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We Were Born to Die

Chapter Text

a·poc·a·lypse noun

1. the complete final destruction of the world. 2. an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale.

You stared at the definition you knew personally on too many levels as your stationary grip on the dictionary tightened, turning your knuckles a few shades paler than your normally (s/c) skin. Reading the sentences over and over again you realized the explanation of the word was vastly understated. Adjectives like "destruction" or "damage" made sense, the world was pretty fucked up from all the disease that swept over it, but those words just didn't describe the real thing. It was so much worse than the ink explained on the dirtied page, it was so much worse.

The day the apocalypse swallowed the world had been one of the worst days of your life and everyone else's by far.

Everything had gone to hell.

You blinked away the past and tossed the dictionary away from you with a controlled temper. The book slid across the floor finding its place under an old desk that kept the door shut to your hideout for the night. Silence weighed you down more and more every day and you couldn't even find solace in reading any more. The only things you had left were your bag from the beginning, the worn clothes on your back and extras put away for when you really needed them, and finally your mother's wedding ring that hung around your neck on a silver chain.

With a hollow sigh you felt your stomach complain for more food, but you barely had any left. Savoring what little you got everyday was your only choice and to make do with the supplies you had. However, your food wasn't the only thing that was scarce. You were low on ammo and your knife was looking a bit dull from all the stabbings it'd gone through day after day. You were out of water completely.

Leaning your head back against the wall you laid against you decided to call it a day. Collapsing onto the bed you sat on you ignored the feeling of grime coating your skin and redid your greasy, tangled hair back into it's usual, knotted bun. With a deep breath you closed your eyes to the little gleam of moonlight that spilled through the cracked window and relaxed. Your exhaustion finally caught up with you from all the ground you had covered and you drifted into a fatigued sleep.

You prayed you would wake up.


>>><<<

(Time skip)



Opening your heavy eyelids only for your eyes to ache as the sunlight shined directly into them, you frowned. Holding in a weak groan you turned onto your back and sighed, rubbing the sleep from your face. Blinking your eyes wide open you took a breath and sat up, cracking your back with a satisfied huff. Scratching your jaw lazily you shifted, slipping your feet from the dirtied mattress lazily. Getting up you're shaggy form stretched and you bent down, your right foot lifting back slightly as you scooped up your pack and slung it over one shoulder.

Grabbing your gun from under the smudged pillow you'd slept on you checked your low ammo once more and but at your lip, sliding the barrel into the waist of your tattered jeans. Picking up your dulled blade you gripped it tightly and looked around the room you'd occupied once more. There was nothing left except for a few shredded books, disgusting cloths or ripped clothes, and furniture.

You slid the aging desk from up against the door back as quietly as possible and peeked out into the hallway of the deserted home timidly. Listening silently, all you picked up were the sounds of nature and a few groans from the walking corpses, most likely outside of the building. One could never be too sure, though. Slipping out from the room you made one last round around the house managed to find an old bag of chips and a few granola bars. It amazed you what someone missed in a tired daze. Having come into the house just before the sun went down you had been immensely tired, and only glanced around before holing yourself up in a formidable room.

Peering through the dust covered windows after packing your few snacks up, you spotted a few dead ones roaming and frowned as one waited on the porch. Some had noticed you the night before and stayed around the house trying to get back the meal they'd lost.

Gripping your blade you walked to the front door and counted silently in your head. Wrenching the door open you came face to face with eroding death and slammed your knife into it's head with a small grunt. Pulling the blooded weapon free of the rotted flesh you dragged the body inside and shut the door soundlessly. Too tired and low on ammo, along with a soon-to-break knife you only had a few choices. Tough it out here, make it or break it out there, or hide yourself. The latter was your best shot, you were already disgusting anyway.

Snatching a mildly clean sheet from another guest room upstairs you ripped the corpse open and gagged, scooping it's intestines onto the white cloth. Making sure to drench the sheet in whatever blood and gore you could you finally adorned the heavy cloak of invisibility (at least for the dead's standards) and made your way outside. A few of the monsters took notice of you and approached, but slid by when they caught no whiff or sign of human.

It was hot today, you realized, as you walked the empty roads with only a few cans of food as a reward of searching through a whole damn neighborhood for the most part of your morning. With half lidded eyes and the odor of disgust itself you decided to take a load off. Dropping into a house a little bit out of the town you'd visited, you searched the premises and found only one walking corpse.

Overall the day had been another mindless repeat and your awareness of that fact was still as numb as ever.

Chapter Text

Nightmares were common. Getting up at the break of dawn, killing a wandering corpse, and soaking your sheet of safety further of guts and gore was normal.

When stumbling upon a new town you grew nervous, even though it was a regular occurrence you had to deal with almost every week. Sticking around long wasn't something you did often seeing as you hadn't taken to setting up a home. You wouldn't ever settle unless you knew for sure it was safe.

And it was never safe.

Luckily, you'd found an abandoned ammo store on a particularly dry day some time ago. Getting in was a bit problematic, but it was manageable, and the trip procured some additional bullets for your gun. You'd even recovered a hunting knife, which was what you'd needed having broken your old one the day before.

Thankfully, fate had been on your side for once and had provided water for the last few weeks, but you ran out a day or maybe two ago. So, next was finding some more of that because you were already succumbing to dehydration.

Rummaging through a few stores you were met with nothing but crumbs and aged old blood stains. As you were walking down an aisle filled with magazines and such, you spotted a few interesting comics.

Squatting down you felt your necklace slip from the collar of your shirt, bumping against your chest lightly. Without looking down you fumbled with the rings, repositioning them on the chain.

Letting your gaze wander over the weathered covers you took in the unique art styles

Letting your gaze wander over the weathered covers you took in the unique art styles. You were always more of a novel kind of gal, but you had a read a few comics in your time.

A dog barked next to you, stumbling up to your spot in all his fluffed glory. He needed a bath, but you'd been busy with keeping the two of you alive.

A few months and look how big you are, you thought scratching the animal's head as caring as one of your stature could. He reached the middle of your calf and was walking and, on occasion, running these days. You still couldn't believe how long he'd been with you. Somehow he'd survived.

He's still a pup, you sighed as you watched him wander out of the aisle to look for any stray food, possibly. He was still working on his hunting ability, just finding actual food appetizing a few days back. But he's smart.

The dog knew when to shut up and when to sit still. He couldn't keep up with you every now and again, so you would be forced to carry him at times, but he knew not to struggle. They were useful talents, to be silent and motionless, and you appreciated it tenfold.

Turning your focus back to the comics you saw the tip of the canine's tail disappear into the next row. Getting caught up in the detailed art you didn't detect the unknown body that'd entered the store until you heard a foreboding click near your sitting form.

You froze, caution creeping, and turned with slow movements. Your heart nearly exploded in your chest as you spotted the stranger a few feet away. She pointed her loaded gun at you, a strap wrapped tight over her chest revealing she had more weapons.

"Get down. Now." She motioned with the tip of her gun to the dust-covered floor. Dark fingers shifted on the weapon, thumb swiping to turn the safety off, most likely.

You shut your eyes, grit your teeth and do as the woman orders, falling onto your knees from your squat. You feel your body start to shake. This was your first run-in with a human since before your mother's death.

It was utterly terrifying.

Kneeling with jerky movements you raise your hands above your head and wince as the woman steps closer, posture intimidating.

"Drop your weapons."

You reached behind, palm at your pant's waist, and throw down the knife and gun.

"Bag, too. Drop it."

Your entire body hesitates as you remember the pup. You pray the dog will be quiet as you glance back. Hopefully he would stay off your aisle.

Slipping your arms from the straps of your pack, you gradually push it away as to keep him from wandering back at the sound of noise. You look at the floor and hear your heartbeat in your ears as the woman pushed everything towards her with her foot.

Don't kill me, you think. Don't find the dog and kill him.

(E/c) eyes widened as you hear a shuffle. Then he's whining and whimpering and your heart drops to your knees that are currently on the dirt-stained tiles.

God dammit.

There's movement and you look up as the dog rounds the corner. The stranger has him in her sights, staring at your companion with a look you couldn't place. Confusion was somewhere in there.

"Please!" you shout, words shaken and cracked with prolonged silence. "Please...d-don't hurt him." Your voice was hoarse. You'd barely used it since you had begun your journey by yourself.

Silence greets your plea as the dog goes quiet. He starts towards your form, oblivious to the threat around him. The stranger looks at you and back at the pup as it sits by your feet. With a huff she picks up your weapons and grabs your bag in trained, fluid movements. She had definitely done this before.

When the woman has adorned your items she gives a stern nod. You relax once she puts her gun down and observe the outsider with wide eyes.

"You got a camp?" Her voice is low and serious, but oddly soft. You shake your head as your insides quiver from the fear in your gut. "Family?" Another head shake in denial. You hear a tired sigh and frown. Was this it? Would you be left with no supplies, or be shot dead where you sat?

"How many walkers have you killed?"

You grow puzzled at her question and look up petting your dog softly for comfort. She repeats her question, slowly and you swallow. She must mean the corpses.

You shrug, not sure. Hiding was your usual go-to tactic as well as masking your smell with their insides.

"How many people have you killed?" You winced and looked down. You didn't want to answer that.

"Give me an answer," she warns. You bite at your lower lip.

"One," you breathe. "Just...one."

"...Why?" That was the real question. Why? Why did you run and hide instead of going in and just killing them? Why did you murder...?

"I...I'm not strong," you tell her honestly, "I had too." That was all you had to say on the subject.

"...I'm Michonne."

You blink and take a breath as she checks your pack. Finding no more weapons she hands it to you and you give her a confused expression.

"Got a name?" You don't answer her and she nods, understanding. "I have a camp. I was headin' there."

"... So?" you question still deeply lost in your current situation. Why was she giving you most of your stuff back? Was she actually sane and gave mercy to weaklings like yourself?

"So," she huffs as you swallow, "I'm giving you a choice. We have families where I live. Women, children..." She glances you up and down. "Food for your skinny self and that pup. Looks young."

"He is..." you murmur and take a moment to think things over. The newcomer was giving you a choice.

She could be lying, you contemplated, but she didn't kill him... That's says something doesn't it?

Gulping you give her a hesitant nod. You needed a safe place seeing as you'd been looking for one on your own for far too long. It was time to at least try and settle down. Besides you needed more food for the canine and yourself. Maybe they had some and if they didn't you could just leave.

Maybe they have water... Your dry throat practically turns to dust at the thought of liquid.

"I'll go, but I want my weapons," you tell her. She eyes you, clearly thinking, before shaking her head.

"Can't."

You sigh and roll your eyes. You knew the answer had been coming, but it was still worth a shot. The woman moves away from you checking over the various shelves for supplies. When she grabs a few comics you furrow your eyebrows at her.

"For a friend of mine," she tells you.

When the outsider leaves you hesitantly follow her and you both walk out into the street. Your small form stumbles over the sidewalk while Michonne greets a horse.

Does she live on a farm? Where even is this place?

"How long have you been out here?" Michonne asked a bit curious as she glanced back at you. You don't answer her and choose to look at the ground. "You can ditch the sheet."

"I need it," you countered, the smell of rotten blood filling your nose now that you remembered it.

"You have me now." The woman motions to get on the steed after she's settled on the saddle offering a hand. You shake your head and walk forward, looking over your shoulder as the dog followed. Soon enough the horse was trotting beside you as well.

"No name, then?" She hums down. You scoop the pup into your arms holding him close as he gets comfortable.

You don't answer her.

Chapter Text

"What's your camp like?" you asked once you were miles from the town. After looting what you could the morning finally started to fade away into a muffled mess. You were growing worse for wear as the minutes passed. Your mouth was parched, creating a sandpaper-like tongue, and you felt the world pivot if you moved a bit too fast for its liking. These symptoms were no doubt due to hydration.

It was just getting hotter in your opinion as you watched the waving air in the distance, rippling like the rain you craved. The dog's fur against your sweat-stained skin was not helping either. You would have asked for water, but you were still vacillated when it came to Michonne. Hopefully that was the woman's actual name, but then again what good did hiding your name do these days? Not much, if you thought about it.

"Big, hard to miss, a prison."

"Prison?" you questioned, your depleted mind taking the latter faultily, and becoming cautious. "It's like a prison? They don't let you out?"

"No, it's an actual prison." The woman explained mono-tonelessly. "Probably won't be getting out much considering you're still a kid, but who knows?"

You pressed your lips into a firm line, your tongue flickering out to try and wet the chapped skin.

You weren't one for being forced into hiding. Even though you were more of the run-and-hide type of girl, you were a free spirit. You liked exploring, it's part of the reason why you didn't stay cooped up in a hideout for too long.

Suddenly, a few more ideas came to mind as to why you should hesitate in joining this 'group' of Michonne's.

Your breath hitched as your foot bent at an odd angle thanks to an uneven patch of road. With the sudden jerk you stumbled forward feeling a bit of pain in your ankle. The fact you were dehydrated didn't help, causing you to collapse to your knees as you dropped the dog. He yips and scatters away as you catch yourself on your hands. The world spun, no longer holding its pivoting back as you panted feeling the rough, hot cement dig into the skin of your palms as you tried to make sense of everything.

"Y...ka..?" The muffled voice was hard to decipher as you blinked trying to get to your feet. Seeing movement to your right you turned to see a dark form coming your way. The smell of rotting flesh didn't help your dizziness or peace of mind.

You nearly had a heart attack as something jumped in front of you--the corpse fell to the ground. Before you could make sure if it was Michonne or not you turned and emptied your practically already void stomach. The bitter taste of digesting acids assaulted your tongue as you gagged and faltered. You'd just vomited what little liquid you had left, probably not the best.

Someone grabbed your shoulder pulling you from your soiled spot as you went semi limp.

Tired, you thought unable to move your aching limbs. Without warning you were shifted, but you couldn't find the strength to fight the physical contact.

A wave of fatigue washed over your mind.

You couldn't remember the last time you blacked out.


>>><<<


Waking with a jerk you blinked the nightmare behind your eyelids away. The shadowy figures and mumbles of ghosts died to nothing but white noise. With a heavy sigh you leaned forward, running your hand over your greasy face, tiredly. There was no use in wasting time wallowing in the memories of what used to be, you'd learned that long ago when you had finally been left on your own. Recollections just weighed you down and made it harder to move on.

Shaking your head you finally realized you weren't where you were suppose to be. You were used to waking up in a different place every morning, but not when the room you occupied had fucking bars.

Your brow furrowed at the unknown surroundings. Pushing off the rather stiff mattress you felt the top of your head slam into some type of light metal making you wince and grab the sore spot with one hand as you turned, looking up. Glaring daggers above you you saw you were laying on the bottom of a bunk bed--you felt like an idiot for not noticing earlier.

You nictitated before doing a double take as you spotted a glass of water next to you on a small box. Your throat quivered just seeing the liquid. Reaching forward you sniffed the seem-to-be water and smelled no weird aromas. The blistered fingertips of yours slid against the glass as you tapped softly, absorbing the current position you were in. Glancing around the small cell room you saw your pack in the corner.

Crap, the dog, you remembered a deeper frown making its way onto your face. The pup wasn't with you and you saw no sign of him anywhere in the room. Heading towards the cell door you reached out. Just as your left hand came into contact with the bars it shifted.

Pausing, you waited a few seconds before checking the door.

It was unlocked.

Okay, you decided to think rationally as you let your hands fall to your side, your right still holding the water. That woman... Michonne, said it was a prison. Definitely a prison, you agreed peaking out at the large cell block. You could make out people's voices and backed up into your room when you saw someone a bit too close to your liking out on the walkway. Greeting someone was the last thing on your mind at the moment. It seemed your cell was the last considering a wall greeted you on the left.

And there are people like she said. They gave me water, you glanced down, and the door is unlocked, that's a plus. Looking back at your pack you flexed your jaw. But my dog's missing and I have no weapons.

