Silence. Nothing, but silence in the truck. It’s been at least a half hour since the last conversation. Clementine managed to calm herself down from crying and fell asleep in her seat. Luke didn’t know how she did, it must be uncomfortable to sleep with her hands behind her back. She had shifted from facing away from Luke to facing front.
The farm boy had a few things on his mind.
One: How long would it take them to get through Idaho? Luke knew what Idaho looked like, the top was narrow while the bottom was wide. When they stopped at the rest stop last night, Luke looked at a bulletin board with a map of where they are. Highway 90 would lead them from Montana through the narrow part of Idaho and to Washington, which is why Luke was on that highway. But how long would they be in Idaho? Luke assumed no longer than a day, but with Clem’s condition, it was debatable.
Two: If they do make it through Idaho and into Washington in a day, what would they do in Washington? Where would they go? Should they drive to the shore, find a house, find people? They basically had endless options, and absolutely no plan. What if Clem was right? What if there was nothing there?
And three: What’s wrong with Clementine? Why did she try to kill herself? She’s so young and smart. She had no reason to commit suicide. If she had a reason, then Luke couldn’t see it. It was just so unlike her to do this out of the blue. He knew Clementine better than anyone, and he knew she wouldn’t tell him until she built up the courage to say it. That’s how it worked with her nightmares.
Normal nightmares for her would usually be about her past, like her parents, Lee, or something like that. Or they would be about monsters, giant bugs, or other strange things chasing after her. Standard nightmares for children. Clem would always talk to him about those bad dreams. But if it was Carver, she’d just shed a few tears and wouldn’t say anything. The reason being that Carver threatened her. Clementine built up her courage and told Luke, then the bad guy kept his promise.
If the courage thing worked for her nightmares, then it would work for the reason she wants to kill herself.
Luke looked to the sleeping child, seeing her nose twitch in her sleep. Poor kid. She had to go through hell at this age. He had no idea what he was going to do with a suicidal child.
Clementine winced at the rope being tightened around her wrists behind her. She pulled against them, only earning her a smack to the back of her head.
“What did I tell you about fighting against me?” A gruff voice spoke.
Clem sighed as she tilted her head down, waiting for Carver to finish tying her up. Once he was done, his hands slid to her sides, rubbing them.
Clementine jerked away from his touch before he harshly pulled her back and smacked her head again.
"You know, it's really hard to believe that you're so young in the world you live in." Carver said as one hand rubbed her side again while the other held her throat so she wouldn't try to get away.
"Wh-what do you want?" She spoke, despite the hand threatening to choke her.
“I just want to talk.” he said.
“Can you do that without touching me?” she asked, resisting the urge to call him a fucking creep. She figured that she’d get smacked again if she said that to him.
“All you had to do was ask, honey.” he said, removing the hand from her side and releasing his grip around her throat.
“Why do you call me that?” she asked as she turned to him.
“You can figure it out.” he responded.
“Or you could stop being a fucking asshole and tell me!” Clementine told him.
Carver smirked, letting out a slight chuckle. “Someone’s being sassy today.” he said, stroking her cheek with his thumb.
Clementine immediately pulled her head away from his hand. “Will you stop touching me?”
“What’s the matter, Clementine? You don’t like it?”
“I hate it! I hate you and all of you sick fucks!”
"Is that so? I thought since you let Luke touch you all the time, I figured that I could.”
“Leave Luke out of this! He doesn’t rub my sides or touch my face like a sick, perverted fuck!”
“Is that what he calls me?”
Clementine held her head up, looking at him in the eye. She wasn’t in the mood to be messed with, especially after her fight with Luke. It felt good that she was taking a stand. If she kept it up, maybe he’d finally leave her alone.
“It’s true, and you know it.” she said.
There was a moment of silence before Carver punched the little girl in the stomach, forcing her to hunch over and bring her to her knees. Carver knelt down in front of her, patting her cheek.
“Look at me.” he said.
Clementine took a second to recover from the hit then looked up at him, only to spit in his face. Carver wiped her saliva off his face before backhanding her’s, knocking Clementine off her balance and landing herself on the floor.
“You’re not in the best position to be acting like this, Clementine.” he said, grabbing her ankles and bringing them together. “It’s cute that you’re trying to fight against me.”
Clem felt rope being tied around her ankles.
"Do you really have to tie me up?" She said.
"I don't want you to get away." Carver responded.
"Where would I actually go? This place is empty." Clementine told him.
"I like seeing you struggle." He said before flipping Clementine over onto her stomach. The little girl felt him attach another rope to the bounds on her ankles and pull them to her wrists.
"No." She whined. He was hogtieing her. "No, no, ple-AH!" Clementine yelled in pain at her arms forcefully being pulled to her ankles.
"Shut up!" He said tying off the knot. "You know the deal. If you get out of this, I'll leave you alone."
"Fuck you!" Clem spat. "I'm not struggling for your amusement."
Carver rubbed her head before sliding his hand under her hat, knocking the cap off her head and threading his fingers through her hair then he harshly pulled, causing her to shout out in pain.
Clementine could have sworn he'd pull out her hair. Another reminder to cut it.
"You really think if you rebel against me, I'll leave you alone?" He asked.
"I don't know. Sit me up right, and I'll be more than happy to spit in your face again." She responded.
Carver yanked on the hold of her hair. "Look at yourself right now. Tied up, defenseless, free for anyone to do what they want to you. If anything, I'm showing you mercy."
"Mercy?" Clem scoffed. "Yeah right."
"I'm giving you a chance. Anyone else, and they would probably beat the shit out of you or kill you." He said.
"I'm still not struggling for you, and you can't make me."
Carver tightened his grip on her hair before he shoved her head to the floor, turning it so Clem was forced to look at him. He leaned in closer to her face.
"Listen to me, you little bitch. You are mine, and there is nothing you can do to get rid of me. You can try your hardest to fight against me, but it won’t matter. I’ll still be here, ready to torture you in any way possible.” Carver picked up Clementine’s hat and dangled it in front of her face. “Mind if I take this?” he said, releasing his grip on her hair before standing up and walking away.
