relief from the other side, before he assured me he was going to sit tight until then. I then returned the walkie talkie in my hands back to Clementine, deciding that I wouldn't need it when I went out to get him. "You get all that Kenny?"

"Sure did" Kenny came towards me to sort out who was going, clearly hoping that Lilly wasn't going to object to the idea. She didn't, clearly still busy with taking care of her father. "So, how do you want to do this?"

"I think that we should have a smaller group going out, and having someone with us who knows the town like the back of their hand would be invaluable" I listed off a number of the categories, turning my head back to look at Carley to see if she'd volunteer. Unlike the game, not all that surprising anymore, Carley seemed to be in absolute tears from the radio broadcast she had just heard. In respect for her, I decided to not immediately suggest her. "...Lilly's probably still busy with her dad, and Carley doesn't look good enough to go. I could take Doug with me, but then we wouldn't have a front lookout"

"I could do that while he's away" Shawn offered straight away the moment he heard an open position was there, smiling politely at Kenny as he sort of sidled up to the two of us in the middle of the store. "But why don't you want to take Kenny?"

"Because I need someone to run the place while I'm out and about" I responded to his query before Kenny could get offended by it, effectively shutting down another unpleasant interaction between the two. Doug heard the interaction between us all, moving himself slightly away from the door to come over.

"Shawn, swap with me please?" Doug asked him before the door was unattended for too long. He seemed completely unbothered by the idea of going out into the dark night to find Glenn, actually looking quite happy that he was getting to do something outside of peering out of a door. "So I'm all ready to head out, what about you?"

"Ah, hold on just a moment" I quickly excused myself, turning just slightly around to hand the last energy bar down to Clementine, who already was keeping watch over a number of items next to her. "Keep that safe for me until I get back, okay?"

"Okay" Clementine played the diligent role of item banker for me, placing the bar right next to her along with the pictures and the remote control. She did look up at me with a bit of an uncertain look because of what I was going to do soon, but she was doing her best to be brave. "Be careful out there, okay?"

"Of course darling" I assured her, gently patting her head once more in a motherly way. Once she seemed satisfied that I was really going to do my best to keep my promise, I turned back to the two men. "Alright, now I'm ready to go"

Chapter Text

The majority of the walk to the motel ended up being uneventful, not even conversation really flowing between me and Doug. It wasn't as if we didn't like to talk to each other, but we both seemed to nonverbally understand that talking was a luxury we couldn't afford to use outside of safe walls. Plus, I was a person that was perfectly content with being with someone else in silence, and it appeared that Doug was too. He was very talkative in the game, something which I was certain was true, which meant he was good at noticing when it was time to talk and when to be quiet. A real people person, something that would become invaluable when stressful times loomed ahead of us.

I found myself looking up at the dark night above us, seeing the clouds from before still present in the sky. That was the biggest hint I had that this entire thing had to be a dream. After all, there was no way that a sky could literally wobble in reality...

A hand shot out in front of my chest, grinding me to a halt before I could take any more steps forward. I nearly let out a startled gasp, when Doug hushed me with a single finger. We had arrived at a motel, and he had stopped me from walking forward into the line of site of one of the roaming walkers. Just as that same walker started to turn around and notice us, we ducked behind a low brick wall to escape its view. Before long, we could hear it growl something incoherent, before turning and shuffling away from our position.

Only a moment later, we could hear something akin to a rusty metal gate opening and closing. When I peered over the small brick wall, I could spy a ice machine off towards the left of the motel, it creaking open a little just a moment later for someone to peek out.

"I think Glenn might be in there" I whispered to Doug, pointing towards the ice machine. He lifted his head to peek over the wall as well, simultaneously keeping an eye out for the walkers roaming around. "I don't think he saw us earlier, so we'll have to wait for him to open it further"

"How do you know he's in there though?" Doug asked me, his eyes mainly focusing on the walker roaming in the courtyard of the old motel rather than the ice machine. "For all you know it's another walker"

The door of the ice machine opened before I even had to explain my reasoning, Glenn looking out and noticing us immediately. He was about to call out to us, but Doug hushed him in a similar fashion as he did for me, gesturing hurriedly for him to come and duck behind the wall as well. He vaulted over the wall as if it was natural to him, landing with a smile next to us.

"Oh, you guys have no idea how glad I am to see you" Glenn copied us in whispering, all three of us focusing on a little tight nit circle between us.

"I'm just glad you're safe" I admitted to him, earning me a grateful smile from him.

"No kidding" Glenn admitted, patting the walkie talkie that he had clipped to his belt. "If you hadn't given this to me, I could have been in a lot more trouble"

"Speaking of trouble, we should be leaving pronto before these things see us" Doug reminded us, jabbing a thumb over his shoulder at one of the ones lingering about. "I might have played a lot of zombie video games in my youth, but I really don't want to deal with these things more than I have to"

"Wait, you played zombie games?" I couldn't help myself from asking him that, no matter how much I later figured out it was unimportant to the situation. "No way, me too!"

Despite how inappropriate it was at the time, both me and Doug shared a tiny high-five between each other. Glenn sighed in a bit of an exaggerated manner, before he put his hand up as well.

"I played zombie games back in college" He justified why his hand was up, it ending up a little weird when both me and Doug tried to high-five him at the same time. We softly apologised to each other with a bit of a giggle in each other's voices, before going one at a time to high-five Glenn. "But we can't leave yet, there's a girl trapped up there on the second floor"

True enough, there were two walkers banging against some sort of makeshift wooden blockade, with a very audible crying sound coming from inside the room. 

"How did you even manage to get up there without getting your face chewed off man?" Doug asked, grimacing at the number of walkers hanging around the motel courtyard.

"Oh, they weren't there before" Glenn explained quite easily, which honestly answered a long unanswered question of my own about the game. "I heard crying from inside the room, and I knocked on her door and started talking to her. It was fine at first, but then when I offered to come in to help her, she freaked out, screaming something about how I was bit"

"...Which then meant you had to duck into the ice machine to avoid getting swarmed" I verified the last part of the last hour for him, which Glenn affirmed. "I hate to be the devil's advocate, but what if she was just saying that she was bit, and not you?"

Glenn worried his lip between his teeth; obviously thinking hard as to whether or not that could have been what she was saying. After a long and tense silence, it seemed clear that he couldn't deny that was a possibility. I spared a glance over to Doug, who seemed to look back with the same look, one of uncertainty about the situation.

"...I still think we should try" Glenn finally spoke up, breaking the strenuous silence. "I know we don't know for certain, but I think she deserves the chance at least"

"Yeah, I get that. I got a second chance with your group after all, even when they thought I was bitten" I agreed with him, allowing the original timeline of the game to sort of fall back into place. While I knew for certain that she was bitten, I also knew that we as a group would soon come back to the motel later on, so it was prudent to take out the walkers already.

"To be fair, Larry was the only one who thought you were bitten" Doug reminded me, a small hint of a cheeky grin appearing on his face. Glenn rolled his eyes in response to his remark, but you could see he was happy about the small amount of humour and because we were going to try and help the girl out. "But the girl, she's not likely to come out with all of these walkers hanging around"

"Walkers? Oh yeah, wait, you did call them something like that earlier, didn't you?" Glenn seemed completely confused with the different name for the dead, only really being reminded of the name by the fact I had used it before.

"I don't like calling them zombies" I shortened my explanation while I was around both of them, just in case I messed up with my reasoning compared to the one I gave Doug. "Makes them seem too unreal"

"Oh, okay"

With nothing much else to add to the conversation, all three of us shimmied our way closer towards the door, peering over the wall to the main courtyard. There seemed to be a total of four walkers hanging in the courtyard, if you didn't include the two on the upper balcony, which was the original amount of walkers as there was in the game. The only problem was, we had no Carley with us...

...Which meant no gun.

"Doug, you wouldn't happen to have your screwdriver still on you?" I asked hopefully to the man hiding behind the brick wall next to me, who stuck his hand in his pocket to look for it. He frowned slightly, bringing his hand back out, without anything in it.

"Sorry, I didn't get it out of the one I got back in the drug store"

...Great. So not only did we not have any guns, we also didn't have any weapons on us. At all.

There was of course the awl in the truck, but I knew that we couldn't just bash that open with our bare hands, even if we collectively had the strength to do so.

"Do you guys have anything on you that might help?" I asked them both, freaking out a little mentally. Charging in to save a random woman who I knew was bit was suddenly looking bleaker than I thought.

"I have a metal chopstick on me" Glenn spoke up, which nearly made my eyes pop out of my head in surprise. A metal chopstick?! Why wasn't that mentioned in the game?! "It's very old though, so it wouldn't really be able to take out more than one of these guys"

"One is plenty man, it's more than enough" I very softly let out a sigh of relief, holding out my hand to him to take it from him. Now that I think about it, maybe you never found out in the game simply because Lee never asked Glenn if he had a weapon on him. When it was handed to me, I felt how brittle it was, it likely going to splinter if I stabbed it into anything. That was step one of a plan I had in my mind, and the other was going to happen soon. "Doug, would you be able to grab the pillow from around the wall?"

Doug gave me a confused look, before looking around the wall for the item I had mentioned, quickly grabbing the plush item and ducking back around the wall.

"How did you even see this thing?" He asked me, grasping the pillow in his hands as though he thought it was some kind of weird device rather than something to help someone sleep. "Besides, what's it going to do for us? We can't smother these things to death"

"And I'd rather not waste my life on 'hey, you never know'" Glenn felt he had to make that joke, something that made both me and Doug had to bite our tongues to stop ourselves from actually laughing out loud.

"It is important, trust me" I assured the both of them, purposefully leaving out the detail about how I had seen it without even looking. I was sure I could make up a reason if they pressed me about it, but we didn't have time for that. "Here, follow me over to this truck"

The two obediently listened to my command, the three of us tiptoeing around the wall to the truck underneath the balcony. One of the walkers seemed to hear our steps a bit, but we obviously weren't interesting enough to follow or stumble after. I could notice the awl just placed on the seat on the inside of the truck, something which I knew we would have to come back later and get.

"So, you and I swap items now" I told Doug, changing hands so that now I was holding the pillow. Once that was done, I pointed over across the courtyard to a car, which had a lone solitary walker leaning against the driver's side door. "I'm going to hold the pillow over it's face, while you stab it in the temple with the chopstick. The pillow will stop it from biting you, and hopefully keep the noise down"

"Alright, let's go" Doug decided for the both of us before I could back out of the decision, making me move forward in a hurried manner to not fall behind him. The walker against the car seemed to be able to see us, despite its rotting eyes, and I shoved the pillow into its face before it could even snarl at us. I could feel something like it trying to bit its way through the cloth and stuffing, but Doug stabbed it a moment later, shattering the metal chopstick into various splinters.

"...That was awesome" Glenn whispered in an awe inspired manner, clearly impressed by our display of team work. I just felt myself chuckling a little, before waving Glenn over to come and join us beside the car. "You guys are like, the best walker killing combo"

"We'll be even better once we have enough weapons for all of us" I decided, deciding to open the door to the car cautiously. "Keep an eye on that walker behind the car here; I think I might have a plan for it later"

"Aye aye ma'am" Glenn affirmed with a bit of a silly salute, turning himself so he could keep the aforementioned walker in his sights. While he was doing that, I snatched a small metal object from inside the car, looking exactly like a spark plug. Once I had that in my hands, I quickly shifted the hand brake until it was in the off position, closing the door only a second later. "What have you got there?"

"Hm? Oh, it's a spark plug. I was thinking it might be able to help us get into the truck back there." I casually mentioned, carefully cupping the item in my hands. Would it break if I held onto it too tightly? "Help me push this, we're going to trap the walker there against the wall"

Both Glenn and Doug put their hands on the car, being a little careful for any broken glass on any surfaces, before all of us began pushing it. It was actually a lot easier to push than the cars I had pushed with Shawn the previous day, it rolling along the ground smoothly. There was only a single bump that we had to go over, probably a bumper for a car park, before we rammed into the walker, trapping it between the wall and the car.

Glenn looked like he wanted to make another comment on how 'awesome' everything was, but I quickly hushed him, simply because we were too close to the other walkers for that. I quickly thought about putting the handbrake back on, quickly managing to do that through the smashed car window, before all three of us retreated back to the relative safety of the truck.

One of the walkers on the upper balcony seemed to have heard the noise of the walker being mushed against the wall, but they quickly returned to the crying coming from inside the room they were banging on, as that was more constant and louder than anything we had done. With an extra reason to hurry up, I brought the spark plug back to attention, holding it in front of the others.

"I don't suppose you guys know how to unlock a car with a spark plug?" I asked them, knowing full well that Glenn would know what to do with it. True enough, he gently took it from my hand, crushing it underneath his shoe.

"It might sound crazy, but the porcelain on the inside of these things can actually shatter glass faster than you can say 'hey presto!' Glenn quite proudly told me this information, even though it did seem to make me wonder about how on earth he knew how to break into cars so well. Ah well, if nothing else, breaking into things would actually probably help him out in the current future. "Here, throw it against the window"

"Hey presto" I couldn't help but whisper that at the same time as when I threw the porcelain, only to have the snickers from Glenn and Doug be vastly overshadowed by the sound of the glass shattering. Once again, the same walker from before seemed to sort of hear our business, turning away from the door it was banging on for a moment, but soon losing interest in place of the crying coming from the room.

With the awl now properly pilfered from the truck, I knelt back down beside the boys, gesturing back over to where we had been hiding before.

"We should sneak back that way" I gave my command, but I could see a slight hint of uncertainty in their eyes that could only really be placated by me explaining why I wanted to go back that way. Man, the people in the game never questioned why you went somewhere. "We can sneak up behind that one munching something in the courtyard, and then get the one around the R.V. without either of them really noticing us beforehand"

"Ah, I get it" Doug verbally seemed to agree with the idea, Glenn agreeing, but with a nod of the head instead. "Let's go, we're right behind you"

It honestly wasn't that big of a deal to move back there, it almost seeming like the guys were making a bigger thing out of it than was really necessary. When I peeked over the wall, I clenched the awl tightly in my hands, almost as if it was to give me support. I knew that Doug likely would have easily accepted the task of killing the walker for me, except... I had yet to actually kill a walker in this dream, which left me woefully unprepared. Almost as expected, I could hear Doug offer to kill it for me.

"You want me to get it?"

"No, no it's alright" I refused his help with a gentle yet firm insistence in my tone, steeling my nerves. "I'll get it"

With an almost white-knuckled grip on the awl, I snuck out from behind the wall, softly treading across the concrete behind the walker. Just as I got into position directly behind it, did I notice that it stopped eating whatever it happened to be chewing, it slowly turning his head its head around as though it could somehow sense me behind it. Deciding I couldn't afford to wait, I took the plunge and swept the awl through the air until it plunged into the walkers skull.

...To my surprise, the skull of the walker itself was really soft, the bone decaying at an alarmingly fast rate. It felt like I was trying to punch a hole into a termite ridden wall, not actually pierce the hardest bone in the human body.

I yanked the awl out of the skull once I couldn't drive it in anymore, allowing the walker to flop onto the ground, now truly lifeless as it was supposed to be. It honestly wasn't as gratifying as I had always imagined it to be, instead being more anxious that the thing would spring back up even after I had stabbed it.

"Nice!" Glenn gave his usual note of encouragement, following close behind me as I then snuck around to the R.V.. Doug looked like he wanted to come with us, but there wasn't quite enough space to fit all of us comfortably. And while comfortableness was not completely necessary for killing walkers, having proper space was.

I let out a low whistle as I peered around the corner, it almost immediately getting a reaction out of the solitary walker ambling around on that side of the R.V.. I repositioned the awl in my hand again, purposely trying to not clench it as tight as I did before, before leaping at the walker as it rounded the corner in a curious state. Unlike the game, I managed to drive my awl right into its head, directly through the eye due to how soft that was compared to the skull. The skull was easy to penetrate on these things, but the eye was even easier. Like jelly, I suppose you could describe the latter.

"Have I ever mentioned how badass you are? Because if I haven't, I really need to do so more often" Glenn made me laugh again with his comment, Doug sounding like he was trying to keep his own chuckles at bay once he regrouped with us.

"You have mentioned something in a similar vein to that" I cheekily reminded him, winking at him once. It felt a little nice to let loose, without really being on edge one hundred percent of the time, and it seemed like they appreciated it too. "Now we just have three more to go"

The walker that we had managed to trap behind the car was the first one we encountered, especially when we walked by it, it rearing its head towards the three of us. I would have suggested to just ignore it for the time being, but right beside it was a fire axe trapped behind a pane of broken glass. Besides, the walker was being way too loud for us to just leave him behind. I side stepped around the outstretched arms of the walker, stabbing the gunked up awl into the temple of the walker, quickly felling it before it could draw more walkers to the motel. And without losing the awl might I add! Go me.

"Awesome" Came the usual note of encouragement from Glenn, which seemed so common to hear from him now. Even so, I couldn't help but smile with the remark. He did however seem a little surprised when I passed the awl over to Doug after I brought it back out of the walker. "Uh, what are you planning to use for your weapon now?"

"This" I put it plainly, wrenching out the axe out of it's emergency case and holding it triumphantly in my hands. It was substantially heavier than I expected, but I knew that could only help me when I swung it into a walker. "This'll do nicely"

"I'll say" Doug had to agree with a sort of jealous look towards the fire axe, reaching out with his finger to gently trace around the blade to test its sharpness. Once he was well and truly accepting of how sharp the thing was going to be, he tested the awl in his hands with a light stabbing motion in the air. "Alright, let's go get those last two"

"Hell yeah" Glenn's words became our sort of trumpet blast to charge up the stairs, both me and Doug leading the way up the stairs to the balcony.

Once we rounded the corner, we could clearly spot the two walkers as clear as day under the lights. One of them obviously could see us just as well as we could, slowly beginning to pull away from the crying in the room, instead choosing to lumber towards us. I was the first one to swing out of the two of us, bringing the axe far back behind my head as if it was a baseball bat rather than an axe. When I let loose, the axe swung in a brilliant arc around me, cleaving through its head like it was paper.

The downside of that, of course, was the gigantic banging noise that occurred when the axe proceeded to slam and get stuck into the wall. This noise, while not enough to bring the entire neighbourhood around to us, was enough to bring the other one growling towards us, whom Doug managed to stab through the eye before it could get too close to the three of us.

"Rad" Glenn gave his approval of our walker one-two combo, and Doug seemed to roll his eyes in a good natured way with a joking response to it.

"Are you just going to be the guy who delivers a one liner every time someone does something remotely cool?" Doug chuckled as Glenn imitated a exaggerated hurt look on his face, the both of them messing around for a moment now that things were looking a lot safer. I allowed them to have that moment, knowing full well about how upset things could be later on. Or even in just a couple of seconds, now that I was reminded of it.

As the two of them calmed down from the adrenaline high from clearing out the motel of walkers, I moved close enough to the barricaded door and knocked firmly against the door.

"Please just go away!" An insistent, yet very upset voice pleaded with me from the other side of the door. Glenn gave me a look that seemed to say that this attitude was exactly what he had encountered before with her.

"I'm not forcing you to come out ma'am, I understand that you don't want my help. I just want to try and understand why, is that alright?" I softly asked her, speaking just loud enough so that she and I were able to understand each other, but not enough so that walkers would show up again. No response came to my question, so I was left with one of two options that she was going with. Either she heard me and was hoping I was going to leave her alone, or she was just waiting for me to continue on. "Are you bit?"

I didn't hear her give any response at first, instead just leaving me with silence for a good long while. I was about to turn my head to see what Doug and Glenn thought about it, when I finally heard something.

"...Yes"

"I'm sorry" I wasn't sure who I was apologising to... perhaps it was more that I was feeling sorry for the fact she was in that position. It was different, speaking to her right then. It seemed so much more real than I had ever imagined I could feel. I could faintly remember a snippet of information from the game, something which I hoped would give her some sense of hope in her final hours. "God be with you"

"...Thank you" She left me with those last words, the same silence from before returning. This time, however, I'd like to believe it was more a peaceful one than before. I couldn't give her a peaceful death like Carley's gun could give her, but at least I gave her the chance to make her own decision on what she was going to do.

Glenn looked completely heartbroken when I turned around, obviously wishing with all his heart that my guess had been wrong, only to realise that I had hit the nail on the head. Doug and me had to be the ones to gently bring him away from the door, a hand on each shoulder to nudge him towards the stairs. Once he was going, his legs seemed to take him the rest of the way, wanting nothing more than to be gone from the motel. When we descended the stairs, Glenn obviously headed in a beeline for a car off to one side, despondently searching in his pockets for the keys.

"Hey man, let me drive" Doug offered to Glenn before the latter could even unlock the doors, already offering his hand out for the keys. Glenn didn't seem to mind at all, handing the keys over without another word. While Doug did look a little concerned with how little he responded, he let Glenn be.

We all proceeded to climb into the rinky-dink car, with me purposefully finding a seat next to Glenn in the back to keep an eye on him. I did the best I could, gently placing a hand on his shoulder and rubbing that as soothingly as I could. Without another word from any of us, Doug shifted the car into gear and drove us back.

Chapter Text

Everyone in the drug store turned their heads as we came back in through the back door, obviously wondering about how our excursion had gone. None more so than Kenny and Shawn, with the former immediately changing his path so that he was headed towards us, with the latter begrudgingly accepting the fact that he couldn't abandon his post at the front of the store.

"You guys alright?" Kenny couldn't seem to help but ask, despite the fact it was quite clear that each one of us were uninjured. Maybe he was meaning it in the emotional side of things, which Glenn's perpetual downwards glance seemed to give a good answer as to what his state was.

"We're alright" I decided to make the explanation short, making the judgement call that now was not the time for therapy. There was going to be time for that later, I hoped, but right now actions were what the group needed. "Glenn found some gas for the truck, enough that we should at least be able to get everyone out of the drug store to another part of town"

Doug's eyes almost seemed to penetrate straight through me by the way he was staring at me, it being clear that neither he nor I had actually heard from Glenn about how much gas he had managed to collect before he got trapped in the ice machine. Of course, this on it's own was nothing more than slightly odd, as he likely had come up with the excuse that I had simply guessed. With Doug's slight doubt and with Glenn's distracted state, neither men called me out for the inconsistency.

It was another reminder for me about how observant some people actually were in the dream, feeling like it was another nail in a figurative coffin for me. Sure, nothing people had noticed so far would be grounds for being suspicious of me, but it was another matter entirely if they happened to talk to each other about the collective mistakes I had made in a group. The lies and information that I wasn't supposed to know were beginning to rack up.

"That's great to hear, but I don't think we'll be leavin' 'til we manage to get the back of the drug store open" Kenny sighed softly, his eyes slipping between me and Glenn to spy Larry still leaning against a shelf of unusable supplies. Lilly noticed my gaze when I looked that way as well, her giving me a stressed, yet still trying to keep it all together smile. "I don't suppose you have a plan for that?"

"...Actually, I do" I happily told everyone who happened to be listening in at the time, using one of my available hands to wave Clementine over to me from her perch on a cardboard box. Eager to help out in any manner possible, Clementine came shuffling over, before handing a couple of items to me when I pointed at the things she was still carrying around with her. The only thing she didn't return to me was the picture of Lee, which she carefully hid inside her shirt in order to keep our secret, before she moved back to her spot. The other side of the photo I held up to Kenny, letting him take it from me while I handed the television remote to Doug, who accepted the electronic device despite being a little confused on why he was being given it. "It might be a long shot, but I wanted to go and have a bit of a look outside within the gated part of the front of the store. If we can spot any walker stumbling around that looks like any of the three people in that picture, then there's a chance that one of them would have the keys on their body"

"Well, it's certainly better than what I had for a plan, which was to bash down the door with a heavy object" Kenny had to admit, handing back the picture to me, despite how lopsided my hand was from holding the one remaining energy bar already. He did cast a sceptical look towards Doug however, which I found odd until I noticed that his look was more being directed towards what he was holding. "But uhh... What does a remote exactly do for you?"

"I noticed before we came into the drug store that there was a television store almost directly across from here. If the remote is universal, then it might be able to turn them on from across the street to distract the walkers in the street" I explained my reasoning, knowing full well that I wouldn't be able to take credit for the idea in full, as I had just borrowed it from the game rather than my own mind. Kenny just looked thoroughly confused with the plan, all the talk of electronics and fancy gadgets likely flying directly over his head. Glenn and Doug on the other hand, perked up immediately from the sounds of me knowing a thing or two about electronics, the both of them looking at me as if I was some sort of electronic device goddess.

"Where have you been all my life?" Doug said, partially joking but also partially being completely honest to his own feelings. Despite the fact Glenn laughed heartily at Doug's statement (Being hushed by Lilly very shortly afterwards due to how loud he was being), it seemed like he was in agreement with him. Perhaps it was extra hilarious because he felt the same way?

Kenny and Carley didn't seem to find it all that funny, the former's moustache almost seeming to accentuate his slight frown, while Carley loudly cleared her throat from the other side of the room. I decided to nip the problem in the bud before it could get any worse between the members of the group, making plans about who I was going to take outside with me.

"Kenny, would you mind checking on Carley for me? I just want to make sure she's alright while I go with Shawn, Doug and Glenn to see if anyone has any keys outside" I made the plan to put the two most prickly members of the group (When it came to people suddenly flirting with me at least) together, also because I wanted to make sure that Carley would be a good shot later on when he escaped from the drug store.

Oh my god, speaking of escaping the drug store, what was my plan on getting both Doug and Carley out of the situation in one piece? The last time I was confronted with needing to save someone from their original death was Shawn, and I honestly had just lucked out with that one by being there exactly as the tractor was turned on. So far my current thinking had been to hurry along and make sure that Larry didn't die due to my ineptitude, but I still didn't have a concrete plan for what was going to happen during the attack against the drug store.

Back out of my own thoughts, Shawn's ears almost seemed to perk up the moment I had mentioned that he was coming along to help me look outside, turning around from his position to greet the three of us with a pleasant smile. I was just double checking that we had all items with us that we would need to retrieve the keys, when I was reminded of the weight in my hand of the last remaining energy bar.

For some reason, my brain was screaming at me to offer it to Glenn first, despite the fact I would be doing it directly in front of Shawn to do so. Perhaps it was because I knew he refused it no matter what in the game, so I was even more curious about that. But even so, I decided to try and keep it as civilised as possible by offering it to all three at the same time.

"Are any of you three hungry?" I offered the energy bar to anyone who was willing to put up their hand first, and I could tell that Doug was fine with missing out a moment later.

"Adrenaline" Came the single one note response from Doug, who clearly was still too amped for the food.

"I'm also good" Shawn admitted with a little bit of a surprised face, possibly because he was well known for eating a lot back home on his farm. What he said next however, nearly made me giggle aloud. "But if you're going to offer it to Kenny, don't tell him you offered it to me first. I have the feeling he doesn't like me all that much"

If I had been drinking water at the time, I probably would have spat it out right at that moment. Huh, so he was keenly aware of the fact Kenny was not his biggest fan. I suppose I had underestimated him at the time.

Glenn lingered on the energy bar for a little bit, obviously wanting to take it but also not wanting to take away the possibility of food from someone else. I decided to give him a helping hand to help him make up his mind, throwing in a good joke and a reminder of what could happen should he refuse it.

"If you guys don't want it, I suppose I could give it to Larry" I obviously exaggerated the part of giving it to the quickly irritated old man, Glenn immediately snapping to the decision of taking it with a good-natured roll of the eyes. With that out of the way, I moved onto the actual part of the plan, shifting myself towards the front door. "Remember, whispering at all times unless absolutely necessary"

Two sharp nods and a small affirmative noise later, and I pushed open the door that led to the front door... And I was quite certain that the smell was the absolute first thing to hit me. Forget the smell of old expired meat, this was an absolutely disgusting combination of festering, pus covered wounds, the ever present smell of rotting flesh and... Was that charred bone as well?! 

I wasn't the only one affected by it, several gasping or gagging noises coming from the men following me out. Luckily, none of our noises were loud enough for the walkers to really notice us, and I hurriedly ducked down before any of them noticed me. The others followed suit, either kneeling or lying down low to the ground, keenly scanning the numerous faces (Or lack thereof) for one of the people in the picture.

"...Ugh, I think I'm going to be sick" Doug said what was on all of our minds, covering his mouth with his hand as he tried to reel himself back into a normal state.

Right as we were beginning to recover from our initial state of nausea, one of the walkers in the middle of the street then proceeded to pull the guts out of... what I hoped was a long dead person. Each walker in the surrounding area seemed to somehow be able to detect the flesh there, bunches of hands all scrabbling to grab a chunk of whatever, before tearing it off in an animalistic urge, voraciously shoving it into their mouths and chewing on it like they had been starving for years.

"Is that all they do? Just eat?" Glenn couldn't really believe what he was seeing, confronted by the front row seat to it more than anything else he might have seen them do before. I nodded my head with a low, heavy sigh, to which he and the others just seemed appalled by. "Jesus, they aren't even leaving anything behind for maggots..."

"Speaking of maggots, none of the walkers seem to be covered in them" Shawn pointed out something that honestly was actually quite interesting, something that actually made me ponder about why they didn't have any of them. In fact, were maggots even a thing in the walking dead universe? "Why do you think that is?"

"Maybe it's down to how 'fresh' these walkers are, how recently they had turned" I mused, allowing myself the liberty of getting distracted with all those thoughts for a brief moment. After half a minute of silence, and with no other possible hypothesis coming from me or my three companions, I switched back my priorities to getting the keys for the drug store. "Either way, it doesn't get us any keys. I think however, that I have seen a walker out here that we should be aiming for"

"You have, where?" Doug asked me, soon following my index finger as it pointed out towards our right, underneath a lamp post. The walker trapped there looked exactly like the young man in the picture I had found, and I fished it out to prove my point. "Ah! So he is"

"So your plan is to turn on the televisions across there, making enough noise for us to go and get that one?" Glenn double checked the plan with me before anything happened further, frowning slightly when he saw me nod my head. "Well, I can already see one problem with that plan. The lock on the gate is still there, and I... don't really know what the code is for it"

"That shouldn't be a problem" I confidently boasted, wriggling my fingers a little before I shuffled myself silently over to the lock. Using more skills that I had learnt from my dodgy college "friend" Alex, I pressed my ear tight to the mechanism of the lock itself, hoping that I would be able to unlock it in a similar way to a safe. After I heard one click from the lock, I started to twist the lock back the other way, only really twisting it back once I heard the second one. With the final click, the lock opened itself, which allowed me to take the little device as my own and keep it handy. "Hey presto"

I had meant the final words to be one in a joking manner, but it was clear from their faces that they were absolutely stunned by this new skill they had discovered of mine.

"...Where the heck do they teach that? Is that something that you learn in some fancy school in a rich neighbourhood?" Shawn asked me incredulously, the two other agreeing with him in the fact it wasn't ever something that they had learnt in their lifetime. "Not to mention, didn't you know how to unlock a door at that gas station outside of Macon?"

"I blame my shifty college friend" I tried to pass it off as something normal, feeling somehow put on the spot despite the fact I had actually never broken the law with my skills. "He was... Let's just say he was weird"

"Hey, I'm not complaining" Glenn admitted to me with a very soft chuckle, low enough so that the walkers couldn't hear him. Doug, originally so surprised that he had his mouth open, soon changed his tone to a similar vein to Glenn's, finding my little strange talents useful. "If anything, that's actually really awesome"

"You need to get some new catch phrases man" Doug joked softly with Glenn, jabbing said man softly in the ribs. "I'm quite certain I've heard you call her awesome already"

"Hush you" Glenn retorted, nearly making me chuckle aloud as I stuck my hands out of the now barely open gate, grabbing a single brick in front of the gate. The darn thing was so much heavier than I expected! I honestly was so afraid that I wouldn't be able to throw the brick far enough to break the glass that I looked over to Glenn for help. "What's up?"

"Do you think you could throw this across the street and smash the window to the TV store? I'm hoping to make the noises from the store even louder" I asked of him, which got me a confident thumbs up from him. One the other side of me, I looked at Doug with a conspiring look, which he seemed to somehow understand what I wanted him to do. "Shawn, let's be ready to go"

"Aye aye ma'am" Shawn affirmed with a stern voice, tensing himself in preparation.

Glenn went first, throwing the brick in a brilliant display of strength, it sailing through the air in an even better trajectory than what Lee had managed to achieve, crashing straight through the pane of glass at the front of the TV store. Only two seconds later, all of the TV's flared to life, Doug aiming the remote at said store from his universal remote. The shattering glass was already a very loud noise, but the combination of them guaranteed a reaction from all of the walkers lingering close enough to be a danger. Even the walker underneath the fallen over lamp post seemed like he wanted to go in the same direction, wriggling under the heavy wood to try and follow the others all crowding around the store.

With everything in place, me and Shawn slipped out of the safety of the metal gate, quickly sneaking over to the fallen lamp post. With the fire axe tightly clenched in my hands, I came face to face with a walker that looked so much like Lee it wasn't funny. B. Everett, I think the game eventually gave us in terms of his name.

"You okay?" Shawn suddenly whispered to me, reminding me that I wasn't truly on my own there. It was comforting, but at the same time I knew I couldn't really tell him the truth about why I was so sad, not directly anyway.

"He... He reminds me of someone I knew" I left my answer vague, not sure what else I was supposed to say. Shawn probably could guess that this guy I was referring to was the same one I was talking about to his father a day ago, but... he didn't know the full story.

Lee wasn't just someone I knew. He was someone I had spent hours getting to know, inside and out. Literal days in real life, with what people called wasted time, to become attached to a man who never truly existed. A man who I always would inexplicably treasure and love very much, even when I knew his true fate... Giving his life for Clementine in the final episode of the first season.

All of that was for nothing. In the end, despite all my thoughts about how I would somehow manage to change the game to save him, it was pointless, all of it. I killed him within the first twenty minutes of living in this dream.

He was gone. He was never coming back.

"Prim, I think you should leave this to me" Shawn was my saving grace at that point, somehow being able to drag me out of my own mind once more. Unbeknownst to myself, I had started to cry profusely, the warm tears slowly drifting down my face until they dripped off onto the pavement beneath me. No sound came out of my mouth, but the tears wouldn't cease, no matter how hard my brain tried to fix my garbled and emotional mind. Shawn, seeing the plight in my eyes, gently pried the axe out of my hands, before guiding me back around in a semi-circle, giving me a gentle nudge back over to Glenn and Doug. "Go back to them, I've got this"

I nodded my head mutely, obeying his suggestion and slowly trudging back towards the gate. It was just another reminder to me; a fatal mistake that I knew would eventually bite me in the rear later on. I wasn't ready for any zombie apocalypse, let alone this one.

Once I was close enough to the gate, someone quickly wrapped their arms around me, pulling me into a warm embrace. I could faintly make out the off colour of the jacket Glenn was wearing, despite my blurry eyes, and I focused on nothing else than the gentle pats he gave right between my shoulder blades.

"I'm sorry, I'm such a failure..." I couldn't help but feel I somehow had to apologise to the both of them for not completing the job like I had said I would, but Doug immediately cut that off.

"No, do not talk to yourself like that. Prim-I don't know if I am allowed to call you Prim, but I'm going to, okay? Prim, listen to me" Doug quickly stopped me from beating myself up further, waiting just long enough for Glenn to slightly release me from his hug, enough so that Doug could gently guide me so that I looked directly into his eyes. "Don't ever fault yourself for having emotions, they are a normal thing for anyone, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a filthy liar"

"...But-but I-

"You will occasionally run into situations which you can't handle as well as you think you can, or should. But that's not a bad thing Prim, a bad thing is to persist through something and get yourself hurt because you're too stubborn to ask for help" Doug insisted, and I almost naturally fell silent as I intently listened to him. He spoke with such conviction, something that I had never heard before from the game, so I listened to it as though it was going to be the only time I ever heard this from him again. "Don't reject your emotion, okay? Learn from them. Take something away from this all, and let it help you improve, so that the next time something like this happens, you'll have a better idea of what to do. Can you do that for me?"

It took me a couple of seconds to even register that he was done in his reassurance, but once I was certain he had said all that he had meant to, I nodded my head with a determined look behind my blurry eyes still. He was right after all, I had to find something out of this, and use it to make me stronger for the future.

"Ah, Shawn's done" Glenn commented idly, giving me just enough slack so that I could twist around and see Shawn wave the keys at us from across the street. "Alright, and now we just have to-Oh shit!"

The tense in Glenn's arms and the hissed swear word made my body flick back into adrenaline mode, my eyes instantly jumping over to the walkers across the street. Shawn had seen them already start to come away from the store, and he ran across the street with both the axe and keys to avoid getting seperated from us. The rest of us started to get into a mad scramble to get back inside, Glenn releasing me from his hold and grabbing the front door and swinging it open enough for the rest to go in first. Before any of the other walkers would get close, Doug threw his now useless remote at the closest one, it bouncing off its head and shattering into a number of separate pieces across the road.

Just as I grabbed out the rotating lock to put it back onto the gate, one of the walkers came too close to me and tried to grab my arm. Shawn and Doug managed to see this in time, Shawn grabbing my other arm and Doug grabbing the back of my shirt before the both of them tugged me back to safety inside the store. Glenn managed to close the door behind us all as I was the last one inside, both him and Doug throwing themselves at the other side of the door so that the door couldn't be forced back open.

"That was way too close" Doug let out the first uncomfortable sentence after that, letting out a sigh of relief that he seemed to have been holding for a while.

"No kidding man" Glenn had to agree, neither one of them looking like they wanted to go anywhere but keep the door tightly shut behind them. Shawn decided to join the both of them, which seemed to reassure them a lot more than without him.

"You guys look like you've seen something terrifying outside" Lilly surprised me a little by slowly tiptoeing behind me, looking slightly hopeful in case we had managed to find the keys outside. All three of the men that came with me outside let out an uncomfortable laugh, effectively confirming her suspicions. I was the one to give her the good news, gently taking the keys from Shawn and showing them to her with a little jangle. "Oh my god, you're amazing! I could kiss you right now"

"I-uh... I think that might be better reserved for when we're not in immediate danger, you know?" I brushed off the remark with a bit of a joke, unsure if she was being one hundred percent sincere. I mean, sure, she was a lot nicer to me currently than she ever was towards Lee in the game, but... honestly, what were the chances that both her AND Carley happened to have the hots for women, let alone me? "Let's go get your dad those pills"

"Please" Lilly honestly agreed, a somewhat gentle hand from her taking my arm and leading me towards the office area. I only just managed to spy why Kenny hadn't decided to follow behind us, noticing his surprised look directed towards the back of Lilly's head. In his defence, I didn't really expect it either. Once we were in the office with just the two of us, Lilly clearly noticed something going on with me, making a remark about something that I had hoped that nobody had noticed. "You look like you've been crying"

"Yeah... There was a walker out there that looked a lot like a man I knew very well" I decided it was fine to explain to her why, as that was one step to becoming more secure about what had happened. "I didn't take it as well as I could have, so the others helped me out"

"That's what a group's for" Lilly admitted with a smile, holding a hand out to me for the keys I had shown to her earlier. After a quick change of hands, she was the one wielding the bunch of them now, taking one out of it to try on the door. To both her and my surprise, that first one ended up being the one to unlock the door.

For a brief second, my mind jumped ahead in thinking, pondering once again on the dilemma on how to save both Doug and Carley at the same time as each other. But what I realised possibly too late, was that one easy way to prevent that situation from ever coming to pass would be to not set off the alarm in the drug store in the first place.

Which Lilly had just managed to do because she had walked in without checking.

"Shit!" I cursed under my breath, hearing the loud ringing of an alarm bell sound off above me and her. Panic set in her eyes at the sound, clearly knowing about how sensitive the things were outside, before I brought her out of her stupor with a heavy handed shout. "Lilly, we need to hurry and get these pills!"

"Oh, right!"

I dashed after her as she went in, her clearly knowing her way around much better than I did to look for the things she needed. All I know, was that now we really needed to hurry.

But possibly even worse, I needed to come up with a plan, and fast.

Chapter Text

Panic, that was all that was going on inside the drug store. Whether it was the haphazard manner that everyone was running around and arming themselves, or the ringing of the alarm, it was all chaos. This of course wasn't helped by the yelling going on between Lilly and Kenny.

"I'm gonna get the truck pulled 'round back!" Kenny yelled out, obviously girding himself for the mad dash out of the store to his pickup truck. There was the worry in my mind that his truck wouldn't have nearly enough space, when I remembered the fact that Glenn's small car also had room and more importantly, gas. "I want everyone else here to keep up our defences until then!"

"Do it fast, I need to get my dad out of here!" Lilly barked the order to him, obviously allowing her concern about her dad getting another heart attack taking the forefront of her mind. Larry, while still looking a little under the weather, was beginning to perk up after the pills he had just taken.

"I don't plan on dilly-dallyin'!" Kenny shouted back, hoping to catch everyone's attention before people got distracted. I did allow myself the quick moment to notice Katjaa gently telling her son that it was time to go, ushering him towards the office to barricade themselves in there. After quickly urging Clementine to follow them to keep her safe, I paid attention to Kenny again. "Prim, Glenn, Doug, Carley and Shawn, you guys are in charge of things in here until I get back!"

Almost as if the dream was trying to be ironic, the loud sound of a window breaking frightened a number of people, and honestly, I was a part of that group of people. I tightened my grip on my fire axe, almost instinctively wanting to drive it into some walkers skull. Huh, maybe that was what Doug was speaking of. Only a moment later, the loud creaking noise of the gate screeching open outside reminded Doug and the two guys who had gone with me that the gate was just another thing we didn't have on our side.

"Guys, that gate isn't locked anymore!" Doug yelled out, charging over to the door alongside Shawn and Glenn, the trio of them already working to keep the banging door at bay. The news luckily seemed to make Kenny kick it up a notch, already looking like he was ready to charge out and get things going.

"Shit" Kenny hissed under his breath, both at the news and his lack of a real weapon. "Just hang on guys, I'll get the truck running as fast as I can!"

"Wait Kenny, take this with you!" I called out to him before he fully left, tossing the axe to him in mid-air. He managed to catch it expertly, even doing so with a single hand before charging off. If I wasn't so afraid of something going wrong right then, I would have been whistling in appreciation for how cool he seemed in that moment.

Now that he was armed and I wasn't, I found myself running over to the front door of the store, which the four people were doing their best to keep it tightly shut. Just I made it there, Katjaa loudly called for Glenn's assistance, which he seemed to inadvertently ask for permission when his eyes glanced over to me. With a hurried hand gesture, I gave some loose approval to him, the both of us quickly swapping places so that I was the one pushing against the door while he ran off to help Lilly, Larry, Katjaa, Duck and Clementine in the office.

"Hey Prim, if we don't make it out of this, I wanted you to know..." Doug suddenly caught my attention, gently touching my shoulder with his own, distracting me off for just a moment. "...You're the best girl I've ever had the pleasure of knowing"

"Don't you even start with me! We're all going to make it out of this, no matter what!" I shouted to him, maybe a bit harshly so, but he only seemed to grin as though he had expected that response from me.

"Prim, I hate that I have to say this now, but you should know-

Almost as if the walkers had exact timing in their collective pushes, the door giving a huge heave, throwing both me and Shawn off it momentarily and interrupting Carley in the middle of her sentence. I literally threw all of my weight at the door, and obviously Shawn did too, the both of us managing to cause it to shut with a big slam.

"What were you saying?" Shawn shouted over the noise of the walkers banging on the walls, making Carley momentarily forget what she had been trying to say to me.

"Huh?" Carley asked him, clearly not really paying all that much attention. All it was doing was making my blood pressure rise, as I knew what being distracted would possibly get us.

"You said that Prim needed to-

"NOW'S REALLY NOT THE TIME!" I cried out, only to be drowned out by the shelves to our collective left to suddenly come crashing down. The moment some room was there to come in, the walkers started to seep in, almost like snakes. "Somebody needs to take those out! Carley, can you-

Coming right as I called her, Carley fired one shot at a walker that was getting a little too close to Doug, confidently giving me a grin before she made her way over there. What felt like a microsecond later, the large window off to the left of our position shattered spectacularly, sending shards of glass all over the tiled floor.

"Doug, get on that window, but don't let yourself get grabbed at all, you hear me?!" I commanded Doug over there before he could really protest or point out some other flaw, suddenly feeling the lurch of his sudden loss. Shawn and me struggled with the door, heaving on it with all our weight, but somehow in the middle of it all I still tried to keep an eye on either person. If I didn't keep an eye on them, then that dreaded choice would sneak up on me. "Carley, keep an eye on your damn ammo! Doug, you better yell out for help when you need it!"

In my slowly failing grip on my feet, I managed to connect my foot against something on the floor, only to look down and see that I had kicked the rotating lock that had been on the gate before. I quickly let go of the door, and scrambled to pick it up and throw myself back against the door. I wasn't sure if my impromptu plan was going to work at all, but it was worth the effort at least.

"Keep the door steady for me, I'm going to try and put this on the door handles!" I told Shawn while showing him the lock in my right hand. He agreed with the plan, obviously showing some sign of putting that small bit more pressure onto the door.

Before I could actually manage to do that however, the walkers seemed to bring back their somehow superhuman timing, heaving another strong shove against the door, throwing us off again. Without Doug and Carley to help us, we had a much harder time with actually closing it, especially so when the hands of the walkers began to wriggle in. It just made me appreciate the fact Lee had managed to do it on his own, and just pushed harder, feeling like my muscles were somehow going to rip and tear from the effort I was putting in. That extra effort was all we needed, managing to shut the door right on the number of rotting arms, the various hands and joints shattering from the strong wooden structure.

Without waiting anymore to see if Shawn was ready, I immediately slammed the lock onto the door handles, and span the dial like crazy to have it land on some random number. Hesitantly letting go of the door, we were both surprised to see that the little lock was all that was necessary to keep it at bay, rocking and slightly shifting but certainly not opening anymore.

And that was when I heard the dreaded screams.

"I'm out, I'M OUT! Prim, help! Ammo, in my purse!"

"Ahh! No, let go! Prim help! HELP ME!"

Both Carley and Doug yelled out at almost the exact same time as each other, them being in absolute danger, just like the game would have made things go. Carley had one of the walkers holding tight onto her ankle, just out of reach of her purse, which held the necessary ammo to help her. Doug didn't have it much better, several hands reaching in through the broken window, holding onto anywhere they could to try and drag him right out into their waiting grubby hands.

Somehow the adrenaline in my system made everything slow down to a crawl, almost perfectly mimicking the game, looking in horror between the two of them. I had failed.

Just as frozen as me was Shawn, standing right beside me and slowly glancing between the two of them exactly like I had been doing. I don't know where I managed to find the last remaining part of my brain that wasn't frozen in fear, but I locked in on Shawn long enough to come up with a plan that only me and him could pull off.

"Shawn, help Carley! I've got Doug!" I yelled at him, already sprinting across the tiled floor towards Doug before I could hesitate any longer. Only after I had made my choice did it occur to me that it might have gone better for Shawn to have gone to help Doug instead of me, but I threw it away the moment it appeared. "I've got you!"

Exactly like I had done to help Shawn, I hooked my fingers into the off-green colour of Doug's shirt, and violently tugging him towards me with all my might, causing the both of us to thud into the one upright aisle a little bit roughly. Doug wasn't fazed by this however, just looking endlessly grateful for the fact I had managed to save him, possibly even his life.

"Oh my god, thanks!" Doug couldn't help but let out a relieved breath, only to quickly recover and jump back into the fray with me, the both of us charging over to Carley and Shawn to see if they needed help in any manner.

It was obvious that we weren't actually needed however, as Shawn had managed to give Carley the extra ammo she had needed. He even assisted her further by throwing over another aisle to crush a zombie underneath it, and part of me wanted to tease him about how he must have gotten that idea from Kenny.

And right as I was thinking of him, Kenny slammed open the door to the store, wielding the fire axe and delivering news like he was my hero.

"LET'S GO!"

Trust me; I had never been happier to hear him say that, immediately making a beeline towards the door. Carley and Doug made it there without a problem, but one of the walkers that had somehow made it in tried to lunge for me, only to be drop kicked by Shawn in a spectacular fashion. He recovered in record time, quickly managing to get off the floor and also dash with me towards the door. He even somehow managed to make it out before I did, and so I made a mental note to ask him later to teach me how on earth he managed to pull of those kicks of his.

Larry was of course standing in the doorway, but I didn't really think much of it at the time, as I didn't think he had any real reason to knock me out like he did with Lee. Oh boy, did I turn out to be wrong.

"You're not coming with us you bitch!" Larry snarled at me, obviously bringing back his arm for a swing at me. I managed to somehow tap into my adrenaline reserves in order to bring my arms up to protect my face, but it wasn't quite enough to protect me completely, my arms subsequently crashing into my face with half the strength of the punch he threw, knocking me to the ground instantly.

It took a couple of seconds for the pain to even sink in, my mind hazy for a good couple of seconds against the cold floor. But once it finally did come, did it truly make my skin alight with nerves. It was utter agony, every part of my body refusing to cooperate with me, not listening to the very small part of my mind that was screaming for me to get up and out of the store.

Somehow, that was the final nail in the coffin for me. Not the fact that I could fall asleep in this dream and somehow wake up the following day in the same state, without returning to my normal life. Not the small inconsistencies that didn't make sense, that my brain honestly wouldn't have been able to make up for such a realistic dream of the game. Not the parts where I could literally feel heartbeats and pulses under my fingertips, where there honestly shouldn't be if this was a dream. And most certainly not the parts where I somehow would be dreaming about the parts in between the loading screens, or the parts where hours or days should skip by in the blink of an eye. No, somehow the mind numbing pain was the kicker for me...

...This wasn't a dream.

Just as I was starting to register the fact that my nose might have been broken as well, did I feel a walker grab tight onto my brown hair, violently trying to yank me towards it. Right as I began to kick my legs fruitlessly against the ground, did I see someone else come barrelling through the door towards me.

It was Glenn, wielding the fire axe that I was certain was supposed to be in Kenny's possession at that moment. He swung the axe far above his head, bringing it down with a hefty arc, immediately cleaving the walker's head in two, causing my hair to finally come free from it's grip. Right beside Glenn was Kenny, who immediately held out a hand down for me to grab.

"We're not letting someone else get eaten today!" He told me in a confident way, immediately being able to pull me up the moment I placed my hand in his, and securely grabbed onto my shoulder in case I took another dive to the floor. "Especially not you"

The moment I was upright and in his grasp, he started to hurriedly make me walk forwards, out through the door and out the back way despite the fact my brain wasn't cooperating at all yet. Glenn hurried to slam both doors closed behind us, leading the way in front of us with the trusty fire axe in his hands, taking out one or two of the roaming ones that got too close to us. I only really managed to pay attention when we had finally gotten to Kenny's truck and Glenn's car, with Kenny hurriedly picking me up off the ground to give me to Shawn, who had gotten in the back bed of the truck as usual.

"Keep her steady back there, I don't think she can really balance herself just yet!" Kenny ordered Shawn, who of course nodded in a hurry, before the former ran and jumped into his truck. Glenn just barely to make it into his own car before the both of them sped off, with Kenny's truck acting as the front guard, to knock aside and bash any walker misfortunate enough to be in our way.

"Oh my god, is your nose bleeding?" Shawn asked me, an unsure look on his face as he gently touched my nose. I flinched of course, and that seemed to worsen his remorseful look. "I am so sorry, I thought you were directly behind me when we got out of there"

"Ow... Larry, that asshole" I allowed myself the momentary swear, letting myself be cradled into Shawn's shoulder to wallow in pain for a moment or two. "What absolute moron decides to punch someone in the face?"

"He what?! When we get to the motel, I swear I'm going to-

"Don't, it's not going to help if you suddenly decide to go after him the moment we arrive" I quickly stopped his possible revenge plan, as much as I honestly wanted to sock him in the face myself. "Besides, he's probably going to wreck you before you can do any damage to him. I'll talk to Lilly about it, she seems to listen to me very well"

Shawn grumbled, obviously not happy with the idea of letting it slide, but reluctantly agreed with the fact that I was correct in all of my points. I could tell it was going to be hard to stop him AND Kenny if the latter were to hear about this as well however.

With a slight pain to it, I cautiously glanced up at the sky, wondering if I was going to see a change in it like what had happened with Shawn. True enough, the rippling effect was back, splashing this way and that before settling back to normal. Even in the dark of night, I could tell that the clouds had changed too, growing ever so slightly in size from the teeny tiny ones from earlier, even if it was by a small amount. The only real question I had now, after finally realising that this all wasn't a dream, was quite obvious.

...What on earth was up with that ripple, and those clouds?

 

Chapter Text

Not long after the calamity that was the drug store, we arrived at the motel off near the exit of Macon. Other than a couple more unwanted walkers hanging about in the car park and a single one in the upstairs bedroom, everything seemed just the same as I had left it before. As everyone else started to mill about in the carpark and prepare the motel for our occupancy for an indeterminate amount of time, I hung around the outskirts, looking down at the remains of Lee's family picture.

Clementine had returned it to me right as we had arrived, as she said that she honestly didn't have all that much of a connection with the man in the picture as I did. And that... was really upsetting to me, as I knew how close she could get to Lee when he was there for her.

...Would it be rude to rip up the remainder of the picture now that I didn't truly have any need for it? Even ignoring my sentimental feelings towards the one half that contained Lee, it felt disrespectful to destroy the other half as well, despite knowing that the three there were likely dead.

Especially so with the realisation that this was all real. This wasn't a dream where I could restart all over again and go back to save Lee, I was permanently left with the gaping hole that was his presence, and his shoes were some big ones to fill.

With a heavy heart, I tucked the combined pictures into the waistband of my skirt, hiding it just beneath my shirt so that it wouldn't attract attention from others.

Turning my attention back to the others, it was quite clear that the... odd reality I had been thrust into was doing its best to keep to the original timeline, everyone doing exactly what they would in game, with the exception of Shawn rummaging around inside a box halfway between Kenny and the two children, and Doug and Carley being able to now finally talk with each other after the drugstore. Trying not to rock the boat too much with the timeline, I proceeded to move forward to Glenn, trying to rub away the last traces of blood beneath my nose (Which luckily, had not been broken).

He spotted me coming over to him, tilting his head upwards in a sharp nod, clearly distracted by the radio inside his car. It was mentioning various danger levels that had been declared in cities all around the country, but it was clear that Glenn was listening to the one that announced the danger level of Atlanta.

"The current disaster levels are as follows; Atlanta, stage nine catastrophe" The rest of the broadcast wasn't really all that important to me, and it seemed like Glenn agreed, his eyes adopting a shocked look at hearing the level. Assuming that the levels could only go to a level of ten at the worst, that really was not what someone would want to hear.

"...I think I need to go" Glenn mentioned softly to me, his eyes looking apologetic when he could see the hurt in my eyes, even when I tried my hardest to hide it from him.

"To Atlanta?" I asked him, being momentarily distracted by movement behind Glenn, noticing that she had turned herself towards us, obviously catching one or two things from the conversation but not enough to decipher fully what we happened to be talking about. She tilted her eyes towards me, an unspoken question in them about what was going on. I gently waved her off while Glenn was looking down at the ground, which I hoped was enough to tell Lilly that I had things under control. It did, albeit it showed that she clearly wasn't one hundred percent with not knowing the full story.

"Yeah... I've got friends there, and I can't stay here knowing that they could be trapped in that city" Glenn admitted to me with a heavy sigh, obviously just as conflicted about the decision as I was about it. He seemed to raise his eyes from the ground in such a way that he almost seemed to be seeking my permission to leave.

"It's... not really my choice to make" I sighed softly, feeling tears prick in my eyes, something which he seemed to notice when the upset look in his eyes increased. Finding out that this place, whatever it was, was my new reality was a difficult thing to come to terms with, especially so when I would have to face it with a dwindling group of people that I could trust. I had barely managed to save Shawn, and it was only because of him that I had managed to subsequently rescue Doug and Carley safely... so I knew things were just going to get harder and harder from then on out. "I'm not going to be able to change your mind if it's been made up... but I honestly just want to be selfish and ask you to stay here, even though I know this is important to you"

He bit his lip softly as he mulled over my words, the first sign of imperfection in his actions so far. It was quite clear that his friends in the city meant the world to him, but something was making him hesitate in making a decision. Or who knows, maybe he was hoping to hear me make a decision before he did so.

"...I don't know" I gave up, finally letting my shoulders droop to how I had felt for the last hour since I had found out the truth of this reality, completely letting my guard down and giving myself the opportunity to just be miserable for a brief moment. "Just be safe"

Glenn's eyes glanced over to the radio once I was done talking, hearing the radio station repeat the catastrophe levels once more, before something finally clicked in his mind. He leaned in just far enough to turn the engine back off, shutting the car door briskly a second later. I honestly wasn't sure what I was supposed to make of it, when I saw him proudly grin at me.

"I'm not going anywhere" He practically boasted, looking quite pleased with himself when he saw my surprised face. "In the end, my friends are still going to be in Atlanta, nothing will change that, but I don't even know if I'd be able to find them there if I did go. On the other hand, you've done everything in your power to help not just me but the others in the group as well, even some people who had reacted violently to you guys when you had first entered the store. And do forgive me for saying, but I think you might need a little more help than you ask for"

"So you're staying?" I couldn't hide the relief in my voice, honestly wanting to hug for the decision. I managed to reel it back in however, settling for just softly grasping his shoulders when he nodded his head. "Oh thank god"

Glenn was apparently thinking along the same lines as me, softly bringing his arms around to properly give me a hug like before. I allowed myself to properly sink into his arms, relishing in his warmth and gentle heartbeat. An eye blink later, the sky above us began to wobble and weave again, the teeny clouds once again growing a bit bigger in the dead of night. Without really mentioning anything about it, I waited with bated breath to see if anyone else happened to notice it, but nobody truly made a remark. Either that was a common occurrence for them in this world, or they just were not very good at looking upwards.

"Come on, let's see if anyone else around here needs our help" I suggested to Glenn, softly releasing him from my hug but also wanting to keep him close somehow. He smiled tenderly at me, nodding his head and following close behind me.

With him now in tow, I moved over to who I knew was the next one in the timeline, Kenny. Currently he was cleaning the blood off the fire axe that everyone seemed to juggle between each other, only really lifting his head once he heard our collective footsteps.

"Oh dear god, you don't seem to look much better" Kenny worried about me, dropping the axe in the back bed of his truck to come over to me. He gently tilted my face up to get a better look at what was no doubt going to be bruising on my face, and the movement reminded me of those corny Japanese novels where the man would then kiss the girl. "You didn't actually get the chance to mention what did this before"

"Yeah, I didn't see anything in the drug store that could have done that, and walkers don't punch people last I checked" Glenn had to agree with Kenny's initial confusion on my injury, squinting his eyes to look at my face as well. "It doesn't look like you're going to get a black eye at least, and nothing seems broken. Did you run into the side of the door when it was open?"

"...You have to promise not to get mad at them" I warned the both of them, and the reaction was immediate from the both of them. Glenn looked confused of course, but Kenny's eyes lit up with a fire to them regardless of my warning. Even with the possibility of him going over and trying to thump Larry, I knew I had to tell him otherwise there was a chance he was going to thump everyone. "But as I was the last one going through the door, Larry punched me in the face"

True to what I expected, Kenny's rage took full force, his head snapping around the motel until he found his target.

"I'm going to fucking kill him!" Kenny hissed in anger, already stomping over there. I just barely managed to catch his arm before he could get far, wrenching him back over to me. Glenn could see the problem happening, and decided to assist me in stopping the vastly more muscly man than me from getting himself killed. "Wha-Why are you stopping me?! He punched you in the face! After everything you did for him!"

"I know! I know damn it, but trying to fight a man nearly twice your size in height and in width isn't going to work out well for you!" I managed to convince him in words, while Glenn and I finally convinced him in our mannerisms that we really weren't going to allow this to happen. With an obvious dislike for the decision, Kenny finally relented on his plans to give Larry a matching bruise. "I'm going to have a serious talk with Lilly about it, if anyone can reel him back in, it's her"

"But why? I don't see why he'd want to do this in the first place" Glenn had to ask me, something which Kenny seemed to obviously want to know as well.

"I... don't really know, to be honest" I sighed in frustration, gently touching the side of my face. I knew very well why Larry ended up punching Lee in the face, as he knew that the latter was a criminal, but I hadn't committed a single crime since getting to this world. Hell, Larry didn't even know who I was before this! "I'm hoping to defuse the situation calmly rather than letting people start a brawl about it"

With a heavy sigh, Kenny seemed to accept that this was just the way things were going to be, but it was clear that the subject was on thin ice. If it were to happen again, Kenny would truly explode this time, and I honestly would be perfectly fine with letting him knock some sense into the old bastard if that was the case.

"I'm first going to check in with everyone else, but I appreciate you checking in on me" I lightly decided to steer the subject away from before it could get worse, gesturing between myself and Doug and Carley not far away. "Maybe you two can help each other out in the meantime?"

"Somehow I feel that's code for 'the both of you need to calm down'" Kenny tried to make a bit of a joke out of it, but Glenn was the only one who laughed at it.

"It couldn't hurt" I agreed, leaving the two of them to help each other. In the end there wasn't much they could do for the time being, beyond checking the rooms further and cleaning our weapons thoroughly. Either way, I lost Glenn there and headed over to the two I had successfully managed to save.

I managed to catch them in the middle of a conversation, just barely catching the cusp of it. Without the context of their particular subject, I decided to not really pay attention to it in case they wanted privacy.

"Hey guys" I decided to interject in one moment when they had a natural pause in their conversation, the both of them turning to me with smiles on their faces. "What were you guys talking about?"

"Oh, something private" Doug explained, and I would have taken that as an answer and not bothered them further about it, when Carley laughed loudly at Doug's attempt to keep it a secret. "What?"

"Doug, trust me, she's probably the most likely person to know already that I'm bi" Carley gently patted his shoulder, effectively giving me permission to hear whatever that had talked about, and giving Doug permission to talk about said discussion. "I flirted with her back in the drug store, and I heard her mention that she likes both genders"

"Oh! Well in that case, yeah, Carley was mentioning to me about how she's bisexual" Doug confirmed their subject, to which I smiled at them both. It made sense to me, as Carley had clearly shown interest in both Doug and Lee throughout the game, and now she had set her sights on me. "We were mainly talking about how we largely don't tell anyone about our preferences, as most people don't really approve"

"You're bisexual too?" I found myself a little surprised by this development, as I had never really pegged Doug as the type to be into men. I mean, I had always shipped him with Lee in the past, but I had no idea that he actually felt that way in reality. 

"I'd say I'm more leaning towards pan myself" Doug shrugged his shoulders, clearly quite content with letting me know this now that he knew I was on the spectrum myself. "What about you?"

"I'm bisexual as well, but people are generally more scandalised by the fact I'm polyamorous" I decided to take the leap and admit to them what I was, and for a moment I could see Carley nod her head slowly, clearly confused by the term. "It means I'm often interested in having relationships with multiple people or being okay with my partners also having other relationships besides me"

"That... answers a lot of questions, actually" Doug had to admit, actually looking a little more relieved with the fact I was now open about why I flirted with multiple people. "I have to admit, I don't generally hear a lot of people admitting that out loud"

"When the alternatives are getting shunned by society or even possibly killed by some religious nutjob, I'd say keeping that closer to your chest is quite understandable" Carley said that, to which I of course had to agree with. I knew for a fact that a number of names would be slung at me from my university 'friends' if they had ever heard me admit that to them, and I could guarantee that 'slut' would have been the main one. "Thanks for being open with us about it"

"Of course!" I happily responded to their thanks, giving them one final wave before I made plans to head over to Shawn across the car park. "Let me know if you guys need any more of my help, okay?"

"Of course Prim" Doug let me go with that, earning a bit of a confused look from Carley from the nickname he gave me. I could hear some small snippets of him explaining the reasoning behind calling me that, just as I got out of earshot from them.

Shawn was busy rummaging through one of the many boxes that Lilly had found inside the rooms, defaulting to his old task of searching for salvageable supplies. Just as I peered over his shoulder to see what exactly he had found, he noticed me standing directly behind him.

"Hey you" Shawn greeted me with a little bit of a cheeky tone, clearly happy to see me. Gently dropping the items he had picked up back into the box, he turned around so that he could address me properly. "Is there anything I can help you with?"

"Actually, there is" I decided after a little while of thinking about it, clearly seeing that he was pleased to help out in any manner. I could only hope he wasn't hoping for my favour to be about hitting Larry in any way. "Sometime in these coming days, I really need you to teach me how to do those dropkicks of yours"

"Your wish is my command" Shawn accepted my request, bowing in a slightly exaggerated manner. "I'd be even happier if you wanted to perform it on Larry"

"Let's not get carried away there, I'd have to learn a lot more moves to be able to take down a hippo"

Shawn very nearly snorted aloud, laughing it off softly a moment later and letting me leave before we got into even more trouble together. I could only hope that Larry or Lilly didn't hear that, as it would make things worse when I had to confront Lilly later about her father's attitude.

Walking only a little bit to the right towards Clementine, Duck and Katjaa, I of course noticed Larry looking towards us. Part of my honestly wanted to flip him off from across the car park, but I decided against it ultimately for the sake of peacekeeping between me and Lilly. After all, it wouldn't do for me to tell off three people for starting a fight if I was just going to start one myself a moment later.

"Hey kids, hey Katjaa" I greeted the trio in the same manner as each other, as I knew for a fact that Clementine wouldn't be as upset as she was in the game. Her walkie talkie didn't break in the drug store, mainly because she had been absent when all the craziness happened, and Glenn hadn't left with her one remaining walkie talkie, so she couldn't be upset. Just as I had expected, she raised her head from her clapping game with Duck, a soft smile there to greet me. "Is everyone alright over here?"

"The kids are handling the situation the best they can at the moment" Katjaa sighed softly, obviously wishing that the two of them didn't have to deal with the dead rising and walking among us. "I'm really glad we didn't lose anybody back at the drug store, that would have been really devastating"

"Yeah, no kidding" I let out my own relieved sigh, endlessly grateful to save at least one guaranteed death in this crazy situation. "I'm hoping that Lilly likes this motel as much as I do, as I don't really fancy our chances of travelling from town to town and hoping we find enough gasoline along the way"

"It wouldn't be all that good for the children either" Katjaa agreed with me, looking back down at them, smiling when she saw how easily the two of them had gone back to playing with each other. I noticed quite keenly that Duck was doing his best to not overwhelm Clementine with his own excitement, and Clementine was doing her best to match at least some kind of enthusiasm from him. The two of them really were going to be good friends, I just knew it. "Let's first wait it out here for a bit before planning on leaving Macon"

I couldn't really give my approval or disagreement with that mentality just yet, being interrupted by Larry just across from us. Both I and Katjaa could hear him calling specifically me over, but it was clear that the feeling of hatred towards him was going to be mutual between me and the mother.

