The fact that they were standing there beside each other, in agreement was something that Rick held onto. He didn’t want to lose it, didn’t want to close his eyes and let go of what he had been wanting for awhile. It felt like they were both balancing acts, one tipping the others scales painfully. He didn’t want Shane to leave, didn’t want to part from him.
Rick tried to contain the smile breaking onto his face as he heard the door slowly unlock. Thankfully the maid wasn’t the one who answered, that wouldn’t have worked- seemed like everything worked out in their favor.
Woman who was standing there was a middle aged woman, creases all along her wide eyes and a cigarette stained upper lip. One of those women who took care to put plastic in their face but not enough good deeds in her soul.
Rick stepped forward, glancing briefly at Shane then returning his eyes to the confused gaze of the woman. “Good evening, ma’am.” He greeted cordially with a tip of his head towards her. “This is a real nice house y’got here. Mind if we do a little….” A smile caressed his features as he looked up at her. “…looking around?”
He just watched the woman. She looked like she was always looking for a good time, always looking for a little fun. The type of woman that even if she wasn’t all that much at first glance could start to look really good at the nights end. A woman that was willing to do just about anything for some quick attention. Her husband didn’t think he had any reason not to trust her, no reason to put a leash on that one. But she was perverted in more ways than Shane could count.
And what would Rick say if he knew that he had taken a liking to the sorta woman this was, if he had taken a liking to all of them. Because the black deeds of their souls got them the things they had. Shane couldn’t give a shit about his soul. He was tired of the crappy life he was living.
But he thought all that with a whole weight load of guilt, pressing down on him. He didn’t wanna like it. He wanted to think like Rick did. Wanted to best Rick even in that part. But he was constantly falling short, wasn’t he? ‘Least that’s how Rick made him feel.
"Looking around?" she asked with a small smile. "Like come inside?"
Shane smiled as well but he didn’t say anything. Just gave her a small, yes ma’am, that’s what I meant, smile. Tonight was gonna be easy, tonight was gonna be different. Not because Rick promised either. But because he was ready to start making some changes.
Shane’s words were just a reminder of what he’d done to screw up the day, screw up last night. Was any of this worth it was what he kept asking himself. Could it be worth it? He bit down on his bottom lip, leaning forward and slowly shaking his head.
What was he going to do? Walk in there with his pounding head held high and his blood shot eyes staring into his dads willing him to just forgive him? The thought in itself was excruciating. The thought was nerve wrecking. He couldn’t understand it. He was a man wasn’t he? And yet he still wanted to grovel at his dad’s feet for satisfaction.
Shane probably deserved that. If he had that he’d be the best damn son there was, wouldn’t he? His family life was shit, his dad was shit. No one gave a damn what the hell he did, if he got drunk and screwed up the path he didn’t even want to be on.
Selfishly he inwardly wished for the life that Shane had. That was wrong though, wasn’t it? It wasn’t fair to Shane. Wasn’t fair to anyone.
"I can’t…" His voice came out in a whisper. The same whisper that he had taken on when he was ten and had broken the two week old bike his parents had just bought him.
"I’ll remember it." He stated, looking at Shane sideways before he shook his head and lowered it to his hands. He just wanted to close his eyes, sleep it off, forget this happened and go do some shit like construction. That paid well enough. Get a small house somewhere, make love to Samantha every night, have a couple kids and work with his hands not with his dad’s. But that right there, that was the pipe dream he’d always had that would never happen.
A slow breath escaped his lips and he met his best friend’s eyes again. “Sorry, man, ‘bout last night.” There was that heat of tears again and he hated the feeling it brought. “Didn’t mean to act like such an asshole. Especially not to you.”
The apology came as a surprise. He had actually been half hoping they could just forget all that. That Rick would have been so piss drunk it wouldn’t even matter. Yeah, he had been an asshole. And it had all been for Sam. But he didn’t like to think back on any of that. He knew he should’ve told him. It was all too late for that now. He could feel something breaking. And he hoped that it wasn’t anything between them.
