She could have backed away from him but she was out of energy and she didn't want to fight anymore so she let him wipe tbe blood away, only because she didn't want to go out like one of them. She looked at him while he spoke and it was as though his words meant nothing in the moment.
"But you said them...and they were true." She picked the rifle up from the floor and turned away from him then and she started to walk. She was heading back in the direction she had come in, no intention of sticking around here any longer. Now she just needed to be with her son.
"I should never have stayed. I should have got in my car the second it was fixed!"
"Aurora?" he asked when she said nothing. And when she finally spoke, he let out a breath. He felt as if he'd been punched in the gut. He shook his head and slowly approached her while pulling a kerchief out of his back pocket.
He brought it up to her face and started to wipe the blood away. "Don't say that. Don't you ever fucking say that." He was livid at her words, but he said them softly. "You have Harrison to look after. To protect. And you're more than capable of that."
He pulled back once her face was clean and he dropped his eyes. "I should have never said those things to you... I was pissed. I couldn't..." [i Stand the thought of him touching you,] is what he wanted to say. But he had no claim to her.
Aurora shook her head, not really knowing what else to say to him. She felt broken and she didn't know how she was supposed to piece herself together now. Everything was messed up.
She watched as Jay check the gun of the man she had just killed and the he looked towards her with some alarm and she turned to see what he was warning her about. She jumped slightly at the blood hit her face and she closed her eyes for a moment, trying not to throw up.
"You should have let her kill me." She said after a minute of silence.
Jay pulled his hand back as soon as she shrugged him off and stepped away. "Aurora, please." He didn't move closer, though. If she wanted him to stay away, then he would stay away. He finally sighed and looked away, going to collect the gun and backpack he had seen on the man she had shot. He checked the chamber. Loaded.
When he looked back at her, his eyes widened. "Aurora, look out!"
Climbing out of the strorefront's broken window behind her was one of the crazy infected. She was drawn out by the noise. She was mere feet away from Aurora.
Jay raised the pistol and shot over Aurora's shoulder with confidence, but by the time he did, she was closing in. The blood splattered across the side of Aurora's face as the crazy went down, snarling, and then died.
Aurora hadn't even considered that anyone would have followed her out here. Least of all Jay. He had been so angry and she could swore that she oukd see he didn't care enough about her to follow her. She was blind to the fact that it was [I because] he cared that he had gotten so angry in the first place.
By the time Jay got to her, she had pulled her legs to her chest and she hugged them to herself as she rested her head against her knees. She could hear movement behind her. It could have been an infected coming to rip her apart but she didn't care. She didn't move. She deserved it.
Then she heard his voice. The last person she expected to see. She lifted her head and when she felt his hand on her back she shrugged it off and got to her feet, backing away from him. "Don't come near me."
Jay was out the gate as quickly as possible. Aurora was easy to track. He knew her boots, knew where she was headed the moment her prints didn't go deeper into the woods.
"Dammit," he hissed. The underbrush kicked up then. Signs she had started to run. And he ran after her. He couldn't believe how stupid he had been. He knew how headstrong Aurora was. How did he not think she was going to rush out there and try to prove that she could protect herself? Her son?
He was breathing hard by the time he reached the small town. He had come here with King a few times, but most of the items had already been raided for their setup at the complex.
That's when he heard the gunshot and he ran straight for the sound. He maneuvered through the obstacle course of cars and found Aurora slumped on the ground, sobbing. He could see the infected person she had killed several feet in front of her. The only way he could tell him apart from any of the other corpses was the fact that his blood was bright red and he was still bleeding.
Jay swallowed hard. He'd never seen Aurora like this before. There were times when he wondered if she could even cry like this at all.
"Aurora," he said softly, leaning down to pick up the rifle she had dropped. He didn't need her doing something rash and hitting him with it or something. He laid it aside with his own and put a hand on her back. "I'm sorry," he breathed. "I'm so sorry."
And he was. His eyes filled with tears of his own. He never wanted to push Aurora to this. And yet he had. This was his fault.
Aurora was walking with purpose, she wasn't heading for the woods, she was heading for the nearest town where she knew that there would be something for her to face. She didn't care about deer or rabbits. She was on a mission to prove herself regardless of the fact that there was no one here to prove herself to it didn't matter. She wasn't walking for long though. She started to run after a few minutes, hoping to get there quicker. The nearest town wasn't too far out so after a thirty minute journey she arrived on the outskirts. There were plenty of bodies on the street already. Someone had cleared themselves a pathway last time they were here but she had no doubt that she would find an infected around here.