"I don't really like him" Katjaa whispered softly under her breath as I started to wander towards him, gently touching my shoulder in a protective motherly way. "Be careful"

I nodded, but I also knew that I couldn't avoid the man forever. Making sure to keep in sight of other people, and keeping a good number of metres between us, I confronted him.

"What do you want?" I scathingly asked him, trying my hardest to hurry the conversation along so that I could finally leave his damn presence. He looked away from my face, over towards Lilly who could spy us talking together. Somewhat oblivious to our disagreement, she gave me a wave and a happy smile, which I returned quite happily.

"...You like my daughter" Larry mentioned with an obvious distaste towards me, but I honestly was more hung up on the fact that he had framed it like a statement, rather than a question like it would have been otherwise.

"Of course" I stated as though it should have been obvious to him, mainly because I could see no other reason to not like her. "She's very lovely and sweet"

"Well let me be clear right here" Larry tried to use his size to intimidate me once more, taking a number of steps forward to try and tower over me. I quite calmly mirrored him, taking just enough steps backward so that we maintained the same distance between us. If the bastard insisted that we had to talk, then he could do it under my damn rules, and that meant he wasn't allowed within one metre from my personal bubble. "Stay the fuck away from her"

"Last I checked, it wasn't the middle ages jackass" I didn't hold back on finally calling him a wretched name, now that he had tried to possibly assault me twice in the same day. I only really was hoping that Clementine wasn't listening to me right at that moment. "She can choose who she wants to hang out with, with or without your damn permission. And besides, watch your language, there are children around"

"It is my damn responsibility to protect her from heathens such as you! No lesbian is going to infect my daughter with her filth"

...He assaulted me for being into women. God, and here I thought there was no other way for him to get any worse than he already had been, now we could add being a raging homophobe to the list. Add that right next to the part where he was sexist in every regard, very toxic in his masculinity, and to top it all off he had the temper of a bear. Wonderful.

He didn't even give me a chance to respond to his claims, brushing past me and stomping off to some other corner of the motel away from me. Whatever, if he was so insistent on being a bigot and a liar too, then he was free to stay away from me anytime.

"Hey Prim, do you have a second?" Lilly came over just as soon as Larry was done with me, already possibly pissing off her father just by coming over to talk to me. Screw him, if I wanted to hang out with Lilly, then I was going to do so! I wasn't even remotely phased at this point by the nickname everyone had adopted for me, smiling at her as she came over to me. "I wanted to check in on you, because I didn't really get the chance earlier"

"Look, I'm sorry to break the heartfelt moment we are having, but you seriously need to know something" I decided to dive right into the awkward topic, knowing it would only get worse with time if I delayed it with him. Lilly seemed a little surprised that there was something so urgent to talk about now that we were safe, but she politely nodded her head and let me speak. "My face right here, that was your dad. Right as I was about to leave the drug store, he whacked me right in the face"

Lilly gasped softly, her hands coming up from the side to gently cradle my face. Now that she could see it closer, she could see the damage that could have been a lot worse, had I not managed to bring my arms up to protect my face.

"Why?... Why would he do this to you?" She asked herself, clearly not piecing the clues together as to why he would do such a thing. I didn't blame her in the slightest, as after all, I had only just been informed of the reasoning behind it myself.

"Quoting him directly from just now? He claims that 'no lesbian is going to infect his daughter with her filth'" I quite smugly recited almost word for word what I had been just told by him, and the reaction was just as instantaneous as when I had told Kenny about who had hit me. Pure fire erupted in her eyes, her hands curling just slightly as though she wanted to crush something in between them, but managed to stop herself from causing any further damage towards my face.

"I'm going to have a serious talk with him" Lilly promised me, her tone screaming that 'talk' was a polite way of phrasing what she actually intended to do. I let out a relieved sigh when I heard that she was taking it seriously, gently caressing the outside of her hands. With a slightly apologetic look to her now that she knew the truth, she gently relinquished my face, instead choosing to take one of my hands into hers. "Walk with me for a second, will you?"

Right as Lilly began to lead me over towards the entrance to the motel, did we hear loud thunderous helicopter engines roaring in the air, one or two flying directly overhead. Several of the people that were no longer busy started to congregate towards me and Lilly, following us quite closely in a tight-knit group.

"I hope that's the sound of us winnin' this thing" Kenny muttered to everyone, Glenn and Doug quite obviously nodding their heads in agreement.

"God, me too" Doug was the first one to agree with him verbally, several others soon finding their voices as well a moment later.

"It could be worse though" Shawn put the silver lining back into it, gesturing broadly to the various rooms and lights that happened to still be on. "We currently have running water, beds, and probably the rarest thing right now, lights that actually seem to work"

"Yeah, we've got a good place going on right now" Lilly said quite confidently, gently giving me back my hand and placing her hands on her hips as she stared up at the bright lit up sign nearby, before sweeping her head back down to the rest of us, a simple smile set aside for just me. "We'll be alright guys"

Right as if this reality thought it was bad to be so optimistic, the power started to all slowly go out, eventually leaving us all in darkness. Almost immediately, I could feel a pair of hands rush around my waist, Clementine burying her head into my hip in order to stay close. Only a moment after Clementine had found me, six other hands managed to find spots on my shoulders, each one with a small amount of anxiety communicated in them until they managed to find me.

"We're alright guys, we're alright" I convinced them that not only was I fine, but they were too, that this was only going to be a temporary thing that set us back.

After all, I was their greatest weapon. What better ally was there to have, but someone who could predict the future?

Chapter Text

My fingers drummed against the wood of the rifle in my hands, irritating the two girls who had come with me on the supply run. The noise I was making from it wasn't nearly enough to draw in walkers, but it was enough to distract Carley and Lilly, who were my cohorts on this mission.

"Prim, stop that" Lilly cut off my nervous tick, moving a single hand out from her own rifle to settle my hand. I did my best to relent, despite the fact I honestly didn't feel any more calm than I did before.

It had only been two days since we had bunkered down at the motel, and I was already beginning to plan and prepare for the time ahead. The moment we had found the rifles in two of the spare rooms, I had suggested that we go out to scavenge for supplies in the town before others could loot the ruins of the stores. While Lilly and Carley were thinking quite short term, my mind was leaping bounds and strides ahead on things we needed to prepare for.

We needed food of course, and then massive amounts of timber to be able to hole in the motel for the coming three months, find enough bullets to handle the bandit raids that would happen sometime before the story would return to the timeline of episode two, find out how on earth we were supposed to find Mark before that time-

"There's one" Carley cut off my train of thought by pointing out a walker ahead of us, ducking behind one of the vast amounts of overturned cars in the road. Honestly, the number of abandoned cars was so plentiful, so much so that I wondered why we weren't making a habit of siphoning the gas... Make that another thing on the list of things I had to add to the stuff we should do before the events of the game came back.

We were a couple of blocks out from the town centre, so we should have been fine to use one of our bullets and then dash off before the roaming ones in the area found. In fact, that was the entire reason Lilly had allowed all three of us to take the guns with us out on this mission, so that it could serve as a scavenging mission and as target practice at the same time. I had only allowed it myself, because I was quite certain that the bandit raids didn't happen immediately. As such, the guys and girls at the motel wouldn't actually need to be keeping watch just yet.

"Take your time, we'd rather that you take minutes longer to aim rather than wasting a bullet" Lilly reminded me in a hushed tone, letting me peer through the sights on the rifle in my hands. It wasn't nearly as accurate as I would have liked, probably from my times of playing with sniper rifles in video games instead, but my video game experience wasn't for naught, at least telling me a number of things without her even having to guide me.

I only flicked off the safety once I was certain that I was good for the shot, pulling the trigger smoothly and feeling the gun kick against my shoulder at the same time as the ear-piercingly loud gunshot went off. The bullet wasn't as straight as I had expected it to be, sailing right through what I had assumed to be the nose of the walker rather than the forehead. It was however on an upward angle from where I was, so it did decimate the brain and fell the unsightly creature before it could even flinch.

"Not bad, but could use some minor improvements" Carley graded my performance, Lilly seemingly agreeing with her judgement on it. Which was fair enough, as I could even tell myself that it could have been better. The both of them got up a moment later, either one of them having a single hand on an arm or waist to gesture me up with them. "Come on, we should go before more of these things show up to see what made that noise"

I rose with them, and almost immediately I could feel that Lilly's hand (The one that had been aiming for my waist) accidentally got bunched up in my skirt as I came up too fast. She quickly retracted the hand once she realised what the velvety material was, apologising softly before we sped-walked away from the point on the road.

Over the next ten minutes on the road, we didn't encounter a single walker coming in our direction, instead giving the three of us another small patch of respite to talk and decide things. During our conversations, I found the time to pull out the spent casing from the bolt lever of the gun, both deciding to keep it for possible reuse and to clear out space for the new bullet. I had seen it done before in movies and in the video game that multiple bullets could be reloaded in such a rifle at one time, but I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to attempt that so soon after picking up the weapon, heavily worried that I might somehow wreck the gun (And my face in the process).

"We'll probably need to get warmer clothing eventually" Carley said, picking at her tight fitting reporters outfit with an annoyed look. Something about that look seemed to tell me that in some way her attire was not her choice when it came to her job. "This skirt is going to get me tripped up someday, and I'd rather that not happen and make someone have to scramble to make sure I don't become walker food"

"I agree" I sighed, disliking my current lack of pockets and bare legs currently showing in the late summer sun. While pants wouldn't necessarily stop me from being bitten by the undead, it would mean that I would be able to stop worrying about flashing people if I so much as stood up too fast from a chair. "A backpack would be great as well, means we can carry more supplies on these runs"

"A clothing store is our first target then" Lilly declared for the three of us, laughing softly to herself when she realised how weird it sounded to say that out loud. "Most people will be aiming for supermarkets or grocery stores, and yet here we are, aiming for clothes instead"

"Well, if someone else says that a clothing store is normal for girls, then I'd say that you have permission to sock them straight in the nose" Carley firmly rejected the normal stereotype of women, which just made me and Lilly laugh next to her. Come to think of it, we were quite headstrong women, weren't we?

About half an hour later, we all trudged into the quiet calm centre, the loud blaring alarm from the drug store running out of battery long ago. When we reached the intersection where the drug store was still somehow standing, we were pleased to notice that there no more walkers really hanging out there, aiming for noises off in the outskirts of town or lying in wait. I myself was quite happy to see the lack of debris around the building, especially the crashed airplane from the third episode of the game, so I knew we would have options to come back many times before things got worse.

"There's a clothing store there" Carley barely whispered, making sure not to step on any glass or make any noise to bring the dead out of their hidey-holes. Tiptoeing around further items on the ground to avoid further sounds, we successfully made it to the front door, and to our surprise found out that it wasn't locked. "Let's get inside before these things take a closer look at us"

The inside of the clothing store was surprisingly untouched by either dead or living, looking almost exactly like what it would have looked like before the begin of the apocalypse. The only thing that seemed to say that something was out of place seemed to be the fact that the lights were turned off, and that one person had come in to only raid the cash register.

"I don't really understand why someone would do that" I commented mainly to myself, but the other two heard it as I peered at the busted open cash register. They didn't seem to find it all that suspicious that I had said that, as they likely thought I was thinking along the moral reasoning for not wanting to steal money. I wasn't about to correct them and say it was because I believed that money would be useless after society crumbled. "Do you think the walkers outside can hear us?"

Lilly looked out the glass windows of the store, her eyes sweeping over the other stores or for the few walkers hanging around in the street to see if any of them had a particular reaction to us. None of them seemed to even twitch, off in whatever imaginary fairy land state they would stand around in when they couldn't hear things to go after.

"It doesn't seem like it" Lilly admitted, deciding to follow me towards the safety of the back end of the store to avoid any roaming eyes noticing us. "I do think we should keep it down to be on the safe side however"

With the instruction to remain quiet, we started to randomly sift through the various racks set up across the store. The most content with her current clothing, Lilly decided to sit down on a chair near the counter and watch us with some interest. Even though we had just established the silent rule, it did seem to be a little too quiet for us all before long.

"...I don't think I've ever actually gone clothes shopping for my own enjoyment before" Carley admitted to the both of us when she returned with no clothing in her arms at all, seemingly at a loss for what on earth was appropriate attire when the dead rose. I had returned with some clothing of my own in my arms, but it was mainly more because I thought the clothes looked cool rather than their practical use to stop bites. "Back in my high school and college days, I honestly didn't have very many friends due to the fact I focused entirely on my studies"

"I didn't go to college, so I guess I missed out on that too" Lilly admitted with a dry laugh, seemingly feeling a little conflicted on the fact she hadn't gone to university. Her tone suggested that it was because she couldn't go to uni, rather than that she didn't want to. "Besides, I am a very tomboy-like lady anyway. What about you Prim?"

"Huh? Oh, I... didn't actually go outside that much during high school and my short time at university" I admitted with a bit of a sheepish grin, dumping the clothing I had managed to find over the counter until I managed to find a proper changing room.  "I stayed inside and played video games for the most part, and when we did go out, it wouldn't be for clothes. Tess was my only female friend, and like Lilly, she was a tomboy"

They easily picked up on the past tense I used in my sentences, their eyes adopting a sombre look to them. After all, to them it would only seem to be that I was talking about how they would likely be dead, not that I would never be able to see them again due to differing planes of existence.

"...Maybe this can be our first shopping trip with friends?" I suggested, hoping to cheer up the sullen mood that had come along. I picked up the pair of jodhpurs I had found earlier, showing it off against my legs to give an example of what it may look like. "Do a bit of a cat walk with clothing that we think would be nice to wear lately"

"That honestly sounds like a fun little time waster" Carley seemed to like the idea, picking off some random jeans and a familiar purple jacket off a nearby rack. I recognised the jacket as the one she would wear from the second episode onwards, so I was pleased with the fact I had suggested we come here. "So, where's the changing room in here?"

All three of us craned our necks and peered around the store, but there wasn't anything resembling a cubicle or little divider for someone to have some privacy. It seemed to be a store that was exclusively for people who knew what size they were and what they wanted, not one for people to come in and try something out of curiosity.

"Ah, I guess I'll just duck behind one of these racks for a moment" Carley declared, shuffling herself behind the closest rack she could find, but not before sending me a cheeky wink. "No peeking, got it?"

"Understood" I answered her playful manner with my own, forgetting for a moment that Lilly was literally sitting right next to me. While I had seen her anger at her father's own homophobia, I still was not yet sure if she actually was just annoyed with the insinuation by her father that I was lesbian, or the fact he had used that as an insult towards me. In other words, I wasn't actually sure if she approved of people on the spectrum as is.

"These jeans were surprisingly easy to try on, they've never slipped on that well" Carley remarked, popping out from behind the rack with the purple jacket and jeans now adorning her body. Even before we had given any sort of approval or negative vibes towards her new outfit, she chucked the black mini-skirt she had been wearing across the shop towards the back, quite obviously communicating that she wasn't going to put them back on even if the jeans didn't work out. She gave a small twirl, laced with hesitation as she wasn't sure if that was even the done thing on a "girls day out" outing, giving a shy smile when she had our attention. "Well, what do you think?"

"Call me corny, but I think the purple really brings out the shade of your hair" I complimented her, already receiving a reaction out of her when she proceeded to shyly look away towards the floor, the same soft smile gracing her face. "Besides, this one has more pockets!"

"I agree with Prim, pockets are always a bonus" Lilly seemed to firmly stick to the more practical side of things, either purposely or just coincidentally missing the earlier comment I had made. I had to admit, I was really curious now if she too was just never mentioned to be gay or otherwise in the game, or if that happened to be a one-time thing with Doug and Carley. "Hmm, I wonder if this jacket would be good for the winter months..."

"You should do a little fashion show for that as well!" I insisted, taking the black jacket off the hook and waving it a little in front of her to entice her to wear it. I could already see her start to shake her head with a bit of an embarrassed look on her face, likely thinking along the lines that she 'was not the right person' to show it off or that 'it wasn't that important' for her to do it while Carley had. I just cut her protests off short by gently pressing the fabric into her hands, gently requesting it of her. "Please?"

She sighed to herself, but did take the jacket from my hands and already beginning to slip her bare arms through one of the sleeves. She obviously didn't think it was necessary to shift behind a rack, as there honestly wasn't much disrobing that she had to do for her little display. Once the jacket was firmly on her shoulders, she stood up from her stool and did her own short twirl around, laughing a little as she rolled her eyes by me and Carley 'oooh'-ing and 'ahh'-ing at how it looked on her.

"You look... well, honestly, you look really cool" I decided to opt for the honest answer out of the multiple things that was crossing through my mind, most of which were toned down in terms of how flirty they could be. "I'd take orders from you any day, even if I didn't already know you"

"Stop it" She denied my words with a bit of a chuckle, giving me a light push against my shoulder in a kind of teasing manner. Contrary to how she had reacted towards me and Kenny, Carley seemed completely happy with me and Lilly sharing a moment together, even if it wasn't a hundred percent certain that Lilly was truly flirting with me. Perhaps Carley's relaxed stance was because she now also knew that I was poly, thus not becoming unavailable to her if I showed interest in someone else. "Well then, you're next"

"Show us what you've got" Carley proceeded to cheer me on just after Lilly, obvious just as eager as the latter to finally see what I had chosen out. I wiggled my fingers towards the both of them in a mischievous greeting before I too ducked behind a rack of clothing, hoping to gain some privacy there. I might have been flirting with them for goodness knows how long, but that didn't quite mean I was ready to bare my entire body to them straight away.

Shedding both my skirt and my long since soiled peach shirt, I dressed myself in the far more covering jodhpurs, already relishing the extra padding it provided around the knees and inside of my legs. It was far warmer than my skirt as well, the pitch black colour of it all likely going to soak in the rays of the warm summer sun. But honestly, the two girls were likely just going to focus on the fact it actually had two pockets on it, rather than my literal lack of pockets on my skirt.

After finishing the ensemble with a simple soft grey shirt, then covered by a tight fitting pull-over turtleneck sweater, I finally found myself decent enough to come back out and present myself to the both of them. While I was not absolutely loaded with layers, it felt tight and non-restrictive against my skin, which was going to be a big thing on my side rather than a bulky jacket that was three times my size.

Once they saw me, I could see their jaws drop at my outfit, and it was clear from their words that it wasn't because they found it too risqué for the world as it was then.

"You look... wow, you look beautiful" Carley admitted, her eyes trailing down my body, noticing the way everything clung to my body. I had to admit, it felt good to be noticed like that by them. Lilly too seemed to be in agreement with Carley, but she clearly took a little longer to find her words. "Don't you agree?"

"Huh? Oh! Yes, definitely!" Lilly agreed, finally finding her verbal skills back once her opinion had been asked. Like I had expected, her eyes did seem to linger the most on my hips, especially on the two deeper pockets directly on the front of them. However, apparently there never could be enough pockets, as her eyes then shifted over to a particular set of clothing dangling nearby. "Hold on, I think there might be something here that makes it even better"

Lilly aimed for an entire display filled with nothing but belts, but more specifically some things lower down, one of which she grabbed and inspected for a second. It seemed to be a grey canvas pocket belt, one that would give me so many more options to store things and carry them around. And in my personal opinion, the one she had picked out (With its delicate flowery pattern threaded into the sides) was utterly adorable.

Moving herself back over to me, she unclipped the main buckle of the belt, carefully feeling her hands around the circumference of my waist before slipping the belt through the loops on my jodhpurs. It was quite intimate for a second, her hands having to remain in constant contact with my hips and waist to ensure that it wouldn't fall off and make her start all over again. She seemed to sense that this was indeed more than the average thing that a girl did for another, her glancing for a moment up into my eyes to check if she was making me uncomfortable in any manner. It wasn't, far from it, and she soon returned her attention to the belt to clip the buckle back together. With one or two short snaps to adjust the belt to my thinner frame, it snugly remained in place once she let her hands go, taking one or two steps back to inspect her handiwork.

"What do you think?" She asked of me, clearly wanting me to approve of it before giving her own opinion. So far Carley seemed to approve of it, if the same awestruck look as before was anything to go by.

"I look hot" I decided to alleviate the somewhat sexually charged tension in the air, causing the both of them to either giggle or roll their eyes (Or possibly both) in reaction to it. There wasn't really a mirror for me to really look at the entire ensemble, but I liked it very much. It was warm, non-constricting and full of places for weapons, bullets or other little knickknacks to stay. "Now we just need to get as many backpacks as we can carry and collect stuff before heading back to the motel"

"You know, both of you guys' old clothing could work well for emergency bandages" Lilly had a good idea, gesturing over to my abandoned pile of clothing with a tilt of her head. Carley frowned almost immediately, not even liking the idea of having to carry the mini-skirt she had in a backpack. I noticed her own apprehension with getting the item back from the back of the store, and I decided to try and smooth that over before it became an annoyance to her.

"I can go get your skirt for you Carley" I offered my help to her before anyone else could suggest otherwise, speed walking towards the counter to beat her there. After realising that I was well and truly serious about me doing that for her, she let out a sigh of relief, seemingly wanting to forget the darn thing had ever existed.

Finding her skirt was the easiest thing I had yet done in that week, the pitch black cloth being easily recognisable against the cream floor. That wasn't the only thing that stood out against the floor, as there was something stark white almost directly next to it. I almost believed it to be something that had flown out of her skirt, when I remembered the fact that there were no pockets on her skirt.

"Hey you guys, come and check this out" I decided it was safe to call them both over, as it didn't seem to be something that I could mysteriously already know about. I could hear their footsteps shift and move over towards me, so I picked up the item, which upon closer inspection seemed to be some kind of paper with writing on it. It seemed to be a list filled with tasks and stores that would be beneficial to get supplies from, with only one item crossed off on the decently long list; which happened to be 'warmer clothing'. "It looks like there's someone else alive in the neighbourhood, and they had a similar idea to us"

"They were dumb enough to drop their list however" Lilly countered the idea of the stranger being intelligent, obviously not warming to the idea of meeting them around the place, sort of how she had reacted when me and the gang first had entered the drug store. "Look, there's something on the back"

True enough, flipping over the note showed a crude drawing of the town, with several buildings being circled in bright red marker. So far only one store had a tick next to it, and from the little shirt design next to it, I assumed it to be the one we were standing in now. Running around in and through those important buildings was a bright red line, obviously trying to map out some kind of path that would disturb the least amount of walkers but still get this person what they wanted. The end of the line stopped at a supermarket at the very opposite end of the town, where the red line then took a very long detour around the side of town before it stopped at some other building on another side of town, and also back towards where this person had begun their journey.

"What is this building here?" I asked the both of them, as I honestly didn't know much beyond what the game would have told me. Carley shrugged her shoulders, her minimal reporters knowledge being about on par with mine. Lilly, being our resident Macon expert, peered closer at the building until her eyes lit up with recognition.

"It's the air force base" Lilly knew it quite readily, almost surely because she too had worked there, looking more than just a little surprised to find out that someone had survived there. While Lilly and Carley discussed between themselves about what this could mean, my heart was pounding with the realisation of just who this map had to belong to.

There was no doubt in my mind; this map had to have belonged to Mark.

Chapter Text

That very same afternoon once we had gotten back to the motel, I had insisted to the others that I had wanted to go to the air force base. Unsurprisingly, Larry called the idea stupid, saying that even if a survivor was there, that ultimately they would serve no purpose for us. But he had lost his privileges of group making decisions after assaulting me, Lilly firmly telling him to butt out until we had made a decision.

It was fairly easy to get Kenny and the other men on my side, as I only had to appeal to their higher moral ground, the idea of going to save the stranger there being enough for them to be ready to charge into battle. Hell, I could have just asked them for a favour and they would have been quite willing to assist me.

The hardest person to convince was Lilly, but her reasoning was more under the practical side of things. She said that we couldn't afford to take in everyone we found into our group, which was a fair remark, especially with a long three months ahead of us in the back of my mind. Even without having to call upon her... almost eagerness in remaining on good terms with me, I managed to smooth it over by reminding her that such a large air force base would have a lot of facilities. And supplies, lots and lots of supplies.

Before long, we had grabbed every weapon and backpack we now owned and readied ourselves to leave. Katjaa and Larry were the only ones to not come with us, aiming to keep watch over the children until we had returned, but I of course wasn't too keen on leaving the grumpy older man with them.

"Are you sure you don't want us to force him to come with us?" I asked her, almost worriedly tapping the wooden handle of the fire axe underneath my fingers. I really needed to get that under control somehow. "I'm not really all that happy with leaving him behind here, what if he tries to hurt you or the children?"

"I'm tougher than you think Primrose" Katjaa gently patted my arm, a confident aura about her that only a well-seasoned woman could get after many years in her life. Larry lumbered about with a couch directly behind her, dropping it a moment later with a loud annoyed grunt when its weight became too much for him. "Honestly, he's not my first pick to have around, but he doesn't harm children or women from what I could notice"

"I guess that means I don't count as a woman then" I spoke bitterly, obviously reminding everyone who could hear within earshot of what Larry had done. Katjaa sighed, obviously knowing my problems with him, but we weren't exactly in the position to throw him out of our group. Not when Lilly was such an integral part of our group, and with the worry that she would take off with him if we did. "Whatever. We'll be back before you know it"

"Look out for each other" She wished us well, waving us all off from the safety of the motel, watching the seven of us trek off. She had asked some of us why we felt it necessary to take all seven of us when we only had five weapons between us all, but Shawn's propensity for dropkicks and Glenn's numerous handy ways to open closed doors meant that they couldn't be left behind. And so, she couldn't keep any of us with her, despite her wishes. "Be safe"

Travelling there proved as uneventful as the trek towards the town centre, the majority of dead not even bothering to lumber after us as we walked there, our footsteps hardly being loud enough to rouse their suspicion. Doug was restlessly making stabbing motions in the air with his awl, concerning both Glenn and Shawn a little, as the both of them travelled in a handy three man pack in case they happened to get separated from everyone else. Lilly led the charge alongside Carley, both women itching to get there before the sun dipped under the horizon and long before any surviving party took an interest in where we were headed. That left Kenny, whom after a while seemed to naturally gravitate towards me, soon falling in step until the both of us were somewhat able to privately talk between the both of us.

"How's that shiner doin'?" He asked me, taking his eyes off the jagged path we were taking through the woods for a moment to peer at my face, trying to spy any remaining signs of bruising there. I shrugged at him, not honestly that concerned about the injury now that I couldn't feel it anymore, more fretting about the possibility that Mark would not be there at the air-force base. After all, this reality didn't exactly run like the game, so there was the ever increasing worry in my mind that we would be far too late to rescue the unfortunate pilot. "It looks like you just need one more day and it'll look as good as new"

"I've been thinking about cutting my hair" I directed the conversation topic away from the bruise, albeit a bit clumsily and heavy-handedly, lest his anger rear its ugly head towards Larry again. Kenny of course looked a little surprised by the sudden idea, almost swinging the barrel of the rifle in his hands towards my chest. I visibly jumped at the idea of possibly being gut shot, when I reminded myself that Kenny was a very responsible gun owner, evidenced by the fact that I could spy the safety still being on even as he swung it. But despite my internal reminder of his safety conscious attitude, he did of course realise that he had given me a massive fright because of the weapon, and brought it down until it faced the ground in front of him with an apologetic look on his face. "It's more a safety thing lately, because of the walkers. I'm worried that somehow another one is going to grab a good chunk of my hair and yank me towards it"

"...A walker would have to be awful close to grab you like that" Kenny remarked somewhat quietly, seemingly trying to dissuade me softly from actually going through with the idea. It was true, a walker that close would likely be close enough that it could just take a bite out of me instead, but it wasn't really reassuring enough to want to keep my long locks in case they got me killed. "I don't know, call me stupid, but I like the way your hair looks on you now"

I couldn't deny that, I loved the long brown hair too. Even more so lately when I had looked in the mirror, and had realised that Tess had been right all along, that I had my mother’s chestnut waves. Cutting it off would hurt more than just the fact that I had been growing it for over five years of my life, but because it somehow felt like the last reminder of my family. I could always grow it back, but it would always feel... different somehow, as though it would be cutting the final ties I had to my original world.

...But was that final tie to them worth risking death? There were so many things that I still didn't know after all. Who knew, maybe dying in this world would be harmless, just the ending of this long nightmarish version of reality, sending me back home once I was no longer able to help the others. Perhaps at the end of this reality I would just be thrown back into my old life, waking up in my bed in my dorm room with a very long story to tell, with it ultimately being discarded as a fever dream by some over imaginative girl... But then again, I could just die, and that would be the end of me. I didn't know, and honestly, I was scared to find out which one it was.

"Hey guys, come here for a second" Kenny called out to the somewhat straggling group of ours, earning him a dirty look from Lilly because he had spoken up too loud and drawn a bit too much attention. Not enough, as the walkers soon lost interest, but enough to make both sides of people come closer so that Kenny wouldn't have to yell again to get their attention. "Prim's thinking of cutting her hair"

That earned an immediate reaction from the two women at the front, most notably from Lilly, as her hair was only a bit shorter than mine herself. Her hair came to the top of her back, while mine was getting towards the middle of mine, but the idea was enough to make her worry about why I wanted to possibly lose my own hair but not ask her to do the same. The three straggling men at the back seemed just as surprised as the women, finding it concerning enough that they felt that had to speed up and match me and Kenny's pace to look me directly in the eye.

"It's just a safety precaution" I sighed, wondering if they were making a bigger deal out if it than was necessary. "If a walker grabs a bunch of my hair, it's not going to be easy to get it to let go"

"Do walkers even grab hair?" Glenn asked aloud, but the question seemed to be ignored in favour of other people asking questions and stating their ideas on it.

"It's true that one of them might grab it if it gets close enough, but I think I'd prefer a walker grabbing your hair than a body part" Doug explained, running a hand through his much shorter locks as well. With his short hair, it was a lot more dangerous for a walker to have it, as then the darn thing might as well have grabbed his entire head rather than the tips of it. "Who knows, maybe they're stupid enough that it would bite your hair instead of your skin, which would actually give you some extra time to get some help from someone"

"But what if she's on her own?" Shawn posed the question before I could, seemingly on the fence about the subject. It was clear that he too agreed with Kenny on my hair, as it was the first thing most people noticed about me after all, but he was also worried for my safety.

"If she's on her own and a walker has grabbed her, hair or limb, then..." Carley trailed off, it being obvious that her belief was that a person would be unable to survive such an encounter. I could believe that, as the walker I had encountered in the gas station had proven to me that the darn things had inhuman strength behind them, and I likely wouldn't be able to pull myself out of one of their grips with just a couple of tugs. The answer was clear, that being on your own when a walker grabbed you meant that you were essentially dead, long hair or not.

"Unless you had really bushy hair, which you don't, your hair will be a lot more slippery in their grips than you think. Their skin is literally rotting, so a good sharp tug with your head would probably get you free faster than you think" Kenny reassured me, essentially giving me a promise that keeping my long hair was not going to be a problem. It sounded stupid... but honestly, I was quite grateful for the excuse to keep my mother’s shade of hair. "Besides, I'd never leave you on your own"

"And just when I thought I'd hear a day go by where you don't flirt with her, there you go agai-

"Shh!" Lilly hushed Glenn before he could fully point out the romantic nature of Kenny's remark, making everyone go quiet with a sharp movement of her finger to her lips. Everyone obediently fell silent, watching her every move with bated breath. She made some sort of signal with her fingers, two of them pointing forward past a clearing. Whatever that signal actually meant in military terms, it didn't matter, as the reason behind it was obvious. We had arrived.

Stepping off the lush forest floor onto the wide open tarmac was a little odd, but pleasantly nice for a brief moment. It meant we all no longer had to worry about possibly slipping in mud or tripping over some errant branch, so we all moved forward with a lot more confidence in our steps.

The air-force base seemed largely abandoned, a whole manner of walkers hanging about on the runway or near several buildings, the same distant look in their mannerisms like they were in town. As though they had an off switch for when nothing was going on, just standing around and staring at... well, nothing.

Lilly pointed off to one particular building overlooking the entire base, an old converted hangar that had instead been changed into some sort of administrative building with two floors built into it. A very old and usually unimportant memory sprang to mind when I saw it, remembering keenly from the first episode of the game that Lilly mentions to Lee that she 'mostly handled admin stuff' when he had asked her if she was a pilot. She likely knew the building well, probably because she had worked there in the past before the walkers had come to life (figuratively speaking).

Indeed she did, as she purposefully strode over there and began to slowly and quietly ascend the outside stairs to the second floor, carefully stepping so that the metal wouldn't creak under her feet. We followed her, with me being directly behind her, possibly getting a little too acquainted with her rear when she suddenly had to stop when Shawn had stepped on a particularly noisy step. Everyone froze for a moment, to let the silence come back and for the walkers to return to their perpetual state of not caring about our presence, before Lilly moved on. It was a good thing too, as I was able to start recognising the colour of her jeans a little too well.

Reaching the top floor easily, we only really started to talk once everyone was inside the open plan office room and the door had been shut behind us successfully. There was a single walker that had somehow managed to stumble its way up the stairs, but Doug quickly handled it before it could wreak any havoc. The office room was completely devoid of human life, the last remnants of humanity coming in the form of long forgotten coffee cups with stale liquid still in them.

"I don't suppose we could use the supplies in here?" Shawn, the ever pragmatic supply gatherer of our group opened a drawer to the nearest desk, but the only things of note in the drawer happened to be a picture of a happy family, which he was more than happy with not inspecting closer. It would only remind us of the fact we likely couldn't have that carefree life anymore.

"Unless we have need for endless amounts of paperclips or staples, then I'd say no" Lilly denied his request, and I had to agree. While part of me wanted to be a little selfish and grab a notebook for Clementine and Duck, the chances are that we would still need that room for more important things. Maybe it would become a possibility when we had raided this base dry of actual supplies, who knew. "I don't think anyone's been here since I left to get my dad from home when this all started"

"Yeah, it doesn't seem disturbed at all" Carley had to agree, her volume along with the rest of us all being on the lower side, just in case the walls were not as soundproof as we would have liked. "I hate to suggest the idea, but maybe the person who wrote that note simply had... died before we came here"

...Surely that couldn't be. I couldn't remember there ever being a time that was specifically given that the group had rescued Mark in the game, but surely it didn't have to happen within the first day of being in the motel?

The universe didn't disappoint, almost relishing in the chance to prove someone wrong after they had been certain about something or after stating a theory. It had done that a number of times, but this time I seemed to be the only one who had noticed it at first, everyone else too busy with their noses in drawers to spot supplies, or even better, some keys to the other buildings.

"I can't find any keys around here" Glenn was the first one to speak up, slightly drowning out the sound of footsteps outside on the tarmac. Those footsteps... they were too regular for a walker. "Lilly, are you sure that there should be-

"Guys, come here" I interrupted Glen, making that the second time it had happened in the last hour, but he honestly didn't seem all that bothered by it. I waved them over, but hushed them with a single finger to my lips before any one of them could verbally ask me what was wrong. "Hear that?"

All of them listened intently after I had requested it of them, and soon they could hear the footsteps as well. Only a second after I had figured it out, did they hear that the footsteps sounded too... human. Too fast, too regular. Someone was hurrying themselves over the tarmac, passing right underneath the stairs.

While I was excited at the sounds of human footsteps, quite certain it had to be Mark, none of my companions were quite as eager as I was. The three gun armed members of our group made sure that their weapons were loaded, pulling them out in preparation.

"I don't think they're likely to shoot at us" I warned the three of them, really hoping to avoid an incident that one of them would happen to shoot him in fright.

"It's just a precaution" Carley mentioned, and it almost felt like they were being sarcastic with me in a way. That, or it was a heavy case of deja vu, one that didn't have to be several days old to make me feel wary.

I carefully pushed open the door to the second floor, Carley's pistol almost resting on my shoulder as we both peered out. Neither the walkers or the sudden stranger had really heard the sound of us opening the door nor stepping back out, so the others took that to mean that everything was alright for them to come out and hover on the balcony that was there. Everyone crammed out onto the balcony, eager to catch a glimpse of this mysterious stranger that we had found out about, but nobody could really predict how happy I was internally to see who it was.

Even as he started to be more difficult to tell apart in the distance, his feet carrying him towards a hangar a little ways away from us, I could tell from the sharp air-force uniform, the pitch black hair and the glasses perched on his nose that it was Mark. He glanced behind him as though he was worried that someone was following him, but didn't seem to bother looking up, as otherwise he would have surely seen us. This move of his, while seen as wise in the coming three months, was a little foolish at this particular time, as he happened to be facing the wrong way to realise that he was going to smack directly into one of the distracted walkers standing around on the tarmac.

Banging directly into the shoulder of a walker in front of him, he of course proceeded to give himself a massive fright, nearly dropping the large backpack of supplies he had no doubt collected in town. The walker didn't seem all that phased by the sudden knock, certainly not being done with enough force to knock it over like Shawn's dropkicks could, but now the darn thing knew well and truly that Mark was there. It unleashed an almighty growl, lifting its arms from their neutral state at its sides, instead rearing them up at nearly the same time as its head, lunging in his direction.

Before I could suggest that we leap into action and rescue him from the one aiming for him now, he seemed to pre-empt us by grabbing out his own weapon, but once we realised what it was that he had pulled out did several of us cringe at the choice. He had decided to get out a pistol out from the back of his pants, one that likely would bring not only everyone dead on the base, but anyone who was able to hear it from several kilometres away.

"Wait a moment, is he..." Kenny began to whisper, but trailed off in contemplation when he saw Mark dig around for something else in his pockets, soon pulling out some strange sort of black tube. "Is that a silencer?"

Kenny was correct, evidenced by the fact that Mark began to screw the silencer on the end of his pistol in a hurry, before lifting the weapon up to the head of the walker and pulling the trigger. That only proved to show that he hadn't taken long enough to actually screw it on correctly, a number of things going wrong from the moment the gun fired.

For starters, the gun wasn't silenced at all, the gun blast coming out from the end of the pistol but not going through the silencer properly, actually launching the silencer off the weapon as some sort of weird secondary projectile. The silencer flew through the air, landing on the harsh tarmac with a heavy cracking noise, one that screamed that the thing was certainly not going to be able to do its job any longer, not with a cracked barrel. From what we could spy, the only good thing that had happened was the fact the original bullet had actually managed to kill the one he had been aiming for.

"Oh! Oh god no!"

The overbearing bad news, however, was the fact that the almighty gun shot was now going to attract everything to him. Most definitely including the numerous walkers on the grounds of the base, most of which had not yet registered that he was even there yet. Well, if they hadn't before, they did now.

"Told you, he's dumb" Lilly seemed unable to hide the fact that she felt she was right in her first prediction about Mark when we had found the list, and I honestly felt that I had to admit that he was certainly clumsy, more so than what was really safe in the apocalypse. That didn't mean that I felt he didn't deserve our help however, there was no changing my mind on that.

Mark made a mad dash over to the hangar where he had been heading at first, managing to at least dodge and weave around the various other walkers that began to lumber and hiss their way to him. Slamming a hefty iron door shut in their faces, I tightened my grip around the fire axe in my hands, knowing that we would have to fight through them to get to him, and hopefully be long gone before the very far walkers made their way over to us.

"We shouldn't use guns for this, they'll be more likely to just bring more of the walkers here" I told the others, standing up with my weapon in hand. Doug, the only other person with a close combat weapon on us (Which didn't involve just punching or kicking, as much as I loved Shawn's legendary kicks), rose with me, a determined look in his eyes.

"Let's go" Doug gave a small vote of confidence for the both of us, eager to get back home and away from the veritable nest of walkers that this was going to become. The armed members of our group seemed unsure about actually waging war for this person now that we were confronted with a larger group of walkers than what we had thought it was going to be originally, but they could concede that the trio of them going Rambo with their guns was not going to be good in the long term. "Everyone stick close"

Descending down the staircase again, our group got a pleasant surprise (The first one yet) that there honestly weren't that many walkers that had grouped around the closed heavy door... yet. Only fourteen of them were banging and scratching at the metal doors, which only served to make their noises louder, which kept all of their attention over there. They didn't even hear me and Doug sneaking up on them behind them.

I swung first out of us both, swinging my axe in a hefty arc directly over my own head to cleave into the skull of the first walker, Doug following after me by just a second, him stabbing the still sharp awl into the rotting skull of the one directly next to the one I had gotten. Still none of them had heard anything, as the thunk of my axe was far quieter than the incessantly loud screeching that was coming from what remained of their nails on metal.

The next one of mine was a little taller than I had hoped for in my opponents, but I still took the swing while I had the gift of surprise on my side. It didn't quite reach their brain, but it did go straight through the spindly neck, making the entire head pop off and go rolling away like a macabre version of a bowling ball.

The face of that walker was familiar to me somehow, but I couldn't for the life of me place where it was from... Was it possibly from the final episode, with various of the walkers that had been made in the game to bear likeness to contest winners? Maybe, but that still didn't seem to ring the bell either. Regardless, it wasn't important right then, and I couldn't see how it was going to keep me safe if it wasn't something explicitly mentioned in the game.

Once Doug and I had taken out another three from the ever-dwindling amount of walkers scrambling there, did we see a flash of black hair come by some sort of slit in the middle of the door, like those that people mainly used to look out from. Now that it was easier to see us, he could clearly see us working to dig him out of the mess he had created, but he was at least wise enough to not start shouting things at us through the door, closing the flap over the slit and keeping quiet for the time being.

"...I'm going to need to swap with someone" I made the decision after I took out the seventh one of the walkers, my arms burning with the strain I had to use in swinging it time and time again. The fourth swing had ended a bit shorter than I would have liked, it being just barely enough to take out the walker, but enough to make me worry that the next would not be enough to take it out. Glenn clapped his hands, obviously ready to take the weapon off me, which I was more than happy to do. "Go get 'em tiger"

"Yes ma'am" Glenn cheekily addressed me, before swinging the axe and joining his brother in arms, Doug, in taking out what remained of the walkers, which wasn't that much after me and Doug had gone at it. Kenny of course seemed to find all the flirty interactions and cheeky tones to be a bit over the top, rolling his eyes a little directly afterwards. Oh, that was right, both he and Glenn didn't hear me say to Doug and Carley that I was poly. Now that I had thought about it, neither did Shawn... but he wouldn't have cared either way likely, Shawn was a lot more chilled out in terms of getting along with the others than Kenny was.

...I probably should mention that to them sometime. After all, I was going to be with these men for a long time to come, so they at least deserved to know where they stood with me. And I supposed that meant I was going to have to tell Lilly sometime that I was into women as well. Good lord, that was going to be a difficult hurdle.

"Alright, we're through!" Doug called out to the rest of us, a little bit louder than usual so that Mark inside the hangar would be able to hear him. "Hey man, I don't know if you can hear me in there, but we honestly can't stay here long. All of the walkers in the area will be coming because of that gunshot, so if you want us to take you back to our group, you're going to have to come out now"

We could immediately hear some rummaging around in the lock of the door, even a little hurried as though he was worried about us leaving without him, but he managed to keep his cool enough to be able to open the door. Lo and behold, we got to see Mark up close, his glasses shifting slightly forward to look at us as he peered around the door. After deciding that we had enough friendly faces to be trustworthy, he let out a low sigh of relief, utterly glad to find people who weren't out to get him (Or as you know, were dead).

"Thank you guys so much" He thanked us all, to which I could see that Lilly was doing her best to figuratively bite her tongue, so that she wouldn't make remarks about how stupid he had just acted. He slung the still full bag of supplies back over his shoulder, and to our own relief, we could see various boxes and crates of supplies in the hangar behind him. And because we knew for certain that he had the key on his just now, it also meant that we could head back to the motel and come back another day without risking the fact that the supplies would be gone in the meantime. "I don't know how you guys knew I was here, but I guess that doesn't matter, huh?"

"Prim found that out from your lost note in town" Carley explained, gently patting my shoulder next to her to show that it was me out of the seven of us originally, already earning me a look of extreme gratitude from the pilot. "She's also the one who insisted we come here, so you really owe your life to her"

"Prim? Like the saying, being 'prim and proper'?"

"No, short for Primrose" I shrugged my shoulders about my namesake, never actually knowing off by heart why my parents had ever decided to call me that. I guess I still wasn't going to know. "People close to me call me that"

"Well then, Prim, I really owe you one" Mark stepped out far enough to shake my hand, allowing me to wrap my much smaller hand in his bigger one, a sense of unbridled excitement in his eyes. I couldn't miss the slight raise of the eyebrow that came from Lilly, especially after I had mentioned that people close to me called me Prim, but she seemed conflicted enough about the subject to not mention it aloud. "I promise to do everything I can to help you guys out"

...A promise that would extend even beyond the grave, if I didn't change his original fate. So with a much firmer grip in my shake, I essentially had made my own version of a promise right back to him, to ensure that he wouldn't have to keep his promise that far.

Chapter Text

Three months went by, with the bandits only starting to become a nuisance in the final one. Everyday went by in that third month, with me keeping a keen eye out for when something would tip me off that the second episode had begun. After a while though, I began to wonder if it actually would ever come, instead choosing to spend all my nervous energy on developing my bonds with the people in our group.

Larry was still the same as ever, but Lilly would rain hell upon him if he even so much as threatened to steal my food, her flying into a frenzy each time to defend me. He didn't seem to get the hint that I was not to be trifled with for some reason, always grumbling to himself something about Lilly being affected by PMS or something similar. It only served to make her more mad, with her relationship between her and her father being the worst I had ever seen it, in game or not.

Speaking of Lilly, I had still yet to understand why she was so invested in me. Sure, I had given her a lot of credit for things and treated her well... but even if Lee did the same for her in game, she wasn't going to burn bridges with her father for him.

My confusion about things with her aside, I had finally gotten around to telling her about my bisexuality and polyamorous feelings for other people within the first month. One quiet watch that we shared, I finally decided to take the plunge, knowing full well that getting another opportunity to get that much privacy was going to be rare.

She was quiet at first, almost as if she was trying to pretend that she hadn't heard me just yet, but I could see her hands clench for a brief second around the barrel and grip of the rifle on her lap. After what felt like a long while, she had asked me if I was certain, which I assured her that I was. Next came the typical questions that came from curious people, asking when I had figured that out, whether I had dated the same gender in the past, etc.

...But nothing that indicated approval or disapproval. Not even her 'thank you for telling me' was giving anything away, and we remained on that watch with a somewhat tense silence. After that night, we went back to normal like nothing had happened, her being as devoted to my needs as I was to hers. I still had no clue if she had just purged the memory from her mind or accepted it, and I honestly was a little uncertain to probe her about it.

Kenny on the other hand, took the news of me being poly a lot easier. I managed to find time also in that first month when we both were out for another supply run with just the two of us, dropping it quite casually in one of our conversations.

It took him a number of seconds before he had to admit that he didn't quite know what being poly meant, and I happily explained it to him. Like Doug, he seemed to find that it did make sense with how I had acted lovingly towards everyone who had flirted with me, however you could see the slight unsure nature in him due to his upbringing that relationships had to be monogamous, lest some god strike you down.

But, as he had promised me, he was always in my corner. He told me that he was going to try to get accustomed to me being poly, as he realised it was a really important part of who I was, and get along better with the other guys. And despite him being raised quite conventionally (As evidenced by his earlier view on poly relationships), he didn't blink at my remark about being bi, as he told me that he saw "a mile away" that I was flirting with Carley a lot more.

Telling Glenn and Shawn was a breeze in contrast to either of them. I just got a 'Oh! Neat/Cool!' and they then proceeded to be a lot calmer in terms of other people flirting with me (And vice versa). I think Doug and Carley saw their opportunity to tell them both their little quirks as well, which made those two a lot happier.

Mark was another easy one, as he admitted that he could notice that I was both bi and poly after two weeks of seeing how I was around the others. Katjaa (In the most polite way possible) had to admit that she wasn't that concerned with who I dated or how many people, as all she was keeping her eye on was that Kenny had finally found someone to dote on. Duck apparently just said that he found it 'rad', which Glenn approved of. And of course Clementine could tell that I was poly (And she knew I was bi) the moment I explained what being poly truly meant to her.

Thus, barring Larry, everyone finally knew in my group about me. It only served to make us all that little bit closer, meaning that the arguing that took place in the game were a little bit fewer... at first.

Even with my careful rationing of food, it was difficult to account for the extra people we had managed to acquire, which the game would have not had. Eventually we ran into the same dire situation with food that happened in the game, stressing everyone out majorly.

The only positive thing that I could list at this point, was the fact that I had a much wider repertoire of martial arts under my belt (Courtesy of Shawn and Mark) and that with Glenn and Kenny's assistance, that I had gained a lot of muscle in the meantime. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. My thighs, quads and biceps were gargantuan compared to my former size, so much so that I was certain that if I had found my old clothing at home, that I would not have fit any of them now. I was losing them a little with the lack of food, but I was impressed with how lean and spry I still felt.

"There's one" Mark whispered to me, gesturing forward with his rifle at a walker chomping on something ahead of us. It was another one of our supply runs, but we had headed out to the forest along with Kenny (Whom had split up from us to see if we had any more luck in separate groups) to try and get some wild animals rather than keep scavenging for relatively useless things in town. He let me go ahead with my fire axe, observing with a watchful eye while I swung my axe directly into its skull, before calmly walking to my side to see what the walker had chosen as it's unlucky prey. "Damn... what did they get this time?"

Those words didn't pass me by, making me stiffen almost a little with the realisation of things that were coming around. Three months was a long time, but it wasn't enough to make me forget those words from the game... The second episode had finally arrived.

"It looks like a rabbit" I responded to him, realising with a bit of a surprise that my words had unconsciously mirrored the one that Lee would say in the game. Ah, but then again, how many different ways were there honestly to identify a rabbit?

"Well, that's another meal lost..." Mark sighed dejectedly, obviously upset at the fact it meant we couldn't have eaten it. Trekking away from both corpses, I found myself being a little concerned with how easily a walker could catch a rabbit of all things. I had owned one when I was little, and those things can be fast! I could only hope it was extremely unlucky, or that it had just been a bit slow due to the colder winter coming along. Not long after we walked away, Mark clearly wanted to talk further, but not about the politics of the group like he would ask Lee. "How'd you sleep last night?"

"Ah, you know, pretty good" I mentioned, trying to hide the smile on my face. Since the motel had proven too small to house a single bed per person, that meant that some people had to share beds when night-time rolled around. Katjaa always slept with Duck close to her, but last night it was me and Carley who 'had' to share a bed between us. Only thing was, she and I were more than happy to share, me snuggling into her soft form for warmth when we slept. "It was a little cold though, even with someone to keep me warm"

"...You know, you could always share a bed with me if you are cold on your own" He slyly left that invitation open, which I made a noise that turned out to be a combination of a giggle and a chuckle in response to it. Oh, I knew very well that I had that option, as I could have asked any of the men (sans the obvious exception) to bunk with me for the night even if we didn't have to, and they'd likely accept quite happily. Carley as well, of course.

"You do know that Kenny would kill you if he heard that just now" I cracked the joke, but Mark seemed to take it with a very serious attitude, adjusting his glasses a little as he pondered that.

"He's not very accepting of your poly side, is he?" Mark astutely pointed out, as yes, Kenny had slipped back into his old role of giving people suspicious looks whenever they had flirted with me in the last week or two.

"He is! He's actually trying really hard Mark" I did my best to convince him that Kenny wasn't honestly holding it against anybody personally, as I knew just as much as the others that in the other three months that Kenny had treated everyone (Once again, sans the obvious example) with respect and kindness. Though, I suppose it was something I would have to check up with Kenny, to make sure it didn't escalate any further. "The last two weeks have been really stressful for both him and Lilly, and that means he slips back into his overprotective side"

"That's a funny way of pronouncing the word 'jealous'" It was Mark this time to crack the joke out of the both of us, and I was more than happy to chuckle along with him at his joke. He sighed, but eventually seemed to accept that it also would have to come from him to try and extend an olive branch to Kenny. "I do wish people would just decide who is leading this group and stop fighting about this"

"There's merit to hearing both of their opinions" I sighed deeply, wondering how often people were going to fight about this. Even Kenny and Lilly fought about who was leading the group, and I had to admit that I was not sure about how people would take it if I decided to take charge myself. "Kenny is more emotional, while Lilly is logical. If we ignore one in favour of the other, then we'll wander into dangerous territory"

Before Mark could answer on my opinion on the current politics, he obviously spotted something in the distance, which I could tell was going to be the elusive raven before my head even turned. He quietly tiptoed over to a nearby tipped over trunk, aiming the rifle at the bird before he had even asked me if it was a good idea. The hunger must be getting to him.

"Don't Mark, the bullet is more important than what that bird could give us" I told him firmly before he could take the shot, but I could see that he didn't particularly bring his eyes away from the sights on the gun. It almost looked like he was considering taking the shot even though I had told him not to, so I decided to give some more information to change his mind. "Besides, it looks like a crow. Crows do consume meat, and there's an abundance of meat around... but its rotting"

"You think they might be picking off pieces of dead walker?" Mark asked me in disbelief, and I had to give my honest opinion in a shrug of my shoulders, meaning that I wasn't a hundred percent sure. It was too much of a risk to him and me however, so he gave up on aiming at the crow, shuddering a little from the thought of a crow voluntarily eating the rancid flesh. "Ugh, if I wasn't on an empty stomach already, I might have been sick"

The crow finally heard us talking there, flying off in a rush away from us. I had already stood up and away from the log the moment we both heard a loud scream in the distance, a sheer panic in every decibel of it.

"Jesus! Was that Kenny?!" Mark asked me, but he didn't get a response out of me. I was already on my feet, running off in the direction of the scream. Mark luckily noticed this straight away, running after me with his longer legs to assist him. "Prim! Where are we going?!"

"This way, we need to find the person who screamed" I commanded him, already zipping off to my left in the forest.

Coming out into a clearing where there weren't that many walkers hanging around were two skinny boys wearing school jerseys with what looked to be their teacher who had his leg stuck in a bear trap. The smaller of the two boys with black hair, whom I knew as Travis, was busy applying a tourniquet to his teacher’s leg... incorrectly. I could practically hear my old college friend Alex screaming in my head about how it was wrong, but I knew starting a conversation off the bat about how his first aid was incorrect was going to be a recipe for disaster. Ben, the taller one out of the two was... well, he wasn't really doing anything.

"Jesus Christ..." Mark uttered, staring at the gory leg of their teacher in horror. This did alert all three of them that they suddenly had two new people watching them, frightening the living daylights out of them.

"Oh, no! Please don't kill us! We just wanna help our teacher and then we'll leave I swear!" Travis said immediately raising his hands in a defensive manner. Ben, while looking unsure, was not nearly as wary as his friend was about us. Before anyone else could really get a word out however, Kenny came charging out of the nearby bushes, seeing me and Mark standing there.

"Prim! You guys okay?" He hurriedly asked me, his eyes quickly glanced up and down, but seemed utterly relieved when he could find not bites or new injuries on me. Only after he was done checking me over did he suddenly notice the other three in the clearing, looking utterly surprised to even see a bear trap there.

"Travis, maybe they can help!" Ben suggested to Travis right next to him, flinching heavily when his teacher let out a scream of pain behind him.

"These might be the same people that raided our camp, and we barely got away from that!" Travis retorted, seemingly suspicious on the amount of black that me and Mark were clothed in. That logic didn't quite make sense to me, but it was fair that they were wary of random strangers after their camp got attacked. When his eyes fully focused on me however, did some of the suspicion go away, my long brown hair likely not being a thing that he recognised from any of the raiders.

"We're not going to hurt you" I assured them, handing off my fire axe to Mark for the time being, hoping that my unarmed status would help them to see that I was an ally to them. I kept my hands up in a non-aggressive manner as I neared them, before lowering them as I got close to their teacher in the bear trap. "We're going to try and help you guys out, but I'll need your help to do so. Mark, Kenny, I need you two to keep the walkers off us until we've gotten him out"

"You got it" Kenny agreed with the plan without a single protest, still firmly in the mind-set that we should help others where we should. Mark, deciding to heed my advice on not wasting bullets, seemed to prepare himself with the axe rather than the rifle slung over his back. Either way, I needed to get to work.

I knew from heart that there was no release latch on the bear trap, and I also knew full well that using the axe to chop his leg off was a recipe for disaster no matter what logic you used. He would either die of blood loss, or be infected with the still dripping gunk that had come off the walker I had just axed in the head.

"Travis, Ben, come help me" I waved the two boys over with a confident tone in my voice, that tone being enough to tell them that I had a good idea on what to do. They didn't even stop to consider the fact that I wasn't supposed to know Ben's name, but the blind panic they were in was likely stopping them from thinking logically. "I need you two to help me wrench this bear trap open and pull his foot out"

"We're just pulling it open?!" Ben asked in a horrified tone, finding it one of the worst ideas to have. I nodded my head with a stern look to them both, and at least Travis realised that I was serious about it. "Oh god..."

"It's going to hurt him a lot less than leaving him in there will do" I decided, placing my foot against the far side of the bear trap to brace both myself and the trap for me to tug on the other side. Curling my hands around the other side of the trap, I prepared to heave it like I was going to bend steel, with Travis and Ben both putting their feet and hands in the same positions as me around the side of the trap. "Ready? On three"

I counted down smoothly, and then wrenched the one side with all my might towards me. Mr. Parker, the teacher, screamed as the sharp prongs of the trap started to slide out of his leg, trying his absolute best to not wriggle and move his leg despite the pain. I could tell as the darn thing was slowly creaking open under our collective pulling power, that Ben was doing far less than Travis, as evidenced by the fact that my right arm didn't have to apply nearly as much pressure as my left did.

I was right, as when I shuffled over and effectively made Ben have to let go of the contraption, it suddenly became a lot easier to wrench open with me and Travis heaving on it rather than us straining to account for the weak left side as well. Eventually, the trap started to shake and jiggle a little, most of the vibrations coming from me and Travis' straining arms. Once it was open enough to see a viable way to get the teachers leg out, I spoke with gritted teeth to the only boy who now had his hands free.

"Get his leg out!" I practically growled at the frightened teen, wondering a little why on earth he hadn't decided to slide the teacher’s leg out the moment we had the room. Both Ben and Mr. Parker then worked on sliding his leg out, and just at the right time too, as me and Travis had to let go just a second after the limb was out, the thing snapping shut with a loud metallic clang as we let go at nearly the same time. "Good, now we really need to go!"

Mark, now realising we were free of the trap, hoisted the injured Mr. Parker onto his shoulders (Despite the protests from the teacher saying that he didn't necessarily need to be carried), everyone hurriedly running away from the congregation of walkers that had showed up.

Even though Travis didn't need to suddenly vomit like he did in the game, I still found myself holding tight onto the sleeves of the two boy's letterman jackets as we ran, worried that the two would somehow lag behind if I didn't keep a anxious eye on the both of them. Another thing that my anxious eyes noticed was the rippling appearing again in the sky, with the clouds once again growing just a little bit.

And just like all the other times, nobody else seemed to notice it but me.

Chapter Text

The six of us arrived in record time back to the motel, brushing right through the thick foliage until we could see Lilly perched on top of the R.V., her rifle raised towards us in a warning in case we happened to be bandits.

"Open the gate! We've got injured!" I yelled to the members of our group who could hear me, and almost instantly the dumpster bins we had been using as a gate got pushed open to let us in. People started to shout all at each other as I ushered the two teenage boys in behind me, before making space for Mark, Kenny and the injured member of our party. Everyone started to converge on us in the middle of the entrance, but I was focused on reassuring Clementine, who had thrown her little arms around my waist as her usual way of greeting me back home. She really needed some food in her, her arms were getting so weak lately...

"Jesus Christ you two, what the hell is this?!" Lilly was the one voice that seemed to be able to shout over all the other concerned questions going on, making everyone fall silent with the pure rage that she had somehow conjured up in not just her voice, but her eyes blazed with them as well. "The both of you can't just be bringing in new people all the time!"

"Hey, do you wanna calm down for a fuckin' minute?!" Kenny began to argue back with her, completely forgetting the rule I had tried to enforce on people not swearing in the hectic atmosphere. Larry tried to interject for a moment to argue for people watching their language, but it was drowned out by Lilly subsequently shouting back at Kenny. Oh lord, we were truly going to have a gigantic row between them both like it happened in the game.

"Katjaa, please try to get him patched up" I quickly sorted out things on the side before I prepared myself to jump into their fight, as I knew standing off to the side and letting things escalate like Lee would let it would be the worst case scenario. I quickly gave some instructions to the two teenagers hovering around their teacher, worried about what would happen if they had tried to intervene in the current fight going on. "You two, try to stay out of the firing line as much as you can. Spend time with Clem and Duck, our kids, they could use the company anyway"

"I drew something, you wanna see?" Duck didn't seem to understand fully what was going on, but did understand that I was leaving him and Clementine an important task to keep the two teens out of the way for the time being. He dragged off a hesitant looking Travis while Clementine gently pulled away Ben right as I got to work fixing the intense row going on.

"We can't afford to be helping out every struggling survivor that we meet out there! We have to be focused on our group right here, right now!" Lilly jabbed Kenny harshly in the chest as she said this, angering him greatly with the prods to both his physical being and mental being. "You guys don't just get to run everyone into the ground because you have bleeding hearts!"

"Oh is that what it is?! Because I am damn certain that our "bleeding hearts" saved your goddamn dad's life back when we first joined your group! You were all fine with it then, so it sounds sure like you're picking and choosing what good nature we're allowed to do now, you harpy!" Kenny growled back, his lip so tightly wound that it seemed like his anger might singe off his moustache hairs if he grew any warmer. I was only a step away from the both of them, but even with my proximity I could tell this wasn't something I was going to be able to talk them out of this without physical force. "If I knew you were going to be such a dictator about all this, maybe we shouldn't have stopped in Macon! Me, Shawn, the kids, Kat, and most definitely Prim would likely be better off splitting from you right now!"

"Screw you, you absolute prick!" Lilly seemed to react the strongest to the thought of us (Or perhaps it was just me? It had only seemed to really sink in when Kenny had mentioned my name) leaving, her hand raising in anger as though she was either going to slap or punch him, but I stepped in before anything could come of it.

"STOP IT!" I harshly told the both of them off, stepping directly in between them and grabbing the front of their shirts roughly in either hand, my muscles that I had built up aiding me greatly in keeping the both of them still rather than going at each other’s throats. The fabrics strained a little in my grip, almost looking like they were going to tear from the fact I was lifting them up a little from the floor, but they held firm. Now looking a little surprised by my forceful handling of them (That I hadn't done with them yet in the three months I had been with them), they were startled enough by it all that I had a moment to speak to them both clearly. "For starters, Kenny, Lilly does have a legitimate point about our current situation. It's not the nicest thing to come to terms with but we can't help everyone, and she doesn't deserve to be treated like the devil because she points these out"

"Thank you! God, that's all I wanted to hear" Lilly was ever so grateful that I was at least seeing things from her point of view, a relieved sigh escaping her chest, which slightly made her chest push against my hand that was still tightly wrapped in her black shirt. Kenny grumbled a little as he closed his eyes in defeat, seeming like he was harshly affected by the fact I was taking her side, not realising that I was going to be on his side too a moment later.

"But Lilly, you do have to admit that what we are doing isn't wrong. I'm not saying we open our doors to everyone and feed each individual starving person, but these guys deserved our help" I then turned my focus over to Lilly, but I could already spy Kenny opening his eyes once more and seeming silently pleased that I was making his case as well. "The guy was stuck in a bear trap in the middle of the woods, and it had no release latch. We set him free, we're going to get him patched up very quickly, and then they'll be on their way, okay?"

"...Okay" She softly agreed, and it suddenly seemed like the aggressive tone and attitude had left in a puff of smoke now that I had solved the problem. Kenny too had lost his mojo, even seeming a little tired with all the adrenaline lost in the last five minutes.

"Alright then, are we all good?" I double checked with them before I let them go, getting a calm and tired nod from the both of them. Releasing their shirts, I quietly apologised to them for the sudden stretch they now had in the front of their shirts, and separated from the middle of the circle. "Nothing more to see here people, let's settle down to avoid drawing walkers to us"

Nobody was really making a fuss anymore, but it was more so that people knew that they could return to their normal jobs so that Lilly and Kenny would no longer be in the spotlight. Now with that settled, everyone returned to what they had likely been doing before we had arrived back, and eerily similar to what they would have been doing in the game. The only exceptions to that rule was of course the people who weren't supposed to be there in the game, Shawn assisting Mark and Larry to fix our fence while Glenn was busy rigging up the alarm system with Doug.

Kenny skulked around to the other side of the R.V., either to fix the thing further or to have a bit of time to wind down, which left me alone with Lilly.

"Long day, huh?" I made light of what had just happened, quite eager to give her the benefit of the doubt under the situation. She laughed somewhat dryly, as if to say something akin to 'yeah, that's putting it mildly', before finally allowing her shoulders to slump and show how tired she was actually feeling. "Here, give me a hug"

She quite happily opened her arms to accept my hug, her arms slipping over mine while mine went under hers like usual, allowing my smaller body to give her a moment of respite. She seemed quite content to remain there for a minute or so, just allowing herself to finally breathe in my arms. Larry was naturally giving me a massive amount of stink eye, but I wasn't going to bother Lilly with that when she was just beginning to relax.

"We just need to find some food" She sighed, even letting her cheek rest against my shoulder (And a little bit into my hair as well) as she wished for things that would fix the rising amounts of arguments. "Once we get that, then things will get better, I just know it"

"You deserve a break for today though" I made the decision to hand out the food for that day, despite the fact I had quite happily left the majority of it to her in the past. It was selfish of me, but it became really hard over time to pick and choose who got food, and until then, Lilly had accepted the role quite easily. "Let me hand out the food today"

"Are you sure? People do get a little... frustrated after a while if they're not chosen for rations" She explained to me, but I already knew that from the way people had slowly started to vilify her over the last two weeks. It wasn't fair to her in the slightest, so anything I could do to help her was good in my book. She saw the clear conviction in my eyes when she released me from our hug, and the utter gratitude was clear in hers in return. "...Thank you so much. Here, I'll at least tell you who got rations yesterday"

"Larry, Shawn, Carley and you gave a quarter of an apple each to the kids" I recited it from the top of my head, surprising her a little by how well I remembered it as she got the food from a nearby backpack. "What? I do pay attention to you"

"Hah, my dad might even argue that you spend too much time paying attention to me" She teased me, handing me the food that was going to be our rations for the day. I was a little surprised to note the cheekiness in her tone, as well as the amount she had given me, as it was far more than what we usually handed out... It was even more than what the game would have. "Honestly though, I think your recommendation for rationing our food even when we had plenty has helped out a lot in the last couple of days, so we've still got the chance to get everyone's strength up today before we launch multiple supply runs. Even so, I know it's not much, so... good luck I suppose"

Chapter Text

She left me to it, climbing back up to her birds nest on top of the R.V. and returning to her watch over the surrounding forest. Unlike the game's spare rations of four food items, I had been handed seven of them, with even a candy cane that Lilly must have been saving for a special occasion. I felt almost extra special, as though she had been saving it specifically for me.

