Jay nodded, hearing everyone out. It seemed they were all on the same page, at least.
"Alright," he said softly. "We'll find another way back that won't take us past the complex..." It was still hard to believe that everyone else was dead.
They loaded themselves back up into the car and Jay got them back onto the road. After a while of heading the same way they had been going the day before, he finally found a road that would take them farther away from the apartments, but also slingshot them back around the way King and the others had gone. Two hours later and he had found the junction meeting the road they had escaped on. Luckily they were about as far away from the complex as they had been at the barn, just in the opposite direction. The problem was that they didn't know if King had also been on the move or where they had been holed up.
After another half hour of driving, the car began to slow and shutter.
"Fuck." Jay hit the wheel. He knew they had been running on empty for some time, but he had hoped to at least get another half hour out of the tank.
The small road was abandoned. No other cars for them to take. "Dammit," he muttered to himself. Then louder, "Help me push the car into the trees. We don't want people knowing we might be nearby."
Aurora watched them from her spot for a little while before she stood to stretch her legs a little. The morning sickness had pretty much worn off at this stage of her pregnancy so she was sure that her sickness this morning was for an entirely different reason. She tried not to let it show though, nor did she allow herself to feel it any more after a few deep breaths.
After giving herself some time to gether her thoughts she could see that Jay was making her way over to Scarlett and Jack so she did the same thing.
"We have to look for them Jay." Jack was the first to speak out and Scarlett nodded too.
"We are a family now. We have to stay together so we have to find them." She glanced towards Aurora then. "Hell, we need the Doc too." Aurora sighed and placed a hand on her stomach where she felt a flutter of movement.
"I don't like the thought if being separated from them either. We should look for them."
Jay's eyes were heavy, but he never closed them for more than a few seconds at a time. Despite the darkness and the long hours that ticked by, he did not allow himself to think about the fact that they were out here once more. Separated from the others. He had known all along this was a possibility. Nowhere was safe anymore.
The sun had barely risen at all when he heard some stirring behind him. And then the small hand on his shoulder. He looked up at Harrison's sleepy face and nodded slowly.
"I know," he said. He didn't, though. It was easy for a child to say such things. He put his hand on top of Harrison's hand pulled him into his lap to help him keep watch, just for a little while longer. Jay leaned his head against the door. His eyes closed and without telling himself, he drifted into sleep for about twenty minutes. Harrison was kind enough to not move around too much and jostle him awake.
When he finally stirred again, Jack and Scarlett were getting up as well. He looked back at Aurora with tired eyes. He had a decision to make. Dare they stay put? Hope the others circle around and find them? Or did they go out looking for them instead? There was no third option where they just didn't look at all. Was it safer? Probably. But Jay couldn't bare the thought.
He lifted Harrison and set him aside, standing up and making his way to the rest of the group, holding Harrison's hand in his. He laid out their options.
"If we stay here, King and the others could find us. But so could our enemies," he said.
Aurora didn't leave Harrison's side that night. She held him close until he fell asleep in her arms but she barely got any sleep herself. Jay spent the whole night guarding the entrance and Scarlett and Jack managed to get some sleep. They were exhausted and she couldn't blame them. Aurora wouldn't have been able to sleep if she tried though. Every time she closed her eyes she saw Mitchell's body slumping to the floor. She could hardly avoid it.
When the morning sun rose Harrison woke up not too much later. She smiled down at him and he smiled back before wrapped his arms around her neck and kissing her cheek. "Can I go speak to Dad?"
"Course you can. He's on lookout." She said as she gestured towards Jay and let Harrison climb off her lap. He went straight to him and placed his hand in Jay's shoulder.
"We're going to be okay Dad."
Jay nodded at Aurora as she walked past him, squeezing his hand. Then he moved back to the doors and peered outside into the dying light.
"At least it's not freezing," Scarlett said as she approached him. "Or raining." She looked up at the rafters that were barely holding together with plenty of holes for rain to get through. Jay only nodded. "I'm guessing we're going without food tonight?"
Jay nodded again. He never took his eyes from the cracks in the door. "I managed to grab a few things. But not much. We should conserve it."
