He continued to plead with her, but Jay kept pushing him back with his rifle. He could see his eyes raking over Aurora, looking for anything to help him. And then his eyes landed on her belly.
"You... You're pregnant?" he asked, as if the wind had been knocked out of him. But Jay knew this kind of guy. He could tell when they were grasping at straws.
"I said back up," he growled.
"Please," he continued. "She was going to be my wife, the least you could do is let me talk to her. Five minutes! That's not my kid, but- but it [i could] be!" He looked to Aurora again. "Just give me a chance! Let me talk to my son!"
"Eyes on me, asshole," Jay said lowly and he looked back at him. "That's [i my] baby," he spat with a lot more possessiveness than he intended. "Harrison is [i my] son now." The man's eyes widened. "I said [i back up.]"
He had no reason not to obey anymore. Jay held him at gunpoint and backed him into the next room while the others stood guard at the door. Jay pushed him into the room with the rifle and they closed the door. Jay was still scowling.
Aurora sighed out heavily, knowing that timorrie would be a difficult day for everyone and the fact that they [I would] find it difficult was enough to tell her that the group still had their morals in tact.
Before either of them could say anything else there was a lot of commotion coming from the apartment block and Aurora was rubbing next to Jay as they made their way over to the room where three men had seemed to overpower their own people. In this occasion she could see Jay had things under control and she wouldn't risk getting pushed or hurt so she stayed back for now.
Before long there was only one man left and when she looked up she could see Mitchell was the last one. She hated how he sounded weak in the moment because she knew it was all a facade. Aurora shook her head. "Your precious leader was willing to save your life...said you were an important man. There is not way you could become that important to them if you have only just joined the group."
She stepped forward then and looked him over. "You just attack some of our men trying to escape and you have done nothing but lie to me since I've known you. Difference is, I'm not the same person I was before and I can detect your bullshit from a mile off."
The men listened to Aurora, thankful for her presence and her input. Jay squeezed her hand in his own.
King nodded slowly, looking back at the apartments. "It's not going to be easy... Give me one more day. Just one more day to let everyone know what's going to happen. But you're right. You both are."
"Tomorrow," Jay confirmed. At least that would allow him some time to prepare his mind for what he might have to do. And how he might go about it. Lining people up and shooting them felt undignified. But then again so did every aspect of this...
Jay put his free hand on King's shoulder. He was about to say something comforting, but before he could there was a shout for help at the apartments holding their prisoners. There was no hesitation to run towards the trouble.
When they arrived, it seemed that despite the numbers of guards they had on the doors, their enemies still somehow managed to find the upper hand. They walked in on them struggling with their own men, trying to wrestle the guns out of their hands. Jay grabbed the assault rifle out of the hands of the man who had called for help. The weapon was heavy in his arms and it, along with the other weapons they brought, were the only good thing to come of the break in.
He held it up and began to fire in spurts, careful not to hit their own people. They were on death row anyway and attempting to kill their own people once again. Jay was not willing to give any more chances. King had wanted to spread the word, to see how the camp felt about an execution. But this one room had lost its last day privilege.
Jay fired until three bodies were on the ground, bleeding out. One man had been shot in the leg. The other was fine, backing up into the room. Jay realized it was Harrison's father.
The other apartment doors remained shut tight. They hadn't been so lucky- or unlucky- to escape during the fight. Jay held up his gun and shot the wounded man in the head. They couldn't spare the resources healing a man they were only going to kill. Then his sights were on Aurora's ex.
"Get up," he growled.
He did just that, hands raised.
Jay nodded his head in the direction of the door next to them. "Tell them what happens when you try to escape," he said.
But the man looked past him, at Aurora. "Please. Aurora. I'm not like these men. I just joined them because I couldn't be alone."
“I would tell Harrison that there are times when we have to make difficult decisions and that the moment those decisions are no longer difficult, that’s when you lose your humanity.” She said softly, hoping that it would show King that she didn’t find this easy either. Aurora sighed a little and then looked up when King mentioned that she knew one of them.
“I did know him, in another life. He wasn’t much of a good person then and it seems he has only gotten worse with the end of the world as it were.” She glanced towards Jay, wondering what kind of person this would make her.
“We do what we’ve got to do. I’m alright with keeping my family safe.” She said as she nodded and looked back towards King.
