Jay needed to talk to Aurora about the stranger, but now wasn't the time. He had almost been killed. They had almost lost their home. It wouldn't help to be curious about someone she had known from their old lives. He watched her knock him out.
After being reunited with his son, King approached and took Rhodes off Jay's hands personally. "You get a room all to yourself," he growled as a few men followed him, guns aimed at Rhodes's head just in case he tried anything. Another couple of people took hold of the stranger in front of Aurora and dragged him the same direction.
They watched until they were out of sight, still not sure that it had all happened. "Remind me never to get on your bad side," Jay said softly, trying to lighten the mood, but to no avail. He held out his still bound wrists. "You mind...?" he asked and rubbed them when she cut the rope. He was just about to step close to wrap her in his arms when Jack finally appeared with Harrison. The boy ran to his mother and jumped up. Jay ran a hand through his hair.
"Aurora..." Jay waited until she looked at him. "We'd be dead if not for you."
Aurora had far too much to lose by giving up. She wasn't about to let these people take over their home. She had a son and a baby in the way and she needed to make sure they were as safe as they could be in a world like this. She knew that she couldn't really do much alone but she hoped that there was something Jay or King could do with the distraction that she was providing.
She could have moved the gun instantly and shot Rhodes with the way he was laughing but she noticed that Jay had managed to get to his feet and moved to hold a knife next to his neck. All they needed now was people and just at the right time they came flooding in and suddenly they had the upper hand against the people who clearly tried to make out like they were some kind of army.
When everyone started to lead everyone out of there, Gabriel wriggled from her arms and ran towards King which freed Aurora up slightly. She stretched a little and then looked to Mitchell. "You always had some God complex about you didn't you. You are an ex cop, one who got fired for misconduct and here you are pretending you are some kind of military man."
She shook her head and just because she felt a surge of anger she took the handle of her gun and hit him with it, breaking his nose.
Jay couldn't make much sense of the hurried argument between Aurora and the man she held at gunpoint, but it was obvious they knew eqch other and Jay's heart dropped. That would make this ten times more difficult.
He shut his eyes when she pressed the issue. She was determined. But she wouldn't get ehat she wanted without a little more leverage, Jay could see it in his face. This place was more important to him than one man. The only person Rhodes cared about was himself.
The man started to laugh again and turned in a circle, looking at his men, amused by her demands. Hoping no eyes were on him now, Jay reached for the knife he kept concealed in his boot. And when Rhodes was turned far enough away, he pulled his bound hands from behind his back under his feet in one swift motion before lunging forward.
Everyone had been too busy trying to please their lesder with their reactions to keep an eye on the prisoners. By the time they all reacted, Jay had wrapped his bound hands around Rhodes's neck and held the knife to his throat.
"Do as she says!" he yelled. The guns started to drop then as he started walking back towards the edge of the crowd so no one could attack his back. Rhodes was no longer laughing.
"They'll just come back for me," he said angrily.
"They're not going anywhere." At that moment, the doors opened nearby and the rest of King's people started to pour out into the courtyard. They picked up dropped weapons and held them up to the men and women who now held their hands high to save their leader. Someone rushed forward to free King and the others.
"Put them in the unused complex. The one with no furnature. Five to a room. Double the guards. Board the windows," King was saying as he rubbed his wrists. His people got to work ushering their enemies away while Jay and Aurora still kept the threat alive with their hostages. Jay didn't see Jack and Harrison and hoped he was keeping him away from this mess.
Aurora stared at Rhodes, not once letting her weapon falter and not once showing any weakness. Although she laughed a little when he mentioned that Mitchell was one of his best men. Mitchell genuinely looked worried too.
"Aurora please, put the gun down. I didn't realise you and Harrison were here. I can keep you both safe. You can be with us now." She just stood her ground shaking her head.
"Don't! Don't you dare pretend like [i you] are our saviour. You know what's good for you, you tell your precious leader here to find somewhere else. We are not vacating. This is our home. [I Our] home." She looked to Mitchell when she said her next words. "You are not welcome here." She let a look of anger flicker over her face and then looked back to Rhodes.