...But even with the extra food, it wasn't nearly enough to feed everyone. There were fifteen people to feed this time around, if you included myself and Mr. Parker in that equation, which meant we had gained more people than we had gained food (Five people, in the form of Shawn, Glenn, Doug/Carley, Travis and Mr. Parker).

Well, at the very least I knew I could drop off three of those fifteen, as I did just promise Lilly that we weren't going to feed the new people we had picked up. Besides, they looked better fed than we did.

"Hey Primrose, do you mind giving me a hand for a moment?" Katjaa distracted me from the task for a moment, likely wanting me to help her fix up Mr. Parker. I made my way over to her as I stuck the food in the canvas belt I had been given by Lilly so long ago, readying myself for some bloody gore that had been done to his leg. "Ah, there you are. Can you pass me the bandage over there and then keep this part of his pants rolled up so that I can properly dress it please?"

"Of course" I followed her instructions, vaguely following along with what she was doing from the little titbits I had picked up from both her and Alex, my former college 'friend'. "I'm always willing to lend a hand, because after all, I have two of them"

The both of them laughed softly at my attempt at a joke, which lightened the somewhat serious mood for a moment. With all that had happened, I had to admit that his leg wasn't nearly as mangled as I had expected it, which was nothing but good news.

"I never got to thank you for helping me out of the bear trap" Mr. Parker thanked me whole heartedly, gently patting one of my shoulders that he could reach in gratitude. It was a little odd interacting with him, as unlike all of the other characters he truly was a wild card in terms of personality, as the in game version of him had never really shown who he was beyond screaming in pain. It was... disconcerting, having someone along who I couldn't account for.

"You probably should be thanking your students as well" I brushed off his thanks a little harsher than I had originally intended to, not really wanting to dwell on what I had managed to do for him until I got a better feel for who he was. "Without them it would have been a lot harder, and likely more painful"

"...How did you know they are my students?" He asked me, clearly finding the fact that I knew that a bit suspicious. Luckily for me, out of all the things people could have picked apart for how I shouldn't know it; this was not one of them that actually cast doubt on me.

"It was kind of obvious when your student Travis literally said that they 'just wanted to help their teacher'" I abrasively answered, not appreciating the third degree from him over something that should have been obvious. I suppose he did have the benefit of the doubt with the fact he was in extreme pain at the time, but it was just a bad combination to hear him doubt me as well as being an unknown player in this strange reality. "And before you ask, I got Travis' name from his friend who called him that"

He softly uttered an 'ah' in response, but the lingering tense atmosphere remained a little. Katjaa managed to calm me down with a gentle touch to my shoulder, reminding me of my own mother for a brief moment when she knew that I needed support. It was enough to bring me back, and I smiled at her to show that I had recovered.

"Off you go Primrose, I've got it from here" Katjaa gave me a bit of tough love, gently swatting my hands away from helping any further. Even before I could stick my hand into my pocket and ask her if she was hungry, she seemed to have that mother-daughter wavelength with me, which meant of course that she could tell what I was going to offer her. "Don't you dare young lady, I know how much others need that food rather than me"

"Yes ma'am" I saluted her in a slight joking manner, leaving both people and moving on to the next group of people as I made a quick plan in my mind about who I was going to feed. Both Doug and Glenn were intently trying to tie a piece of string to a bell, both of their heads hovering very close to the board to do their job properly. "Hey guys"

Almost as if they had planned it for some kind of comedic routine, the both of them sharply brought their heads up and banged them into separate bells, making little tinkling noises from the contact. I couldn't help but let out a giggle as they groaned a bit, but Glenn seemed to find the humour in it a moment later and joined in with my giggling.

"It would have been even funnier if it was intentional" Glenn felt he had to mention quickly, which Doug just chuckled with. I peered past them to see how the alarm was coming along, only to see that they had nearly all of their wires and strings set up. "You curious about this?"

"I'm guessing that you guys set it up while we were away, otherwise I can't see how else we wouldn't have tripped one or two of them coming back here" I mentioned to them what I was thinking, distinctly remembering when they had come with some random bells and whistles along with long fishing wire to me, Kenny and Lilly, practically begging the three of us to let them set up a perimeter around our motel. "But I really do think it'll be handy. Great job guys"

The both of them glowed with the praise I gave, obviously quite pleased with the fact their little contraption was going to help out in any manner possible. This, combined with the fact neither of them had gotten food in about two days made me decide to feed them, digging around in my pocket until I managed to find a half of an apple and a piece of jerky. I of course made sure to swap them around in my hands until I was offering Doug the apple, as my mind wouldn't feel comfortable with offering him anything else, largely down to the fact I knew he rejected anything else but that in the game.

"...Nah, keep it" Doug automatically rejected the food once he realised I was offering it to him, Glenn joining in on his decision a moment later after he too had mulled it over for a bit. I was so shocked to see that he turned down the apple, especially considering how game Doug would react to it, that it took me a little while before I even put the food back into my canvas belt. "I know how you work Prim, you won't keep anything for yourself unless we force you to eat"

"Are you two sure?" I still couldn't help but try to offer the food to them, wanting to keep them fed. They still turned it down with a smile, quite happy to see that I was still so nice to them all even when I was hungry myself.

"Yes, we're sure" Glenn confirmed, soon counting something on his fingertips, coming out to the number four before he stopped counting. "In fact, hasn't it been four days since you've eaten? I saw you give your piece to Clementine two days ago, so that doesn't count"

...I hadn't realised that people had noticed that. In the end, I begrudgingly put the food back into my belt, reconsidering in my mind about who was going to get food. Now that they had mentioned it, I really wanted that candy cane that I had been given.

"By the way Prim, before you go, I was wondering if you wanted to swap with me tonight on the sleeping arrangements" Doug managed to slip that conversation in before I made my leave, his request apparently being a little surprising to Glenn beside him, who was looking in a mixture of gratitude and confusion. "As you know, me and Glenn are supposed to share a bed tonight, but I think it might be more comfortable for both him and me if you wanted to switch with me"

"...Dude, you'd do that for me?" Glenn asked his friend in wonder, likely wondering about why Doug was so happy to set me and him up for the night. Doug just gave him his usual dorky and adorable smile, quite eager to do this favour for him.

"Of course man. I remember that the last time you and me were sharing a bed for the night, you had swapped out with Prim that night too"

"Oh. That was more because I was beginning to catch a bit of a cold, I didn't want to risk you catching it from me"

"Still, consider this my way of repaying that"

I chuckled as I saw how they interacted with each other, almost making me think about how the two of them would likely be a good couple. You know, if Glenn was bi or pan, but I supposed that he was as straight as could be.

"It sounds like a wonderful idea" I finalised their plans, already looking forward to spending the night cuddled up to Glenn. He seemed to be just as happy as I was with the idea, him turning down his cap for a moment in a brief show of shyness to hide his eyes. "Don't get into too much trouble now"

"Will you two hold the damn boards steady?!" Larry's voice was loud and grating as I moved on from our engineers of the group, and I decided to interrupt that before it got out of hand and Larry began to shout the place down. Shawn and Mark of course offered their apology, the latter even giving an explanation for why they weren't holding it straight (That they were obviously hungry) but Larry was just irritated further by this. "What do you two slackers want, a handout? I've got fifty cents in my pocket, if you'll both quit being such pansies!"

"Do you guys need help with the wall at all? I am sort of busy, but I can lend you guys the axe" I offered them the weapon to nail in the small nails they had found in a toolbox a couple of days ago. Larry of course gave me a side eye as I proceeded to hand it to Mark, who accepted it with a small thanks from me. "Is there something I can help you with Larry?"

"Why the hell didn't you give me the axe? Considering how shit these guys are doing-

"Language"

"Don't get smart with me" Larry told off Shawn the moment he corrected Larry's verbal language, but Shawn seemed unbothered by the larger man snapping at him next. "If these louts can't even hold a board steady, what makes them the better person to use an axe?"

"Last I checked, Shawn or Mark aren't likely to punch me in the face" I responded in a smarmy manner to his question, not even caring about how undiplomatic I was being in the moment. Larry growled under his breath, but didn't seem in the mood to pursue a fight with me right then. "I need to check on others now, but you guys let me know if you need my help any further"

The three of them turned back around to continue to work on the fence, but I took their distracted nature to do what I had actually intended, slipping a piece of jerky into Shawn and Mark's hands while Larry had his back turned. The two of them quickly noticed the food I had given them, tilting their heads slightly back to see me (But not give away to the larger man that I had given them something). I just gently pressed a finger to my lips, smiling and giving them a wave as I now truly made my leave. The last I saw of them, Mark and Shawn had snuck the food into their mouths without Larry noticing.

Going around in some sort of clockwise circle around our group, I came back around to the kids who were colouring in the middle of the former carpark, Carley watching over them with a soft look in her eyes. Ben and Travis were both still obediently staying with them, but it was clear that neither of them felt like drawing with crayons on paper. Who knows, maybe they felt it was beneath them as teenagers.

Clementine saw me approaching her and stood up, stepping a little bit away to give me and her some privacy. I had sort of expected her to ask about her missing hat, as the game generally had that, but I noticed that she couldn't because her hat was still safely perched on the top of her head.

"What's up Clem? You look a little conflicted" I asked her, noticing her play with her elbow and shift from foot to foot like she was nervous. It was exactly the little dance she would do before asking Lee to help her find her clothing, so I really was curious to find out what she was going to ask me.

"...Can I call you mum?" She asked me, which had to have been the most shocking thing said or done that day. Even Doug refusing the apple wasn't as out of the blue as this one, and it must have shown on my face, as she hurriedly explained her reasoning before I could ask her where she had gotten the idea from. "It's just that... I called you that a while ago by mistake, and you looked really happy even though you are not my mum"

...It was true, I had reacted like that. Imagine my surprise when a week ago she had called me that by accident, but I couldn't deny that I had reacted in quite a pleased manner. After all, I had felt like I was her mother with her while she was in the game, and those maternal instincts only seemed to grow as I looked after her for real.

"Won't your actual mum find it a bit weird when we find her again?" I couldn't help but worry about her own parents, both with what I had mentioned and with the reality that her parents might be dead when we finally arrived at Savannah. This reality did play out a bit different from the original timeline, but who knew how early on her parents had died in both versions. For all she and I knew, they had died three seconds after the final phone call her mother had made to Clementine... or she was still alive now, just barely holding on until we would come for them.

"It'll be okay, my mum will probably like you the moment she hears how good you've looked after me!" Clementine seemed to really be coming up with reasons for why it could work, and the reason why she was trying so hard came tumbling right out just a moment later. "Besides, I like calling you mum"

Overcome with emotion, I knelt down to her size and wrapped my arms around her frail form, feeling her wriggle a little until she too could wrap her arms around my neck and shoulders. She was so small, so vulnerable, that a part of me wondered if it was safer for me to just leave right there and then with her and only care for her, damn the others... But my heart wouldn't let me do that, even if my brain was telling me that it might have been the safer alternative for her. I loved everyone too much to only save one... And honestly, that was how I had gotten here in the first place after all.

"Here, take these two and give one to Duck, okay?" I asked her to take the two packets of crackers and cheese I had been given, trying my best to not let my misty eyes get the better of me. "And of course, feel free to call me mum if you want to"

"Thank you" She politely thanked me, likely it being for both things I had done for her. She wasn't quite happy with me running off however, as she pulled me over to see what they were doing in a group. Fetching her paper from the floor after she quickly handed a packet of crackers to Duck (Who also quickly said his thanks before digging in), she showed it proudly to me. "Guess what it is!"

"Oooh! I know what it is, it's a goat!" Duck excitedly tried to guess what the creature was, despite the fact the drawing obviously was of a cat. I almost considered the fact that he had guessed so purposefully, especially when his grin just seemed to double in size when Clementine vehemently denied that it was a goat. "Guess what mine is guys!"

Duck excitedly held up his drawing to me, but angled it just enough so that Travis and Ben could also get a good look at it. It was some kind of robot, but for some reason the robot had been coloured from head to toe in a dark green.

"Uh... the terminator, but he's really sick?" Travis suggested, scratching his chin in thought. I laughed aloud at the thought of it, which caught his attention almost immediately, earning me a sly smile from him. He certainly seemed far more confident than Ben was, but I had been able to guess that about him from the short glimpse I had seen of him in the game as well. "You a movie buff too?"

"Mostly zombie movies myself, but I honestly would watch anything that Arnold Schwarzenegger is in" I admitted to him, smiling softly at him. He seemed to approve quite a bit with my statement, putting his arm out for a fist bump, which I returned before going back to guessing what Duck had drawn. "It's an alien that is dressing up like a robot for Halloween"

"Nope!" Duck quite cheerily slammed down both of our guesses, which made Travis click his fingers in an exaggerated manner to show he was very close, but just didn't have it. Duck and Clementine laughed at his antics, before the former turned it to Ben, anxiously waiting for his answer. Ben was a little shocked to see that Duck had really wanted his opinion too, so he squinted at it super hard before answering.

"...It's the hulk, but he can turn into a transformer" Ben finally hazarded a guess, which became obvious to the rest of us that he had somehow guessed correctly when Duck's eyes grew to the size of dinner plates, staring in awe. He wasn't the only one staring in awe, as I was pleasantly surprised to find out I had something in common with Ben as well as Travis. "What?"

"I like superhero movies too" I laughed, holding out my hand for a high-five rather than a fist bump like his more boisterous friend had done. He was a tad bit slower than Travis too, but he soon softly high-fived me back. "Who's your favourite?"

"Hawkeye, actually" Ben began to come out of his shell the more I talked to him, even getting a shy smile to appear on his face. "You?"

"Black widow, for obvious reasons" I giggled, gesturing to myself to remind them that I indeed was a woman. "Guess that makes us best friends"

"I think your girlfriend would have something to say against that though" Travis teased, and my whipped around to look at Carley the moment he had mentioned a girlfriend, and Carley responded in quite a pleased manner by giving me a flirtatious wink. "Oh! I had actually meant the one you had hugged before, but uh... okay, you're with that woman"

"What, Lilly? Oh no, I think she's straight" I quickly explained that before Larry really was going to beat my head in, and because I had yet to actually get confirmation that Lilly liked anything but men.

"Primrose is a roly-poly bicycle!" Duck stated that a bit confusingly, and I sighed softly in a joking manner before I corrected him.

"What he means to say, is that I'm bisexual and that I'm polyamorous" I could already see some confusion in their eyes, and I was quite certain it had to do with the latter part of my explanation rather than the former. "I'm into both women and men, and I am quite happy with seeking relationships with multiple people at once"

"Oh! Okay... I have to admit, I've never met someone who's poly" Ben admitted, looking as if he had to be careful about what he asked me. I tried my best to show him that I wasn't going to get mad at him, as long as he remained somewhat respectful. "So... have you ever been with multiple people in the past?"

"Before joining this group? No, not really. I haven't encountered someone else who was okay with me being poly, so it never went anywhere with them" I shrugged my shoulders, knowing full well that the reason for that was that most people had never even heard about my polyamorous side, because I was afraid of their backlash at the time. Travis soon raised his hand as though he was in a classroom and that he had to ask permission before he could ask me his question, but I just laughed and shook my head at his raised hand. "No hands needed for questions here man"

"Sweet, that makes it a lot easier" Travis laughed, dropping his arm like he had been holding it up for forever rather than a short while. "How many people are you with right now, in this group?"

"Uh, let's see... There's Shawn, Kenny, Glenn, Doug, Carley and Mark" I counted off each person on a finger, finding that I ran out of fingers on one hand and had to switch to the other to find the sixth one. The both of them looked a little confused, glancing at everyone in my group to try and find out who each person was. "Ha, I suppose it can be a bit confusing for someone new here. Just go by the people who call me Prim, they're the ones who are slowly developing a relationship with me"

The two of them seemed to have asked enough questions for the time being, seeming a little overwhelmed with the information I had given them. Giving a gentle wave to the kids, and then the teenagers, I made my leave from them. I knew for a fact that Carley wouldn't accept food from me if I had even tried to give it to her, but I gave her a soft smile as I passed her by.

I finally came around to Kenny, who had taken the opportunity to sit down on the couch next to the R.V. while inspecting some sort of exhaust pipe for it. Without really needing to announce my presence, I sat down beside him, and he quite comfortably circled his arm around my shoulders until he was gently bringing my head to his shoulder. It was little things like this that made us both happy, and honestly Kenny was the only one to really display a romantic affection for me in public so far. The others certainly were romantic when it was just me and them, but somehow the one who was originally the most unsure about my poly side was the one who felt comfortable with showing the others that he did care for me. Maybe the others were still afraid of how Larry would react to that...

"...Mark's noticed that you're stressed lately" I softly murmured into his shoulder, which got the reaction of a long, slow sigh escaping his chest. He knew full well that he was getting more stressed lately, but it still wasn't nice to have other people notice it as well. "Some people are saying that you're giving them sideways glances when they are romantic with me, so some people are thinking that you aren't accepting my poly side"

"I know Prim, I know. I'm real sorry about giving people weird looks lately, I know stress shouldn't be doing that to me" He apologised quite readily, accepting that he had been in the wrong lately. There was something else that he felt he had to add onto that however, something that seemed to have been bugging him for a while. "Although, it's funny you should say that, cause don't ya think that they're being a bit... secretive themselves?"

"They might be worried about what would happen if Larry took notice" I explained my reasoning, as it was really the only one I could think of so far. I certainly wasn't forcing them to have a relationship with me. "He just doesn't notice you that much because he hates me more"

"Fuck Larry"

"Language"

"Sorry, my bad" He apologised again, although this one was for a much different reason than before. It was likely even that he had apologised because of the language he had used, not who he had bad mouthed. "But seriously, if they truly love you, then that old bast-uh, that old man won't stop them"

As rough around the edges as Kenny was, he was certainly not shy about who he was. I smiled softly at him as I then gently shifted myself until I was able to give him a grateful kiss on the cheek. He smiled back, and it only seemed to grow when I had slipped the last remaining piece of jerky into his hands.

"You spoil me" His voice rumbled low in his throat, him returning the kiss after he had said that, the beginnings of his beard tickling my softer skin. Gratefully accepting the food, he gently released his arm from my shoulders when he could feel me getting up watching me go with an appreciative smile. "Don't be a stranger now"

"You couldn't keep me from you if you tried" I gave him one final farewell to tide him over until I had time to spend with him again, turning the immediate corner around the R.V. until I could look up above me at the final person in our group. Lilly was trying her best to appear as if she was lazily watching the perimeter, but the fact her head sharply turned away the moment I looked at her proved that she had actually been following me around. She did care, a whole lot more than she sometimes seemed to want to let on, even wanting to make sure I wasn't having a hard time with handing out the rations. "Lilly, here"

I stepped on the tips of my toes to be able to reach up as far as I could, and she bent down to accept the apple I still had not given out to the others.

"Are you sure?" She still double checked with me as she accepted the item, but I could see the hope in her eyes that I was feeding her. I wasn't going to deny it to her, as I knew it had been three days since she had fed herself.

"Of course, we need our fearless leader at her best" I slightly joked with her, enough to get a bare chuckle from her, but I could tell there was still some doubt as to why she was more worthy. "But seriously Lilly, I care about you a whole lot. The entire reason I had taken on the task of feeding the others was to make things easier on you, and taking care of you also means keeping you fed"

"But I can't eat this if you haven't been given food" She tried to protest further, but I quickly countered her argument by bringing out the one remaining food item I hadn't given it out, sticking the candy cane into my mouth and biting off a piece. The sugar instantly hit my tongue and went into my system, it being so delicious that I honestly felt a little weak in the knees for a moment. "Good. We'll look after each other, you and I"

I half expected that to be the moment that Larry came storming over, half over the fact I had not decided to feed him and the other half being the fact I was once again wandering into vague romantic territory with his daughter. To my surprise he didn't, once again bucking the trend of what usually would happen, but something else certainly did catch my attention...

It was the sound of a ringing bell.

Chapter Text

The bell had served us well, if only to warn us of the two brothers from the St. John dairy, which I supposed was a bit ironic considering I now associated that name with both cannibals and an ambulance service. Part of me considered arguing black and blue with the others about how we shouldn't go to the dairy for the food they were offering us, but there was no way a group of fourteen starving people were going to reject the idea of food, especially because me saying that they were cannibals would be akin to suicide in terms of people listening to me.

And so, here we were, heading down the road towards their dairy, with a loose plan already forming in my head to ensure that nobody would die there. If nothing else, we would get two rifles and some biscuits out of the deal... And perhaps some extra ammo, if we managed to play our cards right.

The group that we had decided to take with us down to the dairy was almost exactly the same as the one that would happen in the game, with the exception of Glenn and Travis joining us, as well as me being able to take both Doug and Carley at once rather than one of them. What might have been considered the more "nerdy" side of our little group were talking up ahead with both Danny and Andy St. John, while I was hanging back with Carley and Mark.

"I don't like them" I reminded the two people flanking either side of me, who seemed to have differing opinions on the subject. Mark of course was in the mind-set that we should give the brothers the benefit of the doubt, while Carley was suspicious of them from the start like I had been. "Don't they give either of you a bad vibe?"

"Not really, the most I get from either of them is maybe an old fashioned country vibe" Mark had to admit to me, and I sighed a little under my breath at how oblivious he could be. That 'old fashioned country vibe' was going to earn him an arrow in the shoulder if I wasn't looking out for him.

...Was I just unusual for a person of my age? Back when I had played the second episode for the first time, I had an iffy vibe from the brothers from the very first moment I had run into them as Lee, and the reveal that they were cannibals honestly... Wasn't all that surprising to me. It happened quite often with people later on in the series too, I had always managed to pick out the ones that were going to be trouble despite friendly first appearances, and often ran into friends (In real life at the time) whom had never seen it coming. Perhaps I was just unnecessarily suspicious of others? No, that didn't make sense either, as that meant that I would have flagged people such as Omid and Christa as evil when that wasn't true... Which I didn't.

A wishful side of me was hoping it came down to the fact that I was just good at reading others, and not just pure luck. A good measure of other people meant that I could make better decisions, especially when it came to choosing who was trustworthy in this new reality of mine, where a single mistake was going to be costly.

"Mark, I kind of need to have a discussion with Prim, do you mind?" Carley politely asked her rifle wielding friend permission, to which Mark seemed quite happy to agree with. He didn't seem to catch on that she had wanted to keep it between us two, as he somewhat thickly stood there and smiled at the both of us while we were slowly wondering why he wasn't leaving. "A private discussion, Mark"

"Oh?... OH! Oh, okay" Mark seemed to get the hint finally, still smiling politely to the both of us as he began to speed up his walking so that he would be a part of the front of our group to give us the privacy we were wanting. He was certainly still a bit of a bumbling man, but he was endlessly endearing to me, and I would protect him with my life. "I'll be over here, just call if you need me!"

"He's still... A bit clumsy, isn't he?" Carley asked me with a slight sigh to her sentence, obviously not a hundred percent happy with Mark being the way he was. I just giggled at his mannerisms, agreeing with her with a leisurely nod of my head. "But just in case you weren't sure, I am agreeing with you. I think they are dodgy"

"God, and here I thought I couldn't love you more" I chuckled, momentarily putting my axe away in a sort of axe holster we had fashioned at the camp (With Kenny's assistance of course, that man loves his axes) to hold her hand. She smiled at me, gently brushing her shoulder against mine in a show of affection. "I do know how important food is to the others though, and it makes sense that both Kenny and Lilly would want us to come here for at least a good portion of food"

"I keep hearing you say that lately. Kenny and Lilly, Kenny and Lilly. It comes up every single time that a decision has to be made about what we're doing, despite the fact you seem to be giving the most input and making the smart choices" Carley pointed out several of these things to me, effectively making it known that she already was under the impression that I was actually the leader of our group, not the two of them. It was a bit like Carley making the recommendation that Lee was the leader in the game, but it actually made no real sense in the game, because of how little choices Lee actually had made for the group... While it did actually make sense for me, as I had essentially been giving hints and tips since the very beginning of our three months together. Whether it was supply runs, what we should be focusing on next, who needed food or first aid first, somehow both Kenny and Lilly seemed to come right back to me, wanting the final say to come from me. "I mean, even back at the motel just now, you were the one to break up the fight between them... You always are, as a matter of fact. I think the better choice would be to make you the leader"

"...You think so?" I still somehow wanted to hear her confirm it, the idea of leading the group still being a little daunting under the circumstances. But in the end I was the one keeping everyone alive, so I supposed that no matter what happened, I'd never feel comfortable with passing off the blame off to either of them in the first place.

"I know so" She sealed her words with a gentle kiss to my shoulder, that movement being the most affectionate she had ever been with me before. Perhaps the idea of me being the leader made her less afraid to be herself, as it meant that if I was leading that Larry wouldn't be able to touch her. In a way, the idea of her being more open with me was just an extra bonus, which made me want to work harder for her.

"Oh! You two... uh... Are together?" Andy suddenly broke my concentration, as he at one point must have looked behind him, only to see both us holding hands and the moment when Carley had kissed my clothed shoulder. She reacted in her usual skittish manner when people had realised that she was more than straight, but I held firm onto her hand before she could rip it out of my grip. If these guys refused to trade with us because of our differing sexuality, then I honestly wasn't going to complain about missing the mess that was going to be this episode.

"Is there a problem with that?" I challenged him immediately on it, my tone telling him quite firmly that, no, there was no way we were going to change because he was uncomfortable. He and his brother seemed to fidget, proving that they were indeed not happy with it, but seemed to make up their minds in a neutral position on it.

"...No, there's no problem" Danny spoke up for him and his brother, but it was clear from their hesitant tone that they were lying with that sentence. It didn't matter to me in the long run, as I honestly wasn't going to lose any sleep over it. "Come on, we still got a while to go"

All manner of discussion halted between the brothers and the five guys that had been talking with them earlier, but the one who had noticed the shift in atmosphere the most was Doug, who frowned at their backs at the reason for why they were suddenly shy to talk. Glenn (Who knew quite well about me, Carley and Doug) joined Doug in retreating from the front of the group, the both of them slowing down drastically until they were side by side with me and Carley instead. Ben and Travis, who were a little less knowledgeable about us than the others, at least seemed to get the reason for why things had soured, and they too slowed down to stay safely back with us. Mark was the final one, who seemed to look a little upset with how unaccepting the brothers were, but seemed to understand why we were hanging back and decided to join us.

"Geez, they're acting like you burn puppies as a hobby" Travis firmly seemed to support my side of things, frowning quite obviously. Ben, while not as ferocious as his friend, did seem to nod in agreement with what his best friend was saying. "I'd choose to stick with the people who rescue people from bear traps rather than the homophobes"

"No kidding" Ben seemed to softly agree with him, at least wanting us to know verbally that he was on our side too. "If there's anything me and Travis can do to help, you just let us know"

"I wouldn't worry about it if I was you guys" Mark quite happily turned down the idea of either of them having to put their necks out for us, which I honestly was quite happy to see. "Prim and the rest of us are just happy to help out"

"Prim, huh? So does that make you one of the harem?" Travis asked, his specific choice of words coming across as a bit insensitive, but his tone seemed to suggest that he wasn't meaning offense, just purely asking out of curiosity. Despite his naivety on the term, he did notice several of the others grimacing at his choice of words. "Oh, shoot, was that the wrong word?"

"I mean... Not really? It is the dictionary definition, I suppose" Doug had to regretfully admit that it had some truth behind it, as a harem was generally a group of women who were all interested in a single male. Even so, I could tell that everyone was not happy with that term, and neither was I.

"But it is most associated with a group of women who also were slaves, so I'd say that it is the wrong word for it" I put my foot down on not picking that word, which made several people let out gentle sighs of relief. "I don't particularly think we need a word for us, just referring to people as my lovers should do nicely"

"But be careful that you guys don't say it around Larry, he'd probably flip his lid if he ever heard about it" Glenn carefully warned both boys, seemingly taking great care in telling Ben that rather than Travis. "Also don't mention Prim and Carley being bi, or Doug being pan"

"He's homophobic?" Ben asked us, and he just seemed to look really uncomfortable with the news when all five of us nodded our heads quite firmly. "No offense, but why is he still there then?"

"He's Lilly's dad" I explained very bluntly, leaving out the part where I was not willing to lose Lilly just because I hated Larry. I knew that might have been the following question from either of them, but for once something seemed to be going my way, both Andy and Danny stopping sharply in the middle of the road and holding out a hand to signal for the rest of us to stop. "What's up?"

"There seems to be some bandits ahead" Andy confirmed for us, ducking off to the side and into the bushes on the side of the road rather than staying out in the clearing. "Get down, the lot of you"

I felt like rolling my eyes at his instructions, especially considering the fact that all seven of us had hit the deck the moment enemies were announced, just like Lilly and I had taught the others (And the two teenagers had naturally copied us). Carley and Mark both carefully reloaded their weapons, taking extra care to make sure that nobody could hear their weapons, while me and Doug readied our close combat weapons.

"You really think you're gonna cut me out of this?!" The familiar dialogue sprung from one of the their mouths, one particular one of the bandits angrily confronting the other because of a failed food deal between them both. Despite the fact I knew the words off by heart, I knew better than to mouth them unconsciously, instead keeping a close eye on all the members of our group.

Travis and Ben in particular, as the both of them had dropped to the ground directly next to me, flanking me on either side. Travis was keeping himself cool under the circumstances, but Ben had grabbed my shoulder in the meantime as though I was just some buddy of his that was watching a horror movie with him.

"Who are they?" Ben asked softly, lifting his head slightly from the ground before I gently pushed it back down to hide his brown hair in the dying grass. His hair was actually blending quite well into the Autumn colours going around, so I was thankful for that.

"Bandits, looks like" Andy answered, waving loosely with his hand. "Don't worry, Danny and I got ya covered"

Thankfully before I could roll my eyes or make another retort to that remark (Being possibly something close to "I'd rather stick my hand in a bear trap" just to guilt them), the bandits seemed to come to the climax of their argument, causing one of them to shoot the other directly in the head with the shotgun he happened to be carrying. Travis hurriedly covered his ears to protect them from any damage, while Ben softly gasped, grasping even harder onto my shoulder in order to find some comfort there.

Eventually the bandit seemed to find it enough, walking away in a huff from his now dead ally's body, spitting out one last vitriolic remark about how the other was an 'asshole' before disappearing into the brush. We still remained there for a little while longer, obviously to make sure that he wasn't about to pop back out with more of his friends, when I stood up after five minutes, eager to leave before all the walkers in the area came to our location. The others all rose with me as they were completely ready to leave, most notably Ben and Travis, with the former still having his hand tightly holding onto my shoulder even as I stood up.

"You uh... Are you planning to become another lover of hers?" Travis couldn't seem to help teasing Ben, who looked confused for a moment with the implications. Only after a couple of seconds of looking at me did he realise that he was still holding my shoulder in a vice like grip, and he hurriedly let go with a soft squeak, apologising softly to me a moment later.

"Weren't you scared?" Ben tried to divert the attention back off himself, wondering why his friend was unbothered by the weapons and violence.

"Dude, have you forgotten already?" Travis asked him, a smug smile across his face as though the answer should have been the most obvious thing in the world, and I already knew what he was going to say from what I had picked up from him in the game. "My da-

"His dad is special forces" I answered, knowing the answer off by heart. It was however a stupid thing to say at the time, as it immediately made Travis and Ben suddenly take notice of that, and how weird it was that I already knew about it.

"...Did I ever tell you that?" Travis asked me, his eyes tilted upwards to the trees above us as he tried his hardest to remember when he had specifically mentioned it. I decided to cut him off before the discussion went any further, as I realised a mistake that was even worse than accidentally blurting that out... Travis had not mentioned his father being special forces in this reality.

"You had mentioned it back when we were helping your teacher out of the trap" I lied, placing my hands on the small of the both of their back and hurried them along to the rest of the group that was already leaving. "Now come on, we don't want to be here when the walkers come roaming from the gunshots"


Once we were in the clear and walking down the long driveway of the dairy, did I let myself relax a little bit with the knowledge that bandits couldn't get us there. Doug and Glenn were a welcome distraction as well, their excitement concerning how the electric fence around the dairy captivated them being a welcome distraction. Still no real conversation had happened, Andy and Danny still not feeling it necessary to even introduce their farm or fence to us. Here I had thought that no other interaction with the brothers was going to be more creepy than what had taken place in the game, but here they had proven me wrong.

"I thought I saw ya'll comin' with company down the drive" Speaking of creepy things, an eerily familiar voice calling out to us as the mother of the terrible twosome came down the steps from her home and made her way over to us. Andy finally decided to grace us by speaking to us, introducing her as their mother, which would have been obvious from a mile away. Despite all those factors combined, I was still the only one to not give her a polite nod of the head as a greeting. "I'm Brenda St John and welcome to the St John dairy. Oh my, you 'ave such young folk with ya!"

She seemed to be directing that last comment over to me, Ben and Travis, but none of the three of us were very keen on responding to that remark. It was very presumptuous at best, and derogatory at worst. Introductions were naturally made before Doug was handed the basket of biscuits that had been baked, him handing out a single one to every one of our group who was present at the time. For the most part the introductions seemed to be going well in my opinion, Mark even seemingly being able to bite his tongue and not tell them that Katjaa was a vet, when the tail end of the introductions crashed and burned.

"And this is Primrose, she and Carley are... girlfriends" Andy finally came to me, but it was clear from the tone that he was only mentioning the latter part because he somehow felt it was necessary to warn his mother about my sexuality. Brenda laughed softly, seemingly not getting what Andy was saying, perhaps in a sense of denial.

"Oh Andy, aren't ya a bit old to be callin' two girls who happen to be friends as 'girlfriends'?" She chuckled, but Andy's consistent serious look on his face seemed to slowly make her chuckling slow down before eventually halting altogether.

"...No mama, they're girlfriends" Danny put emphasis on the final word, effectively beating his mother over the head figuratively with the word to drive home that it wasn't a laughing matter to him and his brother. Honestly, how on earth did the two of them think that this kind of attitude came across as that they "were fine with it"?

"Ah... Well, people can get so confused nowadays" Brenda carelessly addressed me and Carley with the term of "confused", which I could tell was just irking me and her further and further the more we were forced to listen to them. "I'm sure they'll find a nice man to change their mind"

"How about you mind your own business, and we'll agree to never speak of this again?" I snapped at the three of them, practically snarling to defend me and Carley. I partially was also defending Doug, as he was getting increasingly uncomfortable the longer he was standing there and listening to the blatant homophobic remarks, as his face was earning more and more wrinkles in his frown the longer it went on. "Now if you'll excuse us, we need to talk about what our plan is now"

"It doesn't matter what they say now, I'm not staying here" Carley decided once we were safely out of eavesdrop from the family, who somehow still seemed shocked that I had the courage to call them out. Doug didn't say anything, but it was clear from his reactions so far that he too was going to return to the motel, just like he would in the game.

"I know they're being rude, but they seem nice in every other regard" Mark was still somehow trying to put a positive spin on everything, something which caused all of us to sigh at (Minus Ben, he was trying to be polite to him). I could understand giving some other people the benefit of the doubt, but I really wondered why some people thought that everyone deserved a second chance. "They have food here and they're willing to trade for it. Not to mention, that fence is amazing, you have to admit"

"Just make out with the fence why don't you?" Travis bit back at him, causing Mark to recoil a little from the vitriol he was spitting all of a sudden. Travis' tone even seemed to suggest that this was a personal matter for him, perhaps because he had a friend or family member that had been persecuted by others like we had been. What was even a bigger giveaway was how pale Ben's face had gone, firmly deciding to hide behind Travis and me from the family, and now Mark in a subsequent manner...

"As much as I hate the way these guys are treating us, we do need the food" I sighed, effectively diffusing the situation by subtly choosing my words. In the end, both sides could pick out that I was siding with them on something, but not overtly enough so that it came across as fence sitting. "Me and Mark can stay here, you guys can head back to the motel and let everyone know what's going on"

"You're sure? I can always swap with you if you feel more comfortable" Glenn offered, as he was likely to be safer from judgement due to the fact he was straight, but I shook my head softly to deny that option. I couldn't leave Mark alone after all, not with how the game was supposed to go. "Okay, the five of us will hurry back so that you two won't be alone for long"

"So, what do you think? Should we take the rifle with us?" Doug asked the both of us, looking back down the path back to the motel. We spied no bandits hanging around, but I supposed that there was the chance that something did happen in the game that Lee was just not present to witness, but I already felt that they were safer away from the family (And with Carley's trusty pistol after all). "You know, in case of more bandits like those we saw earlier"

"I'd prefer us to keep the rifle actually. You guys have already got a gun from Carley and you've got a screwdriver" I mentioned, stopping Mark softly with my hand before he could hand the rifle to them. "I don't want me and Mark to be left without a ranged weapon"

"You think you'll need it?" Ben asked me, to which I tried to act nonchalant to.

"It can't hurt" I said cryptically answered, leaving it as vague as I could to not frighten any of them. I wasn't even a hundred percent sure that the extra fire power would keep Mark safe, but as had mentioned to them, I had already made up my mind that it couldn't hurt to still have it. Luckily, they decided not to argue with me on the subject. We exchanged quick goodbyes, wishing each other luck before they started to head back, with Ben and Travis following behind them despite the fact we hadn't made solid plans for what was happening with them. They likely would just end up being accepted into our group during the chaos of this episode, just like in the game after all.

"So, I don't mean to interrupt" Andy said to us, wringing his hand together to remove any bits of oil or dust there. Somehow I got the impression that his first sentence wasn't actually meant in earnest. "But we usually have to do a day to day check over the fence and get walkers off. They get stuck when the electricity fries them, and the posts get overloaded if we don't get them off it"

"We can do that for you! Can't we Prim?" Mark already offered before I begrudgingly could, and I sighed softly under my breath before steeling myself to go.

"...Sure" I gave the same amount of hesitation in my words as him and Danny had used against me and Carley, my hand reflexively reaching and taking my axe out of the holster. "And Andy? Make sure not to turn the fence back on before we're back"

The startled look on his face was completely worth that comment, and I happily went on my way with my axe slung over my shoulder. Mark readied his rifle with a loud click of the bolt action lever, and we were as ready as we could be.

Chapter Text

My eyes were glued to the hills surrounding the fence, keeping watch in case I could spy the particular bandit that was going to shoot an arrow into Mark's shoulder. I couldn't even tell you how long I had been watching for that damned head to stick up, so much so that I had possibly ignored Mark the entire time we were there. It didn't go unnoticed by Mark of course, who seemed to react like a kicked puppy, as though I was punishing him for something by not paying attention to him.

"...Are you still mad at me?" He eventually dared to ask me something, but I didn't turn my head to look at him just yet. I was too worried that the moment I would look away that an arrow would be fired at us, and unfortunately that gave him the impression that I was indeed still mad at him. "...I'm sorry for not coming to you and Carley's defense"

"I'm not mad at you Mark, honest" I told him that as honestly as I could, only just allowing myself to look away for a bit so that it seemed like I wasn't shunning him in some manner. "I do think you're a little bit too trusting, but I'm not mad at you for trying to look at the positive side of things"

"Well, being trusting is why I had decided to join your group in the first place" Mark admitted, doing exactly as I had just praised him for, by putting a positive spin on even his own flaws. I just chuckled softly to myself, bumping his shoulder lightly with my own to show that him that I was happy. "But speaking about looking on the positive side of things, I don't think I actually ever got the chance to thank you for giving me some food back at the motel"

"Probably because Larry likely would have ripped you a new one had he heard that you and Shawn had gotten food and not him" I pointed out the logic to him with a bit of a cheeky smile on my face, but I could spy a mischievous one on his own lips, which I had picked up quite well.

"He probably would also disapprove of my way of thanking you" He wolfishly grinned at me as he said that, before looping his available arm around my waist and pulling me close to him. I giggled like a school girl at his playful attitude, which just spurred him on further, slinging his rifle over his shoulder in a fell swoop, and bringing in his other hand to cup my face. Kissing me softly as he twirled me around on the spot, it almost seemed like he was trying to give me some kind of dance, a moment to ourselves in the frantic life that we were currently forced to have.

"How come you don't do that more often?" I asked him cheekily, but I supposed that I knew what the answer was to that. Considering the fact that Kenny was the one most obviously interested in me around the others, it meant that everyone else felt like they would be targeted by Larry if he caught wind of them being interested in me. Kenny just didn't care what Larry thought, which was harder for the others to copy.

"It seems like Larry is somehow the answer to a lot of those questions" He chuckled a little bitterly in response, clearly finding it more than annoying after dealing with it for the last three months. Just as he was about to make some sort of witty remark to that idea, he seemed distracted by something behind me, uttering a shocked and confused tone just a moment later. "...What the hell?"

My mind immediately leapt to him spotting a bandit poking his head out of a bush, and this only got exacerbated a moment later when I heard the fence spark into life. Mark of course jumped a little on the spot from the sudden electricity joining us, but my first instinct was to ensure that our heads and shoulder were well below the firing line. I purposefully jammed my foot between his and kicked one of his legs out from under him, which caused the both of us to go crashing to the ground. One second after we landed on the ground did we hear an arrow sail clear over us, landing safely in the long unkempt farm land, but more importantly far away from any limb of ours.

"Go! We need to go!" I worriedly scrambled off Mark, dragging him along with me by hurriedly tugging on his wrist in the direction of the farm house. For a moment his other hand seemed to reach for the rifle he had slung over his shoulder, but I knew that firing back at the vast amount of bandits would be about as useful as throwing a snowball in hell. "No, we need to go!"

The second time around he did seem to listen to me, forgetting the notion of firing a shot back at them in exchange for crawling along the ground with me. Only when we reached a silo that was blocking them from being able to reach us did we both decide it was safe to stand up straight, before sprinting the rest of the way back. That didn't stop us from hearing the bandits yelling harsh words our way however, the words from the game ringing in my ears even as I held Mark safely in my hands.

"GO AHEAD AND RUN! WE AIN'T GOING NOWHERE!"

Just like all the others times I had managed to change the reality of the timeline, the sky rippled like an uneven pond, with the clouds growing just the tiniest bit. The only exception to all the other times that it had happened, was that someone else had noticed it besides me.

"...That's weird" Was the only comment Mark made as he looked up at the sky for a moment, seemingly thinking it was his eyes playing tricks on him. It wasn't that outlandish that he was thinking along those lines after all, as I likely would have thought it was my mind being weird if I had only seen it the one time. "I must have hit my head harder than I thought I did"

I chose to remain silent to that remark of his, almost as if I was unaware of what he was talking about. Truth be told I wasn't so worried about him noticing it one time, as it was unlikely that he was going to see it again, and especially unlikely that he was going to link them to the people I had saved or was going to save. No, honestly I was just permanently in a livid state, as there was a detail that obviously angered me more than anything else.

That damn fence had come back on, even when I had specifically warned Andy not to do it until we were back. The rest of the way back neither of us spoke to each other, me because I was ready to rip someone’s throat out and he because he was still somewhat confused by the sky and the sudden appearance of bandits.

The rest of the way back was completely void of anything else, and before we knew it we had run back the whole way, adrenaline spurring us both on in differing ways. True to the game, none of the people who had originally come with us to the farm had come around again, instead having the kids, Katjaa, Kenny, Lilly and Larry come along, with Shawn diligently pushing a wheelchair (That our group had taken from a hospital to sit on) that held Mr. Parker on it. None of that was important to me at the time being, as my entire gaze was locked onto the oblivious Andy, who almost had seemed like he was surprised to see us unharmed.

"Primrose? What's-

"YOU SON OF A BITCH!" I roared at him before he could even feign complete ignorance, completely forgoing my promise to not swear around the children. The only thing that really made me flinch slightly was the gasp that both Clementine and Duck uttered softly at my choice of words, but for the moment it didn't matter. "I told you not to turn the fence on before we were back, and we nearly got shot in the goddamn head because of it!"

"We-Well I only turned the fence on because I heard one of you yell-

"Bullshit! Neither of us were yelling! We were as quiet as a church mouse before that thing went on!" I almost half expected Mark, the ever present person to give people the benefit of the doubt, to defend him, but he was silent as I went off against Andy. Perhaps because he had realised how close we had been to getting injured or worse, that now he really wasn't in the mood to defend them. "Besides that, those bandits out there were yelling at us about you guys had a deal with them!"

"Mainly just food, but it was just to get them off our backs!" Danny tried to defuse things between me and his brother by coming to his defence, but his claims only made Kenny sharply pick up what he was insinuating.

"Wait just a moment, you guys were trading food with those damn bandits?!" Kenny soon joined my side of things, of course doing so after I had just said that the brothers had brought me and Mark into danger. "And not just that, you didn't think it was important to mention that to either of them?!"

"Will the both of you quit getting on their cases, it was a mistake!" Larry of course seemed to defend the brothers, but both me and Kenny likely were thinking that his reasoning was just because we were against them. The true test of his wits would have to come one day if me and Kenny ever went into a fight against each other, as I was quite certain that Larry just hated the both of us equally where he would pick neither side. "Anyone can make a mistake like putting an electric fence on too early, and-

"Kiss my ass Larry, I don't give a flying fuck about what you think!" It was cathartic to finally let that old bastard know what I thought, also because I knew darn well that he wouldn't assault me in broad daylight with everyone else present. And even if he was, I would gladly allow him with how much adrenaline was pumping through my veins at that moment.

He was so startled by my aggressive attitude towards him (In place of trying to be polite for peacekeeping) that he was rendered completely speechless, his mouth hanging open in utter shock. It was so glorious, that I would have taken a picture of it if I had a working camera at the time.

"Oh my lord, what happened out here sweethearts?" Brenda started to descend the stairs of her house down to us, but of course I couldn't miss the slight hint of disappointment in her eyes when she too saw that me and Mark were hale and hearty. Lilly had gotten over the shock of the shouting match in the meantime, and quickly came closer to me to double check that I was as unharmed as I claimed.

"Your son nearly got me and Mark killed" I wanted to snarl at her as well, but I was coming down from my high of adrenaline at that point, and knew that people would not react to me favourably if I started to yell at a "nice old lady". "Those bandits who hang around your fence would have been nice to know about before asking me to check your fence for you"

"Aw shoot Primrose, I'm real sorry that happened" Andy apologised, even somewhat sounding like he was sincere, but I honestly wasn't ever going to believe him. There was no way a simple sorry would ever make up for potentially getting Mark hurt, and certainly not for what they would do to him afterwards. He reached his hand out to touch my shoulder in a reassuring way, but I honestly wanted to slap it away before it could even reach me. "We do know where one of their camps are though, maybe if you and Danny head out there, we can-

"I'm not going anywhere with either of you" I cut Andy off before their idea of going full Rambo in the woods actually became known to the others, immediately smacking his hand off my shoulder before he could touch the fabric there. After all, Clementine's hat hadn't been stolen in this timeline, so there were literally zero reasons for me to go tromping in the woods with the psychopathic Danny. "And don't touch me; you've lost that sort of privilege long ago"

"Look, Prim, I know that we've-

"Don't call her that" Kenny practically snarled at him, as he was obviously quite protective of the nickname that he and Shawn had given me. Andy soon seemed to realise that there truly wasn't any way that we were going to change our minds on it, retreating slightly as Kenny glowered at him. "Honestly, after the complete mess you've made of everything so far, you don't get to claim anything. We're going to stick to our trade of gas for food, and then we'll never see each other again. Capiche?"

"...If you're sure" Andy finally accepted that we wanted nothing to do with them, as the three of them retreated to either their earlier tasks or back to the safety of their little cottage. Which finally left our group to discuss what had happened, and what we were planning now.

"Are you guys certain?" Shawn asked me and Kenny about the idea that our truce between them was going to end very soon, but he could tell very quickly from our determined eyes that we were.

"I think you guys might be moving a little too fast" Mr. Parker gave his unasked and unwanted advice on the subject, and honestly part of me was wondering whether it honestly was now a bad idea that I had saved him from the bear trap. Right as Mr. Parker started to say that, Larry snapped out of his stunned fit, and boy was he fuming as well.

"You're damn right they're moving too fast" Larry grumbled, grabbing the handles on the wheelchair to move Mr. Parker away with him, with only a slightly startled gasp coming from the teacher due to how unexpected the movement was. "Come on, we're not listening to this shit"

Part of me wanted to tell him off for his language, but I managed to bite my tongue at just the last second, as I supposed it was a bit hypocritical for me to say so after I had just sworn up a storm myself. Shawn got shoved to the side a second after Larry had imposed himself on the wheeled device, but he at least was trying to be polite about it.

"Would you like some help? I've been feeling better lately, so-

"Piss off farm boy" Larry grunted that one last insult to Shawn before trundling off, finally leaving our group to discuss things in peace without having to worry about stepping on someone's toes. Shawn, while a little upset at being called names as usual, decided it wasn't worth the effort to impose his help any further and joined the seven of us.

"I can see why Carley didn't want to stay here" Lilly sighed, her hands still securely on my shoulders, as though she wanted to know by touch that I was alright still. I wasn't completely, but her concern was surprisingly making it a lot more tolerable. I was a little curious as to why she hadn't chewed me out for blatantly yelling at her father, but I supposed that she likely had thought that he deserved a stern talking to every now and then. Clementine too came close, wrapping her arms around my waist as usual when she was scared or wanted to be with me, and I softly apologised to her about my language from before. She told me that she understood, but hoped that I wouldn't have to use it again, as it was scary. "Even if we aren't considering how close minded they were towards you and Carley, they're now so blatantly playing loose with our own safety"

"Exactly why I said that we'll just be getting fed, and then we never want to see them again" Kenny explained his reasoning, but it seemed like Katjaa was just a little sad that the children wouldn't be able to spend much time with the cow on the farm. No doubt they had already spilled the beans that Katjaa was a vet, so she likely wanted to check on their cow at least. "Honestly, I'm surprised we even let that teacher fella' come with us, considering how his students really weren't keen to come again"

"Yeah, actually that is quite weird" I had to admit to him, speaking honestly for a rare occasion in that reality. Why on earth would Mr. Parker be alright to come without his students, if Travis and Ben had seemed to hate the idea of being around the St. John family?

"I did notice them arguing with each other, the teacher and students" Shawn easily volunteered the information, as he no doubt was very good at blending into the background and not being noticed by others. "Travis seemed really upset for some reason, telling the teacher all about something, but the teacher was unimpressed. I couldn't catch what the boys were saying, as they were speaking really fast or too quietly for me to hear, but the teacher had said something about how the boys needed to 'have a more open mind to other people’s beliefs'. I'm not exactly sure what that meant, but it really upset the teens"

...It made no sense to the others, but it did to me, simply because I had been paying attention to those two boys a little better than all the others had been doing. Travis and Ben had both reacted quite badly to the way me and Carley were being treated, and now we had news that they had argued with their teacher about "beliefs", which all rounded out quite nicely once you also took Mr. Parker's fence sitting stance on our group getting hurt. All that combined to one possible explanation in my mind, which was that the argument had been about the homophobic stance of the brothers and how their teacher believed that them getting mad about it was "too harsh" of a reaction. They likely hadn't taken kindly to that idea on it, and refused entirely to go with their teacher back to the farm, instead choosing to stay with Doug, Carley and Glenn back at the motel... And honestly, I couldn't blame them.

"It doesn't matter in the end" I shut down the conversation before they could link the connections with each other like I had done, wanting to give those boys their privacy on it. I wasn't sure if they were open about their support (Or even possibly their inclusion) on homosexuality, but just in case they weren't, then they at least had the liberty of talking about it when they were comfortable about it. "What does matter is what we're going to do now"

"Well, I'm planning to go and check on their cow" Katjaa tried to divert the kids anxious faces and worries away from the current tense situation, gesturing to the barn not too far off from where we were. "It might be good for the kids too"

"That sounds amazing" Lilly said honestly, sighing a little as though she thought she wasn't going to get the time for it herself. "I wish I could join you, but somebody needs to keep an eye on my dad, and I'm quite certain that he'd take off literally anyone's head if they aren't me"

"Really?" Duck asked her, a little oblivious to the idea that it was a joke, and partially also from the fact that Lilly had used the word 'literally' in her sentence. Lilly quickly realised her mistake and patted the younger boy on the top of his head, doing a similar action to what she had seen me do for Clementine whenever she was upset.

"Sorry, not quite like that. That's my poor choice of words" Lilly admitted to him, sighing a bit again at the thought of having to babysit her own father. It wasn't quite because she thought he necessarily was going to wreck things further for us, but likely more under the lines that she was worried that none of us would feel safe if he walked around in such an angry fit. But still, she didn't deserve to feel that way, so I quickly came up with a reason so that she wouldn't have to.

"Go with the kids and Katjaa, Lilly" I decided for her, smiling softly as I ushered Clementine and Duck to her. I could already tell she was going to protest the idea somehow, it was a habit of hers that I began to recognise quite easily, and I smoothly countered it before she could say what was on her mind. "He isn't going to harass me, because I'll be sticking to the boys here like glue"

To accompany that, I gently bumped my hip against Shawn's and then right across to Mark's, only not choosing to do the same for Kenny because his hip was too far away to do it smoothly in a trio. Shawn chuckled as I did so, his cheeks already beginning to flush a gentle red, while Mark just flashed Lilly a confident smile with a thumbs up. Kenny, although missing out on a hip check by me, rolled his eyes in a joking manner, before too giving his own roguish grin.

"Go, you workaholic woman" Kenny teased her, giving her the final excuse to really go and hang out with the kids. Lilly smiled gratefully at the four of us before finally accepting it, muttering something softly under her breath about how we spoiled her, before finally her and the kids followed behind Katjaa. Once they were out of earshot did Kenny seem to adopt a serious tone, and the keen thinking that I knew he could do, turning to me with a no nonsense attitude literally emanating from him. "Now, something tells me that you didn't send Lilly and the kids off without a good reason"

"Nicely done for picking up on that" I praised him, noticing that it had taken the other two a little bit longer than Kenny had to be on the uptake. While they hadn't expected it, they certainly weren't going to deny me my request if I needed it, and I certainly was going to need it. "Something more disturbing is going on here than I'd like, so we need to discover what it is before things get any worse than they already are. Can I rely on you guys?"

"Prim, you always know I'm in your court" Kenny pulled out his old reliable term whenever I was worried that he wasn't going to believe in me, and I was ever so grateful to hear it once more. Somehow, with that saying of his, I felt like I could do everything by his side. "And I'm sure these two feel the same way"

"I'm honestly a little insulted that you feel the need to check" Mark joked around with me, but I could tell that he was well and truly ready to listen to me after I had just been proven right in my feelings about these guys. I was more than happy to lead them into this, especially when it meant the safety of our entire group was going to be ensured.

"Alright then, here's what we need to do"

Chapter Text

The 'plan', for lack of a better word, was simply going to be the four of us imitating Lee's discovery in the back room of the barn. My hope was that we would be able to do it in a much faster fashion compared to Lee, helped by the fact that I rejected the notion of going tromping through the woods with Danny and because four sets of hands certainly were more prepared than one.

I couldn't tell Mark, Kenny and Shawn the exact reason for why I wanted to do so of course, lest they consider me insane the moment I started to ramble on about cannibals, alternate universes and the fact their entire life was fiction in a video game. In the end, I stuck with the safe option of pointing out that I was concerned about what Andy was hiding in their back room, citing an idea that I was worried that they were hiding some unwanted bandit friends back there and nothing else.

The shock of finding the bloody room would be enough to make the three of them heavily suspicious of the family, and I would have the perfect excuse for why we had to leave without tipping off my group that I knew things that I really shouldn't. I even had the perfect response to Andy's supposed ignorance from the game by pointing out that their farm was a dairy, not a ranch, and that me, Mark and Kenny could easily deny the fact that they would have caught any sort of animal in the woods that was bigger than a squirrel from our frequent hunting excursions.

The four of us split to do execute my plan in perfect motion, but I was left in what felt like relative safety right next to Kenny. Him and me had arguably the easiest job of the four of us, if you didn't count what might be done to us when the brothers caught us sneaking into their backroom of the barn.

Kenny and me slipped into the barn like we were simply going around the farm together on a little date with each other, evidenced by the fact that he had an arm slung around my waist while we went to talk to Katjaa, Lilly and the kids. I hadn't necessarily asked him to do so, it likely just being his preference, but it did make me feel safer.

"How's it going here?" Kenny asked all four of the people hovering loosely around the heavily pregnant cow, and we got a whole different reactions at him and me being so obviously romantic. Katjaa and Clementine naturally approved, the former having a mischievous glint in her eyes while Clementine just giggled softly. Duck of course softly booed us, but that was more that he jokingly preferred Shawn... Or Mark, or Doug or... Actually, now that I think about it he was just always jokingly supporting anybody that wasn't Kenny. Lilly's reaction was the strangest, looking at Kenny's hand on my hip with an almost... Envious look? I was a little confused for a moment, thinking that she might be actually envious of me, but the moment Kenny turned his head to look at her she swiftly turned her head away with a slight frown on her lips.

"This lady is doing quite well, considering the fact she's likely gone several months without a vet to check on her" Katjaa answered with a sigh, obviously worried for the poor creature since it was quite obviously hanging in the air that we weren't going to be coming back after today. I had to agree with that, but there was no way our group was going to be able to transport a heavily pregnant cow out of the barn once things were out of hand. In an apology to Maybelle, I softly pressed my hand against the top of her head and rubbed gently, which got me a low moo in response. "The kids love her of course"

"She's so cool!" Duck softly exclaimed, seemingly understanding that shouting in excitement would only frighten her if he was too loud about it. "She likes this thing here the best for some reason"

"That's a salt lick Duck" Kenny pointed out that the square block was indeed that, and I momentarily found myself tense at the mention of it. That meat locker was always going to be a point of contention, not only in the game but with the fan reaction to it as well. "It's not meant for kids however, so I wouldn't recommend licking it"

Clementine softly gasped at that being mentioned to either of them, and I had to hide my snicker behind my hand. Even in another alternate universe, she still was too curious to leave the salt lick alone.

The rest of the discussion rising up between Kenny and them slipped me by as I cast a curious glance outside to see how Shawn was going, and I had looked at just the right time. Shawn was just done with fiddling with the generator like I had asked him to, slipping a belt of the machine into his pocket as he started to subtly walk towards the barn, beginning a random discussion with Mark, who was standing at the entrance of the barn to make it seem like Shawn wasn't doing anything suspicious.

Andy, who had been creepily leering in the barn with us, seemed to have some sort of supernatural sense for when the electric fence was off, and proceeded to storm out of the barn to check on it. Mark, who had wisely not said anything against the brothers when I had blown up in their faces about the earlier incident, proceeded to follow after Andy and offer his help if the older brother needed it. Shawn, now left on his own near the entrance to the barn doors, turned his back so that Andy couldn't see the multi-tool in his hands and patiently waited for Kenny to shift a couple of steps to his left and take the tool from him.

"If you'll excuse us, ladies and man" I proceeded to say goodbye to the four of them as I snuck off with Kenny to the back of the barn, hoping that Lilly or Katjaa weren't going to be suspicious and come after us before we were done.

Stopping right in front of the back door, I proceeded to then turn around and act as a lookout while Kenny worked the tool on the slightly rusty screws keeping the lock on the door. The silence was tense; as I was worried that the changed timeline would mean that Andy would come rushing back long before we were done, but something a little scarier happened when Kenny asked me a usually innocent question.

"You know, I never actually bothered to ask you how you knew that these guys had a multi-tool, or how to take the belt off the generator" Kenny innocently pointed that out, and luckily he seemed to miss me stiffening slightly with the question. "Did you and Mark have a bit of a nose around before we came to the farm?"

"Yeah, I did poke around while Mark was distracting Andy" I easily took the out that Kenny seemed to give me, and he seemed to nod a single hum of approval as he accepted my answer. The only way that lie would come to light would be if he happened to ask Mark the truth behind that statement of mine... Which I hoped to the high heavens that he wouldn't ever think of doing. "How far along are you?"

"I just got one more here, which is a bit more rusted than the other three" Kenny answered my question with a bit of a grunt, further emphasising the fact that it was harder to remove than the other three. "But it should only be a little-

A very loud ringing of a bell interrupted his sentence, the ringing making the both of us freeze on the spot. The rest of our group that was hanging around in the barn started to stand up and stir, which furthered the theory that the bell had been rung to announce that dinner was ready... Which shouldn't have been possible, as I could still see Mark alive and well talking to Andy outside the barn.

So that left me very confused, as there was no way that the St. John family could have made dinner without him in their upstairs room. Kenny too seemed surprised, but that was more from the fact that he had been interrupted in his task of unscrewing the door than anything else. He only just barely had time to hide the multi-tool in his back pocket when Duck and Clementine came running over to the both of us, excitedly shouting or murmuring about how dinner was ready.

"Kenny, come on! Dinner time!" Duck excitedly tried to pull along his god father, completely missing our stiff mannerisms and locked in joints. Both he and I were worried about shifting from our position in front of the door, as then the three missing screws would have been readily obvious for anyone who wasn't half blind to see.

"We'll follow you guys out shortly, I promise" I tried to placate them both, but we were getting unwanted attention from Katjaa and Lilly as well now that we were stalling for time. Clementine pouted at me as I refused to go with her, and Duck seemed to be frowning, just as unhappy with how resistant Kenny was being. "I really need to have a private discussion with Kenny"

I winked at them both in a manner that was supposed to be hinting that "discussion" was not what I was referring to, sort of lying to the both of them that it was a romantic rendezvous rather than a sneaky one. Despite Clementine three months ago suggesting that I kiss Kenny, the both of them both let out similar sounding 'eeww's and scampered off to the two women that were still waiting for them. It seemed like one or both of the older women asked what we were still up to, but Katjaa just laughed as the kids gave their response.

Finally being left alone in the barn, Kenny immediately whipped around and started to furiously unscrew the final reluctant piece of metal, nearly dropping the multi-tool at one point in his haste. Even as I kept watch, I couldn't help but feel a sense of dread come over me as I wracked my brain for how the family had managed to make a meal for us all... Perhaps the altered timeline meant that they actually were decent people, beyond their homophobic nature?

"What the actual fuck" That theory got thrown out of the window the moment I heard Kenny swear under his breath, him opening the door just a crack so that he could see in. I turned back, already expecting the carnage that was in the room, but there was something unsettling about one minor difference in the room. The blood splatters and gory drag marks through the spilled red liquid was still there, as well as the eerily sharp blades being covered from head to toe in it. But the worst part, which I knew for a fact wasn't in the original game, was the decapitated head of a person being perched on the benchtop. "Holy shit, I think I'm going to be sick"

Kenny turned his eyes away from the disgusting display, his usually sun kissed skin turning an unhealthy ghostly white instead. I could spy his eyes widen in surprise however, as well as my ears picking up the sound of faraway footsteps.

"Prim, close the door" Kenny warned me just in time, and I managed to seem subtle by using the bottom of my feet to push the door closed. I turned around in a nonchalant manner to see Andy coming up to us, clearly trying to seem like he wasn't suspicious of us hanging around that door.

"Didn't either of you hear the bell?" Andy remarked to the both of us, distracted just long enough for Kenny to stick the multi-tool into his back pocket again while I kicked the loose screws away from us. "Dinner time"

"Sorry, it's just that I've never been on a farm before" I lied right through my teeth, as I had at least been on Hershel's farm as well before all of this. "I asked Kenny if he wanted to take a look around with me, and he said yes"

"What's for dinner by the way?" Kenny asked Andy as he wrapped his hand around my waist again, but this time it clearly was done in a protective manner rather than a casual one.

"Ma got a good roast going in the oven while ya'll were busy with Maybelle here" Andy talked quite jovially with us about the subject of dinner, but he missed our smiles faltering for a moment while he mentioned that meat was for dinner. From then on his words seemed to slip in one ear and out the other with us both, especially so after we both spared each other a glance that just screamed worry.

Andy ushered us into the building once we were there, but I was just still thinking and racking my mind about how they had managed to find the "meat" necessary to feed us. Perhaps Danny had gone to fetch the dead bandit from down the road, deeming him safe to eat after his head had been blown to smithereens?

"There you two are!" Larry angrily addressed the both of us as we neared he dining table, quite obviously irritated by the fact we had taken so long to arrive. A couple of the others around the table (Shawn and Mark most notably) seemed to notice our lack of words and clammy faces, but they weren't sure about why we necessarily were like that. "Jesus, where did the both of you scamper off to this time, huh? Off to makeout in some dark corner?"

"Wait, but I thought that..." Andy began, noticing the quite clear jabs that Larry was making at me and Kenny, and it seemed to only be those words which made Andy notice that Kenny's arm was still around my waist. Wonderful, two reasons to make him hate me that much more than he likely already did. "...I see"

Andy soon began to stalk his way over to the dining table, disgust clear in his eyes as he seemed to try to glare a hole right through me. I paid it no mind, instead looking around the table in a paranoid sweep of my eyes to make sure that everyone was hale and hearty.

The first one I looked for was Mark, but he was still just as unharmed as he was before. Shawn and Lilly were fine too, as were the kids. In fact, everyone around the table appeared to be fine. Larry, Katjaa, Shawn, Lilly, Mark, Clementine, Duck... Everyone except for Mr.Parker, him and his wheelchair being mysteriously absent despite him being of the eight that had come to the farm.

"Where's Mr. Parker?" I asked aloud, hoping to heaven and back that my first hunch to his disappearance was wrong. Surely they hadn't...

"Oh, him? Don't you worry about him darlin', he's getting some rest upstairs" Brenda casually mentioned to me, obviously under the impression that the news wouldn't tip me off in some manner that something was wrong. Upstairs... He had been brought in by someone to be treated by Brenda, oh dear god. Larry had been the one to push around his wheelchair before, so it made sense that the old bastard didn't think twice about leaving Mr.Parker with her. This wasn't good; this wasn't good in the slightest!