Your head pounded and you grimaced. Sighing, you grip the glass of water and toss your head back, downing it in three gulps. You didn't care if it was drugged, you were thirsty as hell and still a bit nauseous from dehydration. Setting the glass on the box you'd found it on you swallowed, finally having saliva to spare.

Let's do this shit.

Stepping out of the cell you observed the cell block with sharp eyes and tried not to react at all the people surrounding you. Stay calm, you thought. Deep breaths, they're just people... Blinking with a deep breath in tow you started towards a flight of steps. A few strangers eyed you as you passed and you made no eye contact. First thing on your list was to find your canine and the woman who'd brought you here in the first place. Hopefully, Michonne had your dog and not some other stranger.

Finding what you assumed was the front door you made your way out into...the early afternoon maybe?

Squinting up, you cupped your hand over your eyes and saw the sun high in the sky. Your assumption was probably correct. Focusing on your surroundings you froze.

Your heart beat wildly at the sight of so many people. At first glance your mind labeled them as the corpses, but you knew the difference between the living and the dead.

You'd been in large groups of rotted bodies out of pure accident. You knew the way corpses walked, how they moved, every sound that escaped their shredded lips. It was second nature.

Humans had reason in their steps, those monsters didn't. That's what made people so terrifying.

Michonne, you thought helplessly with a bit of anger laced into the mental tone. Where are you?

"Hey. New girl, right?"

You nearly jumped at the blunt question directed towards you and turned. Coming to face a girl maybe in her older teen years your jaw tightened. Her blonde hair glinted in the sunlight, thrown into a messy ponytail as she smiled warmly at you. She looked nice enough with a round face and big eyes.

You hesitated and nodded to answer her question.

"Thought so. I'm Beth," she offered her hand. You tensed in reply, raising your hand to clasp your other arm nervously, eyes darting away. "I'm not gonna bite."

The ground seemed interesting.

"You're probably lookin' for Michonne? I think she's around. She's been taken care of your dog... He's cute."

You fidgeted back and forth too shaken up to answer. Could the girl blame you? Your young self wasn't used to normal conversations with someone close to your age, let alone someone living. Not that you talked to the corpses, but...

"I'm sure she'll show you around. We have showers here so you'll be able to wash up." She tried for an answer but all you could do was nod, tongue tied. Something told you the teenager was hinting you looked like shit, but it wasn't like you were going to comment on it.

You talked to Michonne, your inner self defended. But, then again, you were curious and had questions that needed to be answered...

"Alright, then." Beth nodded seeing as you weren't going to reply. She seemed to have no hard feelings for the silence. "Well, I'll tell Michonne you're lookin' for her."

A nod once more and the blonde smiled, heading off. Turning, you spotted more people eyeing you and gritted your teeth behind tight lips.

Walking around for a few more minutes you finally spotted Michonne. She was already making her way towards you when you'd caught sight of her.

"Finally up. Might want to warn me if you're feeling a bit dehydrated." She commented as she stopped in front of you, crossing her arms. "I thought you'd been bit."

"How long was I out?" you murmured quietly, not willing to apologize for your distrust about telling her your condition.

"You slept like a rock for the rest of the day and through the night."

"Where's my dog?"

"With Hershel. He's the doctor around here. Want him?"

You nodded, realizing it was your answer for nearly everything. It was that or silence. Beaches would you have asked if you didn't want your dog? You mentally sighed.

"Alright, come on." The woman gestured to a building back towards your left as you followed after her. "Lunch will be ready soon and then you can meet and greet or do whatever it is you do."

I don't meet and greet.

At the moment you wanted nothing more than to eat with your pup, alone. You would explore, take in the prison perhaps, if there was time. Maybe you could learn to talk to that girl, Beth.

You had to learn to get over your urge to run and hide and try to be friendly to the group. You needed this. Some part of you knew, one way or another, you wouldn't be able to survive on your own for the remainder of your life. You were too weak, too softhearted. So, you couldn't postpone this.

Really don't know how the world hasn't killed me off yet... You were such a coward when you thought about it.

"Hey."

You looked up as Michonne spoke, her voice a bit more cheerful. It wasn't directed towards you, but in front of you where a figure approached.

A brunette with longish hair and curious eyes caught your attention. How you knew his mood was the fact those blue irises were staring dead at you. With greasy hair and bloody skin you probably looked like a maniac.

Everyone here was clean while you walked around smelling like the dead.

"Hey," the boy replied to Michonne finally looking away. His voice was mild for however old he was. You were surprised to see he might have been around your age as well. Just how many people were living here?

"You getting a check up?" Michonne seemingly teased, coming to a stop in front of the teen. You went to walk around not comfortable enough to stop and chat. There was a mission to accomplish anyhow.

"No. I heard about the dog."

You turned your head with a small frown at the comment. He was looking at you again as you passed, stepping by. Your heart seemed to seize it's movement at his attention and fear gripped you.

Just ignore him.

"Yeah, it's hers." The woman answered.

Now they both were looking at you. Great. You cleared your throat not looking back and Michonne chuckled at your awkwardness. Your thoughts hissed at her for finding the situation amusing.

You quickly made your retreat into the building pushing through the doorway. Taking a deep breath as the door shut behind you, you heard their muffled voices beyond the thick wood and glass.

Your ears perked up at the sound of whining. So that's where he was.

The echo of your footsteps against the marble floors bounced off the walls as you followed the sound of your dog to an open door. Glancing in a man came into view. Bald head and a white beard; he was old, but that didn't mean he wasn't dangerous.

Taking a breath through your nose you knocked on the open door to alert your presence. Wrinkled eyes met yours as you glanced down at the floor. The dog bustled around with an old piece of rope in its mouth, looking entertained and safe enough. At the sight of you he ran forward, galloping on his small paws as he jumped up barking with its mouth full. You bent down petting him softly.

Good. You're safe. No need to worry about him, then.

"You the owner?" The elder asked, voice dry. You nodded in reply. "Michonne told me about you. Dehydration?" He hummed.

Another nod in acknowledgment.

"You feelin' alright?" It was the same silent answer. You don't need a check up, or rather didn't want one.

Stepping forward you reached down and scooped up your canine. He howled softly as you rubbed his back, a bushy tail thumping against your hip as you situated him.

"He was a hungry little pup... I'm Hershel." Quietude ticked by along with the faint sound of voices somewhere outside the room. "Can ya speak?" Hershel hummed trying to be polite, but get answers at the same time. You nodded. "I see, just quiet, then. That's fine."

"Managed to get a name out of her?" Michonne walked in behind you and a frown slipped onto your face. You didn't like being laughed at.

"No, but there's no rush. Name doesn't make the person."

"Guess not... Her dog doin' good?"

"Healthy as can be. Luckily little spot for having someone like her looking after him."

You chewed on the inside of your cheek. Did you look as nervous as you felt?

"What's the catch?" you mutter out after a few beats of pause. Both adults turned towards you while you found your shoes a bit more interesting.

"No catch." Hershel's assures ahead of your jittery form. "People work, we all put in our share of work, that's all. You have nothing to worry about."

"We'll find you a job," Michonne states coming up beside you. "There's plenty to do, fun stuff included."

"You'll like it here. This is our home and by extent yours if you accept it." The old man smiles softly.

Everyone seemed nice so far, but that was just the problem. "Nice" scared you, because after months (maybe a year?) of never receiving it, the term and you were strangers.

"I'll try to."

And that was a promise.

Chapter Text

You sighed, sitting the dog down next to your bed with rusty movements. He rested on top of an old towel with a bowl sitting next to him, a few scraps of something left to eat. You would be sure to feed him later when it was time, but for now he seemed comfortable nodding off.

Speaking of eating, you thought and your stomach growled in return.

Michonne said lunch was soon and you needed to map the place out. A runner needed escape routes.

Pushing your pack under your bed with one foot you prayed the dog would stay asleep until you got back. He was too small to push the bar door open, so you assumed he'd stay out of trouble.

After a quick trip to the showers, you managed to clear your face of crust as well as your hair of its usual bird nest look. You would take a shower later or when you felt safe enough. Even if you weren't squeaky clean it still came as a shock to you when you saw your reflection in a mirror. Before you could really observe how much you'd changed you left, not wanting to waste any more time.

Stepping out of the cell block and into the warm sunlight you instantly smelled food. Your mouth watered at the fragrance and you followed the small crowd to a well-built shack where a few people moved around inside setting up plates. Picnic tables were occupied by many men and women and you even spotted children much younger than you in the midst.

"Glad you showed."

You looked up at your dark-skinned savior of sorts and nodded passively. She turned her head smiling at a man who had waltzed up next to her with greasy shoulder-length hair. His muscles proved he could snap your neck in a nanosecond.

You're insides shook and you grew nervous at the sight of him. It wasn't just his size that scared you, but the way he carried himself--the expression he had.

He reminded you so much of your father.

"This is Daryl." Michonne introduced as your mouth went desert dry. Daryl raised an eyebrow as you stared at him. You shook your head looking away.

"You lose your tongue out there or somethin'?" He questions having a deep, southern drawl. You shook your head again, jittery with nerves.

"She's quiet." The former spoke up. You turned to leave seeing no more conversation directed towards your quivering figure. "Think you scared her," you hear behind you.

The man muttering, "What'd I do?" was the last thing you heard before you got in line. Grabbing a plate that was just sat down in front of you, you glanced up at a grinning woman with incredibly short hair. She was probably in her mid or late forties.

"You the pup girl?"

You nodded wanting to hurry up and eat. She noticed your eagerness and laughed softly, nodding as well and turned back to her job. Making a bolt for it, you dodged the small crowd and hurried back to your cell. After lunch, you would find out just how big this prison was.


>>><<<


The place was guarded by fences. Two of them to be exact around a massive perimeter. The job of killing corpses on the fence came to mind. You didn't prefer it, but your options were most likely limited.

Standing atop a hill that overlooked some of the prison you spotted a small cropping space down below. A closure stood by the garden and your eyes squinted upon seeing a man checking over the rows of raked dirt.

"That's the farm."

You jumped at the familiar voice of a girl and turned to see Beth. (E/c) eyes glanced back at the yard curiously.

"Rick runs it, along with Carl, his son. I think you guys might be around the same age."

"...I need a job." you finally mumbled.

"There's a few. I usually work with the kids and clean up around the cell blocks... You could always keep stock, or help Carol with cooking. She says she met you."

You shrugged having seen many people this afternoon. It was beginning to get late after your exploration of the prison.

"Anything else?"

She laughed slightly.

"Trying not to be picky," you forced out, probably sounding as stupid as you felt.

"It's fine. You just want a job to fit into... Do you like books?" Your eyes widened as you turned to look at the teen. Growing up with rather thick walls to protect yourself, your previous bond to books couldn't be hidden. Beth grinned at your reaction.

"No wonder you're so quiet. You're a bookworm at heart, aren't ya?"

You gritted your teeth behind tight lips and shrugged looking away, a bit embarrassed. It wasn't like you to reveal personal things such as that. Besides, books didn't help you much anymore, except for starting fires and a small distraction when the coast was clear.

"We have a library, maybe you could clean up in there sometimes, but you need another job besides that."

"...Anything to do at night?" you asked hesitantly. You tended to wake up only after a few hours of sleep and never really got any in the first place. Nightmares were a bitch, insomnia too.

"Watch, but I don't know if they'll let..."

You frowned as she went quiet. You were a kid, no doubt about it. What a waste of an okay sounding job, though.

"What would you want to do? Any preferences?"

You thought about it. In the silence of your thoughts, a breeze fluttered by, pulling at your (h/c) strands.

"...The less people, the better."

"Well, there's working down at the garden. Only Rick and Carl take care of it, mostly. The library is usually empty unless it's story time for the kids. Uh...watch is handled by different people every night."

"Guess I'll just have to work with those..." you sighed.

If I can even get the watch job.

"You'll like the boys, they're real nice. Rick's not much of a talker either, so you'll just have to worry about Carl." You ground your teeth together. If he was that kid who'd stared at you, you might have a problem on your hands.

"What's he...I might have already met him...?" You didn't want to ask what he looked like, but you had to know.

"He's got brown hair, blue eyes." You tensed and held back a groan of frustration. "So you met him."

You blinked staring out at the corpses being killed. Hadn't Michonne called them walkers or some other?

"Don't like him?"

"It's him that doesn't like me, I think..." you muttered. The boy stared at you, and not just with curious intentions but something else. Something that made you want to turn tail and run. Then again you hadn't seen, let alone spoken, to someone your age in a long time. The last person you remembered ever being close to was your neighbor. That boy was long gone, probably dead.

That's some optimism you've got there, (y/n), you mocked internally.

"Carl's not one to hate someone on the spot. Distrust, sure, but not hate unless he knows something about you I don't."

There are plenty of things both of you don't know and probably will never know about me. You just shrugged in response.

"Well, it's gonna be dinner soon. See you there?" Another shrug. "Alright. See ya."

You slowly lost your stiff composure as the girl left and sagged a tad. After a minute of observing the small farm and the man known as Rick, you finally decided to head back to your cell. The pup greeted you with cute yawns and small whimpers. You shushed him softly and played with him for a bit wondering how he came to have two different colored eyes. Brown and blue.

Carl's eyes came to mind, being one of the same colors.

Blue... Your thoughts wondered. He scares me, you admit softly to yourself. You were nervous when facing him, not used to male attention or a stone-cold gaze by a stranger. Had you done something wrong? You were pretty sure you didn't know the boy...

Carl definitely looked intimidating, but maybe that was just you.


>>><<<


You felt eyes on your back as you picked up your dinner, the dog next to you. It was time for his feeding as well.

Balancing the bowl of kibble on your plate you started towards an empty spot in the meadow, avoiding watchful humans. Sitting down in the cool grass you sat your food away and focused on the canine. He whined as you held the bowl above him teasingly. You motioned with your hand seeing if he had learned the sign yet. It took him a few tries but the dog finally sat down wagging his tail as he barked. You cracked a smile and sat his food on the grass watching him eat as well as taking a few bites of your dinner.

"Can I pet him?"

Your head jerked up and you winced as you saw a little girl standing a few feet away. She seemed like a sweet girl, but you were bad with kids.

"Mika!"

The girl raised her head as well looking somewhere behind you. She made a face at someone that made you hold back amusement, surprising yourself. Glancing over your shoulder you saw another girl, most likely her sister, waving her back.

"What's his name?" Mika ignored her possible sibling as you shrugged having not given the pup one.

"Mika!" The other hissed warningly.

"Ugh..." The blonde rolled her eyes and sighed. "I'll see you later, I guess..." She frowned trudging back over to her sister as you watched sheepishly. You'd never had a sibling, so this was amusing to watch. The girls didn't realize you could still hear them.

"Carol said not to bother her."

"I wanted to see the dog."

"You're being rude!"

"No I'm not!"

Oh. You think. Do I need to name you? You hummed looking down at the dog. He yawned, done with his dinner. Rubbing him softly you watch the animal roam as he rolled and dragged himself around, smelling with his tiny nose. You ate while keeping an eye on him, thinking of a name.

You shushed the dog as he howled and made no sign of stopping. Grabbing his small form you pulled him into your lap and grabbed his muzzle.

"Hush." You ordered sternly and he shut up after you repeated it with a tighter grip on his muzzle.

Blinking you released the pup in your lap and breathed a deep exhale through your nose. You hated having to force silence, but if you were out there and he made a single noise in the midst of corpses...

Just learn to be quiet, you think as you pet him softly. You grin softly when he turns onto his back allowing access to his tummy. If anything you needed this little bugger to get through the hell outside.

Chapter Text

"Hey."

 

You jumped at the rough voice ahead as you were throwing your plate away. Looking up your heart constricted at the sight of your father.

No.

