I Hold On
Green Eyes and Guns
Dark brown eyes lingered on the thin feminine figure of Ellie as she walked away. Once Shane was sure she had made it to the house with Beth and Patricia, he ran a hand over his head, turning back to Rick who was still looking over the map of Hershel's farm and the surrounding areas.
"You know, you really outta be careful what you say around her and what you do for her. Next thing you know she'll be thinkin' she and her sister have a permanent place here."
His friend said, never once looking up from the map.
"Relax man. It's just a shower. It's common courtesy. 'Sides, you consciously agreed with me that we could use more help in findin' this lost little girl who you still believe to be alive."
"I get that but this isn't our farm Shane. In case you forgot, we're guests here and we shouldn't be oversteppin' any boundaries like the one you just vaulted over. It's bad enough I already have Hershel hintin' to me that he plans on us leavin' by the end of the week. And we just found Sophia's doll-"
"Yeah you see, a doll. Daryl found her damn doll. We didn't find her, or any sign she's still alive. And alright, we may have to take off soon as Carl is better but we've been talkin' 'bout Fort Benning for a real long time..."
"That doll is the closest we've gotten to findin' her. We can't give up. She's just a little girl and Carol's own flesh and blood. What if were Carl? Would you wanna stop lookin' if it were him? And let's say we leave here. Let's say we head off to Fort Benning and it's overrun like every other place we've been to. What then? This is the safest place by far. Maybe I can convince Hershel and his family to let us live here with them. We could help with the farm work and help keep this place secure."
"If it were Carl, yeah I'd still keep lookin'. But you know as well as I do that after the first forty-eight hours, it's almost a done deal. Sophia is either dead or became one of them things next meals. Ain't no point in tryin' to give Carol and the rest of the group false hope. We have to start being real man. As for Fort Benning, we could take it. It'd be hard and we might lose people but we could take it. We got enough guns and ammo to last us awhile. And if we let Ellie and Ariel join the group, it'd help us out a lot-"
"Are you even listenin' to yourself? Just yesterday you were set on killin' the both of those girls and now you're sayin' we can trust them? What happened to us not havin' enough supplies for two more people or the fact they could have a group out there just waitin' to pick us off? And a suicide mission to Fort Benning isn't what I was expecting from you Shane. We can't risk any of our people like that. I'm goin' to go talk to Hershel about us havin' a more permanent place on the farm. You should just get everythin' ready for gun practice. I don't want to discuss any of these matters further."
"Yeah, whatever you say man."
Shane left things at that, not wanting to get worked up any more than he already was. He knew it would only cause problems between the two so instead of arguing what he thought was right, he went ahead and headed to Dale's R.V. to collect the guns and ammo for practice. On his way there he noticed that Carol was still sitting at the picnic table with Ellie's sister and he shook his head. The brunette was staring at the ground. To him she seemed pretty damaged and he had to wonder what had made her that way. Surely it wasn't just because the world had ended. No, there was more to that story than he knew, that was for damn sure. Sooner or later he mentally noted he'd have to figure out what exactly was going on but for now he focused on getting things ready for gun practice.
He shuffled his boots along the dry grass, mentally cursing at how hot is was already as he approached the R.V. He wiped his brow from the sweat that had been forming there and went ahead and entered the vehicle, going right to the closet on the left across from the small kitchen table where the bag of guns and boxes of ammo were being stored. He looked around a bit, noticing no one else was inside besides him and he thanked God for that. He wasn't sure he'd be able to deal with anyone right now, especially Dale; Not after the old man had confronted him just a day earlier about what really had happened to Otis. Not that Shane had said anything of course and had only left things to imagination. The older man could pry all he wanted and could put all the bugs in peoples ears he wanted too; no one was going to believe him, not when Shane was one of the best contributors to the group. After collecting the bag of guns and a few boxes of various types of ammo, the man headed out, sighing as the heat started to beat down on his back once again.
He headed for his Hyundai which was parked a few feet away from the old Winnebago, carrying a black dufflebag of guns on one shoulder and a small black and green backpack of ammo on the other. He set both bags down on the ground beside him and opened the hatch of his trunk, immediately shaking his head when he opened it. The blanket and pillows he had let the girls borrow last night were still in the back. With a long sigh he grabbed the pillows and blanket carelessly to bring them back to his tent and practically jumped when he picked them up, only to have an old blue and tan backpack, much smaller than the one he had the ammo in tumble from out of the rolled up blanket and fall to the ground. It hit a large jagged rock that was sticking out of the ground alongside his foot with a loud thud.
He ran a hand over his head, placing the blanket and pillows back in the back of the Hyundai and he let out a groan when he picked up the foreign pack. A few canned goods, clothes, a small black box and a few other miscellaneous items fell out of the bottom of the bag where the rock had tore it open. Shane just shook his head and scowled, trying his best to hold his temper. He wasn't sure whose bag it was but he didn't have time to be dicking around. He had work to do and this whole situation was sure as hell irritating him, that and the current temperature and humidity weren't helping him either. Just when he went to bend down to retrieve the things that had fallen out of the backpack, a sudden voice echoed across the yard, making him look up and raise a brow.
