A/N: Hello fellow Walking Dead fans! With the premier of Season 5 finally out and things heating up, it really pushed me to get this chapter out as quickly as possible. And now that I've gotten this story back up and running again, I feel more compelled to put it together than ever before.
This chapter is actually a lot smaller than I was originally hoping, but with the changes being made to the main story plot very soon I figured that a mini-transition chapter was needed for the time being. But the impact of it should be just the same. So here we go once again.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Walking Dead.
Chapter 8: Leadership
He couldn't understand where he was, everything was pure chaos. Gunfire and explosions ripped through the air, rounds peppered the grass and kicking up dirt all around him as he rolled out of harms way and hid behind an old barrel used for water.
Beretta in hand, he fired on the ones shooting at him and the others. Managing to take down two assailants before being forced to go back into cover so he could reload. Vaguely hearing someone shouting his name, looking back toward the building he saw Carley and Clementine screaming before a burst of pain erupted on his right shoulder.
A stray bullet tearing through his arm and sending him spiraling to the ground, blood staining the grass as he attempted to drag himself back to safety. He barely got four feet when a heavy boot kicked him in the side, flipping him over so that he was facing the sky where a sinister figure glared down at him.
One eye covered with an eye-patch, the other filled with murder and madness as he aimed a revolver at his head. "You don't belong here." he said clearly over the firefight going on around them just before the gun discharged.
Jason snapped awake in a cold sweat, breath coming out in short gasps as his heart rate slowly started to return to normal.
He'd been having dreams similar to this for the last month, each one more realistic than the last to the point that it was hard to tell that they were even dreams. And every one having the same outcome toward the end.
At first he believed that he was reliving moments in the Walking Dead universe from what he remembered watching back at home. But over time it was harder to put belief in that. They almost felt like premonitions, visions of things to come in the near future if things continue a certain way.
On more than one occasion he had once wondered if he could change things for the better when the time came. But after a while it became apparent that the chances of him even encountering the group from Atlanta that would call the prison home was between slim and nill. And he couldn't focus on something like that when his own situation was too important to divert his attention.
He felt a hand on his face and turned his attention toward the naked woman he had woken up next to. "You okay? You looked like you were having a bad time." said Carley wiping the sweat from his forehead.
Taking a deep breath as the last legs of the dream faded, he nodded slowly. "I'm okay Carls, just bad dreams, that's all." he admitted while running a hand through his hair. "What time is it?" he asked seeing the sun shining through the curtains covering the windows.
"Almost noon. From what I can hear everyone else is up." she replied nuzzling her head in the crook of his neck.
"And how are you feeling after last night?" the fighter asked with a small grin, pushing his dream to the back of his mind.
Carley smiled back and blushed, "My legs are a little stiff, and I'm aching in 'other places'. But I haven't felt this good in a while." she said kissing his cheek. "You were pretty amazing, Jase."
" You were amazing, Carley." he said back holding her close. It was then something clicked in his head and he paled a little. "Oh...shit."
The reporter looked up at him, "What? What's wrong?" she asked a little alarmed at his sudden change in emotion.
Jason swallowed hard, "Uh, we had sex. Right?" she tilted her head and nodded, "And...we didn't use 'anything'." he clarified. Carley's face lighting up with realization before she began laughing.
"Jason, relax. It was a safe day for me." she said making the fighter sigh in relief.
"Thank god, I think it would be a pretty bad time for a new baby to come into the world." he looked back at her brown eyes and smiled. "Though, I think we'd make a cute kid together." he joked causing Carley's face darkened, she smacked his arm while they laughed together.
A few moments passed as they regained themselves, Jason kissed the reporter softly getting a surprised moan from her before she fell into it. The kiss beginning to get deeper as he pulled her on top of himself, arms around her waist as they started losing themselves again.
A sudden knock at the door making them jump and shoot their gazes toward it. "Y-Yes?" the reporter called toward the entrance, face flushed and panting from lack of air.
"Carley? Have you seen Jason? He wasn't in his bed this morning and I can't find him anywhere." came Clementine's voice from the other side.
"Shit!" they both cursed mentally as they got out of bed and started pulling on their discarded clothes from last night. "I'm in here with Carley, Clem." Jason replied. "Give us a couple of minutes."
The two finished and made themselves look presentable, giving one another one last kiss before unlocking the door and allowing the girl inside. "What's up, baby girl?" he asked as she came in, acting like they weren't almost caught with their pants down...literally.
"Is everything okay? You scared me when you weren't in the room." said the girl making the fighter feel guilty about making her feel that way.
Carley ruffled her hair, "Sorry about that, Clementine. We were just up all night talking and lost track of time. We both fell asleep before we knew it." she said getting a nod from Jason in thanks. He doubted it would be a good idea explaining what they had been doing to the 9-year-old.
Clementine looked between them a moment before nodding, "Oh, okay." she looked toward her guardian. "Duck told me that his parents want you to be our group's leader. That everyone voted and want you to take care of everything."
The fighter nodded, "Yeah. We talked about it last night while you guys were sleeping. It's what me and Carley here were talking about before sleeping."
"Are you going to do it?" he looked over at her to see an imploring look in her eyes.
"Maybe," Jason said with a shrug. "It's a big responsibility."
Clementine played with the hem of her new hoodie, "But, you do a good job of it already." she looked up at him, "You listen to everyone, you help people when they need it, and you do whatever it takes to protect others. You take good care of me, I know you can do the same for everyone else."
The reporter sent him a triumphant look as he let his charge's words sink in. Giving the girl a smile before ruffling her hair through her hat. "Good to know I've got such a strong cheering section. So you really think I can do this?"