You shook your head. It was just that man. What was his name again? Dan? Daryl? You ducked under his scrutinizing gaze as he stopped in front of you, a good few feet taller than your form. Your hands flinched as his eyes traveled down to your dog and you felt the need to scoop the animal up. When had you become so protective?

If you had to guess it would probably be sometime when you started going to school, you had only been vigilant towards others.

"Beth said you might wanna help with watch." Hesitation, then a nod on your behalf. "Don't sleep?"

"I...do," you force out. Your voice quivered, but just trying to talk to this guy in particular was hard enough. It wasn't you that decided to keep silent. You had just gotten tired of being ridiculed every time you opened your mouth.

"Well, I'm on tonight. If you're feelin' up to it."

You had to force your legs to be still as you nodded shyly. The man in reply eyed your canine one more time before he turned on his heel.

"...Cute dog." With that he walked away. You blinked, glancing down then back up at the retreating form. Finally, you relaxed. Coming from such a rough voice the words had sounded strange, but it was strangely sweet somehow as well.

"Thanks..." you murmured, urging the words from your throat with difficulty.

He was already gone.

>>><<<

You entered the bathroom where women were getting their daily showers and such.

You hurried, heading towards the sinks just wanting to wash up a bit. You weren't quite brave enough to take a shower amongst so many people, curtains or not. The mere thought of being so vulnerable around so many bodies made you shiver.

Ridding sweat and grime from your features and neck you deemed it good enough.

Grabbing the dog you headed outside to see where Daryl would be. Peeking up at the sky you saw the sun had already set. Returning your gaze forward you spotted the rugged male. He was waiting by the picnic tables (the ones you'd seen at dinner) watching the few people that were still rushing around to get stuff done before bed.

The buff man spotted you as you walked towards him. His slim eyes squinted as he pushed off the table, un-crossing his legs and arms casually.

"We'll be watchin' up there," he stated, nodding to your right. Making his way towards what you assumed was the watchtower of the prison you held your dog closer.

It was tall, the building, and you wondered if you would have ever been afraid of heights had you not been forced to climb so many trees and abandoned buildings (the latter you rarely did). You frowned remembering the fall you had endured on a roof to get a few pouches of powdered milk for the canine back then. The things you did for pups.

You really should've been dead by now, it only made sense.

Glancing down at the dog you started your journey higher. Climbing the dark steps within the slim lookout you listened to the heavy footfalls of Daryl (you were pretty sure that was his name after thinking over it) trying to calm your nerves with the pup's soft fur. The man seemed like a nice guy, but the resemblance to your father was too much for your brain to comprehend.

He doesn't talk like him, though, you thought trying to find the differences to ease your tired hysteria. And he's got a crossbow. You noticed the weapon having never seen one in person. Now that you'd realized he had such a thing you tensed, thinking the worst. Quite a weapon though, probably useful too with its silence and speed.

You glanced up as the sound of a door opening echoed. Pausing on the steps as Daryl stopped, you swallowed as he held the door open for you and hurried past him. A small breeze greeted you as you stepped out onto the walkway and you stared awed at how much farther you could see around the prison.

"People should be in their block. Just keep your eye out for the fences an' any sketchy shit."

"...Alright," you muttered walking to your right to circle around the tower. Seeing a light in one of the others you squinted seeing shadows within. Were there other lookouts for tonight?

"Maggie and Glenn."

You jumped looking over your shoulder at Daryl.

"Huh?"

"They live there. Married." The archer didn't look at you as he spoke. You hummed, understanding and nodded. You hadn't met the couple as of yet. Hopefully they were nice as well.

When Daryl stayed silent you sighed quietly and sat down, sliding your legs over the edge and resting the dog between a rail and your stomach, your arms holding him securely on both sides. The pup settled down before falling asleep, oblivious to your first job.

"A lotta people don't like the idea of a newcomer keepin' watch, and a kid at that."

You blinked, surprisingly not caring about the opinions and nodded. You probably would have agreed if you'd been in their shoes. Who would want a child keeping an eye outfor "sketchy shit" when a man like Daryl could be doing it by himself?

Did they really expect you to goof off, though? You just got here and actually wanted a good impression on the folks, but, then again, you didn't really care if they liked you. As long as they would accept you, you would take that and keep out of their way.

"...You one of them?" you asked quietly. "That doesn't like me working here, I mean..."

"Nah. Less work for me." You cracked a smile and huffed running a hand down the dog's back. He squirmed but continued to doze. "When you gonna tell everyone yer name?"

"...Names don't make the person," you quoted Hershel, if you remembered his name correctly. "I just...don't know if I should or not."

"Don't trust us?"

"No. Not yet."

"Least you're honest."

Glancing up at the starry sky you blinked. It was peaceful up here, the crickets' songs drowned out the groans of the dead and you could relax for once. If you focused you could almost pretend you were somewhere far out in the country, somewhere with your mother. Everything was calm. You were safe.

"How long you been out there?"

You frowned at the question and lost your private daydream, wondering it yourself. Michonne had asked that as well. You'd lost track of time quite a while ago. Sadly, you weren't even sure how old you were anymore.

"Since the beginning? Didn't really...keep up with time," you muttered softly.

"How long you been alone, then?"

"..."

Since my mom died, you would have said. But you didn't want to bring her up.

"Long time," you went with.

"Everythin's long nowadays."

You could say that again, you're conscious stated.

"You look aroun' the kid's age--Rick's--but maybe you just got a baby face."

"...Should I be insulted?"

"Better than this shit face."

"I...wouldn't say your face is shit," you huffed softly looking up at the man. You cleared your throat when you realized your barriers had dropped slightly. Humor was starting to pool once more.

"Kinda surprised," Daryl huffed glancing down at you. "Thought you weren't a talker."

"...I'm...not, really," you said starting to go back into your shell. It was better to stay away, keep a distance, you told yourself.

"Don't go shuttin' up now. Only thing to do up here is talk anyways."

You flinched as the dog howled suddenly, whining as you shushed him reaching under his soft belly to hold him to your chest. Grabbing his snout you added a small amount of pressure.

"Hush," you ordered sternly. He waited a few seconds before obeying. Why was he so loud today? You guessed his nerves were shot as well.

"He got a name? Or we not worthy of it, yet?"

You winced hoping he was just teasing about the "worthy" part.

"I-I don't know what to name him," you explained biting at the inside of your cheek.

"How'd you come across 'im?"

Looking up at the fellow you would be with for the next few hours you took in his tired eyes, wrinkled features, and relaxed posture. Was he a laid back guy, or scornful? Did he like to listen, or did he grow bored after the first few minutes?

When it came down to it the simplest of things came to mind when you observed someone. You hadn't spoken or approached a human in so long. You'd only seen glimpses of the living and had kept your distance, knowing all too well how nasty people could be under such heavy circumstances.

Sometimes you had contemplated if you should follow them or not, if it was worth opening your mouth and greeting them normally, like you would have all those years ago on some random day.

Even before the apocalypse you had a hard time fitting in. Your neighbor had been the only kid in school to make small chats, and that was only if he felt like it. Boys usually never hung out with girls in the first few grades of intermediate or middle school. Sighing, you turned your thoughts away from the old friend of yours. He'd been popping up every once in awhile when you grew lonely, and you would recall the days when everything wasn't a dog eat dog world. You glanced down at the pup.

"Kid?"

You blinked and shook your head.

"I, uh..." What had his question been again? Something about the dog? "Oh," you remembered, "um, I was getting set up in a house, for night, and a corpse...was eating a dog..."

"...Mother?"

"Yeah...and I saw that she had just given birth, because I'd seen it before... All the of the litter was gone, 'cept for him."

"Damn... That's somethin'." Footsteps shuffling against metal and then, "You call 'em corpses, then?"

"Michonne said 'walkers'."

"Yeah, that's our name for 'em."

"Corpses, walkers..." you shrug.

"How 'bout 'shit for brains'?"

"Isn't that the target? I wouldn't call that shit."

"They're dumb, though."

"But they've taken over the world."

"Don't gotta be a genius to kill."

"...Yeah, guess not..." Silence ticked on as you ran your hand over the pup listening to his small whimpers and grunts as he squirmed in your grasp nudging the tips of your fingers with his wet nose.

"Michonne wouldn't have saved ya if she didn't think you were worth it."

"What's...that suppose to mean?" you grumbled, feeling an insult on the tip of his tongue.

"Nothin' bad. Just tryin' to figure you out."

"...Don't think I'm worth the trouble?"

"No. Just, if you're only a kid and you're sayin' you've been alone all this time... You got somethin' up your sleeve to keep the walkers away?"

"I never faced them," you gritted your teeth and shook your head. "I just hide...that's all I can do."

"Don't go gettin' upset. I didn't ask that to get you riled up, just curious."

"Yeah, well, curiosity killed the cat."

"How the hell am I cat?"

Chapter Text



The next few hours were nothing like you'd expected. Daryl was actually a laid back guy who listened and if he got bored he'd change the subject. He was a simple person, with enough experience to know what to ask and what not to push at. You were sure by now he had been through hell, probably more so from the way he reacted when you had asked him if he had any family.

Unlike him you didn't know what you should bring up or not. You both went silent when the family topic had begun, revealing why you wore a diamond ring around your neck. When the sorrow began to sink in for your mother the bowman had quickly switched the conversation to Judith, a baby girl who belonged to Rick and was the little sister of Carl. That boy seemed to be popping up a lot.

"You met him?"

"Mmhm," you hummed growing a bit tired.

"You got around a lot didn't ya?" He sighed, listing off the people with a bored tone. "Beth, Carl, Michonne, Herhsel, Carol, that pipsqueak Micky or whatever her name is."

"I think...Mika?"

"Whatever."

You huffed at his disinterested tone. Even though he was on the opposite side of the tower you could hear him clearly enough. Your eyes wandered over the giant grounds that surrounded the watchtower. Nothing had caught your attention for the last few hours.

"The kid 'bout ran into me when you showed up at dinner."

"...Mika?" Your face scrunched up in confusion.

"No, Carl," the bowman breathed annoyed. You both were getting a bit moody since dawn was approaching at a snail's pace. The difference, however, was Daryl's attitude was a bit on the grumpier side, while you settled in the silent treatment. Perfect opposites.

"Grabbed his plate, did a double take, and nearly spilled the shit all over me."

"Yep...," You drawled yawning. What were you even saying anymore? You just wanted to shut your eyes and get past whatever nightmare would come your way. Hopefully you could squeeze in a shower before passing out.

"You fallin' asleep?"

"No..." You breathed and straightened your back, shaking your head to wake up. You guys needed a new topic, but what had been the last one? Something about food? Your stomach nearly growled at the thought of breakfast.
"What were we talking about before?"

"The kid," Daryl answers, with a squinted gaze towards the dark sky. He leaned against the wall of the tower, while you stayed put by the railing. The pup was dead asleep, kicking slightly in his dozed off state sometimes.

"Mm..." Disinterest on your part. Intimidating blue eyes weren't exactly your forte. Humans weren't either.

"Think he likes ya."

You scoffed silently on that note.

"I'm the only girl around...that's maybe his age?" You pursed your lips at the question and shrugged. "We take what we can get... But I don't think he...likes me, if anything I'm a walking corpse to him."

"Smell like one too."

"I was going to take a shower after..." You snapped lazily, but found amusement in the tease.

"'Bout time our shift ended anyways. Go on ahead."

You blinked and looked up just being able to see a sliver of light break out over the horizon. Orange melted into pale blue as the day began to reveal itself after a long, talkative night.

"...Sure?" You hummed.

"Yeah. See ya later, little might." You're form froze in the middle of getting to your feet, nearly falling over from being so tired.

"Huh?"

"You won't give me a name, I'll name ya myself."

"Where'd you come up...?" You shook your head in amusement staring at the archer.

"Yer little," he rested a giant hand on your head as you slugged under his weight, frowning at the physical touch. "But you survived this long."

"..." You didn't know what to say. "Th...thanks?" Maybe that would do.

"Get some sleep." He pushed you lightly as you swallowed a groan of laziness and slumped down to get the pup.

The sun was rising and so was your shield. You were only a turtle when it came to the world, hiding in your shell and dark memories, but that was before Daryl came along. Around him you would lose your barrier, eventually, or at least you hoped you would. He was the kind of guy you wanted to be friends with in a hell like this.

He was the kind of man you wish your father had been.

"...Night," you called over your shoulder opening the door with your foot.

"'Mornin'."

You rolled your eyes (you thought you're humor had been horrific) and stumbled down the steps, using the dim lighting to find your way to the exit.

Taking in a deep breath of fresh morning air you froze hearing the sound of birds. You had heard them many a times, but now that you had people surrounding you, people who would come to be your group...it felt nice. You could stop and enjoy the sights and sounds and not worry about death and gore weighing you down along with the depression of your past. You could start anew.

As you were walking you slowed your pace when you realized you didn't know what block you were in. Really? You were going to be the newcomer who forgot which cell she was going to be living in?

Fuck me, you thought, degrading yourself like usual. Okay, I definitely wasn't in that one, you decided staring up at the giant building to your left. ...Or was I?

You gritted your teeth behind your tight, chapped lips. Why did you have to be such an idiot?

A loud screeching interrupted your thoughts as you jumped, scaring the pup into a abrupt alertness as you turned following the movement of a red sliding door. Blinking as a figure emerged you felt your shoulders stiffen and fall upwards, so your head ducked in a submissive gesture.

It was the man from the garden. Nearly curly, dark hair was slicked back to reveal familiar blue eyes. This was Carl's dad alright, you realized. He had the same curious gaze, though a much more rugged face with whatever age he was. Rick was 100 percent terrifying to your small, teen self.

"Hey," he greeted with a stiff nod as he glanced at your dog with an accusing, but patient frown. "You're...?"

"Dog...girl..." You blushed as he raised an eyebrow at you. "I-I mean, the newcomer...w-with the dog?" You nearly squeak the last three words as you stared at the ground. You shifted so the pup was in front of you stretching on the warm cement. The man probably thought you were stealing or something at this hour, but at the sight of your restless pup he relaxed and nodded.

"Right. You were on watch with Daryl." You nodded jerkily, shaking under his observant gaze. "...You alright--?"

"Hey, Rick?" You both looked up as a blonde head poked out from behind the opened metal door. Beth's face relaxed into a small grin as she noticed you behind the male. "Sorry, uh, did you feed Judith already? She doesn't seem to want to eat."

"Sorry, yeah I did," the man nodded putting his hands on his hips.

"It's fine... See you met her." The teenager made her way towards you're forms.

"Yeah...?" The man gave the girl a questioning gaze after glancing at you.

"She hasn't told us her name yet. She's shy," the blonde teased you with a kind gaze as you grew flustered and more awkward.

"Oh, well, I need to get down to the crops. Nice...meetin' you," he nodded to you once more, clearly unsure with your character before starting towards the watchtower where Daryl was coming out. The latter spotted you and focused on Rick as said man spoke up, his voice muffled from the distance.

"It's okay." You jumped and looked up to your right as Beth stood beside you.
"He's just careful with newcomers. So far none have been dangerous."

"Do I look...?" You mumbled losing your strength to speak up. You were tired and nervous and probably looked and smelled like shit. You just wanted a quick shower and a power nap. Hopefully you wouldn't sleep the day away. You were hungry after all and needed to face Rick with working with him down at the small farm. However, after that encounter you were worried he'd shun you.

"Nah. You seem really sweet, actually. Just need to gain yer trust first," Beth speaks up as you nod.

"Sorry..."

"No need to apologize. Headin' to bed?" You nodded. "S'good to see Daryl got a hold of you. Took me a lot of begging to get him to cave." Your eyes widened as your lips parted. She'd begged him to get you to night watch? Why would she-?! "It was no problem. I wanted you to get one job at least. And from the looks of it he seems to like you well enough. He didn't ignore you, did he?" Her tone was a warning and if not answered directly you were afraid the bowman was in for an earful.