Scarlett nodded and walked away then to sit against the wall. Jay peered back at the tiny group. Aurora was speaking to Harrison calmly. He couldn't hear what was being said. Jack looked beyond tired. He hadn't said a word the entire time. But then neither had Jay, really.
Jay made sure his gun was at the ready and eased himself down onto the barn floor. He would not leave this spot all night.
Aurora got lost in her thoughts as Jay drove. She didn't know how they were going to manage now and she certainly didn't like the fact that they had been separated from the people who had become their family over the passing months.
Occasionally she would glance back at the three in the back seat and she could tell that they were all thinking the same thing. They had no idea if they would ever be safe again and she knew that being pregnant was going to make things very difficult for them if they were on the move like this. There were some things she couldn't bring herself to think about.
Eventually they stopped at a barn and once they realised it was empty they all stepped inside. This would do for the night. For a moment she looked to Jay much like the others but then she focused her attention on Harrison.
"Come on solider. You need to get some sleep. Let's find somewhere warm okay?" She took hold of his hand and glanced towards Scarlett and Jack who she offered a small smile to before walked passed Jay, squeezing his hand on the way by him.
When she found a spot she sat down with Harrison and cuddled him into her. "I would have killed him." He said suddenly and Aurora's heart dropped.
"I would have! He hurt people I love." He said through teary eyes. She held him closer and kissed his head.
"I know baby. I don't want you to have to kill a person. I don't want you to have to live with that. Christ baby, you are only seven!"
"But I am strong enough to do it."
"I don't doubt that, but I want you to be a kid for as long as possible I don't want to lose you to this world "
"I'm always going to be here Mom. I'm never leaving you."
Jay did not stop driving. He couldn't risk it. If he stopped, they might catch up to them. They might be following them to finish the job. They sped down the street as fast as he could manage, kicking up old leaves behind them.
No one spoke.
No one had to.
There was nothing to say right now. Everyone was still processing what had just happened. He glanced over at Aurora to make sure that he was still doing alright. After about an hour he turned down a small side street in the middle of nowhere. He didn't know where he was going, but he had to try to make things difficult for their enemies if they were looking for them.
A ways down this road there was an old barn that had clearly been out of commission for some time. He turned onto the old dirt path and drove the car around to the back so that it wasn't visible from the road.
"Let's sweep the place," Jay said, his voice hoarse after breathing in all the smoke, then not speaking for some time.
He got out and pulled his rifle up. He walked around the double doors and looked through the cracks in the wood. He couldn't see anything. With the others backing him up just in case, he slowly opened one side. He maneuvered his way in and discovered that it truly was empty. This place hadn't held animals for some years. He lowered his gun and ushered the others inside before closing the doors behind them.
When he turned back he could see that all eyes were on him. Once again, they were looking to him for answers. Once again he was their leader. And he hated it.
Aurora didn't even have time to process what had happened. The fact that she shot her ex, the biolgoical father of her child was not something she could allow herself to think about right now. Perhaps when she did finally allow herself the time to do so, she would find it difficult to process. She had killed people before but she didn't know them, nor did she had a history with them.
Aurora held the gun up in front of her when she heard someone coming through the door, only relaxing it when she saw that it was Jay. She exchanged a look with him and glanced down at Mitchell's body. She couldn't freak out now. All she could do was nod and turn to Harrison as she crouched down in front of him.
"You keep that gun close okay? Do not use it unless you have to baby." She kissed his cheek. "Can you do as Jay asked? Can you pack a bag?" She asked. He nodded and with a determined expression he ran into his room and started to pull together things that he needed. Aurora did the same, making sure she packed her pre-natal vitamins. Everything they gathered for the baby would need to be left behind with the hope that they would be able to find some of these things somewhere along the way, not that any of them knew what the future held now.
Aurora pulled the bag over her shoulder and took Harrison's from him too. She took his hand and held the gun up in the other, which Harrison mimicked. They stayed close to Jay and soon enough they met up with the others. There were very few people left now but she was glad that those she cared about had made it. Although, she noticed that Scarlett and Jack were not around either.
Aurora shared a look with Jay, knowing he would go back for them but she found herself relieved when they came running towards them. Aurora didn't hesitate to scoop Harrison up into her arms to get him in the car quickly. As soon as she was sure he was safe in the backseat she climbed in the front.