"Do you guys mind if I wash my hands first?" I somehow managed to swallow my fear at her news and put on a casual face, keeping up the facade just a bit longer. If he truly was upstairs then I needed to go help him however I could, and freaking out right then and there wasn't going to help anyone. Since I had done at least a passing job of disinterest at the news, Brenda seemed fine to let me go and wash my hands, pointing to the small bathroom off to the side of the hall directly behind me. "Thanks, I'll be quick"

Kenny looked like he was about to catch me by the arm and stop me from whatever it was that I was going to do, obviously being able to tell that I was not happy with the news in some manner, but he was stopped by Larry who proceeded to yell at him once more. I only barely managed to catch a small snippet of what Larry berated him for, yelling something about how I didn't need a babysitter to go to the bathroom, which I supposed that he was right in. He still lingered around in the hallway for a moment, just enough to see me start to ascend the stairs to the second floor of the farm house, and I left him with a single finger hushing him as I carefully stepped over the one squeaky stair.

Catching on that I wanted to keep my snooping on the down low, he proceeded to head into the dining room like nothing was wrong to keep up the illusion. I didn't waste any time, immediately moving into the main upstairs bedroom and taking note of the bookshelf on the side of the wall before I proceeded to place my hands on one side and shove it to the side. Part of me was worried about the loud noise of the shelf scraping against the wooden floor, but I didn't want to waste any time either. Eventually my muscles proved superior over the shelf, and showed me the hidden door behind it and I hurried to open it.

The admittedly bad graphics of the game didn't prepare me to see the stubby legs pointed towards the door, and I was even less prepared to see the absolute terror still trying to shine through in Mr. Parker's dull looking eyes. Whether it came down to extreme drugs or the fact he was holding onto his last slivers of life, he looked absolutely destroyed from the damage that had been done to him.

"Pri... Primrose?..." Mr. Parker asked me weakly, only somewhat being able to register that I was even above him. I fought to break through my growing disgust at the thought of wading through his blood, but powered through it as I thought as hard as I could about all of the things I had picked up from my deadbeat college friend Alex. God, he was the biggest piece of shit from the three friends I had from college, but his medical knowledge was immeasurable, even more so than his tips on how to break into locked rooms. "The family... They cut my..."

"I know, I know, they cut your legs" I worried less about what he was saying to me than patching up the sloppy job that Andy, Danny or Brenda had done to him, immediately reaching for a whole bunch of bandages to apply a tourniquet to both legs. His pain from me twisting and tightening the bandages around his leg was minimal compared to having his legs literally removed while he was conscious, and I was able to secure the both of them with a single rod that had been left behind in the bathroom. Even so, he was looking too woozy for my liking, and I only had to look a bit further in the strewn about medical supplies to spot a box filled to the brim with blood bags. "What's your blood type Mr. Parker? Think really hard about it, the wrong one might kill you"

"...Type" He mumbled a little incoherently, and I busied myself by propping up his lower body up on a pillow that I pillaged from the bed in the bedroom nearby. After I had done that, I repeated the question in case he had momentarily forgotten while I started to look for proper needles to stick into his veins. "...O negative"

"O negative" I repeated the blood type he gave me, both to ensure that I had gotten it correct and to chant it so that I couldn't get myself mixed up with the bags. After a couple of seconds passed by, he nodded a little slowly, which I just took as his correct type. "Right, so essentially the one that can receive the least amount of possibilities. I'd imagine that you'd be a good donor, as your blood type can go into everyone else, but as a recipient you're in a bit of a pickle. Ah, here's one"

Luckily whoever had been stocking the blood bags in their family knew that much at least, as it was the blood type that was the most plentiful in the box to find. Squeezing my hand around his wrist tightly in order to force the veins to come to the surface, I plunged the needle carefully into the blue squiggle of a vein that proceeded to appear on his skin. Once that was secured to his hand by a small patch of medical tape, I grabbed an entire bottle of disinfectant and liberally began to pour that on the open wounds. That obviously stung like hell, evidenced by the fact that even in his drugged out state he began to screech a little in pain, slamming his fist against the floor in frustration. Luckily for me, it happened to be the hand that wasn't currently taking in his new blood, so instead I began to wrap his stumps in clean bandages like I was being timed on it.

With my hands now well and truly covered in his blood, I loosely leafed through the rest of the medical supplies only to notice that there was nothing more for me to do. I wasn't going to drug him up on more medication, lest he overdose on it in the case that he might have already been given some before by the rest of the family.

"Primrose, did ya fall in? Everyone's digging in!" Brenda announced that just as I realised that there was nothing more that I could do for Mr. Parker, some odd sounds of cutlery scraping across plates as she said that. There was no way that I was going to be able to wash off the blood on my hands, drag Mr. Parker downstairs and get everyone out safely in one fell swoop, so sadly that left me with only one current option. I had to follow the original timeline, and that meant getting my head beat in with the butt end of a rifle to get locked in the freezer with the others.

With a less than pleased demeanour, I stormed downstairs, not even bothering to jump over the squeaky stair as I barged into the dining room at last. To my surprise I didn't actually have to stop anyone from my group in eating the wretched meat on the table, as despite Brenda's claim of "everyone digging in", most of my group hadn't actually bothered to even pick up their forks. The only exception to the rule was Larry, who held his fork up with a piece of meat but was obviously looking around in confusion at the others, most notably his daughter who seemed to be nonverbally warning her father about what it was.

"Oh my lord, what happened to your hands sweetheart?!" Brenda exclaimed in confusion at the literal mess that was sticking on my hands and lower arms, the dark red liquid looking far too plentiful for it to be a mere nosebleed. That, and my nose was perfectly unscathed, so there was no possibility that it was that.

"Mr. Parker" I stated his name with such rage behind it that there was no possibility that Lilly or Kenny could miss it. And if Kenny reaching for a sharp knife and Lilly slowly drawing her hand back for the pistol in her pocket was anything to go by, they had both picked it up marvellously. "Mr. Parker is what happened to my hands! Mind telling me why he is upstairs with both of his legs hacked off?!"

Several others gasped around the table, knowing quite well from the last three months that there was no way that I would lie about something like this. Even Larry, who hated me with a passion, knew I wouldn't lie to the others, looking in utter horror at Brenda.

"...I have no idea what you're referring to" Brenda tried to play dumb, but it was obvious from her sons reaching for their rifles that she realised I knew everything. "It's likely just a simple misunderstanding darlin'"

"Sure, and I'll bet the human head in the back of your barn is just another misunderstanding too" My second lot of words proved to be too much for the brothers to take, Andy and Danny both storming up and aiming their weapons at different people. Danny of course pointed it at our de-facto leaders Kenny and Lilly, who were forced to retract their hands from either of their weapons lest they be shot, while his detestable brother Andy jammed the cold metal barrel into the side of my neck. The icy chill of his weapon was nothing compared to the rage that was fuelling my body at that moment, and I practically tried to incinerate him on the spot with my gaze due to how livid I was with him. "...You hurt even a single hair on anybody's head here, and I will kill you"

"Hah, is that a threat you faggot?" He tried to make me even more mad by jabbing at who I was further, but that honestly didn't faze me in the slightest. There was no way a cannibal calling me names was ever going to be hurtful in the slightest.

"It's not a threat, it's a promise" I warned him in the iciest manner possible, but I was momentarily distracted by Mark, who was angrier than I had ever seen him before in both the game and in the reality I was now inhabiting.

"You bastards! We trusted you and this is how you repay us?!" Mark yelled at the both of them, standing up from his seat in pure frustration, his eyes actually blazing in a fiery manner like mine were. "You monsters!"

"Sure, and you'll kill us with kindness in response" Danny responded in an almost sarcastic manner, swinging the butt of his rifle around to knock Mark in the head, but obviously only hard enough to knock Mark's glasses astray. "Pansy"

The violence to Mark threw me over the edge, causing me to pick up the empty plate that had been left behind for me and I prepared to throw it against Danny's head when I felt the smooth end of the other rifle strike me in the cheek. All that greeted me after that was the harsh feel of their pure timber floors.

Chapter Text

"Open this door, god damn it!" Were the first words I had heard since being knocked unconscious, and they certainly were nowhere near as beautiful as waking up in Carley's arms that morning. In fact, had I guessed correctly about who was speaking at the time, I'd say it was pretty close to the worst thing to wake up to. "I'm gonna rip your heads off!"

As much as drifting back into the land of unconsciousness was sounding better and better by the second, I knew that I couldn't allow that to happen, and forced my eyes to slowly open in the cold environment we had been thrown into.

"Kenny, Lilly! Prim's waking up!" Mark called over to the two others currently banging on the walls far away from me, whom I could barely see as I forced my eyes to open in the cold meat locker. My face felt as though it was partially sticking to the metal floor underneath me, it peeling a bit away as I pushed myself off the floor to look around. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I took a dirt nap" I didn't really know how else to put it, sighing as I rubbed the sore side of my head. Lilly and Kenny were both crowding around me along with Mark, obviously worried about me, while Shawn was off in the corners of the room trying to find a way out with Clementine holding on tight to his belt. To my delight, Lilly wasn't being sick all over the walls, which meant that I had somehow done something right so far in this "episode". "...None of you guys ate the meat, did you?"

"No, Kenny told me about what it was" Lilly admitted with a grimace, obviously off put by learning what the meat actually came from. "He was sitting next to me at the dinner table and managed to whisper 'There was a human head in the barn' to me. From me onwards, it became the world's messiest game of Chinese whispers, and that could have gone really badly had they heard us"

"It didn't really help much beyond making sure nobody got a mouthful of it though" Kenny sighed, his hand gently reaching out to stroke a part of my head that was no doubt bright red or swollen. I honestly was hoping that getting beat in the head wasn't going to become an episodic occurrence for me, as being whacked in the head by the gun was about as bad as when Larry had struck me three months prior. "The worst of it all is that they're holding Duck as ransom! Brenda was saying something about keeping Katjaa to try and keep their cow Maybelle alive for a long while, but it didn't really sound like they were planning on keeping the rest of us around"

"Let us out of here, or so help me!"

Lilly grimaced again as her father continued to shout abuse at the door, despite the chances being quite high that the entire locker was sound proof minus their vent. I took a quick look around at the people who had been thrown into the meat locker with us unceremoniously, and it didn't surprise me that much to notice that everyone in the room was exactly as the game would have it, with Mark and Shawn as added additions due to them surviving their earlier fates. Clementine, taking note of the fact that I was now well and truly awake, quickly tugged on Shawn's wrist to tell him that I was awake, before speeding her way into my arms.

"I was so scared! Everyone was shouting, guns were everywhere, and you were... You were..." She wailed softly into the crook of my elbow, letting me just hold her in my warm embrace as I pet her head as usual. My hands even got stuck at one point in her curls, which reminded me a bit sharply about how bad it would have been to have a walker grabbing it... I needed to give her that haircut a bit sooner than the game, just to be on the safe side.

"I'm okay Clementine, I promise. There's no way I'd leave you like that" I did my best to soothe her, using the warmth of the turtleneck sweater that I was wearing to rub her back. I felt a little bad for leaving her in the lurch like that, but I didn't want to risk any other way of getting myself to the meat locker that could upset the reality enough to lose people's lives. With Clementine as calmed down as I could under the circumstances, I turned my eyes to Shawn, who had been acting as her guardian while I was under, as well as being the ever pragmatic supply searcher and eagle eye for little details. "What's been happening while I was out?"

"We've been trying to find a way out for a while now" Shawn finally divulged his information, pointing in a circular motion to refer to the entire room we were currently in. "There's no loose panels on the floors or walls, and the door isn't weak on the hinges or the bolt"

"It was pretty easy to figure that last one out though" Mark did have to admit with a hint of sarcasm to his words, casting a quick flit of his eyes towards the irate older man still intent on bashing down the door. If I didn't do something fast, then we were very soon going to have a completely different problem on our hands from the usual.

"Lilly, have you tried to calm him down?" I asked her, seeing as I knew she would have the best luck with him out of all the people in the locker. She nodded her head with an upset look in her eyes, which told me that she had about as much luck in stopping his tirade as her in game counterpart did. With a disgruntled sigh, I picked myself off the floor with Mark's help, and got to work. "Larry, stop that"

"Piss off! I don't want to hear your smug remarks about how 'you were right all along' damn it!"

"Larry, look at your daughter" I ignored his usual snarky attitude and pointed over to Lilly, who had come to stand next to me while I was attempting to speak him down. He refused to look away from the door however, likely down to the fact he just didn't want to listen to a word that I was saying. "LOOK AT HER!"

The shout made a number of people jump in the meat locker, as evidenced by the slight rattling noise that came from their feet reconnecting to the floor after they had taken a step back. Clementine even gasped softly, likely from the fact that the simple decision of shouting at Larry bounced around in the metal room, every noise sounding amplified as though I was proceeding to shout down a megaphone at him rather than everything else. But the louder decibel of it all just made it enough for Larry to finally look, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

He noticed the clear fear in her eyes, picking up on the ever present worry there. Both me and Lilly knew how close he was to tiptoeing over the edge of his own life, but I found it hard to display it in my own eyes for him considering how much I had come to dislike him. She however, regardless of how many arguments they had over me and the things I did, didn't remove the fact that she still loved him for being her father.

"Larry, listen to me carefully, okay? If you have a heart attack in here, we won't have the pills to set you right again. Even worse, if your heart stops because of it... Then Lilly will be in danger" I tried to reason with him... Only realising my mistake part way through my speech to him. Because we had no untimely death at the motel from either Mr. Parker or Travis, Ben hadn't felt the need to tell everyone that it didn't matter how they died, that they would become a walker regardless. But then again, I couldn't suddenly renege on my explanation, as otherwise it would have seemed suspicious... So the best I could hope for was that he would assume that I was referring to leaving his daughter alone with the St. John family. "So please, for her sake at least, calm down"

Another couple of seconds passed by as he considered my words, obviously focusing on his daughter the entire time. She smiled at him, although I could see the stress and worry in it myself, but he seemed to accept that was her trying to say the same as I had done. With a slightly disgruntled huff, he sat down against the door and let out a very long breath as though he had been holding it for a very long time.

"We won't be getting out that way anyway" Larry grumbled slightly, thumbing at the door to pre-empt anyone who wanted him to move out of the way to get out. Although I actually knew that it would be the main way for the majority of the others there to get out, I let him be. Honestly, I had found myself distracted with the remote thought in my mind about whether I was going to change into a walker myself when I died, but threw it out of my head just a bit later.

"Alright people, let's get moving" I commanded the others now that I was truly awake, not wasting time and gesturing over to the vent cover that was keeping our place as cold as it was. "Has anyone looked at that air conditioning unit?"

"I did, but we need something to unscrew it" Shawn sighed, patting his empty pockets to show that he didn't have anything on him. "Kenny, you wouldn't happen to still have that multi-tool?"

"The brothers took it off me before they threw us in here" Kenny rejected the idea, mainly for the reasons he had listed. Before anyone else could even suggest an alternative, including me, Larry softly spoke up from his slumped position against the door.

"...I have some coins in my pocket" Larry mumbled, sounding a little delirious from his hot headed rampage. Lilly went over to retrieve them, tossing one of the larger ones my way, which I caught perfectly in my hands.

"Stay with him, something tells me that he'd like the comfort" I offered the both of them an oddly supportive thing, especially considering the fact that Larry was still not my favourite person in the world. Even so, I would much prefer him to be on our side rather than be a hulking mass of rotting flesh intent on eating us. "You three, let's go"

"Can I help?" Clementine was of course eager to assist me in any manner, following closely in my footsteps as Mark, Shawn and Kenny obediently fell into line next to me.

"Of course you can darling, you can take the screws from me when I take them out. We might be able to use them later on for our fence" I decided on something that she would be able to do, before standing underneath the air conditioning. Mark and Kenny were ready at the side to hold onto the heavy machine to make sure it wasn't going to conk me in the head (Once in an episode was enough, thank you very much), and Clementine took the screws from me before she handed them over to Shawn afterwards (She said it was only because he had pockets and she didn't, she was insistent about that fact). Before long the unit was off, and both men heaved it over my head and placed it down on the ground to make sure it wouldn't hurt anyone. "I'll go through the vent here, I should be just small enough to do so"

"I can do it!" Clementine of course offered, eager to help further, but I gently shook my head as I pet her head in an apologetic manner. "Why not?"

"Sorry Clem, it's just that the room in there can be a bit... Scary" Kenny stopped her from being too mad at me, as he knew just as well as I did about what was in there. At the very least, I wanted to be in that room first to put the severed head away before they had to go through. "If someone could give me a boost up, I'll get through there before you know it"

"Be careful" Mark wished me luck as he boosted me high enough to pull my upper half into the vent. It was cramped, very much so, but just wide enough for me to crawl through on my stomach in a stealthy manner. It was only when I reached the other side that I began to worry about being on my own.

The overbearing stench of musty blood was nauseating to experience, even worse than the rotting smell of walkers when you combined it with the image in your mind of what the people had gone through in this room. I tried to force the image from my mind as I carefully draped myself out of the vent, stepping on what I considered to be a relatively clean spot on the bench before climbing down onto the floor. My shoes were quite stealthy against the floor despite knowing that I hadn't gotten them for their stealth, but more for the fact they were nonslip ones, in order to reduce the chances of me slipping or falling over like Lee would do in the game. After quickly hiding the head underneath the workbench that was there (Which had a bullet hole in the middle of the forehead, which answered the question on why it hadn't turned into a walker), I tiptoed over to the door to open it for the others.

The lock on the door wasn't even that tricky to figure out, a simple deadbolt that I would have to twist open and shift over, which I supposed answered one of my burning questions that I had always had outside of the game as to how Clementine had managed it herself.

"Let's go" I quickly waved to Mark, Kenny and Shawn, quite eager to have their backup if I was forced to go toe to toe with Danny in the barn. Clementine and Lilly looked like they wanted to come charging out with us, but Larry's somewhat woozy state was stopping them. "Keep an eye on him, we'll handle Danny there at the door and then you guys should start coming out and getting ready to leave"

"How will we know if you guys need help?" Lilly asked me, worrying already of the possibility that we'd need her help while she was busy attending to her father. In the normal timeline, her help was likely a very real possibility, but... Well, we now had Shawn and Mark with us. While I had yet to see Mark's fighting ability, Shawn certainly was a force to be reckoned with.

"Don't worry, we won't need it" I confidently boasted to her, showing off my vastly more impressive muscles that I had built over time. With determination in our eyes, me and the boys set off before any doubt could show in our mannerisms.

My hand naturally reached to a weapon from the three that were available in the barn, my hands curling around the sickle. As much as the cattle prod and smaller pitchfork looked impressive, I was worried about the effectiveness of them in contrast to the one I had chosen. Mark was the odd man out, just barely missing out as Kenny grabbed the pitchfork and Shawn got the cattle prod. He only realised this when there was nothing else for him to grab, but this somehow seemed to make him more determined than ever.

"It'll be fine" Mark spoke aloud, as though he could tell the hint of worry in my mind. He clenched his fists and pumped his arms a little, almost reminding me of the way some martial artists would do... Did he actually know how to fight, but just never showed it in the game? "A weapon would just get in the way"

I nearly did a double take to his face again when those words slipped from his lips, the distinct words he had chosen sounding eerily similar to those Lee would utter after he removed his arm late into the first season. As much as I desired the time to ask him why he had chosen those words, I had a job to do.

Pushing the door softly open that separated the four of us from the main barn, we could all just barely spy Danny sitting on a stool right at the doors leading to outside. Perched on the edge of his stool was his rifle, but I knew well about how we wouldn't be able to tiptoe our way over there without Andy showing up. Even so, I filed out into the barn to prepare for our short bout with him.

The hay underneath our feet dampened a lot of the noise from our feet, and it became clear that both Kenny and Shawn were itching to reach the rifle before it was too late, as they were several steps ahead of me and Mark. Unfortunately just like I had expected, we were too late to grab the rifle as Andy mysteriously walked in out of nowhere. The thunder and rain was making it impossible to predict where they were, but we ducked into the many stalls to avoid being seen. There was a problem however... No, two problems.

We weren't in the same stall. Kenny and Shawn, in their eagerness had to duck into one much further along than me and Mark had done, which meant we were now split up from each other. Besides that, I knew very well that Danny had figured out that we were there, as there was no other way to understand how he would surprise me or Lee.

"Are you an' momma now done arguin'?" Danny's country accent seemed to have somehow grown in intensity since we had last spoken to him, as though stress was somehow a factor into how much he sounded like some backwater bumpkin. "I don' like the arguin' one bit"

"Nah, we're still goin' at it" His brother seemed to have also picked up the nervous tick, but it just made me tingle with a mischievous glee with the thought of them squirming at the situation. "She still wants to keep that harlot around, says she's good for first aid or somethin'"

"Oh yeah, she did fix up that Parker fella' pretty well" Danny seemed to agree with the notion, which hopefully was just a good enough sign to know that Parker had survived his ordeal because of me. But this did also mean that they were talking about me, which just ticked me off further. "But she's... Andy, she's tainted"

"I know, that's why I've been screamin' my head off black an' blue with momma to make her see that she isn't worth the trouble" Andy sighed, but there was a slight distance to his voice as though he was now facing the other way in preparation to leave his brother on guard alone. "Just make sure they're all locked away for now"

"...I think Danny saw us hide in here before" I whispered to Mark, who nodded his head in agreement. He must have noticed it as well as me, the slight tilt in Danny's eyes as we had shifted the door of the stall shut at the last moment. More than anything, Mark was wise enough to realise that the less he spoke, the better it was for the both of us in there. "Be ready"

The mooing of Maybelle and the soft hay underneath all of our feet didn't stop me from picking up a slight hint of a footstep resting outside the door of our stall, and for once I was able to thank Tess for that ability. She had always managed to pick up people's footsteps herself, which she had built up from years of men in her profession trying to sneak up behind it and either prank her or peek down her blouse. I didn't particularly need it myself at the time but I had certainly found it cool, and had asked her to teach me to be able to sense it myself. So far it had saved me twice, once three months ago to be able to hear Mark at the airforce base and right now, with Danny treading over the hay like he was some kind of clumsy elephant.

When I finally pushed open the door, the barrel of the rifle was directly pointed at my face with Danny's smug looking face peering down the scope at me. In an ironic twist, he was more surprised to see me be unsurprised myself, and especially shocked to notice that I was more than ready for him.

Throwing my shoulder into him, I offset his balance and hand position on his gun greatly, even managing to twist the gun directly upwards so that when it inevitably fired that he made himself deaf in one ear from the ear piercing sound. With him now disoriented and off balance, I took my sickle and swung it with deadly intent, aiming directly to cleave into his temple. He must have seen the murder clear in my eyes, as he brought up the barrel of his gun weakly to hold the weapon back, the blade of the sickle clashing against it and then scraping loudly against the metal as it struggled to cut through the strong material. We were in deadlock for a moment as he struggled to try and grab both the rifle and the sickle off me, but he was in a losing battle as it was... Even before Mark showed up.

Mark came tearing out of the stall with rage in his eyes in equal measure to mine, his teeth almost even seeming bared like he was an angry wolf intent on tearing Danny's throat out rather than a disgruntled pilot. Like I had guessed from his stance before, he pulled off an impressive move that seemed reminiscent of a martial art, smartly grabbing onto the half abandoned rifle and being able to disarm him in a second or two. With that pilfered item now in his hands, Mark swung the gun around until he could slam the butt of the rifle against Danny's forehead at the same moment as he kicked out one of his legs, causing the nefarious younger brother to tumble backwards...

Directly into the bear trap Danny had set up for us, exactly as the game would have had it.

There was no screaming from him, oddly enough, the butt of the rifle clearly doing more damage in Mark's hands than it had done in Danny's, knocking him out the moment it had hit him. I was actually quite happy to notice so, as then we didn't have to listen to him rambling about how 'this was how the world worked now' or how it was the right thing to eat him in place of killing him. This was most certainly not how the world worked, not while I was still alive.

"Jesus, you two" Kenny almost sounded a little surprised by how cleanly me and Mark had handled him, the both of them finally realising what had gone down once they left their stall. Right as they came out of hiding, Lilly came out of the meat locker with Larry and Clementine in tow, with her father looking a lot better after his short rest. "Here I thought Prim didn't like fighting people who were still alive and Mark... I mean-

"I don't like to fight, but I'll certainly do it when it's asked of me" I put it simply, gently taking the rifle off Mark to hand it to Lilly to keep her safe while we handled everything else. I wanted to be able to say to the others that I had believed in Mark all that time, but... Like Kenny and Lilly had, I had underestimated what he was capable of due to his normal state being a bit clumsy. He deserved an apology far greater than what I could say in public eye... And my utmost gratitude. "You did good Mark"

"Ah, it's nothing" Mark immediately flipped to his polite nature around the rest of us, and I enjoyed it far more than anything I could have ever managed to communicate in words. After all, if he was able to get so mad about people mistreating us, then that just meant all the more that his nice nature was true because he cared about us. "But we should go and save Katjaa and Duck"

"And Mr. Parker" I reminded them, as I of course was eager to help him after the effort I had done to make sure he had survived.

A low moo came from Maybelle next to us, her still being perched in the same spot as she had before we had been called to dinner. For a moment I allowed myself the time to be distracted, gently edging closer to her in a crouched position to pat her head, being able to tell loosely that she was in a considerable amount of pain. I vaguely recalled a single line of dialogue from the game, one where Clementine had stated that Katjaa had mentioned that Maybelle could perhaps even have her calf that night... Which was catastrophic for her, as that night was the one where the fence would inevitably fall. Even if all of our men and women worked to lift her, there was no way we were going to be able to transport Maybelle back to the motel...

"I'll come back for you once this is all over" I promised her, caressing her head softly as I gazed into her eyes, noticing her pain diminish slightly as I relaxed her. There was a spark of intelligence in her eyes, as though she understood perfectly what I was promising her in that moment, and it hurt a little more to notice that. Nobody had helped her in the game, not even the developers of the game itself, forgetting about her beyond the noises she would make... I was the only one who had decided to help her, in both game and reality. "Even if I can't get you out of here, I'll make sure that you won't suffer... I promise"

She softly mooed again, the vibrations of it reverberating in my hands as I still pet her head softly. She almost seemed a little sad as I stood up to leave, and I turned around to notice that Shawn was just as sad about the verdict as I was. As much as I hated it, we had other places to be.

"Let's go" I declared to the others, tightening my hand around the sickle as the rest readied themselves as well. "We have a war to win"

Chapter Text

The drizzling rain did little to make me less angry at the St. John family, still spurred on to handle the rest of the family and leave without any incidents. Without the rifle we had just pilfered from Danny's unconscious form, we only really had the three weapons between the four of us, but Mark seemed unbothered by it. If his previous fighting display was anything to go by, he wouldn't even need one.

The mud outside of the barn was more soaked than the hay had been inside, and I occasionally found my boots clinging to the floor on pathways that had been treaded on a lot by people before. The instant I was able to look up at the dark cloudy sky, could I see a slight hint of a ripple in the surface of it, but the clouds were hard to tell if they got any larger than they had been before. I assumed it had to have been for me managing to avoid Larry having a heart attack, which was another change to the timeline. 

The four of us didn't get far, as we heard someone stumbling their way through the corn field to our right. I knew well who it had to be, looking endlessly relieved when Doug's blonde hair and Carley's brown hair became the first things noticeable out of the tall stalks, and right behind them were the two teenage boys we had saved earlier in the day and Glenn.

"Prim! Oh thank goodness, I was getting so worried about you guys since you didn't come back about an hour ago!" Carley uttered in a relieved tone, almost seeming like she was about to try and hug me through the fence when she seemed to remind herself that the fence was likely switched on already. "We had all talked a while ago, and determined that you guys should have been back about an hour ago if everything had gone well, but... Well, you weren't back"

"Sorry for leaving the motel unguarded, but we figured everyone being safe was better than us remaining there and figuring out afterwards that you guys needed help" Doug smoothly rounded out their explanation for why they had left their post. It was right then that they seemed to notice the bright red bruise that was adorning my skin, which of course only served to make them worry more. "Oh my god Prim, what happened to your face? It doesn't look as bad as the time Larry punched you in the face, but-

"Wait wait wait, Larry punched you in the face one time?!" Travis asked me, obviously with an air that screamed that he still didn't understand why we were letting him stay with us. I couldn't do much more than sigh and nod my head, which caused him to throw his hands up in the air in exasperation. "Honestly, what does he have to do to make you guys finally kick him to the curb?"

"Probably shoot me" I admitted with a more serious tone than I had hoped, frightening a number of them rather than passing it off like a joke, which was my original intention. "Oh, sorry, that was meant as a joke"

"What has the world come to in order for that to count as a joke?" Glenn sighed in an exaggerated tone, but it was clear that he actually was concerned over the fact I had considered that a joke. Count on him to shame people for making horrid jokes in the apocalypse... Ah, what the hell, I couldn't stay mad at him. "But I'm guessing the face isn't down to Larry again, is it?"

"No, I'm quite certain Lilly would have exploded in his face again" Shawn had to admit, as he had seen moments in the past where Lilly and Larry would fight over lesser things than assaulting me. Either way, we had to get back on track before something drastically wrong was going to happen. "Andy St. John was the one who hit her"

"They're fucking - Oh, shit, excuse my language - they're insane! Prim could tell that something was up, more than just being completely reckless and homophobic, so me and her investigated the barn before dinner rolled around" Kenny took the initiative to tell them what had happened, as I was really worried with my couple of slip-ups so far that I was going to say something that I shouldn't have known again. "They had a dismembered head in the back of their barn, and it looked like they had been butchering people for their meat! It got even worse when your teacher wasn't at the dinner table, so Prim went looking for him"

"He apparently was upstairs in their house, and they had..." Mark trailed off a bit when he realised that Ben and Travis were right there, as no student likely wanted to hear about their last remaining friend and family figure being chopped up to be eaten. If it had been slightly different, I imagine that I would not want someone to casually mention Mark having his legs cut off to me, so the softening of the subject for the boys was actually was really appreciated by me. "They had removed his legs to serve that to everyone"

"Oh god..." Ben stammered in shock, clutching onto his friends arm like he had done to my shoulder earlier when we had run into those bandits, giving away that there honestly was going to be no real 'polite' way of telling someone the news he had just heard. "Mr. Parker... Is he dead?"

"Not from what we had just heard from Andy, but that's why we need to get going" I brought everyone back into focus, clapping my hands softly to grab their attention. As much as part of me wanted to take them all with me to charge into the home there, I knew that was akin to suicide considering the fact that Andy was still tromping around with his own rifle. "Carley, you have your gun with you?"

"I never leave home without it" The words were exactly from the game, but the flirtatious tone and sultry wink were entirely of her own volition. Flirting back would sadly have to come later. "Doug brought the rifles from the motel as well, but we sadly had to leave the other stuff behind while we came after you"

"Doug was mentioning that he wanted us to use them, but... Well, we don't know to fire them correctly" Ben admitted sheepishly, which seemed to make Travis bristle a little on the spot from not knowing how to fire them. Perhaps it was a sore point for him, that his father had passed away in the three months before teaching him how to handle a rifle?

"That's fine. Doug and Glenn can use them then" I suggested, and Doug quite gladly gave one of the two rifles over to his friend. "I need you guys to sneak around the back end of the fence and try to catch Andy unawares; I think he's patrolling around the place"

"We're on it, stay safe you guys" Doug confirmed that with a small salute, before he began to lead them around the side of the fence like I had asked him to do. The last thing I could catch a glimpse of was him taping a laser pointer around the scope of the rifle, which would likely help him with aiming.

"There's something going on in the house" Shawn noticed with his sharp senses, pointing over to the closed front door of the house. True enough, we could see Brenda shifting around quite agitated around, as well as various arguing between her and what sounded like Andy. With a small amount of hand signals that I had picked up from Lilly, I motioned for everyone to crouch and slowly make our way to the front door.

"We're gettin' nowhere with this talk! Just take your gun and go check 'round the house or somethin'!" Brenda angrily yelled at her oldest son as I crouched low against the fence, the combination of the dark and bad weather hiding me in my black clothing. It sounded like they were still not done arguing about whether I was to be kept alive in their opinion, but that was a moot point considering the fact I was free, armed and dangerous, as well as having three very pissed back up members of my group. She was so distracted by the two of them arguing that she didn't even hear me creak open their front gate, which allowed me, Kenny, Shawn and Mark to slip into their front yard and up to their porch.

"But ma-

"No buts! I ain't hearin' none of it!" She declared that the discussion was over, and essentially forced him out of the house. In fact, she was so upset at him, that she didn't allow Andy the time to grab Duck as a bargaining chip. That was another point in our favour.

I softly tiptoed to the front door and gently twisted the handle there to let us in, and it opened with only a slight creak, which was overshadowed by the loud thunder clap that happened at the same time. Sneaking in first, I noticed that Duck and Katjaa had been forced to remain at the dinner table while everything was going on, but the both of them were refusing to eat any further from the meat still on the table for understandable reasons. Facing towards them was Brenda, her fretting about the fact that neither of them was eating from her "dish", but I honestly was more interested in the basket in the middle of the table which seemed to contain all of our weapons and items.

"Now honestly, how do you two expect to survive if you don't eat any of this?" Brenda was getting more agitated by the second, but her back was towards me. With a calm hand, I reached back to get out my sickle (As did the others with their weapons), and I stepped forward to kill her with my bladed weapon. That plan got foiled the moment I accidentally stepped on another creaky floorboard, but I didn't have the thunder to back me up that time, which caused her to swing around and bring out her pistol to point it at my chest. "Oh lord! What-What are you people doin' here, where's Danny?!"

"You move a single inch, and I'll kill you" I didn't bother to answer her question about her son, instead intimidating her by still holding my sickle in a position ready to swing at her. Because she now had my full attention, there was no chance she was going to tiptoe backwards and grab another weapon, nor try to use Katjaa and her son as a hostage in the situation.

"If you swing that thing, I'll kill you!" She tried to intimidate me back, but her face lacked the same conviction that mine did. After all, I knew full well that if she did shoot me, I wasn't the last line of attack.

"You shoot me, and you'll be forced to pull that hammer back on your gun before you can shoot again" I reminded her, as her pistol was not a semi-automatic one like Carley's or Mark's old one. "What do you think the chances are of you being able to shoot all of us, keeping in mind you have to pull that back each time, without one of us getting to you?"

My bluff was well founded, as she came to the harsh realisation that she wasn't going to be able to get out of the situation like she had hoped. Even if she decided to shoot as many of us as she could before she was overwhelmed, that wouldn't help her survive. As she seemed to mull over in her mind what was the best course of action, I found myself getting a little distracted by what Duck was doing directly behind her.

Since Katjaa was also caught up in what was going on between our stand-off, it left Duck with the opportunity to sneak off the chair he had been placed in, and he reached out his hand to one thing in particular from the forgotten pile of weapons. Picking out the pistol that Mark used to have (Before handing it over to Lilly when he joined our group), he began to aim it at Brenda. I began to worry just a little, as I hadn't taught either him or Clementine on how to use one, when it occurred to me that he likely had copied what his god-father and several others did with pistols. True enough, I could spot that he was whispering instructions to himself on what to do, no doubt picking up those from the times when Carley had been teaching others on how to use her gun.

'Arms straight, but not locked'. 'Safety off, properly aimed, and pull the trigger smoothly'. After mouthing those words to himself, he pulled the trigger of the gun and nearly smacked himself in the face from the sudden recoil, which he wouldn't have been trained in. But despite the mishap with the recoil, his bullet hit Brenda with nearly deadly accuracy, it lodging itself into the back of her neck but just barely missing her spine.

In shock from being shot at, Brenda released her gun to reach her hands to the back of her neck, screaming an ungodly shriek from the pain probably surging through her body. Mark lunged for the gun that she had dropped, but he didn't have any competition for it as she started to splutter and gurgle on blood that was filling her throat and mouth. She soon collapsed to the floor in a fit of coughing, her body trying to fight for air as it began to drown internally from the blood no doubt filling her lungs.

"Shoot her" I decided quickly, turning to Mark who had the easiest weapon to kill her quickly and mercifully. He looked ready to, as much as Katjaa was screaming at the lot of us about how it'd be a horrible thing to do, but I decided to cut her off before Mark could change his mind. "She's going to die either way, because we can't fix her up for many reasons. I don't have the medical tools, and we can't risk her trying to do this to another group"

"Got it" Mark understood perfectly, waiting at least long enough for Katjaa to put her hands around Duck's eyes and ears before shooting Brenda between the eyes. That way, we wouldn't have to deal with the zombified Brenda, and I had the perfect excuse to reason for why she wasn't allowed to die any other way than being shot in the head.

"We need to grab Mr. Parker and all of our weapons before we go" Shawn said that as he started to stuff as many weapons as he could into the basket before he handed that to Katjaa, who was still very worried about her son. Duck, for all intense an purposes, looked a little bit shocked about the damage he had done, but didn't look anywhere near as terrorised as when we had been in the drug store for the first time. He had been extremely good in handling the gun for the first time, especially considering the fact he had learnt that only from picking up things that we did and talked about. "What do we do about Andy?"

"Ma? What's goin' on, I heard a number of gunshots!" Right as he was mentioned by Shawn, Andy began to holler at the closed front door. I knew I couldn't let him storm into the house, as there was no way Carley, Doug, Glenn, Ben and Travis were going to be able to help us if he did, so I was forced to go with the only other option. With another lot of hand signals to the men, I was the only one to walk out of the house, my hands raised in surrender so that he wouldn't shoot me straight away... At least, I hoped so. "YOU! What the hell have you done?!"

"I did what I had to" I left it vague as to what I had done to his family, as I was certain that he would shoot me if I just came out with saying that they weren't coming. My guess had turned out to be correct, as my answer ended up stalling for time as he seemed to think hard about what on earth that could mean. He did seem to think along the worst possible line of thought of course, as he soon gritted his teeth in anger as he switched the safety off his rifle.

"You! You god damned... Hell spawn!" He seemed to have a lack of words of what to call me, but the one he chose didn't affect me in the slightest. I didn't believe in hell after all. Him delaying served to make a little red dot appear on his body, before it slowly crept up and started to flicker around in his eyes, which meant that the cavalry had arrived. "What the fu-

Like a firing squad specifically for him, three shots fired off in quick succession from each other and all hit or at least grazed their targets. One whizzed by his ear, while another landed with a satisfying squelch into his shoulder and the last one hit his non-dominant hand holding onto his rifle. The last one proved to help the most in the fight, as he released his rifle in pain which helped me from being shot.

The moment the shots fired off, Mark clearly must have been worried that one of them belonged to Andy's rifle because he came shooting out of the house just as fast as he had done in the barn to attack Danny. As much as I could barely make out that Katjaa was trying to call him back in, Mark charged around the corner and shoved his shoulder into Andy while trying to wrench the rifle out of the larger man’s hands. The two of them began to struggle over the weapon, sort of like how Danny and I had been fighting over our weapons, which spurred me into trying to help Mark.

I knew well that Lee and Andy tumbling down the hill in the game was a good move, as it caused Andy to lose his rifle in that reality. And so I ran forward and did my best to copy Shawn's technique of dropkicks, leaping through the air to harshly kick Andy's injured shoulder backwards. I managed to pull off the dropkick exactly as Shawn had taught me, but sadly Mark was unwilling to let go of the rifle as Andy fell, which meant that he was tumbling down the hill after him.

"Mark!" I worriedly called after the pilot as they crashed into the fence, but it became clear after a couple of seconds that Mark was alright. Even better, the two of them separated from each other, with Mark having successfully held onto the rifle in his stubbornness. I was not eager to see the part of the game where Andy was the first one to recover from the tumble and kick Lee (Who was now Mark instead), so I deliberately slid down the hill to assist him. The hill was perfectly muddy, the combination of my nonslip boots and the slope causing me to slide down perfectly, arriving just in time to see Andy try to stand up from the ground. Making use of the fact my nonslip boots were also steel toed, I tried them out by directly aiming for his nose, the bone and cartilage crunching and squishing in a gruesome manner.

"OWW! YOU LITTLE-

"It's over Andy" Mark triumphantly declared, being able to pick himself up from the ground and aim his newest rifle at the older St. John brother unheeded. Somehow the weapon being in our hands was not enough for Andy, as he still tried to pick himself off the floor while holding his broken nose.

"Fuck you!" Andy still found the time to shout swear words at as even after everything, his loud language almost seeming like it was the final bell for the rest of our group to realise that it was safe for them to come out. Lilly and Larry led the way out of the barn, gently bringing Clementine with them, while Shawn and Kenny struggled to get a lethargic Mr. Parker out of the house and without storming down the hill too fast for the wheelchair's wheels to handle. Katjaa and Duck were right behind them, holding onto everything that had been taken off us (And more) in that same basket as before, and Doug and Carley led their five man team out into the open with relief on their faces to know that everyone was alive. "Once Danny and momma get here, you're-

"They're not coming" Mark told him simply, and I found myself for the millionth time feeling a sense of Deja-vu with the familiar dialogue.

That had been the second... No, the third line of dialogue that was eerily similar to what Lee would have said. Was that this reality's strange attempt to 'fix' the timeline back to what it was originally? Shove Mark into the role of Lee?... No, that didn't make sense, as Mark was not the first one to be saved in this alternate timeline. Surely if the reality was going to try and patch up the things I had changed, they should have done that with Shawn, who was the first 'unexpected addition' to this timeline... I really hoped it was nothing more than a bizarre coincidence.

"Guys, we can't stay here too long" Doug softly mentioned to the three leaders of our group, flitting his eyes between Lilly, Kenny and me respectively. "That fence doesn't look so good anymore, and the gunshots probably are drawing walkers here"

"I need to do one final thing before we go" I quickly managed to sneak that in before everyone could come up with more reasons on why we had to go, my gaze obviously looking towards the barn where Maybelle was waiting for me. Shawn gave me a sympathetic look, as he probably also had a soft spot for the poor girl, and gently patted my shoulder to show that he appreciated what I was doing for her. "If it's not too much trouble, I'd like to take Shawn with me for that"

"That's fine, but what are we doing with him?" Lilly directed us back to Andy, who was in shock at the news that his family was likely dead and not returning to him. Several others seemed unsure about what to do with him, which made me think back to the game.

The game clearly shamed players for choosing to kill Andy or Danny (Or both), likely preaching the idea that killing other humans in the world of the walking dead being seen as the most taboo thing to do. But... Why? Back when I first played the game, it made sense to me to want to take the high road, but actually being in the situation was a lot different. Why on earth should a player be shamed for not wanting to leave a deranged man to either suffer at the hands of walkers or to go on and mistreat other groups? Why was killing the stranger at the end of season one or the Russians in season two seen as alright, but killing the St. John brothers was the pinnacle of evil? Now that I was actually in such a reality... My answer was a lot different.

"We need to put him out of his misery" I tried to put it as delicately as I could, but I could tell from the shocked faces of several others that they didn't understand my reasoning. Neither Kenny or Lilly really made a judgement call on it, which truly just seemed to drive home that was the leader, and not them. "If we leave him here, we run into one of two problems. He either gets torn apart by the walkers that are going to show up here, or..."

"...Or he's going to keep doing this" Kenny smartly finished my sentence as I had hoped, which just proved to me that my logic made sense. As much as the others didn't like the sound of shooting a man who had lost everything, they seemed to be able to rearrange their thinking enough to think of him as a monster who ate people rather than the former image of him.

"I'll do it" Mark offered quickly, as he was already holding the rifle necessary to do the job. He handed me the pistol he had gotten off Brenda for me to use if I needed it, before addressing the others again. "I can wait for you guys to already be down the road, take care of Andy, and then wait for Shawn and Prim to be done"

"We'll be fast, okay? Get going" Shawn urged the others to leave it to us, which luckily was enough for Lilly and Kenny to take charge again. All twelve of our group started to make tracks down the long driveway that belonged to the St. John dairy, which left the three of us there in the pouring rain. "Me and Prim will be quick"

"I'll be here" Mark assured us with a gentle smile that I knew was genuine, and it was even more special because I knew there was no way he was going to show it to Andy ever again. With a soft nod of the head, I turned around and left him with Andy to head to the barn.

Me and Shawn just barely managed to make it into the relative dryness of the barn when we heard the rifle go off behind us, as well as a squishy thud of something landing in the mud. Shawn jumped a little from the gunshot, but didn't grimace as much as I had expected him to. I supposed he knew it was necessary, but had just not expected the loud noise.

Maybelle was right where we had left her, right across from the still unconscious Danny. She even softly mooed at us as we came in, as though she knew we were there for her.

"Hey darling" Shawn softly cooed to her as I knelt down and began to pet her head again, wanting to give her some sort of love in her final moments. Even though Shawn was trying to be brave, I could hear the emotion in his voice, the beginnings of tears were likely going to appear before we were done. "...Actually, doesn't she look a bit less round than before?"

I peered around her as Shawn said that, realising that he was correct. She was far less rotund than she had been before we had left her to handle her owners, but I couldn't see immediately why she would be that way. The answer came once both me and Shawn heard a soft snuffle at what seemed to be her stomach, and we peered closer to see something bloody against her body.

It was a calf. In what had seemed to be a short time, she had managed to give birth to a healthy baby cow, who was now peering at me and Shawn with curious eyes. Katjaa's pronouncement to Clementine about how she could have given birth to her calf that night... Was correct in every way.

"...She has a baby" I informed Shawn, who peered around me to see the calf a little better, before he began to softly coo at it too. It was even more devastating to find that she had a baby, as that meant that we had to put her baby out of its misery as well. The task of helping Maybelle just had gotten a whole lot harder than it had before, and it was going to be emotional no matter how I tried it. "...We can't take it with us, because we won't have the milk necessary for it"

"Him" Shawn easily identified the gender of the little one, but I just found it harder to hear his gender. The next thing that would make it harder was if Shawn started to name the little one as well. "We probably shouldn't put them out of their misery next to each other, that brings them stress"

"I'll take the little one into one of the stalls then" I steeled myself for what was going to be the worst thing I had to do since trying to put down Lee's brother three months ago, before I fetched a blanket to wrap the little one into. "I'll try to be quick, I can't imagine Maybelle would be too happy with me taking her baby away"

With a tender touch, I wrapped the calf in a blanket and picked it up. The calf didn't protest as I had expected him to, only curiously sniffing my hands and then trying to nibble them softly. Once he found out that my hands weren't very tasty to him, he just looked up at me with those round eyes of his in curiosity. Trying not to cry at the sight of him doing so, I turned around and prepared to move to one of the back stalls when I heard Shawn protest something.

"Whoa Maybelle, whoa!" Shawn gently tried to calm down the cow as she began to shift on the blanket she had been left on, but she seemed intent on moving despite her bloody appearance and shaky legs. To me and Shawn's utter surprise, all she did was stand up on her four legs and toddle after me, before coming to a halt in front of me and copying her child in peering up at me. Experimentally, I walked slowly to the back of the barn where she followed after me at about the same speed as I was going, and then I headed to the entrance of the barn, and she followed just the same. "...I guess she likes you"

As though I wasn't sure if I was certain about it, I did one more lap in the barn to the back and turning around to the front again, but Maybelle was perfectly content to follow after me. It took me a couple of seconds longer for my brain to come up with a plan to do with her, but once it was there I was more than happy to act on it.

It was a little weird to say the least. I had wished to save the people in the walking dead, the humans specifically, and yet... Here I was, saving a cow and her baby.

"Shawn, take my pistol and quickly put Danny out of his misery please" I asked of him, shifting my hip a little so that it was easier for him to grab my pistol that was sticking out of the back of my jodhpurs. Once he took it from me, I considered the fact that Maybelle and her baby likely wouldn't like to hear the gunshot, and so I made plans to go ahead. "Once you have that sorted, please grab a bale of hay and follow after us"

"Gotcha" Was all I heard from Shawn as I walked out of the barn and over to Mark, who was still patiently waiting for us.

"That's a funny dog you have there" Mark joked when he saw Maybelle trotting behind me, even more so when he noticed that Maybelle was using me as a rain and windbreaker. Her calf too, was crawling more into me to get warmth from my body, which I was more than happy to do for it. "Where's Shawn?"

Mark's answer came easily after that once the gunshot went off behind me, and luckily Maybelle didn't seem rattled at all by it beyond tilting her head to look back at the barn before focusing on licking her baby's still bloody head. A single grunt could be heard a moment later, and soon Shawn was shuffling next to us with a hay bale perched on his shoulder.

"Alright, now we're good to go" I declared, ready to be finally rid of the darn place. It likely was going to be a good place to go back and grab hay for Maybelle from time to time, but it wasn't ever going to be a home. The five of us were just out of the main gate of the property by the time the generator seemed to die out, and we made haste to finally leave as the sounds of fences started to come down. In curiosity I did find myself glancing at the sky to see if Maybelle's fate was another thing the timeline was going to protest... But oddly enough, there was no ripple of the sky that time, just a funny look given to me by Mark. "I can't wait to get to sleep tonight, my god"

Chapter Text

The trees covering the pathway we were travelling down served to shelter us a little from the rain coming down, the last remnants of the bad weather only being shown from the squishing leaves under our feet. It wasn't going to be long before the next episode was here, but for a moment I just wanted to revel in how many lives I had saved successfully.

The one exception to the rule was Mr. Parker of course, who was still slipping in and out of consciousness in his wheelchair as Travis struggled to push it. I felt horrible... In the end, it could have been easy to just blame Larry for delivering him into their hands, but I was partially to blame as well, as I knew how smitten Larry had been with Brenda in the game. Doubly so because I had sent Lilly away with the kids and Katjaa, which meant that there truly wasn't anyone who could have reigned Larry in.

"You okay?" Shawn was the first one to talk out of our group of fifteen (Seventeen if you counted Maybelle and her child), obviously seeing the anguish in my eyes as I looked at Mr. Parker mumbling something incoherent before falling unconscious again. Part of me wanted to spill the truth about how I felt it was more my fault that he had gotten mutilated, but I also knew too well that his response likely would be something in the sense of 'It wasn't your fault'. And that wasn't entirely wrong for someone who wasn't supposed to know the future, but I should have known better considering the knowledge I had. So I decided that it was best to not delve too deep into it.

"I'm worried about Mr. Parker" I fibbed a little bit, remaining in somewhat the same area as the topic I was thinking about, but far enough away to not really get a response. Shawn sighed softly in agreement, obviously also worried about the teacher. "I'm trying to do my best to not overthink things. We've got so much first aid that we should be able to handle it, but it's still another load on my shoulders"

"I can take a literal load off if you want me to" Shawn held out his available arm to take the little calf off me, but I shook my head and still held the little guy close to my chest, which Shawn seemed to find as funny as a little child unwilling to let go of their new toy. Honestly, how did he think he was going to carry a hale bale on his shoulder, and a little delicate calf? "Too attached to him?"

"More wary of how Maybelle's going to react if I hand him off to you" I admitted, casting a glance behind me to make sure the lady was still following behind me, which she was. Her eyes were so bright even in the dark, showing how intelligent she truly was as she softly trotted behind me. "I know she's a smart girl, but I'm worried that handing him over to someone else will make the magic disappear somehow. Like, as if she's doing this just because it's me or something, and that she'd bolt the moment someone else took him"

"Ah, I get it" He nodded his head, relenting on his offer once he knew the reason for it. Besides, to me the harder loads to handle were the emotional ones, not the physical ones. "You know, we really should name him"

"Ooh! Can we choose?" Duck excitedly entered the conversation once the idea of naming the calf was brought up, both him and Clementine shedding their fear of the farm to look on the bright side of life, which was heart-warming to see and hear. "I wanna name him Voldemort!"

"No! That's the bad guy in that one book!" Clementine protested the name choice, and I laughed at their childish bickering over the name we were going to pick. All of that came screeching to a halt the moment Larry angrily told the three of us to hush in the worry that we were going to attract walkers, which I supposed wasn't completely incorrect.

"Sorry kids, but I think Prim should get to name him" Mark gently interrupted the conversation, lowering his voice several degrees in the hopes that the kids would copy his volume. When they did, he smiled quite happily at them, before turning his head to look at me fondly. "After all, she was the one who wanted to go and save Maybelle"

"Aww, okay" Duck did pout as he finally allowed me to name the little guy, but Clementine just giggled at Duck's tone. I peered down at the little guys head as he was fast asleep against my chest, and only one name really seemed to come to mind for me.

"I think I'm going to call him Bramble" I decided, already being able to recognise the little blips of black dotting his head.

"What's a bramble?" Clementine asked me curiously as she hooked a finger of hers into the belt loops of my jodhpurs to keep in time with me.

"They're a type of bush Clem, ones that black berries often are on" I explained, seeing her eyes light up with recognition once she knew what it was, and her eyes sparkled with wonder when I kept going on to explain for why I had chosen it. "Bramble bushes are often very spiky, but they have delicious and yummy fruit on them if you take care to get them. That's how I feel about Maybelle and her baby right now, that I really only got her trust because I really worked for it"

Both kids 'ooh'ed and 'aah'ed at my choice of name, and it seemed to lift the spirits of some of the other adults hanging around. In fact, it seemed to lift almost everyone's spirits, if you didn't include Larry, Mr. Parker, Travis and Ben (Who understandably were still busy with their teacher rather than naming a cow). But the strangest one was Katjaa, who was decidedly still in a bad mood since we had left the farm. As though she could sense that I had finally registered that she was upset with something, she slowed down her walking a significant amount until she was nearly side by side with me and then spoke to me with an icy tone that could only mean that she was upset with me.

"Primrose, I need to talk to you privately" She announced not too subtly, which was enough to tell everyone else that she meant business. Mark, who had learnt his lesson about private conversations, gently took Clementine's hand to lead her ahead with him while Shawn did the same with Duck. It didn't take long until me and her were the only ones there, the others all walking on ahead so that we had the most privacy that we could afford without stopping in our trek back to the motel. "...Prim, I'm going to ask you a single question, and I expect you to answer honestly"

"Okay" I accepted her terms, as I was quite confident that she wasn't going to ask me about alternate universes and their reality existing in a video game. As long as those weren't the subjects she had brought up, I was perfectly fine with answering anything she asked me.

"Did you teach my son how to shoot a gun?" She asked me, clearly under the impression somehow that I was the most likely to do so, with my more involved leadership than Kenny or Lilly did. Lilly had expressly made it obvious that when she made the rule for others to learn that the kids were exceptions to the rule and there was no way that Kenny was going to be able to fly something like that under the radar without her or Katjaa noticing, so it did make sense that I would be the next likely culprit.

"No, I didn't" I was able to admit that to her honestly, as my plans for teaching either kid to shoot was going to be in the next couple of days, not before the second episode had even come along yet. "The only reasoning that I can come up with is that Duck was paying very close attention to someone when they were learning how to shoot"

"Jesus Primrose, Duck shot her! How else am I supposed to react to that besides shock and horror?!" Katjaa seemed quite unhappy with my calm reaction to her shock and outrage, and here was the moment when I was going to clash with her the most. Like Carlos who was an overprotective father in the second season, Katjaa was likely going to be just as difficult to convince that her son needed to know how to protect himself. "He hasn't even really reacted in the last twenty or so minutes to it! He's just experienced it and forgot about it! Sort of like... Sort of like water off a duck's back"

"Katjaa... This might be hard to hear, but I think he needs to know how to shoot a gun properly" I started, but the denial was immediate, just as I had expected.

"NO. You don't get to decide that for him" She vehemently went against the idea, all bits of the warm motherly figure I knew of her was replaced with a fierce mother bear, one you only got to see in effect in the game for a split second. Even so, I had to give her some tough love if her son was going to be able to take care of himself, which meant I couldn't back down from her. "You're not his mother"

"You're right, I'm not his mother. However, I am the leader of this group, and everything I have decided in the past is for the betterment of this group we have right now" I put my foot down on the fact that I was made the leader for a good reason, because I got results done. "The world isn't the same anymore Katjaa, and even if it does go back to normal someday, it might be in several years’ time. If something were to happen to you, me, everyone here except for the kids, who would be able to care for them?"

"...I wouldn't let that happen" She still tried to deny it further, but I began to see the defeat creep into her eyes. So far the best defense she had was platitudes, nice meanings that didn't hold water against the dead rising, bandits and literal psychopaths that could now roam freely in the world without any fear of retribution.

"That's a nice sentiment, but you know it isn't true. Even in the old life we had before the walkers, Duck had to learn someday how to take care of himself too, and you were going to pass someday then as well. The only difference between then and now is that he's in way more danger here and so are you... Which sadly means he's going to have to grow up a little faster here than you'd like, and I get that it's hard to realise that" I ended up softening the blow towards the end of my very long explanation, as I felt bad as I saw her come to the heart-breaking truth that her son couldn't be the ever-positive naive boy she had been protecting all of this time. Even so, I still had to cover all of my bases so that there wasn't any loopholes left for her to wiggle her son out of the training, and that meant one final damning reason. "And I'm sorry to say, but he already seems to know how the basic mechanics work already. He even shot someone already to keep me and you safe, which means he's already dipped his toes in, figuratively speaking. The best we can do now is teach him on how to properly us it, reassure him that it's to keep him and his friends safe, and then act as emotional support as best we can"

Once I had said my piece, there was a good stretch of silence between us, the only noise coming from the clopping of hooves from Maybelle, who was still following me despite the arguing that had happened in close proximity. Bramble had woken up for a brief second too when Katjaa was at her loudest, but he quickly had drifted back off to sleep afterwards.

"...I don't like it" She sighed very softly, but her tone contradicted her words by suggesting that she had given up despite her usually firm and defiant words. "I don't like it, but I guess it's how it has to be"

I gently bumped her shoulder with my own (Because my hands were full with Bramble) to show that I understood what she was going through, as I knew that if I had the option too that I would have liked to keep Clementine from learning how to fire a gun as well. The only consolation I could tell myself was that there was no way I was going to let myself (In Lee's place) die and leave her alone in this world. I was planning to be around her for years to come, and nobody was going to stand in my way.

"...Hey, what's that noise?"

We eventually seemed to catch up with the front of our group, as they had all stopped at Doug's request when he could hear a faint beeping noise in the distance. Kenny correctly guessed that it was likely belonging to a car, which let me know exactly what it was. Another instance of the universe wanting to be ironic just because I had thought of something, this time it had directly put in the biggest reason for Lee's death in the original game. The stranger’s station wagon was up ahead, left wide open with the head lights brightly shining into the forest ahead of us.

"What should we do?" Lilly asked me, clearly hanging back enough so that she could get my opinion on it before they went charging in. Even if we hadn't been armed with around twelve weapons (seven of which were guns), I knew that we were going to be safe no matter what was going to happen. But I couldn't tell them that without some suspicious looks from the fact I shouldn't know it, so I just pretended as if I was playing the 'game' for the first time.

"I'm holding a calf, so sadly I can't go in. But I do think it would be a good idea for Shawn and Mark to sneak in to scope it out first before the rest of us head in" I decided, both men either pulling the hammer back on the pistol or readying the lever on the rifle to signify that they were more than ready to do so. "Carley and Lilly, the both of you provide a lookout in case someone might jump out at them"

"You got it boss" Carley brought out her trusty pistol at the same time as Lilly readied her own rifle, and things went into motion.

It went about as smoothly as I had expected, both boys being able to tiptoe down the road just enough to reach the open driver’s side door. Nobody jumped out at them as Mark reached in and took the keys out, and soon the incessant ringing was gone. Left in silence and being assure by all four members of the group that it was safe, everyone slowly moved forward to the station wagon.

"It was just abandoned out here?" Ben asked curiously, highlighting the obvious problem with the car.

Even if the stranger was purposefully coming back later on to recollect his own vehicle, what kind of logic would have made him leave the car wide open, with the keys still inside, and literally leaving the high beams on the car to attract any curious walker or bandit to it? Honestly, what was he expecting to happen with something like that beyond some hungry soul, or vengeful one, taking what they needed? The only excuse that could even remotely make sense was if blind panic was ruling his thoughts in searching for his son, which meant that all forms of logic left his mind. Even with that excuse on his side, it meant that he blamed Lee and the group for all the stupid decisions he had done himself, and was still never going to be on par with what he had done to the group after they arrived in Savannah.

"Holy shi - I mean, holy Christ!" Kenny softly exclaimed as he found the boot filled to the brim with supplies, but obviously doing his best to veer away from swearing despite his utter surprise at the sheer amount that was in there. "Baby, you've got to see this!"

I remained rooted to the spot for a long time, mainly because I had been so used to the fact that his final comment was generally directed towards Katjaa in the original game. It was only when Katjaa didn't move an inch that I remembered that the both of them were not together in this timeline, and it hit home that he had been referring to me. With a blush spreading over my cheeks from both the cute nickname he had given me in public, and frankly just from the embarrassment of not realising that he was talking to me, I shifted carefully around the others so that Maybelle wouldn't barge though them to follow behind me, to stand next to him.

The vast amount of supplies in the rear of the station wagon was impressive, looking better than the blocky and pixelated version that was in the game... But the most important difference was about how much there was in there. There was about twice... No, maybe even three times as much as there was in the game, boxes and bags stacked so high in the back that the driver wouldn't have even been able to see out of their rear-view mirror.

"Jesus Christ" I let out a similar astonished gasp as he did, which he only could hum in agreement with. It didn't matter that I didn't believe in that particular religion, the point was that it was absolutely mind blowing, and it had the added unexpected effect of truly making it seem like I didn't know what was in the back of the station wagon. "The amount of food in the back here would last us... God, another three months at least if we rationed things the same as we did before"

"You're kidding!" Lilly slipped into the conversation at the mention of food to help us out, standing shoulder to shoulder with me to peer in. The moment she too laid eyes on the stash there did she let out a low whistle, clearly just as in awe as the two of us already were. With a careful hand, she reached into the nearest box to her and pulled out a single bottle of what seemed to be medication, and I could distinctly remember the label on it being the same one that we had retrieved for her three months ago in the drug store for her father. "They even have medication back here! This must have been taken from the drug store and stockpiled long before we had even holed up in the drug store"

The others seemed to trust our words enough that they didn't need to look in with us, seeing enough out of their own peripheral vision and our absolutely blown away expressions that it was a mother-load in the back. In a way their silence was essentially saying that they trusted the three of us enough to act as a council to make the hard choice for them. Unlike the game, the relationship between people wasn't nearly as strained as it could have been, which meant the trust was much easier for the others to place in us. Even Ben and Travis seemed to trust us, as we had done right by them a number of times despite technically not adopting them into our group fully. They all didn't feel as though they'd be short-changed, which also meant that they didn't have to struggle to make their voices heard to us. We knew their choices well enough.

"...We can't take this" Lilly sighed in regret, putting back the bottle of medication that she had picked up. It was clear that Kenny was in disagreement with her, as he frowned slightly at her pronouncement, but he respected her enough by this point to listen to her reasoning before countering it. "We don't know if these people are still alive, they might be coming back in an hour for all we know. If we take their stuff, we'll just be the people who ruined their lives"

"But in the same vein as that, we don't know if they're dead. If we leave this behind, then the chances of bandits coming to raid all of it are more likely than they are to return before then" Kenny did make a good point, but that was all based on the fact that the family likely would be dead... Which I knew was not exactly the truth. Even so, they both had really good points. "In fact, the sheer chance that we encountered this before those bandits did is a miracle in itself. If we take it now, then we can always help the family out if they ever come by our motel looking for food, but I can bet you that those bandits won't help them"

"Lilly, we can't leave that medication behind. The bandits would only use it to get high, and this family likely just uses it as a bartering tool" Larry spoke up, which reminded me that he indeed was still alive and that he hadn't talked in a while. Even more surprising than him not talking or wanting to speak over us was the fact that he had taken Kenny's side in an argument, which all three of us were taken aback by, showing quite obviously with raised eyebrows and the sheer shock in our eyes. "Shut up, I know, I hardly ever pick the side of the idiot Florida resident. I usually don't do so because he has stupid plans and usually has the wrong idea, but for once he does"

"Great to have you back" Glenn sarcastically welcomed back Larry's grumpy side, a cheeky grin making the poking and prodding all worth it in my opinion.

"Shut up pizza boy"

"How'd you know my middle name?"

"Boys, behave" Carley told the both of them off, stopping them from breaking out into a loud shouting match in the middle of the woods. Larry, while not appreciating being told off, did relent if only to calm down his heart that was likely worn about by then. And Glenn, well, he was perfectly fine to have the last laugh out of the two of them. "Go ahead Prim, you're the leader here. Make the final decision"

Nobody was really surprised to hear Carley call me the leader, as even Lilly and Kenny quickly figured out in their minds that I was the one solving a lot of the problems that came our way. Sure, Larry was surprised, but he wasn't going to start an argument right there in fear of hurting his heart, so he grumbled and let the comment slip by. As such, they truly did defer the final call down to me.

Both sides had their ups and downs, and both Kenny and Lilly had done well to show how both sides would change things. But sadly that didn't change the game's version, which was a sad early warning sign for how the games eventually would make it that your choices didn't actually matter in the long run. The decision of the station wagon was the first in the many 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' choices that would become the norm in the series, and that sadly meant that either one was going to screw us.

Like the decision to shoot Andy and Danny, this decision was a lot harder once you were actually in the situation. Even with the candy cane that everyone else had essentially forced me to eat, I still felt the pangs of hunger strike me as I stood there and saw the food. Clementine likely felt that too, but in a much harder way than me because she still needed to grow unlike me, and it was likely the same story for everyone.

This wasn't a case of not taking the food "might" kill the group, this was a case of it would kill the group. We were going to starve to death without it, even if we attempted to take milk from Maybelle (Which I hadn't tested, and certainly didn't know if it even was possible) or even if we raided a bandit camp (And we didn't know where those were).

But at the same time, taking the food would invite a vendetta of the stranger over our heads, which could spell deaths in this alternate timeline. After all, just because Shawn, Doug/Carley, Glenn, Travis, Mr. Parker and now Mark had survived their original fates, that didn't necessarily mean that they therefore couldn't die. I could prevent the final deaths in episodes four and five, but the six that survived initially could die due to his interference.

Between a rock and a hard place, both options were a poison that would kill us slowly, no matter which one I picked... So that left only one thing for me to do. If both options were buggered, than that just meant that I had to pick a new option, one that wasn't available in the game.

"Let's take half of the supplies" I decided for them, already thinking of ways to explain it so that I could counter their inevitable questions, and to still give myself that plausible deniability that I needed. "If we take half but properly power down the car, then we might be able to leave the station wagon for the people coming back with the other half of their supplies. We'll be able to survive around a month and a half on that alone, which will give us enough time to sweep the town clean and then decide for what we'll do next before we run low again"

Kenny and Lilly both looked at each other as they mulled over the idea, and clearly it seemed to be that they thought it was the best we could do under the circumstances we were in. With my decision now made and my two second in commands agreeing that they were on board with it, meant that we could finally get underway.