She slowed down into a walk and glanced around at all the blood and bodies littering the streets and deserted vehicles that acting as obstacles for her to climb over. As suspected it didn't take long for her to find a man stood completely still staring up at the sky. He had a gun and a backpack. Just passing through but the unlucky bastard wasn't quick enough. She kept her distance from him and held her rifle and got her stance as close to how Jay had shown her as possible, trying to block of the memory of his hand in his hip.
She looked down the barrel of her gun and noticing her vision was blurry. She was crying. Already mourning for the man she was about the kill. "I'm so sorry." She whispered under her breath before she squeezed the trigger, the bullet colliding with his face as she stumbled backwards. As soon as she looked at his body slumped on the floor she dropped the rifle and lowered herself to the ground and sobbed.
Jay didn't care what was going on behind him. Monica was trying to tell him that Aurora was leaving on her own. "Let her!" He said once inside the apartment building. "Maybe I actually got through enough that she'll actually shoot something."
"She looked like she was ready to shoot [i you]," King said, stopping him with a hand on his shoulder. "I understand why you're upset, Jay. And you're right. We don't know if this will be our home forever. But it is for now. Now I put trust in you when I took you in... You planning on beating anyone else up?"
Jay looked at him and narrowed his eyes. "He touched Aurora," he said lowly.
"I know. But we have a process here. We decide together."
Jay looked away, annoyed, but he also knew he was right. Without order they had nothing. "If he stays, I don't want him anywhere near Aurora. Or Monica, or my sister for that matter."
King nodded, resting his hand on his hip as he thought. "It's a small place, but I'm sure he can figure it out. Come see me tomorrow. We'll talk it out then." He turned around and left, leaving Jay alone with Monica.
She was looking at him disapprovingly.
"What!?" He turned around he headed up the stairs. She followed.
"You know, a few nights ago I heard Aurora crying. Almost all night. What the fuck happened between you two?"
"Nothing happened," he said, getting to his door. She followed him inside.
"I didn't think the world was going to make such an ass out of you. Aurora is out there right now trying to prove something that she absolutely doesn't need to prove."
Now that Jay had calmed down some he knew she was right. He buried his face in his hands. "I shouldn't have said any of that..."
"No. You shouldn't have."
He turned right back around and started making his way down the steps quickly. She didn't follow. She knew where he was going. He grabbed his rifle and headed for the gate, telling them he was going to look for Aurora. If anything happened to her out there... it was his fault.
Aurora almost stepped back a little when he snapped and honestly his words only fuelled her anger. He grew up with this hunting and survival stuff and she hadn't. It was a hard adjustment to make and she was doing the best she could dealing with it but for him to bring Harrison into this...it felt like he was attacking her ability to protect him and she saw red. Her fists balled up and if Monica hadn't gotten there first she probably would have landed a punch on him.
She wanted to scream...tell him to question her ability to protect her son again but she couldn't get her words out. Instead she was stunned into silence and Monica was trying to talk him down but he started shouting at her too. "You are a fucking dick Hartley." She shouted after him as he walked away. "What's more is you are a coward!" She marched right up the gates then. "Let me out of here now."
She looked back at Jack. "You take him home." She said looking towards Harrison. "I'll be back in a couple of hours." She needed him to know that she wasn't walking out on him but she needed the space.
"I'm not supposed to let anyone out alone."
"I said let me the fuck out now!" She grabbed hold of the rifle leaning against the gate. King must have put it down when he went after Jay. Apparently that action was enough to make them open the gates and let her out. Aurora place the rifle over her shoulder and made her way out...fully intending to kill something...anything...
A moment later and Harrison suddenly appeared beside him, looking excited. He didn't know what to say. He was too riled up. Too pissed. But Aurora pulled him away and it was her turn to do the shouting.
Jay took it, knowing he deserved it, but it struck every nerve with him. He wasn't allowed to be worried about her now? He wasn't allowed to care?
"Yeah, you're doing just [i great]," he said, his sarcasm not going unnoticed as he shouted back at her. They were airing their dirtly laundry for everyone to see. "Can't even pull a damn trigger! So next time we're out there and the infected come after you, who do you think is gonna have to protect you then, huh? Harrison!?" He shouted, gesturing to him, but not looking away from Aurora.
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Monica put her hand on his arm. "Jay, you're being an ass!"