Everything from this point became a blur but by the time the explosion had passed she realised that some of their remaining party were dead and that they no longer had eyes on King's car. No doctor. No Monica. No King. No Gabriel. She looked towards Jay and she sighed heavily.
Things had not turned out the way they expected.
Jay turned back to the door to the apartments and rushed inside. He heard the first two gunshots from within and rushed to the door to their apartment. When he heard the second he swung open the door just in time to see Mitchell's body slump backward. His heart was pounding. Thoughts of finding Aurora and Harrison dead still haunted him, even though they were standing right in front of him. He looked wide-eyed at Harrison holding a small pistol he must have snagged from Jay's things.
All he said was, "Get your bags. Pack light, but pack everything we need. This isn't home anymore." He turned to lock the door before rushing into their bedroom, grabbing a few items of clothing, his guns, canteens, flashlights, anything he could think would be useful. And then they met up again in the entryway. "Stay close," he said, stepping over Mitchell's body. He would talk to them about it later. Now wasn't the time to ask if their seven year old had killed someone.
Jay moved stealthily through the hall and out the back door to the apartment building. He had never served in the army or anything of the like, but over the past half year he had gotten fairly good at hugging corners and checking to make sure areas were clear. King had even taught him a few hand signals the marines used.
"To the back gate," he whispered. It wasn't that far. They could see it from here. They could see the cars they had pointed there once again, facing away for an easy getaway. He squinted and he could see King, Gabe, and Monica between two of the cars, avoiding eyesight. Several others were with them, including the doctor. That was good, he thought. Their baby might still have a chance. But he didn't see Scarlett. Or Jack.
They rushed behind the Humvee that had broken down the back fence. He made sure Harrison was right on his tail. He had to kill two of the soldiers to get there, but they finally met up with the others. King split them up into who was driving which car and who would be riding with who. With any luck they could get out of there before anyone noticed and had time to turn the massive humvees around in the close quarters.
"We can't leave without my sister and Jack," Jay said firmly.
"If we don't leave now, we all die," Damien said.
Jay chewed his lip and looked back at the complex. Then back at King. "Then go. Take Aurora and Harrison. I'm going back in." He made one step, but Monica grabbed him.
"I'm doing this," he said.
"You don't have to." She pointed to the trees where Scarlett, Jack, and a couple other tagalongs were running towards them. Their happiness was short lived, however, because they were spotted and someone started shooting. Two of them went down.
"In the cars! Go!" Jay shouted and they all climbed in the car around them, slamming on the gas. Scarlett and Jack just barely made it to the car Jay, Aurora, and Harrison were climbing into. Jay gunned the engine and they sped off, following King and the others.
But they had been seen and he could see the tail of the rocket coming for them. Jay swerved right. King went left. The car between them tried to follow, but was hit and they felt the blast of exploding car parts and gasoline. Jay could not correct his driving course without becoming a victim themselves. They had not had a destination. They were supposed to follow King. But that plan was foiled.
They couldn't go back. Not without passing the complex again. Not without risking their lives. They would have to find them later... Somehow.
He looked beside him at Aurora. And in the rearview mirror at Harrison, Scarlett, and Jack... They were all they had now... Monica was in King's car.
And so was the doctor.
Aurora didn't hear Jay get up that morning, nor did she hear his conversation with Harrison before he left. She was exhausted from their night of love making and the fact that the pregnancy was making her tired anyway. Growing a human was hard at the best of times but having to face some of the things they did in this new world, made it that little bit more tiring. She would take the sleep where she could get it because she knew that it wouldn't come so easy towards the end, nor when the baby arrived.
She had been dreaming about something nice when she heard the explosion. Aurora didn't even need time to react before she was jumping out of bed and pulling clothes on.
"Harrison?" She called as she pulled on her jeans and reached for the gun they left in their room. "Harrison, come on in here." She didn't hear a reply and she hoped that he hadn't gone out to play. There was no way he could have slept through the sound of the explosion and the gunshots that were ringing through.