I couldn't carry anything due to the fact my hands were clearly still full of calf, so I managed to slide backwards and out of the way (Along with Maybelle), letting the others do their work. Before long we had taken roughly half of the supplies, everyone who was able to take a box or bag had one on them with the exception of Doug, Glenn and Carley, who were acting as our lookouts during the process. Travis also wasn't carrying anything, as he needed to be there to move Mr. Parker, but he was at least available to help lock up the station wagon.

"It's a bummer, this things reminds me that I've actually never learnt how to drive yet" Travis sighed as he closed and locked the boot, before he turned all the lights off in and around the vehicle. Ben and I couldn't quite agree with that statement, as I had my full license back in my old life and Ben had his restricted (Which he told me gently with a whisper to explain why he wasn't making the same comment as his friend), but we nonetheless could understand why he was frustrated with it.

With a very specific set of instructions that I gave him, Travis locked every single door in the car by using the internal locks except for the door directly behind the driver’s seat, where he left the key and shut the door. That way, bandits wouldn't be able to get in with the most obvious doors (The driver’s door and the boot), but a truly desperate person such as the original owners of the station wagon would try everything, which would hopefully let them find the back door open and the keys right there for them.

With all of that, we left that blasted vehicle; with me certainly hoping that it was the last time I was ever going to see it again.

Chapter Text

Resting in Glenn's arms for the night at least brought me some relief, which gave me a good night’s sleep. After eating a small amount that we had given out to everyone, I had to let my brain shut down for the night before I started to worry and prepare for what was coming next. I had to get proper rest before the next episode after all, as I wasn't going to have three months between all of them.

The following day seemed to come far sooner than I would have liked, the sunlight streaming through the ineffective curtains of our motel room. Any other day, I would have been able to go back to sleep for about another hour before we all had to get up, but sadly the moment my mind registered the light it refused to go back to sleep. With a heavy sigh, I gently pried myself from Glenn's arms as he still slept, and I crossed the room to wake Clementine up.

"Hm?" Clementine softly snuffled a noise as I shook her shoulder, and she tried to fall back asleep to whatever dream she had been having. I would have let her go back to sleep under other circumstances, but today was not that day.

"It's time to get up Clem, I need to teach you and Duck how to use a gun" I told her why I was waking her up earlier than usual, and it seemed like the words seemed to sink in the longer she mulled them over. She likely found guns just as scary as the in game version of her did, but that only furthered my hopes that she was as good with her aim as her counterpart did. "I'll give you a bit to wake up, I'm going to get Duck. Come downstairs to the middle of the courtyard once you're awake"

"Okay mum" She accepted my words as being good for her, and I still found myself a little bit surprised from her calling me that. While she had asked to call me that, she had yet to actually do so before then. She didn't seem to register that she had called me that, or she wasn't all that concerned with it, as she just started to move and get ready in a completely normal manner... So I decided to just be silently happy about it.

As I moved towards our door to leave, I noticed Clementine had left her walkie talkie on the nightstand there. I had distinctly remembered that Doug had handed her some batteries the night before, and she had put them in right before she went to sleep. Even with the knowledge that the stranger shouldn't be coming after us, I still swapped out her walkie talkie for the one on my jodhpurs, leaving her with the one that didn't have batteries just to be on the safe side.

Nobody else was out on the upper balcony, the only sign of life coming from Shawn, who had offered to be the nightshift to keep an eye on Maybelle anyway. He gave me a slight wave as I moved down a couple of doors, and I returned it with a tired smile as I opened the door there as quietly as I could manage.

Katjaa was already awake by the time I had gotten there, her softly petting her sons hair as he slept peacefully on their shared bed. She noticed me coming in, but she didn't say anything. She knew why I was there.

"...Do you want to be there while they learn?" I asked her in case she wanted to, but it was obvious that she wasn't interested by the sad shake of her head. Her refusal wasn't that unexpected, as it was likely a horrific idea for her to witness her son growing up into a man long before he reached the age of eighteen. I imagined that Carlos would be the same when I encountered him... If I encountered him.

"Can you promise me one thing?" She managed to ask me just before I woke up her son, causing me to pause for just a moment to listen to her request. "If something were to happen to me, regardless of what happens to the others, please promise me that you'll look after Duck"

"I would have done that even if you didn't ask" I reassured her with a smile, which was the final small thing that seemed to make her trust in me again. It was a strenuous subject, one which clearly tested the limits of how close me and her were to survive it, but eventually my honest concern for her sons life was the thing that made it all come out alright in the end. She didn't stop me anymore as I gently shook Duck awake, who almost instantly was able to peer up at me with a slightly groggy look in his eyes. "It's time to wake up Duck. We're learning how to shoot a gun properly now, and I want you to be there"

"Really?" He asked me, clearly confused on why I was suddenly bringing it up with him after Lilly and his own mother were insistent that he be excluded before. It hurt me a little to hear that he was actually a little excited, which he honestly shouldn't have been in a normal world... But I sincerely hoped it was more down to him being excited to protect his friends rather than anything else.

"Really" I promised him, seeing him start to stretch and get up immediately once I had confirmed that with him. "Katjaa's a little tired, so it's just going to be you, me and Clementine"

"Okay!" Duck didn't seem all that bothered by his mother not being present for his training, and she looked a little relieved with the fact that I had covered for her rather than leaving her to answer why she wasn't coming along with us. We were out much faster than I had expected, even if you included the last thing that he said to his mother. "Have a good sleep mom!"

She smiled another sad smile at him, but I could only notice it because it was in her eyes and not her actual lips. Duck seemed none the wiser, and I believed that it was for the best that he didn't notice it. With the door closed and us now slowly making our way down to the courtyard, I felt it was the best time to quickly ask Duck now that me and him had some privacy.

"Hey Duck, how are you handling... You know, how have you been since..." I trailed off both times before I realised it, as I wasn't exactly sure how I was supposed to be subtle about it and be obvious enough so that the topic didn't completely fly over his head. "How have you been since Brenda?"

He was silent for a bit after my question, and I quickly glanced at his face to make sure that I hadn't caused him to retract in on himself like when we had entered the drug store for the first time. But no, he wasn't in that shocked state, he instead seemed to give the question a lot of thought, maybe because he wasn't quite sure how to feel about it.

"I don't know" He mentioned at first, showing that I was correct in the fact that he was conflicted on it. "Was she a bad person?"

"I think so, yes" I picked my words very carefully, as of course my moral compass was likely to be a bit different than his own mothers... Or many others for that manner.

"Me too. They seemed like evil people. They were going to hurt me, they were going to hurt mom, and they were going to hurt you guys!" Duck certainly seemed to agree with me, which gave away why it hadn't affected him as much as accidentally getting Shawn hurt in the original game would do to him. "I thought I was being a good guy, sort of like Batman and Robin, but mom got really mad after that happened"

"...I don't think your mum was mad at you Duck, she was just a bit sad that you had to hurt someone to be safe" I sighed, gently patting his head just like I would do to Clementine to reassure her. He wasn't sure what to do with the petting, as he was not used to people beyond his mother doing that, but he didn't slap my hand away. "She doesn't want you to grow up before she feels you're ready, and hurting someone else can sometimes seem like you're growing up really fast"

"I am grown up though! I'm ten!"

"That's too young for most parents Duck" I softly explained to him, and he slumped his shoulders at the idea of people not taking him seriously because he was much younger than the rest of them. Part of me could understand his frustration, as I had dealt with that attitude from my own family as I had grown up. "It's often hard for them to let go of their parental role, especially if it's in a dangerous world"

"I don't get it" Duck was obviously just a bit too young to grasp what I was getting at, and I decided that it was something that I'd have to hope that he understood with time.

"That's alright Duck, you'll probably understand when you have someone you want to take care of" I decided that was the best thing to tell him rather than saying 'When he was old enough', as it was likely just going to upset him. True to what I had hoped, he didn't seem bothered by my choice of words, more thinking it over. "Do you quickly want to say hello to Maybelle? We have some time and Clementine's already there from what I can see"

"Totally!" Duck agreed with the idea, already pushing aside the blanket to reach Maybelle and Bramble underneath the balcony.

We had set up many blankets to hang around them, which shielded the two cows from the wind so far, and the both of them rested with each other against the hay. Right as we opened the blanket, Maybelle opened her eye a bit to see who had entered into their sheltered little home, and she lifted her head straight up once she saw it was me. It was almost like she was a dog who was ever so grateful to see their owner return from a long day away, her softly mooing at me before I gently petted her head.

"Bramble's really cute" Clementine softly mentioned as she pet the smaller calf out of the two, who was letting out a noise somewhere between a pleased bleat and a moo. Bramble had since been cleaned up a lot better by his mother, no real traces of blood left on him. Without the blood covering him, I could even notice that Bramble had tiny little growths on the sides of his head, which likely would grow into horns with time. "...Do we have to learn how to use a gun?"

"It is important Clem, not just for Duck but you as well" I insisted, as I knew that likely giving her an inch wasn't going to go well for me. She sighed, but eventually the three of us finally made our way out of the little tent we had made for the cows and headed over to one end of the courtyard. "Wait here you guys, I'll be right back"

One of the things we had pillaged in the later days from stores in the town was a mannequin, mainly because it was one of the few things that the bandits left behind, and because I had a feeling that it would be a better training target for the children than some random bottles around the place. Once I had that securely set up across from them, I headed back to them with Mark's old pistol and the one we had gotten from Brenda.

"First things first, there's always a big rule with guns, and that is to never take off the safety unless you plan to use the gun. On revolvers like this white one we got from the farm, they don't have one, so it's really important to be careful with it" I explained to the both of them, pointing out the safety on Mark's pistol and then subsequently showing that there was no such thing on Brenda's revolver. Part of me felt like it was dangerous to even think about giving one of them a gun that didn't have a safety on it, but it was something they had to learn regardless. "I've removed the bullets from both of these, so it isn't dangerous right now, but they usually will have them in the magazine or the cylinder. For now, we're just going to teach you guys how to aim it properly, okay?"

"Okay..." Clementine sounded not that confident as I handed her the revolver, complaining about how the gun was heavy, while Duck was taking his gun seriously as I handed him the other. Clementine was the first one I focused on, as I expected her to be worse with the gun than he was... And I was sort of proven correct, as she tried to peer down the sights like it was a magnifying glass rather than a gun. "How's this?"

"You're holding it a bit too close to your face sweetheart, that would hit you the moment you fired it. Hold it further away and try not to lock your elbows" I gently laughed as I knelt behind her and readjusted her arms, before I thought about the differences in how she was aiming it. "Clem, which eye is your dominant one?"

"Huh?"

"Which one do you use more to see?" I asked her in another way, but she seemed just as confused with that as she was the first one. Even Duck was listening more to me than he was focusing on aiming, which meant that he likely didn't know either. Well, it was important for them to know that, so I just thought back to how my old college friend Michael had taught me how to recognise which one was my own dominant eye. "Okay, put down your guns for now and hold out your hands to make a circle. Put that circle around the mannequins head, and then tell me when you've done that"

"Done it!" Duck was the faster out of the two, but Clementine wasn't far behind him.

"Now bring that circle back to your face as straight as you can" I asked them to do so, and they immediately drew back their hands to their face. Clementine's circle drew back to her right eye while Duck ended up hitting himself smack in the bridge of his nose, which told me a lot about the both of them. "So that means that Clem has a dominant right eye, as the circle went back to your right eye rather than anywhere else. Duck on the other hand doesn't seem to have a dominant eye, which means he can use both for aiming if he needs to. Clem, you aim down this little notch on the revolver with your right eye, while Duck can choose either"

Clementine went straight back to trying to peer down the sights like a magnifying glass, which I corrected immediately. Once she seemed certain with her aiming, I pulled out the laser pointer that I had taken off Doug the previous evening and gently placed it on the other end of the barrel, watching with a close eye on where the red dot was.

"Now, where do you see the dot?" I asked Clementine softly, and she quietly mumbled that she couldn't see it on the mannequin. "So, that means a shot like that would have missed this walker. If you aim it a little bit to the left..."

I guided her hands carefully along with my laser pointer so that we could finally spy the red dot come into view, it now being centred directly in the middle of the mannequins head. Clementine softly let out a short 'oh', as I removed the laser pointer and let her practice a little more on her own. I shifted over to Duck who was right next to her, and he was already obediently waiting for me with a confident look in his eyes. Slipping the laser pointer on the end of his barrel, I noticed that the dot actually had managed to get pretty darn close to where I was hoping to see it, as his had ended up on the chin of the mannequin.

"Is that good?" He asked me for approval once he noticed that I was a bit quieter than I was with Clementine, and I answered his question without words as I tilted the barrel of his gun just a little higher to also be in the centre of the forehead. "Oh! Okay, there"

He was so good at it that it almost frightened me a little to see how much he had picked up just by watching the rest of us. While here I had to teach Clementine the basics of what was where, including the safety and how not to hold it, but the most I had to do for Duck was slightly adjust his aiming. After doing that a couple of times between the two of them, they then had almost perfect aim on the fake walker, with Clementine being able to get a solid aim on the right eye of the walker while Duck had a perfect spot on the forehead.

"Alright, that's as good as we're going to get it with you both" I decided to not let it drag on too long with them both lest they not take any more information in, and I took both guns back from them before anyone else was awake. "Now, what's a big thing to remember with firing a gun?"

"The recoil?" Duck asked me, obviously hearing the word but not understanding fully what it meant. Clementine obviously didn't know either, but she was taking every word in from what me and Duck were saying to her. "I heard Kenny talking about it when he was learning with Carley"

"It's what we call the sort of 'jump' after you fire the gun. It feels like the gun is trying to go backwards from the barrel, and it can sometimes be really strong depending on what kind of gun you are using" I explained that to them, and it seemed to make sense to Duck at the very least. After all, he was the only one out of the both of them to fire a gun. "You need to hold onto your gun tight enough so that it won't go anywhere when you fire it"

The two of them had several more questions of course, and I did my best to answer each of them the best I could. Around half an hour later was when the first people started to wake up from their sleep, and it was only ten minutes later when I got interrupted by Lilly.

"Prim, can I borrow you for a moment?" She asked me softly, the bags under her eyes betraying how little sleep she had actually gotten last night. Directly behind her by the gate were Kenny and Travis, the both of them loaded up with weapons and backpacks. Probably another run of the mill supply run... But there was that ever present feeling of Deja Vu again, a nagging one that was never really going to leave me alone while I was in this world. "Kenny and Travis want to go on a supply run straight away, get the last bits of supply out of Macon before we finally have that talk about what we're doing. I'd go with them, but I still think Travis is a bit of a wild card, and I need to keep an eye on that other kid and the teacher"

"Say no more, I'll go with them" I offered immediately, always eagre to help her out in any manner possible. She was grateful as usual, and for once her father wasn't losing his mind about us talking. Who knew, maybe saving him at the dairy actually put me in a positive light with him for once. "Stay safe while we're gone"

I expected her response of "Of course" as well as a typical roll of her eyes as though it should have been obvious, but for once she threw me for a loop by hugging me close to her. Far from the ever repeating video game characters, she clearly was evolving in terms of her character and who she was. The only reasoning behind her sudden change that I could think of was because of the horrific nature of the dairy farm that we had literally encountered the day before, and that now she realised a bit more clearly about how easy it could be to lose a person in our group.

Regardless of what it was, I allowed myself to relax and appreciate the hug she was giving me, softly wrapping my arms around her chest for a moment. Unlike before, it sounded like Larry was indeed mad at this development, but we were far beyond caring about that. We finally let go of each other after a couple of seconds, in which she almost seemed like she wanted to do one more thing but stopped herself at the last moment.

"You come back to me, you hear?" She made me promise that to her, the thought of losing me being too much to bear.

"I'd never even dream of doing anything else" I promised her with a smile, and I possibly overstepped myself by gently petting her cheek with my hand before drawing it back softly. She didn't frown or seem upset in the slightest, just smiling at me as I finally made plans to go with Travis and Kenny. With another rifle between the three of us and one more backpack, I set off on another normal, and yet not normal feeling, supply run.

Chapter Text

The term 'supply run' soon became quite literal, as since the bandits had been a big nuisance time was truly of the essence when we were out on those runs. We couldn't afford to walk to the town centre anymore, breaking into a sprint most of the time to avoid anyone getting the drop on us. And because I had been doing them quite regularly with people from my group, it meant both me and Kenny were in actually quite good shape. There was only one problem however...

"Slow down! Are you guys trying to be the next Usain Bolt or something?"

Travis was nowhere near our level of fitness, which meant we were in a constant state of stopping and starting to compensate for his slower speed. I was almost going to suggest that he be carried by myself or Kenny, when I reminded myself that Travis wasn't going to get any faster or fitter if we constantly had to carry him. So stopping and starting it had to be, as much as I was steadily growing anxious with our slower pace.

"What were you three even doing before you met us?" Kenny couldn't seem to resist the question coming out of his mouth, right at the moment we took our fifth break. Travis was still wheezing in an effort to get his breath back, so he shook his head to say that he couldn't answer that question yet. "You'd think that a running away from walkers and bandits would make you guys a lot fitter"

"We weren't... We weren't running around a lot" Travis admitted, his face grim as some unpleasant memories resurfaced in his mind. If the small bits of information about cut content from the game was anything to go by, then it was likely to do with the bandits that had raided their camp not long before they had met us. "We were at a school for a long time before we started to move as a group to Columbia, where a number of our parents were stationed at a military base. Even when we were moving, we weren't really moving very fast because setting up camp took a long time and all the girls refused to remove their heels to walk around barefoot"

"I don't blame them, the amount of shattered glass and dangerous things to walk on would make me hesitant to remove my shoes as well" I could partially understand the reasoning behind the girls in his story not wanting to remove them, as even bad shoes were better than no shoes in certain situations. I also hoped that if he was feeling uncomfortable, that he could find that interruption to be the point where he decided to call it quits and not talk further.

"What happened to the rest of your group?" Kenny asked Travis that question, which should have been obvious that it was the stupidest thing to ask another person in the current apocalypse we were all facing. It was comparable to asking someone what happened to their family, which the most likely answer was going to be something akin to 'They died gruesomely'. I very nearly gave him an angry look to tell him off, when Travis already acted long before I did.

"...Bandits, let's leave it at that" Travis grumbled underneath his breath, clearly not happy to divulge further information. I tried to offer him an apologetic smile, which he did at least pick up on, his frown lessening just a bit as he returned to staring at his feet. "I'm fine, I just... I don't really like to talk about it"

"Of course, that's my bad" Kenny at least could admit his mistake, also giving him a smile that communicated clearly that he regretted asking the question. Travis shrugged his shoulders and tromped on past us to be in front of us, as though he desired some privacy for the time being. It left me and Kenny alone for a little while, which he seemed to find some use in by talking to me privately for a moment. "So, I've been talking to Mark..."

"Yeah?" I responded in a casual manner, not really all that worried about what his question might have even been. After all, my logic at the time was that it was something simple like something to do with the R.V., perhaps even something in romantic in nature. I wasn't expecting... That.

"He said that you and him didn't have time to investigate the farm, that Andy had asked the two of you to check the fence immediately after the others had left back for the motel"

I nearly froze on the spot, at the very least pausing for a good second or two once I had processed his words, before I forced my legs to mechanically walk on to not seem completely out of place. Even if he hadn't seen me pause (Which he clearly had), my face had given it away, all semblance of a smile slipping away and looking truly like I had been caught red handed. He looked concerned with the revelation, but at the same time he wasn't sure what this meant. Was it that I had known the brothers before meeting the group, that I actually was in cahoots with the bandits... Probably a number of questions that he was thinking about, but none of them really fit with how I knew those things.

"...There's no way you'd believe me if I told you the truth" I had to admit with a grimace, as I was very confident that he wasn't ever thinking along the lines of a traveler from another world nor that his entire life was a bunch of code and lines in my world. I was so screwed, but telling him either of those things would lose me everything. There was absolutely no way that they were going to let me remain with the group, likely thinking that I was crazy in some manner and assuming that I was then going to be a danger somehow. I was going to lose everything I cared about in this world and it was all because I couldn't keep my big mouth shut!

"Try me" Kenny of course was more concerned with there being no hidden secrets from each other, slowing down just a little so that we were close by each other’s side. Travis hadn't budged up ahead, so it seemed like he couldn't actually hear what we were talking about. "Prim, I trust you with my life. There's nothing you could say to me that would make me care about you any less... I'm always going to be in your court"

I sighed deeply as he pulled out that one last promise to me, as there was no way he was just going to drop the subject now. But even so, I... I was just so scared about losing everyone I had saved in this new reality of mine, that I still couldn't find the courage to tell him the whole truth. Even with his promise... In a sad way, I didn't trust him enough to believe in me after learning the truth...

"...I'm clairvoyant, at least to a degree" I fibbed quite a bit with my explanation, aiming for somewhere between reality and a lie. Somehow it sounded more believable to me, as I knew there still were quite a number of people in my old world and likely this new one who claimed to be able to see the future (Which was interesting now that I thought about it, as me now jumping to another world gave some vague possibility to those people who said they could see into the future). And besides, if he couldn't believe this one, there was no remote way he was going to believe the actual reason. "I see things in dreams quite often, but they're not always a hundred percent correct. Do you remember when I first met you at Hershel's farm?"

"Of course I do" Kenny immediately affirmed that he indeed did, and the thoughtful look in his eyes betrayed that his mind was working a millions miles an hour to think about why I would bring up that point. A lightbulb did seem to spark to life in his head, something that made him link my mention of being a clairvoyant and with that time. "Oh yeah, you had seemed very confused at the time about the fact that me and Katjaa weren't married, despite never having met us before"

"Exactly" I was endlessly happy that he had remembered that one specific point, as it made my (Sort of) truth much easier to explain. "I had seen in a dream that I would meet you, but in the dream you and Katjaa were married, and Duck was your son. That's also why I was so surprised that you had flirted with me when we first met in the barn"

He hummed softly as he mulled this new development over, clearly not believing it a hundred percent at face value. I supposed it was only natural that he had a healthy dose of scepticism with this sort of information, as it would be even worse if he just believed everything anybody told him... But I was really hoping this was the exception to the rule.

"You don't believe me, do you?" I couldn't help but ask him that, worried that it was going to be a step too far for him to believe in it. And yet, his following words were already heading down a better way than I could have hoped for.

"Well, had you told me three months ago, I probably would have dismissed it as a coincidence" He sighed, but soon his eyes cast a glance at the masses of long dead walkers that we were walking past, each one being put down one more time with a weapon jammed into their head or a bullet hole to prove that they weren't alive anymore. Something about the admittedly unbelievable walking dead made him reconsider the truth of my own claims, and that was enough for him to believe in me. "But then again, I probably also wouldn't have believed in the dead rising up and eating people. And besides, I love you too much to not believe in you"

I couldn't help the smile that broke out over my face, and I relaxed with my hands on my rifle to give him a big comforting hug. He quite gladly returned it, and for the moment it seemed like that trouble was sorted. It likely wasn't, as it was probably going to rear it's ugly head later on for me to deal with again, but at least for right at that moment it was alright.

"Come on lovebirds, we got places to be!" Travis finally caught on that we were doing more than just walking behind him, catching our attention just in time to point out the town of Macon ahead of us. As much as we hated to do it, me and Kenny separated and jogged a bit to catch up with the teen, and the three of us sprinted the final kilometres into town.

The place was eerily quiet, the only real sound coming from us crunching over glass and the panting that was most notably coming from Travis. Stopping right at the intersection before the drug store that I now knew like the back of my hand, I turned right into the street and peered down the scope on the rifle I carried... But no walker was in sight. No bandits seemed to be there either, the place being deserted as though they had all moved in a tidal wave to something on the other side of town.

"Looks like this is our lucky day" Kenny mumbled in a hopeful manner, but the statement brought me a slight bit more anxiety than he probably was hoping. So much for the reprieve between episodes to prepare, I had only been given a single night before the third episode rolled around after the second had ended.

The biggest worries about episode three had to be from the bandit attack in the beginning to the massive horde of walkers at the end of it... There of course was the part where Lilly in the original game shot Carley/Doug on purpose/accident, but somehow I really couldn't see my reality turning that way. Like Kenny believed in me, I believed too much in her to think that she'd shoot someone from our group.

"I certainly hope so" I managed to bring my mind back to the topic at hand before my mind wandered too far away, seeming as though I was just taking a couple of seconds to scope out the scene rather than thinking about the future. Travis looked a little worried at the drug store, as he knew that was where we had been heading for our supply run, but he seemed to trust us enough that we weren't bringing him into a death trap. It had long been covered in rubble since the airplane from the military had crashed into the roof, but it still somehow brought back memories of me playing the game long ago, and of three months ago in my new reality. "Let's get over that trailer and in before anything takes notice of us"

"I do think we need to talk about what we're doing once we get every last thing out of this drug store though" Kenny surprisingly did actually seem to stick to a discussion that was the same as the game, likely angling towards the talk about whether we were going to leave or stay at the motel. "All of the other stores and markets have been stripped clean by bandits, and the only reason that we still are getting some stuff out of the drug store is because you managed to find a way in through the back"

The moment he said that, he realised the link it actually had with what I had mentioned to him earlier, and he almost raised his eyebrow in a questioning manner to ask me if I had indeed known about the back door because of clairvoyancy. I had honestly known about it through the game once again, but I just feigned that it was indeed down to dreams and nodded my head at him.

"So... I know I don't really have a say in your discussion, but... Look, I'll be honest, me and Ben really want to stay with you guys" Travis managed to admit, which I honestly had been hoping to hear all that time. In the game Ben had just been tacked onto the group because he had nowhere to go without his teacher or friend, but with the both of them being hale and hearty it meant that they honestly just wanted to stay because they liked us. "Lilly's probably going to say no though, isn't she?"

"Eh, I wouldn't worry about that" I smiled at him in a slightly cheeky manner, as I knew perfectly well how to get on Lilly's good side. Besides, yesterday had proven that I was the actual leader of the group, and it shouldn't be that hard to find uses for Ben and Travis in our group. Their teacher was another matter though, I really would have to think about his reason for staying. "I'll just turn on the charm and Lilly will likely let you stay"

"And you say that she's not gay" Travis snorted in response almost immediately, looking like he found it funny that we were both denying that she was into women. After I had thought about it a bit harder, I supposed that she actually had never actually confirmed that she was straight, but she also hadn't denied it just yet. "Even if she says she's straight, she's definitely at least gay for you Prim"

"Everybody's gay for Prim" Kenny also seemed to find the discussion funny, as he said that even though it technically didn't apply to him. He still was chuckling to himself as he began to climb the ladder to the trailer, his grin an almost ear-splitting one when he realised that we were laughing along with him. We all were so busy laughing that we nearly missed the ladder coming loose under Kenny's weight, which surprisingly sobered us up fast when we realised that we couldn't follow him up as easily as he had done before. "Ah shit, ladder's come loose"

"Language"

"Ah, sorry"

"You need to lay off the non-existent food man" Travis still was clearly in a jovial mood even after I corrected Kenny's colourful use of words, as he cracked another joke that the rest of us laughed at. "Prim, do you mind if you boost me up? As much as I hate to admit it, you do have more muscles than me"

I tried my best to contain my chuckles as I got in a position to boost him up, finding it actually surprisingly easy as he wasn't all that heavy. And because Kenny hadn't been injured in the fight at the St. John dairy, it meant that he was all good in pulling up the smaller teen up to the roof of the trailer. With the both of them now up there, they both extended an arm out for me to get, which I gladly grabbed after I did a short run up and leapt as high I could go.

"Oh shoot, I'm actually not allowed to call you Prim, am I?" Travis came to the realisation that he had called me by that nickname a little late, but I was pleasantly surprised to notice that Kenny wasn't making as big of a deal out of it as I thought he would be. Now that things were settling down for him, he really was starting to accept that I was well and truly poly.

"I don't mind" I let him know my preference straight away, shrugging my shoulders with a soft smile to go with them. It seemed to help him relax straight away, knowing that both I and Kenny, who likely had the biggest reactions to someone calling me Prim, were completely fine with him using it. "It just means that some of the others might interpret it as you being romantically interested in me, so you'll have to explain that before they assume so if that's not what you're hoping to do"

"...And uh, what do I do if I'm fine with them assuming that?" Travis asked somewhat shyly, him doing his absolute best to ignore the cheeky look that Kenny was giving him.

"Then you probably don't need to correct them" I care-freely approached the subject, smiling at him as it started to really make sense what he was implying. "I'm romantically interested in you too Travis"

"Really?! That's... That's pretty cool. You're cool, I mean" Travis started to ramble a little bit as he suddenly realised that I was fine with him joining my group of lovers. I supposed I did need to be a little careful about anything sexual with him however, as he might have been under the age of consent in some states (And of course I wasn't ever really keeping up to date with that, as I used to live in Britain myself), but I supposed it wouldn't be my main thought with him anyway. "Do you think you'd be interested in Ben?"

"You think he likes me as well?" I couldn't help but ask that in curiosity, a slight hint of a smile gracing my face as we finally jumped down from the trailer and snuck in to the drug store. Luckily there seemed to be no screaming woman in the middle of the street for us to contend with in this reality, possibly because we had run the entire way and we were going to be early enough to miss her.

"Oh trust me, he does" Travis didn't seem to mind spilling the details on his friends love life as we began to take the last bits of supplies from the back of the store, where the alarm had long since stop functioning anymore. Even without them working, somehow just standing on the tiled floor made me think of it again, which almost made my mind replay it for a memory of first walking into the back. "He gets really nervous and flustered around people that he has a crush on"

"I wonder how your teacher would honestly react to that" Kenny asked with a mischievous tone to his voice, but the grin slipping off Travis' face seemed to say that it was not quite the right thing to say. I was momentarily distracted by Kenny handing me something that I didn't remember from the game, it almost looking like they were Chinese firecrackers, but soon my attention was switching back to Travis again.

"I'm finding that I'm caring less and less about what he thinks" Travis angrily grumbled to himself, which reminded me that Mr. Parker had actually shamed both him and Ben for being upset with the homophobic treatment we had gotten back at the farm. Regardless of whether Travis or Ben were even interested in men themselves, that was a horrible thing to tell them both. "But I guess we should be heading back soon, just in case. I don't think Ben would be able to handle him on his own if something were to happen to Mr. Parker"

"Is he bad at first aid or something?" Kenny didn't seem to quite get it, but I did. Something told me that this was the moment that we were going to learn that vital piece of information, one that we clearly were supposed to learn the previous episode.

"Wait, you guys don't know?" Travis asked us both in utter shock, and the both of us shook our heads in response, but my plastered on innocence was a lot faker than the one that Kenny had on. I knew this after all. "You don't have to be bitten to turn into a walker, you just have to die with your brain intact"

Chapter Text

Since the news that everyone was infected in our world, Kenny had been insistent that we run back to the motel at full speed. After all, the only other person who was supposed to know that people dying naturally wasn't the same as it had been before was Ben, and the chances that he would bring it up without someone passing away were not high. Travis even seemed to tough out his unfit wheezing fits, more intent on getting back before something possibly could happen to the others, which I appreciated greatly.

Because of Travis powering through, we arrived back in about the third of the time it took us to reach the town centre, immediately starting to heave on the bins that we were using as a gate. Our rush to get back inside did make a bit too much noise, which drew Lilly to us to help us in before we attracted every walker in a five kilometre radius.

"Good god you three, what happened?" Lilly could automatically pick up that something was off with us, as we never had been so hurried to get back into the motel. This only got further worsened when she saw how pale Kenny was looking, his fright with realising that everyone was infected making him fearful for everyone in the motel. "Oh god, you guys didn't get bitten, did you?! Prim I swear, if it was you, I'm going to-

"It's not that" Kenny cut her off before she could make some promise that she wouldn't really have to keep, instead scanning around at the amount of people who had come out of the woodwork to see what was going on. He couldn't see where Mr. Parker was however, so he decided to call for him. "Where's the teacher?"

"I'm here" Me and Travis' worries were unfounded the moment we could hear him speak up, Ben pushing Mr. Parker out of one of the lower floor rooms. He looked far better than he had the previous night, the rest and extra blood bags at least getting him aware and talking to the rest of us. I have to admit, the moment he decided to scratch the begin of one of his stumps sort of made me crawl in my skin, but I did my best to ignore them. "What's wrong guys?"

"They don't know..." Travis at first began, but spying the kids out of the corner of his eye made him hesitate enough to trail off. It only took me gently placing a hand on his shoulder and giving it a soft squeeze for him to take a deep breath and try again. "They didn't know that everyone is infected. When I told them, they got really worried about you because of how bad you had looked yesterday"

"...What do you mean everyone is infected?" Glenn had to ask, as he likely was just hoping that he had misheard Travis somehow. The validity was somewhat backed up by Ben and Mr. Parker looking confused on how we could have not figured that out in the three months we had survived, but somehow confirming it was hard for the three of them. I took it on my shoulders to tell them about it, is only to possibly avoid Larry being mad at any of them for "hiding" it from us.

"There already is a degree of infection in our brains even if we aren't bitten already" I explained it to them the best I could, looking to Travis to confirm that I was telling the truth. He nodded his head, which backed up everything he and I said further. Honestly, the hardest thing was to have a perfect mix of shock and sadness on my face, as it was admittedly not that unknown to me. "If we die, but the brain is intact, then we turn into a walker regardless of whether we were bitten or not"

"...It's true" Ben finally found his courage to speak up, if only because he wanted to ensure that the others believed me. "We had a girl in our group before, her name was Jenny Pitcher... I think. She couldn't take everything going on, so she took enough pills to... You know"

"She was found the next day in the girls bathroom of a school we had stopped off in" Travis took on the next part of the story to spare his friend from telling the especially gruesome details. "One of the girls went in to go to the bathroom, and she found Jenny in there, completely dead despite the fact we knew she hadn't been bitten before then"

Everyone was deadly silent after it hit home that none of us were lying, each individual person handling it in their different ways. There was still some doubt, some vague hope in their minds that the two boys had just missed a bite on the girl in their story, and partially also because none of them had seen it first-hand just yet. It was partially my fault that none of them believed that, as I had carefully managed to save anyone who could have acted as an example to that, so for the moment they only had Travis, Mr. Parker and Ben's word to go on.

"Regardless of that news, I'm not going to let anything happen to anyone in this group" I promised them all honestly, as that belief of mine had carried me for a long time, into another world even. "All this means is that we have to be that little bit more careful with others, and we'll be alright"

While there still was an undeniable sense of dread and fear hanging over everyone in our group, my words did seem to lift some spirits. Of course, the majority of those spirits belonged to those in my circle of lovers, Lilly or were the two kids, but that still was the majority of people.

"Well, we need to start having that talk of ours now rather than later anyway. Come, we'll have it in my room" Lilly sighed softly, trying to snap her mind back into one where she was ready to co-lead the group along with me and Kenny. Right before everyone else scattered back to their tasks beforehand, she managed to beckon Travis to follow the three of us as well. "You too kid"

"Wha - Me?" Travis seemed surprised that he was being invited to the discussion, likely due to his age compared to the rest of us. Then again, there was the possibility that he was outraged at being called a kid, but if that was the case he was failing to look mad enough.

"Yes, you" Lilly insisted, choosing to switch from beckoning over to just fully waving her hand to make him follow after us. With a sort of surprised face still on, he followed behind us with a confused shrug directed to his friend, who was just as puzzled. "You're essentially the one making the choices for your trio, as Ben looks like he can't plan his way out of a paper bag and your teacher might still be woozy from lack of blood, so you need to be present before we make any concrete decisions"

"Oh! Okay, yeah, I can do that" Travis was completely on board when he understood, and that was the moment that Lilly took the opportunity to close to the door to the room once we were all inside. After collecting our backpacks from us and inspecting the goods we had gotten from our supply run, the discussion was in full swing. "So what's the most important thing we have to talk about?"

"Personally, I think we need to talk about whether we're staying or going from this motel" Kenny brought up the obvious one, and frankly I had to agree with him. Getting on the road before we even encountered that bandit attack would be the best thing if we could help it. "The R.V. is nearly ready to go, plus there's nothing more that we can get in Macon"

"I agree" Lilly clearly was thinking logically rather than thinking like her in game version, understanding perfectly on why we wanted to leave. "Those bandits are becoming a real nuisance, the weather is turning colder fast... And besides, the drug store has run out of my dad’s pills. We need to be somewhere else where we can find more"

"Are we coming with you guys? Ben, Mr. Parker and I, I mean" Travis immediately dipped his toes into the subject that he was more afraid of, and almost immediately I could spy Lilly narrow her eyes at him. She and I had agreed the day before that they wouldn't become new mouths to feed, despite the fact they had been given a small amount of food with our newly acquired supplies the previous night, but I could tell that she was still not exactly warming up to the idea of them sticking around longer than that day. Even with her dislike of having them around, she did look to me for judgement before making a pronouncement either way, and it was another hint that she saw me as the true leader of the group. That, or she was so hesitant to upset me that she would not want to go against my preference.

"Travis and Ben are both useful" I firmly decided, leaving no real hint of wavering confidence in my voice. I also knew Lilly well enough that I could foresee that she was going to ask why we would want Mr. Parker to join us in his state, and I was further proven right when she tilted her head enough to look out of her window to see Ben still waiting there with their teacher, likely waiting for Travis to come back from the discussion we were having. "And Mr. Parker can help teach the kids a bunch of things while they grow up, it'll keep Katjaa happy"

"The things I do for you" Lilly combined a laugh and a sigh together, both a little bit in deprecation about how easily she allowed things when I asked for them. Travis was over the moon with them being formally accepted into the group, but at least managed to keep his excitement to a normal enough level so as not to seem obnoxious. Kenny on the other hand was giving me a teasing wink and grin, likely from Lilly's own remark about how easily she caved to me, which just furthered his statement about how 'everyone was gay' for me. "They'll need to get proper gun training before I let them carry our ones, and I do expect them to do some work along with everyone else"

"Of course, we won't let you down" Travis readily agreed to both requests from Lilly, both in sheer gratitude and in case she was going to change her mind if he said no.

"Alright, both of you out now, I need to talk to Prim on her own" That remark from Lilly of course got the other two going, Travis giggling like an immature high school girl (Which he was, save for his gender) and Kenny couldn't resist giving me a cheeky elbow nudge as he obliged with her command. "What were they giggling about?"

"Ah, who knows" I waved it away as nothing more than them being silly, not wanting to really divulge what we had talked about before. At worst, revealing what we had talked about would be that she admitted that she hated gay people but was just letting it slip because it was me, and at best there would be a hint that she felt the same way for me as I did for her. But even with the best scenario, I didn't want to force her to do anything she wasn't yet comfortable with. "What did you want to talk about?"

Lilly patiently waited until she couldn't hear anyone hovering outside our door and then beckoned for me to follow her more towards the back of her room. Surely she wasn't actually planning a romantic rendezvous? Because if my knowledge of the original game was correct, then it meant that there wasn't nearly enough time for Ben to have been goaded into that sham of a deal.

My idea of that timeline was thrown out of the metaphorical window when she pulled over one specific backpack that she kept specifically under her bed, where she had kept all of the high profile medication for our group. Zipping open the backpack, she allowed me to peer inside, as I had specifically been present the previous night when she had put away the medication, just to show me where it was in case of an emergency with her father...

Someone had moved around the medication.

"Someone's been rummaging through here" Lilly gravely told me, frowning slightly as she zipped it back up. She now had proof from my shocked face that it wasn't her mind playing tricks on her, and I sadly had to admit to myself that my shocked reaction was entirely genuine... There was no way that the bandits had gotten to Ben, there was absolutely no way. "Whoever it was didn't actually take anything, I triple checked in this bag and then double checked the others to be on the safe side. But regardless of whether they did or didn't take anything, I don't like the idea of one of this group hiding something like this... It's just shifty, no matter how I think about it"

"Were the other bags rummaged through?" I asked her, but I got an immediate shake of the head. So it specifically had to be someone seeking medication, just like... In the game. The best possible scenario I could think of was that Travis or Ben had poked through the bag to see if there was something that they could give to Mr. Parker, but like Lilly had said, it would still have been the shiftiest thing especially considering the fact we weren't withholding medication from them. "And you're not worried that I was the one going through there?"

"I was kind of hoping that was simply the case, but your face told me that you hadn't. Besides, I didn't think it was you" Lilly's unwavering trust in me was still there somehow, and I was endlessly grateful to hear it. She was nowhere near as paranoid and wary of others as she was in the game, and hopefully that meant that she wasn't going to be taking pot-shots at either Doug or Carley later in this episode. "I don't think anyone in our group would do this, but I need to be certain. That's why I sent the other two away before I talked to you"

"Surely you don't think Kenny did it?" Even I had to admit that I wasn't certain why she hadn't decided to trust him with that knowledge, especially considering the both of them were actually decent friends with each other in my reality.

"I don't think so, but there's the remote possibility that Katjaa had asked him to do it as a favour. She might have simply been wanting to look for Mr. Parker... But I'm getting ahead of myself" Lilly took a deep breath in to stop her mind from leaping ten steps ahead of the situation, instead choosing to put all of her trust in me by gently grasping my shoulders and looking me deep in the eyes. I could just imagine Larry having another heart attack by how close our faces were to each other, but I was fully focused on her. "I'm asking you both because I trust you, and because I'm certain you'd be able to figure out who it was quietly and efficiently. People trust you, and that means we're more likely to get this all sorted out without a big ruckus"

"Lilly, all you had to do was ask me for a favour, and I would have dropped everything else to help you out" I let my inhibitions slip a little around her for a moment, smiling at her in a possibly too romantic manner. Despite it being clearly not platonic, she didn't seem to mind, smiling with such an amount of gratitude that her smile was dazzling. Her almost distractingly beautiful smile got me off guard enough for her to give me another tight hug, wrapping my smaller body into her own. I didn't mind it, hugging her back and for a moment letting myself drift off in her... Admittedly soft skin and sweet scent. "I'll get this figured out quick, right before your father can get a new hernia at me being too gay"

She couldn't help but laugh at that as we finally came apart, despite it both being a very gay joke and the fact I had made fun of her father.

"I'm sure you will" She left me with that, and there honestly wasn't much more to do then get started. Right as I left the room she was in, I could shuffling of feet right outside the door, but I wasn't too surprised to hear the person speak up once I was out.

"A mystery!" Duck excitedly whispered, standing up tall enough so that he came to his (then) full height, which only reached around the middle of my ribs. I knew it had to have been him, as the game had the exact same thing, but for some reason I was still curious as to why he was sneaking about.

"Duck, were you eavesdropping on us?" I asked him with a joking tone in my voice, doing my best to inform him that he wasn't in trouble for something like that.

"Clementine said it's called strategic listening!" He proudly told me that, which made me nearly want to slap myself in the face from how stupid I had been. Ah, I had told Clementine that when me and her had listened in on Shawn and his father. Me and my big mouth coming back to haunt me once more. "Can I help? I can be bad cop, and you can be good cop!"

"Are you sure that you don't want to be good cop?" I asked him with a chuckle, but I couldn't help but notice that he wasn't mentioning anything remotely similar to Robin and Batman like he had done in the game... Which was just a little odd.

"Nah, all your boyfriends and girlfriends won't believe you if you go bad cop" Duck shrugged his shoulders, clearly already believing that I wasn't going to be a good enough bad cop... This kid was a little too knowledgeable about how my lovers all worked, yikes. For a moment I was almost curious enough to ask him who on earth he was referring to with the term of 'girlfriends' (As I at the time only had one, and that was Carley), but I moved on before it dragged on too long. I didn't have the unlimited amount of time to talk to everyone after all, unlike the game.

"So, where do you think we should start?" I asked him, finding it oddly comforting that he didn't dash off into the shadows once we were done talking. Something about not being able to see him during these harsh times hit me harder in that reality than it ever did in the game.

"Well, there is a drawing in chalk on the... Left? Yeah, the left side of the motel" Duck had seemingly already noticed the chalk drawing long before I had even mentioned anything to do with chalk, excitedly pulling me towards the old forgotten ice machine. It was a bad sign to hear that the mark was there, as that could only mean that someone had indeed made a deal with the bandits... "Oh, but be careful here, someone broke some glass"

I was getting a little scared by how frighteningly efficient he was in reality, which left two possibilities for how I had ended up with such an intelligent version of Duck. Either the game developers had just portrayed him to be a complete tool while he actually was intended to be smart, or I had somehow warped the timeline so much that it was affecting how characters actually were supposed to act... And honestly, both options were a little scary.

Throwing all ideas of how Duck was "supposed" to act out of my head, I tried my hardest to make the slate completely clean and stop scaring myself. Gone was the stupid Duck that ran over Shawn's leg, the Duck that had remained quiet in the background and never was an active presence in the game until he was cut short, just like so many other characters. I allowed this new Duck to be as he was, vastly intelligent and resourceful, so much so that I was even wondering if he was smarter than Clementine was.

"See, there's a pink cross on the wall" Duck pointed it out, reaching up just enough to wipe away the bottom end of the chalk. Now that he confirmed that it was indeed pink chalk, he then proceeded to pull out the pink chalk he had found in the game near the gate, seemingly also finding that before we had returned from our supply run. "I also found this near the gate. I kinda was thinking it had to be put there by Clementine, but I asked her about it and she said she had lost her chalk yesterday"

"You don't think she might be lying?" I asked him out of personal curiosity, wondering a little if he was capable of telling when someone was lying to him. His answer was a lot more simplistic than I expected, but it was still nice to hear.

"Nah, I trust Clementine" He determined with a smile, finding that to be enough so that we wouldn't have to interrogate Clementine further, then deciding to pull me along to the gate to show me where the chalk had been when he had found it. A number of the other members of our group clearly noticed us going to and fro, but the majority waved with carefree smiles on their faces, obviously thinking that we were just playing a game with each other. "See, there's a scuff of pink"

"Good spotting Duck" I praised him as I gently pushed the gate open a little further, noticing that the pink mark continued on from the wheels. Duck was beaming with pride that he had found a whole bunch of clues to help me out, and I wasn't afraid to admit that it was entirely his own deduction before mine. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to make you stay here on the inside, as it's dangerous out there"

"Okay. Do you want me to keep an eye out though? I can give you a signal if I see anyone dangerous looking!" Duck was still eager to help out further, which was attracting Travis' and Clementine's attention as the both of them were the nearest to the gate. Just another point supporting the theory that Duck had more up his sleeve than Clementine did, he put his hands in front of his mouth and almost perfectly imitated an owl hooting at me. It was just odd enough to stand out from the other forest noises that I could pick it out, but it was also close enough that it wouldn't tip off someone sneaking up on me. "Is that one good?"

"It's... It's amazing Duck" I could not form into words the amount of gratitude I had for that ten year old boy, but it certainly had to be more than just a simple thank you and praise. If anything, that just spurred me more on to ensure that Duck would survive that episode intact, so that I had every chance to praise his little heart out for how amazing a kid he was. "I'm not sure if I've ever said this, but you're amazing. You're positive, you help lift everyone's spirits, you're not afraid to keep us safe and you're really smart. Nobody would ever be able to take your place, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise"

"Yes ma'am!" Duck just returned my positive energy with his own, saluting me with a such a beaming smile that it felt like I was staring into the sun itself. God, he was such a good kid.

"Where are you guys going?" Travis came along right before I could slip out of the gate, obviously a bit confused with the fact I had pushed it a little open to leave without talking to anyone.

...And his own suspicion in turn dialled my own one up, almost as if I was acting like a mirror to whatever emotion was shown to me. Ben clearly couldn't have been caught outside the camp by the bandits in the single night we had been back, so there was no way it could have been him... But Travis had reacted suspiciously to the mention of bandits when Kenny had asked about them on our supply run.

Oh god, surely it couldn't be that... Could Travis have had a deal with the bandits back in his old group? And of course when they attacked their group, he would be reluctant to do it again because they hadn't listened the first time to the deal they had, which would have explained why the bag had been rifled through but nothing had been taken.

"Ah, I'm just quickly going to check out something outside the gate. Duck's keeping watch for me" I kept my investigation as vague as I could, as nobody beyond Lilly, Duck and I really needed to know until I had proper evidence about who had committed it. Besides, if Travis would react suspiciously to the grate being tampered, then that was even more ammunition to prove that it was him.

"Do you want me to come with you? I know you're completely able to do it on your own, but I'd like to come back you up" Even something as harmless as him wanting to come with me was more suspicious to me, as nobody else in my group would have reacted that way to me investigating outside. I would likely have gotten a 'be safe' or 'yell if you need help, but even then most people would have relented the moment Duck was keeping an eye out for me.

"...Sure" I decided to let him come with me, if nothing else to see what his reaction would be. He smiled in what seemed to be an honest manner, which left me torn. I didn't want to believe it was him, but everything I knew about the game meant that it couldn't have been Ben... But then again, that was the same for Duck's intelligence. I wasn't sure what to think anymore. "I'd rather not be out here too long, those bandits irk me"

"No kidding" Travis agreed, slipping out of the gate with me, the both of us leaving behind Duck who was admirably looking out for the both of us. I didn't particularly have the same amount of time to waste as I would have in the game, so I beelined directly for the grate on the right side of the motel, and there was something there that surprised both Travis and I. "What the hell?"

Unlike in the game, someone had already torn off the lid on the grate on the right side of the motel. Unlike Ben in the game, who had carefully put the lid back on after he had deposited the supplies there, the lid had been torn of in a rage, bending several of the screws that normally held it in place so badly that it was impossible to put it back on. But just like Lilly and I had figured out, there were no actual supplies deposited there.

Everything was confusing me by that point, my mind working a million miles an hour to try to piece together how this could have come about. So far I had zero evidence for who had actually rifled through the bag, and certainly nothing for whoever had drawn the pink cross on the left side of the motel... Which coincidentally was the same amount of doubt I had in my mind when I had first played through the game. The first time playing through, there was nothing concrete proving that it had been Ben until his confession later in the episode, so it was kind of hypocritical to point fingers his or Travis' way once again since I had the exact same amount of evidence as Lee had, which was none.

Sure, other players had claimed that they knew that it was Ben all along from the way he had reacted to being interrogated, but that honestly could have entirely come down to the fact that Ben was just a nervous and fidgety teen who didn't know what else to do in the situation... Which might have also been the same for Travis, just a teen who honestly wanted to help me out rather than going because he was worried I was checking on his stash. And since the timeline had already been altered enough with new additions of people and differing events, I couldn't just rely on old faithful, my memory of the game, for everything.

But regardless of how I was going to figure out who it was, there was a noise in the background of my mind that sharply drew my attention away from the grate. It was the sound of an owl hooting.

Chapter Text

The moment I heard that hoot from Duck, I didn't waste any time in running back to the gate that was still open a crack, hoping with all my might that Travis would naturally follow after me and that we would be able to get back inside before anyone could stop us. I was certainly speedy enough that it could have been possible that I would get in before the danger could threaten me, but just as I managed to put my hands on the gate and tried to slip in, I heard the sound of someone pulling back the hammer on a gun. Part of me still considered damning the consequences and running inside, as there was the higher chance that I was going to be inside before they could fire at me, but whoever was holding the gun managed to say some words that stopped me right in my tracks.

"You move a single step further, and I'm going to blow this kid's brains out" I made the mistake of turning my head back to see what the bandit was referring to, and was met with an image I never had wanted to see. Travis had a gun digging into the back of his head, but he was perfectly motionless, as he wisely had frozen with his hands raised in defeat. In the time I took to check what was going on, several other friends of the bandit started to appear from the brush, which meant that my own escape was likely to be met with death if I attempted it. "Now be a good girl like the little sluts that used to hang around this dipshit, and open the door for us"

There was a look of barely contained anger in Travis' eyes, which just told me that this reality had truly gone down the cruel route that the game had decided to skip, one where the bandits truly did rape the girls who had been in their old group. But even with him looking like he truly was considering punching the bandit in the face behind him, he made the smart decision to not do so.

"...Sure" I decided to follow along with their orders, only because I knew that it was the most likely one to get both me and Travis out of danger. In the moment I turned around to shuffle open the gate, I had a brief window of opportunity to do something while they couldn't see my face. I made a noise with my mouth that vaguely resembled an owl hooting, and only a moment I could hear a set of tiny feet scamper away from the other side of the bin, which was my only chance to really get any support. Hopefully Duck was going to inform the right people about the danger that we were going to be under, as we didn't have Lee or me to help placate them.

The gate shuffled open with a loud screech to its wheels, as I wasn't even trying to be subtle about it anymore. Part of me had been hoping that my odd way of opening the gate would have alerted a number of other people in the motel that something was going on, but sadly there were none. Only one person seemed to know that we had been caught by bandits, and that was Ben, as evidenced by him being perched on the watch chair and the fact he was looking dead afraid.

"EVERYONE GATHER AROUND, UNLESS YOU PLAN TO SEE ME SHOOT THESE TWO FUCKWITS IN THE HEAD!" The bandit soon roared as he finally pressed his pistol into the back of my own head, his friend pushing Travis forward until he was in line with me. Several of the others got taken by surprise because of the lacklustre watch that Ben had carried out, the majority of people being unarmed and unable to counter the four bandits we had on us. Kenny valiantly attempted to defend everyone in the motel by pulling out his rifle, but one of the bandits beat him to the punch before he could raise it enough. "Hold it asshole! If you even twitch, somebody's gonna be dead, but I assure you that it won't be you. We'll make sure to keep you alive while we fuck your girlfriend’s corpse"

A dark look appeared in his eyes with that threat, looking like he was seriously considering ignoring the order just to spite the bandits and kill as many of them as he could. And as much as I wanted to believe that Kenny was going to be a rational enough person to not do something so reckless, he was a very headstrong man in every sense of the word. I still couldn't see where Duck had dashed off too, so it still had to come to me to fix the problem. Like hell I was going to lose everyone I had worked so hard to save, they would have to kill people once I was long dead and in the ground.

"You guys had a deal going on with someone in here, didn't you?" I intentionally let my rule of keeping secrets slip, completely ignoring the possibilities that somebody in my group would catch on that something was not quite right with how much I knew. Whoever the bandit was that was directly behind me seemed distracted long enough to not bark any more orders to the other three people who had come with him, and I was sincerely hoping that was all that I needed to do. "Medications with opium in it, anything to get you your fix"

"How the hell do you know that?" He clearly didn't get the memo that I knew things almost too well for a normal human, and he allowed himself to get distracted so much that he walked in a circular motion around me until he could look me in the eyes. Seemingly searching for any sign of me lying, he found none, which only confused him greater. Him being distracted with my eyes was perfect though, as I could spy things going on in the background behind him.

"I know a lot of things that you don't" I kept talking nonsense, even though I knew it to be the truth in every regard. While the bandit (And now his several other colleagues) were distracted with me, it left Lilly and Duck just enough time to get into positions to save the situation.

From her position on the upper balcony of the motel, Lilly took an expert shot at the one bandit that was threatening me, which took out one of the four. He crumpled to the floor in a heap of clothing and dead flesh, his pistol coming loose from his hand and skittering across the ground until it banged into my boot.

The bandits who had entered our little camp either were the stupidest people in the horde of bandits, or they were all so stupid, as their very first reaction was to stare in shock at their dead friends body rather than duck for cover or even look for who had shot him. This left enough time for both me and Duck to handle the rest while Lilly was hurriedly trying to reload her rifle, as I dived down to grab the pistol while Duck brought his head out from around the RV. His head wasn't the only thing to come poking around the corner, as I could also spy the pistol he had been using to train just earlier that day, before he aimed carefully at one of the three there. The bullet he fired hit perfectly in the center of the forehead for the one unlucky woman bandit that had been there, which in turn just served to give me more time.

Once I managed to wrap my hands around the newest pistol that we had taken from others, I rolled around on my back on the floor like some stupid action hero in a move before I fired a bullet directly into the underside of the jaw of the closest bandit. The final of the four seemed to be just that little bit smarter than all of his friends, as he copied his in game counterpart in trying to run and jump back over the gate. I proved to be faster than Lee had been however, as I managed to directly get him in the back of the head before he had even fully gotten one leg over our fence, which also meant that there was no dreaded whistle to bring an entire swarm of bandits. Sadly, the other bandits were not completely brain dead, which meant that they could still understand that their friends were all dead by the fact they had heard four shots, and now their friend's corpse was hanging over the barbed wire fence of our gate.

All hell broke loose the moment we heard the massive war cry from the horde of bandits, everyone ducking or racing for cover to be safe as bandits started to come out of the forest like cockroaches. I was stuck on the ground near the gate opening, but I also knew well enough that getting up was suicide, as I would have then been one of the first ones to be shot at. Instead, I shuffled enough around until I was on my belly, firing out of the crack in the gate to anyone who dared come towards it while Travis immediately dropped to my side to avoid being shot at. Just as I was beginning to worry about not having enough bullets to handle everyone coming in, I heard several other guns cock behind me and two or three shots sailed over me and Travis' heads to nail another lot of bandits.

"Get over here, we've got you covered!" Mark called for the both of us to get to safety, as we were the last ones to be in harm's way, as everyone else had taken the momentary chaos to run for something more secure than my strategy of firing out of the gate. In the brief respite we had been given, me and Travis practically sprinted for the other side of the RV, with Mark, Glenn, Carley and Lilly still firing at the bandits that dared to poke their heads out of the woods.

Skidding around the RV, I came face to face with Shawn struggling to get Mr. Parker and his bulky wheelchair into the RV, while Kenny was struggling to reload his rifle. While everyone else did seem to have some semblance of an idea on what to do, unlike their in game counterparts, I knew I had to step in before everything fell apart.

"Kenny, give me that, I need you to get that RV working so that we can leave here!" I commanded him, and he readily handed over his rifle to me, with my slightly calmer hand managing to actually get the bullets inserted correctly after Lilly's intense training with me. "Where's Doug, I need him working on that engine"

"Already working on it!" Doug called out from only a couple of steps away, him carefully sticking his head out around the front of the RV to tinker away in the engine block. "I might need some help later on though!"

"Alright, good" I was thankful for that, shifting a little out of the way so that Kenny could both assist with getting Mr. Parker inside the RV and with getting the vehicle started. "Shawn, once you're done in there, I need you to get Maybelle and Bramble into the RV. Travis, do you know how to shoot a gun?"

"Uh, loosely, I think? I never got enough training to-

"Then I'm going to have to shift you to the person who grabs all of our supplies out of Lilly's room" I gave him something to do, and he already shot off into her room before I could even hammer home that it was important for him to do it immediately. "Larry, Katjaa, Clem, where are you guys?!"

"They're here!" Duck called for me on the right side of the RV, him crouched low to the ground but still occasionally taking a shot around the right side to make sure that nothing really got too far into our grounds. True to what he had said, Larry, Katjaa and Clem had gotten trapped behind the couch that had been shuffled to the right of the RV, as the majority of our gun wielding members had naturally stayed on the left side once they had to run for cover. "The walkers are coming in too!"

"Aim for the bandits first, only hit the walkers if it's an emergency!" I yelled that part loud enough so that everyone in the motel could hear me, before I shuffled into a spot right next to Duck, and gave him one more order in a softer tone. "Make your shots count"

Duck didn't even have to affirm that with me, firing one more bullet around the corner and managing to hit a bandit who had decided to stick his head up around the fence. With both me and Duck now covering the right side, Katjaa deemed it safe enough for the three of them to dash back to safety.

"Mom, I'm so scared!" Clementine nearly proceeded to give me another heart attack with her sudden choice to call me mum, and I just smiled at her and gave her the best (Yet also the quickest) hug I could manage under the circumstances. She still looked scared out of her wits, but she seemed to at least get some hope out of me hugging her, which cleared her mind that small amount that I needed. "Do you want me to shoot as well?"

"No darling, I want you to go and find Ben for me" I explained to her, only really taking my attention off her for a split second to stick my rifle around the corner and nail one of the walkers that had gotten a little close to the fence for my liking. "I'm a little worried-

It seemed that my worry was completely unfounded, as in the following second Ben let himself be known by storming out of Lilly's room. In his right hand was one of the firecrackers that I and Kenny had mysteriously found in the drug store, and in his left was a lighter. Almost immediately I recognised what he was going to do, and quickly mimed to both Duck and Clementine, who happened to be looking at me at the time, to cover their ears. With a hefty throw behind his long arms, he soon sent the alight firecracker sailing over the fence, before it exploded violently near the beginning of the forest where a number of bandits had been congregating.

"That was for Seth, you pricks!" Ben shouted angrily at the vast number of bandits that were still outside, surprising me with just how angry he truly could be with someone who mistreated him. There only was one other time in the game that he even dared to speak back to someone in a disrespectful manner, and that was against Kenny in the final episode (If he survived the events of the fourth episode) of the first season, so to say that it took me by surprise to see him throwing fireworks in anger like they were Molotov cocktails was a severe understatement.

"Ben, god damn it, get your ass in here!" Travis finally had the sense to come get Ben before the latter was going to throw more fireworks over the fence, literally coming to drag him away by his letterman jacket into the RV.

Only a second after that fiasco, I heard a noise of a cow mooing in a startled manner, with Shawn racing over to the RV with Bramble in his arms. The magic seemingly hadn't vanished yet, with Maybelle quickly keeping pace with Shawn and eventually clambering into the main cabin of it. The entire vehicle dipped heavily as it took on her extra weight, but it still held firm, and hopefully it was going to hold firm for a long while.

"Prim, I really need your help now!" Doug called for me before long, and I decided that it was time for the others to all get inside as well if we were going to be getting out of there anytime soon. I quickly made hand gestures to everyone still outside of the RV to get inside, which left only me, Doug and Lilly still outside to get the vehicle running and taking care of the walkers still shambling inside. With Lilly keeping an eye on the left of the RV while I took care of the right, I tried my best to jump between Doug and stopping any of the walkers from reaching us. "I've looked over everything in here, but it's still not going"

As if to accentuate his point, Kenny tried to twist the keys and start it up again, but there was only futile spluttering before the engine stalled. I wasn't sure what ethereal being told Doug that I was the right person for the job, but I knew more about engines than the average person from my college friend Michael who had specifically been going into vehicle engineering.

"There's rust on the battery terminal here" I quickly pointed to the greenish-blue fuzz covering the positive terminal on the battery, and thankfully Doug was smart enough to tell Kenny to quit trying the engine to not potentially fry him. Stabbing at the fuzz with his awl in the hopes that was all we needed to free up, I held my breath once it was mostly clear and when Doug gave Kenny the signal to try again, as there was always the chance that something was going to go wrong. It was only a temporary fix as it was, just barely enough to get our group to the train and on our way to Savannah, but it was still anxiety inducing.

With an almighty roar, the RV sprung into life, shaking furiously like it was a proud beast that we had managed to awake from its slumber. Both I and Doug quickly gave each other a triumphant look as we rushed to get inside, feeling like we had somehow hit the jackpot due to getting it working, even though Kenny had technically been the one to do more work on the actual vehicle.

"Lilly!" I hurriedly called for her on the upper balcony the moment I reached the door to the RV, leaving enough room for Doug to slip in first before I stood on the bottom step in wait for her. The moment she was free to do so, she turned tail and thundered down the set of stairs next to her in an effort to reach us in time. I could just barely feel the RV reverse suddenly in preparation for ramming through one particularly weak part of the wall, and my heart nearly soared into my throat when I saw her trip over the final steps of the stairs. That wasn't enough to stop her however, as she powered through whatever pain that had caused to her foot to reach out for my hand, and I just barely managed to pull her inside and shut the door to the RV as we heard another lot of bandits come storming out of the woods. "Go!"

Kenny slammed his foot on the accelerator the moment I told him to leave, the RV violently surging forward and nearly knocking a number of people off balance with the sudden shift in speed, me and Lilly included. He didn't really have time to apologise before the massive vehicle crashed through a wooden part of our fence, but it certainly made getting off the floor (And for Lilly to get off me) a lot harder.

But on the bright side, another fit from Larry because of vaguely gay interactions between me and his daughter was hardly anything compared to the complete feeling of victory soaring through my veins, especially so when I took the time to look around at everyone still being safe and sound around me. We had made it out of arguably the most dangerous thing for the first season, and we were out on open road. Now... We only had one problem remaining, and that was to find out who had tried to make a deal with those bandits.

Chapter Text

For a moment nobody really spoke, a collective high in the air from the skill (And likely a healthy dose of luck) that allowed us to escape with our lives. It couldn't last however, as Larry still felt it necessary to yell at me because of my proximity to his daughter.

"Get off my daughter! Getting us out of that dangerous situation doesn't permit you to fondle whoever you please!" Larry angrily hovered over the both of us, apparently being completely blind as he was unable to see that it had been Lilly who had landed on me, and not the other way around. Part of me considered telling him to shove a sock in it, but I also knew that taking such a tone with him would make our following discussion that much harder, so I had to settle for sighing in annoyed tone instead.

"Give it a rest dad" Lilly came to my defence like always, as if she was intended to be my guardian angel just to ensure I didn't have to deal with her father. Once the R.V. came to a more regular tempo, Lilly could finally manage to clamber off me and give me a hand so that we were supporting ourselves in the middle of the walkway rather than on the floor. "Unfortunately guys, our problems don't exactly end here. Someone had been poking through our supplies, and I'm quite certain that wasn't an accident"

"...Wait, are you serious?" Mark asked, shifting himself uncomfortably on Doug's lap on one of the couches, where he unfortunately had to plant himself down when the R.V. sped off. Doug didn't look too bothered with it, but it likely wouldn't have been his first choice for who was supposed to sit there. "You don't think it's one of us, do you?"

Lilly's word spread around the group in a confused murmur, with several people looking utterly surprised that we would even think one of them had done something to jeopardise the motel. The uncertainty and fear in their eyes was only exacerbated by the fact that me, Lilly and Larry were the only ones hovering in the walkway, which made us tower over everyone else. For a moment the clear hurt in people’s eyes made Lilly hesitate, looking for approval in my eyes to see if I had actually found anything conclusive. Part of me considered just saying that I hadn't with the idea of having to kick out one of our members, especially if that person turned out to be someone I had taken great lengths to save... Or just simply from the fact I loved them too much.

...But under the same rules I had made for the killing the St. John brothers, keeping someone in the group who would continually cave under the pressure and give us away to enemies was going to be not only a nuisance later on, it might even grow to something where their choice truly would kill someone. With regret in my eyes, I had to nod to Lilly that I had found enough to proof that something had been going on.

"Prim and I looked through our heavy-duty medical supplies around lunchtime after she, Travis and Kenny came back from their supply run. Someone had been poking through there, and I sent Prim out with the intention to find out who had been doing so" Lilly explained it as shortly as she could, likely itching to actually hear what I had found. She was interrupted by Clementine however, who clearly was still stuck in the school rules of raising her hands before she could ask a question. "What is it Clementine?"

