“I’ve watched people leave before. Family, friends. They never come back. But, you did. And, now I can’t imagine what it would be like if you weren’t here.”
Those words kept on echoing inside of Violet’s head. She had never been good at goodbyes, so instead of having to say them, she had preferred to keep her distance. But now though, there was someone new in her life that broke that pattern; Clementine.
It had all happened so fast, yet it had all felt so right. Like two souls that not even a world that had turned into a landscape straight from hell could stop. Perhaps the ever wildly running teenage hormones were to blame, but soon enough it had dawned on both of them that what they felt and what they were after went way past being skin deep.
Which had made Violet leaving Clementine and AJ after their harrowing escape on the walker filled bridge all the harder.
In the span of but a few seconds, Tenn was gone. It was a hard and bitter truth to swallow, but deep down Violet knew that what AJ had done was the right thing to do. No matter how hard they had all tried, he was unable to make the disconnection between family, enemies, and walkers.
If it weren’t for the others, Violet would have stayed by Clementine’s side too. Knowing fully well that their group needed a leader in order to survive, she had gritted her teeth and hoped for the best. Seeing Clementine limp into safety with AJ supporting her, she could only hope for the best.
Knowing that she could have done something ate her from the inside; nagging at her sanity slowly but surely. The worst part, like with Minnie, was the uncertainty. She couldn’t calm down, eat or even sleep. Everyone in the camp took their turns coming tomake sure that she was okay, but underneath her stern look, she was cracking.
“Not again… I can’t… I can’t lose you too…”
Violet had sworn that she wouldn’t end up in this situation again. Her heart had been broken once before and she had been sure she couldn’t recover from it. Love came with it’s highs, but the lows were worse than any other injury she had experienced in her life. Where a flesh wound or a twisted ankle would hurt, but eventually heal, the heart was another matter entirely. The pain of uncertainty was by far the worst. The state of bliss and agony being equally likely.
It hurt. It hurt so, so much.
“Violet!” Aasim yelled from the top of the watchtower. “Come here, quick! Everyone!”
It was the second time Violet had seen Clementine and AJ return Ericson, only this time it wasn’t Clementine carrying AJ, but more or less the other way around. The first thing Violet seemed to notice was that in place of a leg, Clementine had a stub that had been patched both poorly and quickly. Luckily Ruby was there, and even though Violet knew she wanted to go and hug Clementine, her well-being was top priority.
As soon as they made it past the gates, AJ collapsed. Aasim and Willy were quick to take his place, with Ruby guiding them for a place to operate.
“Please, take good of her…” Violet said as she struggled to keep her voice down and calm.
“You know that I will. She’s one of us after all,” Ruby replied. “Come on, boys, hustle up. We need to make sure that her leg doesn’t get infected.”
“Hang in there Clem,” Willy said as he did his best to try and carry as much of Clementine’s weight as he could. Aasim on the other hand didn’t say anything, but noticed how hard Willy was trying to not only prove himself, but to show his gratitude towards Clementine.
And just like that, she had returned and gone again.
Sitting outside of Clementine’s room wasn’t the most productive way of spending her time, but Violet knew that she had to be there the moment she was given the chance. After a series of operations that had lasted for hours, Clementine had fallen into a deep slumber like state. Her body needed rest, yet in the process she had left all of the rest restless. Two people in particular.
“Any news yet, Violet?” AJ asked. Hopping onto the couch, he sat near her, but enough to give her some personal space. AJ knew that Violet was a good person, but one that also clearly appreciated their personal space quite a bit, at least a lot more than your average person.
“No, not yet. Ruby said that we will hear her ring a bell when we can see her. She put one on that table in between your beds, so she will ring it when she wakes up,” Violet explained. “You must be pretty worried about her too.”
AJ nodded in response. “Yeah… back at the barn, I was really scared, but… when she told me to leave, I felt the same way I did as I did back on that bridge…” With his eyes turning to look at the ground, AJ was silent as he tried to find the right words to describe his feelings. “I… I didn’t want to shoot him… he was my first real friend that was my age, but he just… he wouldn’t listen no matter how hard we tried… and I know that you’d hate me for it, but I know you’re strong and that everyone here loves and needs you, so I…”
AJ didn’t get to finish his sentence as he felt a firm grip on his shoulder, pulling him towards Violet. “...I forgive you. I’m sorry for what I said to you back then. You made the right choice, and I’m forever grateful to you for it. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here today… and neither would Clementine. We all owe you.”
The guilt of his choices had been nagging at AJ, but it was something he had been able to ignore ever since looking after Clementine had become his only priority. Now that things had finally calmed down though, it had dawned on him that there wouldn’t be a day when he’d be able to see any of Tenn’s drawings anymore. Still, deep down, AJ knew that what he had done was the right thing to do, even if the guilt made him feel worse than that one time he had accidentally eaten a rotten can of peaches.
