Title: It All Comes Back
Challenge: Short Challenge
Rating & Warnings: none
Word Count: 1220
Summary: Memories never want to stay dead and buried.
Author’s/Artist’s Note: The Walking Dead based. This is unbeta’d and unedited (except for standard spellcheck). Any and all errors are mine.
Prompt used: Full Circle
Shane sat in front of his tent, staring into the firelight. He felt numb, his mind buzzing from the events of the past few weeks. It had been a crazy ride; everything seemed to move so fast since the world fell apart.
He looked up at the farmhouse, so still and quiet in the night. He wondered what the Grimes family was doing right now. He imagined that Rick was sitting in the chair by Carl's bedside. He'd been there every night since Carl had been shot, barely moving from the spot. Lori was probably there too, curled up on the bed by Carl's side.
Lori. It all came back to Lori. Shane felt his mind drawn back into the past, years before, back to where it all began.
It was the summer before senior year. There was a big party down by the river one weekend; booze, girls, fun in the sun until nightfall. After dark, things really got wild. Shane couldn't wait to get there. He was desperate to blow off some steam after all the long hours he'd put in at football practice under the hot sun this week. Somehow, he'd even managed to talk Rick into going with him. Rick was the good boy, the one who rarely partied, always kept his nose clean. It was kind of a surprise that Rick had been so willing to join him.
Until they got to the river, that is.
Shane parked his dad's old beat-up truck on the side of the road and killed the engine. He turned to Rick to say something but stopped when he noticed Rick staring out the window, his gaze never wavering from two girls down by the water's edge. Shane pulled his shades down and squinted, trying to figure out who the girls were. His heart sank when he realized that Rick had to be looking at Lori Barker. "Oh no Rick," Shane thought. "No, no, no. Please, not her. Please tell me you're looking at Haley Jane instead." Holding on to that thin thread of hope, he smacked Rick's shoulder as he grinned and said, "OK, buddy, we're here. You ready to cut loose and have some fun for a change?" Rick looked around at Shane, a big smile on his face. "Yeah, let's go." He opened his door and hopped out of the truck, making a beeline for Lori.
Shane watched as Lori threw her arms around Rick and hugged him, all smiles and laughter and "Hey! I'm so glad you came!" He leaned against the truck, his arms crossed on the side, watching his best friend make a play for the girl he wanted. "Come on, Walsh, get a grip. She's just a girl but Rick is your best friend. Smile, dammit." Shane tried to believe his own pep talk, tried to tamp down the disappointment, the hurt. He knew Rick wasn't doing it on purpose; he had no idea that Shane was interested in Lori. No one knew. Shane also knew that if Rick had any idea, he would back off. That's just the kind of friend Rick was. Shane could do no less, no matter how much it hurt. He sighed and plastered a smile to his face, tried to act like he didn't have a care in the world as he strolled over to his friends. He laughed a little too loud, he drank a little too much, he flirted with Haley Jane a little too well.
The four of them played in the river, splashing and dunking each other for hours. Every time Lori touched Rick, Shane withdrew a little more into himself. Every time Rick leaned over to brush Lori's wet hair away from her face, Shane wanted to run away. When darkness fell, smoke from grills and campfires rose into the sky and music blared from a bunch of different radios. Shane found himself well past drunk and headed straight for oblivion by the time he felt like he could slip away from the rest of the group. He waved off their calls of good night and their pleas for him to stay a while longer, to have another beer, as stumbled to his truck. He managed to crawl over the tailgate and into his sleeping bag in the back. Rick's bag was next to his, where it always was when they went camping. "He'll be here in a bit," Shane thought to himself as he slipped into sleep.
The next morning, Shane woke up with the sun stabbing too-bright rays straight into his brain. At least, that's how it felt. He reached out and grabbed the first thing he could find to pull over his eyes. He started to go back to sleep but jerked awake when he realized he was holding Rick's sleeping bag to his face. He sat up and looked around, his eyes bleary, his heart racing, and his head pounding. He scanned the riverbank, his heart sinking when he spotted Rick's tent on the shore not far from Lori's tent.
"It doesn't mean anything, Walsh. He just didn't want to camp next to your drunk ass, that's all. Doesn't mean anything," Shane whispered to himself. He stood up, barely managing to get over the tailgate without falling on his face. He stumbled down to the shore, trying not to make noise and wake anyone up. He had to see for himself, to know. When he got to Rick's tent, he reached out to zip open the door, his hand shaking. He drew his hand back, thinking to himself that what he was doing was wrong. "It's none of your business," he thought to himself. "Just walk away now and let it go."
He made it halfway back to his truck before he gave in and turned back. He couldn't leave unless he knew for sure. He quietly unzipped the door of Rick's tent and peeked inside. Without making a sound, he zipped the door closed and ran back to his truck, slipping on the sand and nearly falling several times. His hands were shaking so bad that it took three tries to get the door unlocked. Once he finally did, he sat in the driver's seat, his head lowered to the steering wheel as he tried to beat back the memory of Rick and Lori in Rick's tent, their limbs tangled together as they slept.
Shane shook his head, bringing his thoughts back to the present. Nothing good could come from him taking strolls down memory lane that way. He cleared his throat as he stood up. He should head for the RV, take his turn at guard duty. He looked back at the farmhouse one last time and caught a glimpse of Lori and Rick, together in front of a window on the second floor, their arms wrapped around each other. Shane once again tried to tamp down the hurt and disappointment. Lori had been his, for a while. Now she hated him, felt like he had betrayed her trust, Carl's love, Rick's friendship. He had been stupid to think that he could ever take Rick's place. He turned away from the farmhouse and watched the land, determined to keep his people safe.
"Yeah, here we are again," he thought. "Everything comes back, full circle."