"What if a bandit snuck in while we were sleeping and looked through them?" Clementine offered a possible solution for us not to press anyone about the truth, as she likely was just as unhappy with having to punish someone in our group about this. As much as it was a valiant effort, Lilly and I regretfully had to turn it down.

"I was on watch the entire night with Mark" Lilly sighed softly, obviously wishing just like I had that she could take that easy way out. Several others turned their heads to the other person who had been on watch with her, and Mark had to shake his head to say that no bandits had managed to sneak in. "Besides, if a bandit really did look through our supplies I doubt they would have left them there without taking anything"

"What if... What if they had looked through our supplies while we were all at the St. John dairy?" Shawn also tried to offer some alternative, trying to softly calm down Maybelle and Bramble who had laid down in the middle of the walkway. So far neither of them seemed to be particularly upset or unsettled, which was a god send. Oh how I wished I could have just taken that option...

"We didn't actually have any heavy-duty medical supplies before the dairy or the station wagon" I countered Shawn's argument, as I felt it was unfair to just leave it all to Lilly, inevitably making her the bad guy in the situation. She immediately noticed this, and let me know just how grateful she was by looking at me with a tender look in her eyes and a gentle touch to the inside of my elbow. "And that also doesn't explain the idea on why they wouldn't have taken anything"

Shawn's shoulders slumped once he realised there truly was no getting around it, and several other people started to tense along with him once they realised it truly had been someone in our fifteen. It was painful to see them suspect each other, to begin to think that there was someone who they couldn't trust anymore... But it was even more painful to realise that my thinking was going along those same lines.

"When I investigated with Duck, there was a sign on the left side of the motel that pointed out towards the woods, which I really don't think we would have done for each other in our group. The sign was painted in pink chalk, which Duck had also found near the entrance of the motel, where I then looked with Travis when he came along and offered to help" I regretfully had to start listing the amount of things I had found, watching with a heavy heart as the shock truly set in that someone really had betrayed us.

"Oh yeah, there was that grate that had the cover broken off" Travis essentially confirmed that I had truly been looking there, as he then brought along the next news of what we had found. "Nothing was actually in there though, as if someone was really mad at it"

"Someone had made a deal with the bandits, and when they didn't get their first shipment it pissed them off greatly" I concluded everything, feeling an overhanging dread over me with the fact that I didn't actually have anything that would point me to who had done it. My best bet at that point was in the hopes that someone would spill the beans out of regret for causing the situation and because they felt pressured by the fact we knew so much. "It's possibly also why they were lying in wait for me and Travis outside of the gate, where we got taken hostage"

"Did you find anything to tell you about who it was?" Carley had to ask that question, as it only made sense for her not to want someone innocent to be plastered with the false title of traitor.

"...No, I didn't find anything that tells me who it is" I sighed softly as I had to tell them that, which left everyone in the lurch.

"Of course you didn't! Why am I not surprised in the slightest?!" Larry of course had to go and provide his ever unhelpful opinion on everything, which made several of the others come to my defence by telling Larry to shove it. "It's probably those new stupid teenagers"

"What?! Why does it have to be us?!" Travis was outraged at the notion that it was either him or Ben, but his outrage was nowhere near as fuming Ben was with the accusation, which seemed to take a number of people by surprise.

"Screw you, you old bastard! We'd never ally ourselves with those people even if our lives depended on it!" Ben looked like he was fully prepared to throw more firecrackers if need be to get Larry off their backs, his spunky attitude surprising Doug who was right beside him so much that Mark nearly tumbled off his lap from the sudden jump that Doug gave. It likely had to be down to the fact that the bandits had severely mistreated their old group, so the mere notion of working with them was horrendous to either boy. Mr. Parker, on the other hand, was very silent for some reason. "Considering how much you seem to hate people here, I wouldn't be surprised to find that it's you!"

A storm of arguing started to happen between several people (It was mainly just everyone versus Larry, but that doesn't matter all that much), with many people coming up with reasons for why it couldn't be them. I sighed heavily at the fact that the majority of the reasons were angling towards emotional commitment to the group rather than concrete evidence, which wasn't actually helping them at all. With a tense hand on Lilly's own one for support; I started to phase out all of the arguing to tick off people in my mind for who it had to be.

I knew it couldn't have been the children, as I had trained Clementine and Duck first thing in the morning and the two of them were monitored by adults their entire waking moments. Glenn was another one I could tick off, as he had been asleep in my bed the entire night and I was unlikely to doze through him getting out of bed for an hour to get supplies and hide them. Lilly and myself could also be taken off, as there was no way Lilly would have even alerted me to the missing supplies if it was her and I couldn't be on it because... Well, that one was obvious.

But even with those five, which were the only ones I could take off without a doubt in my mind, there still was ten people in our group who could have made the deal. The only thing I had to go on was the fact that Ben had been the one in the game to do it, but it both didn't feel right to point the finger at him because there was nothing pointing to him and because the alternate reality might have changed things around as to who actually did the deed.

...I had absolutely nothing. There was nothing that was going to tell me who was going to put my group in danger, and it felt like a goddamn noose that was slowly tightening around my neck. The biggest problem with that was the fact I had no idea how I was supposed to undo this noose, and it only made my anxiety spike through the roof.

But if I had thought that was bad, Kenny's following words from the drivers cabin only skyrocketed that fear into space.

"Prim, did you happen to have a dream about who it might have been?" Kenny somehow managed to find a lull in the arguing going on with everyone else, and somehow the universe seemed to have attuned it so sharply so that now everybody had heard that.

"Dreams? Wait a minute, what do you mean by dreams?" Doug asked both Kenny and me, his eyes snapping between me and our driver respectively to figure out which one of us was going to speak first and explain ourselves. He wasn't the only one, everyone having their attention zeroed in on him, me, or possibly even both. Even though I didn't have a mirror, I could distinctly feel that my face was blanching several degrees, which was already doing enough to make the others all wonder if Kenny was telling them the truth. My scrambled mind struggled to look for some other fib that would cover both this and Kenny's belief that I was clairvoyant, but long before I found anything even remotely believable Kenny found his words first.

"Prim told me that she can sometimes see things in dreams that come true in the future" Kenny fully dug my figurative grave without realising it, everyone's attention no longer focusing on him but over to me and my very startled eyes. "Sorry Prim, I know you probably didn't want to tell others out in the open, but this is important enough to warrant it I think"

...Me and my big stupid, colossally idiotic, fucking mouth.

"You see things in dreams?" Shawn still felt the need to double-check with me Kenny's information, and some frightened part of my brain latched onto his sentence, looking for some way out.

"I, uh- I don't... Um, that's-

"What in the actual hell made you believe something idiotic like that?!" Larry began to shout again, drowning out my attempts to deny the accusation against me, and the added shouting just frightened my thoughts further like some animal that was cornered. "If anything, that just makes me believe that she's absolutely insane!"

"Now hold on a second, maybe there's a reasonable explanation for it" Carley spoke up next, several others nodding their heads in agreement that it likely was down to a extreme set of coincidences rather than anything else. One particular little girl in our group began to look like she was thinking really hard however; her soon to be words completely shattering what remained of my chances of denying anything. "Dreams can be confusing things, maybe Prim had a dream that had some points about what had happened that day, and maybe she just confused herself on when she had-

"The man in the picture"

Everyone suddenly paid attention to those simple words that Clementine said, her standing up and walking over to me until she could zip open one of my millions of pockets, specifically the one that contained the family picture of the Everett's. My confused state was enough that I was just too slow in swatting her hands away, and before I realised it she had pulled out the one part of the picture that only contained Lee in a permanent memory of time.

"This was the man you met in my backyard" Clementine suddenly started to fit some pieces of the puzzle together, specifically some parts that I hadn't even thought about before. "When you first introduced yourself to him it was as if you didn't know each other, but when he got killed by Sandra... You suddenly talked as if he was a friend you knew for a long time"

Carley, being just able to see a glimpse of the picture from behind Clementine, gently reached forward and took the picture from her to inspect it closer. It didn't take a genius to figure out that she was the worst person to look at it, as she had reported on his court case, and she had also coincidentally been the one to check up on me when I had originally ripped the picture in the drug store.

"...This is Lee Everret, a history professor who had been convicted of killing a state senator who had slept with his wife" Carley uttered, completely confused on how on earth I could have made friends with a convicted criminal. But even more, she was likely confused on how I could have made friends with someone who had never introduced themselves to me before. "He's also the son of the owners of the drug store we had stayed at three months ago"

"Did... Did he just forget who you were?" Shawn once again offered me another out, but another small detail I had told someone made that idea impossible. "Or maybe she heard the local news about him?"

"No, that's not possible, Prim said she was from Britain" Kenny countered the idea from the drivers cabin, and with each sentence passing me by I had no possible response before someone else would pile on another thing that made me stand out. "She did mention having friends here that she sees from a computer screen, but I doubt that someone would not be able to remember who she is once she introduced herself. Her name is quite unusual here after all"

"But knowing someone before she's even met them sounds less like clairvoyance and more like... I don't know, a time traveller?" Glenn felt he had to say, as of course there was no such thing as a person who was friends with someone they had never met before. While in any other situation most people would have called the suggestion idiotic (Larry was still likely to call me that after the day was done), people begun to think a little more along someone who had experienced things once before... And suddenly several lightbulbs began to go off all at once.

"...Prim was suspicious of the St. John brothers from the moment she met them" Mark of course went with the one that he knew the best, and everyone was soon supplying their own weird interactions with me after Mark was done with his. "Primrose is the kindest person I've ever met in my life, so much so that she saved me, Ben, Travis and Mr. Parker despite not knowing anything about them... Yet somehow the people with the best first impression, the brothers, were ringing her alarm bells"

"Speaking of them, on the way to their farm, she somehow already knew the fact that my father was special forces without me even having to tell her" Travis remembered his own interaction, soon looking over to his best friend who also had one that Travis could add onto the list. "Not to mention the fact she knew Ben's name in the clearing where the bear trap was on Mr. Parker's leg, despite the fact there's nothing on him that would tell her that"

My head snapped to Ben, noticing that Travis was completely correct in his deduction, as my initial plan for a lie wasn't an option because Ben's letterman jacket had no name imprinted on it unlike Travis'. In fact, it looked like there had been a name on Ben's jacket, but it had been scratched out sometime after the dead started to walk, with now only an unrecognisable amount of jagged lines and thread there to indicate it had been there at all.

"She was surprised when I came to her rescue in the drug store the first time she had been under attack by a walker, and for some reason her eyes had gone to Carley at the time with a confused look in her eyes" Doug own interaction was something I hadn't even remembered doing, subconsciously looking for Carley when I had been saved by Doug instead, as it had always been her in the game.

"She knew exactly how to operate the radio I had asked her to help me with, knowing that it somehow had no batteries without even having to check the backside" Carley pointed out another flaw in my so called perfect plan of lying to the others, and at this point I was beginning to wonder if I had managed to even keep up the illusion correctly for anyone in the group. "Most people would fiddle around with the power button and volume first, you'd think, but she just asked Shawn for the batteries he had found without even touching the radio as though she just... Knew what was wrong before I had even asked"

"She somehow knew that someone was going to come to our rescue when we stopped in the middle of Macon, despite never even having been there from Kenny's description of her living in Britain" Katjaa also was another person who realised something was wrong, but even she didn't have much time before someone else came along with a different one.

"Like the radio, when we were going out to rescue Glenn she was able to know that there was an object around a brick wall before she had even looked around it" Doug was next, with not just one, but two monumental failures. "And in that very same place, she knew that the girl we were trying to rescue from the upstairs room was bitten long before we had even talked to her"

"She also told me that she thought that me and Katjaa were married, being so shocked that she literally asked me if I was in a relationship with her at one point" Kenny was unsurprisingly also just now discovering that the idea of time traveller fit better with what had happened so far with everyone. "We had laughed it off at the time as her wanting to know if I was available... But now that I think about it, she was really unsettled by it for some reason"

...Not one, nor two, but a whopping total of ten different mistakes were mentioned by them all. Not only that, but these likely weren't even everything that they could remember, these ones just being the very weirdest that stood out or the ones that first popped in their heads. When I finally managed to force my eyes to turn and look at Lilly's, it was obvious by something in her eyes that there was at the very least an eleventh one.

"...You got us to prepare for bandits two months before there even were signs of them existing" Lilly only really had one to go on, but it was still enough for her to realise that this was one hundred percent serious. Somehow her realising the mistakes I had made was more difficult than all of the others, and her comment (As well as Larry's following outburst) caused the dam to break inside me and be unable to hide the truth.

"What nonsense! Seeing the future?! Being a time traveller?!" Larry shouted loud enough to make the majority of our group flinch, as well as causing Maybelle to let out a startled moo from the sudden volume increase that was coming from him. "There's no such-

"IT'S A GAME!!" I finally reached my limit and shouted that loud enough to overshadow even Larry's intense volume, causing any attention to fall back onto me, with only the truth to get me out of this mess I had gotten myself into. "...It's a game. In my world, everything that's been happening in the last three months is a video-game"

Chapter Text

"...I'm sorry, come again?" Glenn was the first one to speak up after my outburst, apparently finding the notion of his entire reality being a video game too outlandish. I suppose I couldn't blame him for that belief, as it was honestly more reality breaking than the idea of a time traveller, as at least with that one your world actually was supposed to exist. Even so, I didn't waver on my determination and simply crossed my arms over my chest to show that I was serious. Suddenly switching tactics back over to the time travelling one would just make them trust me less, and I had to desperately claw back whatever trust I had after that bombshell. "Prim, I love a good video game as much as you do, but you have to admit that idea is a little out there"

"More out there than the idea that I'm some kind of time traveller?" I tested him with a frown on my face, which already made him retract his idea the moment he realised my point. He was the one who had suggested that I was from the future after all, so it really made me a little annoyed to see that he was now rejecting the truth, as much as I could partly understand that it was an outlandish claim. But no matter how much I looked around at the eyes of my group, I couldn't find anyone who really believed it, which meant that for at least a little while I would have to be completely honest in what I knew. "I'll prove it to you guys. In a couple of seconds, Kenny is going to hit a walker that's shambling in the middle of the road"

The universe threw me a bone this time by immediately responding to my words, as literally after my words a loud thud came from the front of the R.V. that was accompanied by the startled 'Shit!' that came from Kenny at the same time.

"Everything alright up there?" Lilly asked Kenny, even though I could tell by her slightly startled look in my direction that she was just starting to understand what I was capable of. Even though the answer should have been obvious what Kenny had just hit, everyone seemed to lean forward either in their seats or where they stood to hear Kenny's following words.

"I think I hit a walker!" Kenny grumbled, realising that I was exactly right in what I had predicted. "We're going to have to stop for a second to make sure it didn't damage too much"

"Perfect" I admitted in a non-sarcastic manner for once, finding the timing actually quite well to get some fresh air to finally sort this out with everyone else. The moment the R.V. slowly came to stop, I moved my hand and popped open the door before preparing to move out. "Anyone who doesn't want to be present for the talk we're going to have right now is allowed to stay in here if they want, I won't blame you"

I was the first one out of the R.V., taking in deep breaths of air of the crisp night air to calm myself down with the ensuing chaos that was going to be happening. Sure, convincing them that I was telling the truth was going to be hard, but there was also the added difficulty with actually somehow being allowed to remain with them despite sounding like a raving lunatic.

After what felt like too short of a time, I turned around to notice that almost everyone had piled out of the R.V. to join me on the sidewalk, the only ones not doing so being Katjaa and the two kids (The latter of which actually were sort of present, as they were nervously sitting on the steps just inside the R.V.). Even Mr. Parker came out with the others, Ben, Travis and Shawn struggling to get his bulky wheelchair out of the vehicle without dropping him entirely onto the pavement. Maybelle and Bramble didn't really see the need to follow us out, instead curiously poking their heads around the shoulders of the kids to keep an eye on me and Shawn.

"Kenny's going to tell us to keep our eyes peeled" I quite easily recalled the line of dialogue that was going to follow after that, turning my head slightly to notice that said man was already at the front of the vehicle checking out the walker that had gotten trapped underneath the vehicle. His mouth was half open when I had already spoken, him looking very startled by the fact that I could easily beat him in whatever he had been planning to say. With a very confused look in his eyes, he slowly closed his mouth and shook his head before focusing entirely on the walker underneath the vehicle. Turning back to the others, I sighed softly before I steeled myself for whatever probing questions they no doubt would have. "So, I'm assuming you have questions"

"That's putting it lightly" Doug returned my sigh, scratching the back of his head as he struggled to think about what he was supposed to really ask me about. It was a dilemma that the others seemed to have as well, as this likely had been their first and only chance to talk to someone who truly could predict their futures. "To be honest, I don't think something like this would be a video game in the first place, you know? Most zombie games are about shooting zombies and trying to find a cure, not... Not following around a group of strangers for over three months"

"I understand, to be honest I would have assumed so before I actually played the game myself" It still felt... Weird to mention the game so openly to them, and it was clear from the uncomfortable shifting and fidgeting from people such as Ben and Shawn that it wasn't just bothering me. "I guess the more accurate thing to refer to it as is like an interactive book, that happens to be controlled on some kind of machine that can play video games. Have any of you ever read those 'pick your own adventure' books?"

"Me! I have!" Duck excitedly joined the conversation, throwing his hand up to show that he was either a big fan of them or he was just unbothered with the idea of being from a video game. Clementine also softly nodded her head when I looked her way, which meant that she had. And even though there was far less people in the adult section of our group (Only Doug, Glenn and Travis were able to sort of raise their hands to say that they had read such a thing themselves), at the very least everyone knew the concept enough to be able to follow along with what I was saying.

"The games generally play like that, where the main character has a variety of options to pick out of, which determine their choices or what they say to the characters in the game. Over time, this decided who liked the main character or who hated them, and a big part of the game was also supposed to be the decisions that could save or kill some of the supporting cast, which would of course make sense in a world filled with walkers where the correct choices would keep people alive" I felt a strange sense of euphoria as I spoke about it, a natural sense of happiness and excitement returning at the fact that they actually all were interested with my love for the games. Any time I had spoken to my college "friends" about it in the past, it had always been brushed off as me being "weird" or "obsessed" with the series, all of which made me slowly over time retract in on myself and never talk about the games ever again. But even though I wanted to talk for hours with the members of my group about it, I knew it still had to be difficult for them to hear all this information, so I curbed my excitement for a moment. "But, well... As much as I love the games very dearly, there was a big flaw with them. Due to the extra amount of time and effort it would take to make it all work exactly as intended in a video game compared to a book, this meant that after a while the developers started to take... Shortcuts"

"What kind of shortcuts?" Travis had to ask, as he no doubt was not satisfied with an answer that skimped on details. I knew he was the kind of guy to ask further, as was Lilly, Carley and several others, but I still somehow wanted to give them that out in case they were frightened of the answer it would bring.

"After a while, it became obvious to players that our choices actually didn't make as much impact as we were originally led to believe" I sighed, still just as disappointed with admitting that truth to myself then as it was when I had first figured it out. "Sure, our words still held some weight as the characters would still come to like or dislike us down to our choices... In the first season anyway, but I digress. We could get people to like or dislike us as we pleased, but the other really important part of the choices... Well..."

"Oh god" Shawn was the first to have the light-bulb go off in his head, with others slowly catching on with him as they pondered over it a little bit more to themselves. He looked understandably horrified with the idea he had in his head over what I was talking about, even if he had never played the game himself, it was still a petrifying realisation. "You couldn't actually make choices to save people"

"Exactly" I nodded my head as my heart lurched like the time it had first realised that I couldn't save characters, it being as painful as it was when I freshly felt that emotion. And how ironic it was at the time that Shawn, the very first character to do that to my heart, was the one to realise it first. "It first started with a single character, where we were given a choice to try and save them... Only to have that choice essentially be useless, as they died anyway. This then grew to other characters, before eventually it grew to such an extent that... No choice to save people's lives truly mattered"

My eyes once again did their subconscious thing by flitting over several faces of my group the more I talked, horrifying each person I looked at (With the exception of Clementine and Duck, who seemed to be a bit slower to get the implications of what I was implying) as they realised I was. It first started with Shawn before it moved on to Glenn, then zipping past practically everyone in order. Doug and Carley, Mr. Parker, Travis, Mark, Larry, Lilly, Duck... Only once my head turned to try and find Kenny did I realise that he had long since been done with the walker under the R.V., and he gently held one of my hands in his when he realised that I was looking for him exactly because he too had a way of dying without me being able to help him.

His hand was so warm against the cold night air, a strong signifier that he still was there with me. He was real, so much more than I could have imagined in my old life. Despite the slight confused feelings that were still present in his eyes, the warmth in his hands and his eyes was enough to remind me of why I had even wished to save them all in the first place, the entire reason why I was there.

"I know this'll sound completely outlandish, but I have nothing else that can prove it other than my words. In my world, I was spending time with my college friends out one night, and we saw a meteor. My drunks friends being as stupid as they were, said that we should wish upon it like it was a shooting star, and I followed suit because I didn't see the harm in it" I finally decided to take the plunge and admit to them on how I had even gotten in that reality in the first place, even though I still had no idea on how I had managed it myself. "I... I wished that I could somehow save you guys, all of you, and give you the happy ending you guys deserved. I still to this day don't know how I managed to do it, but when I went to sleep that night I woke up in Clementine's backyard"

"But what about the man in the picture? Was he not one of the choices in the game?" Clementine asked me softly from her perched spot on one of the steps to the R.V., which made me softly grimace at the memory of losing Lee not just once, but twice.

"No, he wasn't really one of the choices in the game. Like I mentioned before, the game had a main character that the player could control and influence to do things, and some of these things would be certain actions to defend them against a walker should they attack the main character" I sighed, holding out my empty hand for the picture of Lee that Carley was still clutching in her fingers. With a slight look of uncertainty in her eyes, she handed it back to me, clearly still unsure about what this was supposed to mean. "Lee was the main character, and I completely forgot that he would need my help to survive the first walker he encountered... It was precisely because of him that I was so intent on making sure nobody else would die a needless death like he did. He's the only one I've lost out of the characters I cared about in the game, but I still wanted to carry his picture around as a reminder of what could go wrong if I didn't pay attention"

My words clearly were heavy enough for the others to pause and consider what on earth they were going to do next. There were several options for them all, whether it came to leaving me behind on the side of the road, taking me with them or deciding to shoot me because of how insane I sounded (That last option I was kind of hoping wasn't passing through their minds), but somehow I was at peace. Even if they chose to have nothing else to do with me, it was still far better a reality for them than the one they were originally going to face, and it was much more of a choice than to simply die as the game told them to.

...But my peace was short lived the moment I heard the sound of a gun being drawn on someone. In the split second I had to act my brain defaulted to either Carley or Doug being in danger from Lilly, as impossible as that sounded in this reality, and I got proven immediately wrong when I looked over to Lilly right next to me and noticed that she was completely unarmed. That wasted my split second, and soon I heard a horrified shout from the very same woman I had decided to stare at.

"DAD, NO!"

A gun fired immediately after those words were shouted out to us, and a second later I could feel the bullet tear through my skin accompanied by a searing pain running down my left side. My body proceeded to do the opposite of what I would do in any other emergency situation, letting go of both the picture of Lee and Kenny's hand before my body seemed to shut down for a moment and collapse onto the hard ground behind me.

"Jesus Christ!" Kenny was naturally the first to register that something had happened to me as I had been standing directly next to him, him immediately crouching down on the ground to help me in whatever way he could. My body was still struggling to come to terms with the pain flaring up and the realisation of even being shot that I could only barely make out the rest of the guys and Carley charging off in the direction of Larry behind Kenny's head, as well as some startled mooing coming from the R.V. "Oh shit, that doesn't look good. Katjaa! Katjaa get out here, Prim needs you!"

Everything was steadily becoming harder and harder to focus on in the background, the explosive cocktail of adrenaline, pain and shock making it impossible to focus on everything going on around me. The most I could focus on at the time was myself, finally managing to get some control back in my body to be able to look down at my injury. Right on my left abdomen Kenny held a portion of my stomach under his hands, pressing tightly against the skin there that was slowly leaking blood onto his hands. Only a moment later another pair of hands appeared with a first aid kit placed beside my knee for easily availability.

"Kenny, I need you to move your hands" Katjaa calmly instructed Kenny to remove his hands, despite the fact that she looked very unsettled with the idea of having to dig out the bullet out of my stomach right there and then. My brain slowly started to come back to me, registering fully that it was her there, as well as being able to make out the sound of arguing and struggling in the background. "Kenny"

Kenny shook his head almost subconsciously, likely fearful of actually learning of how bad the injury was the moment he would have to take his hands away. It was only when I gently placed one of my hands on his that he seemed to snap out of his fearful state, looking down at me and then over at Katjaa, still in some kind of fear. With trepidation, he finally let go of my stomach, revealing to me and Katjaa that it in fact wasn't even directly over my stomach but at the side of my waist. The moment she and I could spy the injury we both sighed in relief, my passing knowledge from Alex and her veterinary degree being enough that we could tell that the injury was nowhere near fatal.

"You never were good at recognising how bad injuries were" Katjaa was happily able to laugh at how over-dramatic Kenny had been, grabbing out a single gauze pad and placing it against my injury before affixing it to my skin with some patches of medical tape. "This, while admittedly bleeding quite a bit for its size, is nothing more than a graze"

"...Oh" Kenny said the single word, before suddenly releasing the biggest breath of air like he had been holding his breath the entire time, his blanching face and nervous demeanour finally leaving him once it was out in the open that I was safe. Even though I was safe, he still felt it necessary to wrap my shoulders in a hug, holding me close to him as I gently laughed despite the pain. "Christ, don't ever do that to me again"

"Let go of me damn it!"

Once everything was sorted with me, Kenny and Katjaa, I finally had the time and energy to focus on what was going on in the background. Larry, like he had shouted about, had been besieged by almost every adult remaining in the group (Minus Mr. Parker and Ben, who were wisely deciding to not jump into the fray), several people wrestling with his large stature and bulky arms. The very first person that drew my attention was Lilly, who was struggling to pry a gun out of her father’s right hand, her entire body being used to angle the gun away from me any further, into the forest. If the absolute struggle she was putting up was anything to go by, the entire reason I had gotten a graze and not a new hole in my head was entirely down to her, likely leaping upon his arm the moment he had drawn it out.

"Drop the gun!" Shawn also was on the right arm with Lilly, but much further up on the limb to assist Lilly in making sure that the limb couldn't angle back towards the group. Even though he and Mark were both on the right arm with Lilly (While Doug, Glenn, Travis and Carley were struggling with his left to make sure he wouldn't slug one of the people holding the right arm), the seven of them were still struggling to contain Larry and his massive stature. Granted, they were doing a far better job than what Lee and Kenny had ever managed in the game, but that was also because the former two attempted it on their own.

"Drop the gun before I have to hurt you!" Clementine brought everything to a close by sneaking out one of the pistols that she had sneakily taken off someone else in the group. Even though the wobble in her arms was obvious, it was enough for Kenny to copy her with a rifle that Duck brought out to him, which was far more threatening to Larry.

"I'm only going to warn you once" Kenny was the final person who had to threaten Larry, as the large man finally took stock of the situation he had gotten himself into. Not only were his arms mostly immobilised, but he now had two (One was a young child, admittedly, but he also knew that I had been training her on how to shoot a gun) people holding a gun to his head. With an obvious growl to his voice, he finally released his grip on the gun Lilly had been trying to get off him, and she hurriedly distanced herself from him once he had it. "What in the actual fucking hell do you think you were doing there?!"

"I'm more surprised by the fact you're willing to listen to that absolute bitch! Not only do you people accept the fact that she's a god damn lesbian, but now she's rambling about things like "her world" and us existing in some game of hers, and you still think she's telling the truth?!" Larry begun to go on another typical tirade, but this time his actions going with them was too far. Even after I had saved his life in the St. John dairy locker, he still was intent on seeing me dead in some hole, and he likely was just thinking that he was more likely to get away with it while I was already on shaky terms with everyone else. But if the absolute anger in everyone's eyes was anything to go by, he had severely miscalculated on how people would feel with him doing that. "Lilly, for Christ's sake, I've been trying to keep you safe from her but you seem to always defend her no matter what I do!"

"That's because I already knew she was into women for a long time! She told me in the very first month, and I am not bothered by it!" Lilly finally defended me in the terms of my sexuality, and I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders after so much time. She hadn't said anything approving or disapproving after I had told her of my bisexual and polyamorous side, so finally hearing that she still cared for me regardless was euphoric in every sense. "And by the way, the term for someone liking women and men is bisexual dad, not lesbian!"

"You... You knew?!" Larry seemed honestly taken by surprise with this revelation, somehow thinking in his head (Like Lilly did in the game) that telling her about my actual orientation would cause her to be disgusted with the fact I had lied about it. But unlike Lee, the actual truth of me being into men and women was nowhere near as heavy as killing a man before the walkers rose. "I don't understand, how can you not care?! I raised you differently!"

"Are you really surprised after all this time?! God, guess you never really did pay that much attention to me" Lilly let out a very long sigh before she turned to face me and shifted one of her hands around my waist while the other tightened around my back. She moved with such intensity that I didn't have much time to react, clinging onto her jacket as she dipped me like we were dancing at a ball rather than on the side of the road. It was only when she finally planted her lips on mine that I understood what she was doing, but I admittedly got more distracted by the soft sensation of her lips, floating away in a blissful stupor in her arms for a moment. When the warmth of her lips left I slowly got brought back into the real world, her lifting me up to my feet again and holding me tightly to her while she directed her anger back to her father. "Does that finally give it away, or do I need to make it more obvious for you?! There's no way a "lesbian" is going to infect your daughter, because your daughter already is one!"

Larry was completely left speechless, even more so than the time that I had told him to kiss my rear, and honestly that was just the icing on the cake for me. Not only was Lilly into me, but her father was absolutely in the wrong and he was getting his long outstanding comeuppance. It did occur to me and Lilly when we looked over to the others that a lot of them seemed surprised with the revelation of Lilly's sexuality, with the exception of Kenny and Travis, who were both wearing shit-eating grins at the realisation that they were right in their pronouncement of Lilly totally being into me.

"I told you so" Kenny was very smug on the fact he had picked it out before I had, with Duck also giggling a little in a way that seemed to say that he had foreseen it as well. Ah, that was right, he had said that I had 'girlfriends' (Note the plural, so he already knew beyond Carley that another woman was into me) when we were investigating earlier that day. "Now we just have to figure out who the person digging through the supplies is, and we can leave them behind with this bastard"

"I-

"It was me" Someone spoke up long before I could admit that I still didn't know who it was, even with my knowledge of the future, and I swivelled my head around to notice that it was...

"Mr. Parker?" Ben asked his teacher, utterly surprised to find out that it was him. Travis, while looking disappointed, didn't look nearly as upset as I thought he would be, which I suspected was still down to the fact his teacher had told him and Ben to "respect other people’s beliefs" when the brothers from the St. John dairy had accosted me and Carley for being into each other.

"Honestly, those bandits needed our supplies just as much as we did" Mr. Parker immediately started to give reasons for why we should have been polite to people attempting to kill us, which I felt like rolling my eyes at. Travis actually went ahead with rolling his eyes unlike my mere thoughts about it, a snarl obvious on his and Ben's face for putting not only the group in danger, but also because he was once again lecturing them on "reacting too harshly" to a situation that fully warranted the harsh reaction. "Besides, what do you mean you're going to leave behind Larry? He jumped the gun a bit, but you have to admit that Primrose is-

"David, listen to me good, because this is going to be the last time you speak to me and Ben like that" Travis interrupted Mr. Parker long before he could finish his long list of excuses and reasons for why he and Larry should have been allowed back onto the R.V., and it seemed like everyone else was quite fine with losing them. "You, are a god damn fence sitter. The worst kind of fence sitter, one who doesn't make a concrete decision either way, makes stupid decisions because they refuse to listen to others and then lectures people on when they actually get mad about something because you disagree with it"

"Don't speak to me with that-

"I don't care what kind of tone I speak to you with, you listen to me! You knew that Ben would be upset with those homophobic farmers, because Seth - One of your students might I add - Was his boyfriend before the bandits attacked! Not only did you shame Ben for getting upset for not wanting to be around those farmers, you then went behind everyone's back to the very bandits that killed our friends and Ben's boyfriend!" Travis finally let loose against his teacher after what must have been months of dealing with his self righteous attitude, and Ben seemed quite happy to let his friend go wild. "I don't know one hundred percent if Prim is telling us the truth, but even if she isn't telling the truth, I'd much rather be with her! She's kind and she's done her best to save everyone's lives when they're in danger! For all I care, you can stay here and rot!"

With that final statement to back everyone up, people started to file back on board, with Kenny, me, Travis and Lilly being the last ones to reenter. Lilly in a way to say goodbye for the last time to her father, Travis doing the same with Mr. Parker, while me and Kenny were simply there with weapons to ensure that neither one were to get on board... Which I suppose was a little overboard for Mr. Parker, as he still was in a wheelchair.

"You can't be serious!" Larry tried one final time to change his daughters mind, but she just frowned at him and crossed her arms. It was clear, shooting the person she loved was the final straw. There was no more place for someone like him in the world, no matter how well he had raised her.

"Travis, come on, be reasonable" Mr. Parker still attempted to persuade Travis, but the result was exactly the same as Larry trying to convince Lilly. "I'm in a wheelchair for Pete's sake! I have stumps from what the St. John brothers did to me, how am I supposed to get better with the groups medical supplies?"

"Why don't you ask the bandits?" Travis sarcastically responded to Mr. Parker's plea, obviously thinking along the lines that Mr. Parker shouldn't have done the crime if he couldn't do the time. "I'm sure they'll help you two out"

With that final piece of their minds fully said (Or not, in Lilly's case), they clambered into the R.V. and ushered for me to follow them in. With me slipping in just before Kenny also did, we moved around and found places to sit before Kenny drove off. As I softly pet Maybelle's head, who was quite happily rubbing her head against my leg as if to show how happy she was that I was safe, I looked out of the rear window for a brief moment as we lost two of our fifteen.

Part of me felt bad for leaving them behind, especially after I had admitted that I didn't want anyone beyond Lee getting hurt from the group, but the both of them were going to be a constant threat to us somehow (Even if you didn't count Larry's already combative nature before him shooting me), so I eventually turned my eyes away from them and back to my group that I loved so much. Everyone else was watching me, soft smiles on their faces once they saw me regard them with a smile, with even Bramble standing up on his spindly legs to come bump his head into my non-injured thigh in a show of happiness.

"So Prim, where to now?" Kenny called out to me in the back, a grin on his features now that I was back on my feet and leading the group once more. As always, he was in my corner, so I knew that the revelation of them being from a game would somehow work out for us all.

"If you continue along the road for another couple of hours, we'll come up to a train that's blocking the road" I announced my plans for the group well in advance, one hand of mine switching between patting Bramble and Maybelle, while the other loosely linked in one of Lilly's hands to show how happy I was to hear that she was picking me over her father. "Once we reach that, we'll figure things out together"

Chapter Text

After being essentially forced to fall asleep next to Maybelle and Bramble on the floor of the R.V. (As there was absolutely no space for me on the couches, that much was clear), I eventually got woken up once more by the sunlight streaming in through the windows like I had the previous day. A much better way of waking up than Lee, my memory reminding me that he had woken up after a nightmare in the game.

While it wasn't all that surprising to find that the majority of people sitting or lying around in the various chairs or against the table at the back were also asleep, I distinctly noticed that someone else had proceeded to join me and the cows in the walkway to sleep. Lilly was at peace, pressing her nose into the side of my neck as well as one of her hands gently being draped over the side of my left hip, as though she had wanted in some small way to keep an eye on the very minor injury I had received. It was times like these that I was reminded of how she was still taller than I was, her legs far extending beyond mine but still somehow finding a way to completely surround my back in her gentle embrace.

The small blissful moment didn't last too long however, as Maybelle and Bramble seemed to have some supernatural ability to detect when I was awake, before long being super interested in my face by either snuffling their noses against my cheek or licking my lips.

"Pfft! Maybelle, stop that!" I giggled in what I hoped was a quiet voice, and almost like an inquisitive puppy Maybelle kept going until I was essentially forced to gently separate myself from Lilly's embrace and get up. She still managed to quickly give me a light head bump to the hip before I moved off from the people and animals on the floor, which I returned with a good head scratch and then moving forward to the driver’s cabin to see if we had arrived at the train yet. From what I could initially tell, we hadn't, with Kenny still steering the vehicle forward with slight bags under his eyes from the long night. "Please tell me you haven't been awake the entire night driving this thing"

"Nah, Katjaa took over for about three hours" I was grateful to hear that Kenny wasn't being as stubborn and proud about providing for the group like he would in the game, but there was of course that small protective part of my own brain that was saying that three hours was still too little. Like Maybelle and Bramble, Katjaa did seem to possess some sort of knack for waking up exactly as I came along, possibly also because her name had been mentioned by Kenny. "We still haven't run into your train yet though, are you sure it's down this road?"

"If we encountered the walker that you hit last night, then I'm absolutely certain" I didn't waver in my confidence, the sounds of conversation between me and Kenny causing the others to steadily wake up behind me. Like the previous night, my words somehow seemed to be listened to by the universe, a vague outline of a black very large construct appearing in the distance from us. "Ah, here we are"

Lilly came to stand directly behind me as the R.V. came to a gentle stop, marvelling at the fact that I had been yet again right in my prediction.

"From here, there's only two options I can think of us in regards to where we are going now" I started to list some ideas the moment people started to gather our supplies and pile out of the R.V., as now I had every right to let them have a say in what we were going to do. "We can get this train working and take it all the way to Savannah, or we can completely ignore it and move onward down the road. Skipping Savannah in terms of the original story-line does mean that we avoid all of the problems in that city, but it also means we'll be missing out on a lot of people who can be invaluable later on"

"My parents are in Savannah too!" Clementine excitedly reminded me, which I acknowledged with a gentle pat on top of her hat. While the game certainly told the player that her parents were dead, it did not confirm when they had turned into walkers, so there was a slim glimmer of hope that we could save them if we got there fast enough.

"Plus there might be a boat that can carry all of us, granted it is big enough" Kenny did of course bring up one option that he would in the game, but something on my face must have told him that something was not quite right with that option. "Oh... Does the, uh, the game not end up with us finding a boat if we go there?"

"There is a boat, but it's barely big enough for four people" I had to give him the disappointing news, better earlier than much later on when he had gotten his hopes up high. For a moment he did seem to be upset with the news, but after a bit more consideration he seemed to fully grasp how many people would be left behind even if we had managed to use it. "It also gets stolen no matter what we did in the game, so it's kind of a moot point"

"But wouldn't that possibly be down to the fact the game just wouldn't allow you to make certain choices rather than the fact it is impossible?" Doug seemed to be adjusting to the admission of their reality being a game quite easily, unlike some who still either seemed unsure or unsettled by it. I did ponder his question for a bit, as it certainly was an interesting thing to observe, but it still didn't change the fact that the boat wasn't going to help us out. "Anyway, it sounds quite clearly like you're hoping that we will go there"

"I am. The people who we encounter on the way there or actually in the city will be amazing people to have in our group, and we still need to go to make sure that we look for Clementine's parents" I purposefully left out the part where I was having a heavy feeling that Clementine's parents weren't going to be alive when we arrived. From the sounds of the phone call in the beginning of not just the game, but also this reality, they had lost contact at least three months ago with the outside world and I honestly wasn't sure that a normal couple would have the skill (Or be lucky enough, as it often turned out) to survive that long.

"I guess we're going then, as I really don't think anyone here would want to leave you" Carley spoke for everyone in the group, smiling at me when I looked surprised at the fact they still didn't question my leadership. "Prim, in the worst case scenario you happen to be misled somehow about things being a game, but it still means that you have a knack and the kindness to keep everyone here safe. You've never led us wrong, which means that I trust you enough to follow your word regardless of whether you are from this world or not"

There was still that small bit of self-doubt in my mind, which meant that I still searched everyone's faces to make sure that they agreed with her. It seemed as if they did, everyone just giving me a smile back to reassure me that it was exactly as Carley proclaimed. For a moment it left me feeling very... Emotional, as I had never felt that amount of trust back in my old world from friends or family, which was a bit of a sad revelation. Nonetheless, their trust in me just made me want to strive harder to protect them all, which meant that we had to get back to work.

"What are your orders?" Mark cheekily asked me when he saw the fire return in my eyes, reminding me quite sharply of the fact that he was indeed trained in the military, as much as his occasional blundering attitude would give the impression otherwise.

"First of all, does anyone even remotely know about trains?" I asked them, and three hands raised somewhat unsurely. To my surprise it was Shawn, Mark and Ben, the three of them giving certain unsure looks to them as if they weren't completely sure in their abilities. "Alright, you three try and figure out how to get this train started. Take Travis with you, he could stand to learn a more varied skill set, which engines will be a big one"

"Shouldn't I be going with them? I know at least how to repair most vehicles, so it probably won't be that hard to apply it to this as well" Kenny offered his services the moment engines were concerned, but the dark circles under his eyes made me hesitant to constantly apply him to tasks until he crashed from exhaustion.

"You, along with Katjaa, need to be getting some more sleep" I tutted at him the moment he looked like he was going to protest the idea, directing him over to the small patch of overturned logs near the train for him to rest there. "No buts, part of being a good team member means getting enough rest and you haven't gotten enough of it. Duck, Clem, do you two think you can make sure that no walker or person sneaks up on us and make sure these two get their rest?"

"Yes ma'am!" Duck saluted me the moment I gave him something important to do, him excitedly dragging Clementine not too far away while excitedly chattering about 'reconnaissance'.

"Primrose, you need to make sure you leave time for me to check your wound to clean it out and put a new dressing on it" Katjaa went right back into her motherly ways, worrying about a wound that she herself admitted was a lot worse looking than it actually was. The reminder of the wound did cause Lilly and Kenny to worriedly look at my hip, as of course the both of them had gotten possibly the worst fright out of the bunch (Due to Lilly being the one to barely save my life and Kenny being the first one to staunch the blood-flow).

"Oh, right" I said a bit absent-mindedly, the pain being dulled to the point where I had even forgotten that it was there. "We can get that checked out when we've gotten the train running again, as that'll take hours to get to Savannah anyway"

"If this train of yours takes longer than ten minutes to get going, I'm sending Carley and Lilly to collect you whether you like it or not" Almost as if she was threatening to release the hounds on me, she sharply reminded me in that way only a parent could that she wasn't going to be taking no for an answer. I couldn't help but laugh about it, but this didn't seem to mesh well with the tone Katjaa was taking with me. "I'm serious Primrose, don't test me"

"I'm not, I promise!" I still had to somehow say that through a chuckle, but at the very least she was taking my words seriously that I was not trying to test per patience on purpose. "That just reminds me of how my own mother was in my old world"

There again was that hint of sadness reappearing in her eyes, as now she likely fully grasped the fact on why I didn't talk about my parents much around them. Truth be told, I couldn't go back home no matter how hard I wanted to, so there always going to be that small sense of loss in the sense that I would be missing out on that life.

"Just let other people take care of you Primrose, that's all I ask" She honestly showed that she was worried that I wouldn't let others help me due to the overbearing feeling that I had to do everything to keep them safe, and I could understand why it worried her. I softly promised her that I would do my best to let others take care of me, and that seemed to be enough for her at the time. "Good, that's good"

"Lilly, Carley, I know this is going to sound really weird but I need you two to sort of get more acquainted with Maybelle and Bramble?" I asked the two ladies after Katjaa finally let me go, and predictably I did get a raise of an eyebrow from Lilly and a chuckle from Carley. "It's not me trying to get rid of you, I promise. Currently Maybelle and Bramble only really seem to follow me or Shawn around, and we might not always have that option handy, so I need to start somewhere with people in the group"

"If one of them bites my hand, I'm not going to do it any longer" Lilly admitted somewhat unconfidently, her eyes turning a bit to look at both cows, who were either drinking milk or munching on the long forgotten grass on the side of the road.

"I don't think they will, our fingers would probably taste terrible" Carley seemed to be more confident than Lilly was, gently ushering the latter closer to the cows so that they actually get properly acquainted with the animals. "It sounds more to me that you're coming up with excuses to stay with Prim"

"Like you wouldn't be doing the same thing" Was the last thing I heard Lilly jokingly bite back at Carley's teasing remark, which caused the latter to let out a giggle in response.

"And let me guess, you want us to take on Shawn's usual role of looking for supplies?" Glenn correctly predicted when I turned around to address him and Doug, the both of them looking very pleased with themselves when I giggled and affirmed that they were correct. "Booyah! Next thing you know we'll be predicting things just as well as you can!"

"In your dreams Glenn" I couldn't help but leave that last remark as the two of them went off to search around the train, the both of them still in a chipper mood even when I left them with one last warning. "Make sure to stay where someone can see you though!"

With everyone assigned tasks, I set off to do my tasks that would help the train get moving (As I knew there was nothing else I could get from the R.V., as we had pretty much run out of fuel as it was), and one of them was to disconnect the back of the cable car to the absolute destruction that was the rear end of the train. Slickly opening the door to the back carriage of the train, I moved forward with purpose until I reached the other end and stepped back out, heading towards the back of that carriage to find the coupling that was keeping it all affixed to the ruins of the train.

While I knew that the game wanted players to first attempt to move the train before there even was the option of lifting up the coupling, there were quite a bit of things that I had in this reality that Lee hadn't, namely the fact that after all of this time I still had the fire axe in my trusty holster, which at least would be able to hack the rusted metal to pieces if there was nothing else for it.

Unlike the tardy and slow version of the player controlled Lee who might take several minutes to even find the instructions to turn on the train, Mark, Shawn, Ben and Travis proved themselves to be complete geniuses in contrast, the sharp noises of the brakes unlocking sounded in the air only to be followed by the buzz of the train coming to life and finally shifting into some forwards gear in the span of only three seconds. It must have meant that they had separated the work load correctly, possibly two of them actually being in the drivers cabin to unlock the brakes and put the train into gear while another two were hanging back to actually turn the machine on.

Just like in the game, the forward momentum only took them so far, the train coming to a grinding halt the moment the coupling resisted their forward advance, but it still managed to scrape quite a bit of rust off and slightly dislodge it. It was dislodged enough that I was able to pull the hook out of the coupling smoothly with my axe like Lee would do with one of his tools in the game, and in record time compared to the game.

"Guys, we got the train working!" I could even hear Travis excitedly telling the news to all of our group, with a slightly tired but still enthusiastic cheer coming back from the majority of the group that had been waiting around for the train to work.

With that all sorted, I headed back into the carriage to get everyone on the train... When I felt a strange presence behind me. With what Tess had trained me in with detecting footsteps, I could barely make out that there was someone sneaking up behind me, and in all honestly I took a guess as to who it was.

"Hello Chuck" I greeted the person in the hopes that it was indeed the old drifter himself, and luckily the response seemed to give away that it was indeed him. "Or should I call you Charles? Am I fancy enough to call you that?"

"Dang it, take all the fun out, why don't ye?" He seemed to find it a little bit of a bummer that he couldn't actually give me a fright, despite his in game counterpart admitting to Lee that he 'couldn't do it'. It did seem to completely fly over his head that I knew his name long before he had introduced himself to me, but that was probably due to the fact Chuck was at the age where things like that didn't bother him much anymore. "I really thought I had ye there for a second... But then again, the fact ye paused for a moment and seemed super serious should have given it away that ye knew I was comin'"

"I'm honestly surprised by the fact I didn't notice you the entire time I was moving through this carriage earlier, where were you hiding?" I felt I had to ask, as just suddenly springing on him that I could predict the future was likely going to be a step too far for him.

"I was hiding behind a tree out thatta way" Chuck explained both this new reality and possibly even the game's reason for why he was never found by me in either version, but it still didn't quite explain how he had introduced himself to everyone else in the game. Ah well, that would be a question for another time, as it was ultimately unimportant. "I heard y'all comin' along in your van and then talking about some kind of... Game or something, and then y'all started to poke around to get this old beauty up and runnin'"

"We're planning on taking it to Savannah, you're free to come along if you wish" I did feel a little bad with the way I had worded it, as no matter how I made it sound it was clearly going to be tiptoeing too close to the result that he didn't have a choice in the matter of whether his train remained in the spot he had found it. "If you are coming along however, there is something you need to know about me. I can predict the future, in a sense"

"Ye did know my name straight away, and seemed to know exactly what to do to get the couplin' off, despite the fact ye don't look old enough to be a train conducter" Chuck took the news incredibly easy, possibly even just because he didn't know who I was and didn't have any preconceived notions about me. It still threw me a little bit, so I felt I had to make sure he understood what I was saying to him.

"No, I mean that I come from another world" I insisted, and he just nodded his head as though he already knew all of this about me or was completely unbothered by it all. It was far more unnerving than him just being a bit of an odd duck in the game. "Your entire reality is a video-game in my world"

"Child, do you get results?"

"I, uh... Yes, I do"

"Then I don't care if you're the Queen of England or a literal alien, stranger things have happened in this world. I mean, look all around us, the literal dead are walkin' among us" He did have a fair point with that remark of his, as in my world the possibility of the dead rising and eating people was about as likely as someone coming from the future, it only existed in fiction. "I only ask that ye be careful with who ye tell about that, as some people will shoot ye between the eyes if ye tell 'em that"

"Oh don't worry, I know about that already, it nearly happened yesterday" I sighed, recounting Larry's attempt to shoot me a bit too vividly for my liking. Although in an odd confusing way, I got Chuck on my side just like everyone else had the day before, and in a lot easier a manner too. "Come, if you want to come with us I'll introduce you to the others so that they're not that confused with you joining us. Once that's all said and done, we can begin to make way to Savannah"

Chapter Text

Standing directly at the front of the train for a bit to let the wind blow through my hair, it gave me a short reprise from the admittedly cramped cabin full of people in the back. That, and I was still looking ahead of us, hoping with all my heart that Omid and Christa were still going to be waiting for us by the time we reached the overturned tanker.

"Whoa! Talk 'bout a lion’s mane!" Chuck surprised me just a little by popping up from the driver’s cabin of the train, but apparently he had once again failed to properly surprise me by the fact that my hair blowing in the wind was smacking him directly in the face. It looked so silly that I couldn't help but laugh a bit as I tamed my wild locks under my hands, which finally gave him a little reprieve to sneak around me and lean against the railing above the cow catcher just like I was doing. "Honestly, that hair's gonna get ye killed someday"

"I know, I know" I sighed heavily, as he was bringing up the dilemma I already had difficulty deciding about. "It's... It's my mum's hair colour though; I don't want to just get rid of it"

"Yer hair colour ain't gonna go away by cuttin' it" Chuck did pointedly remind me of that as he pulled out a bottle of whisky from one of his over-sized jacket pockets, which I supposed was true. "A better tribute to yer mother would be to keep on livin', not gettin' nabbed by one of them dead things"

"True, but we still don't even know if walkers even grab hair. Sure, there is a chance that they might get it if your hair is blowing behind you as you run away, but they'd only have a split second to even get the hair, and that's only valid if the walkers would be smart enough to reach up towards the head... And they generally aim for the shoulders from what I've seen" I began to support a bunch of different theories behind why it would be alright, but I could tell that Chuck was still not very convinced by the grumble he gave as a short response. "I guess it would be hard for people with really curly hair though, as they would have a lot more substance to grab onto"

"...I just don't think ye should be leaving it to a 'what if' situation. All these ideas might sound nice, but in this world there are no moments to learn from yer mistakes" Chuck was still just as stubborn as I was about it, which I supposed was likely to happen with how blunt he had been with Lee as well. "At least cut the little ones hair, she's walking around with a literal bush of hair, and that's not going to be good for her"

"Yeah, I get you. Do you still have a pair of scissors in your backpack?" He nodded his head to my question, but there was a slight bit of hesitation as though he was a little unsettled by my knowledge of stuff I wasn't supposed to know about. Perhaps the idea of me knowing the future actually was something that did bother him. "But before I go, do you happen to know what your plan is?"

"Come again?"

"What are you planning to do when we reach Savannah?" I asked him again in simpler terms, as so far he had a really non-committal stance to him. He had decided to come with us to Savannah, but it really didn’t seem like he was doing it just to be around us, more along the lines of that he had nothing better to do.

"Eh, dunno" He proved my theory correct by the fact that he honestly wasn't planning for the future, seeming like he was just living for the sake of living and nothing else. "I'll stick around with you guys if you've got the space, cause for the most part you guys actually do seem to have a head on your shoulders if it's not about yer hair"

Part of me felt like making a dig back at him about his own unkempt hair as he kept bringing it back up, but I had to admit that his was short enough to not really have to worry at all. Everything about him was in order, his clothing wasn't baggy, his hair was admittedly scruffy but not a possible danger to him and even his musty smell likely meant that walkers would be less interested in him.

"Want a nip?" He offered the whisky to me once he was aware of how long I had been staring at him, likely confusing my silence for wanting to drink the alcohol he had brought rather than me realising that Chuck was by far the most aware survivor in the first season. Now if only he didn't drink alcohol, he would be a perfect survivor.

"Oh, no, I don't drink alcohol anymore" I turned it down with a slight wave, and for a moment Chuck's raised eyebrow seemed to say that he certainly had picked up that I was referring in the past tense that I had. "I was a lightweight back when I wasn't in an apocalypse, and lately I've seen more uses for it rather than inebriating. If you're not bothered, I'd actually like it if you'd stop drinking now so we could use it as a disinfectant"

"Spoilsport" Chuck jokingly remarked before handing me the bottle, which I held securely in one of my hands by the neck of the bottle. For a moment there seemed to be some sort of... Despondency in his eyes, which did sort of make me feel bad for removing what might have been one of his last pleasures left in the world. I was about to excuse myself from him, when he made me pause with his following words. "Ye know, there's a reason I gave ye that advice"

"You mean you don't give out doses of wisdom to whoever crosses your path?" I half-jokingly asked him that, but there was an honest part to the question as well. If he didn't advise everyone that he met, then why was he helping both me and Lee? "What's the reason then?"

"There's hope in yer eyes. Ye have some kind of plan, some kind of reason to keep going and it's... Admirable to see someone that isn't a child still holding out hope in this world" He admitted, reminding me of honestly how depressing their world... No, our world, actually was. There was no denying that the original games were quite depressing in every manner, and so far the only reason I hadn't succumbed to a melancholy feeling in this world was the fact that I could plan correctly around most things that would stand in our way. "If I saw that light get snuffed out somehow, whether it be because ye died or because ye lost hope from someone else dyin'... I... I don't think I'd be able to take that"

"I'm going to ensure that you don't see that hope go away" I made what was possibly a completely unreasonable promise, as there was always going to be an element that I wasn't going to be able to plan for, something that I would miss someday. Even so, I still felt it was right to tell him that. "You won't see me die, and you certainly won't see the light disappear from my eyes"

"...I sure hope that's a promise ye can keep"

I just barely managed to stop myself from responding with a 'me too' to his remark, beating a retreat before he could see the brief flash of hesitation in my eyes, or possibly even in my soul. Luckily for me, a lot happier tone was there to greet me when I entered the drivers cabin, both Mark and Shawn shifting their eyes from the controls to see me come in.

"Hey Prim" Shawn was the only one out of the two of them who was available to move away from the controls, with him coming over to hug me and give me a kiss on the lips. He hadn't done it in what I would consider public in a long time, so it surprised me a little before I quickly was overjoyed and returned the affection. "I am so glad that we can finally do that without having to worry about someone hurting either of us anymore"

"You can skip the attempt to hide who it was before, you're allowed to say that Larry was the problem" Mark cheekily reminded Shawn not that we were free of our ever-present literal cock-block. "I would come and do the same, but I'm unfortunately glued to these controls"

"What do you mean, can't you just let go of the throttle?" I asked him, and he looked confused for a moment at his hand that was still tightly wrapped around the throttle. I had distinctly remembered that Kenny often was just sitting in the seat but not doing much else in the game, so I was confident in the fact that he didn't have to keep his hand glued there. Very slowly Mark removed his hand from the throttle, and low and behold, it remained in the spot where it had been set to.

"...Oh"

Shawn and I just couldn't help it, thoroughly laughing once Mark had realised his mistake. It was very typical of him, his clumsy and bumbling nature often resurfacing in moments where everything was under control, and honestly it was a great sense of comedic relief outside of stressful times.

"Well, looks like that's my bad" Mark admitted with a bit of a sheepish grin on him turning, turning the driver’s seat around so that he was facing the two of us instead. There was a light dusting of red creeping across his nose, which looked like it was his way of blushing. "The good news with that, it means that I can actually give you some proper love"

I smiled tenderly at him as he opened his arms open for me, and I readily took the opportunity once I placed the bottle of whisky down on the floor for a moment. Possibly doing so in a scandalous manner, I sat sideways on his lap before I properly embraced him and tenderly pressed my lips to his, laughing softly to myself when I accidentally pushed his glasses up with my nose.

"Honestly, wasn't it you two who got the train going?" I still felt like teasing the both of them, but they actually had a proper defence for not knowing everything about the controls to the train.

"That wasn't us actually, we were the ones priming and turning on the engine" Shawn explained the inconsistency beautifully, especially because I actually hadn't seen which people out of the group of four had done what. "Ben and Travis were the ones who figured out how to make it go forward"

"Is that so? Maybe then they should be getting more of the praise rather than you two" I teased them a little bit further, but I made sure to include a wink so that they wouldn't get the impression I was actually mad at either of them. Slinking off with the whiskey bottle as the both of them laughed softly at my more risqué forms of affection, I left them with one last piece of advice before I moved on back to the cabin where everyone else was waiting. "By the way, keep an eye out for an overturned gas tanker that'll be dangling over an overpass. Wouldn't want to crash into it"

"Oh geez, now you tell me!" Mark hurriedly swivelled back around to face the front of the train, his hand snapping back to the throttle like his life depended on it. Shawn's laughter at his companion's overreaction was the last thing I heard before I shut the door on them, the strong winds returning for a moment as I carefully made my way back to the main cabin.

"...The sooner you tell her, the more likely it's going to go well" I could just barely hear Travis talking to who I assumed had to be Ben around the corner of the train, the both of them so engrossed in their conversation that they didn't spot me coming around the corner and seeing the both there. "It'll be fine man, she's reasonable so she'll just - Oh! Prim, I uh... I didn't see you there"

"Don't worry about it Ben, Travis already told me that you're interested in me romantically" I decided to cut the awkward conversation short before they began to make a big problem out of it... But the surprised look in both of their eyes told me that I had guessed wrong. "Oh, was that not it?"

"Wha - TRAVIS!" Ben exclaimed to his best friend, who looked equally surprised with the sudden blame being shifted onto him.

"What do you mean 'Travis!'? It was obvious from the moment you wanted to go save her from the brothers at the dairy farm" Travis seemed unbothered by the fact that Ben was just hearing about this, even though his friend had his head in his hands while we were talking. "Never mind, that's not actually what Ben wanted to tell you"

I didn't open my mouth this time, instead patiently waiting for Ben to explain what it was, as obviously the last time I had mistaken what it was. There was a slight feeling of deja vu in the back of my mind, but luckily Ben's following words didn't prove my thoughts to be true.

"I was the person who actually looked through the supplies, but I swear, I didn't take anything" Ben finally explained his secret to me once he pulled his hands away from his face, and he could tell I was relieved the moment I let out a deep breath that I hadn't even realised I had taken in. "Mr. Parker said he was feeling really ill after I let him out for a toilet break during the night at the motel, and he told me to go look for the high strength medication under Lilly's bed to give him something. I did look for a little bit, but then I felt bad for looking through it without telling you or Lilly... So I put it back without saying anything"

"Did you happen to go out with him during his toilet break?" I felt a small part of my brain linking together something, and after a couple of seconds it seemed to click for the both of them what I was trying to figure out.

"No actually, he insisted that he wanted to go on his own outside the walls so I..." Ben looked horrified after he started to realise that leaving Mr. Parker on his own outside the walls was likely how the deal was struck between their teacher and the bandits. "...Oh no! Is that when he made the deal with them?!"

"It sounds like it" Travis sighed deeply, looking even more upset by this revelation than I did. "Not only did he make the deal with the bandits, he then tried to pin the blame on you in some way"

"He knew that there was a stash of high-profile medication, which nobody else was supposed to know about besides Lilly and me, and then he sent you to go get some of the medication for him so that blame would be put on you if it all went sour. Let me guess, he really wasn't happy when you came back with nothing?" I mused aloud my thoughts, and I was more than unsettled to see Ben nodding his head when I asked him to verify that. In a way, him keeping quiet about poking through the supplies ultimately helped him in this new reality, as everyone else would have assumed that the person making the deal had to be him... And ashamedly, I likely would have as well with that information at the time. "...I'm really glad you told me the truth now, and not sooner"

"You are?" Ben seemed confused with it, not completely grasping how much danger he would have been in if he had mentioned it earlier. I found it impossible to open my mouth and tell him that he was the traitor in the original timeline, so I just mutely nodded my head instead. "Why?"

"Because everyone would have thought it was you if you had mentioned it before" Travis did seem to be a couple of steps ahead of Ben, but thankfully not so many steps ahead like I was. 

"Exactly" I let out another deep breath when I realised the complete landmine I might have stepped on (Figuratively of course) had he spoken up then. With a grateful smile, I decided to wrap the both of them in a hug, to which Travis hugged me back while Ben looked a little bashful and uncertain about it. "I'm so glad the both of you are still here"

They both expressed similar sentiments in their individual ways, Travis naturally being the more confident one and Ben being the shyer one, but they both still meant the same. With that burden lifted off Ben's shoulders, I left them with a smile and headed over to the main cabin.

"Love you both" I uttered that last thing before I disappeared through the door, with Travis triumphantly punching Ben in the shoulder at the sound of that. From what I could tell through the small window in the door, Ben did look a little disgruntled with being punched so harshly in the shoulder, but there was a small smile to accompany it with how pleased he was to hear that.

"There you are!" Katjaa nearly made me jump a foot into the air the moment she quite angrily called for me, causing to swivel around and remember that I had yet to let her look at my wound. "Honestly, is taking a moment to let me look at your wound so stress inducing?"

"I honestly just forgot with everything going on" I laughed a little bit as I crossed the room to where she was sitting with both the kids, who were happily drawing away on the back of some maps, as I felt a little bit like Katjaa was doing her strict mother act once again. It reminded me of a time when my mother had told me off for reading in bed far past my bedtime when I had school the next day. Sure, I believed at the time that she was being mean about it, but in all reality she was just looking out for me exactly like Katjaa was doing.

Carefully taking off the first aid tape that had been stuck to my hip, Katjaa peeled away the gauze to see that the wound was already decently on it's way to healing up. Without the blood that had been on it the night before, it certainly looked a lot better than I had hoped, maybe leaving behind a faint scar and not much else.

"Eww, that looks gross!" It was apparently still a little too much for Clementine, who only could see the reddish pink flesh underneath the skin. While she certainly had to learn someday how to treat wounds, it was not quite that time for her yet.

"Sorry Clem, it's going to have to be a thing you learn someday" I sighed a little with the prospect of having to teach her a gruesome thing like stitching someone up, as I couldn't really leave it to Christa like the game did in the second season. Gently reaching out to take the scissors near Katjaa's leg, which she had no doubt pilfered for her slowly growing first aid kit, I snipped it twice in the air to show Clementine that I was planning on using it. "But speaking of things that have to happen sometime, I need to cut your hair darling"

"But you said you don't need to cut your hair, why would my hair be different?" Clementine did pose a good question, but sadly it came down to the difference in how much straighter my hair was.

"Your hair is curlier, so it's easier to grab onto than mine" I explained it as best I could to her, but the growing frown on her face told me that I was going to have a grumpy child on my hands no matter how I put it. "I know, it's unfair"

"It is!" Clementine firmly crossed her arms over her chest to show that she really wasn't planning on letting me do it. She was so much more resistant to it than she was with Lee, possibly entirely down to the fact we had yet to lose someone to a walker unlike the game so she maybe thought that walkers weren't as scary as her in game counterpart would at that point. But even so, I found it so much more comforting to see that Clementine was allowed to be a kid for a bit longer than the game let her, so that childish tantrum actually was taken quite well by me.

"I'll cut my hair too, if you want" Duck offered up a solution to try and help even though his short hair was nowhere near long enough to cut, but it didn't seem to sway Clementine enough, who just grumpily shook her head once more.

"Clementine, I'm giving you three seconds to come over here before I come and get you myself" I softly warned her, mainly just to get it over with so that she could get used to her new hair. For a moment I did feel really bad, as I essentially was doing the same thing as her in refusing to cut my own hair, except I wasn't throwing a literal tantrum but more of a figurative one. "One... Two..."

It was surprising how effective that three second threat actually worked, her sighing a bit before obediently coming over to me even before I had finished sounding out the second number. Working as quickly as I could, I snipped away the majority of her excess hair until it was a lot smoother against her head.

"We can even keep these bottom bits if we put some hair ties in" I mused aloud, my mind trying to remember which character Clementine had mentioned in the game that had given her hair ties. It only took a couple of seconds for me to remember, with me lifting my head up a bit to find Lilly and Carley just across from us, with Bramble fast asleep in Lilly's lap while Maybelle snoozed a little bit away from the two ladies. "Lilly, could you throw me two hair ties please?"

"I'm worried that I'd miss somehow and throw them out the open door behind you" Lilly effectively stated why she wasn't planning on throwing them to me, which made me sigh softly before standing up to go get them in person. Carley was giggling softly to herself about something, but I didn't quite get what she was laughing about until Lilly yanked on my arm to pull my face down enough to kiss me with a cheeky smirk across her lips. "I knew I'd get you to come over here if I made up some kind of excuse"

"Aww, that's gay" Doug jokingly remarked on our events not far away from him, a wide grin on his face now that none of us had to keep our nonheterosexuality hidden. Carley and Lilly just had the same stupidly happy grins on their faces too while I was busy trying not to die of laughter in the middle of the carriage.