"Hey what are you doin'?! That's my stuff! Don't touch any of it!"
Loud footfalls soon followed and before he knew it, Ellie was bending down next to him, quickly grabbing as many of the fallen items as she could in her hands. The smell of roses and lavender wafted his way, invading his senses. The woman's face was flushed with anger but it was clean. Now that her skin wasn't soaked in blood and dirt, he could see how fair skinned she was which was surprising considering all the sun they'd been getting recently. Her eyes were accented by thick dark lashes and were fierce looking as they took in light from the sun overhead, making them appear as bright green emeralds. Her layered pin straight red hair which was fading into a more natural auburn color was down and layed just below her shoulders; it looked darker now that it was wet from her shower. He also noticed that she was wearing new clothes now which were also dirt and blood free and consisted of a baby blue v-neck t-shirt that hugged her thin form just right, dark blue jean shorts that went to just below her thighs and a pair of worn tan work boots that reached just about her ankles. He figured Beth must had 'loaned' the redhead some clothes. Shane just smirked at her, the irritation he felt suddenly faded away and he wasn't sure why.
"What the hell! I didn't go through any of your stuff! What gives you the right to go through mine?"
The sound of Ellie's voice brought Shane back into focus and he shook his head, running a firm hand over the front to the back of it, the feeling of not having thick curly hair on his head anymore was odd to him. He stood up and met her eyes with his own.
"Listen girl, calm down. I didn't mean to go through your things. I was jus' pickin' up the blanket and pillows I let ya'll borrow last night and your pack came crashin' down. Must of hit that rock there and split the bag open. It was an accident, alright?"
He motioned to the rock and she turned to look at it but glared back at him.
"Uh huh, sure."
He watched her roll her eyes and go about shoving her things back into the same pack they had fallen out of, making sure to be careful of the rip in the bottom. The man wasn't really sure why she seemed so pissed about the whole thing. It wasn't like he had actually gone through her stuff unless-
"You hidin' somethin' in there you don't want me knowin' 'bout?"
He questioned, hovering over her in the police like manner he had learned so well from his days of being a deputy.
"No, I'm not. Now if you don't mind, I was actually enjoyin' the sun. I don't need you to be overshadowin' me. If I want some shade I can go sit under a tree."
Her tone was still irritated and less elevated than before but he didn't like the way she was speaking to him. It really made him think she was hiding something. So he slowly and quietly got closer to her, coming up behind her when he was sure she was more focused on getting her things back into her bag. Just when she was about to get up, he wrapped his strong arms around her and grabbed hold of the bag with both of his hand and attempted to pull up on it to get it out of her grasp, making her yell.
"What the hell are you doin'? Let go! I am not hidin' nothin'!"
Shane felt her squirm and wriggle in his arms as she pushed back against him with her whole body, trying her best to make him let go. He smirked to himself, almost liking how she struggled to hold onto the backpack.
"Sorry, can't do that. I know you're hidin' somethin' in there and I'm gonna find out what."
He heard her growl, almost like one the the many biters he had taken down except Ellie wasn't an undead creature and for a woman who barely weighed more than a hundred pounds, she was putting up one hell of a fight over a bag that didn't have anything suspicious inside. Shane gave one big tug with the hold he had on the bag and almost managed to take it from her until he felt a sudden sharp pain in his left leg; the redhead had managed to kick him in the shin. He bit back the pain that shot up and down his leg from the sudden blow he had received and gripped the bag as tightly as he could, starting to hear the worn fabric begin to tear and rip even more than it already was.
"You don't let go right now red, I swear-"
Was all he had time to say before the bag completely ripped in half, all of the things the woman had carefully put back inside, once again were on the ground, scattered in the dirt and grass. The man had fallen back on his ass in the dirt with Ellie sitting right on his lap. His head reeled and his leg throbbed as he went about becoming aware of his surroundings and realized what had happened. Quickly he pushed the woman off of him and glanced around. He saw all of the same things he had before, in addition to two new things. Right in front of the back tires on his Hyundai lay two identical silver and black Winchester pistols. Both appeared to be military grade and in decent shape and that was when it clicked, or so he thought.
"You sneaky bitch."
He turned to her and she barely looked up at him, giving him a harsh glare, her green eyes were now darker than before.
"What you think you were gonna do huh? Kill us all in our sleep? Take over this farm as your own? You do gotta group out there waitin' on you don't you? You were jus' waitin' for the right time to snuff us all out."
"It's not what you think-"
He heard her try to say but he cut her off not wanting to hear her because he figured he was right. He got up despite the pain he was in and went ahead and picked up the two guns, admiring the cold plated steel.
"'Course it is. And I'ma tell you somethin' sweetheart, you and your little sister are out of here for good. I don't care what I gotta do. I will keep this camp and it's people safe, even if it means I gotta blow your pretty little brains out."