"No!" You hurried out and shrunk under her surprised gaze. "He...He was nice," You murmured with an accepting nod.

"Good to hear... Hey, buddy~" Beth giggled as she leaned down to beam at your dog. "Can I pet him?" You nodded and relaxed as the girl scratched as the canine's belly getting him to stop his whining for the time being and sniff at the new hand. He howled in his own adorable way making both of you smile as Beth laughed. "He's darlin', just like baby Judy."

"...Thanks."

"Well, I won't keep ya. See you later, sometime?" She hummed starting back towards her cell block where Rick seemed to live as well.

"Yeah, uh, wait!" You called hesitantly. She turned with soft eyes as you frowned to myself, still not used to her natural sweetness. "Uh, which way's my block?" Beth blinked and snickered quietly pointing your in the right direction.

"S'fine, we all get lost at some point."

"Thanks..." You sighed hurrying towards the building. A shower and a nap, and then who knows what the hell would happen next. Out in the walker-infested world you knew what to expect, but here...

It was new situation and forced conversation around every corner.

Chapter Text

Taking a shower was complete and utter heaven for you. Getting months of grease and grime out of your hair and off your skin was more than words could describe. Luckily towels were stacked in the corner of the showers so you didn't need your own. So, after drying off and cleaning the pup as well you changed into your spare clean clothes.

Tugging at your loose t-shirt you managed to tie the light, (f/c) fabric into a small knot that jutted off your right hip. Shimmying into your sun dried jeans that had a few blood stains here and there you were finally dressed. Heading back to your cell you noticed a few people coming out to get ready for the day as well, offering silent nods.

Shutting your bar door you pulled the gray curtain over the slowly rising sunshine and sat your pup beside your bunk bed. With a sigh that drowned out all the others, you laid on top of your creaking bed and closed your eyes. Turning on your side you curled into the stone wall stubbornly and rubbed the side of your face into the scratchy pillow waiting for exhaustion to claim you. Somehow it didn't, though. There was way too much to think about, your new home, a new group, even your name came to mind.

When was the last time I was called by my name? You wondered feeling drowsiness start to grab a hold of your tangled consciousness. Dad stopped long before...he had to be the last person to ever say it.

You exhaled slowly through your nose and shifted getting comfortable. It was time to rest and feel safe for once. You had a place, a dog, food and at some point, you would get your weapons back, hopefully.

 

>>><<<

 

Rubbing your face you let out a hollow groan as you rolled over to give attention to the currently crying pup. He was hungry and so were you. That and the little bugger was walking back and forth over your stomach.

"Alright..." Your voice was quiet and hoarse as you grabbed the small canine and pushing him into your lap. Leaning over him you felt his tiny paws patter against your chest as you grabbed his bowl and straightened to feed the whining babe. He went quiet as you blinked groggily and wondered what time it was. You heard conversations throughout the cell block and yawned running your hand through your hair. It was still a bit damp so you hadn't been out too long. When the dog was done (you were thankful to have his food in your cell) you quickly brushed the tangles from your locks and threw the (thick/thin) strands into a messy bun.

Squinting at the sun as it pierced your pupils mercilessly you stood. Blinking repeatedly, you shielded your eyes as you walked and closed your bar door behind you. Shifting your pet between arms you hurried outside to let him do his business far out in the meadow. You sat down enjoying the peaceful tranquility around you. Hearing shuffling in the grass you tilted your head down and frowned as the dog wore circles into the ground around you. Where did he get all of his energy?

"Hey."

Tilting your head back you looked up and offered a small smile at Michonne. You gave her a friendly nod in greeting as you focused back on the pup.

"Named him yet?" She asked sitting down beside you with a shallow huff. You thought about her question for a moment before answering.

"...He'll listen to hush, sometimes," You shrugged.

"Hush?" Another answering nod. "Like..." You glanced at her as she smiled at you, "hush puppies?"

It was silent a few moments before you scoffed, shaking your head at the woman. Was that suppose to be a joke? You clicked your tongue and shrugged.

"Good a name as any."

"I'll say." Michonne grinned at the pup and ran a dark hand over his back, the soft fur coming into contact with her skin. He grunted getting accustomed to her touch. "Hey, Hush." The dog howled quietly in reply as you chuckled lightly. "Missed breakfast," the woman reminded you. You groaned lightly laying your face in your hands. You were starving, but it wasn't that big of a deal. You usually always were.

"Lunch will be here before you know it. Want me to snatch a snack?"

You shook your head at the kind offer. After getting back you realized all your cans of food had been donated to the rest of the stash. You weren't mad, they deserved that and more for taking you in, but you were still hungry.

They let me keep everything else, though.

Your pack from the very beginning, the pup and his food, the clothes on your back (necklace included), ect. You didn't need many supplies being here and all, but you still wanted your weapons.

"When can I have my weapons back?" You ask after a minute or two. Michonne frowned clearly thinking.

"Maybe in a week or so. Gotta make sure your intentions are to stay and not steal." You felt insulted but understood nonetheless. With a small sigh, you nodded.
"Rick told me he met you. Think you'd like working at the farm?"

"...Maybe...it's just..." You bit the inside of your cheek.

"It's just what?"

Your chapped lips sighed again and you shifted straightening your legs and then crisscrossing them as you pulled at the grass blades. Looking up your lidded gaze caught movement down below by the fences. You nodded at the figure as Michonne looked at you.

"It's just him." The woman followed your gaze and uncertain voice. She cracked a smile when she saw what you did.

"Carl?"

"Yeah..."

"What about him?"

"He's..." You shrugged and the savior of yours raised an eyebrow, waiting for a response. "He's... He's intimidating," You finally spoke, feeling idiotic. "I can't read him—I can't read anyone and that scares me, but there's something..." You gave up on your explanation.

I sound like an idiot.

"Give him a break," Michonne chuckled. "He hasn't seen a girl his age since the beginning."

"Then why does he stare?" You gawked in pure confusion.

"He's just curious. I won't say he's harmless, but I don't think he's gonna trouble you."

"He scares me." You repeated.

"Because you haven't seen a boy in forever, or because you're just afraid of humans period?" Michonne inquired sassy-like as you looked away with lidded eyes and a slim frown.

"Both." She laughed again and ran a hand through your hair playing with your messy bun. You're (e/c) landed on the teen far below once again. Carl walked down towards the farm, his steps slow, showing he was in no hurry. Was he laid back as well? A good listener? Did he like to read? Or was he more of a thoughtful character? So many questions.

"It's hard to talk to you--to anyone," You muttered finally cracking under the pressure. "I...have a problem when it comes to thinking up words. I backtrack...stop what I was about to say, and try to think of a careful response. But really, I just don't want to talk at all."

"Why's that?"

"..."

Because I've had people verbally abuse me, you answered silently. 

"I...can't." That's all you could do to reply.

"You can, just not yet. You'll grow close to someone around here, maybe someone who'll walk through those gates someday. And you'll be able to tell them everything."

"That's... No." You shook your head. "I can't tell people everything--someone everything."

"...I wouldn't have let you in here if I knew you weren't going to try."

"Try what?"

"Try to be human again."

"Well, humans scare me."

"So you scare yourself?"

You bit your tongue and held your thoughts together with a thin thread. There was nothing truer then the answer that came to mind.

"Yes... All the time."

Every day you would stand on the edge, suffering from the decisions of your past. You would ask yourself if it was even worth it anymore. Suicide had come to mind many times, but you could never find the strength to commit it. The depression slowly took you out in the hell that you knew was the world. You would struggle to get up in the morning or in the afternoon. Struggle to find food or water. You felt like nothing mattered, that you didn't matter. 

"You're not out there anymore."

You looked back at Michonne with watery eyes. She could see the worn out soul of yours, hanging on its last thread cautiously. The wavering trust and cracking form of a child who needed comfort is what she saw.

"You don't have to carry whatever weight you have alone. You can open up."

You nodded, throat tight. There was a chance of actually living here. You didn't have to survive, for the moment. You just had to force yourself out of the shell that had formed around you so long ago. You could do it. People like Daryl made it seem easy, Michonne and Beth were a bit more difficult, but you could see yourself becoming very close to them. The rest of these people seemed like challenges. Could you really make that many friends? Could you even call the three you felt mildly close to now friends?

"You know that I killed someone," You breathed and looked down at your lap. "But you let me in here... Why?"

"Because looking at you I figured you had no choice. That it was a possible accident, or a must to survive." Michonne looked thoughtful, her voice smooth and low as she spoke.

"...It was." You answered with a small nod.

"Don't let that drag you down. There's too much out there that can kill a girl like you, but so far you've been lucky. You're still alive."

"It's because I'm a coward," You huffed. "Using walker's insides, staying in a house or tree every night..."

"That doesn't make you a coward. That makes you smart."

A small smile broke through.

"Thanks...I guess..."

"Go and talk to Rick. He'll give you a job. And give Carl a chance." She stood and you looked up at her as she patted you on the head.

"Because I'm the last girl his age around?" You frowned.

"Because the both of you need friends your age in this world."

Chapter Text

"Night, Hush," you sighed setting the pup down on the folded fabric of ripped cloth.

He was sleeping once again, being a puppy he could do that to his heart's contempt. While he nodded off for the day you had lunch to attend as well as to find Rick to talk about getting a job. You couldn't do watch every night, and Daryl wouldn't be there every time either.

Taking a deep breath you closed your door to the cell and made your way out, following the small crowd of people as the smell of food wafted. Your mouth watered and your stomach rumbled as you waited in line.

Glancing around you spotted Beth and blinked at the baby in her arms. You couldn't remember the last time you ever saw one.

Must be Carl's little sister, you thought. You couldn't remember her name.

"Nice to see you again."

You jumped snapping your head in front of you where the lady from yesterday grinned at you, the one with cropped hair. You nodded, quickly taking the plate sitting on the counter of the shack.

"Carol," she introduced. You swallowed.

"Pup girl," you stated having been called that first by said woman.

"Thought we agreed on little might."

You glanced up as a shadow overtook you and pursed your lips at Daryl. Your lips turned down into a pout as he stole some of your food.

"You leave that girl alone," Carol chuckled swatting the hand that belonged to the archer away.

"Starvin'," he excused in mid chew.

"So is she, look at those arms and legs. She needs more meat."

"I'm a grown man."

"She's a growing woman."

Rolling your eyes at their cute bickering you started towards the meadow and paused realizing you didn't have your dog to keep you company. Frowning softly to yourself you glanced over your shoulder at the picnic tables filled with people talking loudly and laughing.

You weren't ready for that just yet.

The library, you remembered and started towards the building Daryl had pointed out during your night shift.

Listening to the scruff of your feet against the pavement you stopped at a door and pulled it open slipping into the dim hallway. It was quiet and as soon as the door shut behind you silence echoed. Suddenly feeling like you shouldn't be there you gripped your plate nervously and continued on.

Books, books, books... You repeated the word in your head until you saw a glimpse of pale pages. At the sight of novels your heart skipped a beat and your footsteps quickened in excitement.

You could actually relax and read. You'd missed reading almost as much as bathing. Books were your only getaway back in the peaceful days.

Getting seated in a particularly comfy corner with an interesting book and your food, you ate carefully and read over a few pages before becoming engrossed with the paragraphs.

It always amazed you how people could write a story, everything always being different one way or another. Everyone wrote in their own style. More detail, less dialogue, giant plots, miniature tales, everything always enraptured you if you came to understand it well enough. You'd always wanted to write a story, but never had the time back then, and there was no use to do so now.

"You'll be an author when you grow up, I bet."

You winced at the memory of your mother and noticed you had finished eating. Exhaling softly you shifted from your cross legged state and got up to throw your plate away. Setting the book down you turned and started towards the desk in the back of the library, leaning over the wood to toss the trash. Wiping your hands on your pants you went to retreat to your corner and froze at the sight of a figure to your left.

Blue eyes widened once they met your (e/c) ones.

"Sorry," Carl muttered glancing away. "I was...turning in some comics. Didn't know you would be here." Blinking you looked down at the thin magazine-like items in his hands and swallowed.

"It's...fine," you mumbled hurrying back to your spot. Now that your small privacy had been invaded, however, you decided to put the book up and retreat back to your cell. Carl must have thought the same thing since you ended meeting at the entrance into the hall. His eyes flickered to the floor as he backed up a step gesturing with his hand for you to go ahead. A gentleman? You weren't sure...

"...Carl by the way," he said once you were walking towards the exit.

You're head ducked unconsciously as you felt your shell squeeze your lungs into submission. You were tongue tied and breathless and most likely a mess in the eyes of the teenager. So, instead of replying like a normal human being with your name you just nodded and choked out, "I know."

Carl turned his head towards you curiously as you felt heat spread amidst your face.

"Michonne told me about you...Rick and Beth, too."

"Wow, you get around fast," he commented.

You shrugged helplessly and pushed the door to the library open. Shuffling out into the late evening light you blocked your eyes from the sun.

"So, uh..." You shifted to look over your shoulder at the soft spoken boy and blinked.

"Do you know where your dad is?" you asked randomly. His blue eyes darted up to meet yours as you curled your toes within your boots nervously. "I...have to talk to him."

"I think he's down at the farm, do you know where-?"

"Yes," you hurried out as he took a step forward, going to show that he was probably going to lead you down to the small crops. "I saw it."

"Oh, okay..."

You shuffled, bit the inside of your cheek, and turned muttering a 'thanks' over your shoulder as you made your escape. Your heart was still pounding by the time you passed the gate to walk down the dirt driveway.

I must look so weird to him, you thought. You would be feeling indifferent if it'd been a complete stranger, but Carl was barely an acquaintance so you were a bit flustered.

Finding Rick amongst the dirt you shifted through a few piles of weeds and waited for him to notice you. You cleared your throat and after a few seconds mumbled, "Excuse me?"

When he seemed way too focused to even catch a glimpse of your shaking form you waved a hand in front of you. The brunet glanced up and you just noticed the earbuds in his ears.

No wonder, you felt relieved as you straightened, I thought he was just ignoring me...

"Can I help you?" Rick grunted standing from his squatted state as he wiped at his sweaty forehead with a forearm.

"Michonne said...um, I might could help out down here..." you all but sputtered in one breath.

"Ever farmed?"

"Willing to learn," you stated with a small shrug. The man eyed you and sighed glancing over his shoulder at the prison then back at you.

"How old are you again?" He asked as you blinked at the random question.

"Uh... Kinda lost count... I was around twelve...I think I'm thirteen? Does that matter or...?"

"You looked young, but I thought it could just be that. Michonne said you were out there alone. Daryl said it'd been awhile. That true?"

"Yes...?"

"Then you can handle yourself out there?"

"Yes, sir...?" You tensed.

Where is he going with this?

"Can you shoot a gun?" He inquired. You nodded. He stared. Tension reared its head around the corner.
"...Grab those gloves over there in the bucket," Rick nodded. You followed his squinted gaze and went to do as you were told. "Pick the weeds out, make sure they look like that--" he gestured to the pile you had stepped over, "--or you might be pulling up valuable food."

"O-okay," you nodded understanding as you went to work listening to the small grunts and snorts from the pigs in the small wooden stall to your left. There were only two at the moment.

Who knew he would put me straight to work? And why did he ask all those questions? You glanced at the stern looking male and bit the inside of your cheek feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Guess I'll have to figure it out later.

Chapter Text

"He's so cute," Beth smiled as Hush nudged your ankle, rolling around in the grass. You opened your mouth and winced as you felt a mosquito nip at your arm, instantly smacking it dead. Sighing you shuddered, hearing and practically feeling all the night crawlers around you. 

Another shower would be in order with all the sweat covering your skin. The labor endured all day was what caused the bodily liquid to stain your skin. Working in the garden was hard work, but at least you would get some muscles out of it. Starving tended to weaken your bones and you were already small enough because of your age. With food and some hard work, you were sure you would be back on the right track to being mildly healthy.