"I should hope so, I am gay after all" Lilly responded in kind to Doug's remark, and I was happy to notice that everyone seemed to be getting along... Except for Kenny, who had been stoically silent ever since I had entered the cabin. When I looked closer I noticed that it wasn't necessarily that he seemed mad, more heavily distracted with his own thoughts, which seemed to leave him completely dead to the world in a sense. It was odd, and I made a mental note of it to ask him later about it. "What are you two even doing over there? You've been fiddling with that rope for a long time"

"We're trying to make a grappling hook, or something along those lines" Glenn explained, a tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth for a second as he tried, and failed yet again to get a rope around what seemed to be a small hook from the back of the R.V.. Whatever knot he was attempting to do, he didn't seem particularly skilled at doing it. "But unfortunately, I've never exactly been a scout, so I know nada about tying knots"

"Are you saying that there's no lock-picking badge in the scouts?" I teased him for a bit, which earned me a hearty laugh from Glenn himself, only for that laugh to make him mess up another knot he was attempting to do. While Glenn struggled with the basic functions of how to use coiled together fabrics, Doug just rolled his eyes in a joking manner before joining in on the hilarity once more.

"No, apparently he only learned the 'play peek-a-boo with a walker' badge" Doug remarked with another grin on his face, which made Glenn just devolve further into a tittering mess.

"Okay, now I know that has to have a story behind it" Carley joined in on the teasing, which luckily Glenn was seemingly having a ball with. The laughter was getting so loud in the cabin that even Ben and Travis looked like they were considering coming inside just to be kept in the loop on what the hell was going on.

Almost everyone was paying attention to what was being told by Doug about Glenn and his escapade... All except for Kenny, who somehow was still dead to the world despite Glenn sounding like a dying whale at one point with his laughter. I was really worried about him...

"This guy, can you believe it, decided that when he found a walker still trapped inside a car outside the train earlier, that apparently the best thing to do was to hide behind one of the doors of the car and play peek-a-boo with it!"

"You're kidding!" Even Katjaa, who usually didn't include herself in these childish discussions, seemed like she too was finding it humorous to hear about what he and Glenn had gotten up to.

"I'm not! What was even weirder was the fact that the walker even seemed like it was actually a child that couldn't figure out where he went!" Doug still told the story even as I started to finish off the last parts of Clementine's hair, finally tying away the two small tufts of hair into tiny pigtails for her.

"There we go, how does that feel?" I asked her, even though I still had a suspicious feeling it was going to end up with her still being a bit mad at me. Very hesitantly she reached her hands back to feel the back of her head, and just like her initial reaction to getting her hair cut, her reaction was much different than what it had been in game.

"...It's actually not that bad" She gave me what essentially was the best compliment I could have gotten in that instant, which made me smile softly down at her as she turned her head about to look at me. "I thought you were going to cut it so short that I might as well have been bald"

I didn't get a chance to respond to her ideas on how that was never my intention, when a startled cry came from Mark in the drivers cabin followed afterwards by the train coming to a very sharp halt.

"Oh shoot, everyone hold on!"

Chapter Text

The train skidded to a slow crawl, before eventually coming to a complete stop before an overpass. The description I had given to Mark and Shawn on what to look out for did seem to do well, as when I clambered out of the main cabin there indeed was an overturned gas tanker blocking our way. Everybody soon filed out after me, with even Maybelle and Bramble hopping out to graze on the grass around us while we got to work.

"I'm hoping you've got a better plan than just to ram through it" Shawn gave his opinion on the situation as he and Mark carefully came down from the drivers cabin, looking more than a little daunted by the massive size of the tanker. Indeed, it looked somehow grander and larger than I could remember it being in the game, but the way to get it down wasn't going to be much different.

"Right, we've probably got some walkers coming behind us due to the noise of the train, so I'd rather get a bit of a move-on before they come along" I swiftly explained why it was important to lift a fire under us, but downplayed the amount of walkers that actually would be showing up. Telling them about the massive horde seemed like it would just end up freaking a number of them out too much and we really couldn't afford people to be highly stressed when there were lives on the line. "Glenn, can you take Doug with you and check out that back station? There'll be about three?... Yeah, three walkers in the building itself, so be careful"

"Hey, I thought I was the supplies guy!" Shawn finally started to notice that his role was beginning to shift in the group, decidedly slipping from his usual supplier gatherer task into more of a practical role because of his knowledge of engines back on his farm.

"I think that's because Glenn knows how to pick locks like she does" Doug reassured the farmer that he wasn't becoming redundant in our group, highlighting the logic I was using because of Glenn's more versatile way of getting into buildings.

"Wait, are you telling me that you know how to pick locks?" Travis seemed surprised with the news, as he had yet to actually hear or see me pull it off personally, while most of the others already in the group knew about it. I nodded my head with a slightly sheepish look on my face, as it was a little bit embarrassing to talk about because it had been from my shifty college roommate, but if anything Travis saw it as another bonus to me. "That's awesome!"

"Yo, if you guys keep yelling like that, you're gonna get your faces ripped off!" Someone cheerily called out to us from the overpass, and I had to stop myself from grinning widely from the familiar sounding humour and voice.

Kenny gave me a look, one which I assumed had to be him asking me if I knew the people yelling at us right then, and I smiled and nodded at him. It wasn't exactly like the dialogue from the game however, so that meant that the more I begun to change the more the new reality was changing.

...Speaking of change, my eyes glanced up at the sky once more. I hadn't looked up when I had inadvertently saved Carley/Doug's death on the road or when Duck was supposed to have been bitten in the raid due to the chaos happening in both situations, but the clouds were clearly much bigger than they had been when I had seen them after saving Larry in the meat locker. What was even going on with that, was there any specific reasoning for the clouds changing?

"Are you guys going to be trouble? Because we could have just kept on walking rather than stopping for you guys" Christa spoke right after Omid did, which caused me to turn around and actually notice their heads poking just barely over the railing that was keeping them safe on the overpass. As expected, Omid had a curious smile on his face as he looked at us while Christa had her tight lipped appearance and stern eyes. I was so giddily happy to see them that I had to reign in my first instinct of rushing up the ladder to go greet them, instead just wearing my beaming smile and talking confidently to them.

"We're friendly, just a little stuck right now because of that tanker right next to you guys" I called up to them, gesturing to the tanker for a brief moment when I mentioned it, which their heads turned to glance at before looking back at me. "We're heading to Savannah down these tracks, where we'll be for a little while"

"Neat! Do you happen to have any room for more in that train?" Omid asked me, despite the slight shake of the head from Christa which seemed to say that she didn't really trust us as far as she could throw us, which was completely understandable under the circumstances. "I know Christa doesn't really like strangers, but you seem to have a nice vibe going around in your group"

"I'd like to say so, I really care about all of the people in my group" I proudly boasted, and I could notice quite a number of happy or bashful reactions from that remark. "I'd first like to get a feel for who you guys are though"

"Sounds good, you can even come up here to see how damaged the tanker is" Omid declared before pulling himself away from the edge, which I assumed was the invitation I needed to go up to meet them without getting my head possibly blown off by an itchy trigger finger.

"Is this a case of you going on your own? Because I have to admit, I don't like the idea of letting you charge off on your own" Lilly's protective nature resurfaced at the thought of leaving me alone with two strangers that she had never met before, especially after her experience of how Larry had treated me. I grinned at her happily, both because I was over the moon with her and for the simple pleasure that I was going to have Christa and Omid tagging along with us.

"They'd probably feel a little ganged up on if we go up there with too many people" I reasoned with her, and although she sighed softly she did trust me enough to know that I knew what I was doing. "Besides, I know these people, there's no way they'd hurt me"

"I sure hope yer right about that" Chuck still chimed in on the conversation, obviously still on the more suspicious side of believing in people unlike me, once again showing that he didn't particularly like my use of the future to justify my blasé attitude in a world where anyone could die from a single slip-up.

"I still have my fire-axe and a pistol tucked into the back of my cargo belt, I'm not just relying on things going as they originally were planned" I did my best to reassure him as I moved towards the ladder, but Kenny was clearly not quite convinced.

"Don't fall back into that old habit of yours of not asking for help, okay?" Kenny pleaded with me, his tone of voice very... Vulnerable for some reason. After giving him a gentle hug to assure him that I wasn't going to, I left the rest of them at the bottom as I began to climb up the ladder. "If I even hear a sneeze up there that's not right, I'm charging up whether you want me to or not"

"That's what I'm relying on" I grinned at him as I kept climbing, noticing that all of them had paused to keep watch over me, even the two cows coming away from their grazing to peer up at me as I began to get further away from them. All of them really cared about me... Far beyond what I could have ever expected for me, a girl who in the eyes of other people "cared too much about people who didn't matter". It was cathartic to let go of that label people had given me, instead just accepting that I was now a girl who loved people very much... And they loved me back. "I'm not going anywhere guys, I'll always be here for you"

They didn't say anything in response to that, obviously thinking that it was too ominous or too optimistic to them, it perhaps finally hitting home about how much they relied on me and wouldn't know what to do without me. In a way, it was like I was foreshadowing a final goodbye that was yet to come... And that thought unsettled me.

If I truly had taken on the role of Lee in this new universe, then there was always the possibility that the universe would attempt to end my life just like his at the end of the first season. If so, then my final hurrah would be in Savannah itself, a death that I had chosen for because I stubbornly wasn't going to let Omid, Christa and Chuck die.

I gritted my teeth and forced the possibility out of my mind, considering it null and void until I actually had gotten bitten by a walker, which I was going to do my darned best to ensure wasn't going to happen. Climbing the final little bit to reach the overpass, I of course heard the small snippets of conversation being passed between Omid and Christa before the latter hushed the former once she realised I was there.

"Hiya, I'm Omid" Omid cheerfully greeted me despite the slightly agitated tone he and Christa were passing between each other about our group no doubt, but I disregarded it as nothing but their business before they decided to talk about it themselves.

"And I'm Christa" Christa greeted me as she folded her arms across her chest, clearly still not entirely trusting who I was, which I supposed was completely fair. I knew it was likely going to be a harder time to convince Christa of my knowledge, but it had to be done now before things went too far. "You are?"

"I'm Primrose, but people close to me call me Prim. I'll be honest with you, I'm going to start saying things that might not all make sense to you, but I do think it's important to hear" I decided to dive right in, thinking about what things would most likely earn me ire from someone who was going to join our group. Even if they eventually believed in my knowledge, there were still going to be problems if they happened to be as homophobic as Larry, so I supposed even though it sounded very weird to bring up my sexuality first in a long list of details, it was very important. "For starters, I'm bisexual and polyamorous, so if you have a problem with either of those we're likely-

I didn't get far into my following points when I got interrupted by something that sounded like a very high pitched (Yet still very soft somehow) squeal. Even as I closed my mouth and glanced at Christa first to see if she knew what the sound was, I could see a smile creeping up on her face as she rolled her eyes to say that she knew very well who or what it was. When she saw my confused look, she only had to point over to Omid who had his mouth slightly open beside her, which gave away that the squeal (Despite sounding considerably girly in nature) had come from him.

"Of all the odds, somehow the two people who are poly left in this hellhole of a world and you two find each other" Christa poked fun at the both of us, which made my eyes widen considerably as the most ear splitting grin started to spread across Omid's cheeks.

"Wait, you're kidding me" A smile started to subconsciously appear on my face as well, as learning that one of my favourite characters from the game was similar in sexuality to me (In the odder way, as it was harder to find someone who was poly than it was to find someone who was bi) was nearly as beyond belief as the fact I had somehow gotten transported to an alternate universe. "Are you-

"Poly buddy!" Omid excitedly clasped my hands in his own, almost looking like he was considering jumping up and down on the spot with the pure excitement he was feeling at meeting someone who felt the same about dating multiple people. I couldn't help but laugh at his pure excitement, possibly even considering hugging him from how excited I was myself. "Alright, that settles it! We're joining your group!"

"Omid, we're not just joining a group because they happen to have a person who is poly with them" Christa did feel like she had to reign him in, which did involve literally pulling him by his collar back so that he was no longer running the risk of crushing my hands in his. He pouted somewhat cutely at her, but she wasn't having a bar of it.

"I mean, I have to agree with her" I chuckled a little bit at how insistent he was being about joining the group, but I did feel like I had to remind him to be careful of strangers like Chuck had been doing for me. "Not all poly people happen to be good people, and you haven't even heard the part where I tell you that I can predict the future"

"Are you kidding me, that's an extra bonus!" Omid seemed about as unfazed by it as Chuck had been, while Christa sighed and rolled her eyes again at her boyfriend’s enthusiasm. "I mean, sure, its sounds a bit out there, but so do walking corpses"

The exact same reasoning as Chuck had, which made me want to chuckle aloud again. Christa sighed before eventually releasing his collar and seemingly thinking it over because she did care about his opinion.

"...We'll tag along to see if your future predicting skills actually mean anything, but we won't be put in any potential danger because of it, got it?" I of course agreed to Christa's demands with a nod of the head, as anyone with a reasonable mind would want to lay down those rules. Arguably an even more sensible person would completely disregard my words as nonsense, but I supposed that a world where walkers rose certainly did mean that "normal" behaviours weren't as focused on anymore. "And if I know Omid well - which I do - then he likely wants to get my permission to date you. You look like you'd be his type"

"To be fair, a badass looking survivor lady with a fire-axe on her back would probably be anybody's type" Omid chuckled to himself, noticing the way my face was turning a slight shade of red at learning that I was his type.

"In all fairness, you're my type too. People who can crack jokes well are one of my many weaknesses" I giggled as I felt my cheeks light up, which he seemed pleased to both see and hear about. "The only way you could be any more perfect is if you had a country accent, were a badass woman yourself, being rough on the exterior but soft on the inside, or if you were a bit bumbling and shy"

"Yeah, I think you'll have difficulty finding someone who happens to be both shy and badass" Christa chuckled herself, seeming at peace with the fact that the two of them were joining us. "And before you begin to nag me Omid, yes, I give you permission to date her"

"Yes!"

I chuckled as I descended back down to the bottom of the overpass, figuring out quite readily that Christa was clearly the monogamous one out of the both of them. It didn't change the fact that Omid was poly, but he cared enough about her to get her opinion and permission before dating someone, which was another kind of being poly that made perfect sense to me. In a way, all of my lovers were like Christa, who I would always want to make sure was comfortable with me dating others before assuming anything.

"Alright guys, Omid and Christa will be joining us to Savannah, and they know already about the fact I know the future, so that's surprisingly easy to deal with" I introduced the two people to everyone in my group, noticing that Glenn and Doug were actually missing from the thirteen people (Fifteen if you included Maybelle and Bramble, who of course came closer to sniff the new people) I had left at the bottom of the overpass. "Uhh... Where did Doug and Glenn set off to?"

"They went to go check out the back station while we were waiting down here for you" Travis reported, cupping his hands around his eyes as a makeshift set of binoculars as he turned his head to see if he could spot them in the distance. "Oh hey, they must have been very quick because they're coming back now"

"Ah, well, might as well get introductions out of the way while we wait for them then, as they'll probably have the blowtorch we need to cut down the tanker" I rattled off that piece of information without really thinking about it, which confused Omid for a second until he had an "oh yeah" moment where he remembered where I had mentioned knowing the future. "There's Clementine, Duck, Chuck, Katjaa, Kenny, Shawn, Mark, Travis, Ben, Lilly, Carley, the two cows are Maybelle and Bramble, and the two people in the distance are Doug and Glenn"

"This reminds me of those pop quizzes we got in school where the teachers crammed the information into us but I actually couldn't remember a thing" Omid joked at the fast pace which I zipped through the names, which made perfect sense considering the fact he hadn't played countless hours with them in a video-game and was meeting them for the first time. I apologised softly for it, but he waved it away due to the fact it was likely nowhere near the worst experience they had gone through since the walkers had been around. "Alright, let's try this one at a time, and then let's get that tanker down"

Chapter Text

After a much slower form of introduction was handled (With Omid making cheeky remarks about people fitting into my types when he noticed them), everyone was obviously itching to get going towards Savannah, as being stuck out in the middle of the train route without an option to go either way sounded very bad no matter how we wanted to word it.

"So let's go take care of that tanker!" Omid excitedly led the charge, already heading over to the ladder that led to the top of the overpass while most other people started to get ready to climb into the train once more. "We're going to be very hot, both in the literal sense and the figurative"

With that last remark Omid sent me an impish wink, obviously keen to let me know his impressions of how he felt about me, and I couldn't help but glow a little with the attention he was giving me. The attention didn't go unnoticed by the others, who all seemed to be taking it quite happily in stride.

"You and your natural habit to charm the pants off anyone you meet, eh?" Kenny teased me as he began to climb up into the driver’s cabin of the train, and I just proceeded to laugh and give him one of my own cheeky winks before I moved off to follow behind Omid.

"Ah, wait Prim; we want to come with you!" Ben called out before I got too far away from him and Travis, both teenagers following close behind me in the intent to help me out. While there certainly was a part of me that worried about how they were going to get down after the inevitable tanker crashed down, I knew that they would be able to look out for me as much as I looked out for them. "Shawn told us that you used to have a bit of a habit of not asking for help when you need it, so we... I just want to help out in any way I can"

"That's his way of saying he just wants to spend time with you" Travis cheekily interjected, which Ben seemed to get a bit embarrassed at. From the way Ben was remaining silent at that remark, it seemed to say that it was at least partially a reason for why he had come after me, which Travis was having a field day with.

"Of course you guys can come along" I allowed them to tag with me, which the both of them seemed really pleased with. "But do keep in mind that the tanker is going to knock the ladder off once we get it cut off from the truck, so we'll have to jump onto the train once it passes under the bridge"

"I've always wanted to jump onto a moving train! Let's go!" Travis seemed completely undaunted by the prospect, with Ben only looking slightly like he was worried about it in contrast. Even with Travis being more confident with what we were going to do, Ben somehow still beat him to the ladder directly after I started to climb, which of course the former felt like he had to make a remark at. "So eager to beat me to the ladder, huh? Must be doing it to look at some glorious rear above you"

"Wha - No, I'm not!"

"Sure you aren't"

The two of them continued bickering until we reached the overpass, where Omid was still patiently waiting for me with the blow torch next to him. He didn't seem to blink when Ben and Travis' heads appeared at the top of the ladder, which was just another sign that he truly was poly in the sense that he didn't even blink as to why people were so eager to be with me even if he was there as well.

"Alright, so how are we doing this?" Omid asked me as he held out the nozzle for the blow torch, as he could quickly deduce that the hose it was attached to was nowhere near long enough to just hang it over the edge.

"For starters, Ben, could you please pop over to that truck over there?" I asked the taller boy out of the two of them, who nodded his head quite happily and made the short trek to the vehicle I had pointed out. "Inside there should be a small roll of tape, which we will need to patch the hole in the hose"

"Yikes! It's a good thing you knew about that already, because despite my joke earlier, I'm not very keen on losing my eyebrows via fire" Omid seemed grateful for the fact that I already knew which immediate pitfalls to avoid, which I was not sure if I would have honestly checked the hose first had I not known about it beforehand.

"Eh, I'm sure we would have found it out easily even if I didn't know that" I downplayed how important that information was, as it was nowhere near as vital as several other bits of information I had... Namely Omid's own death at the beginning of the second season. "Something more important for you to know about is that you really need to be careful once we actually cut the tanker lose. It'll come down in an awkward way and eventually destroy the ladder down, which means we will have to jump onto the train as it passes underneath this overpass"

"Okay, good to know" Omid did actually see to take this information seriously, as he could hear the serious tone I was applying to it. That wasn't all, as he could eventually see some kind of discomfort in my face at the prospect of him jumping off the overpass. "...There's something else, isn't there?"

"...In the original timeline, you land incorrectly on the top of the train, which makes you fall off and break your leg on the ground" I chose my words carefully, as I knew I couldn't frighten him too much with the information lest he make the decision to not jump, but at the same time he had to understand that this was something that could seriously hurt him if he didn't pay attention.

"...Oh" Omid looked quite unsettled with the news, peering over the nearest edge of the overpass to judge how much distance there actually was from the edge and the ground itself. It was an impressive height, which once again the game somehow seemed to underplay how vast it actually was. "It's, uh... It's quite a long way down"

"I'll save you" I made what was likely another unreasonable promise, based simply on the fact I had managed to save everyone else and because I needed Omid to come with us to save him. He looked still a bit uncertain with the idea, but he at least looked like he was reassured at least a small amount. "Just jump close to me and I'll stop you from tumbling off"

"Or any of us, because we'll be jumping too" Travis did his best to aid me in reassuring Omid, as of course he and Ben would also be there to give an extra helping hand once they were on top of the train. Ben was still looking a bit pale with the idea of leaping onto a moving train, but he also gave a nod to show that he would do his best to ensure nobody was hurt.

"...Okay" Omid accepted that the current situation was the best I could really make it, as he couldn't really duck out and leave it to me and the two teens, as he seemed like the kind of guy who wouldn't like to pass of dangerous tasks to others. "But you need to promise that you won't tell Christa that you already knew about this, as she'd probably lose her cool"

"Fair enough" I sighed a little, just then realising that I had broken the first part of the rules that Christa had laid out for me. There wasn't much I could do against it, but it still was kind of a rude thing to do. "Alright, now I should dangle you off the ledge so you can cut it loose"

"Wait, why would you be the one dangling me?" Omid did feel like he had more muscles than I did, and likely on first appearances I did have a thin figure, but when I rolled back my layers to show my biceps his tune did change dramatically. "Oh! Okay then, I guess it would make sense that someone else than you would be holding the nozzle"

Even though I was used to playing as Lee who certainly was always considered to be more strong than the average man, it still felt a little weird when Omid tightly held onto my wrist and leaned over the overpass to see if he could even reach the coupling holding the tanker to the rest of the truck. He of course had to have one hand available for the nozzle, but both of mine were tightly wound around his own wrist in the tightest grip I could manage.

"I need to reach out a bit further, come closer to the edge" Omid calmly instructed me to shuffle forward, seemingly calmer than what I actually was feeling at the time. Good god, why was it always the worst moments when your hands felt sweaty?! I shuffled a bit closer to edge, my non-slip shoes working perfectly against the tarmac to keep me in place, but I still would have felt much better once it was all over. "Okay, I should be able to reach it from here"

Ben was hovering near the blow torch itself, so he was the one to actually turn the thing on, before a bright blue flame appeared on the other end of the nozzle. Travis, who possibly had noticed my uncomfortable demeanour, decided to help things by acting as an anchor for me by wrapping his hands tightly around my chest to act as another layer that would help keep us in place. Right as we started to make some headway on the coupling itself, did I hear the words that I really didn't want to hear.

"GUYS! WE'VE GOT A MASSIVE GROUP OF WALKERS HEADING OUR WAY!!" I could just barely hear Doug shout over the sound of metal scraping and coming apart close to us, but my eyes were tightly wound shut to not be possibly blinded by the sparks coming off the torch. But even with my eyes shut and that horrid sound of metal being cut through, I could soon make out the sounds of what was likely thousands of walkers moaning and groaning after us.

"Shit!" I cursed the fact that the universe was rigidly trying to stick to what it had done originally, despite the fact that we were many hours early compared to what the game had been. Luckily I was still paying attention however, as soon I heard Omid frantically calling out for me.

"It's going! IT'S GOING!" Was all the warning I got from him before the lumbering giant tanker came apart from the truck with a loud snapping noise, which was my signal to yank him back as quick as I could. The truck wasn't acting as it would in the game however, coming further backwards at such a speed that it looked like it was intent on trying to crush both me and Omid in one swift go, and I had run out of pulling power because I still was holding tight onto Omid...

Which was why having Ben and Travis with us was a godsend, as the former thrust his long arms forwards to catch Omid by the jacket before the both of them hurriedly tugged us to safety. Even though it ended up with the four of us in a pile on the ground, it meant that the truck instead harmlessly missed us and rolled over the tarmac instead of our bodies.

"Oh my god! What the-What the actual hell?!" Omid said what was essentially on our collective minds, utterly shocked at how quickly things could have gotten out of hand.

"We need to go!" I quickly made sure the four of us got back on track before we completely forgot the next stage of the plan, scrambling to my feet along with them to dash over to the other side of the overpass. 

Kenny had at least the common sense to already shift the train into a forward gear once the way was clear for the rest of them, as I could already spot the drivers cabin appear on the other side of the overpass by the time I had gotten there. This did however mean that we essentially didn't have any time to stall in jumping, as there was only a single car afterwards that we had the chance to jump onto. Several people on the train began to call out to us, some in worry while others urged us to jump before it was too late... And even though I had no fear of heights in my previous life, Omid's statement of it being a long way down certainly were ringing loud and clear in my head.

Even worse than the game itself, the flames from the spilled fuel and knocked over blowtorch was less of a tiny puddle of fire, and more a gigantic wave of flame that threatened to cook us alive if we didn't move fast. It was like staring down into a vision of hell itself... Which I supposed didn't affect me as bad, as I still didn't believe in hell.

"Oh god, oh Christ, oh shit" Ben started to recite various versions of the same sentence over and over, which made me worriedly looking at his stark pale face. Not only was he looking incredibly uncomfortable as it was, he was nervously beginning to mumble to himself and chew on his fingernails as he looked down...

Was he afraid of heights? It made sense in several instances, as inevitably his deaths in the game did come from falling great heights, but there had never been any indication in the game that he couldn't handle the heights.

...Oh god, there was some hints of it. In the final episode, if the player took Ben with him to Vernon's hideout, then he could make a remark about how looking down from the hospital roof was his worst nightmare. Many players, myself included, assumed it had to have been about the vast amount of walkers he was seeing below him... But now that I could see him so fearful of heights, it was actually a good chance he was fearful about both the heights and the walkers.

"Ben, we need to jump, okay?" I tried my best to snap him out of his stupor by sharply shaking his shoulder, which did make him jolt a little out of whatever fear filled paranoia he had gotten himself stuck into. "Whatever happens, I'll definitely save you both!"

With that promise made, I forced myself to jump off the overpass despite the impressive distance between me and the train, eventually curling myself slightly so that I dispersed the force into a roll on top of the carriage where everyone else was waiting inside of it. By the loud thumping sound coming just a split second after I did, it meant that Travis had leapt just a second after I had, him also somewhat clumsily rolling into it to make sure his ankles didn't take the brunt of the damage. To mine and his dismay however, neither Omid nor Ben went after us, still looking down with wide eyes as their opportunity to jump was slowly diminishing.

"Omid! Ben! You guys have to jump!" I yelled at them, shakily standing up despite the adrenaline in my veins and the juddering of the train, trying my best to run along the back end of the last carriage so that I would be close to where they were jumping. Travis was also following close behind me, but neither man still on the overpass was looking like they were going to do it. "JUMP!"

With a deep breath in, Ben finally flung himself off the overpass. Unlike me and Travis who landed into a roll, he landed exactly on his legs, which made him cry out in pain as the shock of coming to a halt so quickly likely hurt his ankles and lower legs quite a bit. After a couple of shaky breaths, he eventually did seem to pull himself together, pushing off the top of the train and showing that he had survived the jump just fine.

"OMID!" I yelled out to the last man left on the overpass, with only a tiny strip of the carriage left for him to jump onto. He must have heard the anxiety in my voice and figured out that it meant that he didn't have any more time left, as that was finally the thing he needed to fling himself off as well.

The universe wasn't going to make it easy for me right then and there, with Omid landing just as bad as Ben had on the back end of the carriage and looking like he was losing his balance bad enough to go toppling over one side. Despite the wall of flames directly behind him, I reached out as far as I could to reach one of his arms, grinding my feet into the top of the carriage as he threatened to fall off the side and take me with him.

But likely something that the universe hadn't exactly planned for, both Travis and Ben both came to my aid once more, the both of them holding onto me for dear life which just barely made us come to a stop. With some purchase now in the form of my arms, Omid grabbed onto both of them and used his ab muscles to heave himself back onto the top of the top of the carriage, far away from the flames and the hard ground.

"I change my mind; jumping onto a moving train sucks" Travis injected a small dose of humour into the tense atmosphere, which was enough for both Omid and I to laugh a bit and compose ourselves. Ben, who still was the one who handled heights the worst out of the four of us, even seemed to utter a very quiet chuckle to show he appreciated what his best friend was trying to do. "Let's get you three off this roof before you topple off it in a fit of laughter"

We slowly tiptoed our way back to the front of the carriage roof to make sure nobody would fall off, before clambering down into the main carriage. Omid of course was immediately swarmed by his extremely worried girlfriend, who he was doing his best to assure that he was fine. Perhaps a bit unsurprisingly, Doug and Glenn went to check up on Ben and Travis, where I could just barely hear some small snippets of conversation from.

"Ben, I thought you were afraid of heights?" Doug checked the younger boy over to make sure he was fine, a tender hand on his shoulder as the teen looked like he still was possibly going to collapse from the exhaustion of it all. Ben's eyes were wide open with a deer in headlights look still to them, him fiddling with his hands in a way that seemed to say that he was still recovering from the terror of it all.

"I still am" Ben put simply, obviously too overwhelmed to talk much about what he had just done. "Wanted to help Prim"

"You did Ben. You too Travis, I'm really proud of you both" I assured them as I joined in with their conversation a bit, gently hugging Ben with one hand to show how grateful I was to have his help even though he was fearful about heights. Some colour did start returning to his cheeks, but I understood that he wasn't quite ready to come out what would have essentially been a panic attack on the overpass. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Don't make me do that again"

"Of course Ben, I'll do my best to keep you away from heights" I assured him as I hugged him tightly for a second, feeling a second later that he was hugging me back. It certainly more than made up for his small mistake of listening to Mr. Parker's instructions and it just made me love him all that much more. "Travis, Doug, Glenn? The three of you look after him for a bit, okay?"

"You got it" Doug promised, already slotting in for hugging the nervous teen after I gently peeled myself away from him. With Ben in good hands, I moved off to make sure that Omid was alright, as he also had likely been terrified during the entire process.

The moment I started to make my way over to him I was besieged by both kids and the cows however, who all were chattering and mooing in a way that implied that they knew how much danger I had been in just then. With my hands full patting the heads of those four, it meant that Omid and Christa had to come to me instead, which they mercifully did.

"Omid told me that you saved him from falling off the side of the train" Christa showed gratitude for what I had done, as Omid no doubt had omitted the part where I had told him that I knew it was going to happen. Perhaps it was a thing that could be talked about in the future, but not just then. "Thank you so much, I don't have the words to express how grateful I am"

"I'm just glad he's safe" I admitted it honestly to them both, with them both smiling in utter relief that everyone had come out fine out of that situation. I was quite pleased with myself, looking around at everyone who was in the carriage with us. Even usually protective people such as Lilly and Carley were hanging back to give me some space, which gave me the time I needed to realise that there actually was a single person missing from the group in the main carriage. A certain Floridian man who was also extremely protective... "Is Kenny in the drivers cabin?"

"Yeah, he took over for us" Shawn explained for the reason why the both of them were in the carriage rather than their previous station, which made me ponder a bit on why Kenny had specifically chosen to be on his own in the drivers cabin. He had been very distant for the last couple of hours, minus his one cheeky remark about me being able to charm the pants off anyone, so I was a bit concerned about him. "Do you want to be alone with him for a second?"

I was a bit surprised to notice that Shawn was able to guess so readily what I was thinking, but I smiled and nodded to show that he was indeed correct with his guess. I could only chalk it down to the fact that the majority of the group now knew me quite well, which was reassuring in every way. Once the others understood that I needed my time alone with Kenny, Katjaa and Lilly both made sure to come get Clementine and Duck while Shawn and Mark got Maybelle and Bramble, giving me the space I needed for the time being to slip away.

Once I was actually out of the main carriage did I have the opportunity to drop the facade that I had unknowingly put on myself, actually feeling for a second the massive amount of fear I had felt at the possibility of losing Ben, Travis or Omid in that chaos. For a moment I looked up at the sky, both to recover my worried mind and to see if the sky was adjusting itself in any manner... It wasn't, which meant that it only really shifted if I prevented someone's death, not anything else. A character could get injured all they wanted and nothing would change that sky... Which I still didn't know what it meant.

Well, whatever what was going on with the sky, it didn't change the fact that I was going to save others in this world. And it also didn't change the fact that Kenny was being distant, which straightened me up and move onward to the drivers cabin.

Unlike Mark and Shawn who had been practically glued to the controls, Kenny was stoically standing in the middle of the drivers cabin and looking out ahead of us with a far off look to his eyes. Only when the door closed again did he seem to register that someone had joined him, turning his head enough to see me. Once he realised it was me, he did give me a smile, but it oddly enough didn't seem to reach his eyes like it always would in the past.

"Hey" I greeted him in a relaxed manner, as I didn’t really want to make him feel uncomfortable but I did want to know what was going on with him. He returned a similar greeting, returning to his original posture as he seemed to return to his weirdly distant self. "Everything alright? I've noticed that something's been bothering you"

"...Is anyone else coming through here?" He asked me, and I turned my head back over to the door to make sure that nobody had followed me over. It didn't appear to be, so I had faith that they had truly heard that I wanted to be alone with Kenny for a while.

"No, I said that I wanted to be alone with you for a bit" I could admit with confidence that I didn't expect someone else to be joining us anytime soon, and somehow that admission seemed to make his body show signs of relaxing. I didn't ask the question again about what was bothering him, instead just gently laying my hand over his. It took him a couple of seconds, but he soon gently linked his fingers through mine as I waited patiently for him to find the courage to talk.

"...You said we're from a video game, right?" Kenny double checked that piece of information with me, which I did nod my head to. He sighed a bit, knowing that I likely wouldn't lie to him about things like this after I had proven that I could actually correctly predict things happening in the future, but it did seem as that was exactly the reason why he was bothered. "That means I'm a character made from the imagination of someone else. Everything I do, whether it be how I act down, how I feel or even down to how I think... Is any of it even real? Or is it just predestined how I would react to a situation? Am I even considered to be truly alive if everything about me is made from someone else?"

"...True, the in game version of you only had a limited range of emotions to react to situations, but I don't think that applies to you Kenny" I admitted my feelings on the subject honestly, gently clutching his hand as his actual emotions spilled out. He even looked close to tears about the idea of him possibly being not real, that I just wanted to make it all better. "You have actually shown signs of being different from that game persona. The very fact that you surprised me when we first met at the Greene farm already proves it, and you are nowhere near as violent or combative against people such as Lilly as you would have been in the game"

"But isn't that because of your influence?" Kenny still seemed unsure with what I was trying to tell him, but that was exactly what I needed to pick up to convince.

"Exactly! Remember what I said, the game was actually very rigid with not much actually being changed in terms of peoples choices, and that included how characters naturally were" I happily picked up on the slight difference between the game and him, and it seemed as if it was very slowly making its way into his mind what I meant. "The only thing that the player was able to change was how the characters reacted to the player, not anyone else! So if you showed signs of actually becoming better friends with Shawn, Mark, Lilly, Doug, Glenn, Carley - Hell! Anyone at all! - Because of my influence, then that means-

"That I'm not like the person in the game" Kenny suddenly seemed to get it, finishing my sentence perfectly like he had managed to do when we had escaped from the St. John dairy. It took him a couple more seconds to finally get it, him turning to me with a broadening grin on his grizzled face before he picked me up and twirled me around in a frenzy of happiness. "I'm real!"

I giggled in utter joy as he twirled me around a bit in pure bliss, eventually coming to a halt but not quite letting me go, letting me look down at him for a moment. It was unadulterated happiness that made me kiss him softly, even as his moustache and five o'clock shadow gently scraped over my skin as he kissed me back.

As he gently laid me back down onto the ground, his hands accidentally brushed past my rear as he tried to ensure he wouldn't drop me. Usually this would have gotten a response of immediate apology from him, a cheeky remark back from me, which would then prompt a wolfish response back from him, but this usual formula was thrown off by a small beeping noise from my waist.

"What was that noise?" Kenny asked me, immediately curious about it. His hands went wandering back for a second before he realised it meant that he would unashamedly have to be groping my rear for that to work, which he decided to renege on when he became aware that it was likely easier for me to search my backside than him. "Oh, uh... It's probably best if you look"

I chuckled a bit naughtily as I noticed how sheepish he actually was getting about patting me down like that, before I actually reached my hand back and checked myself. The only thing that made sense for a beeping noise was the walkie-talkie that I had swapped out with Clementine's one, which meant that Kenny had likely accidentally pushed the button. When I pulled it off to inspect it however, the button to speak through it had been half jammed into it, which meant it had been permanently on with Kenny pushing it for half a second to make it go back to normal for a small period of time.

"Weird, I'm quite certain it wasn't like this when I went up on the overpass" I was a little confused by it, trying to use my fingers in such a way to unjam the button from its stuck on position. "It might have been pushed in a bit roughly when I jumped onto the carriage just earlier"

"Huh, maybe" Kenny had to agree, but both he and I weren't that bothered by the prospect of it being on for a while as we didn't think anyone else would really even be tuned in. "Well, it's not like we would be bothering someone, so I'd say it's all-

"You damn little shits think you got your happy ending, huh?! Well just you wait, I'll get you! I'll-

I very nearly dropped the walkie-talkie in fright the moment I fixed the button, as the moment it wasn't pressed in any longer we could hear a woman's voice shouting utter abuse at us. Whoever had been talking immediately stopped once they realised that we could hear them, but the damage had been done. The moment I looked up at Kenny's face I could see the fear and shock that was no doubt on my own face reflected back at me in his own features, the both of us at a complete loss as to who that was supposed to be.

"Do... Do you know who that was supposed to be?" Kenny asked me, as of course I was more likely to be the one to know who it was.

"A woman's voice" I was stuck on that one particular detail, as it was nowhere near the calm and methodically scary one that belonged to the stranger, instead belonging to a character that was... Weirdly familiar, but also not, as if it was a character who had made a big impact on me but they were also a character that had only shown up for a very short while in the original game. "I'm... I'm not quite sure Kenny"

"Do we at least know what we're supposed to do about them?" Was the following question that he likely wanted to have answered, and there only was one real answer I could think of. With a deep frown etched onto my features at the thought of this vaguely familiar person hurting anyone in my group, I made a venomous promise that luckily seemed to be understood perfectly by Kenny.

"...If they're going to harm anyone in my group, then it's very simple; I'm going to kill them"

Chapter Text

Walking down the near empty streets of Savannah was eerie to say the least, small remnants of what likely were the last reminders of humanity in old forgotten cars and littered trash being all around the roads, but no sign of life... Or undead, for that matter. But surprisingly enough, my anxiety wasn't heightened by the fact it seemed far too quiet for its own good, but rather how difficult it was to find that home that the original game characters resided in for the two final episodes of the season.

The houses looked all the same to me, no identifying features that really gave away which one I was supposed to turn my group into, and the longer I was taking the more I was worried of not being able to get my people out of the street before Molly would inevitably ring the bell and bring a horde of walkers down onto us.

"Stupid Americans and their similar streets" I cursed the fact that their society was incredibly regimented on how their neighbourhoods or even their different streets looked too much like each other, but luckily my remark flew over everyone else's heads. If they knew I was wondering without much of a clue, I could only imagine how much more panic there would have been. "Keep an eye out for any churches we pass by, especially if they're on our left"

"Any particular reason we're watching for that?" Mark asked me, to which I pondered for a second whether it was even best to tell them about the bell ringing that was about to happen. Sure, it meant we would be hurrying along a bit faster, but it also likely was going to increase the anxiety if it actually did happen. "Because there's one off to our left right now"

My head snapped over to the church over on our left along with several others in our group, but very few of them were looking at the bell tower in it like I was. A couple of people seemed to slow down a bit as they saw my concerned face, soon following my eyesight to notice exactly what I had, which was a silhouette of a person climbing up the large bronze bell hanging there.

"We need to move" I didn't shout it, but certainly commanded them to move faster, shifting my own legs into a mild sprint forward to get past the crossroad we were nearing. I took in some of my surroundings as we passed through that crossroads a little more than usual, taking note of things that usually wouldn't mean much such as a familiar looking decrepit car and an overturned bin... Which meant that had we dawdled, that would have been the place where we would have lost Chuck for good.

Luckily I could hear the others all sprinting behind me, as none of us particularly had any leg injuries unlike the game. Once we were past the crossroads did we hear the bell start to ring loudly behind us, which was just another signal for us to get into any house we could find. I was about to sprint directly past what seemed to be yet another uninteresting house, when I took note of the old, forgotten yellow chew toy left behind in their front yard.

"In here" I decided it was as much of a signal as I was going to get from the universe, tiptoeing around the side of the house to head towards their gate leading to the backyard. Right near the corner of their hedge (which I supposed they considered good enough for a fence for their front yard) was a number of forgotten wheelie bins and several boxes of cardboard that hadn't been picked up since the world had gone to hell. Something about them made me paranoid, so I made a particular effort to swerve quite a distance around them, as they reminded me too much of the pile of rubbish that the walker was hiding in later in the exact episode we were caught in. "Be careful of those bins"

"Ow!" Somewhat predictably, my warning seemed to be a little too late for one member of my group who was in too much of a hurry to pay much attention, it sounding a little like Ben had managed to bang his hip or something similar into the corner of one of the bins. "Sorry, that's my bad, I didn't see them until just now"

I had made a mistake that felt quite like Deja vu in a way, as somehow my mind was reminded of the time I had tried to warn Lee about avoiding the pool of blood in Clementine's kitchen, only for the latter to still slip on it even though I had warned him in time. But of course, the memory of Lee did remind me sharply about how quickly I had lost him, which made me turn my head even as I opened the latch on the iron gate to make sure that Ben was fine... And it seemed as if that was the right attitude to have, as the moment Ben had turned around and ignored the one bin he had unsettled, a walker seemed to crawl out of the middle of that group of garbage and lunge at him.

"BEHIND YOU!" I didn't have much time to warn the teen, as nobody else was directly behind him with a weapon, which meant the moment I gave the warning nobody was really sure who I was referring to. Ben did have the sense to at least check behind him to make sure, but he made a fatal mistake by lifting his hands to defend himself rather than hurriedly backing up.

"What the he- OWWW!"

The sound of tearing skin was unmissable the moment the walker latched its teeth onto Ben's right wrist, blood spraying in a gruesome display directly onto the walkers face and onto the ground beneath Ben. I was stuck at the gate with several people crowded around me, so I didn't dare take out my pistol in case my shot nerves would mean that I would accidentally nail one of my other people instead of the walker, let alone the risk that I would hit Ben instead. Doug, who was hanging at the back of the group with Ben, Travis and Glenn, did however have the space and weapon necessary to help him out, immediately thrusting with his awl into the eye of the walker the moment it had sunk its teeth into its victim. But even with the walker finally letting go of him, we now had an entirely different problem.

"Everyone inside now!" Lilly took over the immediate leading of the group, still ushering people and animals into the backyard as I started to struggle my way to the back to reach the four people at the rear. Both Doug and Travis were trying to get Ben to show the injury to them while Glenn was keeping an eye out that no other walker would sneak up on them, but no words seemed to be able to reach me as the blood pounded in my ears.

This couldn't have been happening, it just couldn't! I had managed to save so many in the group, let alone the fact that it was nowhere near the time for Ben to even be in danger of dying, so why was this happening?!

Once I got close enough to actually be within touching distance of those four did I manage to see that Ben was refusing to show his bite to the rest of them, holding it close to his chest and trying to shuffle his sleeve up higher on his letterman jacket to staunch the blood flowing from it. Even with him being quite good in hiding it from those two, at my angle I could just barely see that the bite had wrecked not just the skin, but the flesh and tendons underneath as well, some loose strands of muscle even dangling out in an unnatural display of how the inside of someone's wrist worked.

"Ben, you seriously need to show me it, I need to make sure you're fine" Travis was still unsuccessfully trying to get him to show the injury, but it was clear from the harrowed look in his eyes that he wasn't even sure what he was supposed to do with it if Ben even had given his wrist over. "I... Shit, what the hell do I do?"

"You five, didn't you hear Lilly?! Get inside now!" Kenny was the enforcer for Lilly's commands while I was distracted, storming over to snatch Travis by his collar and dragging the younger boy towards the back yard despite the latter's protests. Glenn did a similar thing for Doug, obviously seeing in my eyes that I would do the same for Ben, but I needed the space.

"Ben, I can help you, but I need you to follow everything I say" I fought to keep my voice under control as I talked to him, as I did at least have a passing idea on how to handle the bite he now had. Knowing what to do and actually doing it were two different things of course, as I had never had to cut someone's arm off to save their life, nor did I even know if Ben would manage to survive the act of removing the limb in the first place.

"No, no! Its fine, I... I don't think it actually-

"Ben. Listen to me" I moved my hand to tightly grip the closest shoulder I could get on him, forcing him to turn and face me. Even though there was some doubt in my mind, I had no choice but to throw that all out. There was no room for a half-hearted attempt to save him, I had to go all in to even have a chance of it saving his life, so that meant that I had to show him that I was one hundred percent there for him. "I will save you, but you have to let me"

He saw the conviction in my eyes, the kind of motivation to save them beyond both the game's capabilities and this universe. While he had been close to denying that he was even bitten before, he seemed to understand that I would do everything in my power to help him, as after all I had already done a more impossible thing by literally travelling to another universe to do so.

"...Okay" He finally allowed it, which was all the permission I needed. While still holding onto his shoulder I dragged him after everyone else in the backyard, shutting the iron gate the moment everyone was inside, including us both.

"Now listen good, because I'm only going to give these instructions once! Chuck, and whoever can take that shovel on the side of the shed, you two need to go and dig up that grave over there and get the collar off the dog buried there. Once you have that, hold it near the electronic doggy door and get Clementine or Duck to sneak in through it to unlock the door" I rattled off the entire list of things they would need to do without my help, as my hands were certainly going to be full doing other things. While there certainly seemed to be a couple of extra questions in their minds (likely to do with whether the dog was actually going to bite them if they dug it up), but they realised we didn't have all the time in the world to ask every little thing passing through their minds. Kenny seemed to be the one to go for the spare shovel on the side of the shed, as he likely was eagre to do something rather than standing around, so he and Chuck quickly got to work on the mound of dirt they would have to dig up. "Katjaa, please hand me some saline so that I can disinfect my axe to be on the safe side. After that - Ah, thank you - Please put a tourniquet on his arm just above the bite and give him some kind of pain relief"

"Primrose, what are you planning on doing?" Katjaa did do the things I asked her, but there was a worry in her eyes from the combination of them all together. She likely had figured out what I was going to do, with her question more there to try and get me to think it over a little bit more, but we didn't have time to think it over when there was no other alternative.

"Ben, lie down on the ground for me please, I'm going to need a decently hard surface to hit against for this to work out" I purposefully chose not to answer Katjaa, mainly because I knew there would have been too much time wasted in deliberating as to whether it was or wasn't a good idea. Time was not on my side, so I was more than pleased to see that Ben flopped himself onto the ground with his arm out (he was looking a bit loopy, but that was likely down to the fact he had been given a good dose of morphine) without much protest. "Anyone who doesn't want to see a gruesome sight should probably look away now"

"Primrose, wait-

"I'm going to count to three, and if you haven't looked away by then, then I'm not waiting any longer" I used the three second rule generally kept to children right then, with several people actually taking the liberty I had given to them on looking away, with Katjaa being the last one as she hurried to make sure that the children wouldn't have to see it. Only Christa, Travis (who still was looking a bit harrowed for my liking, but he had come on Ben's other side to hold onto his hand for support), Kenny, Lilly and Chuck dared to actually look. "Three... Two... One"

On the final count I lifted the axe as far as I could behind my head and swung it as hard as I could manage. Unlike Lee who needed around three swings to save Mr. Parker from the bear trap, I only needed the one to separate Ben's hand from his wrist with an almighty crunching noise as the axe cut through the bone as well. It took a couple of seconds for the pain to really sink into his drugged up mind, but Travis sort of pre-empted the noise problem we would have by hurriedly putting his hands over his friends mouth so that the worst of the noises ended up being muffled screaming. It still unsettled me to hear those noises, as it did for several other people as well, but at least the worst part was going to be over for him.

"We got the collar!" Kenny was done just as I was, as both he and Chuck were a lot faster with the two of them than a solitary version of Lee. He quickly came barging past us as I started to help Katjaa apply several layers of bandages and saline around and on the now bloody stump, and only a second later I could hear the affirmative sounding beep coming from the backdoor. "Kids, one of you come and unlock this door"

Clementine hurried over and dove through the doggy door before anyone could really stop her, both in the sense that she likely wanted to get away from the gruesome scene and because she was still always wanting to be helpful. The door unclicked a second after that, and Kenny didn't waste any time in getting everyone inside. Without me even having to ask him, Mark came over to collect the still loopy and in pain teen, carrying him in his arms a little as if he was nothing more than a young child that he was bringing to bed.

"Take him upstairs, there's a bed in one of those rooms that we can lay him on" I instructed the pilot as he carefully manoeuvred Ben's long dangly limbs around the door-frame and up the stairs, before letting Katjaa go up with him and returning to my task of leading my group for a moment. "Shawn, what do you think is best, keeping the cows outside or inside?"

"I think we should bring them inside for a bit, just until the noise quiets down outside and then I'll bring them right out, as the grass here should be good for them" Shawn gave his personal opinion, as he and Carly carefully brought both animals inside and got them situated in the living room around the couches and soft chairs they had there. "Should we look for walkers in here, or do you know that this place is empty?"

"There's only a single one in the attic, and we might not even have to worry about that one because the attic is closed off with a heavy container" I felt a little bit bad for ignoring Fivel up in the attic, but currently I had more important things to worry about with my own group. "I'm going to check in on Ben, hang tight until then"

"You got it" Lilly was perfectly fine with me ducking away already, as she could spot the worry growing in my mind. There possibly was even a question brewing in her mind as to whether this was supposed to be the way Ben had died in the original, but she seemed to have the decency to not ask it right in that moment. As I turned to head up the stairs, she left me with a lingering touch on my shoulder, which made me pause for just a moment before I went. "Everyone's here for you"

I tried my best to smile at her, but it was an extremely thin one in the moment, the worry winning out over being optimistic and being appreciative of how many I had already managed to save. If... If I had failed to save Ben, it would be another life that I had lost because I had stupidly assumed that someone else would be paying the same amount of attention as I did.

"I'm going with you" Travis decided to slot in beside me, no doubt caring a whole deal about his best friend. It seemed as if that wasn't the only reason, as I likely had looked at him a bit frazzled, which meant that he knew that I needed the support as much as Ben did.

Going up the stairs we encountered Mark coming back down, as he likely had been shooed away by Katjaa, quite evidenced by the fact he gave a small sheepish smile to me as he passed by both me and Travis. After he made me promise that I would come get him if I needed him, he proceeded back down the stairs while Travis and I continued upwards, before I made the immediate beeline towards the one room that I knew contained a bed.

When I opened the door to the room I wasn't that surprised to see that Katjaa was still working on him, her gently preparing a needle to give him a small blood transfusion to replace the amount he had already lost. She didn't turn her head to look at us as we came in, likely assuming that we were Mark coming right back after she had told him to leave.

"I told you already Mark, I don't need someone hovering around me while I work like some kind of hummingbird-

"It's just us Katjaa" I assured her that it wasn't the same person, and this time she did turn her head to correctly identify us. Once she saw the uncertainty in Travis' eyes and my own worried ones her tone returned to her usual softer one, one which I actually really appreciated in the moment.

"Oh, okay. Travis, seeing as you're here, can you please tell me what blood type Ben is?" Katjaa softly asked him, to which Travis answered that he was certain that Ben was an A positive blood type. Once she got everything squared away by applying some more saline on the wound and the needle transferring the blood into the proper part of what remained of his arm, she sighed and stood straight up, before seemingly making plans to find out where she could clean her hands. "He fainted the moment he was laid on the bed, the poor boy. I'll leave you guys with him for a bit"

The silence was deafening once the door clicked shut after she left, with the very faint sounds of Ben's breathing being one of the few things we could make out. It didn't last forever however, Travis somewhat stiffly moving himself over to kneel at Ben's left side to hold his limp hand. Even with the description of Ben being fainted, it clearly wasn't a comfortable one, as the beads of sweat on his forehead and his scrunched facial features meant that he still felt the pain even as his body was trying to rest.

"...I've, uh... I've never seen him like this before" Travis broke the silence again, something which finally seemed to make my brain click back on and pay attention to the world around me rather than staring at Ben's unconscious form. "He's always been a bit clumsy, you know? Doing stupid things because he doesn't always think them through, trusting others despite signals that he really shouldn't"

"I know what you mean" I supposed it would have been a bit odd for him to hear me talk about Ben as if I knew them both from the moment they were born, but I wanted to be able to speak openly about Ben without having to talk around the things from the game. "Even though you know he always gets into trouble, and the fact that it comes down to yourself to save him most of the time, it never hits home how often he could have been hurt until he actually one day gets hurt"

"Yeah, no kidding" Travis laughed somewhat bitterly, as it felt difficult to actually talk about it all when the person you were talking about couldn't actually contribute to the discussion. "The especially cruel thing is that... Well, I had first wanted to be friends with him because I thought it would make me look smarter in comparison. After all, if I was surrounded by idiots, maybe it would make my father actually appreciate me more"

...That was certainly a new one. There wasn't much someone could learn about a character that only spoke around three lines to you in the original game, and everything about Travis felt like a new person that threw a curveball every five seconds.

Now that I had the answer before me, it made all the clues make that much more sense; he held his father in high esteem, but somehow Travis knew very little about things such as driving or shooting a gun, which in America was quite a common thing for fathers to teach their sons about. It all combined to make a very... Painful picture to look at, one where a child thought the world of their parent, but that parent never truly took the time to learn who their child was.

"But of course, Ben never figured out that I had been 'friends' for a selfish reason. He's a bit oblivious, but he... He cares, probably a lot more than he should" He laughed another dry chuckle, one which I joined in with because I could most definitely see it happening. Even though there were some small snippets of laughter in our one-sided conversation, I could see the tears creeping up in his eyes that he was trying to blink away. "I don't know when it happened, but eventually that fake friendship became a real one. At that point I had made a promise that I wouldn't let anything happen to him, that he could continue being that stupidly oblivious ray of sunshine that would help people out"

I could tell that he was having difficulty by that point in keeping those emotions at bay, lifting myself off the door that I had begun to lean against and instead moving closer to him until I was kneeling directly beside him at the side of the bed. The moment I was there, I could see those tears spill over his eyelids, likely from the realisation that his promise was a lot harder to keep on his own in this new world than it would have been in non-walker old life.

"...I failed him" For a moment I could have sworn that Travis was speaking my own thoughts aloud, but it seemed clear from the lines of tears on his face that it was his own. Like Glenn had done for me when I had run into Lee's brother at the drug store, I gently wrapped him in the comforting feel of my body and my sweater, doing my best to comfort him in what would have no doubt been an even harder time for him than it was for me. "I don't know how you keep it together for everyone when something could happen to anyone..."

"It's occasionally difficult, but in those times I find help in the others" It was oddly therapeutic, as though helping him with his problem was the best thing to help me. Even as he softly sniffled in the nape of my neck, I softly pet his greasy hair (everyone's hair was greasy since showering was a difficult thing with the scarce water, but somehow I didn't mind it like I would have in my old world) in a rhythmic soothing motion. "I know it's hard to admit that we need help, especially at your and my age, but you'd be surprised by who will help you if you ask"

Time was steadily becoming the most precious thing I could give in that new universe. No matter what I was doing, I was always planning ahead, always saying that I didn't have time to stop and relax. Didn't have time for this, didn't have time for that... And honestly, it was a hard reality to find out how such an attitude would affect those in my group. While moving fast was the best thing for Chuck, it ended up possibly costing Ben and Travis more, especially considering the fact that I still didn't tell everyone in my group everything in the fear that they'd be unable to cope with the anxiety of everything possibly going wrong... And yet, I willingly was still wearing that anxiety on exclusively my own shoulders.

It was time to start spending my time and knowledge in a better way than before. While I certainly couldn't completely forgo the faster pace I had put on to still be in time to help people, I had to tell things more clearly and decide better what was a priority for our time. Part of that better priorities meant I had to pay more attention to the emotional well-being of those in my group, even if it was during a busy time of an episode of the original game.

And at that very moment, I was more than happy to dedicate some of that precious time to Travis.

Chapter Text

After me and Travis had cleaned ourselves up as much as we could, we popped out to swap with Katjaa again in who was taking care of Ben, with the veterinarian stopping me for a moment to give me some less than stellar news. With a bit of a sigh, me and the younger teen continued on downwards where everyone was, to plan our next move.

Almost everyone gathered in the living room turned their eyes to meet me as I came in, and for a moment if I hadn't reassured myself that it was more out of concern and the fact they trusted my leadership I would have almost felt intimidated by it all. Predictably, Shawn was missing out of the members of my group with the cows being outside, so with us also missing Ben and Katjaa upstairs, we had only thirteen out of our sixteen present.

"I know there's probably a lot of questions on your minds, but please try to not overload me with too many questions at once" I started off the discussion with that reminder to them, with the majority of people nodding their heads. Unfortunately, my reminder did make them a little unsure in asking their questions, glancing between each other in uncertainty as to whether someone else was going to ask the questions they had on their mind and to not speak over one another. "...Okay, I guess I'll go first. Katjaa just told me that we're running a little low on saline and that frankly we have no antibiotics, so infection is something that might be a risk if we don't find more of either"

"Do you know of a place in Savannah where we can find some?" Doug asked me, as he could already see the cogs spinning around in my mind of how I was going to get more to help Ben. Travis still seemed like he needed support, and Doug (who surprisingly seemed to have a knack for telling when the teens and young kids needed support) ushered him over for a warm hug, which seemed to really help.

"I do. There's a community here in Savannah known as 'Crawford', who stockpile various supplies, who have been overrun by walkers an undisclosed time ago in the original timeline" I explained it to them as I sat down in one of the abandoned chairs in the living room, cringing a little with how loud it creaked under my weight. "We originally go there to get supplies to fix a boat, but an added side effect is that we get medical supplies for our injured. The only problem is, the game never really... Explained how we get there, so we have to go and make friends with both Vernon and Molly, two other characters we find in this city"

"But wait, what about my parents?" Clementine interjected before we got too far along, bringing the discussion to a figurative halt. It was true, another reason we were here was because I was banking on the small chance that her parents hadn't been bitten like their recording in their house claimed... But now, we had a bigger responsibility in the sense that Ben was right in front of us and we could help him.

It was like pitching a person who had a fifty percent chance of surviving against two strangers who you had no idea how likely they were to survive. If Alex had been hovering on my shoulder (I sincerely never hoped to have that, as he honestly was an asshole), he would have told me from his doctor training that it was a no-brainer to focus on the one who actually had a chance to survive. But still... I didn't want to force Clementine to choose one simply because I told her to.

"True, part of why we're here in Savannah is to look for your parents, but we can't split up to do both things just yet" I gently hopped off my chair and knelt on the floor to be closer to her height, trying my best to be sympathetic to her. "I'm not going to force you to choose one over the other, but Ben really needs our help now"

She looked down at her small feet as she thought about which one she wanted to do. Ben was still as good a friend to her as he was in the game, so it was no surprise that she was having difficulty choosing between them both. With a bit of worry in her eyes, she lifted her head to properly look at me before she asked a question that was difficult for me to answer.

"In the game, are my parents alive when we find them?" She asked me, and the long deep sigh coming from me already gave her a bit of a bad impression as to what the answer was going to be.

"...No, they aren't" It hurt me both mentally and physically to tell her that, as immediately I could see tears well up in her eyes. "It doesn't tell us when they... Passed, however, so I came here in the chance that we might be in time to save them too. Even so, we still can only do one thing at a time, as getting into Crawford is a whole group thing"

Clementine understood perfectly that I was still wanting her to make the decision, especially choosing my words carefully so that she didn't feel influenced either way. If she absolutely insisted on finding her parents first, then I would have to do some serious juggling of my people to do it, but I would do it for her. But truth being told, I did want to focus my attention on Ben, as I cared about him vastly more... But I still couldn't make that choice for her.

"...I want to help Ben, he's my friend" Clementine decided for what she found more important in the moment, which made me extremely relieved as it honestly was the one that I had wanted to do as well. Even so, I could tell it was hard for her to make that decision, and I hugged her to show how proud I was that she was waiting just a bit longer to go and find her parents. "We'll still look for my parents afterwards, right?"

"Of course Clem, we're absolutely going to look for them once we're done in Crawford" I reassured her that we weren't going to be leaving Savannah without even looking for them, before shifting my focus back to everyone around me. "The best way to meet Molly, and subsequently Vernon is to head towards the water from this house here, before ducking down into the sewers between two specific buildings. I need to take the kids and Chuck with me down to the water, because frankly I don't feel like getting my head beat in by Molly"

"Why would takin' me an' the children make a difference?" Chuck didn't quite understand, which made sense because they didn't know the morbid rules behind Crawford.

"Both Molly and Vernon are wary about anyone in Crawford, because that community kill or reject anyone who needs more attention than most to survive. Ergo, both children and elderly wouldn't be a part of Crawford, so they won't be likely to assume that we're part of them" I deduced as best I could, but that didn't mean that those three were the only ones I was planning on taking. Sure, I needed those three, but that didn't mean that it was best for my group to only take the minimum that I needed. It would not only make the journey much safer for me, the kids and Chuck safer (like Ben and Travis had proven that one time by coming up with me on the overpass) but it would give them some piece of mind as well that I wasn't charging off and doing everything on my own again. "I do think it might be good to take two extra people with us, one to come with me and Chuck into the sewers and the other to make sure that the kids and Molly make it back to this house alright"

"I... I'm sorry, but I really want to be here to keep an eye on Ben" Travis already bowed out of the possibility of going with me, which was perfectly fine by me as he still didn't know quite how to shoot a gun well.

"That's fine; I need you here to help Katjaa out anyway. Mark, please take Kenny and Shawn out the back to the shed and see how the boat is doing back there, at the worst we could use it as a bargaining chip" I started to give out several different tasks for people to do after I explained this section of the plan, finally seeming like people knew what was going on. After Crawford I would be able to explain to them the dangers of the world as well as the possibility of the stranger, and hopefully be long gone out of Savannah after finding Clementine's parents. "Omid, Christa, would you two do me the honours of searching the house for any remaining supplies? I must admit, I'm not too keen on the idea of Molly pilfering everything that remains in this house before we could use it"

"You got it" Omid affirmed that he was more than happy to do it, with Christa also nodding her head with a smile. So far my decisive actions had endeared me to the latter of the couple, and frankly every part of me seemed to make Omid happy, so they were beginning to become a beautiful addition to the group. "You said there was a walker in the attic?"

"Yeah, there should be just one in here, but just be careful cause there can always be some hiding like the one in the rubbish outside" I decided to warn them a little bit more just to be on the safe side, as I didn't want to run into the potential of another person being bitten in our group. I was about to suggest that Doug and Glenn come with me, when I noticed that they had returned to fiddling with the grappling hook that they had been working on when we were in the train. "...What are you two doing?"

Glenn gave the silliest response ever by just simply grabbing what seemed to be a wooden bowl and sticking the hook of the grappling hook on the end of it. Even though I had a vague idea on what he was going to be doing while I tromped through the sewers, Doug came along and actually gave me the proper answer.

"We're thinking of making a hooked hand for Ben" Doug explained, which as much as it sounded like a bit of a waste of time, it still brought a smile to my face that they were already planning for the eventual time when he would recover. "If nothing else, it'll be funny"

"Alright then, I guess that's a good enough reason to work on that" I conceded that it would be handy to make a usable thing for Ben once he recovered, which left only two people on my group who stood there without any task assigned to them. Carley could tell even without me saying anything that she was coming along, preparing her pistol with a confident look on her face while Lilly patiently crossed her arms over her chest as she waited for me to ask them to come with me. "Ladies, would you do me the favour of taking care of me on this short excursion?"

"I'd love nothing more" Lilly happily addressed my request, before she stalled a little bit with a slightly confused look on her face before eventually grinning about something else and winking suggestively. "Actually, no, I would love something else more than accompanying you there. But we'll save that for another time, shall we?"

The kids were the only ones not to get the joke, everyone else either quietly snickering to themselves or laughing at my quickly reddening face. I laughed the slight embarrassment off, and quickly made a loose hand gesture in the air that signified that everyone else should get to work.

After collecting a rifle for me and Lilly, Carley's pistol being safely tucked away in her jacket and Chuck's shovel over his shoulder, we headed out as a group of six towards the water. It wasn't that hard to follow the sounds of the ocean, the streets all being relatively straight enough that we could head in a straight line there.

The roads were... Too quiet for my liking. Even if we discounted the fact that the buildings looked drab, grey and unloved for years, there was some kind of oppressive attitude hanging around in the air that wasn't a direct result of the rot coming from deceased bodies. It was more like a sense of dread that followed you around, a feeling that every corner you turned around would lead to your imminent demise. Let me tell you, that feeling could never be replicated in a game; no matter how hard you tried.

"I hear a bell ringing" Duck pointed out somewhere in the distance, it being off to our left not that far away, down a street or two. It was likely exactly the same person who had rung the last one, and it was just the right timing that in another ten minutes or so, the walkers would come swarming back which would lead to us needing to duck down underground.

"I know Duck, that's supposed to happen. Stay close to me though, just to be safe" I reassured both kids, but they still quite happily followed my advice of pressing in closer. Clementine hopped back into her habit of holding onto my left hand with her right, while Duck found an available loop on my jodhpurs which he gently held onto. Carley was the protective person she always was, coming around on the other side of the kids to keep them safe, while Lilly still remained firmly pressed onto my right.

"Yer certainly quite the ladies woman" Chuck couldn't help but notice, raising his eyebrows in a teasing manner with how close the two women and Clementine pressed to me. I just grinned, not wanting to laugh too loud in case I attracted a walker, before shrugging my shoulders. "Guess some people get all the charm"

"What can I say? I'm blessed" I left it at that, my eyes retraining on the end of the street where I could vaguely see the road eventually turn into a pier. "But there is one thing I have to mention before we find either Molly or Vernon, and that is that I don't think we should mention to either of them about my future seeing abilities"

"You don't trust them?" Carley asked for my opinion on the two we were seeking out, her eyes showing quickly that she was worried about leaving me alone with either person if I didn't trust them wholeheartedly.

"Molly's alright, but Vernon is definitely someone I don't trust. I'm worried that Molly would let it slip to Vernon, so we're better off skipping that information past her while we're at it" I decided quickly, as frankly there was little chance that this new reality's version of Vernon was going to be much better than the one from the game. Larry had been worse, Mr. Parker had been worse... For the most part, everyone had seemed to adapt and grow to a much more concentrated version of whatever they had been in the game, with all the lovely people being absolute gems to work and live with, while the ugly ones got way worse. "It's just a precaution"

"I ain't complainin', I think it's actually good that yer finally bein' a bit more aware of who ye tell" Chuck seemed to approve of me decision of being selective, and neither Lilly nor Carley had a problem with it. The kids did seem a bit confused, but they understood once I softly gave them a gesture that imitated zipping my lips.