"You want your man? You make every man in here stand down. Weapons on the floor and out of the room."
Rhodes gave Jay's face a pat before moving down the line. His boots in the dirt were lazy, but unpredictable. He could kill one of them at any moment. Jay fought his bindings, but it was no use, especially with all the guns pointed at them.
Rhodes finally stopped in front of Damien. He held his assault rifle to his side and pulled out his pistol, aiming it between Damien's eyes. To his credit, he showed no fear. He only closed his eyes tightly.
And then the gubshot rang out. But it wasn't Rhodes's. It came from the shadows. There was the sound of a body hitting the ground. And then a moment later, Aurora was emerging with Gabriel on her hip and one of Rhodes's men at gunpoint.
Jay could have sobbed at the sight of her, knowing she was okay. He wanted to scream knowing she was in danger. And he knew King wanted to hold his boy. But they returned their eyes back to Rhodes.
He lowered his pistol and stared at her. Then he started to laugh. "Alright. I see how it is. Must have missed one. I suppose we're at an impasse. You have a gun on one of my best men. And we have guns on several of yours. Neither of us want to lose anyone so let's strike a deal. You give me my man and I let you and the entire group out here go."
Jay knew that Jack and Harrison were still inside. Scarlett and Monica as well. But Rhodes was right. Their strongest fighters were out here and if there was any chance of saving their people, they would need them. Did he trust him not to hunt them down after letting them go? No. But it was worth a try.
He tried to communicate this all to Aurora through his look alone.
“I came after you…when you left San Fran and then the shit hit the fan and I couldn’t get back. I didn’t want to go back. Thank God you are okay! Please tell me Harrison made it?”
“Don’t pretend like you care about my wellbeing or Harrison’s for that matter. You don’t get to do that.” She said as she held the gun steadily in her hand, focus at his head. Aurora wasn’t going to let the fact that this was her ex and the father to her child jeopardise her ability to protect those that had become her [I real].
“No. You don’t get to offer an explanation. Come on. Move.” Aurora grabbed hold of his shoulder and held his own gun to his head as he marched over to the man keeping hold of Gabriel. She lowered her voice. “If you don’t want me to kill you, you will tell your guy over there to let Gabriel go.” He exchanged a look with her for a moment and decided she wasn’t bluffing.
She could see Rhodes talking to the others, but she tried to stay out of sight, keeping her form behind Mitchell.
“I’ll take the kid from here.” He said, pretending that Aurora did not have a gun to his head and the man didn’t hesitate to let Gabriel go and he ran straight into Aurora’s arms with tears streaming down his face.
“It’s okay honey.” She picked him up, resting him on her hip. “You close your eyes okay?” He nodded and with that she shot the man that let go of Gabriel and held the weapon back at Mitchell’s head. “Move.”
She said as she marched him into the room. “You lost your leverage.” She said showing that she had Gabriel and was holding a gun to Mitchell’s head who looked a little dumbstruck.
There were about as many of them as there were of their own people. But they had heavier weapons. They were better trained. They were [i military]. And King's rad-tag group didn't know what hit them. More and more of them were rounded up and brought to the center of the courtyard from where they had been hiding or sleeping.
"Jay!" he heard through the small crowd and Jack was pushing his way toward them, his hand tight around Harrison's. He breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm sorry. I tried to make it, but they cut us off."
Jack shook his head and pulled Harrison close. Tears were streaming down his face. "Where's Aurora?" he asked. But Jack just shook his head.
"Silence!" A shot rang in the air and the murmuring in the crowd stopped. Rhodes leaned to his left and told one of his people something none of them could hear. Under his supervision, they started gathering up half the group and leading them at gunpoint into one of the buildings nearby.
They tried to split him from Harrison and Jay's initial response was to throw a punch. He instantly regretted it and got the butt of a rifle to his face. He felt his lip open and the blood start running down his chin, but he still held on.