“It still… hurts, you know? Like, deep down here… it sort of stings…” AJ explained in the way we felt he could best.
“Yeah, I know how that feels…” Violet said with a weary sigh. “You’ve heard of me and Minnie, right? That girl on that boat and… on that bridge?”
AJ lifted up his head to look at Violet before nodding. “Yeah. You and her were like you and Clementine are right now, right?”
Violet’s usual frown turned into a weak smile. “Yeah, like that. Although with her, it was… different.”
“Different… how?” AJ inquired, tilting his head a bit.
Scratching the back of her short haired head, Violet coughed a few times. “With her, I feel like it was maybe more… physical than emotional, if that makes sense. Kinda like… like say, if you’d like to cuddle with someone, but not open up to them about your feelings or fears or such?”
AJ snorted before shaking his head. “Oh wow, that sounds just stupid. Why would anyone want that?”
Violet couldn’t help but to snort at AJ’s genuine reaction. In hindsight, it did seem stupid. “Yeah, it was stupid, but sometimes we do things that are kinda irrational, you know?”
“Um… it means like, something that doesn’t make much sense. When you let your feelings take over what you know is the right thing to do.” Violet explained.
“But isn’t it good sometimes? I don’t think anyone can act… um… rationally all the time, right?” AJ asked. From the tone of his voice and look on his face, he clearly wasn’t sure if ‘rational’ was a real word or not.
“Yeah, you got that right. I’m living proof of that myself. I’ve done plenty of irrational shit in my life…” Violet said with a weak chuckle. Where in the past those memories had haunted her, right now she was filled with a rare sense of bliss. An odd sense of calmness that felt alien to her was filling her, and finally her heart that had been feeling like it was about to burst out of her chest for days now was finally showing signs of calming down.
“So, what you and Clementine did, that thing where you two get like really close… is that irrational?”
With her hold of AJ’s shoulder still strong, Violet pulled him even closer so that she could ruffle his afro a bit. “Yeah, maybe a bit, but that’s the good kind of irrationality.”
“Right,” AJ said with a tiresome, but genuine smile on his face. “Are you gonna do that thing to her when she wakes up?”
“Oh, you have no idea,” Violet grinned.
“That’s cool,” AJ grinned in return. “Although I still don’t get why Clementine told me to look away. Was she embarrassed by me watching?”
“Yeah, probably. It’s usually a pretty private thing, but I hope you don’t mind if we do that in public too?”
“Yeah, I don’t. Clementine always smiles afterwards, so if it makes both you and her happy, then it makes me happy too.”
“You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, kid. Make sure you don’t lose it,” Violet smirked as she finally let go of AJ.
“Of course I won’t. That sounds dangerous…”
Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, but much to Violet’s own surprise, she bursted out laughing for the second time that day.
The first visitor to Clementine had been AJ. His visit to her room didn’t last for very long, as he was keen to not only return to his duties, but to tell everyone else that Clementine was okay. There would be plenty of time to talk more in near future, but there was also another reason why he wanted to keep his visit short.
“Thanks for checking up on me, goofball,” Clementine smirked, despite her pain.
“I thought I told you that I don’t like that name…” AJ pouted for a bit before dismissively shaking his head. “I’m gonna go now to let the others know that you’re okay. Make sure to get plenty of rest. Ruby told me to tell you that.”
“Yeah, that does sound like a reasonable request. I don’t really feel like getting out of this bed anytime soon if I’m being honest with you.”
“But… don’t fall asleep just yet either, okay?”
Clementine blinked a few times, but didn’t ask any further questions. Laying down, she rested her head on the pillow and waited.
As AJ stepped outside, he saw a nervous Violet standing right outside the door. She was checking out her clothes and stylizing her short and messy hair a bit before quickly turning towards AJ when he stepped out into the hallway.
“Why are you feeling nervous? You’ve met Clementine before,” AJ smirked as he closed the door behind him.
“It’s, uh… complicated. How do I look?” Violet inquired as she posed a bit for AJ.
“Um, like you always do? Is this one of those puzzle things?”
Shaking her head, Violet couldn’t hide her faint smirk as she stepped towards the door. Her hand was now tightly holding onto the loose doorknob. “Not exactly. I’m just… nervous, I guess…” Violet mumbled under her breath.
“It’s okay, everyone gets nervous sometimes,” AJ replied. Even though he couldn’t reach to pat Violet on her shoulder, he could still reach to pat her on her back. “And you’re human just like anyone else, even if you’re like super tough for a girl.”
“Girls can be tough too, you know? You of all people should know that,” Violet smirked as she gently nudged AJ on his shoulder.
“Yeah, I do. A lot tougher than boys even,” AJ said. Stepping aside, he tilted his head to gesture tp Violet to walk in. “She’s awake, waiting for you. I’ll go tell the others, but I’ll make sure they don’t come in to interrupt you. I know now that Clementine likes to do that thing when no one else is looking.”