Swallowing harshly he turned to face him entirely. He could see that the thing he felt was Rick breaking, slowly. What had brought him this low? Was it really all just Sam? He wasn’t so sure about that. Rick felt like he had a whole world of pressure on his shoulders. And Shane knew that now was not the time to tell him that he envied that pressure.
"Don’t mention it." he said, dismissing the entire night before with a simple shake of his head. As if it really could be that simple. Maybe it could be. They were brothers after all. It should be.
He reached over and placed his hand on Ricks shoulder, gripping it firmly. He wanted to get through to him, wanted to make sure he didn’t screw up his entire life because of some stupid night of getting drunk. But would he really be screwing it up if he didn’t go back in there? Would he? Looking at Rick now he wasn’t so sure.
"Look, man, you can’t just leave now. Your dad was pissed off, sure. But if you go back in there he won’t be. He’ll welcome you back. He’ll think you’re pretty damned brave to go on ahead and face him and everyone else in there one more time. Somethin’ y’gotta do."
He wasn’t so sure if that was even what Rick wanted. No one was ever sure what Rick really wanted. He kept it all locked up, all caged. And Shane worried it would never come out. Not until it was too late to go back.
He let out a low chuckle as he dropped his hand from Ricks shoulder.
“‘Sides, I think it’s jus’ ‘bout time that you stop bein’ that nerd that always shows up early.”
She couldn’t help the scoff of a laugh that escaped her lips as she lowered her eyes. “I suppose I see the difference but you also aren’t so weird around new people…” She could have sworn that she was alright with people but here in this moment she felt comfortable. “New people aren’t exactly my forte’.”
She felt ridiculous for bringing something so stupid up like new people when survival was what mattered. She smoothed her shirt down and met his eyes. “Alright, are you hungry? There’s some food out in that kitchen you all inhabited.”
He could tell that new people weren’t for her. She seemed a little on edge, a little mistrusting. But he couldn’t blame her for that. The way the world was only smart people never trusted.
"Well, yeah, I can tell."
He nodded at her question. “Sure as hell am. When’s the last time you’ve eaten somethin”?
"Oh I got shotgun." She laughed softly and ducked down to get into the seat. A smile was shown up to him before it fell from her lips and strapped her belt on. A sigh escaped her as she looked around the interior. She had never been in one of these before and she was just glad that it was this guy she’d run into and not some other officer who would’ve thrown her on the other side of the gate.
Turning to look at him when he came into the cars driver seat she smiled softly at him, brushing back her hair with her fingers before dropping her hand to her lap. “So, going to show me around?” she asked with a small laugh.
He started up the car and looked at her smiling a little. He gave a shake of his head to her words. “There ain’t nothin’ to show you. Think you’ve probably seen jus’ ‘bout everythin’.”
That was the thing about small towns. There was never much to see. Left people wanting, left them looking for something more. That’s why he had always wanted to get the hell out of Kings County, wanted another kinda life. If not something better, something bigger.
"Kings County is pretty much a two road town."
So that was it. Just like that and then I was done with. I knew from the sullen look on Walsh’s face that they didn’t mean to kill me. Just save me for later, I guessed. Left overs from an unsatisfying meal. Truth was, I didn’t know a damned thing. And maybe the Boss knew that all along. But Walsh seemed to be sticking around. Maybe he knew more than he was letting on. Maybe the Boss wanted to avenge January’s death and thought Walsh was at the helm of it. And me? I was just aboard the ship, along for the ride. Smooth sail straight into hell.
The thing of it was that I’d been caught up in something too taut a net to claw my way out of. This wasn’t merely a game, and something was telling me I ought to be on the lookout for a frame. They knew I was involved with January. Word came straight from the horse’s mouth. And that’s what I couldn’t wrap my mind around. What exactly did she tell the Boss? And why?
Got me thinking up all kinds of crazy things. Suddenly, I was wondering if January had kept men around the way a man keeps several women stashed in different parts of the city. She had me fooled, probably Shane too. Who else did you make promises to, January? Who else did you let love you and touch you the way you said only I could?