"No one will get hurt if you just do what I say!" he heard. "Remember I have a gun to this boy's head!"
"I got him, Jay. He'll be with me, I got him!" Jack was saying and Jay had to let go. Soon the circle of guns closed in on them and the only ones left inside it were King, Jay, and a few of the others that had put up a strong fight at the gate. Eight of them in total. Their hands were bound and they were forced onto their knees.
Rhodes hopped down from the bed of his military truck, handing Gabriel over to one of his men and began to pace in front of them. He looked each of them in the eyes. Searching for something. Then he stopped in front of King. He pointed his assault rifle lazily at him.
"You. You're the leader here aren't you. And you... You're the right hand man." The gun was pointed at Jay now. "The rest of you are the strongest of the bunch, right?" They said nothing, only scowled.
He started to pace again. "You ever read Machiavelli?" he asked them as if talking to an old friend. "In The Prince, he advises that a new ruler should be rid of any and all opponents. Killing them, if need be. And you see, I have complete faith that the weaker of your bunch will join us because they're afraid and don't want to be alone out here in this harsh, cold, new world. But you..." He stopped once more in front of King. "I just can't let you live. Any of you here. Because you all have that [i spark]," he said. "That spark of stupidity that makes you think you can beat us. You'll try to fight back and you'll just get them all killed." He turned his attention to Jay. Their eyes met and Jay did not look away. He did not falter. He only glared and shook with anger. "And you? You're an animal, I can tell. And we kill wild animals."
Aurora never once imagined that the group had decided they were not worth their time. They were simply biding their time and waiting for the right moment to attack them. The next four days went by slowly and she was beginning to feel some sort of distance between her and Jay since he was taking shift with King. Gabriel was staying with them since King was either on watch or sleeping so Aurora took charge of the kids with Jack's help.
When the attack happened Aurora had been looking out of the window and saw the fire before anything else. She went straight for her gun and found Jack. "You get the boys out of her! Get to the back where the cars are and get the fuck out of here."
"Don't argue with me! Just do it." He didn't argue. He woke the boys up and he got them to the getaway cars quickly but apparently that wasn't enough. They had known about the exit and sent men around that way. Of course they knew about the exit. They had been watching them. When she saw Gabriel with a gun to his head from the apartment window she panicked a little and looked around for Jack and Harrison who were moving to the centre of the complex.
Aurora sneaked out of the apartment quietly, using the darkness to conceal herself a little. She wore one of Jay's shirts which happened to be just loose enough for her to conceal her pregnancy. She heard a click of a gun and then she stopped.
"Where do you think you are going? He said everyone to the centre of the yard."
"Fuck you." Aurora turned to look at the man pointing the gun at her and within an instant the gun was being dropped to his side.
"Aurora?" She could hardly believe her eyes. Of all people...of all places...
"Mitchell?" She blinked for a second and used the opportunity to grab his gun and trained her two weapons on him. "What the fuck are you doing here?"
Three days passed. Three exhausting days. King and Jay still alternated leading the watch and the shifts were still bigger than before. But people were starting to believe that no one was after them. King didn't want to risk it. "They'd wait for our guard to be down," he'd said.
Jay's sleep schedule was off because of the shifts. He took the first half of the night and King took the second half. Same with the daytime. So they were just sleeping when they could. Jay would come back to bed in the middle of the night but Aurora would already be asleep. He missed her snuggling up against him. But he knew this is how it had to be to keep her safe.
On the fourth day around midnight is when it happened. Jay and the others heard a blast from one of the platforms overlooking the fences. Not a second later and there was an explosion at the front gates. Fire. The wood they had used to board it up was burning.
"The gates!" Jay shouted and hopped off the platform, rushing at them. He and a few others tried to close them again, but the spots they could find that weren't on fire were too hot to touch. They all had to back away anyway because a huge military truck forced the burning gates open.