He shrugged her arm away. "At least someone is. We ain't playin' house here! This is life and death. And everyone here seemed to want to play around like we're some nice little neighborhood."
"We're safe here!" she bit back. "This is better than we've had in a long time!"
"Until someone else wants what we have! Until one of us gets killed. Y'all won't be wantin' to play house after that. And people like him?" He gestured to Kris. "We just let them walk around like they own the place, pretty soon they will. And I don't know 'bout you, but I don't want this new world to be run by rapists and self-centered pricks."
He turned abruptly and headed towards the apartments. He didn't want to hear anything else about it. He knew he'd flipped his lid. Shouldn't have gone off like that, but it had been bottled up for weeks and he was tired.
King motioned for his people to take Kris to the doctor, then followed after Jay.
Aurora tried it to think about what had happened although it was difficult when Harrison couldn't stop bragging that his Mom beat up a bad man. He didn't know what he had done but Aurora wasn't the type to go around hitting people so in his seven year old mind he must have done something really bad to deserve it. They finished up in the kitchen and she took him by the hand to take him back to the apartments. Although they were stopped by a commotion on the way out and she could hear Jay's voice shouting.
"Shit." She mumbled to herself and she started to run, Harrison also picking up pace she he was holding onto her hand. She could see Kris on the floor and she arrived just in time to see King pulling Jay back as he straightened himself up. Harrison let go of her hand and ran towards him.
"Jay! Did you see? Did you see what Mom did? She is such a badass!" Aurora shook her head as she approached. "Tell him Mom!"
"Harrison that's enough." She grabbed hold of Jay's arm and pulled him with her, away from the crowd if people. "What the fuck are you doing? I [I dealt] with him already. I don't need you or anyway else to [I protect] me okay? I'm doing just fine on my own. I don't know why you even give a shit!" She was angry as hell then. He slept with her, told her it was a mistake, spent days avoiding her and acting like he didn't care to come to her defence the second some horny asshole lay his hands on her.
When they got back, Monica seemed almost to have been waiting for him, arms crossed, pacing in front of the gate. As soon as it opened she stopped moving and watched him walk inside. He squinted at her inquisitively.
"Something... happened," she said slowly, as if she was second guessing telling him.
King was near and since this was his place, he needed to know as well. "What is it, Monica?" he asked.
"It's Kris," she said nervously, looking between the two men. "He... laid his hands on Aurora." Jay didn't need to hear more. He saw red and started to move. But she put her hand on his chest. "She broke his nose, Jay! He doesn't need any more bashing about."
"Doesn't he?" he growled.
King stepped forward. "Where is he now?"
No one knew. Jay moved again and this time he did not let Monica stop him. He walked with a purpose. Like he was out for blood. The doctor hadn't seen him. He hadn't even been by to get his nose looked at. He wasn't in the vegetable patches or his apartment. And then they found him in one of the alleyways where he liked to hide out with a bloody nose. Jay could have sworn he saw fear in his eyes when he looked up.
Jay grabbed him by the collar and moved him roughly out of the alleyway and into the open. King was trying to get Jay to calm down, but he was smart enough not to get between a man and his vendetta. Jay threw him to the ground.
"You touch Aurora?" he yelled, his accent coming out all the stronger. When Kris didn't reply, he only increased his volume. "You lay your hands on her?"
Everyone who was still outside was staring at the scene. "Maybe I did," Kris said with one last stroke of hatred.
That was all it took. Jay knelt and dealt a hard blow to his already bleeding face. And again. And again. He felt his fist start to hurt with the effort. Slicken with blood. He heard someone yelling for him to stop. Maybe it was a few people.
King eventually had to approach him from behind and hook his arms around his own to pull him back.
"Let me deal with him!" King kept saying. "Let me take care of this!"
Jay struggled in his grip for a moment before finally righting himself. King let go of him and Jay adjusted his shirt with a huff.
Aurora cried most of that night and she hated herself for it. Jack seemed to have decided to let Harrison sleep with him again to give her space but when she woke up the next morning she had decided to pretend like nothing happened and that she was okay. That was the only way to get through this and regardless of how much distance Jay out between them now and how much he had hurt her, she didn't let that change the dynamic of his relationship with Harrison. Over the next few days when Jay was working in cars so was he and she didn't say a thing. It wasn't fair for him to lose the only father figure he had because of her.
On that fourth day she figured he had gone out hunting since King and a few others were gone too. Harrison decided to spend the morning with Monica and Scarlett who were helping to set up another garden within the complex. It was something Harrison could help with too and Aurora busied herself in the kitchen, helping out wherever she could since she figured hunting would not be something she would learn anytime soon since Jay wouldn't even look at her.