My mind was all worked up like I’d just ran a lap after 150 chin lifts. I wasn’t in any kinda good mood. The realization of January using me sank deep into my mind and I couldn’t shake the feelings that came with it. Don’t need to spell it out. The anger, the embarrassment, the pure jealousy raging inside like a hurricane off Fort Lauderdale. I sulked along beside Walsh, following where he led mostly because I didn’t have a choice.
Once outside, I could finally breathe but that stimulation didn’t help. January didn’t love me. She pit me against Shane Walsh for whatever reasons only God knows. Is that all I was to you, January? Collateral damage against an inevitable breakup? Pit us against each other to save some face. And what a damned beautiful face she had.
"She didn’t love me." I said like it was piece of breaking news gone international. Shane Walsh knew it though, didn’t he? Maybe I did too but I was just too damned proud to admit it. Or just desperate enough to believe in the lies. I shook my head, walking along, looking down at the cracks in the sidewalk but never up or ahead and definitely not at Shane. I was just too ashamed. I believed her. I loved her. And she played me like a fool. "She didn’t love me." That was all I could say.
Outside was warm and all smoky. It made Shanes head hurt. And every step he took had a lotta effort behind it. January floated in and out of his mind, like her perfume used to throughout all the rooms of that big ol’ house they had gotten together. A new life. That’s what she had said. Well, she was dead now. Dead. And there was no new life. She died miles away from home, doing what?
What was in Los Angeles? And who killed her?
Those were questions Shane couldn’t answer. And before this whole mess he had thought that he knew every single detail of her life. He had thought they had an understanding of each other. No secrets. But he had been damn wrong. She had hid something from him. Something big. So big it had swallowed her up and killed her in the process. Left him with this dirty aftermath to clean up. He didn’t mind cleaning up her messes. But he preferred to know about them beforehand.
And then he remembered he was walking with someone. The mans voice broke through his whirlwind of thoughts and he turned to look over at him. But he wasn’t looking at him, he was looking down. At the cracks in the ground or his own steps. That didn’t matter to him. What he said did though.
He said January hadn’t loved him. Well, Shane could’ve told him that much. She had loved him, hadn’t she? They were gonna get married, get out of that life. She had loved him.
But had she? Had she really?
And what was all this with the boss? Why was he so damned interested in what happened to January?
"No, she didn’t. We were gonna get married…." he said it firmly but still felt like he was gonna convince himself. "You oughta be headin’ back to LA, Parker. Or they’ll do worse than that." he said, pointing to his stomach.
Andrea was grateful that she had someone like Shane she could trust. She respected that more often than not he was a man of action, willing to make the hard decisions and see them through. She’d witnessed it numerous times over the past few months.
Part of her wanted to ask him if they could just leave. Sneak out maybe, in the middle of the night. Get back on the road together and take their chances. They’d done okay together this far. At least she thought so. Sometimes it was hard to read Shane, and especially around a man like the Governor.
Something wasn’t right about the Governor. Almost as if he was hiding who he really was. Not only from the two of them, but everyone in this town. Almost like the perfection of the town was hiding the man’s darkest secrets.
The truth though was, this place was nice, and it was secure. It had barriers and a functioning internal structure. In the right hands it would make a great home. Maybe even in their hands. “Shane, what if…” she trailed off, she wanted to present it in a way that would appeal to him.
"You are a natural leader, and you are strong enough to stand up to this Governor. What if we did? Something isn’t quite right here, I can just feel it. This community deserves a chance to thrive without oppression. I think you and I could give them a real chance at that.
Her thoughts seemed to echo his own. But now that he was hearing them said out loud he had to admit that they sounded just a little crazy. What would the people think? They practically got on their knees and worshiped this Governor. What would make them turn their backs on him and follow the new guy in town? He didn’t think that he had much to offer them. Not nearly as much as the Governor had given them.
