I Hold On
Searches and Showers
Ellie left Shane and the group feeling a bit peeved from recent events. First that man had wanted her to meet everyone and now he was acting like she was some little girl who had to have an eye kept on her at all times. She understood the fact that she and her sister were outsiders and nobody here really knew them enough to trust them but still. It hadn't been right of Shane to just outright say that he was getting impatient and tired of babysitting her. The notion only made the redhead feel worse. She didn't like the idea of someone having to watch over her and take care of her. Ellie Lavelle was perfectly capable in handling herself, zombie apocalypse or not. So walking towards Ariel who was now at the picnic table, sitting with Carol, the woman sighed. The first to look up from the table was Carol, who had sadness in her green eyes but was trying to mask it with a smile. Then her little sister looked up, her eyes very stoic and lifeless, just like the rest of her.
"I hope I'm not intrudin' on anythin'. I just wanted to come over and see how Ariel was doing."
Ellie spoke honestly, knowing she may just have walked in on a touchy subject the two women had been discussing moments earlier. From the looks on their faces, especially Carol's, Ellie was willing to bet anything she had on her that she was right. This of course meant she was betting her life but it was just a game she was playing in her head so it really meant nothing in the end.
"You aren't intruding on anything. I was just trying to help cheer your sister up. Since you and Shane left, she hasn't spoken a word like she was doing before."
The older sibling could really see the concern in the older woman's eyes and then flickered her green eyes over to Ariel who was swinging her legs back and forth, kicking dirt and grass under the old wooden table while her hands sat unmoving in her lap.
"Ariel? That true? Why won't you talk? Carol only wants to get to know you. She only wants to help."
Her sister was still very stoic with a face that almost appeared to be frozen from lack of emotion and that broke Ellie's heart. Seeing her only living kin like this, not motivated and unresponsive made her feel like she was failing her. Sure, she had been keeping her alive all this time but that didn't change the fact that Ariel still wanted to kill herself. It didn't change the fact she would have rather died than fight until the end. This new version of Ariel wasn't like the old sassy one. This one was just like a doll, a doll that had been molded and shaped by the end of the world leaving her broken.
"I hoped by telling her what was going on in my life, she would see things aren't so bad, but that didn't help either. You see, I lost my little girl Sophia four days ago. We were on the highway with our group and a herd of those things came by. She had slid out from under the car she had been hiding under and got chased into the woods by two of them. Rick said he had her hide while he drew their attention but when he went back to get her, she was gone. We've had scouting parties going out everyday, trying to pick up her trail and find her. Just yesterday one of our group members found her doll. But I'm losing hope. I mean, they only found her doll. Who's to say she's still out there?"
Ellie's eyes lingered on the woman who seemed just about as broken as her sister. It was then that she began to think Ariel couldn't have been put with a better person. Maybe they could find strength in each other somehow? Or maybe that was just a bunch of bullshit she had thought up to make herself feel better about this whole depressing 'suicide situation'. Either way, Ellie wasn't about to give up. She had a fighters spirit instilled in her and to let that die would have been a sin.
"I'm sorry to hear that about your daughter Carol, but you can't give up. You have to have hope. Now a days it is kill or be killed and it seems the more relationships you have with other survivors, the more likely it is that you are going to pull through. You are so lucky to have this big group of people to hold onto. I thought that it just bein' me and Ariel against the world would be enough, but the way she's lookin' now, it doesn't seem like even I'm goin' to be enough to help pull her through this. I just want to thank you for tryin' to get her through this. She's all I have."
Carol simply nodded as a response and went back to looking at Ariel, an invisible bond of the broken forming between the two. The auburn haired woman shook her head, trying her best to pull back the tears that threatened to flood her eyes. She wasn't going to cry. Not over this. Ariel was still here with her and as broken as she was right now, Ellie prayed she'd pull through. So looking back at Ariel and then to Carol, the eldest Lavelle got an idea.
"Do you know if any of the others in your group are goin' out scoutin' today Carol?"
"I think so. I know Shane and Rick were already talking about it as of yesterday. That's why they're most likely over there, to talk about where they'll be lookin' today."