By now the others were pouring from the buildings brandishing their weapons. "Take cover!" He heard King shout and Jay found himself behind one of the parked cars. Bullets were flying and he tried his best to aim for the driver, but the darkness wasn't helping. His thoughts went to Aurora and the boys and he hoped they were heading to the back. Praying they were making it out safe. But after ten more minutes of combat his hopes were destroyed.
Another truck came from the back. And in the bed was a man holding a gun to Gabriel's temple.
"Cease your firing!" He yelled. "Or the little one gets it!"
King was the first to lay down his weapon. Jay followed, tossing his rifle to the ground. Even in the darkness he could tell that Gabriel was crying.
"Hands up! All of you! And walk to the center of the yard!"
They followed directions, the lot of them. None of them would risk Gabriel getting hurt.
"What do you want?" King asked the man.
"We like your housing here. We think we'll take it. Thank your boys, they led us right to you." An evil grin spread across his face. "Name's Rhodes. And I'm your new mayor here in this cute little town."
Aurora set the boys up with a game in the middle of the floor and she asked Jack to watch them while she paced thinking about what she needed to do if someone were to attack. She didn't have high enough ground to be able to take a rifle and shoot from a height but she could take out a few through the window but that wouldn't make her feel any better.
When Jay came back she looked up at him and nodded. They would be vigilant and they were prepared for something like this but they didn't really know what kind of man power this group had and whether they would even be able to cope with whatever they brought with them. One thing she knew for sure, was that she wouldn't let anyone hurt her family. She watched as Jay made sure the boys knew the plan and it was clear that they both knew that something bad could happen any minute.
"How could they be so reckless?" She asked with a whisper as he placed his forehead against hers. "Rest up. I'll be right here if you need anything."
It wasn't long before they had finished boarding up the fence, but standing back and looking at it, he had to wonder what it would do against trained military professionals. True, King had once been military, but he was the only one in the entire place that was. And they didn't have the firepower to back him up.
Their doubts were exchanged with just a single glance. Neither one of them had to say anything about it. "Go get some rest," King told him. "I want you on first watch. I'll take second. I want one of leading every shift."
Jay nodded. "I'll be ready if anything happens," he said. "And Aurora and Jack will keep your boy safe."
King just gave a knowing nod and then Jay was on his way. He entered the apartment. "King is leading first watch," he said, closing the door behind him. "Then we're going to alternate." He saw the boys playing a board game and they looked up at him, curious.
Jay knelt beside them. "Listen," he said softly. "If you're ever scared or not sure what's going on, I need you to do exactly what Aurora or Jack tells you to do. You understand me?" They both nodded, a little lost. "You remember where to run to if something happens to the gates, right?" They nodded again. They'd been to the safety meetings. They knew to run to the back gate where most of the cars were kept facing outward for a quick escape. Someone would take them safely away.
He knew it was scary for them to think about, but he preferred them to be ready if something happened. They could only sugarcoat so many things.
He stood and pulled Aurora close by her waist to kiss her once softly. "I'm going to try to get some shut eye," he said softly. "I'm taking over at nightfall and I wanna have my wits about me." He leaned his forehead against hers and closed his eyes for a moment. Then he let her go and went into their room to lay down.
Aurora watched the whole thing unfold before them. It was clear that this group should never have gone out without someone a little more experienced when it came to runs but that didn't matter now. What mattered was that they made sure they protected themselves and could stand their ground if this [I military group] attacked them.
Aurora looked to Jay and shook her head but he was already walking off to devise a plan with King. She looked to Jack and shook her head. "If he thinks I'm staying inside with the children he's got another thing coming."
"Aurora...you are pregnant...noticeably so. Don't you think that being inside is the best place for you right now. You can protect Harrison and Gabriel. That job is just as important as being out here. Think about it, if someone got inside your apartment and you weren't there..."
Aurora sighed heavily. What he said made sense but she knew he was just twisting things to guilt her. "You are a dick." She said as she went to find Harrison and Gabriel. "Come on guys, time to get cleaned up. We have a game of monopoly to finish at home."