But he was not used to this feeling of self doubt. He knew damn well that the Governor wasn’t exactly cut out for the job of taking care of these people. Sure, he had been doing it for a long time. He knew that. He had been doing it since the start of things. And anyone who just took a look at Woodbury would say that the guy had done a really good job.
There was something wrong about the whole thing though. And Shane couldn’t rest easy. He was actually glad to hear that Andrea was feeling the same way, that she was uneasy as well. He was glad that she trusted him enough. That she trusted him enough to want him to take over. She had always been the one to stand by him. Even back with the Atlanta group.
"Y’think the people will just turn their backs on this guy, Andrea? How long have they been followin’ him ‘round? Y’think they’ll jus’ see that I’m a natural leader and stop followin’ him? I don’t know ‘bout that. As much as I like the sound of it. It don’t sound all too likely."
"Pretty boy," Jared smiled and crossed his arms, "we can talk about how you think I’m pretty. You like them pretty?" He was just out to push his buttons now. Jaed didn’t care and plus he had the need to irritate him. Shane didn’t seem he was going to be easy to get through to, but there he was asking if he could help out.
Of course he’d help out once he got better. He was no use to them like this. It was a struggle to get around. His body was telling him to stop doing what he was doing now, but just sitting there wasn’t going to put Jared in a good mood.
A nod came from him. “I’l help. I’m not a lazy son of a bitch. I’m lucky to be alive for how long I’ve been by myself.” Because he had help before, but ever since being put by himself by this cruel world. That meant he had a chance to actually stay here and build himself a life with these people.
"The pretty boy can hold his own weight once he gets back to nice healthy point in his life." Jared had no idea how long that was going to take, but he wanted to be able to move on his own before. "I had supplies with me. It wasn’t much, but I’m sure you could use them."
Every word that that came out of the bastards mouth pushed him further and further. And by the end of it he hardly even cared about the supplies he was offering. He wanted to shut him up, that was all. Just shut him up. But the guy kept on going. If he got better it would probably be worse, wouldn’t it? Probably just go around talking peoples ears off. And who wanted that?
He scoffed at the man, sizing him up with an up and down glace. He didn’t look like much. Probably was making all that up about being out on his own. There wasn’t a chance in hell a guy like that could make it out there. Didn’t look like he could manage camping much less the way the world worked now.
Shane got this feeling, and he didn’t give a shit if it sounded paranoid, that the man before him had a group. Maybe a large one, maybe not. But a group nonetheless. And that they might just be planning on doing something to them, taking the nice place they were all settled into now.
"Supplies? Oh, yeah? What supplies y’got that we don’t got more of here?"
The Irishman watched Shane with a glint of mischief in his eyes. He could see wheels turning as he crouched in front of him. “Aye, s’pose it does.” Murphy was never a big fan of surprises but the thought of what the hick had in store made his mouth water. Even if it was going to be directed towards him. It had been too long since he had a good fight and when it was all said and done — Murphy still just wanted the company for the time being.
He hummed in understanding after his hands were taken into warm ones. A flick of his wrist and fingers were intertwining. Of course crawling into Shane’s lap and shoving him down onto the carpet was rather easy. Murphy had hands pinned next to the ex-cop’s head but it was hardly with any strength. He had a feeling he would need to save his energy. “Do I?” Murphy questioned back, mostly to himself before he smiled and chuckled softly. “Perhaps. Woul’n’ be t’e first time — nor t’e last ‘m sure.”
He was taken a back by the movement of the man. And he was angered by it, so damned angry about it. He didn’t like the feeling of being pinned down, didn’t like the feeling that for a brief moment he lost complete control over the situation.
He pushed Murphy off of him and stood up quickly, dusting himself off. “Y’do that again and I’ll make you wish I’d kill y’right out.” But he knew that the threat held no ground for the man before him. He wasn’t scared of him. And that’s what infuriated him. He wanted fear. What was anything without fear?
Rushing into the academy building he shoved the ends of his shirt into his pants and buckled up his belt. He knew that he looked like shit, knew his hair was pretty much uncontainable and his eyes were probably sunken with what was obvious was a hangover.
