Shawn stood at the top of the guard tower, looking out across the little tree-spotted valley the compound was nestled in, doing his time at watch, blue eyes darting systematically over the terrain – looking both for signs of the infected and signs of wandering survivors. Occasionally, he had to reach up and brush hair out of his face with calloused fingers during his watch. He was sure glass had once stood between the interior of that little guard room and the outside, but it was long since broken out, gone when they'd taken up residence here and started to turn it into an outpost for other survivors.
And they had come, slowly, one or two at a time. Sometimes, they were found in the nearby town, scavenging, always looking for somewhere safe to spend a night. Occasionally, they'd actually stumble across the old Army base itself, despite being nestled back in the hills near Hawthorne, but not on any major highway. And he welcomed them, as best he was able. So far, they'd been lucky. It was a small group that had come together in the Nevada hills, people willing to pitch in to see that they were all safe. There'd been troubles, of course. Frictions, even one or two people that had eventually been turned out, more savages than proper surviving humans anymore. But, overall, they'd been lucky.
At first, it had been Arri and Shawn. He'd taken his little sister from their home in California and trekked toward what he'd hoped would be a place he could build into safety and security for his little family. Being former Army himself – before a dishonorable discharge because he had 'problems with authority' – he'd known about the depot in the Nevada hills. He hadn't been able to think of a more perfect place to go to dig in and try to build a life in the new world.
During the slow trek from SanFran up over the mountains into Nevada, they'd encountered blessedly few people – blessed because many of those they had encountered had been insane, violent people he'd finally just begun thinking of as savages, barely human anymore. And then there were the ones who had taken to eating people, humans, and even seeming to enjoy it, actively seeking out survivors for dinner, the cannibals.
But, along the way they'd also encountered Lena. That had been another stroke of luck. A group of three was better than just one, or two, so she'd decided to come along with them. Apparently they were a more appealing option than going it alone in the mountains or the desert. Their little pair became a trio, and eventually they won through to the depot, only to find it completely abandoned, warehouses and bunkers stocked full of weapons and ammo and supplies, and just waiting for them.
A lot of hard work later, a section of the old base consisting of some of the housing, a couple of the warehouses, the small base clinic, and one of the many bunkers had been partitioned off and walled in. And Haven – sometimes jokingly called 'Heaven' – had been born.
Yeah, they'd been damn lucky, Shawn thought, as he heard the sound of boots on the stairs. He didn't even have to turn to see who it was as the footsteps came up behind him. Lena. Of course it would be Lena, probably with some water – or better, if he was really lucky – and something to eat. She'd probably try to convince him to come down from the tower – which he liked to call his little Nest, often with a grin – since the sun was close to setting, and everything had been quiet all day. It was a familiar pattern. He'd spend free time obsessing over ways to save more people, and she'd be there to help in whatever ways he needed – even when he didn't quite know himself what ways that may be, she always seemed to anyway.
The silence stretched out as she waited patiently for him to withdraw from his thoughts and acknowledge her. Eventually, he tilted his head to look at her, studying her. She looked calm, which made him relax a little. There must not have been any issues worth bothering with while he'd been up in the Nest, or it would show in her expression. She wasn't always easy to read, but he'd learned a lot about her over the past few months. He'd learned enough to trust her with his life, with his little sister's life. He'd learned enough to trust her more than anyone else. He'd learned enough to care. Maybe, he'd reflected today as he did his watch, more than just care, though it was a subject he couldn't even begin to imagine how to broach with her.
“Thanks, Lena,” he said quietly, taking the ration bar she held out to him. He got a nod in response, before she turned back to looking out over the valley herself, something in her expression he couldn't quite decipher, even with all his familiarity with her. Well, whatever was on her mind, she'd tell him eventually...or, she wouldn't. He knew better than to try to force it. Instead, he just ate the ration bar almost mechanically, letting his arm brush hers occasionally, staring back out over the valley.
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