“No! Give it back!” she yelled as she tried to get up, only to remind herself that she was hogtied. "Hey! Give it back! Please!" Clementine started to feel her body squirm, fighting against the bounds.
Carver turned to the squirming child. "You want this?" He asked sarcastically, pleased that he hit a nerve. The older man knelt down to the floor, a good distance away from her, holding the hat out to her. "Come and get it."
Clementine started struggling, doing her best to try and get closer to the man taunting her with her hat. Other than rolling from side to side, she barely moved.
"Come on, honey. You can do it." He taunted.
"I can't." She whined as she struggled. "I can't."
"What's the matter, honey? Not rebeling anymore?"
"Untie me, please..."
He chuckled. "You're pretty cute when you struggle."
"Please, just leave me alone."
Carver stood up again. "Alright, if that's what you want..." He said before walking away, her hat in his hand.
"What? No. No! NO!" She yelled as she fought harder against her bounds. "Give it back you son of a bitch!"
The little girl continued to struggle desperately to get her hat back, but she knew that was impossible for her.
Clementine woke up breathing heavily from the nightmare. She looked in the side mirror of the truck, making sure her hat was on her head. Thankfully for her sanity, it was, safe and sound. The little girl calmed down and closed her eyes as she leaned back in her seat. She couldn't necessarily get comfortable because her arms were pinned behind her.
"Hey, you okay?" Luke asked her.
He ties her up, then asks her if she's okay? Nightmare or not, she was still pissed at him.
Clementine glared at him before turning her head to the window.
"You don't want to talk? I get it, I'd be pretty pissed too, if my best friend tied me up." Luke said. "How's the head?"
The pulsing has died down, but a little remained in a certain spot. Clementine figured that's where she hit her head.
"You're going to have to talk to me at some point, Clem." Luke said after no response.
He expected nothing less from the little girl. Well, he hoped for her to say at least something instead of a silent treatment. They had to discuss it at some point.
Luke was still racking his brain for a reason on Clem wanting to commit suicide. While doing this he noticed the gas gauge and how they needed to stop to get some gas soon. He pulled of the highway and into a town, eventually he drove into the suburbs and parked in front of a house.
He figured that he and Clem could settle things before getting back on the road. Luke got out and grabbed their supplies from the back, slinging it over his shoulder before opening the passenger door. Clementine said nothing as Luke picked her up and shut the truck door before carrying her inside.
The house looked safe inside. It didn’t look like anyone was here, so Luke set the little girl down on a couch as he sat down next to her, the supplies on the floor next to him. Luke pulled out his pocket knife and cut one of the zip ties on her wrist and brought her two arms in front of her. Holding her wrists together with one hand, Luke grabbed another zip tie from the bag.
“Just so you know, I hate doing this.” he said to her as Luke threaded the plastic through the zip tie on her wrist and fastened it to her other hand, tight enough to keep her hand from sliding out, he didn’t want to hurt her.
Once she was tied, Luke went to look around the house, telling Clementine to scream or shout if she was in trouble.
After he cleared the house he went back to Clementine. Luke sat down next to the girl, reaching for her hat. Clem jerked her head away. After that nightmare with Carver, she just wanted to sew the hat to her head to make sure she didn’t lose it.
“I’m just going to take your hat off so I can check your stitches, then I’ll put it right back on, okay?” he said.
Clementine didn’t answer, her mind went back to the dream and what he did to her. She didn’t even notice Luke taking off her hat until she saw her hat in his hand. He set her hat next to her before taking off the bandages around her head. He looked at the stitches.
“I’ll take the stitches out in about four days.” Luke said before grabbing new bandages and wrapping them around her head before putting her hat back on. The farm boy knelt down in front of her when he was done. “Clem, I hope you know that you betrayed my trust.” he informed her before he stood up and walked away.
Clementine opened her mouth to say something, but she shut it. What has she done? It wasn’t supposed to end up like this. She should be dead and Luke should be on his way to Washington. Clementine still wanted to die, but she didn’t know how long Luke intended to keep her tied up. As long as she wanted death, Luke most likely wouldn’t untie her.
She’s thinking of him like he’s the bad guy, when he wasn’t. Luke cared about her. Wait, no he didn’t. He said it himself, he didn’t love her. If only he understood what she was going through, if only he was in her position.
It’s been ten minutes since Luke left Clementine on the couch. When he saw her again, she was asleep. Her nightmares are getting worse, he could tell. She's always exhausted after she has one.
Luke grabbed his pocket knife and quietly cut the bounds on her ankles and wrists, being careful not to wake her. He couldn't do this, keep her tied up like an animal. It wasn't right.
They can talk about it like normal people, right? What's normal anymore? The dead is walking around and it seemed like most of humanity has gone down hill.
What kind of person hurts a defenseless, little girl? What are they trying to do, win a trophy for being the first to scar a child? Clementine was scarred before he met her. Poor kid.
After pocketing the knife, Luke looked at the child, debating if untying her was a good thing or not. As long as she didn't try to kill herself, he'd be fine.
Sighing, he sat down next to her and thought about when she started to act weird. It was after they were ambushed by the bandits and she was almost raped. She didn't act like that before it happened. Although she did a little bit after the David thing.
Wait. Could this all be about rape? No, it couldn't be. Luke was the only one to actually rape her, in a gun-to-the-head-forced-sex kind of way. But it started after Mark almost did. And she was almost raped... Numerous of times. And her nightmares aren't helping.
Damn it, this is about rape, she just doesn't want to get hurt like that again. And most of the times that it happens he gets a beating. In a way, she was thinking of his safety.
Luke knew what he had to do, and this plan made him smile because it wasn't a bad plan.
Clementine felt like she was walking forever in the green grass field with little daisies poking out everywhere. The white-cloudy sky was blue, the sun was shining. It was peaceful, a dream she hasn’t been in for a while.