Still he had no time left to fix himself. He was already late and with the familiar cars in the parking lot he knew his dad had made everyone wait for him just like he had pretty much feared.
Literally tearing open the door he stepped into the office and looked around at the guys he knew from school, locked eyes with Shane, read the obvious need for fear there before eh finally settled his eyes onto his dad. He was just standing there, stern gaze holding Rick’s before he stepped forward.
First thing that was apparent was that he stank like alcohol, all kinds of it. It was heavy all on him. He looked the part of someone who had partied too much, got wrapped up in the angry sex he’d had drunkenly the night before.
He waited silently until finally his dad reached out, grabbed Rick’s collar and pulled him out of the room and into the hall. He shoved him hard against the wall and glared at him. That glare said everything. He didn’t belong there, he didn’t deserve a spot there, he was ashamed of him.
And with that look he turned around and went back into the office, slamming the door shut.
Rick heavily sighed, lowering his head to his hands before he stood up. He walked out of the building and walked back to his car which was parked alongside Shane’s and rested back against it.
Hell he’d really screwed up.
The tension never eased up. It was heavy, thick. And Shane sat there a moment unsure of what to do. But then he stood, letting out a heavy sigh he offered to go on after Rick. Mr. Grimes gave a dismissive wave of his hand as if it didn’t really matter one way or another. And something about that stung a little inside for Shane. As if he were feeling that deep disappointment, rejection even for Rick.
When he went outside he didn’t have to look very far. There was Rick, still there but by the car. Like he had expected him to. He’d think about leaving for a moment but he would stay. Sounded just like Rick to him. He made his way over to him and rested back against the car as well.
"Well, your old mans pissed." he said it calmly.
Not to point it out too much. Just to let it out, so that Rick could talk about it, ask about it if he wanted to. He wondered if Rick was ever gonna get used to that? If he could handle it if it happened again. Rick was the golden boy. Things like this, well, they just didn’t happen to Rick.
"Y’gotta go back in there though, man." he said after a short moment of silence and he decided for Rick that he had nothing really to say. Everything was all out on the table. What could he really say? "Can’t let this beat you. Gather yourself up, go in there, and then it’ll be forgotten. You’ll be one hell of a cop. In a few days no one’s gonna remember this shit."
Rick nodded after a moment of feeling transfixed by the house in front of him. The place was a damned palace, looked to be something out of those old movies his grandma used to watch, all columns and vines crawling up the sides. It was a masterpiece and Rick was damned jealous.
"I’ll do the talking, y’do the messing them up, you’re pretty damned perfect at that." He said it because he wanted to assuage whatever he had started with his previous words, whatever that offense was. But it was also true.
"Let’s go." He said as he opened his car door and stepped out, straightening his gloves. HIs eyes were still on the house before he turned to Shane. "Hey? Ever wonder what it’d be like to live in a place like this? We could stay a couple of days…"
He was good at that. Always good at doing the bad things, the dirty things, it seemed. Like he wasn’t cut out for what Rick was suggesting as they made their way to the house. Almost like Rick didn’t think he was good enough or something. Maybe Rick was thinking that he was better than he was. Better at everything. But Shane was pretty much determined to show him otherwise, determined to prove himself to him, to everyone else who might get that sorta thought into their heads. He was just as good as Rick. If not better.
"Ah, man." he said, with a smile, as if he was feeling as light as he sounded. But there was a darkness inside of him, like doom had settled someplace within. He turned to look at Rick and shook his head a little. Not disagreeing just in disbelief. "Never thought you’d bring that up. Last time I did I remember you gettin’ all pissy ‘bout it. Like i didn’t know I what I was talkin’ ‘bout. Like I was stupid or somethin’. Now, lemme tell y’somethin’, man, stayin’ in one of these big ol’ houses, god, I’ve been wantin’ to do that this whole damn time. We should stay a while."
And now they were standing at the door and Shane gave Rick a nod before ringing the bell. Good mannered boys they were. And now all they had to do was wait.