"You've gotta be fucking kidding me."
Ryan swung the blade across the priest's throat, leaving the undead flesh to crumble away as the thing scrambled for him as Felix protected Clem, backing her away to safety, but the groans and the scent arose the rest of the choir, and as Cry stabbed the knife through the robed zombie's head, he turned and ran, tugging open the door and hurrying the others out, cursing whatever God was up there for this dumb luck. Felix was stumbling, and Clementine cried out for Ryan as he collapsed on the steps, and without a second to lose as more and more of the creatures began to stagger out from the streets at the commotion Ryan grabbed him, swinging him up into his arms and hurrying as fast as he could down into the street.
"Clementine, run on, find a house!" he demanded, and on hearing it she nodded and sprinted ahead, searching the streets, glancing to each house in desperation, but none of them seeming safe enough - doors and windows beaten out, rubble scattering prized front lawns... The rain splattered into her eyes and she shivered with the cold, and hurried on.
Meanwhile Ryan stumbled on, gun slung over his shoulder and Felix semi-conscious in his arms, the colour draining from his face, and the closer he looked at his partner the more he realised. One. Two. Three. Four. Fuck. And those were just the visible ones.
His anguish gave him a new strength, and he charged ahead, clinging to whatever was left of Pewds, until finally Clem beckoned to him, calling him into their house, and he charged over, heading in and setting Felix down on the sofa as Clem slammed the door, shoving chairs and tables in front of it.
Felix groaned as he came to, pulling himself up but Ryan was right at his side, ready to push him back down if he had to.
"How many," he breathed, his question coming out as more a desperate plea.
Felix put his head on one side, his eyes lulling over as well.
"Bites, Pewds. How many times did they fucking bite you."
He dropped back to the sofa, covering his eyes with his hands. Clementine wandered over, fearful and confused. On his right arm, a bite. Left shoulder. Collarbone. Abdomen. A couple on his legs.
Ryan fell back into an armchair. Thinking nothing. Not breathing. Not moving.
"M-maybe it's nothing," Cry stammered. "Maybe it will do nothing. Like being bitten by a dog."
"If that dog's rabid," Felix sighed quietly.
"Don't say that," Ryan grumbled, sitting back up, resting his head in his hands. "We are all going to be fine. Nobody is dying here. Not today. Not ever."
The blonde man almost laughed, his voice broken and raw as he murmured, "Look at me Cry. Tell me I'm going to make it."
Ryan just looked over, and his eyes welled with tears. Once bright blue, the man's soul was almost colourless. His face slightly sunken, and greying with pale.
"Felix?" Clementine whispered. "What's going on?"
"Nothing, honey," he answered softly, and pulled himself round, standing on weak legs. His hazy vision allowed him to glance around, but the only thing that made sense was the radiator. Yes, he could do this. He had to. He slumped over as best he could, and then slid down against the wall, pulling the handcuffs off his belt. He'd taken them from a dead police officer. He hadn't intended on using them this way. But then again, no one intends to drift away.
He chained himself to the radiator, and held the key firmly in his hand, taking a deep breath as he shut his eyes, and breathing, "I'll be fine."
Cry followed him over, knealt at his side, as the realisation punched him in the gut. "You- you can't just die, Pewds. W-we can get through this!"
All he did was wheeze, and attempt a smile, but it just faded away.
Clem stepped over, standing behind Cry as she murmured, "Wh-what's happening to him?"
Cry just stayed dead still. His heart stopped in his chest. And then he whispered, "Clementine... I need you to go now."
There was a cold seriousness in his voice, not the anger of before, but a total surrender.
"Th-this isn't like in the hospital? H-he's not going to wake up as soon as I turn away?"
"Not this time, darling."
And just like that, she felt it too. The hope drained from her young eyes, as she stepped back, and back again, and then turned. But she looked back. "Ryan? What do I do now?"
He didn't turn, just said, "You get out of here, alright? Find somewhere safe. You'll be safe. Just keep moving."
"A-and if I get attacked?"
Cry looked back at her, eyes red with tears, as he told her, "You shoot them." And he pointed his trembling fingers to his own temple. "Right here."
"B-but Ry... I... What are you going to do?"
"I'm staying with him."
"For how long?"
"A while, Clem. A while."
He slung the gun off of his shoulder, untangled the strings, and took off the blade, standing and walking slowly over to her, and placing the knife into her tiny hands, holding it there as he looked down at her. Then he leaned closer, and kissed her forehead lightly.
She looked up at him, and tried to smile, but only more tears came.
"I'll miss you."
He had to look away, before dropping to his knees and wrapping his arms around her, burying his head in her shoulder, whispering that he'd miss her too.
And then, slowly, Clementine turned, moved the barricades from the door, pulled it open, and walked out into the rain.
Ryan returned to Felix's side, sat down, and stared at the gun. One bullet left. And he knew exactly what to do. He picked it up gingerly, the base on the ground, and turning the black eye to face him, staring down the barrel, before he leaned his forehead, feeling the ring of cold metal against his skin and glancing over at Felix, whispering, "I'm sorry, Pewds."
The shot rang out through the streets, and Clementine stopped in her tracks, breathing hitching with the agony in her heart. She understood. So young. And she understood it all too well. It was just the circumstances. Nothing would change that. If only they could go back. If only things were different. But what was the point in wishing when life was hard enough?
She turned back, gazing down the road at the lonesome house, taking off her cap and holding it in her shaking hands as she watched the rain patter over the tarmac. She shut her eyes, dropped her head, willing for them to both just be at her sides again, protecting her, and living for themselves.
She clutched her knife, and turned back.
Just when she heard footsteps mingled with the splatters, rushing up to her, but she didn't know if she even cared until she felt his hand on her shoulder.
She looked up at the dark-haired American, his eyes dead but his body alive, mind scarred but not a bullet in his head.
And in his clenched fist, a key, warm in his palm, and all he had left walking beside him.