The little girl grew tired of walking, so she sat down in the grass and pulled out a daisy, picking off it’s tiny petals one by one. Unlike the other girls who did the love-me-love-me-not thing, Clementine would just walk around and make a path then try to follow it back like Hansel and Gretel did with bread crumbs. She always liked the idea of being in a maze and trying to find a way out, now it was practically her worst nightmare.
She smiled at her short childhood. What she would give to just go back. Clementine sighed at the fact that she couldn’t, she just continued to pick off the white petals and drop them into the grass. At least the dream was nice, she wanted to spend the rest of her life here.
Once the daisy had it’s petals picked off, she tossed it to the side before picking up another one and started to pick off it’s petals. She wished Luke didn’t stop her in the forest, but at the same time she's glad he did. Was suicide a bad idea? Luke doesn’t trust her now, and trust is a hard thing to build back. Why did she care? He didn’t care about her.
She just wanted it to end. She wanted the pain to end. The pain now and the pain in the future. Clementine wanted to see her family, her friends, and mostly-
“Hey, sweet pea.”
Clementine turned her head to look behind her. “Lee!”
The little girl sprang to her feet and ran to him, hugging Lee as tight as she could.. The last time she saw him via dream was months ago, around the end of spring.
After the hug ended, Lee bent down to her height. “How are you doing, Clem?”
“I-I don’t know.” the little girl looked down at the small daisy in her hand, twirling it with her fingers.
“Do you feel like going for a walk?” he asked.
Clementine nodded before the two started walking in the infinite field side by side.
After a while of silence, Clementine spoke. "I'm scared, Lee."
"What are you afraid of?"
"Getting- getting raped."
"Oh, sweet pea." Lee soothed. "You're too young to be worrying about this kind of stuff."
"I'm still scared, though. It's how all guys see me. A weak, little girl with only one purpose for them."
"What about Luke?"
"What- what about him?"
"He doesn't see you like that."
"He hates me, though. He said it." She said. "We got into a fight."
"What was it about?" Lee asked.
"Me after I almost... Killed myself."
The older man stayed silent, letting the child know she can continue.
"Luke tied me up in case I tried to kill myself again. I got mad at him and we started to argue, and he said he didn't love me."
"Oh, sweet pea..." Lee sighed wrapping his arm around the little girl and pulled her to him. Clementine wrapped her arms around his waist. She missed him like crazy and she never wanted him to leave.
The flowers started to fade as the grass turned long and yellow. The two walked to a fallen tree next to a standing one and they both took a seat on the wood.
Clementine rested her head on Lee's shoulder while she thought over her situation.
“Why did you try to kill yourself?” Lee asked her
“I didn’t want to get raped again. I hated it. I felt weak and useless and I never wanted to feel like that again, so I grabbed a gun and walked into the woods.” Clementine explained.
"I'm sorry you have to go through all of this at your age. You shouldn't have to worry about things like this." he said.
She knew he was right, she shouldn't have to worry about this. "I miss you, and my mom, and my dad. I just want to go home."
"I know you do, sweet pea, but you can't. You're strong, Clem. You can do anything. You know that." Lee said. “And what about Luke? I’m sure he won’t take it very well.”
“He’ll be safer, he won’t get the shit beaten out of him every time someone wants to hurt me.” Clementine responded.
“Swear.” Lee mimicked.
The two shared a small chuckle.
“Still, he’d be better off without me.” Clementine said.
“No, he wouldn’t. He doesn’t hate you either.” Lee informed her. “I’ve watched you two bond, he cares about you more than his own life.”
“Just like you did with me. I just don’t want Luke to die because of me.” Clem responded. “I’m so sorry, Lee. I wish I never talked to him.”
“What happened, happened, Clementine. You can’t change it. All you can do is learn from it.”
“I don’t want a lesson, Lee. I want you to be with me.”
“I want that, too, sweet pea. But we both know that can’t happen.”
Clementine stayed silent for a while before she spoke again. “I wish you could visit me more often.”
“Why can’t you?”
“It’s complicated, but I’ll always be keeping an eye on you. And Clem,” Lee said. “Look for the capital.”
“Capital? What’s a capital.” Clementine asked.
“You’ll figure it out, sweet pea. You’re smart.” he said to her.
“Wait, you’re leaving?” she concluded.
“You’re waking up.”
Clementine wrapped her arms around him. She didn’t want to say goodbye. Lee returned the hug, he didn’t like saying goodbye to her either. So the two held each other for the last few moments of Clementine’s dreamscape.
The golden eyes of the little girl opened slowly, waking up from her nap. She must have been out for about an hour or two.
Clementine looked to her wrists, waiting to be greeted by zip ties, but they weren’t there. She pulled her arms apart, before she used them to help her sit up so she could look at her ankles. They were free as well.
She smiled slightly at her freedom, then it faded wondering why Luke would untie her. Then again, where is he?
“Luke?” she called.
The little girl got up from the couch and walked around the house they were in.
Quick footsteps came up from behind her. Before she could turn around, an arm snaked around her body and lifted her up off the ground, while a hand clamped over her mouth.
Clementine squirmed in the hold, trying to free herself from her captor who started to walk towards the stairs before making his way up.
The little girl bit the captor's hand so she could yell as the arm of the bitten hand wrapped around her body, tightening the hold on her.
"LUKE!" She screamed.
The guy finally brought her upstairs and carried her to a bedroom.
All Clementine could think of was where Luke could be. What if he was dead? Dead because this guy wanted to hurt her.
"Let me go! Help!" She yelled once she saw the bed.
No. This isn't happening. She didn't want to get raped again. God, where the hell was Luke?
The guy softly threw her down on her back onto the bed, pinning her hands down by her head. Clementine kept her eyes closed, waiting for the worst, but nothing happened. The guy just kept her pinned down to the bed.