He raised one of the guns to her, aiming for her head. He was aware how much darker her eyes had gotten. It was as if they were cold and deceptive yet cool and calculating. He pulled back the top of the gun and put his finger on the trigger. His instincts were telling him to kill her. Such a beautiful face couldn't be trusted. She was going to try and kill them all. Him. Hershel and his family. Andrea. Daryl. Glenn. Dale. T-Dog. Carol. Rick. Carl. Lori.
He couldn't let that happen. He was going to save them. Without a second thought he pulled the trigger but what came afterwards was not expected in the least. The echoed sound of the firing pin hitting what should have been the primer and igniting it to shoot out a bullet didn't happen. All he heard was the release of a spring and a pocket of air exit the barrel of the gun. His dark brown eyes lightened with surprise and disbelief all at once and then he set his gaze back to Ellie who had an eerily calm smile playing on her lips with her head down so Shane couldn't see her eyes.
"Both of them are empty. I don't have any ammo. You wanna know why I didn't want you lookin' though my things? 'Cause I didn't want you knowin' what I've lost. I don't want your's or anyone else's pity. But since you're so damn sure that I'm here to overthrow your camp and kill you and your group, go ahead and take a look. In that little black box about a foot behind you is what I'm tryin' to hide. I hope all of this satisfies your need to finally see you can trust me."
Shane could hear the hurt in her voice even though the smile on her face told him different. A bit of guilt rose in his gut, replacing the anger he once felt. But he pushed it aside, wanting to get to the bottom of things. His primary goal was to defend the group and to make sure any outsiders that came into their fold could be trusted so now was his chance. With a notion that he'd be regretting this later, he turned around and spotted the little black box Ellie had told him about and walked over, bent down and picked it up after setting the pistols down in it's place. He didn't bother in inspecting it and instead flipped the little top up, opening the mystery box.
Inside was a single picture. It was a bit faded around the edges but he could clearly see a slightly younger Ellie and Ariel standing side by side. Ellie was wearing jeans and a green shirt with the name of some college on it, a big smile on her face. Ariel was scowling in the picture with her arms crossed over her chest. On either side of them were two people, much older than the girls. They both had their thumbs up and big grins on their faces. The one to the right of Ellie was a woman with auburn hair and green eyes, much like Ellie's. The one to the left of Ariel was a man with salt and pepper hair and features much like the two sisters. Shane frowned a bit and turned the picture over. On the back in blue ink there was a heartwarming message.
We are so proud of you Ellie. We know you'll do great following in your fathers footsteps as a lawyer. Who knows? Maybe you'll even surpass him one day? Just remember to stay on track and don't get distracted by all those college boys! We'll visit when we can. Study hard, stay strong and just remember, when the world tries to get you down, stand up and fight! There are worse things than studying for tests.
Mom, Dad and Ariel.
Shane continued to read the words over and over in disbelief, the guilt he had been feeling earlier increasing ten fold. Was this why Ellie was so defensive? Was this why Ariel was suddenly mute and suicidal? How could he have known? The women never even bothered to speak a word of what they had faced on their way here. Then again, he knew everyone had must of lost somebody by now which made him think that the two girls should just get over it and move on but he knew not everyone was like him. He then thought about Rick and how he was still looking for that lost little girl. He shook his head and scowled, getting angry with himself for suddenly caring about some girl he just met and barely knew. Then again, it still stood, he had almost shot her not once but twice.
Deciding the best way to get past the current tense situation was to come up with some form of apology, he looked up from the picture, only to find that Ellie was now already up and about, picking up the things that had fallen out of her now shredded pack yet again. He raised a brow at her yet didn't say a word. She didn't even seem like she was upset or angry about him trying to shoot her again or accusing her of being some kind of assassin for some other survivalist group. Awkwardly he approached her, waiting for her to notice him. She had just picked up a can of beans and turned to him, raising her own eyebrow at him.
"Can I help you?"
There it was, that same stand-offish tone of hers. Shane closed the black box back up, making sure the picture of her and her parents was still inside. He held it out to her, letting his eyes show a side of him he rarely showed, empathy.
"I'm sorry 'bout your folks. I won't ask how it happened and I wanna let you know that by me sayin' sorry that it ain't no form of pity. I'll have you know pretty much everyone here in our group has lost someone."
When Ellie took the box from him and simply nodded, not saying a word, he figured everything was all said and done. Then just as she went to grab her guns, he remembered something else.
"I'm also sorry I keep thinkin' I can't trust you. I care 'bout these people you know? I don't want no harm comin' to them. I'm sure you get now a days it's a kill or be killed world. Ain't no room for mistakes. I hope you can forgive me. I swear it won't happen again. Far as I'm concerned, you're one of us. You and Ariel both."
Shane tried his best to put his words together. He let his eyes gaze into hers when she turned to face him again and she actually gave him a real smile, but looking into her soft green eyes made him feel uncomfortable and weak in the knees. Or was that actually because of the throbbing pain he felt in his leg from where Ellie had kicked him? He wasn't sure. All he knew was he wanted to make things right. If he wanted someone on his side about getting the group off the farm and onto Fort Benning, he was going to have to try and stop being such a judgmental hard ass. But for Shane, that was easier said than done.
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