His charge nodded anxiously, "Yes. And I know everyone will be there for you."
"Everyone but Lilly, apparently." he couldn't help but think after seeing her storm off the night before when they all had talked about it. "Where is everyone else?"
"Down in the parking lot having lunch, I came up here to look for you when I didn't see you earlier. Katjaa said that you deserved to sleep in, but I thought you'd be hungry so I kept looking." Clementine replied.
Jason looked over at Carley and smiled, "Well, let's not keep them waiting." Clementine nodded as the three of them left the room and headed down where everyone was gathered around the picnic table they had set up and having a small lunch. Lilly was in her spot on the RV acting as lookout as they joined them.
Kenny was the first to notice them and nodded, "Bout time you got up, rough sleep?" he asked with a knowing grin as he glanced briefly at the reporter. Katjaa giggled into her hand and Mark coughed to cover his own amusement. Ben blushed and looked anywhere but the couple as Clementine sat down across from him beside Duck.
"You can say that." the fighter replied with light tint of red on his face, Carley was hiding her own blush and trying to fix her messy hair while they each took a spot next to Clementine, grabbing a couple of energy bars from the table and starting to eat.
"Did you think about what we talked about last night?" asked Mark from his spot by Katjaa.
Looking toward Clementine who gave him a thumbs up and a smile of encouragement, Carley patting his shoulder as he turned to the group before standing. "I have." Everyone stopped what they were doing and gave him their full attention.
"You gotta understand my hesitance with an immediate answer. With everything going on around us rash decisions aren't good, and after what happened the other day...I really needed to think on it before deciding."
Squaring his shoulder, he looked at each person around him. People that would be counting on him and depending on his strength to carry them through this hell and hopefully to a good sanctuary.
The only people that he had come to rely on in these past few months, ones who had slowly started becoming like a family to him.
"I still think I might not be the right person to do this...but if you all think I have the capability," he smirked, "Then I'll do my goddamn best to be sure that we make it through this bullshit." The whole group let out a collective breath and grinned widely.
Kenny coming up and patting him on the shoulder, "You're gonna do fine, friend. There ain't no one better I'd have getting us out of hell then you." Katjaa nodded, reaching across the table and squeezing his hand in reassurance.
"So what do we do?" asked Mark as they finished up.
Jason paused, eyes locked on the table as he began going through what he knew and what they had. "We need to catalog our supplies, figure out if we have everything we need for the time being. Then we need to plot our next course."
"Next course?" asked Ben confused.
"We can't stay here much longer." said the fighter as he looked around their current 'home'. "It's far too exposed, and when those bandits out in the woods find out that the farm is no longer inhabited they'll come looking for another place to get what they want...and sadly, I think we're probably the only ones still alive in or around Macon."
Kenny snorted, "I'm still pretty sure that we can handle these punks." he winced and held his side when his wound flared up.
"And there would be the answer to that." said Jason shaking his head, "We're in no shape to handle a fight with these guys. Desperate people are by far the most dangerous kind. We don't have enough weapons and ammo to handle them and the walkers should they come knocking, and it's only a matter of time before they do."
"So what is the plan?" asked Carley now curious.
The fighter looked over at the RV, "As soon as the RV is fully repaired, we head toward Savannah." he turned his attention to Kenny. "You said a while back you're a commercial fisherman? We'll locate a boat that's still operational that can take all of us and head out into the water, travel along the coast and avoid land altogether along with the walkers."
Everyone looked to one another before going back to Jason. "It sounds good to me." said Kenny. "But then what? Can't stay off land forever."
"We'll go farther North and find a place away from the cities, establish our own sanctuary." he explained. "We have no way of knowing how long this will last, right now it's all a matter of survival. And staying in one place too long when we don't have the proper defenses is a mistake, so for right now movement equals survival."
Clementine pulled on his sleeve getting his attention, "If we're going to Savannah, we can find my parents. Right?" she asked with hope in her eyes.
Jason nodded and smiled, "We'll look for them, Clem. I promise. But right now we need to make sure we're ready for the trip. Which brings us to the next thing I want to talk about." he looked toward Kenny and Katjaa, "I want to start teaching the kids a little self-defense. With recent events, I think it would be best for them to know how to handle themselves if something happens again."
"Does that mean we're gonna learn to fight? Cool!" exclaimed Duck in excitement.
"You think that's a good idea?" asked Mark a little unsure.
"It is when we know that these two know who to hold their own if we get separated." the fighter said getting a nod from Katjaa.
"If it ensures that Duck is safe, then I am all for it."
Kenny agreed as well, "Same here," he said looking at his son, "Be sure to pay attention to everything Jason shows you, son. This is important." Duck bounced in his seat ready to get started while Clementine smiled at her guardian
With that bit out of the way, Jason looked over at Ben who's back straightened. "Ben, since you've technically been inducted into this group, you'll be expected to pull your own weight. That includes helping out around here and learning how to deal with walkers. You'll be joining Clem and Duck in what I have to teach, is that understood?"
The teen nodded hesitantly, jumping when Kenny slapped him on the back. "Well, better get to it then." said the fisherman as he stood up and looked toward the fighter. "Ready when you are, boss."
Jason stood as well as they moved about the inn and got to work. From her position, Lilly shook her head disdainfully as she went back to her sentry duty.
"They're making a mistake..." she muttered under her breath as she continued to watch the tree line.
A/N: And another one for the masses. Short or not, you can tell a lot of things are coming their way and they need to be prepared for it. And with Jason's knowledge, coupled with being voted leader, they just might stand a chance...
...but when has it ever been easy in this world, whether it be show, game or graphic novel? Review me and let me know what you think, and I'll get back to you ASAP!