105 Chapter One Hundred and Four - Knowing Needs and Limits

    Dao Companionship was not marriage; there was no terms of divorce and parting ways would be detrimental to the future of both parties.  Nathan likely did not fully understand this, neither would he worry about it, he was happy that his Xian would remain by his side and not leave him.  However Cole was not Nathan and as much as Chang Min was in his heart and reflected upon his soul, he couldn't make such a decision lightly.

    Regardless, Chang Min was feeling more comfortable that the proposition was out there.  He really wanted Cole to agree to it, there was no doubts in his own mind that the man was the one he wanted walking beside himself for the rest of this lifetime.  But he didn't want to force a decision that later might develop regret and cause them both to suffer in the future, so he pressed down any urgency in his heart and didn't speak of it again.  Perhaps this warmed Cole's heart even more for after the initial awkwardness that latest more than a couple of days, the man became even more affectionate to the point that the members of his original squad wondered if he'd been swapped out and replaced by a foreign entity.

    "I just think he wants to rub his relationship in our faces," Jimmy complained once more as he watched from the walls as the pair passed by in the distance, their heads close together and no space apparently between their bodies.

    "Stop bitching about it," Monika replied as she aimed her crossbow at a particularly insistent zombie, it's drool dripping constantly and steaming as it hit the ground before its feet.  Although it was midday and the majority of the zombies had wandered to take shelter from the hot sun that beamed unheeded upon the earth this early autumn day, this one seemed oblivious to the burning light and leapt up at the walls, trying to reach the fresh meat on top.  Two metal bolt pierced through its brains, the shortened distance making it nearly impossible to miss it and it crumpled to the ground.

    The woman sighed as she fanned herself with her gloved hand; on the walls it was best to wear as many skin covering things as possible to reduce the risk of infection.  They had slacked upon this rule in the summer, the temperatures had been too high and they would have impeded themselves if they had continued to cover themselves completely.  Plus, the threat of the undead had reduced a bit then.  Now, with the steadily rising numbers of evolved zombies attempting to breach the walls, they once more adopted this method of protection.  It was just difficult with this day being summer's last hurrah before the cooler temperatures truly settled in.

    Arthur handed her a bottle of cool water after replacing a metal bolt into his crossbow, ready for any further threats, before turning to Jimmy to chide him.  "Less worrying about them, concentrate on protecting the walls for now."

    Jimmy pouted for a moment before looking down at the stinky now unmoving corpse.  It had left scratches upon the metal surface of the wall not more than quarter of a foot from the top.  "I think we might have to raise the walls again," he lamented.

    He wasn't the only one to consider this.  Dexter was mulling over a list of things in the kitchen that he'd had Tyler compile regarding their supplies and what was required for the coming winter.  He also had a report from the second property having asked them to detail anything they required or thought of regarding their base as a fresh perception likely could see any problems that they had not considered.  Winston had reported all of the materials they required to finish the refurbish the third property for their needs that they couldn't get from the village, though it wasn't much.

    "Let's go out again," Jonah suggested, handing his wiggling son to Autumn for a moment, "before the zombies get any more active."

    Jonah had focused on caring for his small son all this while and well as nursing his old, broken heart.  Autumn hadn't told him that she'd cut off relations with her cousin during the time she confronted her in the army base, just had quietly mentioned that her cousin seemed well and left it at that.  Jonah still cared for Brooke and couldn't help but feel at ease hearing this, even if a small part of him wanted her to not be okay, so she'd have to come back to him and let him look after her.  He knew it was better this way, their son didn't need a mother that didn't want him and could leave him at the drop of a hat.

    His son was healthy, happy, the bright light in the darkness of this era and he could not love him more.  And he didn't want to be a mopey, useless old man for the kid, especially when he faced an uncertain future as it was, so he'd pulled himself together to once more attempt to be a pillar in their community, rather than a burden.

    "Didn't the base practically strip the surrounding towns and villages of anything of worth?" Dexter pointed out as he circled the word 'coal' on the supplies list.  Charcoal was being produced on the army base now, although they didn't have much points left from their last trip to cover the cost.  Perhaps they could sell any excess squash vegetables this time, they had quite the abundant harvest currently ripening in the beds.

    "I doubt they ran off with all of the windows, doors, metal pipes and things like that," Jonah pointed out.  Many of the village houses were in complete ruins as they'd removed these things already; the doors decorated a few outside walls to keep in more heat, the metal pipes had become crossbow bolts or helped to created the extra layer on the walls protecting them and windows had helped towards Nathan's greenhouse.  They hoped to gather more to make another greenhouse on the second property's grounds in the future.  Bricks were also taken and added to their already high walls and they already understood that there was a need to do this again.  A new supply would soon be needed.

    "That's true," Dexter relented.  He tapped the paper with his pen for a moment in thought.  "We did prioritise grabbing things that were easily removed rather than bulky items, so it's not to say there is nothing left in some of those houses."

    "Patrick mentioned that the squad he joins sometimes usually look further afield, in urban areas where there's more likely to be pickings," Jonah mentioned.  "So many we should try a different approach.  You had a bit of luck finding that remote farmhouse.  There are likely more about the place, whether they hold anything..." he shrugged.  "But looking costs fuel and so the gains might not outweigh the risk, if you know what I am saying."

    Dexter collected his thoughts and grinned.  "I've got you.  Farmhouses aren't the only ones with some more remote locations, there are also a few hotels that used to rely on picturesque scenery and campsites in forest locations.  Risky though."  The farms used to have animals; whether they lived, mutated or zombified no one knew, but animals tended at that time to be more dangerous than humanoid zombies.  Although by now most of the animals likely dispersed, didn't mean that the thought of the risk wasn't still embedded in people's minds.  Only those happy to gamble might think otherwise.  Same with the forests, in fact, the risk there was even greater due to unclear line of sight and mutated vegetation.

    "Don't doubt that!" Jonah agreed.  "So we could take the risk ourselves or team up with that army squad again."

    "Let's ask for a few opinions later," Dexter suggested.  They were stronger now than they used to be, but so were many of the animals and zombies.  Everyone had to understand the risks that would come with this mission and decide whether it was worth it.
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