"You've said that," you finally bit out as you itched your arm grumpily.

"Because I meant it. Look at him," Beth laughed softly rubbing her fingers over Hush's side as he whined. You rolled your eyes. He was such an attention seeker. "You've got some fans."

You blinked at the blonde's comment and turned, looking behind you where the picnic tables sat with a small crowd. Laughs echoed through the night as your eyes landed on a few small figures huddled a couple of feet from the dinner groups.

"Lot of kids..." You muttered.

"They want to see Hush."

"Thought so..."

"Why not let 'em meet 'im?" Beth advised, trying to be delicate with the subject. She knew how you were around social situations.

"I don't like kids," you said.

"You're a kid," she muttered. You frowned at the comment and rolled your eyes.

"That's not the point..." you scoffed.

"They won't leave you alone until they see 'im," she reasoned as you sighed.

"You can go and show him off, by all means..." You waved, tone bitter. "You already know me... I don't like to talk."

"But you do to me."

"You're...an exception." You shrugged.

"Mm hm," she smiled picking up Hush as she gushed over him. A puppy in the apocalypse was a rare thing and you were trying to get used to the extra attention you got because of the canine.

"Well, if you won't then I will," the older teen declared standing up as you leaned back on your hands. Watching her over your shoulder as she approached the children you pursed your lips. They all immediately bombarded her personal bubble to see Hush. You heard giggles and sighed leaning your head back to look up at the night sky. Stars blinked in and out of site as you relaxed. Another bug bit you and finally you realized you'd had enough. Too much sweat and too many bugs. It was time to shower.

Sitting up you rolled your neck and got to your feet. Dinner had just begun and wouldn't be over for awhile, so you would go ahead and take your shower having already eaten your share of food.

Walking up to Beth she smiled at you and introduced the kids one by one. Some hid behind her out of shyness and some beamed at you, clearly interested in the girl with the pup. Muttering an excuse about washing up the blonde gave you Hush and you left without a glance towards Mika who was desperately trying to get your attention.

Just leave me alone... You didn't want to get to know these kids, it was way too early and your shell was strengthening instead of softening around the toddlers.

 

>>><<<

 

"Night watch, tomorrow. You up for it?"

You looked up from your book, sitting on your bottom bunk with a small candle to light your room. Daryl eyed you waiting for an answer while you vaguely wondered how he knew where your cell was located.

"...Sure," You nodded after a moment's hesitation.

"Where'd you get the book and candle?" He grunted.

"Beth."

"'Course," the man huffed crossing his arms. "Saw you down at the farm. Finally got a job?"

"Yeah, but..." Your words failed you.

"What?"

You were hesitant at replying. Would it be okay to tell Daryl about Rick's questioning? How would he react? Were you just being paranoid?

"Rick just...asked me a few questions that's all..." You muttered closing your book.

"Probably just doin' some diggin' before he spends the rest of his days with you standin' behind him. Wouldn't want to get stabbed in the back."

"Yeah, I guess." You glanced at Hush who slept soundly beside you. Rubbing your hand over him out of nerves you nawed at the inside of your cheek.

"Rick's careful and doesn't take kindly to slackers or liars. Just give 'im some time."

"That's exactly how I am, but I don't dominate like he does," you excuse.

"You will. You wouldn't be little might if you didn't," Daryl says.

You cracked a smile and Daryl lips twitched, almost returning the look as he turned on his heel and left. The bar door had been closed the entire time so you went ahead and pulled the curtains across for privacy.

Blowing out your candle, you went to bed, not prepared for the nightmares that greeted you.

 

>>><<<

 

"Here."

You glanced up from the crumbling soil as a pair of gloves met your tired gaze. Raising your head you squinted at Carl as the sun shun in your eyes making you blink repeatedly at his face.

"It's fine," you mumbled, turning down the protective garb while dirt found its way under your nails.

"There'll be a supply run at some point, you can borrow mine until then." 

You sighed at his pushing, it was nice, but you didn't want to leave him stranded in the dirt too. Biting the inside of your cheek you took the gloves holding one close and the other back to him.

"We'll share," you stated as he eyed your hand and blinked, accepting the agreement. His fingertips brushed yours and ever so slightly and you felt jolts run through your nerves as you pulled away, quickly putting on the glove you had. You felt heat spread through your face as you shifted your hand within the glove.

It was warm just like his touch.

 

>>><<<

 

"Patrick meet the new girl."

You're eyes met another pair behind smudged glasses as the boy smiled at you from behind the lunch counter. Carol didn't so much as look at your first meeting, focused on handing out plates to the hungry group.

"Hi. Patrick," he held out a hand as you eyed it. "But I guess you kind of figured that out."

"Uh..." You would've shaken his hand, but you had the pup's bowl in one and your lunch in the other.

"Yeah, hands full," Patrick understood nodding and letting his hand fall.

"Sorry..." You said, feeling rude as your dog yipped by your feet, reaching for his food.

"It's fine. Nice dog, Australian Shepherd right?" he asked. You shrugged in reply, clueless. "I think that's what it is, I don't know much about them, but my grandfather had a few when I was little."

"...Cool."

Smooth, you thought. I sound like an idiot every time I open my mouth.

"Patrick give me a hand here?" Carol called.

"See you around then, miss?" He grinned turning away as you did so as well heading to your spot at the library.

However, when reaching the door you had to maneuver your foot into it to get the thing open, sliding in awkwardly. When finally getting to your cozy corner you ate every few minutes, making sure that Hush got his share of lunch.

Tucking him between your lower stomach and bent knees when he was done, you gave him his old rope to chew on. You quickly went to your small paradise that held meaningful words and mental pictures. Relaxation came with ease as your form slowly began to grow used to your surroundings.

 

>>><<<

 

You're body jumped as a warm hand fell onto your shoulder. Jerking in your seat you fumbled for Hush as he squirmed in your lap with struggled grunts. You sighed once he was safe in your arms.

"Jesus..." you breathed before looking at the person who'd woken you--or rather given you a heart attack--from your light sleep.

"Nearly dinner, have you been here all day?" A woman asked as you blinked at her. Your heart picked up its space.

"Uh...y-yes," You nodded feeling your guard incase you as you sat up, suddenly alert.

"Got stuck readin', huh?" She smiled and for some reason it made you relax if only a little. She wasn't upset or anything, so that was a good. 

"I guess. Yeah." She seemed sweet-looking enough, like Beth. Actually, she seemed to have a few of the blonde's features.

Wait a second, didn't Beth tell me something about having a sister?

"I'm Maggie, you must be the pup girl. He's darlin'." She nodded toward Hush as you thanked her quietly. Your guess was correct.

"You're married to a man named Glenn, right?" You asked shyly as she blinked a bit surprised. "Because Daryl told me at watch...that you guys lived in one of the watchtowers, so..."

"Watch with Daryl? How'd you a manage that?" The woman asked with an amused grin as she turned her head away slightly but still focused on you.

"Beth...?"

"Knew he always had a soft spot for her, she's got the kicked puppy look when you say 'no' to her." You laughed at that quietly.on the wall and your side. You hated creased pages and dog ears on a corner nearly killed you. "Saw you workin' with Rick early this mornin'. Guess you've gotten aroun' by now?" She questioned crossing her arms and tilting her head in a curious manner. You nodded and scrambled to close the book resting between the wall and your side. You hated creased pages and dog-eared corners nearly killed you.

"Yes...uh, I guess?" You mumbled not really sure as you shook your head. "I've only met a handful of people..."

"You've been meetin' the original group that cleared this here prison."

Your eyes widened.

"Cleared? Was it overrun?"

"When we found it." She nodded. "Rick got everyone together and managed to get the place back... Didn't know that?"

"I've only been here a few days," you excused with a small frown. "There's a lot I don't know."

"I'm sure you know about Carl." Her eyes held a bit of mischief when she said that. Your face heated as you looked away. Both sisters enjoyed dissing on you about the boy.

"Everybody likes bringing him up around me, but no... I don't know all that much about him" You sighed growing a bit annoyed with the blue eyed teen.

"Gotta. He's had his eye on you the minute you showed up through the gates. Doesn't help you got a pup. Everyone's lookin' forward to gettin' to know ya along with the little rascal," she explained.

"Hush," You corrected as she rose an eyebrow at you frowning. "No!" You sputtered, "I mean his name is Hush, I-I didn't mean..." You blew out a harsh breath as Maggie let out a smooth chuckle.

"Hush? Like hush puppy?" Her country drawl was different from the woman, but her question was the same as Michonne's.

"You could say that." You frowned as the dog howled jumping in at his name as you shushed him. Maggie smiled and asked if she could see him. You let her hold the dog and went to put your recently finished book up. You had just dozed off after reading the last sentence before the brunette jolted you awake.

"How old is he?"

"Around a month or two, I think?"

"He'll be gettin' bigger soon enough, then." Warmth filled you as she scrunched her face up holding the dog in the air as she gushed over it just like her younger sibling. You held in a laugh and cleared your throat. Your eyes widened as you felt your stomach growl.

"Dinner's gonna be ready in a few. See you around then?" Maggie hummed as she handed Hush back to you. You nodded and she gave you a soft grin as she made her way out of the library.

Chapter Text

You'd been in a bit of hurry with your dinner wanting to get another shower and get to bed. You were tired after working all morning with Rick and Carl. You'd had to loosen up the dirt with hoes and blisters covered one of your hands as you were sure they did one of Carl's. You'd felt guilty for sharing his gloves once more, but he'd waved it off when you'd finished.

Stepping out of the showers and into the cell block you rubbed a damp towel over your head looking down and stumbled into someone gasping.

"Sorry--""Excuse--"

Both Patrick and you met each other's gazes as he let out an awkward laugh, fixing his crooked glasses. He held up a book and sighed apologetically.

"Wasn't paying attention, my bad," he excused as you nodded.

"Same." Was he in this cell block as well?

"You left dinner early, guess you wanted to head in," he nodded seeing the towel on your head and pajamas. You blushed feeling out of place in your giant t-shirt and shorts. With the showers empty you'd finally gotten to shave your legs (razor provided by none other than Beth). It'd been a good while since you'd been able to wear shorts, and with your legs free and no corpses to worry about you thought you could air them out. But now you felt embarrassed with someone your age seeing you in such skimpy leg wear. It was still too early for dinner to be over and done with and you had made sure to be quick with washing up.

"Y-you read?" you stuttered out as Patrick eyes glanced down at your legs again. You needed to distract him.

"Yeah. Not much, but when I get a chance..." he shrugged shifting from foot to foot nervously as a tint of pink covered his cheeks. You were most likely beat red and worse off when it came to jittery nerves.

"M-me too..." you muttered not hearing the door to the block open. "I need to--" when you were about to excuse yourself to go and check on Hush (and get the hell out of Patrick's wandering sight) another--this time loud--voice interrupted you.

"Hey, Pat do you know where my--..."

Icy blue eyes met your wide ones.

THIS COULD NOT GET ANY FUCKING WORSE! You screamed in your head as you averted your gaze pulling the towel off your tangled wet hair to help hide some of your front.

"Where's your what?" Patrick hummed, oblivious as you hurried by the teen boy having to pass Carl as well to get to the stairs. You could feel both their eyes on you as you yelled profanities in your head promising to never wear those shorts unless you were stuck in your cell all day and it was blistering hot.

"Soccer ball..." you heard Carl mutter as your steps echoed against the stairs.

"Nope, haven't seen it."

You avoided looking down from the catwalk as you sped into your cell, closing the door behind you as well as pulling the curtain shut. You ran your hands through your hair as you sat on your bed holding back a groan since it was dead quiet in the cell block.

Carl already knew what cell block you were in (he'd seen you walking into it plenty of times from lunch and dinner most likely), but the fact he'd managed to find you in your most private of scenes in the last few days made you embarrassed to no extent.

He'd seen you your first day here still covered in muck and blood when you hadn't even come out of your shell at all for Michonne or anyone. He'd seen you reading in your cozy corner in the library (or at least knew your spot). And now he'd seen you just after a shower in the most revealing pj shorts ever.

You pounded your palms against your head and sat up sighing. Hush whined down to your right on his towel as you glanced down. Bending over to lean on your elbow you scooped him up into your arms as his tail wagged happily. You rubbed him softly as you sat back against the cool wall letting his fuzz calm you down.

"Boys are dumb," you muttered under your breath absentmindedly. Hush howled softly like he agreed. You ran your hand over his soft forehead and noticed the small grin that had slipped into your face unconsciously. Hush yawned as you smiled, beaming at his cuteness and settled down with him beside your belly.

>>><<<

"When will she be back?" you asked as you watched the horse gallop away from the prison, walkers starting to block your view of Michonne.

"Could be a few days, maybe a week," Rick answered walking away. "Depends on how far she'll keep lookin' an' if she finds anythin'."

"What's she looking for?" you mumbled confused, turning to face the dark haired man as he looked away from you, heading back towards the small farm.

"Supplies."

Sure, you drawled within your head as you frowned looking back out at the dirt road. Michonne was nearly out of sight, just a dark spot in the shifting distance. The air was heavy as she disappeared, the heat causing the murky outlook. You felt Carl to your left a little bit behind you and ignored his glances as you made your way back to the dirt rows.

The hot morning was just beginning and you were already parched. You would make do without water like you had done countless of times. Though, remembering your accident a few days prior made you revolt the idea of vomiting in front of the father and son, especially near the growing food.

Mumbling an excuse to get something to drink to Rick you started off to the shack where you saw who you guessed to be Carol from your current spot. Hearing hastened footsteps behind you, you tensed knowing Rick's footfalls would've been much heavier than the ones coming towards you.

"Hey," Carl called as you sighed silently and slowed turning to look at him. Glancing down at his glove in your hand you slid it off as he began to speak, pocketing it. "I'm sorry about last night, I didn't mean to interrupt--"

"You weren't," you stated trying not to grow flustered at the thought of your skimpy shorts.

Even though it was unbelievably hot and your legs were hairless you still wore jeans. You weren't one to show off skin, especially to boys you barely knew. Also pants were all you had at the moment. Michonne said she'd try to find you some clothes and gloves while she was gone. You'd told her not to bother, but she'd insisted.

Why am I so embarrassed? This should be the least of my problems...

"Oh..." Carl looked to be flustered, but you both were red-faced and sweaty from the first hour of your job. "You just kind of ran away, so...I thought I'd done something...?"

"It wasn't you..." you muttered under your breath.

It was the both of you and your damn perverted eyes. You couldn't blame Patrick and him, however. You'd been alone for a long time but had always wondered if you'd meet a boy your age and you'd become close. Hell, if Carl was shirtless at some point you'd probably stare as well. What the fuck?! Where did that come from?! You thought blushing furiously as you looked away from the boy standing next to you.

"What?" Carl question having heard your low-voiced comment.

"Nothing." you waved off shaking your head as you started towards the shack once more. The brunette didn't follow and headed back to the farm.

Thank god, you sighed.

>>><<<

"Hey."

Your (h/c) head looked up from Hush as he blinked revealing different shaded eyes to see Patrick and a few other kids around him. Where'd they come from? Looking around you bit the inside of your cheek nervously, feeling crowded.

It was dinner time and you'd just finished eating deciding to relax out in the meadow for a bit. You had watch with Daryl tonight as well and had spent most of your day dozing off in your cell or finding new books to read in the library. Beth had managed to find you around lunch and introduced you to Judith, Rick's daughter, and Carl's little sister. She'd been cute but had attacked your hair once she saw it, tangling her tiny fists within the (h/c) locks. Beth said you should cut it since it was getting pretty long. You'd told her you would think about it.

"We're playing cards," Patrick said snapping you out of your replay of the day and showing you the deck in his hands. "Want to play?"

No, you thought instantly, but you didn't want to be rude. Holding in your groan of defeat you nodded silently and tensed as all the kids sat around you, forming a circle with you being the closest to the prison.