After she calmed herself down, Clementine opened her eyes to meet the warm, brown eyes of her captor. The reason why Luke didn't come for her was because Luke was the one who grabbed her.
"What the hell, Luke?" She yelled at him. "You scared the shit out of me!"
"I guess we're even then, since you ran off into the woods and scared the shit out of me." Luke responded. "Clem, I figured out why you want to kill yourself."
"Can you let me up first?" She asked.
"You have to get out of it yourself."
"And how do I do that?"
"Clem, you don't know how to defend yourself. And if you can't defend yourself, you're going to get raped." Luke said bluntly. "Imagine if someone else was in my position right now... Imagine if it was Carver, instead of me. What do you think he'd do to you?" Luke paused before he started moving her hands above her head. "I know exactly what he'd do to you. He'd pin you down and get a good look at how helpless you are."
"Stop." Clementine spoke.
"He'd move your hands above your head, like so, and hold your wrists with one hand." Luke narrated his actions.
"Stop it!" Clem yelled at him.
"He'd have one free hand to do whatever he wanted to you. And the first thing he'd do is reach for the button on your jeans, if he didn't decide to do other things to you first." Luke held Clem's head while he stroke her cheek with his free hand. "I don't mean to scare you, kid. But it's true, and I don't want to see you get hurt."
He was right. She was completely vulnerable to any guy that wanted to hurt her. If Luke was able to grab her so easily and pin her down on a bed, she could only imagine what would happen if it wasn't the farm boy.
"Do you want to get raped?" Luke asked her.
"No." Clem responded.
"All right then." Luke said as he got off of the little girl.
Clementine sat up and looked at the farm boy who made his way out of the room and down the hall. The child followed him to another room. The room she followed him to, had some wrestling mats, a punching bag, and a lot of trophies on shelves.
"Your training begins now." Luke breathed.
Four days later………………….
"Come on, kid. You can do better than that." Luke said dodging Clementine's punch.
The little girl huffed before taking a few breaths and attempted to punch the farm boy again. Luke caught her fist and twisted her arm behind her.
Clem grunted in pain, trying not to fight as much, knowing she could break her arm.
With one hand holding her twisted arm, Luke's other hand held her opposite shoulder. "You're getting vulnerable, kid."
"Kind of hard to escape this without breaking my arm, asshole." Clementine grunted.
Luke chuckled at her response before walking the little girl out of the training room and down the hall towards the bedroom. Clem didn't put up a fight, and Luke was surprised since she usually puts up a hell of one.
Once in the bedroom, Luke pushed her down onto the bed, untwisting her arm before turning her over.
Clementine brought her legs to her chest and pushed them against Luke's chest as he tried to pin her down so she could get up. He wasn't ready for the sudden push she gave him, and he especially wasn't ready when she tried to punch him.
The farm boy managed to grab the child and pin her against the wall with her arms held above her head only to receive a knee to his crotch.
He instantly let her go and backed up to the bed, holding the spot where Clementine kneed.
"Shit." Clementine muttered before walking towards him. "Sorry."
“It’s fine, Clem.” Luke said in pain as he took a seat on the bed. “You’re- you’re getting better.”
“I didn’t mean to.” she said taking a seat next to him.
“I know you didn’t, but it was instinct. That’s good… Ah.” he told her.
For the past few days, Luke has been teaching Clementine how to defend herself. The guy who used to live here was a boxer, given the training room and all of the trophies on the shelf in the room.
Each day the little girl has grown stronger and stronger, almost ready to go back out there into the world and take it by storm.
The training had a few rules. If Luke managed to pin Clementine down on the bed, holding her arms above her head with one hand, she loses and she has to do thirty push-ups and thirty sit-ups. Clementine didn’t think much of the punishment until Luke pinned her down on the bed for the first time in training, then she remembered that she hated the push-ups and sit-ups she did in gym. He pinned her down to the bed five times.
The other rule was the one Clementine just broke. No crotch kicking, or kneeing for Luke’s sake.
The two sat in silence while Luke recovered. Clementine was thinking about how weak she was only a few days ago, now she could defend herself against any creep. She was glad she could. The thoughts of suicide have left her head, mostly because she was too busy trying to kick Luke’s ass. But still, it felt good knowing she could take care of herself when she’s one-on-one with someone trying to hurt her.
“Thanks, Luke.” she said sheepishly.
The farm boy turned to the child with a slight smile on his face. He was glad she wasn’t trying to kill herself anymore. Now that she can defend herself more, he was just waiting for a show of her kicking the ass of every asshole ahead of them. He was hoping that there wasn’t any more sick people they had to deal with, but if there were, those fucks were in for a hell of a surprise. She’s pretty much back as that sassy, little shit he first met in the woods.
“You’re welcome, kid.” he responded. Luke and the child have been on rocky terms ever since their fight in the truck after Clementine woke up with her arms and legs bound. And after four days, he needed to get it off his chest. “Hey, Clem. About what I said to you in the truck. I didn’t mean it.”
"I'm over it. It's okay." She responded.
"I love ya to bits, you know."
Luke turned her head closer to him. After a while of silence he spoke. "So, what do you say I take those stitches out?” he asked. “Then we could search the houses in the neighborhood and stay here one more night before leaving."
“Really?” she asked. Clementine was surprised at what he suggested. Did this mean he was starting to trust her again?
“You deserve it, kid.” he responded.
A smile forced its way onto her face before disappearing quickly. “Yeah, it’s not like we have anything else better to do.”
Luke chuckled as he playfully punched Clementine's arm before standing up. At least this relationship was getting back to normal.
Clementine stood up and ran up to him just so she could punch his arm and follow him downstairs.
It's been a long day. The two survivors searched through all of the houses in the neighborhood, only to kill more walkers than finding anything useful. They did manage to scrounge up a few cans of food and a couple of granola bars, but that was it.