Jay could tell that Aurora was surprised at being asked her opinion. But he knew that King valued her presence there just as much as Jay's. He listened to her words, nodding, looking at a spot on the ground.
"I just... keep thinking about what to tell Gabe," he said softly. "If we don't uphold morals... If I don't teach what's good... Then what's the point?" He looked up at them.
"You tell him you did what you had to. That sometimes we have to do things we aren't proud of to keep the people we care about safe."
King nodded then and looked back up to Aurora. "You knew one of them. And you're alright with this?"
Jay looked over at her. He knew that she had already answered this for him, but King needed to hear it as well. He knew that if they told King who the man was that he would feel too obligated to keep him alive, no matter how bad of a man he was. That's just how strong his moral compass was. And to be honest, Jay couldn't really understand how they got here, either. Before the world fell apart, he couldn't imagine a situation like this. Yet here they were. Putting her ex up on death row.
Once they dropped Harrison off with Monica she was on her way to see King with Jay. It was nice that he trusted them enough to include them in his decisions. When they arrived they found him at a crossroads, clearly struggling to figure out what to do with the people who had technically become their prisoners.
She could tell that he was struggling morally with this dilemma and he was still trying to hold on to some sense of humanity and she could respect that. It was extremely difficult for all of them but she could also see both sides of what they were both saying.
"Me?" She asked eventually when King addressed her. She swallowed hard and thought for a minute. "I...I agree with Jay..." She did. She didn't doubt that but she was worried about what they would think if her for condemning people to their death.
"Why should we put our people...our family at risk for them?" She added. "They were going to [I kill] you and oppress our people. They are not good people King and this world isn't the same as it used to be. We are still good people. This doesn't make us bad..."
It wasn't long before they were headed out the door as a family. Despite having enemies within their walls, it felt good to hold both of their hands and to actually have the morning with them again. They dropped Harrison off with Monica who already had Gabriel in her care. The boys hugged tightly, as if comforting each other over the night before. Jay could tell that Gabe would take a while to bounce back after what he had been through.
King was pacing in front of the apartment that held their captives when they approached. "Figured we'd find you here," Jay told him. He just nodded. Then gestured that they take a walk around the premises. Jay took Aurora's hand again as they did so.
"We've got almost double the mouths to feed now," King said. "And they're not even good people." Jay just nodded. "We've tried asking them if they have anyone else out there, but they won't say anything. And worst of all, I have no idea what to do with them... We could drive them out to different places. Blindfold them. But most of them are military. They'll find out where they are and make it back. They'll regroup and come back for us. But... we can't just kill them in cold blood, either."
"I know you," Jay said softly. "You're a good man. But sometimes you're too good. If we let them go, they'll come back. If we kill them, you won't let yourself live it down. So let someone else do it. Let me do it. With some others. Quietly." He didn't know how Aurora would feel about this, but he knew he was capable of this. He hated that he knew this about himself now. But he did.
King stopped walking and they watched the people repairing the gates for a moment. The humvee had been moved and parked with the other cars though it towered over them. Eventually King spoke again. "I can't let you do that. Killing anyone is enough to weigh on a conscious. I remember the face of every man I killed. And they were all actively trying to kill me."
"I know," Jay said. "We've all had to do things... even before the world went to shit." He thought about his ex. The man he'd killed protecting her. He had spent five years locked away for killing him, but maybe it had made him stronger for this world. Of course he had killed uninfected men as well, but that was different. Like King said, they were actively trying to kill him. "If they get out. They [i will] kill us," he said, pointing to the empty apartments where they were being held.
"Maybe we put it to a vote," King said. "Everyone deserves to have a say." Jay sighed and looked at his boots. But finally nodded.
"If that's what you want. But it's gonna be easy for them to say to kill them when they're not the ones that have to do it."
King looked at Aurora. "What do you think?" he asked her, clearly valuing her opinion on the matter.
Aurora didn't know what she expected really but Jay had taken everything she so well. It was nice that he seemed to know just what to say to her.
After their kiss she was alone alone to get herself ready for the day so she moved about the room and found herself some suitable clothes before she went out into the living room. Today she was a shirt that was a little tighter so her bump was more obvious.
"Mom! Come eat something." Harrison smiled and pat the chair next to him and she lowered herself down onto it. Together they ate breakfast and when they were done Harrions was practically bouncing around the room for them to hurry up so he could see Gabriel.