"Let's play war," Mika spoke up.

"That's a two player game." Her sister, or so you thought, replied.

"No, it's not. It can be multiplayer."

"What happens if more than two people have matching cards, then?"

"They do war and whoever has the highest card gets the rest of theirs. See?"

"Fine."

Patrick started to deal the cards as you sat Hush in your lap, your legs crossed as he dozed in the warm sunset grunting comically. You scratched his tummy as he howled in acceptance making a few laugh. Scooping your cards into your hands you kept them face down.

"Go." At Mika's command, the few of you flipped over your first card. Everyone's gaze ran over the plastic parchments. "She got the highest." The blonde pointed at you. You chewed on the inside of your cheek as everyone passed their cards to you and you continued with the game.

After many turns, the game was between you, Mika, and Patrick. How many cards were there in a deck? Fifty-something? Either way, you all had different amounts and you were running low. Then, suddenly Mika and you laid down matching cards.

War, you thought laying down three cards. You both looked up at each other. This was your last chance or you would be out. Both of you blinked and flipped your last card over at the end of your rows. You read her card and then yours and sighed as the kids cheered. You put on a smile and slid your cards together handing them to the blonde.

"Oh, I got an ace!" Mika hollered in triumph holding up the ace of spades. You held back a chortle at her beaming face and cleared your throat.

She a cute kid, you thought and relaxed. Maybe I could learn to like kids again. Besides, they're not gonna call me names and push me around. I'm the older one here.

Carl came to mind.

Unless he's older than me.

And then Patrick.

Or him.

You remembered Beth as well.

...Dammit, well she's not the bullying type anyway. Grabbing the pup gingerly you got to your feet and stretched.

"I win!" Mika raised her arms in the air as Patrick groaned.

"Man..."

"Come on let's go again!"

"No, Mika. It's time for bed." What was her name again? Lizzy, you think. She was the sister, she had to be. They looked a lot alike.

"Ugh, could we play again tomorrow?"

"I'm up for it." Patrick agreed getting up and dusting his pants off. He turned to you. "What about you, miss?"

Miss? You thought that was a one-time thing... Everyone was looking at you. You managed a jerky shrug and you left for your cell block.

"Night!" Mika called as you glanced over your shoulder at the blonde. You offered a small wave and the whole group returned the gesture as you smiled to yourself.

What a bunch of dorks, you thought playfully. But maybe we all can be dorks together.

Chapter Text

It was cool weather tonight. A small breeze grazed your face as you leaned your chin over the railing of the watchtower glancing up at the crescent moon and blinking stars. You could hear Daryl's heavy footsteps as he paced back and forth at the opposite side of the tower. When boredom claimed you, you counted his steps. After hitting sixty your mind went blank, a failed attempt at a distraction.

Sighing you looked down to your right as Hush flinched, curled up against your thigh. You rolled him up softly in his towel you had brought and gone back to looking out.

You squinted, turning to look over at Daryl as he whistled sharply. Seeing as he was looking down at something you followed his gaze and spotted a dark figure leaving your cell block. You blinked trying to see who it was through the fading light of the moon. Your eyes widened as they waved up at Daryl and you. It was Carl.

"...What's he doing up? " you ask the bowman and he grunted.

"Probably talkin' with that kid, Pat, or some shit." You went silent taking in the new information as Carl headed inside another cell block.

So that's where he is, you thought. Well, I certainly don't feel like a stalker.

"He's a nice kid." Daryl's gruff voice coming out as a compliment made you grin up at the rough-faced man.

"Mm," you hummed feigning bored interest.

"Use to be real annoyin', though."

Oh no, you humored mentally. Here it comes. What'd he do?

"...How come?"

"He'd walk around tryin' to act like an adult when he wasn't. He grew out of it...I think." His hesitation made you huff out a laugh.

"Well... " you mumbled, "no one can really be a kid anymore."

"You can be a kid here."

You blinked and glanced back at the man seeing as his shadow swallowed you. His squinted eyes took in the sight before you, alert and ready for any action that dared to disrupt the calm night. You looked back out at the prison and swung your legs lightly.

"Try makin' friends."

"Like who? " you teased looking up. "You?"

"I ain't no friend of a twelve-year-old."

"...Figures, " you sighed dramatically knowing he was just kidding. "And I'm not twelve..."

"You got Beth, I guess... What about that kid...Pat?"

You both look at one another.

"Enough said " you muttered as the two of you chuckled shortly and went back to your job.

>>><<<

"Tired?"

You glanced up from the picnic table eating your late lunch with slow movements.

"Hmm?" you hummed blinking a few times as you adjusted your sight on the short haired woman. Everything was a bit fuzzy since you hadn't gotten a chance to sleep. You'd skipped a nap and had gone straight to the farm with Rick at the crack a dawn. Carl hadn't come down leaving his dad to excuse him with, "he stayed up all night readin' comics again."

The 'again' part wasn't the only thing that made you laugh, it was that and the fact Rick had a tired and annoyed look on his face when he said it.

"Only half of your food is making it to your mouth."

You frowned softly at the woman's comment and wiped at your mouth feeling a few crumbs from the food fall away.

Great, you thought embarrassed as you scooped another bite into your mouth making sure to get every last drop.

"Should think about getting some more sleep."

You shrugged moving your fork around the food.

"Alright." Carol sighed getting up from the wooden bench she'd just sat down on and going to clean up the food shack. Seeing as you weren't hungry anymore you pushed up from the table and dumped the garbage in a bin close by before heading back to your cell.

Feeling the hot sun on the back of your head and neck you blinked, feeling heavy. Everything seemed to slow down as you walked, the sensation of the ground shifting dizzyingly beneath your feet. You stumbled, managing to grab the edge of a picnic table to your right. You breathed a sigh from nearly collapsing and rubbed your face tiredly.

Dammit. One night without sleep and I'm stumbling around like an idiot... You supposed all the sleepless nights were catching up with you.

"Hey, you okay?"

You raised your head and looked away.

And then he shows up, how surprising.

"Fine, " you mumbled, "just tired."

"Oh, yeah," Carl nodded and placed his hands in his pockets, "you were on watch. I saw you last night, up on the tower."

You nodded and straightened, running a hand through your hair as you went to walk around him.

"Your gloves are in the weed bucket..."

"You worked this morning?"

You looked up at the slight surprised in Carl's blue eyes and nodded sheepishly.

"Weren't you up all night?" Another nod. "I thought skipping morning wasn't enough. I'm still tired," he chuckled and something inside your stomach tightened. You shrugged in response. "You should get some sleep."

"I was just about to do that..."

"...See you at dinner, I guess?" You nodded. "Later, then." He gave a small smile before heading towards the farm.

You crossed your arms feeling your insides warm to an almost unbearable temperature in the already scalding heat.

"Very talkative around him, aren't you?"

You scowled at Carol as she laughed wiping off a spatula.

"Joking, joking." She breathed with a relaxed grin on her face. You blushed and made your way back to your cell block, passing Carl's on your way.

>>><<<

"That's cheating." Lizzy snapped at Mika as you, once again, all sat in a circle playing cards.

Glancing up from your deck you watched the sisters work it out, Patrick helping as well. Your eyes flickered to catch a pair of blue ones in the midst of children. Carl had joined you tonight. (E/c) pools shied away from the eye contact.

"See?" Mika grinned smugly as Patrick proved she hadn't cheated. "I didn't cheat." The blonde turned to you. "Your turn."

You stared back at your cards wondering which one to lay down. Two could be laid so you went with the closest to your dominant hand.

"Aw! She skipped me." A little boy sighed as you smiled apologetically. Uno was just that kind of game.

"Green," Carl stated setting down a 4+ color card as Patrick next to him groaned and drew four cards.

"Man, I had two cards!"

"Too bad, so sad." The brunette said low and monotone-like as you stifled a smile. Mika laid down a green number card as Lizzy drew one getting no such color.

You glanced over your cards and found a few greens in your deck. You had four cards left, two being said color and the rest blue. Humming, you laid down a four as your turn came. The little boy next to you reversed letting you get rid of another card. Looking up you'd just noticed Carl had two cards left.

Uh oh, you thought soundlessly. You bit the inside of your cheek as Patrick laid down a green on his turn. Carl did so as well.

"Uno." The small circle dealt their cards and when it reached the brunette the group held their breath. He smirked before laying down a green. "I win."

A series of whines and groans sounded as you pursed your lips having already seen the outcome. Laying down your cards as Lizzy scrounged them up, you stood.

"You're done?" Mika frowned her eyes showing disappointment. You nodded.

"Tired." you stated and turned heading back to your cell block.

"See you tomorrow, miss. " You looked over your shoulder at Patrick's shy grin and raised an eyebrow. Carl next to him laughed into his shoulder quietly. You cracked a smile and shook your head at the group as Mika yelled goodnight. Passing the picnic tables you saw someone walking towards you and nodded at Beth.

"Done already?" She asked. You noticed Judith in her arms once again. The little babe chewed on her hand looking around with wide, innocent eyes.

"Hush's getting bigger." You randomly stated.

"He isn't, isn't he?" Beth smiles softly. "His eyes are really somethin', though. Black and brown, right?"

"Brown and blue."

"Right, blue," she nods her voice calm. "Well, Judy wanted to say hi." The teen jutted her hip out for the babe to sit on.

"Hello... " you murmured as said baby reached for your hair. You stepped back knowing full well her grip was near impossible to escape. Your scalp was still sore from her short tugs.

"Thinking about getting it cut? Maggie said she'd do it." You shrugged. "Well, you've got time. See you later?" She hummed and beamed as you nodded. The blonde went back to her picnic table where you spotted Maggie smiling at a black haired man as they held hands under the table.

Must be Glenn, you thought. They're cute together. With a soft sigh you made your way to your cell, it's creaky bed beckoning you like a moth to a lamp. Hush didn't greet you, already dead asleep.

Chapter Text

"You're late," Rick stated, "for once." He added leaning on his hoe as his hard eyes met yours.

"Sorry..." You mumbled. "My sleep schedule is a kinda hectic..."

"Still better than his." The man nodded to his right and you turned your gaze on Carl. The former looked up, intrigued by the vague statement with wide eyes.

"Hey," he muttered, offended once he realized, frowning at his dad as you laughed quietly and grabbed a garden tool as well. Passing by Carl he slipped off his glove and handed it to you casually. You thanked him giving the brunette a small smile. His lips twitched and he turned away getting back to work.

Hearing a muffled song start to play you in mid digging you glanced up and spotted the white wires hanging from Rick's ears. He was listening to music again. The last time had been when you'd asked for the job.

It's better than the groans, you thought turning your focus on the fence. Rotting bodies reached and drones on. Walker choir, maybe? You were bad at jokes; you knew that and you weren't even mentioning them aloud.

"...What does he listen to?" You ask Carl, brave enough because of your curiosity. Or maybe you were just bored. The fellow teen huffed at your question and went back to work as he smiled to himself.

"Country." You almost laughed at his feigned shocked expression when he glanced up.

"It's not that bad...I guess." It had been so long since you'd last listened to country. You couldn't remember if you ever liked it or not. You were a reader, not a fan of big bands and guitar solos.

"You're doubting, so it's bad." Carl stated as you shrugged and grinned softly.

>>><<<

"S'gonna be cute," Maggie grinned at you as you faced her, the soft snip of the scissors making your heart speed up. Carol's intensely short hair came to mind. Of course, you weren't cutting off that much.

"You think...?"

"I wouldn't be cuttin' your hair if I didn't."

"..."

"A girl of few words, aren't ya?" Your lips tightened into a small frown. You would have shrugged, but you didn't want more hair being cut off more than the brunette planned.

"You could say that, I guess."

"Don't like talkin' or just don't have anythin' to say?"

"Both, sometimes."

"Mmm." Silence filled the air as you tried to think of another conversation. Funny how you were starting the topics nowadays.

"...Saw your husband. At dinner, I mean."

"Did you? He said he'd seen you once or twice." Maggie backed up, leaning down to look at your hair, probably seeing if it was even.

She walked behind you snipping at more strands. You could hear the (h/c) locks hit the floor as you pulled at loose threads on your jeans to distract you. It took a lot of focus not to freak out when an acquaintance held blades nerve wrackingly close to your neck.

"How long you guys been married?"

"A while."

"Mmm."

"Beth told me you liked to read."

You cracked a smile at that.

"I do. She called me a bookworm."

"Sounds like you're used to it."

"I used to be...she had a nicer way of putting it, though." That last bit slipped out unconsciously.

The brunette paused and you were about to glance over your shoulder when she continued with cutting.

"Where'd you live originally?"

You winced at the personal question.

"(Home state and address)... S'funny, I still remember it..." A huff escaped your lips as you glanced down at your hands, your fingers curling into fists. Your mother had burned the address into your brain in case you ever needed it.

"How long you been alone?"

"I'm not really sure to be honest. It was only a month after everything started..."

It seemed like only yesterday you were getting used to the feeling of grime covering your skin and the smell of walker's blood.

"...Almost done."

You blinked at the somber voice of the kind woman behind you.

"It's okay," You said, "really. I never...took any risks, so..."

"Just can't believe how strong you are, travelin' alone for that long..."

"Strong?" You scoffed and went quiet.

A few minutes passed and then a soft, "take a look."

The sheet around you fell away and you pushed off the seat running your hands through your hair.

God, it's so short... Turning around you were met with a hand mirror. Taking it from Maggie gingerly you stared at your reflection. It'd been awhile since you'd seen a clear image of yourself.

You'd gotten darker, the sun being the reason most likely. Your (freckled/clear/ect) face was still its regular shape. It was so weird to comprehend this was you, in the now, in the moment. Your eyes seemed to have changed a bit as well, the color seeming somehow darker and somewhat duller.

Because I've seen too much, you thought absentmindedly.

"Looks good." You stated softly. Your (curly/wavy/straight) hair was just long enough to put into a messy bun. Running your hand through one last time you loved the feeling of the soft tendrils. It was a good change now feeling lighter and less heated. It was nice.

"Didn't I tell ya?" You nodded to Maggie, agreeing and grabbed a broom when you spotted one from the corner of your eye. Just as you had it in your grip it was wrenched away the old wood leaving your rough touch. "Nuh uh, missy. Go and do your stuff, I'll clean up."

"No, you've already done enough--" you stepped forward with a frown.

"Don't make me whack you," she threatened playfully pointing the bristle part of the broom towards you. You laughed and turned feeling the bristles poke at your lower back as you quickened your steps. It tickled.

Maggie chuckled behind you as you opened the door to the cell block and walked out into the sun. Sighing you aimed towards the picnic table where Beth would be taking care of Hush for you. However, you saw Carl was there as well with Judith in his arms. Something about his little sister sitting in his embrace made you warm up inside.

A cute pair, you thought. You didn't realize you'd just classified the boy as cute, but whatever.

"Look at you," Beth laughed as you blushed looking at the ground. Your (h/c) haired self was still growing accustomed to being the main spot of attention. "Looks good."

A shy smile from you and Hush came out from around her. He sat and blinked at the world around him showing off his beautiful eyes to the world. A beautiful shade of blue and the other being a milky brown. The colors went well with his colorful coat that was only growing more shaggy with each passing day. The fur would come to stretch as he grew bigger, hopefully less thick.

"Judy had her bath yet?" The blonde asked Carl. The brunette looked away as your eyes met his and shook his head. "I'll take her."

Soon enough the girl was walking away winking over her shoulder at you. What a pain. Both of the sisters seemed to be playing matchmaker at times. You gripped the end of your shirt as you laid Hush down. Couldn't they see you both were just...friends? Were you even that yet? You didn't think so.

"...You look different." You couldn't help but huff at Carl's three words quietly.

"Is...that suppose to be a compliment?" You asked, confused, but amused.