It was late, and Luke had too much on his mind to fall asleep. They're almost there, just a few more hours of driving and that's it. They would have made it to Washington. Luke still had no idea on what they'd do there. Currently he was thinking on driving to the shore, find a building of some sort on the beach, fish for food, build a fire, get water easily. The shore seemed like it'd be pretty deserted of lurkers, and hopefully there would be no evil people wanting to hurt Clementine.
She was on his mind too. She's always on his mind. He was always worried about her and not worried at the same time. She was tough, but she was a child. Luke sometimes forgets that, until he sees her terrified or sad.
The farm boy rolled over expecting the little girl to be asleep, but she wasn't. Instead, he saw the outline of her body created by the moonlight as she was sitting on the edge of the bed looking out the window into the house next door.
"Clem?" He sat up, watching her head tilt down so she was looking at her hands before he moved to sit next her.
"I wanted it." Clementine said after a silence.
"Wanted what?" Luke asked.
Clementine looked out the window again, causing Luke to do so as well.
"The baby... I wanted it."
From looking through the neighboring house's window, Luke saw a nursery. He looked through that room earlier today while searching for supplies.
"If you wanted it, why didn't you say that you did? You didn't have to take the pill."
"I knew that we couldn't take care of it. You know, if it lived. And I was afraid that you wouldn't be able to take care of it alone if I-" her head tilted down as she closed her eyes. "I was scared when you told me that I could be pregnant, but after a while, I thought it would be kind of fun to raise a kid like we had our own little family. Then I'd remind myself of the lies we'd have to make up when we ran into nice people so it didn't look like you were some sick psychopath who raped me for the hell of it. Yeah, I kind of figured out how babies work."
"Does that mean I have to give you the talk?" Luke asked.
"No, Abigail told me basically everything."
"And thank god for that." Luke said. "Clem, I would have supported you if you wanted the baby."
"You are the smartest, and most bad-ass, sassy, adorable, little girl I know, and I would follow you to the end of the earth."
"Actually, you're dragging me with you."
"Same thing, kid."
"I just really hope that after everything we've been through, it will be worth it."
"I have a feeling it will." Luke moved closer to Clementine, wrapping his arm around her before he kissed her temple. "Now let's try and get some sleep."
What he said just tugged on her heartstrings. It was just like the dream she had with Lee after Arvo shot her. Clementine felt her eyes water, but she held back her tears as she steadied her voice.
"Okay, Luke..." She had to remind herself a million times to say his name instead of Lee's.
With that said the two laid down to sleep ready for whatever was waiting for them in the morning.
“Alright, if we ration our supplies right, we should last for about two months, maybe three.”
“That’s one can a week, Luke.”
“Hey, it could be worse.” he said. “So I’ve been thinking about driving to the shore once we get to Washington.”
“Like a beach?” Clementine asked.
“It’s just a thought, and we could take long walks on the beach together.” Luke joked.
“Oh, and then we’ll get married.” she responded, sarcastically. “But the beach doesn’t sound that bad actually.”
"See? And I'm hoping it'll be nice and peaceful there for us to relax for a little bit."
"That does sound nice."
"We deserve it."
"Hell yeah, we do."
Luke chuckled slightly at the response, glad that Clementine was getting back to her old self. He zipped up the supply bag before walking towards the kitchen door, the little girl as his shadow.
The second he entered the living room, Luke was struck in the back of the head.
The little girl rushed to his side as he fell to the floor. Clementine looked up at the attacker who was quickly looking through their bag of supplies, realizing that she was here. He had a wooden baseball bat in his hand, and Clementine ran up to him, grabbing the baseball bat from his hand before trying to hit him with it.
The guy immediately back-handed her cheek, taking his bat back just so he could collide the weapon with her stomach. Clementine was on her knees, one arm holding her stomach, the other holding herself up.
She heard the bat get tossed to the side before the guy grabbed the back of her shirt and pulled her up so her back was up against him. He put his arm in between her back and arms, rendering them useless. With his other hand, he used it to hold her chin.
“You’re pretty small, aren’t ya?” he said, causing the little girl to jerk her head out of his hand and squirm in his hold for a second, realizing she wasn’t going to escape that way. “Feisty, too.”
Clementine looked over at Luke, who was still unconscious. She was alone in this. This is where her four days of training pays off. She had to remember what Luke said.
“He won’t be waking up for a while, it’s just you and me.” the guy said to her.
This scared her. She knew what this would lead to, and she didn’t want that.
‘Calm down, Clementine. You’ll be fine. Damn it, what did Luke say? Right, step one: Let him know you won't go down without a fight, but don't get physical.'
"I will rip your head off if he's dead because of you." Clementine hissed through her teeth.
"Your friend will just be taking a little nap while I deal with you." The guy said to her.
'Step two: Let him think he has the advantage. Fight a little bit, but not to much otherwise he won't let his guard down as much.'
"What do you plan on doing to me?" Clementine asked.
"Don't worry, you'll enjoy it." He responded, causing the little girl to struggle in his hold.
"You're- you're sick. "I- I'm eleven." she said, trying to sound terrified.
“There are no other ladies around, so you're the lucky candidate.” he said before shoving her to the couch.
‘Now listen carefully, Clem. This is the most important step.’ Luke’s voice echoed in her head. ‘If you’re not careful, then I’ll probably never forgive myself for not teaching you well enough. You understand, don’t you?’
Clementine muttered a yes to herself before turning to a sitting position towards the crook.
“Strip for me, kid.” he said.
“What?” she asked.
‘If he is physically trying to do anything to you, you can skip to step four, otherwise play out step three. If he tells you to do something you’re uncomfortable with, you can say no. Just make sure he knows you mean it.’
“Take off your clothes.” he rephrased.
“No.” Clementine said firmly.
“No, huh?” the guy walked took two steps to their supply bag and pulled out Clem’s gun. Luke kept it there after she stole the one from under the mattress. The guy aimed the gun at her. “Does this change your mind?”
‘If he points a gun at you in response, do what he says. Wait until he lets his guard down, before you do something. You’re smarter than him, Clementine. Use your brain, kid, and make sure you have a plan. Otherwise, you’ll get yourself killed.’