We finally reached the end of the road, which held a beautiful wide open view to the pier and the ocean beyond it. It would have even been much prettier if it hadn't been an overcast day by that point, with a thick blanket of clouds blocking out the sun and adding to the depressing feel of the day. The moment I peered closer at the sky did it begin to wobble and ripple noticeably, likely reacting violently to the fact I had prevented Chuck from dying in the sewers like the game had originally intended. Like the time I had managed to save Mark, it wasn't only me who noticed it, with my entire entourage of five people noticing.

"What the hell?" Lilly was clearly confused by it enough to vaguely wander into the territory of swearing once again, which she quickly changed once Clementine softly reprimanded her for her use of language. It seemed to be that Lilly's words were enough to satisfy the others that they didn't have to make similar confused sentences, her looking at me softly and noticing that I wasn't as surprised as the rest of them to see the sky react in that way. "Do you know what that was about?"

"It happens every time I manage to save someone from their original death in the game. As for why it does that, your guess is as good as mine" I sighed, realising that I honestly still didn't know why it was doing that or what it was leading up to. It was hard to tell if the clouds had gotten any larger than they were before, the overcast weather was the reason for that confusion, but it likely had grown just like all of the other times. Were the skies going to open up on me when I had saved everyone, striking me down with some kind of lightening from an angry god because I had meddled in their plans?

"As much as the sky is weird, I must admit I'm a bit more concerned 'bout that over there" Chuck returned us to the real world, pointing off to our right towards the blockade that was a part of the border preventing us from entering Crawford. And just like everything else from the game, somehow it was far more horrific to view in real life than it was in the pixelated version of the game.

Even if we were discarding the smell from it, which was utterly disgusting in it's own right, the fact that every single walker piled onto the three meter high, two metre wide wall seemed to still be able to move to a degree was nauseating. Whether it was a fully formed walker that had been stuck onto spikes, or walkers that were cut in half to only be a top half that were trapped under other walkers, it seemed to be exactly for the intention that Crawford had meant it as... A warning for the living to stay far, far away from them.

"Oh god... Where those walkers still people when they went on the spikes?" Carley softly asked a question seemingly to nobody in particular, but it made my brain actually start to look over one of the walkers closest to me. The one I was staring at was emaciated, not from being a walker and not consuming anything, but seemingly as if they had starved after they had been placed on the spike. That combined with the fact that the spike was only stabbing through the shoulder and bottom half of their leg (both things which could have been survivable for a while) combined with slight scarring tissue around both ends of the metal rod (which showed that the body had tried valiantly, but failed to fix the damage that had been done), gave me an answer I really, really didn't like.

"...I don't know" I decided it was better to fib about what I had uncovered, as that information was going to help nobody beyond terrifying the children and upsetting my adult companions. I would have attempted to lie about it completely by saying that they were dead when they had gone on, but something told me that Lilly or Carley would have been able to pick up that I was lying in my intonation.

"Taking another look at your dirty work, you vile people?"

I was taken by surprise; much like everyone else was in my group, turning around to see Molly there with her ice pick raised high as though she was considering stabbing one of us in the skull. The moment she could take a better look at us however, she quickly noticed the children hiding behind my hip (Duck was being a very good kid by stepping half in front of Clementine, bless that boy) and Chuck leaning on his shovel for support, and her hostility seemed to wash away with the outgoing tide.

"Wait a moment, you guys aren't..." She trailed off once she realised her mistake, lowering her weapon long enough for Carley and Lilly to be ready to lift their weapons off their backs and unclick the safety on both of them. "Whoa, easy there. I mistook you guys for some people, but you're obviously not"

"I'm assumin' yer referrin' to the people who made that thin' there?" Chuck referred to the blockade directly behind us with a slight gesture of his head, to which Molly nodded her head behind her medical mask. "It ain't from us, we just got here in this darn city"

"No kidding, Crawford doesn't accept kids. Or elderly people for that matter" Molly told us what I had a feeling that she would tell us about, but the funniest reaction to her remark came from both Duck and Chuck (Rhyming was by coincidence, I swear), who felt they had to say something in response.

"But being a kid is the best!" Duck exclaimed with the cutest pout present on his face, with the majority of us giggling a little bit at his childlike response. The walkers on the blockade seemed to respond to his loud nature by growling and wriggling a little in place, but none of them managed to come anywhere near to us.

"Watch it youngster, I'll stick kick yer ass at my age" Chuck warned Molly, and apparently that was even funnier than what Duck had said according to Lilly, because her laughter was much louder at that one.

"Language" Clementine softly reminded Chuck to watch his use of words, which I reinforced as a good thing by softly patting her much shorter hair while I beamed proudly at her.

"Try me anytime old man, I'll easily throw you over my shoulder without breaking a sweat" Molly seemed completely unfazed with Chuck's threat, gently slipping off her medical mask to show how wide she was grinning at his feisty nature. If anything, she seemed to like meeting us much more than meeting Lee and Kenny from the game... But that wasn't all that surprising, as those two threatened her with a gun and tried to beat her head in with a wrench, while we had been friendly from the get-go. "And kid, I totally get that, growing up sucks"

"I'm Primrose, Prim for short for those who care about me" I decided to get our introductions with her going, as it would be much easier to convince her to help the children back to the house and subsequently help us into Crawford if she had a connection to us. "These two are Lilly and Carley; my girlfriends, these two are Clementine and Duck and the old man is Chuck"

"Stop callin' me the old man"

"Guys, I think we need to move" Carley warned us before we got onto another lot of bickering between Molly and Chuck, pointing behind the orange clad girl to the horde of walkers that had begun to wander back from the church bell that had rung. "Molly, would you be able to help us get back to the house we're staying in?"

Molly sighed deeply, obviously thinking that we were not the sharpest tools in the bunch, but she eventually waved for us to follow her into an alleyway just a house down from where we had come from. Ducking carefully around the outstretched walker limbs on the blockade so that we wouldn't get grabbed casually by the ones on the spikes, Molly showed us up by casually jumping off the side of the wall and using her ice pick to hook onto the fire escape dangling just out of reach from the ground for the rest of us.

"Come on Clementine, you and Duck are going first" I quickly made sure to pick up the tiny girl by her waist and lifted her as high as I could, which was enough for Molly to reach down and grab her. Next was Duck, who Lilly brought up, which left me enough time to turn around to regard Carley in preparation for lifting her up. "You're lighter than Lilly, so it's going to easier for me to lift you up there. Please take care of the kids and make sure everyone gets back safe to the house"

"Lilly, if you come back without Prim, prepare for me to kill you" Carley made sure to instil that important factor into Lilly as I lifted her up as high as I could, and honestly it was hard to not titter away when Lilly gave a very reassuring (if cheeky) response.

"Oh trust me, if I came back without her I'd help you in that case" Lilly confided that in her fellow comrade-in-love, which seemed to be enough to put Carley at ease.

The moment those three were safely on the fire escape it became quite obvious from the way the walkers were closing in that we wouldn't have the time to get the rest of us safely, which was fine by me as it wasn't my first plan anyway. Quickly gesturing down the alleyway a bit further, it was quite easy to locate the manhole cover that would lead us to the sewer.

With my axe and Chuck's shovel, it was quick work to lift the heavy grate off by levering it away from its original position with Lilly kicking it away. After that, it was down into the depths we went.

Chapter Text

If the lingering smell of rotting flesh was bad, then those sewers were another thing entirely. The workers in the city likely didn't have the time to flush out the waste when the world went to hell, so not only were we contending with the cramped space and smell of decaying walkers, but we also had a healthy dose of sewage that was at least three months old.

"God, it smells horrible down here" I whispered softly to myself, giving myself only the one comment to complain about it before I would eventually shut myself up. I did break that one rule the moment Lilly stuck her nose in the crook of my neck, holding me extremely close to her. "You okay Lilly?"

"You smell much nicer than these sewers" She mumbled into my neck without pulling away from me, and I felt a little like laughing because that was not as much of a compliment as it initially sounded. Even so, she was being unbearably adorable, which made me play along for a bit.

"I literally haven't showered in months"

"Still better"

"Quit yer flirtin' for a second and help me find the proper way to go" Chuck wasn't eager to stand underneath the open manhole for long, especially not when one of the walkers made the mistake of tripping around another walkers foot and tumbling to their demise onto the harsh concrete. "Cause I reckon I'm not too keen on gettin' a surprise piggy back from these thin's"

"Yeah, let's go" I agreed with him, gently peeling Lilly off me so that we could walk unhindered despite our collective disgust for the stench in that place. Finding the correct grate we were supposed to go through was simple, as like the original game it was the only one uncovered. It led directly downwards from where we were standing, the thick layer of mold and moss causing the entire tunnel to seem like it was green from the moment it had been built. "Be careful walking down this, it's very slippery"

I had based that off the fact that Lee had slipped on it originally if the player hurried too much, but I supposed it was a bit much to presume that everyone would do that, Lee did have a knack for being able to slip over anything and everything after all. With my non-slip boots and Lilly's careful steps, both of us women managed to make it down without so much as a stumble, but the sound of someone losing their grip and tumbling down after us made it obvious that Chuck had not been as lucky as us.

"Dang it" Chuck softly cursed to himself, keeping his voice down so that he wouldn't attract further attention from the walkers in the area we had dropped down into. "I sure hope after we leave this town that the adventures are gonna get a lot easier on these old bones"

As much as I wanted to promise him that after Savannah it was going to be a completely stress free ride, I knew there was a lot of more dangerous things that I (or Clementine, if this universe had its way) was going to experience. Forget crawling through the sewers, things such as the actual assault of Crawford and handling the stranger on the radio, dealing with Carver in the second season, handling the entire weight of Richmond trying to kill my group from the third season... Let alone the trauma from the final season were all far worse.

"...Sorry, it's not really going to be that easy" I decided that I couldn't lie to him, as he deserved to know the truth. Like I had expected, he looked unsettled with that news, but at the very least he seemed to appreciate the fact I wasn't hiding things from him to spare his feelings. "Come on, let me help you up"

After me and Lilly hauled him up from the floor he had landed on, we moved onward. Because Chuck hadn't died in this sewer like the game had originally intended it, the walkers were not all gathered in a singular point halfway down the next tunnel, instead being dispersed in an even spread down it.

"You think you can handle taking out around half of these walkers? It looks to be about... Eight of them, so that's four between you and me" I asked Chuck, as I knew Lilly firing her rifle in those close quarters would not only attract so many more of them, but it would be immensely bad for our ears with the echo bouncing back at us.

"Yer certainly not pullin' yer punches, are ye? I just fell down and ye already want me bashin' some brains in" He chuckled softly as he said that, but I could actually notice him flinching slightly as he raised his shovel. "I'm just yankin' yer chain, let's clear these dirty thin's out"

Even with that admission of his, I still took an extra one of the walkers in our killing spree, taking five of them to his three in case he needed the extra support. It was remarkably easier than the time I had rescued Mark alongside Doug, which I was reminded of for some reason quite sharply. A part of that memory seemed to stick with me heavily, remembering that one walker that had seemed... Familiar to me for some reason.

It was like I had all of the connections except for one, and that final one was preventing me from making that leap of logic to say who it was supposed to be. Was the walker one of the special ones in the final episode, where people had won the right to have their likeness recreated as walkers?... No, that wasn't right either. I remembered those four quite vividly, none of them looked like that one walker. Besides, how would that walker from Macon make its way to Savannah in the original game, let alone the one that lost its body in this new world because of me?

...Wait a moment, a walker that only was a head that appeared in the game? Doesn't that mean that the walker was-

"What the hell?" Chuck startled me out of my train of thought, my concern for his personal safety trumping the thoughts about that one random walker. He wasn't particularly staring at a random walker, nor some decomposing familiar corpse like the player experienced in the game, he was just... Staring at a particular spot against the wall. "Why do I feel so... Weird, lookin' at this?"

I came closer, and I could perfectly understand his confusion on why that one spot was special, as there truly was nothing interesting about it in the slightest. Lilly came over as well, but me and her shared a confused glance and shrug in the fact that neither of us could spot anything. It was only when I crouched down slightly that some sort of light-bulb went off in my mind, with looking down the tunnel at Vernon's hidden base and back the way we came sorting the puzzle out.

"This is the spot where the player finds... Well, your corpse" I originally was going to delve into further detail on what the player (or in other words, myself) found at that moment, but when I glanced at Chuck's face I quickly bit my tongue and decided to say nothing. He was extremely unsettled by this news, as not only did he likely have a feeling of dread wash over him, but he now had confirmation that with some very minor changes he could have ended up suffering that agonizing fate. "...It's not going to happen to you Chuck, I prevented it from happening"

My reassurance seemed to do nothing to ease his mind, the horrified appearance remaining on his face even when he forced himself to turn away from the blank spot on the wall. It was when he started to lean against his shovel and shudder softly that I became truly concerned, with me turning my eyes to Lilly to beg her to speak to him in my stead. I wasn't sure if it was because I just was unable to find the right words, but I didn't want to dig a deeper hole and make it worse.

"Chuck, are you okay?" Lilly softly moved forward and gently laid a hand on his shoulder, even as it was clear that he clearly wasn't alright. It took him a couple of seconds to even register that she had placed a hand there, as though he was flitting between reality and some kind of hallucination... And even when he did look, it frightened both me and Lilly even further. He was looking at her hand like it was some kind of alien being that he had never seen before, so thoroughly terrified that he was unsure what to believe in. "Seriously, you're scaring us"

"...How many deaths have ye seen happen?" His question was a little confusing to decipher at first, but I soon understood that he was asking me how many people in my group I had seen die in the original timeline. Frankly, off the top of my head I could only remember around three or so characters who lived no matter how the games had gone, but as evidenced by Lee dying to Sandra the babysitter, I couldn't rely on that once Clementine was supposed to take over as a main character. My lack of response as I thought about it seemed to be about as concerning as anything else I could have said to him, so instead he searched for another question, one which I knew he wouldn't like to hear the answer to. "How many deaths are there that might happen to yerself?"

"If this universe accepts me as the player character, then... Frankly, there are a lot of possibilities" I couldn't really lie to him on that one, as there were numerous ways to die if the player didn't push the right buttons during the games. While mostly harmless in the game, there was no such thing as 'restarting a chapter' in this reality, so those harmless moments were going to be a lot less nice to encounter. "But unlike Lee, I know everything that's coming. I can plan for everything the best I can, and part of those plans will be like the one I had done to save you, by ensuring that we didn't get separated after coming into this city"

"...How the hell do ye even handle all of these thin's?" He asked me the very same question that Travis had essentially asked me the earlier day, but the answer was pretty much the same save for more conviction being present in my voice.

"I rely on my group to support me when I need it. It sounds incredibly simple, but I've found it works out" I gently moved forward and gently rubbed Chuck's other available shoulder, trying my best to reassure him without startling him too much. "Other than that, I simply do my best. It's not much, but when I look at the extended lives I have managed to give my lovers, friends and the two kids, then I think I've already done so much more than if I had done nothing because I failed Lee"

I remembered the fact that Chuck had told me that he had once seen the hope in my eyes, and I really hoped that he could see it in me once more. He was finally starting to look at us in a more normal manner than before, where he noticed the hope he had seen before come back in my eyes, my desire to keep everyone safe trumping the occasional feeling of helplessness that sprung up in this bleak world. Even if the world took everything except for a single person away from me the following day, I would still do my utmost to give that single person a better life than the game did, like I had done for everyone who's life was cut tragically short in the original timeline.

"I handle it because someone should do what's right" I boiled it all down to that incredibly simple line, as I knew that sometimes simple was all someone needed to hear. If the colour returning to his cheeks was anything to go by, he certainly was a simple man at heart. "Now come on, we've got a teenage boy who could use some antibiotics, and I intend to get it to him"

With that I gently pressed a hand to his back and got us back underway. He still continued to use his shovel to lean on like an excessive walking stick, but with Lilly and I there, he seemed to find some kind of support in us there. Once we got to the stairs leading slightly upwards onto a platform underneath an open manhole, Chuck seemed to have some of his sense back enough to not need us that much anymore, mumbling softly in his usual cheeky manner that he wasn't that old to have to be walked everywhere with our help.

Even though it was an admittedly small chapter in what was a long story of my time in this new universe, it stuck with me quite a bit. Even though he was not the first to learn about himself possibly dying, it had seemingly hit him harder than anyone else. Granted, Kenny had reacted in quite a macabre and depressed manner to the possibility of his entire existence being fake, but nobody had reacted with such sheer terror with narrowly missing their death.

Was it because Chuck was the first one I had truly saved since they had learned that I was actively avoiding their deaths? After all, it was a lot easier to shrug something off like that if it had happened over three months prior to learning about something startling like your entire reality being made in an alternate universe. Even if that had been correct, it wouldn't have explained how Chuck was so... Oddly in tune with how he was supposed to die. Was that because he was older and closer to death than everyone else as it was?

So many questions, with so little chances of me finding concrete answers. The sky rippling, Chuck's odd way of detecting his location of death, the universe stubbornly clinging onto the original timeline... Hell, all of them were trumped by the simplest question of all, which was how on Earth I had managed to find myself in this alternate universe in the first place. Part of me was bothered by the fact I didn't know the solutions to any of those, while a very simple part of my mind told me that it was a dream come true to save these people (them loving me was also a good thing, not going to lie there) and to not stress over the 'how's' and 'why's', and simply focus on what I could do while I was there. And hey, that was one thing that me and Chuck had in common, I was a simple girl deep down.

"I'm guessing it's behind this sign?" Lilly showed off her intuition pretty well by being able to tell that the large sign in front of the broken ladder was the obvious ruse hiding the base, but I supposed that was because it was the most obvious one. Sure, there was a door to the right of the sign, but there was no way it could contain a secret base like I had described Vernon's place as. True enough, when she gently picked the blue sign up and moved it, there was a gaping hole behind it which led to another room entirely. "I'll be honest, I wouldn't have guessed that if you hadn't hinted that something was there"

"I'm sure you would have gotten it" I completely ignored Chuck's earlier statement for me to cut out the flirting, honestly giving her my opinion that she was a smart and resourceful woman. Even if all other avenues were viable unlike the game, I whole-heartedly believed that she would have found the same answer as Lee had... And not by accidentally kicking it like the latter did. Lee was often quite lucky more than he was resourceful, I must admit. Especially when you took into account the fact that a lot of the discoveries and feats he accomplished were because the player controlled him exactly like the game intended it. "Great job Lilly"

I rewarded her by standing slightly on the tips of my toes to properly give her a kiss, which she was more than happy to reciprocate for a second. As usual, Chuck lightly rolled his eyes at our timing, but he didn't have the heart to tell us to cut it out like he had before (maybe because he realised that having Lilly there was another reason I was so good at keeping my hope up).

"Let's head in, the people in here are beyond that door at the end" I waved them into the new room, carefully stepping in the hole around the rusted steel poles snaking out of the concrete, before helping my two companions through the same hole. "My plan is for me to mainly be doing the talking, but back me up if I seem to be faltering"

"I'll back you up even before I see you faltering, just give some kind of hint in your own sentence and I'll pick it up" I honestly believed Lilly when she promised that, with Chuck nodding his head with a soft grin to boot in the fact that he'd do the same. "No mentioning the truth, right?"

"Exactly" I kept it vague as to what we were actually talking about, just in the rare case that Vernon's group had actually managed to hear us through the door. Without further delay, I confidently marched forward and opened the door.

The morgue, like most other parts of the game, was a lot more daunting than the original. Somehow the space was grander than the game manged to convey it, and the dimly lit candles were more eerie. By far the worst part was the fact that the laughable animations were no longer funny, instead being frightening with how everyone zeroed in on me and subsequently my companions once we walked through the door.

"Oh, shoot, someone does live in here" I pretended to be nothing more than a lost traveller with my companions, not just for my own defence but to remind the other two that we weren't supposed to know things such as Crawford or the future. "Uh, hello, sorry to barge into your home, but we're kind of lost"

I had hoped for a friendly response like Molly had done to us when she realised that we were not antagonistic to her, but my hopes were dashed quickly once Vernon came forward with his pistol out. And what a surprise, he somehow decided I was the one to aim for, despite the fact I looked the youngest out of our trio and the fact that I didn't have a rifle blatantly hanging over my shoulder.

"Sorry, but I really can't take the chance that you're going to turn around and come back with your friends to hurt us" Vernon seemed sorry that he was resorting to such methods, but I honestly wasn't about to take his word for that in the slightest.

"Wait, hold on, we're seriously not here to hurt you" I gently eased my hands upwards to show that I meant them no harm, with Lilly making a similar gesture despite the fact that she was looking not pleased with Vernon at all. Like I knew he was originally, Vernon still looked very nervous with actually aiming a weapon at someone, it wobbling and wavering in his hands but I was really not in the mood to find out if he had an itchy trigger finger. Right as I got a plan together in my head of what I was supposed to say to him, Chuck slid himself in the way so that the gun was now aiming at him instead of me. "We're - Wait, Chuck, what are you doing?!"

"Providin' support" Chuck gruffly answered my astonished question, clearly taking reference from my earlier speech to him about how I handled things by relying on my group to support me. I honestly suspected that had he not been an old man or hadn't made the movement so calmly that he would have been shot on the spot, so I held my breath anxiously when Chuck took over my role and talked Vernon down. "Now, I don't know who ye are, but I'll be damned if ye shoot a young girl such as her because yer frightened. She's 'bout the only thin' left in this damned world which made me believe that there might be hope for people livin' in this hellhole, and I'm not 'bout to see her die in a place like this"

"...She's your daughter?" Vernon asked Chuck softly, as he had always seemed to have a soft spot for fathers trying to take care of their daughters even after the world had fallen apart.

"Nah, never actually got the chance to have a child of my own" Chuck was brutally honest with Vernon, but I felt that was going to be much better than lying to him would do. The question did serve to make Chuck pause a bit in contemplation, even after he had already answered it, but it seemed that the answer to it was not as simple as he or I first imagined it to be. "...But if I'm honest, she's probably the closest thing I've ever had to a daughter"

Vernon seemed to understand that sentiment better than most people, as he glanced over to his other companions for their say. None of them particularly seemed to have a problem with us now that they truly realised that we had someone with us who couldn't be a part of Crawford, which meant that the chances of us being a gun-toting group intent on ruining their lives was very slim.

"Do you mind no longer pointing that gun at my girlfriend and friend?" Lilly didn't want to wait around until Vernon eventually decided to lower his weapon, reminding him that he was still technically threatening us with a deadly weapon. "Honestly, we just got lost under the streets of this city looking for medical supplies. We're not trying to rob anyone, we just want to get back home back to the others"

I nearly grinned once Lilly subtly dropped those hints in her sentence, clearly leaving a way in to both getting someone to guide us home and an obvious hint that we'd eventually have to look for more medical supplies.

"You've got someone who's injured?" Vernon asked us as he finally tucked his gun away in his pants, and I nodded in an affirmative manner to his question. Lilly's plan worked perfectly, as not only did he feel guilty for holding us up, but now he had a "coincidence" that he could help us out with. "Well, we can't really afford to give you medical supplies, but I can come along to check them out as well as guide you home to apologise for the mix-up here"

"Thank you, that'd be amazing" I didn't leave any way out for Vernon other than to come along with us, as I didn't want to run the chance that he'd back out if I gave him that chance. Now that I had my hooks in him, I had to ensure that Carley and the kids had kept Molly around at the house, as well as the fact that she didn't learn about my plans. "We already have a veterinarian acting as our main first aider, but I think that getting a second opinion on my friend's injuries couldn't hurt"

"Hm, yes, a veterinarian wouldn't be my first pick for the medical expert in your team" Vernon gave just that little bit too much of his opinion than was necessary, and I had to pinch my arm so that I wouldn't cringe and show an annoyed expression. After all, it's not like we could help the fact that the members of our group didn't study to be a doctor before the world went to hell, and Katjaa was doing an amazing job despite never generally working on humans. We would have to wait for the second season to have a proper doctor on our team, and that was still a long way away. "There's a map over here, show me where you think your house is located and I'll get us there"

If there was a single thing I learned that day, if nothing else besides the fact that I cared about Chuck and Lilly beyond words, was the fact that I hated American maps.

Chapter Text

Getting back to the house was much easier once I left it to Lilly to determine where the house approximately was, as she was far more used to the maps of America than I was. Even walking through the streets was child's play, as the horde had yet to arrive in Savannah itself and Molly was no longer ringing bells in areas.

"Alright, now show me where your injured friend is" Vernon immediately asked me to direct him in the right direction once we were back inside, and I pointed upstairs while softly mentioning that Katjaa and Travis would be there as well. "I might be a while, is that fine?"

"Yeah, that's perfectly fine by me" I was more than happy to lose him for a couple of minutes, as he was really grating on my nerves so far. Even if I hadn't known about him stealing the boat at the end of the episode, there was still some weird vibe coming off him, and his remark about Katjaa hadn't done him any favours. "We'll be down here once you're done"

Kenny kept a bit of a wary eye on our new visitor disappearing up the stairs, obviously unable to his the suspicion on his face. Vernon wasn't paying attention to him however, so he got away with it quite easily.

The moment I entered the dining room I got greeted by numerous bright smiles, none brighter than Clementine who came to me and hugged me around my waist as usual. Her hair was a bit different to pat then when it was a full head of hair before I had cut it, but it still delivered that same feeling of love between us.

"Carley mentioned that you didn't want him or the new girl to know about... Your gift" Mark kept it vague as to what we were supposed to be keeping secret, just in the remote chance that one or both of them happened to be listening in at the time. I nodded my head but didn't delve too much into why I didn't trust them, as openly talking about the boat or my knowledge of the future couldn't happen unless I was entirely certain that neither person would listen in. "How'd it go?"

"He's more annoying than I remember him being" I grumbled softly once I saw that he disappeared into the separate room upstairs, but the moment I heard several snickers and chuckles from the others it became obvious that they were not asking about how it had gone with the older doctor. "Oh! Oh, you were talking about the walkers. They were the same as always, had to take out a couple of them in the sewer and around four on the way back here. Nothing too strenuous"

"Leave it to you to be annoyed with the living people left in this world, not the dead" Doug made a joke out of it as he came forward to gently hug me. Even though they knew I had a plan in place and had both Lilly and Chuck with me, it still must have been a bit tense for the rest of them doing stuff around the house, as several others came along to do a similar greeting. The kids and cows especially, as the latter didn't know where I had gone and the former knew, but they couldn't check up on me as much as they would have liked. In fact, everyone was gathered around the dining table as before, minus the people treating Ben (and Ben himself), as well as Christa and Molly being absent.

"Is Christa keeping an eye on Molly?" I asked them, and readily got an answer from the latter person I had mentioned before the others could answer it for her.

"Yeah, this woman's not really that intent on letting me poke around in here and grab stuff for myself" Molly dramatically raised her shoulders like Christa was making a mountain out of a molehill. Said woman was still frowning behind Molly, even though it seemed clear that nothing had been taken from our own supplies. "But seriously, don't I get anything for helping get your kids and girlfriend back?"

"We don't really have much medical supplies to give" Kenny smartly decided to misinform her about what we actually had, as even though Molly had helped us out, I wasn't keen on giving her any of our food or medical supplies. I did have another gift in mind to give to her, but it meant that she had to be patient enough to stick around until after we were done raiding Crawford. "I don't suppose you know of a place where you know are a lot of supplies, but never managed to get on your own? Because if there's one thing we have in large amounts is man power"

"Gender neutral power" Glenn cheekily interjected by elbowing Kenny in the ribs, before making sweeping gestures to all of the females present in our group. While not entirely necessary, it was funny for a moment to see the slight blush that Kenny built up from his unintentional words. Gently swinging around in Glenn's left hand was what I assumed to be the the finished hooked hand, the wooden bowl gently sanded down to a finish and securely holding the metal hook on the other end, topped off with long slings of what I assume to be forgotten leather belts that would attach the whole thing to Ben's arm and shoulder. "We got this thing done while you were gone. It's a bit heavy, but it'll swing well into a walker skull in a pinch"

"You could even sharpen the hook to make it slice better" Omid remarked as he gently rubbed his finger down the hook, proving that it was indeed very blunt at that moment in time. "But the best part will be that when someone asks for a hand, Ben can just throw that at someone instead"

"Do you guys always make jokes such as these during stressful times?" Molly turned her head to ask me, as she had correctly identified me as the leader of my eighteen strong group. It wasn't like I was embarrassed of them by that point, so I nodded my head with a proud smile adorning my face. "Nice! I have to admit, I haven't met a group this relaxed since... Well, actually I don't think I have since the lurkers came out. I also have to say, a group that has two cows is a new experience as well"

As if to acknowledge her words, Bramble head-butted one of her available legs, before staring up at her with curious eyes. Molly was a bit hesitant at first, but soon lowered her hand to pat him, which she got rewarded with by a pleased bleat by him.

"You guys did pretty well, considering your lack of first aid experience" In came Vernon with his unwanted opinion, which I could tell that it grated not just on my nerves, but Katjaa's as well by her following comment. Travis also didn't seem pleased with that remark at all, as of course he and I had a close relationship after I had saved his best friend from a walker bite, but he seemed to bite his tongue to ruin our chances of getting supplies.

"Am I allowed to slap him?" Katjaa managed to whisper to me as she came by me, her remark completely flying by Vernon as he was too busy talking to Kenny and Lilly, who he seemed to assume was the leaders of our group.

"Not yet, once we're back from Crawford then you can do it" I quietly promised her, and for the first time in a long while I could see the mischievous nature fire up in her eyes once more.

"I'm afraid there's not much more I can do for him, not without more medical supplies" He told the rest of us exactly what I had expected, but at the very least it meant that we could have some sort of reasonable segway into where more medicine could be found in the mostly pillaged city. I gave a small signal to both Kenny and Lilly that we had to try to steer the conversation down that mental direction, and the both of them seemed to get it with a signal back. "The people living with me in the morgue are old or in remission, and they need the medication that we've gotten, plus I frankly don't know many places in this city that haven't been completely ransacked"

"...There is one place that is likely untouched" Molly spared me, Kenny and Lilly the verbal gymnastics to get what we wanted, instead just bringing up the discussion herself. She most definitely would earn that reward from me, and it was just the start of what she would do for me. "Crawford. They ransacked so many homes in the beginning of this, they're bound to have a lot of medical supplies hidden away"

"Now hold on just a-

"From what you've mentioned of them, and from what we've seen, I don't think they're likely to share" Carley cut off Vernon, as there was no way we were going to be persuaded to not collect those supplies. They would have saline and antibiotics galore there, and I'd sooner axe Vernon in the head than miss out on those.

"They aren't. At the same time, charging in through their front door would be suicide" Molly confirmed what I already knew, but it did serve to both make Vernon start to think whether he was going to go along with our plan, and it also made sure to remind my own group to not do something foolish once we were inside. "I don't suppose you know a way to sneak inside gramps, as these guys are new to the city"

This time the terms gramps was not being directed towards Chuck but at Vernon, who grumbled in annoyance at being referred to as a grandfather... Despite the fact that he did look the age where he could comfortably be one. It was only when he realised that he now held the key to all of us sneaking in and taking supplies that he started to play dirty, showing his cards a lot sooner than he would in the game towards the end of the episode.

"What do my group get out of leading you all there?" I could tell he was starting to bargain for me to get his help, and if he wasn't an integral part of the plan I would have shoved a gun in his face right then and there for daring to withhold the way there. If he was going to play with Ben's life because he thought he would get a good deal out of it, then that old bastard had another thing coming.

"You get to have prescription medication for long standing conditions such as diabetes and remedial cancer, nothing else" I put my foot down on the deal, not wanting to budge an inch. I supposed that I could have dealt for the boat that I knew Kenny and the others had looked at in the backyard, but honestly, fuck Vernon.

"That's it?" Vernon asked outraged, as he clearly could tell that it was the lesser end of a deal. If we had the same amount of people as his group did, I suppose it would have made sense to split it evenly, but him trying to withhold the way to get there as well as my group putting themselves in the most danger for it made me absolutely refuse to even give him a fair trade on that. "Why the hell would I take such a deal?"

"Because from the moment I've met you, you've waved a gun in my face while threatening to shoot me, insulted both me and Katjaa several times on our first aid despite the fact you just admitted that there was nothing else you could do after we treated our group member, and now you have the gall to bargain with me when my entire group will be putting their lives on the line while all you have to do is point us in the right direction" I seethed on the spot, dropping my fake friendly demeanour around him to actually give him a proper piece of my mind. He looked like he wanted to make some sort of remark back to me, maybe even storm out in a child-like fit, but once he took a closer look around he was reminded that he was literally surrounded by my group members (who quite clearly were all armed), and trust me; they were looking extremely pissed off to learn that Vernon had threatened to shoot me. "You're bargaining for some medication that you wouldn't even need, because as far as I can tell your group doesn't step a foot out of that morgue generally, so why would you need bandages and antibiotics? Not to mention, your refusal to help would equal our teenage friend possibly dying of infection. So you know what? Fuck you"

Clementine and Duck both gasped softly at my rare use of colourful language, which sharply reminded me that the both of them were still present for that tense discussion. Shawn luckily came to the rescue, gently bending down and requesting that the children go upstairs to keep an eye on Ben in the meantime, which they both did after Shawn promised to come with them.

With the young children out of the way for the time being (and being thankful that the cows were blissfully unaware of the anger I was exhibiting), I stared the old doctor down from across the table, firmly crossing my arms over my chest to show that I wasn't going to budge. If worst came to worst, that he would leave without helping us at all, then at the very least I could vaguely guess the direction in the sewers and lead my group on my own. However, it seemed as if guessing our way there wasn't necessary, as he quickly realised that he would at least get something out of it by going with us rather than nothing if he refused.

"...Fine, I'll get one of my people who knows the way there off by heart. Not only that, she knows the school where they had stored their supplies, so it'll be easier for us to slip in and out" Vernon finally accepted my terms, very quickly looking like he wanted to get away from us and back to his group rather than hang around us longer. "We'll be back at sundown, when the people in Crawford are most likely to be asleep or drowsy"

"We'll be waiting" I didn't even attempt to stop him from walking out the door, finally relishing him being gone for the next number of hours so that I would have the space and proper attitude to plan how I was best going to do this. I did notice Molly grinning to herself when I glanced over to her, so it seemed like she wasn't terribly upset with the fact I had taken such a fierce tone with Vernon. "I'm assuming you don't have a problem with what just went down?"

"Oh hell no, I completely approve. I've known about his group for a while, and as far as I am aware they are a bunch of cowards who do whatever they please without thinking about the consequences for others" Molly seemed to have already run into them in the past, which meant that at the very least I wasn't alone with already assuming the worst of him and his schemes. "When he left Crawford with his other patients, he didn't bother to let anyone else know about the dangers in that place. If he had told anyone about what they were planning on doing, then a whole lot more people might have made it out alive"

I was reminded of the blockade of walkers that we had encountered, grimacing once again at the thought of the poor people who had been subjected to that. In fact, there was a good chance that one of the now long dead walkers was Molly's sister after all, which would have made even more sense as to why she decided to try and whack us over the head when she saw us near the blockade. Despite the fact I knew she too had been a part of Crawford, I decided to keep quiet, as she deserved her privacy as much as I did.

"So, who's going?" Lilly asked me, already shifting her rifle onto her back as a way to signal that she most definitely was going. In fact, many people were doing that, nobody wanted to be left behind on guard duty while we charged into Crawford... Even if they now knew that the place was overrun with walkers instead of people with guns.

"I was planning on taking everyone except for Travis, Katjaa, Clementine and Duck. Both the older adults to make sure that Ben's okay and to keep a passing eye on the cows while they graze outside, and the kids to keep the adults safe" It sounded really weird to say that, but both Duck and Clementine knew how to use a gun (admittedly the former was more keen than the latter to use one) while Travis didn't quite have the knack down and I believed that Katjaa still didn't like to use them at that point in time. That seemed to be taken quite well by everyone, so I started to plan ahead. "Katjaa, I'd like one of your last saline’s to disinfect my axe just in case I need to use it for non-walker related problems. Everyone who's using a sharp melee weapon should see if they can sharpen it with some of the tools in the shed, and the ones using blunt ones should still wipe them down to be on the safe side. We're leaving at least two guns here, preferably something small so that the kids can still use them rather than a rifle"

"That's... Kind of weird that the two kids can shoot but not the other teen and the medic lady" Molly did make a remark that was a bit uncalled for, but when I sighed deeply she seemed to get the hint that she was overstepping her boundaries. "Ah, my bad. I'm coming too you know, I still need my reward"

"Of course, I wouldn't expect any less" I gave her far more liberties than I did Vernon, but I was still going to keep a tight lid on what I actually knew. And while I knew that we had to be careful with her fate in Crawford, I knew very well that I had many extra hands to make up for missing Clementine in my group. Besides, the children deserved to be children for just a little bit longer before the long time-skip between the first season and the second. "Alright people, let's get prepared. If you're all ready before Vernon and his friend are back, then we can talk a bit more about extra parts of the plan that we might want to refine"

People split off exactly like I had expected them to, with the majority of people heading towards the shed at the back of the house to sharpen their weapons, as well as Katjaa heading back upstairs to keep an eye on Ben. Molly seemed to try and follow the others out the back to the shed, but Christa returned to her earlier task of making sure that she wouldn't accidentally cause problems. I was about to follow Katjaa back up the stairs when I was stopped by someone softly speaking to me right as I stepped on the second step.

"Before you guys go, can I please have a moment of your time Prim?" Travis stopped me before I could disinfect my axe, which made me tuck it away before softly gesturing to an empty room off at the side. It held nobody in it before he and I went in, and everyone else had seemingly given us the privacy we needed before we split off. He seemed a bit nervous when it actually came down to talking to me like he had asked, but I knew I had plenty of time so I just leaned against a wall nearby while I waited for him to gather his courage. "I know it's kind of embarrassing, but... I really don't like being the person who can't fire a gun"

"Ben probably can't either, but it just seems like everyone's focusing on you because you're not injured. It's nothing personal Travis" I did my best to reassure him that he wasn't being singled out by the others, but I could also understand where he was coming from. Training him and Ben was likely going to be an important step to keeping everyone safe, just like it had been with me teaching Duck and Clementine. "But I get it, you want to feel like you're helping just as much as the others. I promise, I'll teach you after I get back from Crawford and we have a quiet moment to spare"

"Don't put it like that, it makes it sound like you're tempting fate" Travis grew gloomy with my choice of words, as he had seen first-hand how quickly things had gotten out of hand with his friend. At that point I knew trying to convince him with words was going to be quite difficult, so I instead just gave him a heartfelt hug to show him that I was going to do my best not to do that to him. "...Bring everyone back safe, okay? That especially includes you"

Chapter Text

Once night fell we set off with Vernon and his new companion, a heavier set woman with brown hair called Brie joined us. After deciding that me, Kenny and Mark (with our intimidating physique's and impressive looking weapons) leading the group and that Doug and Glenn would keep a wary eye at our rear (with a strict instruction to watch out better than we had when we entered Savannah), we plunged into the sewers. Minimal complaints about the horrid smell aside, we made good progress with Brie's torch lighting our way ahead but leaving the rest of us in darkness enough so that we weren't blinded by it.

"Here's a good way to get in" Brie paused directly underneath one manhole that still had the cover on it, and our group came to a collective halt there. "If we come in through here, we'll only be a few feet away from the entrance to the school, which is where they were keeping their supplies before me and the others left"

Molly snorted behind her mask in a grumpy gesture, obviously believing that they should have done more than simply leave when they had discovered something had gone wrong. It was a point she had brought up before, but it unfortunately was not as important as actually getting in and getting those supplies.

"Do they often have patrols this late at night?" I pretended as if I didn't know that all of the guards had been transformed into walkers, also slightly leaving some room for the possibility that this version of Crawford was actually still alive unlike the game. Kenny seemed to pick up this hint I was giving him the most that we might actually need guns after all in the worst case scenario, and he carefully readied himself by taking his rifle off his back.

"They did back when we were a part of it, but... Well, they might have changed it since then" Brie's words didn't seem to inspire much hope in me either way, making her words essentially useless beyond backing up my soon to be claims about how I didn't expect the walkers in the community.

"Either way, we need someone strong to unlock the manhole and move it out of the way" I looked up at the imposing lid on top of me, as I could easily remember how difficult it had been to remove it from the one in the alleyway near the pier. Especially considering the fact that it had the collective power of myself, Chuck and Lilly working on that one. "Preferably two people, if we can help it"

"You and Mark look like you're the best ones to do it, I'll be right behind you two to hold you steady in case you guys lose your balance" Shawn suggested that the both of us clamber up the ladder side by side to remove it, while he was only going to be a little bit behind us with his hands to catch us if one of us came tumbling downwards. "Apologies in advance if my hands accidentally grab someone's rear"

"You say that like Prim would really mind" Mark teased his accomplice with a grin, as by then Mark and Shawn were as common a pair as Glenn and Doug were (i.e. the most likely person they'd be paired with). Because of this, the two of them had become as thick as thieves, often teasing each other as though they were brothers rather than strangers who had met after the world had ended. "But never mind, ladies first"

"It literally doesn't matter which one of you goes first" Brie obviously hadn't gotten the hint about how we were quite a connected group, as she saw it more under the line of us stalling for time rather than actually making a good time out of a stressful situation. That, and she likely was just assuming that it was just me and Shawn being romantically interested in each other, not assuming that everyone else who had come with us (Minus Christa and Chuck) was actually just as much invested in me.

Either way, it was time to get out of those sewers and actually inside the school. Mark and I did have to strain our muscles a little to lift the cover away, but surprisingly it was much easier to lift it from below than it was to lever it from above. Shawn didn't even have to catch either of us as we carefully slid it away to the side before the both of us hung from the edge of the manhole to have a look at our surroundings.

It was very dark inside the community, almost foggy as though the clouds had rolled in simply to add to the creepy atmosphere of the place. Coming from around a corner was one person, but their sluggish movements and slumped shoulders reminded me more of a walker than a living being.

"I don't think a normal person drags their feet like that" Mark astutely picked up another point, as the walker was dragging their feet in an unnatural way, sliding the old shoes across the ground rather than actually stepping. That, and the fact the ankle was twisting in an unnatural direction which would leave any normal person screaming in pain. "I'll sneak up behind it and take it out with my sickle, and then we'll get everyone in quietly"

"Sounds like a plan. I'll come with you just in case you get separated from the others" I decided that was better than just letting Mark charge off on his own, despite the fact I knew he could handle a single walker, I wanted to employ a buddy system that everyone was at least with another person at all times. "Kenny, you and Lilly lead everyone in while we handle this one person"

Both of my second in commands understood that the compound likely was overrun with walkers like I had predicted it to be, as there was no way that I would be trying to eliminate people due to the danger that would present. But at the same time, I couldn't be shouting down into the sewers that everyone had been turned into walkers, so pretending it was a person would do for now.

Both I and Mark smoothly lifted ourselves out of the manhole with our upper body strength, before calmly stepping over the concrete to reach our target. Our steps were nowhere near silent, but it seemingly wasn't enough to make the walker whip around in a hurry, and before I knew it I saw the gleaming sickle in Mark's hand slam into it's head. He removed it with a squelch, which by then we had all gotten accustomed to as a normal noise from killing a walker with a sharp weapon. Even though a good portion of his hand was now covered in walker blood (as was his weapon, naturally) I still gave him some silent praise by gently taking hold of his nearest shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze, which he showed that he was pleased with by giving me a beaming smile.

Our relatively silent entrance into the school was ruined when we heard someone gasp suddenly at the sight of a walker far off from us, one which had originally not noticed us in the distance but became a bit too interested with the added noise. Mark and I sped up a bit to enter the school before anything else drew their attention, Omid carefully staying behind so that he could direct us to where the others had gone before us.

The bottom floor of the school was mostly abandoned classrooms, all of which had been stripped down to gather the useful supplies in them and only leaving behind completely useless things such as plastic toys and foam mats. At the end of those sets of classrooms was a set of stairs that seemed to climb several levels, which looked far more familiar to me. We only stopped moving when we reached the top floor for those stairs, moving through a set of glass doors before those same doors got shut and locked off with a sturdy piece of wood.

"Who gasped?" Kenny asked everyone who had gathered inside once he had done a quick headcount to check that everyone was there, but he was mainly met by confused looks and shrugs from our own group. Only Brie was looking disgruntled with the line of questioning, which tipped people off that it had been her. "It was you, wasn't it? Why would you do that?"

"What do you mean 'why would I do that?' it's more unusual to not be surprised that walkers had gotten into this place!" Brie defended herself, but the rest of us were under the impression that she should learn a little better to keep quiet. "This place was an impenetrable fortress when we had left, so of course it surprised me!"

"First of all; we didn't know that about this place, so if course we wouldn't be as shocked as you" Lilly started to argue with Brie, the both of them being a bit too loud for my liking. We were going to be safe for a while because of the glass doors and the piece of wood (which nobody would be silly enough to remove unless they needed to leave), but that still didn't mean that I wanted walkers to come banging on them and testing their strength before we were done. "Secondly, you should know better by now that those things are attracted by sound. Even if we were surprised, we at least would have the decency to not alert them to our presence"

"Well you-

"Lilly" I cut them both off before they could get too far into their arguing, appealing to her softer nature by gently stroking her cheek with my hand to calm her down. Even though she wasn't directly the one to cause the problem, I knew it was easier to calm her than Brie, so I tried my best to quell one side of the argument. After all, a fire couldn't start if there wasn't enough fuel to keep it going. "We're alright, we're inside and those things weren't that interested in us"

Lilly seemed to focus on the touch of my hand, gently reaching up one of her available hands to press it a bit more firmly against her cheek in order to ground herself. After taking a few deep breaths in, it seemed to work wonders, calming her down enough to smile and show that she was alright.

There was a split second where Brie looked confused over at Shawn, before shifting back to Lilly and myself, but wisely decided not to comment on whatever she had seen.

"Alright, let's move on. I'm assuming that you know of a good place in this school where we can have some form of temporary headquarter?" I lowered my volume even as I spoke, in the hopes that others would copy me unconsciously. Brie did so marvellously, even deciding to not say anything and just gesture down the hallway towards where I knew the members of Crawford had set up their own headquarter. Even as we all trudged that way, I still held gently onto Lilly's hand, both to provide her that piece of support and for her to give me an equal amount of courage.

"In here, they've got a rudimentary map in here of where the supplies are all being kept" Brie first gestured us into a classroom, before quickly turning our attention to a map that had been made of the school grounds. In several of the parts of buildings were different descriptions of what they had transformed rooms into, and how to easily gain access to them. "Are you guys just looking for medical supplies?"

"If we could get some gasoline as well as medical supplies, that would be nice" I tried to slip that in as smoothly as I could, as there was no way that I was going to be able to give Molly her well-deserved gift without gasoline or a car battery. While I could spin another lie on why some of my group needed to come with me to the garage later, I was not going to be able to pull off the same thing with the gasoline if the game relied on Brie leading us to that location. "We had to abandon an R.V. outside of Savannah because we ran out of fuel, and I'm hoping that it might still be there when we get back"

"It's probably stolen by now" Vernon showed a small sliver of his true colours by making that generally harmless remark, but it sounded a little too close to what he would actually do for me to see it as anything but malicious. "But regardless, I think they were keeping the gasoline in this shed here"

"I should be able to lead whoever you send with me there, I can get us in and out easily" Brie seemed almost a bit... Too eager to lead some of my people there, but I tried to give it the most positive spin I could in my own mind. Perhaps they thought they could get a better deal if they went above and beyond?

"Shawn and Mark should do well with you, they've both had experience with engines so they might know a bit more about that then I would" I said, before I started to think ahead on what my team would be best suited to do. Turning my head slightly to look at the other door present in the classroom, which my memory reminded me that it led to the big bell tower that would be convenient to escape from, I also took note of the sign on the door that would make breaking into it easier to justify. "That door says armoury over there, so I think Kenny and Glenn should be focusing their efforts on getting that open. Where do we find the medical supplies?"

"Here, at the nurses station" Molly made the slight mistake of speaking up before someone else did, which did give a number of members in my group the impression that she knew more about Crawford than she claimed.

"How do you know that?" Christa interrogated her, which I managed to nip in the bud before it became a big problem in the group.

"She probably guessed. After all, it is where I would have assumed it was" I covered for Molly with an obvious air about me that gave my own group signals that I was politely asking them to drop the subject, and to my relief it seemed to be that they got it. Molly didn't thank me outwardly, she couldn't without really digging herself into a pit, but she did slightly look at me out of the corner of her eyes with a look that seemed to say that she was grateful. "Vernon could probably go there, as well as Doug, Christa and Omid"

"Wait, are you splitting me and my best buddy up?" Glenn exaggerated his shock a little, but I could hear a slight bit in his tone that seemed to suggest that he actually was a little nervous about not being on the same task as Doug. Doug seemed to find it much funnier than Glenn did, laughing as though the latter was an overexcited puppy.

"Don't worry about it man, we'll see each other in a couple of minutes tops" Doug tried his best to reassure Glenn, also giving him a sturdy pat on the shoulder for good measure. But like Travis had taken my words before we had left, Glenn unfortunately took those words in the wrong way.

"Man, that's a death flag if I've ever heard one" Glenn protested, showing a slight hint that he watched his fair amount of anime, before Kenny decided that he was stalling too long.

"Come on, I could learn some of your lock-picking ways while we're here" Kenny pulled Glenn by his arm as he said that, and eventually he did manage to drag along the initially reluctant man.

"I think I'll head out with Brie and the two guys" Carley already had an idea in her head about what she was going to do, which I approved of with a smile. I even blew her a kiss as thanks for taking that small bit of load off my mind, which she giggled at. "If you think that's impressive, just wait until I get back carrying more than Shawn or Mark"

"You wish!" Mark challenged her lightly by bumping one of her shoulders with his own, before the three of them charged out the door, still bickering in a jovial manner with each other even as the door shut. Brie sighed heavily, likely because the three of them had left without even bothering to wait for her and her directions, before hurrying out after them.

"We'll head out as well" Omid announced for his group of four, despite the fact that they weren't really going that far, I still appreciated the fact he told me instead of them disappearing somewhere. "What are you, Molly and Chuck going to be doing?"

"Going on a secret mission" I chose my words carefully, both to thoroughly throw Vernon off the scent of where we were going, and in the hopes that the excitement of it would keep Molly from charging off on her own. If Chuck and I could even help her find that picture of her sister that she was originally going for, we would likely be more than happy to do that for her.

"Sounds like too much excitement for my old bones" Chuck sighed deeply as he realised that I was roping him into another crazy scheme of mine, but he didn't seem to outright reject going with me, as he eventually pulled himself off his shovel and readied himself to go.

"Come on gramps, what happened to the claims you could kick my ass?" Molly taunted him lightly, possibly just to give him some energy to spite her, and I couldn't help but laugh about the combination of the two of them. As much as it was weird to see such polar opposites in them, they did somehow work well with each other.

"I still can"

"Then I'd say that you can handle a secret mission" Molly punched him square in the shoulder, which did of course hurt the older man a bit than it would have for a younger person, but he refused to do much else than grunt his disapproval at her. "Put your big boy pants on and let's go"

"I'll stay behind with Kenny and Glenn to learn more about how to get through locked doors, that way we won't just have to rely on either you or Glenn" Lilly was the final one to confirm her choice on where she was going, and I was more than happy to have another fledgling lock-picker out of our group especially considering how tenacious both she and Kenny could be. "Keep each other safe, wherever you are planning on going"

"Always" I assured her, before steeling my shoulders and leading the way out of the classroom towards the garage out the back of the school building. One car battery, and with any luck also handling that doctor that Molly didn't approve of, and this mission was going to be a piece of cake compared to the chaos of the original.

Chapter Text

Walking out into that back alleyway, I was surprised to notice how... Clean Crawford smelled compared to most other places in that world. When we were out of the streets and sewers, it almost felt a little like I had been transported back to that night outside my campus, just a girl with ambitions to make video-games. I turned my eyes to the sky on that walkway, taking a deep breath in and letting myself drift away for a split second.

Even though those clouds were beginning to make it difficult to see the stars, I could still spy a number of bright twinkling lights shining down on me. Somewhat unsurprisingly, I couldn't recognise any of the constellations due to the difference between America and Britain, but somehow there was something else that my brain was thinking that was missing.

Was it the meteor I had seen that night? What had even happened to that thing, did it have something to do with how I had arrived in this world? And just like that unexplained phenomenon with the meteor, what were those growing clouds supposed to mean? Would they keep growing until the sky was blocked out permanently, or would they go away with time?

"What's the hold up?" Molly suddenly brought me out of my thoughts, as I had stopped in the middle of the walkway, which meant that she and Chuck couldn't get down to the pavement unless I moved. I shrugged a little before obliging her unspoken request, moving down so that we were underway once again. Talking about what I was thinking about would likely just make Molly believe I was insane, and Chuck had a bad enough reaction from learning of his possible demise, so it seemed dangerous to mention my thoughts aloud. "So where are we even going?"

"We're getting a car battery from the garage not far from here, consider it part of your reward" I gave both the reason for why we were going and the reason why she should care about it in the same sentence, and she was clearly pleased if the look in her eyes was anything to go on. She was so distracted by the fact that I was giving her something good that she completely seemed to forget that I shouldn't know about where Crawford held their car batteries, and I wasn't about to remind her of that fact.

With both of those objectives clearly listed, we tiptoed between the alleyways until I recognised a little shed ahead of us, as well as a reinforced fence that prevented us from getting any further.

"Alright gramps, let's get you over this thing first" Molly knelt near to the reinforced fence, clearly preparing herself to give him a leg up to launch him over. Chuck scoffed at both the notion that he was a grandparent as usual, and the fact that she was going to be strong enough to get him over the fence, especially considering there were three considerably sturdy barbed wire lines running over the top. "Come on, I'd hate to get your old body stuck on the barbed wire fence"

"Shouldn't we be trying to climb up the shed and jumping over instead?" I stopped the both of them before they could hurt themselves by pointing inside the shed nearby, as the universe was kind enough to still provide that for me no matter how much I had been giving it the proverbial finger. While the shelves inside looked a bit dodgy, they still were going to be much better than haphazardly trying to leap over the fence from the ground up. "Who wants to go first?"

It turns out; Molly's idea to let Chuck go first was actually a good thing, as he landed much better on his own without us there to possibly get in the way. After him, it was a piece of cake for me and Molly to come over, as we were by far more spry (possibly even the most spry) out of our group.

"Alright, let's not bullshit around, you must have figured out that I'm from here" Molly came somewhat out of nowhere with that remark of hers, pausing for just a moment before we were going to enter the garage itself. Chuck didn't really say much; obviously defecting to what I thought was the best thing to respond with at the time.

"I kind of figured with how angry you got at Vernon and Brie, plus the fact you were going to stab one of my group in the brain when you originally thought we were the ones who made the walker blockade" I listed some reasonable guesses that a stranger would make, and she nodded her head to confirm that both of those were good guesses to make. "I have to admit, I'm more curious about how you figured out that I knew"

"You covered for me back in that classroom, which you honestly didn't have to do. Considering how pissed you seem to be with Vernon, I kind of figured you had to have figured out rather than being naive" What Molly said made sense, as my reactions differed so greatly from person to person that my motivations likely weren't based on a belief that everyone was good. "Combine those with the fact that you're giving me a pretty good reward, and I'd say you're a pretty cool gal. It's too bad you're not a guy, otherwise I might actually have considered stealing you away from your group"

"Aww, are you saying that you wouldn't steal me away now?" I teased her softly, as I had honestly expected her to be picky about her partners based on how she had been in the game. After all, if the thirty-seven year old Lee was "too old" for her, then a girl was likely to be outside of her scope as well. "I could totally find a strap-on if that's the only thing you think I'm missing"

My teasing was met with a hearty chuckle from her, as she could easily identify that I was just messing around with her. Even if she were to turn around and admit that it was all that she wanted from me, something told me that it wouldn't have worked out between me and her anyway. She was far too much of a free spirit, and being chained down to a group (or even more, in a relationship with many people) struck me as something that would just cripple her emotionally.

We were interrupted in our banter by Chuck, who grabbed a portion of both of our sleeves before tugging us sharply out of the way. What he exactly was trying to protect us from came a moment later, as a walker fell onto the pavement with a splat right where we had been standing. As much as it should have been unfamiliar to me, it did ring heavy bells of the original game, especially so when I laid eyes on the medical scrubs the walker was wearing. It was the doctor that broke the deal with Molly, which led to the eventual demise of her sister.

"What the hell?" I asked myself how he had gotten on the roof, turning my eyes up for a moment to realise that there literally was no other walker on the roof where this one had come from. It was another case of the world stubbornly clinging to what had happened before, intent on dropping that walker before my face no matter how it had to do it. It was a bit... Frightening to see how willing it was to keep to that, as though the universe wasn't a concept or a simple fact of nature, but more along the lines of a stubborn deity. "Are you both okay?"

"I'm fine, thin' didn't get close to me" Chuck was well out of the possible danger zone, as of course he had been the one to take us away from the situation. It was when he gestured over to Molly subtly with his head that it was obvious that he was more concerned about her.

Her eyes were locked onto the corpse in front of us, fury showing clear in her eyes. There was no way she was going to forget the man who had ruined not just her life, but her sister's life as well. True to what I had expected, she pulled out her ice pick and looked like she was going to go to town on the walker.

Her rage came out in frankly a very primal way. There was no method to the movements she made, just pure anger, trying to get in a hit no matter what regardless of whether it actually left her balance completely shot or not. At first it was simple kicking, mainly to the ribs and head, but that soon devolved into her stabbing the walker in the body, limbs... Anywhere that wasn't the head, likely in an attempt to prolong the anger she could dish out against it. She likely was trying to make him suffer in his final moments, but sadly I didn't think walkers could really feel nor comprehend pain.

"Molly, that's no way to take revenge" I decided to hurry things along, tiptoeing around her until I could reach one of the large metal barrels that had been left behind by the humans when Crawford fell. She reacted exactly as she would have in the game, turning her head to me with a intense glare the moment she caught her breath, but that anger soon gained several notches of confusion when she saw me trying to heave the heavy barrel. "Seeing his head caved in will be much more satisfying than that"

It took her a couple of seconds to understand what I was suggesting, but once she got it she was very pleased with my idea. With morbid glee in her eyes, she helped me heave the heavy barrel high enough so that we could slam it down onto the walker's head with a loud crashing noise. The spray of blood luckily didn't reach anywhere high enough to splotch itself on our faces, but it was gruesome enough to give her that feeling of satisfaction.

"...You're right, that's much better" Molly agreed with me now that the walker was well and truly decimated, momentarily popping down to check through his pockets. She found something in the folds of his pants, a picture that I only saw a glimpse of, but I realised it was exactly what she had been going for in the game. The universe was kind enough to her this time to put the picture of her sister with the man she was wanting to go after anyway, and she seemed much more relieved when she tucked it into own pocket. "Why did you help me?"

"I guessed that he had to have been an asshole in real life" I once again fibbed slightly about what I actually knew about her, but my answer seemed to be good enough simply because she didn't care how I knew he was one.

"Good guess. You've got a good gut there, trust it well" She praised me, gently poking into my actual gut with her finger for a moment before she grinned at my initial flinch to that jab. It was then that she remembered how loud we were being out in that alleyway, turning her head to the other fenced off end of the alleyway and noticed that we had drawn possibly too much attention. "Looks like it's time to go"

"Is there gonna be much more of that?" Chuck asked Molly as he gestured over to the now unmoving corpse, likely asking more if there was going to be more intense anger from her. She shook her head, as frankly she cared little for the other people who had been in Crawford, so her little excursion of vengeance was long over. "Good, I don't think it's healthy"

"Anger is a perfectly valid emotion" Molly countered Chuck's remark a bit snappily, the three of us working to lever the garage door open with our ice pick, fire axe and shovel collectively. It was a lot easier than I expected, and Molly went through first before holding it open for both me and Chuck respectively. Chuck and I went underneath the gap at the same time as each other, with me making it through first simply because I was rushing a little. Once all three of us were inside, we allowed the garage door to close fully to give us some more time in there before the walkers came knocking. "Making people sound like they're overreacting isn't exactly healthy either"

"I wasn't talkin' 'bout anger, I was meanin' more the noise ye made. Revenge actually does help soothe that feelin' of being hurt and ignored afterward" Chuck quickly fixed the argument that was beginning to form between them both, diffusing it before it got anywhere near to a problem that I had to solve. The both of them really did make a good pair, old and young, vibrant and wise... It was like looking at two different styles of art that somehow clicked together despite the mere idea of it sounding absolutely bonkers. "I'm just tryin' to look out for ye, not shamin' nothin'"

Molly seemed a bit surprised to actually hear that from Chuck, as she likely had people older than her in the past tell her that she was 'overreacting', hence her snappy response. I could also sort of understand her feelings, as I had gotten quite self-conscious about my love for 'the walking dead' because of the how people had hounded me and told me I was 'obsessed' with it, so much so that the mere idea of someone calling me obsessed was like a detonation switch in the back of my mind.

But unlike any of those people, Chuck wasn't very presumptuous or condescending about other people’s opinions. Sure, he stuck to his guns like any other person would, but he wouldn't force any of them upon others if it was clear that it wasn't what they needed.

"...Thanks gramps" Molly did actually thank him, but it sounded a little less genuine when she didn't use his name. It almost seemed like she actually couldn't remember what his name was, that she was so used to being on her own that she never bothered to remember the names of people who flitted in and out of her life.

"It's Chuck, Charles if yer fancy" He reintroduced his name again, giving her the benefit of the doubt that she just missed it the first time he had been introduced to her. His name truly did seem to stick in her mind this time, which was a big step forward in the fact that she finally was allowing people to stick around, if only figuratively, in her mind. "Yer a good kid Molly"

"You too Charles, even if you still are a bit of an ass for calling me a kid" Molly teased him back quite happily, which gave me enough time to sneak away and grab the car battery while they were distracted. Not only would it speed us along and give those two more time to get along in a danger free environment, it also meant there was less chance of Molly being able to notice that I was making a beeline for it. After all, she would find it suspicious to see me going for the car hoisted off the ground first rather than the obvious truck right next to it.

"When yer my age, everyone's a kid" Chuck did make a good point, as frankly me and Molly's age (somewhere in our early twenties) were likely a third or possibly even a fourth of his age, which made us seem like toddlers compared to his considerable lifespan. Combining that with the fact he had survived a good three months in this new world on his own without anybody else's help, and he certainly was a bit above of us in terms of experience.

"Hah, fair enough" That too was taken remarkably well by her, the both of them quietly bantering with each other at the door while I went to work.

Rather than cut the hydraulics like Lee did in the game, I instead trusted in the machine that still held up the car in the garage and grabbed onto a lip of the front of the car. That movement didn't activate the car alarm, so I then hoisted myself up by using my ab muscles to pull myself up to the actual engine compartment of the car. After finding sufficient foot holds so that I wouldn't go tumbling backwards, Ithen carefully moved things, taking the cables off the negative side first before removing the positive. Now with the car battery disconnected, there was no worry of the car alarm activating itself, which meant I could happily take the thing without shocking myself or sounding some alarm. It was heavier than I had expected, but even so I kept a secure hold on it as I carefully jumped back down onto the ground.

"Molly, are you all good to carry this in your backpack? It's supposed to be a part of your reward after all, I'd hate for us to accidentally forget to give it to you or something" I explained my reasoning to her, and she already accepted it by gently turning around to show her backpack towards me. Chuck ended up helping me out by unzipping the bag itself (as I didn't have three hands and I didn't trust myself to juggle the battery in one hand) so I could place our loot inside. Molly also wasn't quite expecting the weight behind it, as she needed a second to correct her balance after it was actually inside, but soon the bag was zipped back up and it was like it was always hers to begin with.

"Thank you" That specific thanks of hers wasn't just talking about the car battery that was now hers, but it also seemed to simply be for everything the both of us had done for her. She almost looked a little bit sad that we were going to be parting ways with her eventually, but after shaking away that thought she was all smiles once more. "What's it for though? I don't own a car, I travel by rooftop"

"It's to repair the boat we found in the shed back at the house we're staying at" I finally decided that she was trustworthy to learn about that piece of information, even if she was never going to learn about my predicting skills. Chuck didn't seem to disapprove of my decision to trust her, in fact he seemed to approve greatly with a grin on his face, so I felt even more validated to tell her more. "It's also what the gasoline is for, we weren't planning on going back for our R.V."

"You're kidding" She seemed shocked that we were giving her that great of a gift, even flitting her eyes between both mine and Chuck's eyes to make sure that she wasn't seeing any kind of contradictory information in either of of us. She found none. "I... Why? Surely a thing like that would be more useful for your big group than me on my own?"

"It can only hold four people at maximum, so frankly it wouldn't work for us" I shrugged my shoulders, but the question did pose a lot more questions in my mind that the game had never managed to answer either for us. "Plus, it's only useful if the idea that walkers can't swim is true. Beyond that, going somewhere on the ocean without any plan sounds worse to me than sticking as a group"

"Regardless of how you feel about it, I... It means a lot to me that you guys are giving me this" Molly gently patted her backpack with one of her spare arms, as though to reassure herself that the car battery was still there. It was like we had given her a golden ticket, something to actually give her hope, which was something that resonated strongly with both me and Chuck. "Thank you, both of you"

Although it seemed like it had been a while since she had hugged someone in appreciation, she did softly come forwards for a small hug that held both me and Chuck. It was likely going to be a bit more of a sad goodbye for me in this new reality than it was in the game, for several different reasons. This new world made her feel... For lack of a better word, alive. While in the game the goodbye came as more of a 'see you the next time I play this chapter' this was truly going to be a farewell where I had to hope that her good sense and prowess were enough to keep her safe after I was gone.

"Alright, enough sappy stuff" Molly chuckled a little, and for a second it almost seemed to be as if she could hear my thoughts before I reminded myself that she was likely talking about her hug rather than anything else I had been doing. She pointed up the skylight above us with an impish grin, which gave away that she was once again planning on using the roofs to escape even if we weren't in as much danger as we were before. "Want to go on one last adventure?"

Chuck groaned a bit excessively, as if to make fun of the fact that we did nothing else than go on exciting adventures while roping him along, but he followed just as happily as I did when it actually came to escaping that garage. There clearly was a ticking time limit in place for how long Molly was going to be there, but until that time was gone I was going to enjoy myself immensely. I couldn't help but also feel that the time limit wasn't present for just me, as there were several times as we went over the rooftops that Chuck seemed to be thinking intensely about something, but when I asked him about it he brushed it off with a simple remark about how he was 'thinking'.

...Whatever it was, I knew he'd talk about it when he was ready.