Jay and King heard the shouting at the gates and instantly dropped their hammers, running for them. Aurora was the first on the scene and the men stepped up beside her.
The three people they let through the gate were tired and breathing hard. They had obviously just fought for their lives. But there was no time to catch your breath when being asked the important questions. And Aurora was asking the right ones.
They realized what they had done. One of them turned to the other. "I told you we shouldn't have come back, yet! But you said-!"
"Don't put this one me! You're the one that was so eager that we ran through the night!"
King was trying to keep the peace, but it wasn't working. They couldn't hear him over their anger.
"HEY." Jay shouted and stepped up close to them. His presence was enough to know that he meant business. "Shut the hell up and listen to him," he said, gesturing over to King.
He asked them where they had been and who had cornered them. How many. Neither one of them had an official count.
"They had cars, too. And some of the guys looked military. And I mean like... currently military. Like they still have all their guns and shit."
Jay exchanged a glance with Aurora. Then with King. Then he laid his eyes on the group. "And you just led 'em right to us."
"We didn't- We lost them!"
King sighed and a worried look took him over. "I'm doubling the watch," he said. "And we're keeping the kids inside at all times. At least until we know this has blown over. Get with your assigned groups and make sure everyone knows the evacuation plan, just in case."
"I swear- I swear they weren't behind us!"
Jay shook his head. "That's cause they probably went around. Get a better view of the place. They're probably watching us right now."
King touched Jay's shoulder. "Come on. Let's get the rest of that last fence boarded up."
He turned to Aurora and Jack first, though. "Can you get the boys inside?" he asked. "And Jack, don't leave Aurora's side."
He turned back and jogged to catch up with King. Things had felt so right and suddenly... Just like that...
Aurora stayed outside whilst Jack went in to pick up Harrison who kissed her stomach in the way by and then waved to her.
"Be good for Jack okay?" He nodded as the two of them walked off, leaving her alone as she watched their people move about their home. They had done so well to secure this place and started to become self-sufficient. As she looked around Kris caught her eye and instantly looked away when she caught him. She rolled her eyes and shook her head before looking back to Jay.
The one thing Aurora was struggling with at this stage of her pregnancy was her cravings. Some nights they would keep her awake and last night she lost two hours of sleep because she couldn't stop thinking about olives. She laughed to herself when the thought crossed her mind and then she yawned a little.
She was trying to decide what to do with her day when she heard someone shouting from the gates. Aurora frowned a little and started to make her way there when she heard even more of a commotion.
"What the hell is going on here?" She asked as she approached.
"We were out on a run a we got cornered."
"Were you followed? Answer me god damn it were you followed?"
"I...I don't know."
"You gonna keep staring at her or are you gonna help me some more?" King asked, breaking through to him. Jay grunted and turned away from watching Aurora talk with Jack, scratching the back of his head bashfully. He picked up some boards and grabbed his own hammer and nails to help.
"Do you talk to Gabe about his mom?" he asked King around the nails between his teeth. After they hammered in a couple of nails and King got the moment of silence to answer, he shrugged. This wasn't an invasive question for him. He and Jay had spoken about her before several times. And King seemed to like to keep her memory alive, but he had never heard him speak about her in front of his son.
"We talk about her," he said. "I just let don't lead the conversations a lot. I don't really know what he needs from me, you know?"
Jay nodded and glanced back at Aurora before returning to his hammering. "You're worried something's gonna go wrong," King said. It wasn't a question. "That if it does, you won't know what to do about the kids. How to talk about it."
Jay shrugged and swallowed hard. He continued his work, but a moment later he felt King's hand on his shoulder and he looked over at his king face. "She's going to make it through this. The doc has seen it all. One birth isn't going to shake him. Even if something does go wrong. We've spent a long time getting him what he needs for the infirmary. You should be enjoying this time. Not dreading something you're not sure is going to happen or not."
As usual, King was his voice of reason. Jay squinted up at him with a smile and nodded. "Yeah..." he said softly and went back to his work.
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