Clementine glanced around the room for a weapon, the baseball bat was her only choice if she couldn’t get her gun. Wait, if Luke confiscated her gun because she tried to commit suicide, then it wouldn’t be loaded, right? In case she retrieved it somehow. She could only hope that Luke took all of the bullets out and that this guy didn’t have a lot of training with guns.
“Here, let me help you.” the guy said making his way to her. Clementine sunk down in the couch, trying to back away from him. Once he was close enough he set the gun down before holding both of her wrists with one hand while the other reached for the bottom of her two purple shirts.
‘Step four: Kick his ass.’
Clementine headbutted his stomach causing him to let go of her. She quickly grabbed her gun and slammed the butt of the gun into his head while he was hunched over.
The hit wasn’t hard hard enough to knock him unconscious like she hoped. The man grabbed the little girl by her arms and threw her to the floor, knocking the gun out of her hands and across the room.
“You fucking bitch! Looks like I’m going to have to teach you to behave.” the guy said before grabbing one of her ankles and dragging her towards the stairs.
Clementine used her free foot to kick at his hand holding her other foot. When he tossed her across the room, she landed near his bat. It was just out of reach. Clem just continued to kick his hand until he actually let go. Once he did, the little girl ran towards the bat as she stood up, taking the weapon in her hand.
She tried to hit him with it, but he grabbed the end of his bat and pulled it out of her grip, slamming it into her head, reopening her recently healed wound.
Clementine fell to the ground and held her head, she could feel the blood on her hand. She quickly turned back to the crook before backing away from him on the floor.
“I should have knocked you out, too. Would have made this a whole lot easier.” he grunted as he tried to hit her with the bat.
Clementine moved backwards away from the attacker, until she ran into Luke’s body. His machete would be too big for her and would take to long to pull out, but he had a pocket knife.
The little girl pulled out his pocket knife, flipping out the blade, and stabbing the crook right above his knee before he could hit her. Clementine pulled the weapon out before kicking him in the stab wound to knock him down. The little girl quickly stood up and punched him in the face.
The little girl shoved the knife in his shoulder before kicking his chest, sending him to the floor. Clementine picked up the bat and finally hit him hard enough with it to knock him out.
The man fell to the floor and Clementine dropped the bat, amazed that she had that much strength in her to do that. And it was all thanks to Luke.
Oh shit, Luke!
Clementine quickly went to Luke's side, rolling him over. She moved his hair behind his ears before she held his head.
"Luke, wake up." The little girl spoke. She fought off an asshole for him, he had to wake up.
Clementine shook his body and that did the trick. The farm boy slowly regained consciousness.
"Clem?" He grunted.
"Are you okay?" The child asked.
"A couple of painkillers would do wonders for my pulsing head." Luke responded.
"We ran out of painkillers." Clementine told him.
"I know, you managed to count to zero when we went through our supplies." He said before noticing her reopened wound. "Shit, Clem, you're bleeding!"
Luke sat up, ignoring his headache to get a closer inspection on the cut.
"Yeah, the asshole slammed his bat in my head after I tried to hit him with it." She explained.
"Well, where's the asshole?"
Clementine looked over to the unconscious body of the guy she fought. Luke's pocket knife still in his shoulder. The farm boy looked at the body, too. He smiled before turning back to the kid next to him.
"Nice job, kid. I'm proud of you." Luke told her.
"I don't know how long he's going to be out for, so we should probably go. Like now." Clementine mentioned.
With that said, the two grabbed all of their supplies and Clem's gun before confronting the body. Clementine ripped the knife out of his shoulder, wiping the blood on his shirt before flipping the blade back into place.
"Here." She said, holding the pocket knife out to Luke, waiting for him to take it back.
Luke stared at the child for a moment, glancing at his pocket knife then back at her.
"Keep it." He said. "You earned it."
Clementine retracted her arm as Luke made his way to the front door. She looked at the pocket knife in her hand. She earned it, and it seemed like she earned his trust back too. He's proud of her. Lee would be proud of her. And that made her smile.
The asshole started to stir next to the little girl, causing her to catch up to Luke as the two left the house. They quickly fixed up Clem's wound before hitting the road again.
NOW ENTERING WASHINGTON
“You see the sign, kid?” Luke asked.
“Wa-Wash-Washing-ton… Washington?” Clementine sounded out.
“Nice job, Clem.” Luke praised her on her reading.
“We’re here? Really?” she asked in disbelief.
“Yep.” he responded before spying a rest area. “And the first thing we’re going to do is take a pitstop.”
“We’re stopping, why? We just got here.” the little girl asked.
“The rest stop probably has a map of the state so we can see where we are, besides nature calls.” the farm boy said as he got off the highway.
“Gross, Luke.” Clem said in disgust.
After they parked at the rest area, Clementine walked around the open area. It was nice to stretch her legs after sitting in a seat for a long time.
The little girl had a faint smile on her face. Everything was going to turn around, she knew it. She and Luke would finally be safe. No assholes trying to hurt them. No walkers to kill.
Clementine turned to the sound of growling, to see a walker to her right. Speak of the devil. The child pulled out her ice pick before kicking the undead in the knee and stabbing it in it’s head. It wasn’t even a fight, it was more of a habit.
After pulling out her weapon, she looked ahead only to stare in awe at a swing set. Clementine didn't even hesitate before she realized that she was walking towards the small playground.
Once her feet touched the old bark, she stopped to look down at the wood chips. She felt free. Clem knew the feeling, she missed that feeling. The happiness you get when your mom lets go of your hand and tells you to go play at the park. The fun of making up your own games and adventures. Waving to your parents when you get to the highest point of the tower.
She sighed as the memories start to flood back to her. Clementine shook her head to keep them away, fearing that she'd start crying when she did.
"Miss you, mom." She whispered to herself before securing her hat on her head. "You too, dad."