“It’s, um… it’s called kissing. That’s what it’s called…” Violet said with a faint, but rosy coloring on her cheeks.
“Kissing, huh? Can I tell others that you two are kissing, then?”
With a faint snort, Violet gave AJ an approving nod. “Yeah, tell them that. Say it loudly and proudly, so they all know about it too,” Violet smirked.
When AJ ran off, she was now face to face with the door on her own. Where she had expected her heart to start beating like crazy again, it didn’t happen. Instead, that odd sense of serenity filled her from head to toe as her slightly shaking hand turned the doorknob. The old, squeaky door opened, and what awaited Violet was something that made her heart skip a few beats.
The light from the slightly broken window only made the sight of Clementine that much better. With Clementine peeking her head as she registered the sound of someone entering her room, she saw Violet standing there, seemingly frozen in place before she made a dash for it.
What followed was a hug that Clementine wanted more than anything despite the pain that came with it. It was a small price to pay for something her entire being wanted. Her tight grip seemingly refused to let go of Violet.
“You know, it’s really fucking rude to keep a girl worried?” Violet chuckled as she tried to fight back against the inevitable tears. She had trained herself to be strong and tough; to grow skin so thick that not a bullet or a person could pierce it, yet here she was, in the arms of someone who in a world that could be best described as merciless and cruel, had given her a new reason to exist and fight.
“I did make you a promise, didn’t I?” Clementine joined in a chuckle with Violet, with her own feelings also rising to the surface now that it was just the two of them. “When I was in that barn with AJ, I… I couldn’t help but to think of you, of us. I was just… imagining the pain that you’d feel if AJ had actually listened to me, but that boy… he is stubborn and he… he refused to give in. He refused to let me die there…”
“You’ve raised one hell of a kid, you know?” Violet said as she slowly pulled back, with her hands still holding onto Clementine’s shoulders. “I’m… I don’t even know what to say. I thought of like… romantic speeches and whatnot. I even wrote some shit down and asked Louis for help, but he just said that it needs to come straight from my heart. And then he said… or well, wrote, that’s probably asking too much from me, since there isn’t a straight bone in my body to begin with,” Violet said, doing her best Louis impression, which wasn’t exactly all that good, but it got the point across if nothing else.
Clementine knew it was a bad idea to laugh out loud in her current situation, but that was such a Louis joke that she couldn’t help herself. Flinching at the pain, she buried her head in Violet’s shoulder, with her hands tightly gripping around her back. “Yeah, that does sound like him all right. But I like you like that. Just the way you are, you know?”
For someone who had never felt like fitting in, be it in society, in school, with people or societal norms, it was something new to hear that someone didn’t only accept her, but also loved her the way she was. “Oh, you like your girls being rough around the edges, huh?” Violet asked with a soft laugh.
“Yeah. I mean, I did enjoy being a warrior princess for a reason. And now I have one with me too, so I’m not in a position to complain.”
“I’m not exactly the princess type, but maybe for you, I might just wear a dress and tiara if you ask me nicely. And the sword, of course. Can’t be a warrior princess without that. Or will a hatchet do? I have one already.”
“Yeah, that’d be nice. Although, I do like you the most when you’re just.. you.”
With the tense atmosphere quickly fading away, the two of them leaned in closer. As their heads tilted and eyes closed, their lips found solace in one anothers. It was a tender and soft kiss that said ‘I’ve missed you, I was worried about you’, without the need to exchange the words. The kiss lasted for a good ten seconds or so, with both of them hesitantly and slowly breaking it by pulling back ever so slightly.
“You know… we’re gonna have to start rebuilding again now…” Violet said. Glancing down, she moved one of her hands towards Clementine’s, before realizing that she had been met halfway. With their fingers interlocking, the two of them shared a smile before leaning in for another brief, but warm kiss.
“Yeah, that’s true. I know that you’re not good at saying goodbyes, but I hope that you’re better at starting over with people you know and care about.”
“Yeah…” Violet nodded. “That doesn’t sound so bad. And it’s not like I have to start all over again though. We’re gonna rename this shithole, but the people here will be the same… of course there is one problem though…”
Blinking a few times, Clementine tilted her head. “What is it?”
“There is this one girl that I really like… and I think that I can’t keep my feelings for her to myself. I hope that won’t get in the way of anything…” Violet smirked. Maybe she wasn’t as natural in humor or flirting as Louis was, but judging by the smirk and blush on Clementine’s face, she was a natural where it mattered.
“Oh, that does sound troublesome. Maybe you need to find some spots around here that are good for hiding out in case you and that girl ever feel like making out,” Clementine smirked in return.
“Yeah…” Violet whispered back to Clementine. “I’m glad that you made it back. To your… our home.”
Resting her head against Violet’s shoulder, Clementine whispered back at her: “Me too. I’m glad to be home.”