"Yeah, no. I mean yes, it just...looks good," he stumbled over his words looking away with his hands in his pocket. The corner of his lip was upturned in an embarrassed grin. "Sorry..."

"It's fine," you giggled softly and blew out a quiet breath. "You going to grow yours out?" You asked seeing his chocolate locks reaching just passed his ears. "I can see you with longish hair."

"It's pretty long already." You shrugged with a small grin. He chuckled, softly and glanced at the pup as he barked jumping on his leg. The sight of the cute shepherd and the male brought another warm sensation on.

"...Wanna pet him?" You asked hesitantly bending down to meet Hush halfway as he turned to you. Carl gave you an unsure look. "He doesn't bite." You assured.

"Yet," Carl murmured playfully as his fingers brushed yours when petting the canine easily. You watched, beaming as the boy eyed your dog in interest. It'd probably been awhile since he'd seen a pup.

"...Michonne helped me name him." Carl glanced up, intrigued as Hush took the chance to lick at his face. You laughed as the teen whipped his head back smiling tight lipped as he shut his eyes. You sighed taking a breath as you looked away. Why were you trying to start up a conversation?

Because it's awkward. You thought.

"Hush...like hush puppies," You stated and Carl took a moment before letting out an amused huff. You spotted the dog looking between you as his tail wagged just slightly in the brunette's attention.

Chapter Text

(A week later)

You sighed leaning against the pigpen taking a break from gardening. Although it was cloudy it was still humid and you were ready for a drink and an hour long nap. Since Rick was worried about oncoming rain you decided to go ahead and pull up some grown food. Your back was aching from all the bending over, but thankfully you were almost done.

Out of the corner of your eye you saw someone move up next to you. You didn't turn to see who it was considering they seemed around the same height as you. No doubt it was Carl. The background sounds seemed echo away as you did your best to seem like you weren't focused on his presence.

"...They were hard to catch." He tries to have a go at another random conversation with you, this time featuring the pigs. If you hadn't done that a few times to him maybe you would have gotten annoyed. Or perhaps you accepted it because you needed another pal besides Beth, who knows?

"I bet." you replied, casually. "Pigs are fast." you muttered remembering visiting a farm once. You'd tried to catch a baby pig yourself. It ended with you covered in mud. Your mother had not been happy. As one hog flipped in its dry dirt, rubbing itself deeper into the crumbling soil, you lowered your eyelids. "Might get some mud soon."

"It rarely rains so I doubt it." You glanced at the brunette.

"It'd be refreshing," you commented wistfully and looked away. "Last time I saw rain was...I can't even remember."

"You like rain?" You didn't see his smile.

"Yeah...I used to sit with my window open and read while it stormed. It was relaxing." you smiled at the memory and felt a tug of nostalgia in your chest at the thought of drops hitting the pavement. Back then you would run out to the backyard barefooted to walk on the warm cement. If it had been boiling hot that day you had the chance to hear the sizzling of the sidewalk, cooling down from the drops of water.

Man, I miss that...

"How many books have you read so far? I see you go back and forth from the library." His blue eyes were amused as you puckered your lips in thought.

So he's been watching me, you contemplated and then frowned. No. Bad. Why do I think things like that? You had half a mind to call him a stalker, but lately you both had been growing a bit closer, wondering where the other was when boredom hit. You still hesitated in ever seeking him out, though.

"Maybe...ten?" you puckered your lips in thought and shrugged. You were a fast reader so you lost count.

"Hmm." Carl seemed impressed and you smiled looking up at the cloudy sky.

It had been a week and a handful of days since you'd gotten here. Michonne had come back the day after your haircut bearing gifts. A pair of gloves and some new clothes. You were grateful, but something had tugged at you when you'd realized the blue eyed boy wouldn't be sharing his protective garb anymore.

"Alright, let's get these up to storage." Rick called in his usual baritone voice grabbing two buckets of potatoes. You got your bucketful and stopped when you felt something hit your head, wincing ever so slightly while your shoulders jumped. Turning your face towards the sky another hit your cheek. Suddenly rain drops pelted the three of you.

It's raining! You smiled, but seeing as it was getting heavier you thought it was best to get under a roof. Rick and Carl took off in a low sprint towards the prison as you followed behind feeling your hair start to flatten from the amount of water.

You sighed once you jogged into the food storage, and nearly slipped. Catching yourself with baited breath you sat your bucket down. Your form bent over--causing a slight ache in your spine once more--and rung your hair out as best as you could.

Starting towards Rick to help with stocking the food your boots went sliding against the marble floors again. You let out a squeak, flailing yours arms and landing on your backside hard enough to sent painful jolts up your spine. Carl saw the whole thing and immediately started laughing as Rick shook his head. You three were soaking wet and clearly amused by the accident as you sighed and looked down in embarrassment. But you were smiling anyway.

"Are you okay?" Carl sighed seeing as you weren't getting up.

"Well, I'm drenched and I just slipped so..." you shrugged with a bored tone. The brunette offered a hand and your heart jumped.

"Let's go get some towels." You grinned and accepted his help getting to your feet as his warmth sent tingles up your arm. You withdrew your hand from his and muttered a thanks. Carefully making your way towards the door Carl exchanged a few words with his dad and then you were standing outside, just out of reach of the rain. "It'll let up soon," he stated. You glanced over at the teen and snickered at his sopping wet hair. He looked cute when he was soaked.

What the hell? You've only known this boy for a week and a half! You sighed to yourself. Doesn't mean I can't enjoy the view...

"You think...?" you muttered and jumped as thunder shook the sky, accidentally bumping into the teen. You both huffed at your action and smiled glancing at one another.

"Yeah, the sun's already starting to come out, see?" He pointed towards the sky, leaning in closer. Somehow his scent washed over you reminding you of the air just after it stopped storming, and something that was probably just him. It was musky, but strangely attractive making you look away and shiver ever so slightly. You did, however, spot the few strips of sunlight peeking through the clouded horizon.

"It was nice while it lasted," you forced out and cleared your throat heading towards my block to get some towels. Since you were already wet you just walked through the rain. Carl followed beside you and you conversed once more about random things. You cast him a smile when he opens the door for you and head inside.

"Don't slip." He calls behind you, bantering.

"Shut up," you laugh turning to look at him over your shoulder. Your voices echo slightly and a few people who roam the block glance at you. (S/c) cheeks flame in embarrassment and you hurried towards the showers to grab some towels in the outside hall. "Here," you called tossing the soft fabric at the brunette. He just manages to catch it making you grin to yourself as you drape the towel around your shoulders. "I need to go check on Hush, so..."

"Oh, okay. See you later, then?" He looks up from rubbing the towel over his hair. You gawk at him for a moment losing yourself in the bright blue. Shaking your head you nod and walk past him. He doesn't follow and for some reason you're disappointed, even though you were the one to split up anyway.

What is going on with me? Sighing quietly as you make my way up the prison steps you spot Mika and Lizzy downstairs playing cards outside of their cell. The younger blonde was already looking at you and smiled, waving. You wave back meekly and lose sight of her as you make it to the next level.

"Hey, Hush" you mutter sitting down in his corner alongside him. He barks in greeting his blue and brown eyes taking you in excitedly. You smiled, playing around with him. After a good few minutes you let out a soft groan as you move to your bed and curl up, Hush jumping up to join you. You didn't care about getting the sheets wet and just relaxed, petting the growing pup with lazy movements. Wouldn't be long before he was full grown. It thunders outside once more, though lightly and you're reminded of Carl's warmth and smile when bumping into him only minutes ago.

Great... You huff and frown burying my face into my pillow. Hormones, or puberty in general, were messing with you. It wasn't your fault everything was always heightened when you were around him. That was just how it was for boys and girls alike...right? Patrick comes to mind and the few times you had conversed. You never felt that way around him. At that thought your stomach flips and you snap your eyes open.

Your voice doesn't follow through as you mouth the word, 'shit'.

>>><<<

"Got anything to bet?"

You glance up at Daryl, smiling as you had a small stare off. Somehow you had gotten roped into playing a game of cards with him. Carl, Glenn, and Michonne had once been playing too, but now it was down to you. Bowman VS little might (aka pup girl).

"Why are we just now betting? This isn't even a betting game," you state glancing over your cards.

"Every game is a betting game."

"Then what are you giving up?" you tilt your head slyly hearing Maggie's amused chuckle next to you. The kind woman was cuddled up against her husband, Glenn. On your other side sat Michonne and across from her is Carl. Rick had left earlier to take care of Judith and Beth had yet to show up, probably having a conversation with said man over the sweet baby.

"..." The man stares at you, thinking. "My knife," he finally says reaching under the table and returning with said item, placing it between you. You take in the weapon with a smile that you were trying to hold back. Sighing, you glance down at Hush wondering what you had to even bet. He stared at you, his tail starting to wag at your attention as he grumbled, head bobbing. Then it hit you and you felt guilty for have not telling it sooner.

"My name."

Everyone's seems a bit taking back and Glenn laughs.

"Better win Daryl or she's stuck with her nickname for the rest of her life."

"Little might ain't that bad" Michonne comments in her low voice casting you a wink as you grin. Carl says nothing, but from the spark in his eyes you know who he's going for.

"Deal." Daryl nods once and the game proceeds. You don't try too hard to win, considering the whole group deserves to know your real title by now. But part of you did really like that knife.

Finally when it comes down to it Daryl wins and smirks lightly at you in triumph as you sigh and roll your eyes playfully.

"Watch it be something ugly," he teases as you scoff and shake your head.

"It's (y/n)."

"Ey!" Glenn and the rest of the table yell as you duck in embarrassment laughing as they all greet you, patting you on the back, or rubbing your already messy hair into a bird's nest. Hush howls and the table laughs starting up too many conversations to handle.

>>><<<

(Another week later)

You purse your lips in thought trying to recall another title. You'd lost count of the previous ones that had been said.

"Uh, The Giver" you name kicking the soccer ball towards Patrick gently. He just manages to stop it under his foot. He blinks, staring at the ground to name another book he'd read.

Bored with chores done and nothing much to do you'd run into Patrick and Mika who were tossing around the soccer ball. The teen that could be described only as 'nerdy' had revealed it was Carl's and they were borrowing it. You'd join them leaving Hush with Beth and Judy. He would have enjoyed chasing the ball, though.

Patrick was the one to have come up with the game you were playing.

"Name all the books you've read and whoever runs out first the other is the winner." He'd stated.

Kicking the ball around was just for kicks (pun intended).

"Moby Dick." The lightly colored brunette murmurs tapping the ball, just enough for it to roll leisurely over to me.

Mika watched silently, seemingly keeping up with how many books you had named. There were marks in the small patch of dirt beside her, tally marks.

"The Book Thief."

"Aw, man that's a good one."

"I don't know any of these," the blonde sighs as you smile softly.

"They're books a few grades higher up than you, or would be..." you shrug and pass the ball to the teen across from me.

"Maybe we should have stuck to a certain genre," Patrick frowns picking up the ball to free it of a light coat of dirt surrounding it's black and white form.

"Too late now" you sigh and sit down in the prickly grass. Your eyes glance over at the gate a few yards away where walkers roam, gnawing at your forms hungrily. Chills broke down your spine as you look away from them.

"It's been an hour, let's do something else," Mika whines and guilt fills you from her having to watch you drone on with titles unbeknownst to her young self.

"What do you want to do?" you ask smiling at her as she beams.

"Hide and seek!"

"It's a big place, but there aren't really any places to hide," Patrick comments.

"Nuh uh, what about the offices over where Hershel is?"

"People work there, Mika."

"Ugh..." She frowns looking at the ground and poking at the dirt with her small stick.

"We could wait and do it at dinner."

I turned to look over my shoulder as Carl walks up.

"Really?" Mika brightens at the new arrival.

"Yeah. No one will care."

"How do you know? C'mon, I don't want to get in trouble." Patrick sighs running his hands over his eyes, pushing his glasses up in the process.

"Dude, we won't," Carl assures with a lazy grin. Suddenly his attention is on you. "You up for it?"

"...Sure, bro" you give an 'ok' hand signal making him chuckle at your reply as Mika giggles.

"Guys! Story time!"

The four of you turn your heads to see Lizzy farther up towards the prison you were currently behind.

"Coming!" Mika waves and nods at Patrick heading up before him.

You and Carl smile at the geek.

"See you guys later," he waves not approaching the subject as he tosses the ball to Carl and follows the blonde. You laugh get to your feet wiping your backside off. Today you wore your usual jeans and a tank. The sun was mild today, but still a bit overbearing for your covered legs. You still stressed on wearing any shorts in front of the boy currently standing a few feet next to you. You felt naked when he could see your bare legs. That and you were a bit apprehensive of how they looked. Could legs even be ugly or attractive nowadays? You assumed so.

"You going to be 'it'?" you hummed as he kicks the ball towards you gingerly, shrugging in response.

"Maybe. Wanna be partners?"

"I think that's cheating. You'll have to find me first," you tease returning the ball to him with a swift punt. He just misses as you raise your hands towards the sky lazily stated, "goal." The teen laughs shaking his head, you smile.

Chapter Text

"Hide n' seek?" Daryl huffs shoveling a bite of potato soup into his mouth. "To hell with that game."

"Always the finder?" You asked as Carol glared softly at the archer, a warning for his foul language in front of Carl and you. Like you both even cared. You cussed every now and again, but had yet to do so in front of anyone but the bowman himself.

"Never found" he corrected grumpily as he sipped his water with a squinted gaze. "S'boring."

"Eh, I say let 'em have their fun. Wish we could put up a swing or somethin' around for 'em." Maggie spoke up, leaning on one elbow that sat atop the picnic table.

"We got 'em games on runs. End of story."

"I wouldn't mind a swing, though" You commented making a few laugh as Daryl rolled his eyes.

Once Carl and you threw your plates away Mika and a few other kids practically dragged you up to the office building with Patrick dragging himself behind, glancing back and forth worriedly. Getting through the doorway you blanched at how dark it was inside, tensing slightly. The moonlight just barely filtered the hallways and your footsteps echoed eerily.

"Not it..." You muttered, hating the idea of walking around in the dark alone first. Those two little words created an uproar.

"NOT IT!" Following everyone's gaze you spotted Patrick the center of attention as he frowned, throwing his head back with a groan.

"Man...why me?"

"Rules" Lizzy called as everyone turned listening. "No running away from whoever's it, if they see you you're caught, but they do have to touch you to make you it. Also, no hiding anywhere besides inside, and make sure to be quiet from now on. People might get mad. And Patrick count to thirty." A few 'got it's and 'okay's were murmured through the group of kids, you included.

"Hide!" Mika laughed and everyone bolted. In the midst you saw no signs of Carl. Had he left earlier without you noticing?

Or he's just really fast, you reasoned.

Funnily you found yourself alone jogging mildly down the hall. Giggles rang out from the few rooms as well as doors shutting. You spotted someone ducking into a room when you heard Patrick's voice.

"25...26..."

Shit! You looked back and forth struggling on where to go. There's too many God damn doors!

"(Y/n)!" A hushed voice called and you turned spotting who you assumed was Carl. It was strange to hear your name on his lips. The brunette waved his hand motioning you to hurry. You stumbled forward following him into the room he occupied and tried to find a spot in the office as he closed the door behind you. It was so dark and all you could see was a desk and a coat hanger.

"In the closet," Carl whispered as Patrick ended his counting deeper into the building.

"Ready or not here I come!"

Scrambling towards the door you opened it and slid inside. Your heart hammered inside your chest as Carl brushed against you. You both piled inside the space.

You shuffled backwards shyly. Your back hit something hard (boxes most likely) and you winced as something bounced off your head, hitting the floor. Carl shifted in front of you and a crack sounded making the pair of you freeze. Slowly a light began to surface and both of you stared at a small glow stick lying just between your feet. It's soft blue light reminded you of a good many things. A few being the parties you would throw by yourself when you were younger (most being in the pitch dark with all sorts of neon objects), the fourth of July, and eyes. Certain cerulean eyes.