Carol raised a hand and pointed to where Ellie had left the men. The redhead nodded at the sight of the guys huddled over a map that was spread out on the hood.
"I'm goin' to join the search."
The older woman's eyes went a bit wide and she then frowned, shaking her head.
"You hardly know me. You don't even know my Sophia."
"Well if Sophia is anythin' like you, I know she has a good heart. I just ask that you keep watchin' over Ariel for me while I'm gone. I think it will be good to not have me hangin' over her shoulder twenty-four seven. I know I can be a bit overbearin'. Besides, I have to do somethin' in return for the food, water and shelter you're givin' us. I'm not one to mooch."
Before Ellie gave Carol a chance to argue, she headed over to where Shane and the others were. She noticed the guys all had their backs to her, so it was no surprise they didn't hear her coming.
"I want to join this search of yours. To help find Sophia."
The words she used were straight and to the point, making Shane turn to her with a disbelief in her eyes. Rick also turned, giving her the same exact look. The guy known as Jimmy just stood there, looking up at her fierce green eyes for a moment and then back down at the map.
"Thought you was checkin' in on your sister. Who told you 'bout Sophia?"
Shane was giving her the 'I don't trust you look' while Rick stood at his side, ready to back him up, but the redhead didn't back down.
"Carol did. And as a way to return the favor for you and your group takin' us in, I wanna help."
"Listen, Ellie, as much as we appreciate the offer-"
Rick started in, but the defiant woman cut him off.
"No, you listen. I have decent trackin' skills and survival instincts. My sister and I didn't just make it here on god's given grace or on a whim. Isn't it a fact that the more people you have, the more ground you can cover? Just let me help. I'll do as I'm told and I won't stray or give you guys a hard time in where you wanna look. I promise."
For whatever reason, after the woman had given her little speech, Shane was smirking now and shaking his head slowly, rubbing a hand over his head and licked his lips. He then turned to Rick who seemed to be contemplating Ellie's words himself. After the two men exchanged glances for awhile, they had come to an agreement.
"Fine. We'll let you join our search. But your sister stays here. She's in no condition to travel."
The woman nodded and gave Rick a smile as he spoke. He then motioned her closer so she could get a good look at the map. She took a standing stance on the right side of Shane who appeared to be a bit smug. The way he was acting was confusing her but she didn't mention it. Instead she just stayed silent and watched carefully as Rick, Shane and Jimmy talked back and forth about scouting plans.
"Creek flows south, past that farm house Daryl found. Maybe Sophia dropped the doll there and the current brought it down stream."
Rick spoke, pointing to a specific area on the map.
"So what you think, she stepped down this road here and went north?"
Shane asked, also looking at the same area.
"What's up that way?"
Rick turned to Jimmy who obviously knew more about the area than any of them.
"Housing development. Went in maybe ten years ago."
He replied in a matter a fact way.
"You should take a run up there after gun practice. I'll hold down the fort here. But you should take back up after what went down with Daryl. I don't want anyone goin' out alone."
Rick turned to Shane who nodded, going along with whatever his friend was saying.
"I'd take suggestions on a partner."
Shane replied back and turned to Ellie for a brief moment, only to look back at Rick.
"See how they do on the range, then take your pick."
Rick responded. It seemed as though things were settled but Ellie couldn't help but wonder how she was going to play a part in all this 'searching for a missing girl'. If she was going to be any help at all, she figured Shane would have asked her to be his partner for scouting. She was
sure he'd rather have someone he could trust come along with him though.
"Hey! Peach man!"
Shane called out, making the woman peer up from the map she had been staring at. In a second or two, Glenn was coming over with a basket full of peaches and handing them out to everyone. The Korean even came over to Ellie who took one and smiled. After that, Glenn kind of hung around awkwardly, like something was going on, but he didn't say anything. The redhead took a bite out of the soft fuzzy fruit, enjoying it's sweet taste. Meanwhile, Shane turned to Glenn again.
