He heard Aurora's voice behind him. He didn't realize how long he had been staring into the room.
"I told you we don't get to be sorry," he said, not looking back at her. "Things will happen the way they happen. We try our best. And that's all we can do." He finally turned to face her. "I wish I had done a lot of things differently. But bein' sorry ain't gonna change that." He swallowed hard. His eyes dropped like they always did when he was too insecure to look someone in the eye. "We just gotta try to move on."
It was clear that he was talking more about himself in that moment than Aurora and the other's timing. He was really trying to live by this new philosophy. If he spent time feeling sorry or guilty, nothing would come of it. He could only change the future.
He was ready to leave the room where he had spent so much time locked away. He had seen what he had come for. An empty cell. Proof he wasn't in there any longer.
When they passed by a room he had never been in before he glanced a small surviving wooden table. He stepped inside and knocked it over onto its side. With his foot he kicked at the legs until he managed to get two of them off. And then he brought them outside with him.
"Miguel..." he finally said as they walked outside. "He said his people had given up on him. He'd been in there so long. Or they just left him..." Jay shook his head. "I don't believe it. He was... special. Something you don't see in this world anymore. No one would give that up." He headed towards Gunners rotting body and unceremoniously untied his shoelaces and pulled them out of the eyelets. Then he did the same to one of his buddies. He found a good place in a patch of crass and started to dig a small hole with his knife. "If they're still out there looking for him... and they find this place. I want them to know someone cared."
He knelt and tied the shoe strings together before using them to tie the two planks of wood together into a cross. Then he pulled out his knife once more. He etched the name [i Miguel Rios] into the cross before standing it up in the small hole he had created.
And then he knew he was ready. And that he hadn't come back for himself he had come back for Miguel. "Let's go," he said softly, taking her hand.
When they pulled up Aurora decided she would let Jay decide the parameters of how involved Aurora would be in his attempt at gaining some form of closure. She waiting a beat before he asked her to come with him and she nodded. "Of course I will." She said, climbing out of the car herself. She wanted to take his hand but didn't know what his process would be so she decided to clasp it to herself and followed him.
"No, we just wanted to get you and the others out of there as fast as we could." Aurora followed his lead in pulling out a gun, just in case anyone had been attracted by the blaze they had set upon the place before they left but it was clear that the only evidence that there ever was life here in the first place was in the rotting bodies on the floor. None of them deserved better in her mind.
Aurora had to stop for a moment and take a deep breath, the smell of burnt flesh not exactly agreeing with her pregnancy. Once it passed she continued to follow, picking up anything that might be of use to them until they reached a cell where Jay stopped. She didn't need him to tell her that this was where they kept him.
She could see the tears in his eyes and the anger. This was where he made his friend...lost his friend. She felt anger for him. "He deserved to be saved. I'm sorry we didn't get here in time to do that."
Jay sat up a little straighter now that she said they were getting close. He looked over at her as she gave him her support and he nodded. "I know," he said softly. He was holding onto that fact. That she was here. He wasn't going to be walking in to what he left.
They pulled up out front of the prison and his heart hammered inside his chest. He suddenly forgot why he wanted to come back. All he felt was fear. But then he saw the bodies still littered about, decomposing in the cold, winter air and he remembered.
Jay got out of the car slowly. "Come with me?" he asked before he closed the door. He didn't feel it was safe to leave her out here alone. He didn't want to be inside alone, either.
He walked up to the side door they had all burst through during the attack. The flies and maggots were happy with the dead he walked over to get there. He took a deep breath. And then he sighed it out heavily before taking that first step inside.
"No one stuck around to search for weapons, did they?" he asked her. "After you saved me?" In his memories, everyone seemed in too much of a hurry. "We should look around."
He pulled his gun out, just to be safe, but it was clear there were no survivors. He checked each room, packing away any ammo and guns they found. Then they got far enough down the hall that Jay recognized it. His walking slowed and he turned to look into the room on his right. The chains hung from the ceiling still. His blood still stained the ground.
There were knives he could have pocketed. Things that could maim and harm. But he didn't step inside to grab them. He didn't want the tools that were used on him. He just stared into the room in silence, trying to let something go inside him.
