Unaware, I began to growl under my breath. The gun slide barrel slipped out of my bandaged hand again and cluttered onto the floor. I fought the urge to throw the entire frame across the room like a child. Breath, Sarah. Stop gritting your teeth. With a sharp inhale, I picked up the slide and tried to reassemble my gun. Damn semi-autos. I personally preferred revolvers, but circumstances were dire, and the extra bullet capacity and shorter reload time was a definite life-saver.

I half-considered gripping the slide in my jaws when Johnny reappeared on the campsite with some supplies. I briefly glanced up to acknowledge him, then returned to my task. “How’s the hand?” he asked. I held it up for a few seconds. He hummed an address and we both silently sat, focused on our own tasks for a while. The slide jumped away from my hand again and I audibly growled. Frustrated beyond relief, I chucked the gun to my feet and turned away into a corner, cursing. Johnny paused from cleaning a fish to look up at me. “Maybe you should take a break,” he said carefully. “The fever cost me two days. I need to do something,” I spat out.

“Hmm, inventory check?” “Done.” “Ammo check?” “Three times.” “Water check?” “Yep.” “Changed your bandages?” “Ye-no.”

I looked at my hand again, the bandages stained yellow and brown and stank of dried fluids. Definitely needed a change. I sniffed angrily and ambled over to my pack. It still hurt a lot to curl my fingers into a fist. Gripping a zipper was out of the question. Awkwardly, I tried to hold the bag down with my elbow and drag the zipper open. Johnny resumed his fish cleaning, but I knew he was watching me out of the corner of his eye. I heard him chuckle slightly as I failed to get the bag open and angrily resorted to pinning the bag between my arms and pulling the zipper with my teeth. I ignored him and pulled out the medkit, carefully positioning the bottles and bandages out before me.

I unraveled the old bandages and surveyed the damage. How many days since that crazy girl bit me? Thank god it wasn’t a zombie bite, but who knew what didn’t make you one anymore? The wound was ugly, but wasn’t festering. Looks like it would heal. Alright. But if I came across anyone else, this wound would have to stay out of sight. Damn it. This means I had to put off looking for my group, or at least stay out of sight.

“How’s it looking?” Johnny inquired. “It’s aite,” I responded. I sat still for a while, trying to deduce the best way to re-bandage my hand. With only one operable hand, the task of holding a bottle and a swab is kind of tricky. I could do it if I didn’t mind spillage, but medicine of all things were diamonds of the current time. As I contemplated, Johnny finished up cleaning the fish and the area. I tried holding the swab to the mouth of the bottle, but my hands shook too much for a steady tip. Johnny came over and disposed of my old bandages wordlessly. He glanced at my exposed wound and my trembling hands. “Here,” he reached out for the bottle but I pulled away. “Are you always this… independent?” he sighed.

I turned away. It was humiliating enough for me to get caught, but for him to see me consciously chomp on that girl’s arm? I didn’t want to know what he thought of me. Sure, he was the one with the literal beast-mode, but that made it even worse for me. I was ashamed, frightened of myself. His pity made me feel even worse. As steadily as I could, I tipped the bottle of peroxide with the swab onto my wound.

The white-hot pain seared through my hand and I jerked back instinctively. The split second realisation of the precious peroxide spilling zapped through my brain and I panicked, but Johnny’s hand shot out and gripped my hand and the bottle, preventing it. My eyes clenched shut and I screwed up in pain. Gently, Johnny eased the bottle out of my hand. I cradled my wounded hand close to my chest and curled up into a ball. Tears stung my eyes.

This is fucked up. I’m so tired. “Why the hell are you still here?” I whispered. Why didn’t he leave? He had no reason to stay. “Don’t have anywhere else better to be,” he simply said. “Don’t give me that bullshit. Just- just leave me alone okay,” I kept my head low. I heard Johnny huff behind me. “At least fix up that hand first, and put your gun back together,” he shrugged.

“Aren’t you afraid of me?” I whispered. That took him completely off guard. “I-i-is this about that girl? Christ, Sarah! They chained you up like a fucking animal. It’s not your fault you reacted like one,” he cried. “I would know,” he added quietly. I turned to face him, tears still streaming from my eyes.

“Why aren’t you afraid of me?” he questioned, a very sad expression filling his face. His eyes turned that terrifying translucent again, but I felt no hostility from them. Instead, I felt fear. Fear, and expectation. Fear of rejection and the expectation that I would. “I’m sorry,” I almost sobbed. He shook his head. “It’s okay. That was fucked up. Even for me,” he commented, reaching for my hand. He bandaged my wound carefully and expertly, like he had done this his whole life.

I watched him. How much had he gone through? The amount of times he was in my situation? I remembered him being very somber after leaving the farmhouse. Him closing his eyes but never quite sleeping. Him staring at his hands. Even in a fevered state, I noticed him huddled in a corner, staring out into space.