After I'd met Clem and got to know her better, we started growing closer to each other very fast. She was really cool and AJ seemed like good company, too. Sometimes I went fishing with them, sometimes Clem came hunting with me. I enjoyed her company and it looked like she enjoyed mine, too. I appreciated it that she actually didn't turn her back and instead stayed with me and seemed happy to do so. It didn't take long after she'd arrived in here for us to start developing feelings towards one another. I'd never seen anyone like her before. Surely there were a couple other girls living in the school, but I'd known them for quite a while and they all just more or less felt like they could be my sisters. But Clementine.. she seemed like something else. Like someone who I actually had some stronger feelings for. I knew the others sort of made fun of it all behind my back, about how Clem fell right into my trap. But I didn't mind. I'd never had a girlfriend before, like I'd mentioned to Clem on that one night. And I felt like she could be the one.
On one evening I found Clementine sitting by the fire, staring into the flames. It was quite late but it looked like she couldn't get any sleep. I sure felt the same. I'd been laying in my bed for the past hour or so, unable to sleep. So eventually I gave up, stood back up and walked to the door in order to go outside and get some fresh air. That's when I saw her guarding the fire and started walking closer, greeting her softly as I did so.
I said and she turned her head to look at me. She smiled.
"You can't sleep?"
she asked from me. I calmly shook my head as I sat down right next to her.
"No.. I mean, I tried. But it didn't really work. So I figured I'd come outside for a moment. Didn't think you'd be here, too."
Clem said and kept looking at me.
"AJ fell asleep a good while ago but I wasn't able to do so. And so I came out here. Now it looks like you and I had the same plan."
She smiled at me once more and I smiled at her. Just by looking at her I felt how the butterflies in my stomach flew up once more. It always seemed to happen when I was near her.
For a while we sat side by side in calm silence, just looking at the fire. It felt relaxing. But soon enough one of us broke the silence and we started talking about pretty much everything. About what our lives had been like before the hell broke loose, about all the people we had met at some point in our lives, about everything we could think about. And eventually I put my arm around her. I heard her heartbeat and I was sure she heard mine, too. Especially after she gently laid down her head and rested it against my shoulder. I softly held her close and listened to her breathe. Not too long after that we once more sat there in the comfortable, safe silence and she fell asleep in my arms. I carefully adjusted her position a little so that she'd be more comfortable.
As the flames died down, I started feeling chilly. And so I carefully picked Clementine up and started carrying her towards the dorms. I wasn't exactly sure what AJ would do or think if he woke up during the night and saw me in Clem's bed curled up against her so I made the decision and carried her into my room and quietly closed the door behind us. I walked to my bed and very, very carefully laid her down before settling in next to her. I listened to her calm, relaxed breathing, and in the long run it lulled me to sleep, too. We spent that night together.
On the following day I was to go hunting in the nearby woods with Violet.
"I wish I could come with you.."
Clem said to me from behind the gate.
I replied as I took the time to briefly touch her hand with my own. I only stopped when I was interrupted by Violet.
"Louis. We need to go now. You two can continue from where you left off when we come back."
She nodded to me, implying that I had to follow her. I sighed.
"She's right, I guess. We'll be back as soon as we can. Stay safe, Clem,"
I still said and looked right into her lovely eyes.
"I was going to say the same to you.."
Clementine said and smiled at me.
"You'd better come back in one piece."
"I will, Clem. Don't worry."
As Clementine watched us walk away from the gate, she quietly whispered to herself:
"...I already do."
Violet and I hadn't been out for too long, roughly half an hour, when she suddenly tugged my arm and pulled me back to hide behind a tree.
I whispered to her, and she barely nodded her head.
"Don't look now, but I saw that guy, the one we ran into earlier.."
"Back at the train station?"
I asked, and she nodded again.
"Shit is right. Louis, don't move,"
she warned me, and I shook my head.
"I'm not going to if you won't."
But soon our quiet conversation was interrupted by an unknown voice.
"We know you're there. Show yourselves."
The stern, serious voice belonged to a woman. Violet and I simultaneously glanced at each other. She looked startled, and I knew I did, too.