He nodded to the binoculars Glenn was carrying and the man quickly gave them to him, only to take off like a scared rabbit. Now if that wasn't shady, Ellie didn't know what was. Maybe she wasn't the most untrustful person the the group after all. Once Glenn was gone, Shane turned to Ellie, mouth full of peach as he chewed and talked.
"So Ellie, you ever use a gun before?"
She nodded, chewing her own mouthful of fruit and swallowing before answering.
"Yeah, plenty of times. My father was in the marines. He taught both Ariel and I how to shoot."
She took another bite of her peach, wiping her chin as juice slid out past her lips.
"You any good at shootin'?"
She wasn't sure if this was just a regular conversation or if the man was challenging her in some way. Either way she went along with it.
"My sister is better than me but yeah I am. I hardly ever miss the target."
"Uh huh. Well we'll see. You should join us for gun practice today then. Who knows, maybe you could give me a hand in scoutin' out that neighborhood we were jus' discussin'."
So it was a challenge. Great. Well she would show him. Not that she wanted to be scouting around some most likely flesh eater infested neighborhood but she had said she'd do anything to help. The next conversation between Rick and Shane put her a bit on edge though.
"You really think that's a good idea Shane?"
Rick asked, throwing his own peach pit far out into the field.
"Hell why not. Ain't like she got anythin' better to do 'sides lookin' after her sister."
Shane said, giving the woman a smirk which in turn made her roll her eyes. First he was against having her around and thought of her as a 'baby' now he was teasing her and acting like she could be an asset. Would Shane just make up his mind about her already?
"Fine by me. But that means she's your responsibility."
Rick replied, looking back down at the map.
"You don't think I know that? She's been my responsibility since she showed up here."
And there Shane went again, acting like Ellie was some sort of burden. He said that more to himself than to anyone else though. That was when two women approached the group. Both had blonde hair and one looked much younger than the other. Ellie raised a brow, wondering who they could have been. She was surprised there were even more people here. How many more survivors could there have been that she hadn't met yet?
"We'd like to join you for gun practice today."
The younger of the two said, her voice very southern and feminine.
"Hershel has been very clear. We can't involve any of you in anything we do without his okay."
Rick had looked up from the map and right at the two women. Ellie could see that these two weren't part of Rick and Shane's group just by the way Rick was talking. It was obvious to her that these people were part of Hershel's group or the man who owned the land they were staying on.
"He doesn't like it, but he consented."
She replied back.
"Otis was the only one of us who knew guns. Now that he's gone, we gotta learn to protect ourselves."
The older blonde added. The redhead's mind was beyond confused now. Who was Otis and where did he go? Did he get eaten by those flesh eaters? Or had he passed away from old age? Or had he moved away just before the shit storm of all shit storms had hit? Ellie tried not to think about it so much and went back to listening to the ongoing conversation.
"Alright we'll teach ya then, but on one condition."
Shane suddenly said with a smirk. Rick gave Shane a sideways glance, raising a brow at him, but let him continue without a word. The two women nodded and Shane went ahead and started talking again.
"You let our new companion and her sister here take a much needed shower. Now I ain't askin' for you to provide 'em with clothes or anythin' else. Just a shower. Poor things look like they haven't washed up in weeks and smell almost as bad as the dead."
Ellie could feel the heat rise in her cheeks, easily becoming almost as red as her dyed hair which now was starting to grow out, showing her brunette roots. Her green eyes became bright with a boiling anger and embarrassment. Although the idea of having a nice hot shower was nice and couldn't be turned down, the way Shane had gone about asking was all wrong. It made the woman feel extremely dirty, which undeniably, she was. So before she cussed Shane out or worse, she was thankful for one of the blonde's voice's breaking the tense silence.
"I'm sure my daddy won't mind too much. I know in his heart he'd see it as the Christian thing to do."
The younger blonde smiled at Ellie who gave her a small smile back, trying her best to hide her discomfort.
"It's settled then. Soon as you get all nice and clean we'll head out for gun practice."
Shane gave the redhead a wink and she gave him the most hateful look as possible in return. After a much needed shower, she was going to show that smug prick what she was made of. She was going to be his scouting partner today, even if it meant putting up with his constantly changing attitude towards her.
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