"Alright you little ball of energy, let's go."
Jay couldn't help but chuckle. He took Aurora's hand and ran his thumb over the back of it gently. "I don't know 'bout that," he said. "You did hold him at gunpoint and knock him out. I'd love to hear him claim you're weak."
He met her gaze again. It warmed his heart so deeply to hear her think of Harrison as his. They really had become a family, even in the darkest of times. He leaned in once more and pressed his lips more directly and firmly against hers. He kissed her like that for a moment longer than necessary. When he pulled back, he moved his hands up and down her arms in a comforting way.
"Get yourself together. I'll get Harrison something to eat."
He felt good when he left the room. The conversation had been short but that's all it needed to be. The past was the past. In the old world there might have been a point to dwell on his appearance, but now... it didn't matter. They were just holding on for today.
"He doesn't deserve to get a chance with him Jay. I don't want him near Harrison. He is our son, not his." She looked him in the eye and didn't hesitate to kiss him back when he leaned forward.
"And I certainly don't feel the need to talk to him. He did all his talking when he turned up on my doorstep. He probably still thinks that I'm weak...that I would still struggle to shut the door in his face if his foot was in the way." She laughed a little and shook her head. "I don't want anything to do with him. Whatever King decides I will be supportive of his decision.'
Jay shook his head and they sat in silence for a long moment. He realized that Harrison wouldn't even recognize the man if he saw him as his own father. And that that was probably for the best.
"I hate that I'm thankful for him," he said finally. "Because he gave you Harrison. And... in turn that means he gave [i me] Harrison. And I'm glad he ran off so that I could meet you two." He gave her a soft smile before leaning in to kiss the corner of her mouth.
"You could talk to him. If you felt like you needed to. Or you might just end up putting a gun to his head again, so that's up to you."
Aurora watched the expression in his face for a moment before he started to talk. She couldn't tell if he was upset with her for this, not that it was something she ever imagined to be possible. She just assumed he had got infected like most of the people in San Francisco. It would have been easier that way.
"No I didn't want him around. He abandoned us before Harrison turned one. He left for another woman without a single word and never once tried seeing Harrison. Then one day he turns up on my door step and says he wants to be his father again...he never was a father to him, even when he was there."
Aurora sighed and looked to Jay. "I know that he is no exception. Hell, I had to stop myself for shooting him last night." She shook her head. It was strange to think that she would not have hesitated to do so if the situation had called for it.
Jay had expected a story. An ex-boyfriend maybe. But this? His face fell. He slowly sunk onto the bed beside her and leaned forward, thinking, studying the wall. He wished he knew what to say. He didn't, but he would have to try, otherwise Aurora would think he was upset, when he wasn't. He was just... shocked. And worried.
"You say you were protecting Harrison... so you didn't want him around him," he said softly. "So why the hell was he following you across the country?" He looked up at Aurora, squinting as he thought. Then he looked away again and clasped his hands together. "King is thinking about what to do with them... He's no exception. You know that, right...?"
Aurora watched as Jay moved out of the bed and changed his shirt. She wished that last night never happened. She wished that they could have spent the morning in bed together and just enjoyed being a family for a little while but Mitchell had to ruin that. She sighed and kept her yes on Jay's as he moved around the bed and came closer to her.
"He is from San Francisco where I am from. He...he must have followed me out here before everything...went to shit." She looked up at him and sighed once more. "He is the reason I left in the first place. I thought I was protecting Harrison, that he deserved better." Aurora brought her hand to her face and ran it over. "He's Harrison's biological father."
Jay smiled at the kiss on his cheek and watched Aurora's face fill with love as Harrison left the room. When he closed the door behind him and she returned her eyes to his he sighed softly. He wished they could live blissfully in the happiness of their mornings all the time.
He sat up with her and got out of bed to head over to their wardrobe. He was still wearing his clothes from the day before, but he figured he could at least change his shirt.
"I just want to be prepared for anything he might use against us," he said honestly, pulling his old shirt over his head and pulling a new one on. He looked over at where she sat on the bed. "And... Maybe I am a little curious," he added softly with a smile as he finished buttoning up his clean shirt. He stepped over to her side of the bed and ran a hand through her hair. He leaned in to kiss the top of her head.
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