"Come on. Don't make this any harder for yourselves."
I finally sighed and briefly nodded for Vi to stand up. She wasn't sure of that plan, and quite frankly, neither was I.
"Let's do what they say for now, and if things go to shit, we.. we bail."
It was the best plan we had at that moment, and so we went on with it. Violet stood up and walked forward. I followed her.
"Now, we have some questions for you,"
the woman continued, looking as rude and straightforward as she sounded.
"You'd be wise to answer honestly and not try anything stupid if you know what's good for you. We know that there's a school nearby here. We're looking for its leader, a kid named Marlon."
Violet and I looked at each other again, before she very briefly spoke:
My expression briefly turned almost pained.
the woman said, but soon continued.
"We can still make this work. Now you two will take us back to your school and no one has to get hurt. Think about how you want to play this out."
Underneath that calm and cool but cold appearance we could sense some aggression. I didn't like it and neither did Vi.
"Start backing up..."
she mouthed the words to me. And so I followed her example.
"Don't even think about it. Stop right there,"
the woman gave her next order. We didn't do as she said, simply out of fear. When we just kept backing up more and more, she raised her gun. Some fear flashed in Violet's eyes. And without any more warnings the woman pulled the trigger and shot right at us. Violet felt the bullet whizz right past her. And then I felt a sharp, sudden pain as the bullet easily broke through my jacket and dug right into my arm.
I cursed. Violet took one quick look at me and made her next decision in a split second.
she yelled, and without thinking anything more about it I just turned around and ran as fast as I could. Violet followed right behind me.
"Don't stop, no matter what, don't stop and just run! We need to lose those freaks!"
As we ran away from them, we could still hear how they fired their guns. The sound also attracted walkers, and while they also added to the danger, they did give us an opening, and we lost the strangers into the swarm of walkers.
We didn't stop until we were sure that we were in the clear. By then Violet had taken the lead and I had fallen behind her. She kept glancing over her shoulder as we ran, and eventually she decided to call the all clear.
"Oh, thank god.."
I sighed in pain and relief, stopped and leaned against the nearest tree trunk. I let go of Chairles and just leaned back, clutching my hurting arm and closing my eyes for a brief moment. That was the first chance for Vi to actually see what had happened.
"Oh, shit.. I heard the gunshot and saw you get hit, but I didn't have the chance to register it in that moment.. I was just so freaked out by all of it. I didn't even think, I just told you to run.."
"It's fine, Vi.. I think you might have saved us by doing so, but.. Shit, it feels awful.."
"Did the bullet go through?"
"I don't know.. It might still be in there for all I know.."
After briefly inspecting the damage Violet bent over to pick up Chairles.
"I don't think they'll be able to find us in here, but we should get back to the school, have Ruby take a look at you."
I just slowly nodded and took the first steps away from the tree. I could walk just fine, even though the gunshot wound in my arm kept reminding me of its presence. Violet didn't take her eyes off of me in the whole time we were still out in the woods.
Eventually we made our way back to the school.
"Hey! They're back!"
we heard Willy's voice from the vantage point. It was hard not to hear him. Guy was loud like a foghorn. Violet opened the gate and we went in, closing the gate again behind us. Violet went on her way to find Ruby, while Clementine ran to me, having heard that we'd come back. Her relieved and happy expression very soon made a sharp turn and changed to worry. In fact, she'd already flung herself to hug me tightly, and only stopped when she felt me wince. That's when she slowly pulled away from me and saw the blood that had seeped through the fabric.
"Oh my god.. Louis, what happened?"
she absolutely demanded to know as she took my hand and started guiding me to where Ruby was.
"Good to see you too, darling.."
I said with a smile, but then got serious.
"We ran into the guy we saw earlier at the train station. He had someone with him this time. A woman. They started asking questions about Marlon and demanded that we peacefully take them here. We weren't going to do it, of course, and Violet made the call to back up and leave. We were scared. And the more we backed up, the more aggressive they got. Then that woman shot me, and Violet just told me to run, so I did. Eventually we lost them because of the walkers. And.. now we're here."
"I'm sorry, Louis.. Did the bullet go clean through?"