The child walked towards the swings. Two of the swings were for babies and the other two were for older kids, but they were wrapped around the bar they were connected to. What kind of asshole does that?
She stood under one of the swings, staring up at it. Clem reached her arm up trying to touch it. With no luck, she jumped to try and get the swing. After two attempts, the little girl took a few steps back before running and jumping, stretching her arm as far as she could to reach the swing, but she landed on the ground with yet another failed attempt.
Clementine glared back at the swing in annoyance. She turned away from the swing and kicked the bark then sat down criss-cross, her arms folded across her chest.
The sound of rattling chains behind her caught her attention. She turned around to see Luke throwing the swing seat over the bar, unwinding it. Clementine slowly stood up and walked towards the man fixing the swing.
“Luke, you don’t have to do that.” she said.
“Really, that tantrum you threw when you couldn’t get the swing down says otherwise.” Luke responded throwing the seat over the bar again.
“I did not throw a tantrum!” She retorted.
“You’re still a kid, Clem. I don’t get to see you as one that often.” he pointed out. “Trust me, being a grown up sucks.”
“You think I like being this small?”
“It suits you.”
Clementine punched Luke’s arm, causing him to chuckle.
“I love you too, kid.”
The little girl rolled her eyes. “Come on, lets go.” she said as she started to walk away.
Luke finally got the swing untied. “I know you want to swing. I’ll push ya.”
“Forget it. Lets just leave.”
“It’s not a choice, Clem. Get on the damn swing.”
Clementine smiled slightly at him as her inner child came out. She walked over to the swing and sat down in it before Luke started to push her. She loved swings, they were always her favorite.
“Thanks for doing this.” she said to him.
“You’re welcome, kid.” he responded.
Silence fell between them as Luke continued to push Clementine on the swing.
"So, how are you holding up?" Luke asked.
"Fine, I guess." Clementine responded.
"You still okay from this morning?" He asked.
"Yeah." She said.
"I'm really proud of you, you know."
"So, what do you think of Washington so far?"
"It seems nice, but we only just arrived."
Silence came up again, only the sound of the squeaky swing to listen to until Luke spoke.
"You want to hear a story?" He asked.
"Sure." Clementine responded.
"Good, because I was going to tell you anyway." Luke said. "Nick and I were about your age when we went to a park in our town. I had a crush on this girl who was there, and we were trying to find ways to impress her."
"Did you do something stupid?" Clem asked.
"You know me so well. Anyway, we saw this guy do a backflip off a swing, so Nick said I should try that. He was joking, but I thought it'd be a good idea." He explained. "I was scared shitless about doing it after I got high enough on the swing. Nick said that I was being stupid, and I called him a chicken. I looked at my crush one last time before I gathered up my courage and did a backflip... Sort of."
"Sort of? What happened?"
"My arm got caught in the chains and it broke."
"You broke your arm?" Clementine laughed.
"My crush wasn't impressed and I never heard the end of it from my mom and Nick."
"You know, I never hear you talk about your dad. You've only mentioned him once I believe."
"My dad wasn't always around. He wasn't like Nick's dad, that man was an asshole. My dad was in the military. It was just my mom and I for the most part. We lived near a farm, so for extra cash I worked there for a bit, and the accent kind of stuck." Luke said. "My dad would come home for a few days every one or two years. It was good to see him. So what about your parents? I bet they were smart."
"What makes you say that?" Clementine asked.
"You're smart, so it would make sense."
“I guess so, my dad was an engineer and my mom was a doctor.”
“See? You got to be smart to have jobs like that.” Luke said. “You know, I think things will start to turn around for us.”
“I hope it’s soon…” Clementine trailed off realizing that she said the same thing on a swing a few years ago.
Luke noticed that she readjusted her grip on the chains and heard a sniffle a little after. “Clem? You okay?”
“Yeah… a bug just flew into my eye.” she responded.
She sounded hurt, causing Luke to slow down the swing to a halt. He moved in front of her and knelt down to her height.
“I’m fine.” she spat with a side of fib. “It’s just that, Lee was the last person to push me on a swing, and our conversation was like that in a way.” There it was.
Luke let the child collect herself. He always tried to be careful around her past boundaries. She was still a child after all. Seeing all of this at a young age probably wasn’t the best for her. There wasn’t a lot he could do to help her.
Clementine looked at Luke before she stood up, taking his hand and leading him to the truck. She thought about doing this for some time now, but she had always prolonged it because she really, really didn’t want to do it. “This is going to suck.” she muttered to herself.
The child opened the truck door and climbed inside, pulling Luke in as well. He shut the door as Clementine let his hand go.
"You need to know my story." She spoke. This caught Luke off guard.
"I thought you already did? Back at the cabin, right?" He asked.
"No, you don't know my whole story. The one I haven't told anyone."
"Clem, you don't have to."
"I've been with you for so long, Luke. And you're so open to me about everything. It's time I'm open to you."
The farm boy stared at her for a moment. He always wanted to know about her experience, but now he didn't. She was going to break and he knew it. "Alright." He sighed.
"When it all started..." Clementine started. "I was playing in my tree house. I didn't know what was going on, but my babysitter figured it out. Mostly because the last time I saw her, she had a bite on her shoulder. She said it was just some crazy guy bit her when she answered the door, but she told me to stay in the treehouse."
The little girl paused for a minute, trying to remember the rest of the day. "It wasn't until nighttime when she handed me a sandwich, a hammer, a coloring book with crayons, a box of cereal, and an apple. She told me to not come down no matter what. Next thing I knew, she handed me a blanket and I slept up there. Alone."
"How long did you hold out there?" Luke asked.
"A couple days. I got bored often, and I wanted to come down so badly, but I heard a couple screams from down the street and that convinced me to stay put." She explained. "On the second day, I heard something pounding on our fence and a guy's voice a little while after. He was looking for help, and I almost dropped a hammer on his head. The guy went inside my house and I used my walkie talkie to talk to him before he got attacked by my undead babysitter. So I finally climbed down and gave him my hammer so he could smash it into her head few times. That was when I met Lee."