And then he turned and walked away, further down the hall. He made a turn and then he was at his cell. His room for over two months. He looked inside it, but with a different expression than he had the torture room. Unlike there, he actually stepped inside. He heaved a mighty breath and felt the tears come to his eyes. His hands balled into fists.
Aurora smiled as Jay took her hand and she squeezed if affectionately sd he spoke. It made sense for them to look for something while they were nearby and she could really do with some more comfortable clothes sooner rather than later.
"Deal." She said with a smile. She didn't let go of his hand for some time then, just wanting to feel close to him.
After driving some more she knew they were close now and she looked over at Jay. "We are really close. About five minutes out." She said as she tried to read the expression on his face. "I'm here okay? Whatever you need to do, you do but remember I am here."
Jay was relieved to see her eat something, glad to know it meant she was feeling a little better. He had witnessed her throwing up before and was always there to hold her hair back, but he wasn't exactly fond of the idea out here on the dangerous open road.
Once they were moving again, Aurora asked him about the department store. He moved his eyes from the window to look at her. He thought for a long moment. He could probably use the distraction after he was done doing whatever he felt he needed to do. He nodded slowly.
"Yeah, alright," he said, reaching over to take her hand. They had the time and Aurora couldn't have too many things to help her through the pregnancy. And besides, it wouldn't hurt to start looking for some things for the baby. "But if it's overrun, we ain't riskin' it. Not with the third wheel in tow," he said with a small smirk.
Aurora laughed and Jay's comment about King. "I think he also thinks he is this baby's mother." She said with a chuckle before taking another sip of water. After a few more minutes Aurora was starting to feel a little better. Luickly she didn't actually throw up which was a bonus for her so as soon as she was feeling better she ate something like she promised Jay.
Soon enough they were getting back into the car and were on the road once more. "You know, there was a department store not to far from where we are going. If you are feeling up to it after, perhaps we could go...look for some things we might find useful?"
Jay was so lost in thought that he didn't hear her the first time. He finally looked over at her and nodded. He could use a stretch as well, and besides, he was glad she was taking breaks when she needed to. She worked herself so hard sometimes he got worried.
He got out with her and made his way over to her side so that they could stand next to each other. He shrugged when she offered him some food. "Of course he did," he said about King packing them food. "I swear he thinks he's my mother," he said as he tore into a slightly outdated bag of chips. They still tasted alright and he wanted to save the more filling stuff for later if they needed it.
"As soon as it passes you should eat," he told her, looking at her with concern in his eyes. He leaned in to kiss her cheek.
Aurora was more than happy to drive, not knowing if Jay would be able to and even if he knew the way, ir wasn't exactly good to drive with all the things going on in his mind. She would miss Harrison terribly but there were so many people who loved and cared for him now that they pretty much had an extended family.
A few hours into the drive and Aurora looked over at Jay. "Mind if we stop here for a minute or two? I need to stretch my legs and let this morning sickness pass. It just crept up on me." She smiled a little and when he agreed she pulled the car up on the side of the road and got out of the car, reaching into the back seat for her bottle of water.
"You hungry? King packed us some food." She said as she pulled out some snacks. Her face contorted slightly. "Not sure I can eat just yet."
The days passed slowly for once. Aurora took some well deserved time away from her duties and King was glad there was a reason to keep Jay relaxed for the time being until he was fully healed.
Aurora broached the topic of making the trip back to the prison for him. He knew King might try to talk him out of it, but coming from Aurora it sounded more like something he needed to do because she approved of it. And less like he was crazy.
When she came back with keys to one of the cars and gave a sigh of relief. He gathered their guns and told Harrison where he would be spending his night. He was worried for them, of course. And with good reason. Last time Jay went out he didn't come back. But he knew that wasn't going to happen this time. Everyone there was dead.
He asked Aurora to drive. He didn't remember the way. He had been unconcious both to and from the prison. And he needed to steel himself. As they left through the gates, he sunk low in his seat, looking out the window in silence, wondering what he would do when he got there.
Things were nice over the next couple of days. Aurora was closer to Jay than before not that they had shared themselves with each other. It seemed to fo wonders for their relationship and Monica even made a couple of jabs about them needing to practice safe sex which they both laughed off.
In honesty, Harrison's questions that night had been valid and she was worried about giving birth in a world that was seemingly growing more and more unsafe. She just had to keep telling herself that everything would be fine as long as she looked after herself and their child throughout the pregnancy.