She had no doubt that by now the men they had held as prisoners were likely free now, at least those still alive. She ran out of the bedroom and stopped dead at the sight of Harrison holding a gun up towards a man who had a gun in his hand but was also holding his hands up in surrender. The sight confused her for a moment and she pulled her own gun in him as she edged closer to Harrison. It didn't take her more than a few seconds to realise that it was Mitchell. Of course he knew where to find her. He had seen her coming out of the apartment on the day of their arrival.
"I will shoot you. You tried to hurt my friend. You wanted to kill my Dad." Aurora placed a hand in Harrison's shoulder and but didn't look towards him, not wanting to take her eyes off Mitchell for more than a second. "Put your gun down."
"I'm not going to do that buddy. I'm going to need it while I get you two out of here. That man...Jay? He's not your Dad. I am." Aurora could have shot him right then. Hell, she wanted to but she kept her gun focused as his gaze shifted towards her. "I can look after you. All three of you. We can be a family. Everyone out there will be dead before long."
"You're a liar!" She heard Harrison should. "Jay is my Dad." With that a gunshot rang out and Aurora's eyes widened as she watched Mitchell grasp his leg in pain, dropping his gun. She ran forward to pick it up and looked back at Harrison who didn't seem too phased by the fact he shot someone in the leg. Jay had taught him well so she knew he could aim which meant that he didn't shoot to kill, he wanted to hurt him.
"Fuck. Harrison..." Mitchell tried to talk but Aurora turned and glared at him. "Tell him Aurora. Tell him the truth."
"That is the truth. You had so many chances to be his father but you walked out on us. You [I left] us. You can't make this right now."
"If you don't come with me, they're going to kill you both. I'm the only one who can protect you."
"I can protect us just fine." She said as she neared Mitchell. "Harrison, I need you to look away."
"I don't need to look away." He said sounding confident and Aurora glanced towards him for a second to see that he didn't even look scared then. Mitchell took the opportunity to try and reach out for Aurora's gun but Harrison shot at him again, this time shooting his hand. Aurora couldn't hesitate again.
"You have made so many wrong decisions Mitchell. Underestimating my family is another one of them." She said as Mitchell cried out in pain and with that she held the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
Jay woke early the next morning. Earlier even for him. He looked at Aurora's sleeping form and ran a hand gently through her hair before slowly climbing out of bed and getting dressed. He made as little noise as possible so that he didn't wake her.
On his way out the door he heard small footfalls behind him and turned to see Harrison watching him leave.
"Are you taking care of the bad guys?" he asked in a whisper. Jay couldn't tell if it was because he was scared or because he didn't want to wake his mother. He took the few steps back to him and picked him up to take him back to his room. "I want to come with you. I want to help," he said.
That made Jay's heart drop. He didn't know what he was asking. He shook his head as he lowered Harrison back into bed.
"But... they were going to hurt Gabriel... and they were going to kill you..."
Jay ran a hand through his blonde hair and sighed softly. "We're gonna take care of them. They won't ever hurt anyone again. I promise." He leaned close and kissed his forehead. "Now go back to sleep. And let your mom sleep in a little, too."
Harrison looked disappointed and Jay knew that he would have some explaining to do when he returned. But he had a job to do now. He left Harrison to sleep some more and made his way quietly out of the apartment, thinking about what he would have to do this morning.
He found King, Abigail, and Damien all outside in the courtyard. Apparently none of them could sleep, either. He nodded at them as he approached.
"Well... Since we're all here... Should we just get this over with?" Damien asked, holding Abigail close.
"What's the plan?" Jay asked.
"We're going to take them in small groups. One of them for one of us. It'll take several trips but it will be safer that way. We'll take them out into the woods so the people don't have to witness it..." King trailed off. "Then we shoot them."
Everyone knew this part, but it was as if King had to say it aloud. To come to terms with it.
"Then let's do this," Abigail said, clapping her hands together. As a group they headed over to the building where the hostages were being kept. Jay didn't like to think of them as such, though. Hostages were innocent.
Pulling four of them from the room was the easy part. So was walking them out the gates and into the forest. The hard part was when they began to struggle. When they knew what was coming. They made two trips and it was really starting to wear on them. Some of them would hold strong until the very end. Some would shout curse words. The worst were the beggers. The criers.