"Hm... Sounds familiar." Luke said sarcastically.
Clementine smiled at him before continuing with her story.
“When I woke up, Lee was asleep and the stranger on my walkie-talkie spoke. He said that he was waiting for me with my parents outside the mansion, and told me to not tell Lee where I was going. Or anyone. I know I should have been happy that I was going to see my parents, but something wasn’t right.” Clementine explained, the venom in her voice starting to show. “I went outside and I didn’t see him. So I walked to the edge of the yard to the fence, then I heard a voice clear behind me. I turned around and he just smiled. He looked evil, and I knew I made a bad choice by going out there. No matter how nice he talked to me, it didn’t help. I was cornered to the fence, he would’ve caught me if I ran. Then he told me my parents were behind me. I looked and he grabbed me, shoving this wet rag over my face. I fought the best I could, but I only managed to knock my hat off my head before I blacked out.”
Luke watched her sigh. He was worried about when she was going to break. The farm boy and the child have been sitting in the truck for hours. It was still light out, three or four o’clock at best. This was a hella long story.
“When I woke up, I was lying on a bed in one of the rooms at the Marsh House, where Lee and I planned to go. My hands were tied in front of me, and my feet were tied together. I could see his walkie talkie next to me, so I grabbed it and tried to call my walkie talkie, hoping I could tell Lee where I was.” Clementine explained. “I was so weak, but I managed to call for him. And I caught the attention of my abductor. He took the walkie talkie out of my hands and shoved a small towel in my mouth, holding it there while he talked to Lee. He said that he rescued me from him.”
Luke stared at the little girl in sorrow.
“I cried. I was terrified of what he would do to me. The guy said that he’d untie me, if I stayed quiet. After I nodded, he took the towel out of my mouth and I cried even more. He just kissed the top of my head and said that I was safe now, and that I would understand when I was older. I was his replacement daughter.”
“Wow…” Luke muttered. He’s met some crazy people in his lifetime, but this guy was psychotic.
“Once he untied me, he locked me in a closet. I was scared that Lee would never find me, but I knew he would look for me and I knew he’d find me. And he did.” Clementine closed her eyes before speaking again. “The guy was going to kill Lee. He said it to him, and he was going to keep me. I managed to break out and hit him with a bottle so Lee could fight him. The stranger lost his gun in the fight so I grabbed it. The man was choking Lee, so I shot him.”
Luke watched her eyes squeezed shut, holding back tears.
“He was missing his arm, but all we thought about was getting out. So we smeared walker guts on ourselves and walked through a horde of walkers… And I saw my parents… as one of them.” Clementine paused. “Lee fainted and I pulled him into a store and shut the door. When he came to, he told me he had to cut his arm off because he got bit. He made me handcuff him to a radiator so he couldn’t attack me if he turned. With Lee’s help, I killed my first walker and I collected his gun and the keys to get out. We said our goodbyes before I shot him, so he wouldn’t turn. Then I ran, I made it to a field and sat down on a log before I saw Omid and Christa on a hill in the distance.”
The child tilted her head down to avoid eye contact with her friend.
“Are you done?” Luke asked.
“Yeah.” she sighed. It felt good to let it out, but at the same time all the guilt came back. It was her fault, and she’s been cursing herself to this day. “Can I step outside?”
Luke looked at the child with sympathy. The tone of her voice was quick, any slower and she would cry.
“Go ahead.” he said to her.
Clementine took no hesitation on leaving the truck, while Luke went over what an eight-year-old had to go through.
She was alone for two days, watched a man get eaten alive, captured by cannibals, attacked by bandits, watched a lady get shot in the head, get abducted, and killed the man who took care of her in all of this.
Luke watched the child lean her side against a bulletin board, her back to him. She blamed herself and he could see why. The real question is, how he was going to bring her back to her old self.
The farm boy got out of the truck and made his way towards the little girl.
“Hey, you going to be okay?” he asked.
“It’s my fault, isn’t it?” she said aloud.
“Isn’t it?!” the child yelled as she turned to him. “If I wasn’t so stupid he’d be alive.”
“You were manipulated!” Luke said to her.
“I knew better!” Clementine fired back.
“From what you told me, that man would have kidnapped you no matter what, where, or when.” he responded. “It just happened, Clementine. There was nothing you could have done.”
The little girl sighed. “I’ve been so restrictive of myself because of that day.” Clem said. “When I kissed you in the backseat, I knew it was wrong not only because you were older than me, but because I let myself get that close to you.”
Clementine took a few deep breaths before she spoke again. “I’m afraid of getting close to people, because I know I will lose them. And I can’t lose you, Luke.” She closed her eyes. “You broke me. After building this wall around myself, I met you. You’re the asshole who broke my wall and the one who keeps breaking it.”
Luke bent down to her level. “I’m sorry about that. I just don’t like it when you’re closed off, makes me feel like I did something wrong.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s your smile that keeps me going, kid.”
“You’re still a casanova, and an asshole for tying me up.” Clementine said.
Luke smirked before using the hand on her shoulder to tilt her hat down over her eyes.
“Don’t make me add jerk to the list as well.” she responded.
“I’m glad to see you back to your old self.” Luke told her. “Well, we better get going if we want to make it to the shore.”
Luke stood up before making his way back to the truck. Clementine would have followed him, but the map of the state on the bulletin board caught her eye. She looked at the map key, seeing that the star on the map meant something. It took her a few seconds to read it, and it said ‘Capital.’
The star on the map read a town name she took even longer to read.
“Kid, come on.” Luke called, making his way back to her.
“What’s this?” Clementine asked, placing her finger on the star on the map.
“That’s Olympia, the state capital.” Luke explained.
“Capital?” Clem repeated.
“Yeah, why?” Luke asked.
The little girl smiled to herself. “Can we make the shore plan B? I have a good feeling about Olympia.”