Clementine asked, with all the worry clearly shining in her eyes.
"We didn't have much time to check, but I don't think it did. It still kind of hurts.."
"Alright.. Come on, let's get to Ruby."
"She's in the admin building,"
Violet instructed as she came running back outside.
We walked across the yard and made our way to the admin building. Mitch had told us we'd find Ruby there. And he was right, Ruby was in Marlon's old office, looking through some things. Aasim was with him, sitting behind the desk and seemingly writing down about what had been happening. I didn't think I'd ever said to him, but it was actually a good thing to do, to chronicle things and your thoughts. Sometimes things did get too hard to handle, and then we all tried to look for something to take our minds off our problems and ease our burdens somehow. For me, playing piano was the way to go. Aasim relieved his mind by writing. We all had our own ways.
"Oh, hey, you're back,"
Aasim said, lifting his gaze from the book for long enough to greet us. That's when Ruby turned around.
"How'd it go?"
Clementine answered to her.
"Can you help us?"
she then directed a question at Ruby, who then noticed how I was holding my arm.
"What happened to you?"
she asked as she hurried over to us.
"We ran into some creeps in the woods. They shot at us and I took the hit for Violet,"
I told her. Ruby seemed concerned and instructed me to take my jacket off. I did so, but needed some help from Clementine, because bending my arm really hurt. Soon enough she was holding my jacket in her arms and Ruby could start checking out the wound. Aasim lifted his head once more, just in time to see the bullet wound.
"Dude, are you okay?"
he asked. I winced but nodded anyway, trying to act tough and brave. Why did guys always do that thing, anyway? I wasn't sure.
"Yeah, I'm fine.. It hurts, but I'm sure I can live with it."
"Okay, now if you'd hold still for just a moment.. Are you sure that you don't want to sit down? It would maybe make this a little easier for both of us,"
Ruby said. Aasim was listening to our conversation while he kept writing something in his book. Soon he closed it and stood up.
"Yeah, just.. sit in the chair. I'm done writing for now, anyway,"
he offered and Clementine walked me to Marlon's chair and helped me sit down. Quite honestly, I didn't feel that helpless, but her caring felt heartwarming and comforting so I didn't resist. Ruby followed us to the desk and finally started observing the wound. She looked around it for a pretty good while. I was nervous because of what kind of news she'd have to tell me. I was scared that the bullet would have shattered into pieces inside my arm. But eventually Ruby relieved our worries.
"Well, it looks to me like the bullet went clean through. There's a clear exit in your arm and there's no shrapnel in the wound."
"Oh, thank god,"
I sighed out, unable to hold it back. Clementine squeezed my shoulder gently.
"All I'll have to do is clean up the wound a little and then dress it up so it'll be less likely to get infected,"
Ruby added as she soon started cleaning the wound. She'd learned to be good at this, so it didn't take long, and after a short while the wound was cleaned and bandaged.
Ruby said and smiled a little.
"You should be good to go. Just, come back to me if you start feeling anything out of ordinary."
I promised to do so, and with that she let us leave.
On our way back out we met up with Rosie. She was again resting on the admin building's steps. She soon lifted her head as she heard us approach, and came to say hello. She wagged her happy little tail as we petted her.
Clementine said as we after a few minutes walked away from Rosie and sat on one of the couches.
"You really scared me. I.. I had a bad feeling when you and Violet walked out of the gates. I couldn't tell what it was, but it didn't feel good. I was scared that something would go wrong. And then you came back after being shot at.."
I listened quietly until she stopped talking.
"I'm sorry, Clem.."
I said and looked down.
"I never meant to scare you, I just.. It happened to fast. And, Clem.. I'm a screw-up. I think I'd be dead if it wasn't for Violet. I think she saved me when she told me to run.."
I said, sounding mostly alright, just a little bit shaken.
"Come here, Louis.."
Clementine then softly asked and I moved a little closer to her. As I did, she wrapped her arms tightly around me. I did the same to her. We sat there, side by side, and she held me until I felt better.
"You're safe. No one will hurt you ever again.. or they're going to pay for it,"
Clementine whispered in my ear. I believed her.