The third trip, before the four of them pulled the trigger this time, they heard an explosion back towards camp. Their heads swiveled. Distracted for the moment, one prisoner managed to headbutt Damien, breaking his nose. He shot him after, and they all did the same to prevent anything else from happening. And then they were booking it back to camp.
Jay panicked when he saw now just one other Humvee, but two. They hadn't just taken out the gate this time, but the fence to the side of it. They had explosives. Rocket launchers. How stupid of them to think that Rhodes and his men had been alone.
"Rora!" Jay shouted without even telling himself too. He broke out in a run, but King grabbed him, pulling him back.
"They will shoot you dead on sight!"
"You hear all that gunfire? They're killing the people we care about as we speak!"
"We need to go around the back," Damien said, wiping the blood from his face with his sleeve.
And so they did. They circled through the trees around to the back, hoping that it hadn't been taken too. It had, but the enemy had moved inside already and created an opening for them to slip inside. Luckily they were carrying the assault rifles they had taken from Rhodes and his men, making it easier to kill and fight back against weapons just the same. As they made their way through the smoke of the explosions, they realized that there was only rubble where an apartment complex had been.
Jay killed anyone he saw that he did not recognize. There were those of course he did know and they were fighting back full force. The daylight shone down on them, but it did not make it easy to distinguish the difference in the haze of the fires. Jay had to trust his gut more times than not.
He worked his way to the apartment building he shared with Aurora, but just before he opened the door Rhodes was in front of him with a twisted grin, holding his own gun. "Should have killed us all yesterday," he said over all the noise. "But you're all the same. Too worried about what's right. Too afraid to just do what has to be done."
Jay didn't have time to raise his weapon or he would be shot. He knew Rhodes was going to shoot him now. He was going to die. He closed his eyes, heard the gun fire. But he felt no pain. When he opened his eyes again, Rhodes was on the ground and King was standing behind him, gun outstretched. "And they're all the same. Always trying to get the last word in," he said. Monica and Gabriel were beside him. He must have entrusted him to her when he left that morning. "We're getting people out through the back gate," he said. "Go, quickly, find Aurora and Harrison. We'll meet you. I'm going to gather the others."
Jay did not tell him that there weren't many others that would survive this.
Aurora smiled to herself as she watched Jay trail circles and kisses over her small bump. It was so nice to have someone to share this with. She had been excited the first time she had got pregnant but Mitchell didn't care and there were never moments like this. At least this time she was with someone who was equally as excited as her.
She snuggled into Jay and wrapped herself around him as best she could, not wanted more than a millimetre between them. "I love you." She said as she stifled a yawn. Soon enough she had fallen asleep in his arms and she didn't move an inch all night. This was her happy place.
Jay loves these moments. Almost as much as the actual lovemaking. He kept his fingers running through her hair as she spoke and then slowly down her arm and to her belly. He drew small circles around it, unable to look her in the eye as she paid him the compliment. But he still smiled.
As she spoke again, he leaned down to tenderly kiss above her belly button. He looked back up at her, flicking the hair out of his face and shaking his head. "We'll figure it out," he said softly and ran the back of his finger over her cheek. "But we will," he confirmed, knowing that they couldn't do this again.
He kissed her softly before pulling the blankets up and over themselves. Normally they tried to get at least somewhat dressed after just in case Harrison came in in the night or woke them in the morning, but Jay didn't want to move. And he wanted to feel her against him all night. He pulled her close.
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Jay knew the sound that escaped her all too well. She only really made that noise when she was looking forward to something. And he was, too. He nodded. "Noted," he said with a smile and let his hands travel down her sides. "I'll let you know as soon as I meet a priest," he joked.
He kissed her again, gently at first, then deeper. And then he was lifting her off the floor long enough to lay her gently in bed. He could tell she had gained some weight, which was good. Better than her not getting the nutrients she needed. He kissed her neck.
"I've been reading those parenting books," he said with a smile, leaning over her. "They really emphasize that I try to help you out as often as possible." He smirked and trailed kisses down her neck and started to tug on her shirt. "Is there anything you need?" he asked in a teasing voice.
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