She busied herself for several hour before the woman in charge of the kitchen asked her if she could check in with Kris to see how the most recent batch of potatoes were looking. She nodded and made her way towards the gardens where she found him easily. She waved towards Harrison when he saw her approaching and he waved back happily but continued working on the bit of soil he had been assigned to.
"Aurora! Great to see you. What brings you to my neck of the woods?"
"Josephine asked me to check on the progress with the potatoes."
"They are coming along nicely. I reckon we can harvest them by the weekend." Aurora smiled towards him then.
"That's great news. It will be nice to cook with something else for a little while." She nodded and then glanced up at Harrison once more. "He behaving?"
"Course! Monica and Scarlett have got a good eye on him over there." She nodded once more and then decided she had made more than enough small talk that it wouldn't be rude go dismiss herself.
"I'm going to get back." She said as she turned on her heel and made her way back towards the kitchens. To do so she had to make her way through two buildings that made an alleyway of sorts. Kris apparently followed her thigh because as soon as she slipped between the two buildings her grabbed hold of her arm, not roughly.
"What is it?" She asked as she turned to face him with a questioning look. He just smiled towards her and used his grip on her arm to pull her closer to him and before she had time to react his lips were on hers. She pulled her hand free from his grip and she pushed on his chest to push him away. "What do you think you are doing?"
"Oh come on. Don't pretend that you don't want this." He said as he advanced on her again, using the wall behind her to trap her as he kissed her again. She winced slightly and pushed at him again.
"I don't. Get your hands off me." He wouldn't listen, instead he was trying to get his hands down her pants and this time she shouted and she kneed him in the crotch. "I said get your fucking hands off me." It would be loud enough to draw the attention of Monica and Scarlett who were nearby with Harrison. T
They dropped their things and ran towards the alley just in time to see Kris bent over in pain and Aurora grabbing him by the shoulder and trusting her knee up into his face, breaking his nose. "You ever even look my way again and I'll do more than break your face. You hear?" He didn't reply since he was equal amounts embarrassed and hurt.
Harrison couldn't believe what he had seen and while he didn't understand what had happened to cause it, he was pleased because he didn't like Kris. He looked towards Monica and Scarlett with this smirk of his and Aurora held out her hand to him. "Come on bud, let's go finish tonights meal." He took her hand as she glanced up at the women, knowing she wouldn't need to explain herself.
Three days passed by. Jay kept himself busy. When they ate dinner he kept to himself several feet away. Monica and Scarlett tried to get him to open up, but he wouldn't budge. The last thing he needed was everyone knowing what had happened when it wouldn't be happening again. They just needed to get back to normal. If that was possible...
He went out with King as often as possible to hunt to make runs into various towns. He was getting good with his knives. Good with killing. Jay just took that as more of a sign that he was unfit to be with Aurora. Sometimes, when they were getting overwhelmed by infected, he didn't even find himself worrying. He didn't even have to think about it. They weren't people to him anymore. And his job was to just take them out, one by one, until he was able to continue on.
Sometimes he came back so covered in blood that the others worried he'd been hurt. He had to explain what King had told him about how everything they had been told about the infection was just the news outlets grasping for something to give the public a sense of safety. That it was actually proximity that did you in. Otherwise they wouldn't stop fussing about him cleaning the blood off when it was perfectly fine to leave it for a few minutes.
He left with King, Abigail, and Damien on the fourth day after his moment with Aurora in the woods. The two of them hardly exchanged words anymore so he didn't feel the need to tell her he was leaving. He just did so.
Aurora found herself looking in the other direction until he spoke up. This was it and she knew exactly what he was going to say but it didn't make it hurt any less. This made it real. This showed her that he didn't feel the same way about her. That was the only possibly explanation.
He couldn't even look at her. He was ashamed of sleeping with her in the way he had and he didn't even give her any time to respond before he was leaving her. Perhaps that was for the best because now she was feeling emotional and she knew that an emotional response wouldn't be ideal right now.
Her heart physically ached and tears stung her eyes. She couldn't stand being out here now, replaying his words over and over again. Aurora went back into the building and towards her apartment and went straight for her room, not stopping to talk to Jack who saw her tears.
"Aurora?" He followed her, knocked on her door but there was nothing. "What happened?"
"Please leave me alone Jack." In that moment she needed to let everything out. She must needed to cry.
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