After a few days Aurora approached King about borrowing a vehicle to take Jay back out to the abandoned prison. Although at first he didn't like it, he understood that Jay needed some kind of closure and if this could offer it to him then he willingly handed her the keys to a car and made sure they had bullets and supplies loaded into the car.
"I'll look after Harrison. We will have another sleep over. Two days though. If you ate not back in two days we will send someone out after you. Look after that baby you are growing in there Aurora."
She smiled and nodded. "Don't worry, I plan to."
That evening was exactly what Jay needed. They felt like a small family. Harrison called him Dad which was something he was still getting used to, but he enjoyed the feeling even if he felt like a fraud.
He leaned in the doorway when it came time to tuck Harrison in for the night. Perhaps in a normal world he was getting a little old to be put to bed, but in this one they just wanted to see his face before it hit the pillow.
Jay dropped crossed his arms and dropped his eyes as Harrison began to worry. He wasn't the only one concerned about these things, but they had to remain strong for him. Aurora promised him she wouldn't be going anywhere. And Jay wanted to tell her that she couldn't make that promise... but he also wanted to believe it himself. So many things could go wrong and he was afraid of losing her.
Harrison finally felt soothed enough by her promise and he leaned back in bed. They bid him goodnight and closed the door to let him sleep.
That night while they lay in bed, Jay felt closer to Aurora than he ever had before. They had shared so much of themselves that day. While they had shared the bed before, it was never like this. He held her close and whispered that he loved her before he let his eyes close.
Aurora almost rolled her eyes when he commented on the fact that she hadn't been giving herself enough attention. Scarlett had been telling her to slow down every day since finding out that she was pregnant but she wasn't sure she even knew how to do that now. The world was different and so was sure.
Still, when he came and put her arms around her she relaxed against him, letting out a satisfied sigh when he kissed her neck. She smiled then, looking down at his hand on her belly.
Soon enough Harrison returned home and they spent the evening together without any disruptions from anyone else and for a little while, they forgot that they world out there was a cruel place. When it came to Harrison's bed time they both put him to bed together.
"Mom, will my brother or sister be okay?"
"What do you mean honey?" She asked as she stroked the hair from his face.
"Well, don't pregnant ladies usually have to go to hospital a lot? We don't have hospitals anymore." He pouted a little and Aurora glanced up at Jay before looking back down at him.
"We have Scarlett and the doctor, they will make sure the baby is safe I promise."
"What about you? Will you be safe? I heard someone talking today. They lost their wife because she gave birth. Mom, I don't want you to die." Aurora didn't hesitate to pull him into her arms and she closed her eyes tight.
"I'm not going anywhere Harrison. I would never leave you."
Jay sighed softly, watching her slide out of bed. He remained for the moment, watching her hunt for something to wear. His eyes trailed her body in a way so different than Kris or any of the other men. He put an arm behind his head and chewed a nail.
"That ain't it," he said softly. "Well... not all. You ain't giving yourself enough attention either."
He finally pulled himself from bed and wrapped himself around her now dressed form. He moved her hair to kiss the back of her neck. "I know you won't take my advice, cause it ain't you, but just... take a day every once in a while to relax. For the both of you." His hands went to her belly and he kissed her neck once more before letting go to find his clothes once more and pull them on.
"Then we will go in a few days." She said as she let the silence fall over them for a moment. It wasn't long before they were both brought back to reality though, Jay mentioning Harrison. She let out a long sigh and nodded, shifting from under the covers.
"You are right. We should moving." Aurora climbed off the bed and looked around for some clothes, deciding that she didn't want to be uncomfortable in the bra that was too tight for her changing body.
"We should spend some time together as a family tonight. You are right, I've been throwing myself into everything and not even paying enough attention to either of you."
Jay knew Aurora supported him, but he hadn't expected her to be so on board with his unpredictable needs. He helped her pull the covers up slightly, feeling the chill as well now.
"Soon," he said. "In a few days." It would just be another way to prove he was fully healed. And he knew King would not deny him this, either.
Jay let his fingers toy with hers for a moment before he squeezed them tight. He let his thoughts come back to her and away from tye horrors he had endured. He pressed his lips to her shoulder. "It's getting late," he whispered. "Harrison will be back looking for dinner."
And yet he didn't want to move. He wanted to stay like this for days.
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