How did a glow stick end up in here?

"Kind of ironic when we need the dark," Carl muttered, squatting down to fetch the toy. Bringing it between you you heard giggle kind of far away-from kids being found most likely-and jumped when another crack sounded. "Might as well." Was all the brunet said.

You blinked just being able to make out his facial features in the dim, colored lighting. He looked up, or at least you thought he did and your breath caught. You were positive he could hear your heartbeat from how hard it was pounding.

Tightening your lips you glanced away before sliding to the floor, bending your knees and wrapping your arms around them. Carl followed in suit, shuffling to take the space beside you. Your shoulders brushed, but neither one of you complained. The brunette wiggled the glow stick in his grip, creating a small, lazy light show next you.

"Were you ever scared of the dark?" He whispers and you blink, biting the inside of your cheek.

"I still am sometimes..." You reveal, picking at the material of your jeans.

"I had a lava lamp in my room," he spoke softly as to not give away your position.

"My parents saw those as a fire hazard." You huff resting your chin in your kneecaps. "I liked them, though. They were pretty."

"Yeah." Silence echoed, but for once it was comfortable and you didn't mind it.

Cool air suddenly blew over you as you opened your eyes raising yore he's just in time to see Mika as she stood ahead with the closet door wide open. Slowly her eyes grew taking in your much too close forms and a massive smile broke onto her face.

"Found you!"

"Good job." Carl grunted as he got to his feet, offering you his hand. You accepted the help.

"Did you find someone?" Patrick walked into the room and you shrugged as he huffed. The three of you searched for the kids that were still hiding, you and Carl somehow ending up as duo. He still had the glow stick, but noticing the item he gave it you.

"...Thanks," You smiled feeling his fingers brush against yours as you took it. A warmth encased the pair of you as your footsteps echoed.

"So..."

"So."

"You know..." You turned to look at the boy as he stopped a pace behind you. "You're...different."

"...How?" You muttered.

"You're quiet," he told you softly as you blinked, silently agreeing with him. It was a fact. "You know what's out there." He nodded behind him. "You lived in it--survived it and you fit in with the rest of us, unlike everybody else we've brought in." Your lips pressed into a thin line.

"...Is that okay?" You finally whispered, turning away so you wouldn't meet his eyes.

"Yeah," he answered without a beat of silence. "I...I like how you're different." (e/c) eyes widened as you glanced at him shyly. Your face warmed as you caught his gaze and he offered a small smile as you both began your walk again.

"We're not even looking..." You reminded, enjoying the moment you were in.

"Oh, yeah. We're still playing." He realized as you huffed in amusement.

>>><<<

Okay, so maybe you were cheating. Just a little.

You weren't supposed to move from your hiding spots, but you found it much more interesting when you were dodging dark figures while being as quiet as humanly possible. It was good practice at least. Creeping out into the hallway you looked to your right where Patrick had just entered a room humming comically for the kids. One of them giggled, revealing their spot to the kind dork.

"Bad move, (y/n)." You gasped and snapped your gaze forward where the hallway went straight ahead to see Carl. He smirked and you winced as he lunged. Just being able to dodge him you took off to your right down the hallway that lead to the front door. Your feet pounded against the stone floor and you forced yourself to run faster than ever as he chased you from behind.

"No running!" Patrick yelled probably ducking out of the room he had just been in to hear our loud footfalls.

"Cheater!" Carl shouted as you dodged his hands and slipped out the door.

"NO LEAVING THE CELL BLOCK--YOU GUYS!!!" Patrick hollered as you let your excitement drowned him out heading out over the grass with the brunette right behind you.

You let out a choked gasp as he grabbed your arm and pulled you back making you stumble and fall onto the grass with alongside him. You panted for breath, giggling your head off at the same time as you both laid next to each other.

"Damn it..." You breathed, shaking your head. Carl laughed as he let go of your arm and sighed leaning up.

"You're fast" he stressed letting his head fall towards the ground. "Jeez." he huffed.

"Not fast enough" You sighed and sat crisscrossing your legs.

"I wouldn't have caught up if you'd been farther away." He tried to comfort, but you just rolled your eyes and pushed him away playfully. Reaching up to run a hand through your hair you played with the soft ends as you looked out across the small meadow to see the dinner people glancing at you. Suddenly you felt embarrassed from breaking the rules.

Oops... You glanced at Carl as he sighed leaning back on his hands. Sweat gleamed on his face, just slightly. Nah, this was totally worth it.

"YOU GUYS!" Patrick's holler made Carl and you bust out laughing again as you both stood and brushed our dirty jeans off. The brunette signaled to Patrick that you both were coming back as you slid your handful of hair from your face and sighed.

"He broke the rules too." Carl gave you a questioning look. "Lizzy said to be quiet."

Chapter Text

In the year you'd been alone (give or take a few days you still weren't sure) you would have never thought, in that entire time, you would stay up the whole night wandering mindless things, some including just a regular boy.

A boy that's cute, you added silently. And has been through shit like me. Well, technically everyone had one way or another. The fact was that your brain couldn't let go of the memory of him and all the times you'd had brushed up against him, the few glances...

You didn't think a girl would analyze a puzzle harder than this. Your hormones had drowned your brain in the memory of a hushed conversation and gorgeous blue eyes, along with a variety of doubt. It registered in the very back of your mind that this was probably a bad idea. Sure, you talked and had grown closer, but was all that enough for you to really trust him?

I trust this group, you thought immediately. I trust them completely and...it's scaring me.

This should have been the last thing to worry about, but teenagers' minds had a habit of putting minor dilemmas in front of reality. Back then people your age thought the world was ending over one little problem. Now you greeted the end every single day and it was an awful, rotted image.

"You're different..." His voice drifted as you pursed your lips. Silence ticked on.

You groaned quietly, flipping over onto your stomach to bury your face in your pillow. The entire situation was annoying, yet undeniably bittersweet. You saw the sun rising, a faint beam of light creeping under your curtain, the only thing to separate you from the world outside. Hush shifted in his corner down below, the sound of claw nubs scraping against floor made you sigh. A shower would wake you up. But it won't answer these damn questions.

Back before this prison, you wouldn't even bat an eye at stuff like this, you were too worried about getting your face eaten off. But this place--this new home of yours--had changed you along with its people. 

Carl was only one of the few that had alternated your outlook on life. That red neck archer had a big part in it as well as the sweet blonde and your savior, Michonne. You were talking--no, living, because of them. You were grateful but confused. These emotions were all so new, so raw. You wanted to welcome them, but there was the uneasy feeling that had been weighing you down since you were born.

No matter how much you trusted, or came to care for these people you would always second guess their actions or their feelings towards you. You had learned the hard way how fast someone could turn on you in an instant and it was a rugged experience that left you with nightmares and triggers. Even if someone had been with you through everything. Even if they had loved you...

You shook your head realizing you had made it to the showers. When had you even gotten up? Shrugging the questions along with a hundred other off you continued on. A few people were up and about, but you had curtains to hide yourself from prying eyes. Turning on the water you let the slight chill of it wake you up and proceeded to washing your hair and body.

>>><<<

The cringe-worthy creak of the sliding door echoed around you as you turned from staring at the watch tower, lost in thought. Rick closed the heavy metal door behind him catching sight of you while doing so. You were relieved to see Carl wasn't with him. 

His father approached. There was always meaning to his steps, if he was walking towards you that meant he had something to say. With Rick it could be anything. He stopped short in front of your timid form as you observed him silently. His squinted, pale blue eyes glanced you up and down suspiciously.

"You on watch last night?" he inquired.

"No." You shook your head.

"Look tired," he commented passing by without another word.

"Was Carl up all night again?" You smiled softly at the thought, despite your inner turmoil for the teen. Rick and you headed down and into the courtyard, your footfalls sending up small amounts of dust.

"Yeah," the man answered and sighed, shaking his head. His voice had it's slightly scratchy tone as usual.

You both were quiet as you made your way to the cracked open gate that lead out towards the garden. Rick stopped short of it and splashed his face in a barrel of water as you opened the creaky fence and stepped through. 

The birds tweeted as you trailed down, but soon they were drowned out as you walked into the garden. Passing the pigs you glanced over at them and frowned, coming to a stop. One hog laid on its side, rarely moving. It looked sick unlike the few others in the pen who were a bit more energetic. Grabbing a hoe and your gloves (courtesy of Michonne) you began the long morning ahead, leaving the pig to Rick.

Said man listened to his country music as Carl would have put it, while you ignored the walker's voices, shoveling on. Glancing at the dark brunet you spotted him pulling the newly sprouted weeds and worms out of the soil. When he hit something you could hear the impact and looked down as he unplugged his headphones. Rick squatted and dug in the dirt revealing the item within.

It was a gun.

You gave Rick a questioning look. He sighed glancing at you and turned his focus to the walkers as they growled and groaned trying to get in for a bite, but of course the gate held them back. Rick plugged both of his headphones back in, ignoring your confusion, and slid the ammo clip out of the gun, tossing both of them into the nearby wheelbarrow that held the rest of the pulled up weeds. Not brave enough to question him you went back to work. The walker choir seemed louder than before, and it echoed around you as you focused on the garden.

>>><<<

Rick drank his pouch thirstily as you sat your hoe against the pen done for the day. You were exhausted and starved, so after your share of breakfast and probably a conversation or two your butt was going straight to bed to sleep the day away and most likely have night watch with Daryl.

Seeing a figure walking down the dirt road. Your mind buzzed as your nerves began to pace wildly, causing your hands to flinch and clench into fists.

"You didn't wake me up!" Carl yelled mildly as he grew closer saving you from any further thoughts. You crossed your arms rubbing your fore and middle fingers against your thumb on your dominant hand. As the fabric of the gloves met your sense of touch you rested against the pigpen watching the father and son interact in silence.

"Cause I knew you were up all night reading comics with a flashlight," Rick spoke to the brunette's statement as you smiled and looked away. Both father and son met at the foil gate of the pigpen a foot or two away from your resting point. Carl sighed and smiled at his dad's reply and you stayed where you were. He glanced at you from the corner of his eye.

"Whats up with Violet?" 

You didn't give an input.

"Carl," Rick sighed, exasperated. "I told you not to name them. They're not piglets anymore. They're food" the man said with a hint of annoyance in his voice.

"I just thought, you know, until..." the teen shrugged. Guilt grew inside of you. With another sigh from Rick, his son muttered a quiet "okay."

"...Is she okay, though?" You finally spoke up. "I...named her, not Carl, so..." You took the blame and felt the father's eyes on you. You took on his stare bravely even though your insides quivered. Truthfully, your entire being wanted to look away from his all-knowing gaze, but you stood your ground.

"...I don't know what's going on with her." He answered, glancing back at the hog. "Could be sick, could be nothing..." Rick clicked his tongue trying to gain the animal's attention, but the pig stayed put in her mud. "Feel better," he ordered. "Violet," he added tilting his heads towards you with a playful glare making you grin. Your feet started towards the usual breakfast picnic tables as Rick smiled with a small sigh as you passed. "Come on, let's get to it." You knew he was talking to his son. Your rows were clearly done.

Carl followed the farmer but stopped you with a question. "Finished?"

"Yeah, I've done my rows" You nodded trying to keep eye contact, which was difficult. You could already feel your face starting to heat up as you slipped your hands out of your gloves, pocketing them clumsily. Carl frowned, stepping a bit closer as your heart threatened to beat out your chest. What was he doing?

"You look tired." He commented and you shrugged, shaking your head.

"I'm going to go eat, probably sleep for a bit."

"Alright," he breathed, nodding and clearly amused by your embarrassed banter. "Get some rest. You look like you need it."

"Hmm..." You nodded turning with a laugh. "See you later," you mutter. He walked backward sliding his hands into his jean pockets as he smirked at you.

"Carl," Rick warned and you bolted focusing on your tasks at hand.

>>><<<

Coming up behind Carol right as the words, "I liked you first" came from her mouth to Daryl you blanched.

"Stop,pick up" he said, popping something into his mouth. The archer's slim eyes landed on you as the corners of his lips twitched ever so slightly. "Mornin' (y/n)," he smacked his lips as you smiled and rolled your eyes.

I'll beat you next time, bowman.

"Mornin'" You teased in his voice with a deadpan face. Carol laughed softly at the action, before slowly narrowing her eyes on you. She had a slim smile on her face as she handed over a plate of breakfast, clearly observing you. You felt like a bug squished under a microscope, just like when Rick looked at you.

"Look tired," she commentedYou nodded at her description and leaned against the pickup counter.

"So I've heard," You reply sniffing at the freshly cooked bacon. Violet came to mind and you quickly pushed her back down. A pig wouldn't survive in this world. It was stupid of you to name her.

"You know Rick brought in a lot of them too," Daryl cut in, speaking to Carol. He was probably finishing their conversation you had cut into.

"Not recently," she countered turning her sly gaze away from you. "Give the stranger sanctuary, keeping people fed, you're gonna have to learn to live with the love." She smiled.

"Right--"

"I need you to see something," the short haired woman stated as she turned to the only kid around that wore glasses. You'd just noticed him behind the counter. "Patrick, you want to take over?" You bit into your stripped meat savoring the taste as you tamed the beast that was your hunger.

"Yes ma'am," the geeky teen said politely in return to the question. "Uh, Mr. Dixon, I just wanted to thank you for bringing back that deer yesterday. It was a real treat, sir. And I'd be honored to shake your hand."

You stifled a laugh, clearing your throat and nearly choking on your breakfast. Carol smiled at Daryl and he glanced at you giving you a look.

'Enough said,' you replied silently to him in your amused gaze. Looking at Patrick and sucking his fingers free of grease you shook your head staring up at the sky to swallow your laughter. They shook hands and Patrick smiled, beaming at the man and turned to the oven with his spatula. How did the boy not see the teasing currently going on around him? Pat smiled at you excitedly and you snorted at him. Carol and Daryl walked away while you sighed, finishing your bacon with a shake of your head.

"What?" The boy shrugged.

"Have fun with breakfast duty, you dork."

>>><<<

"Thanks for watching him," You said, petting Hush as Beth waved you off saying it was nothing while playing with Judith. The red cups seemed to take up most of the babe's focus as she tapped them against the ground.

"Did you hear about the run?" The blonde asked. You freeze in mid-stroke down the dog's back he was fluttering back and forth more energetic from his nap.

"Who's all going?" You ask worriedly.

"Daryl and a few others..." she had a slight frown.

"And...your boyfriend?" You asked hesitantly. After a minute she nods. The girl had told you about him a few days ago, surprising you.

"It's fine. So," she sighed gaining her usual cheer back as she grinned at you. "Why do you look so tired?"

"I'm just an open book aren't I?" You sighed resting your cheek on one hand and yawned.

"You weren't on watch right?" You shook your head, "then what were you up to?" She hummed suspiciously as you huffed.

"Nothing. I was up all night...thinking."

"About what?" She pushed as you rolled your eyes. Beth smiled and laughed softly looking back at Judy. "I saw you and Carl runnin' around last night. Somethin' to do with that?" You glanced away as she gasped. "(y/n)..." The blonde breathed leaning towards you. "Did Carl finally make a move on you?" You snapped your gaze to her intrigued face.

"What? No." You ducked feeling like you had been roped into a corner suddenly.

"Tell me everything!" She practically begged.

"Whoa, what did I miss?" You looked back and shook your head at Maggie.

"Nothing." You reply as the sisters gang up on you.

"Carl made a move on her," the blonde smiled smugly. Maggie feigned a gasp, smiling as you groaned hiding your face in your hands.

"Did he now?"

"Stop it..."

They laughed.

Chapter Text

(Sorry it's so short! Life is demanding right now.)

Eventually you cave and tell the sisters what had happened the previous night. You replayed how you were playing hide and seek and you couldn't find anywhere to hide. How Carl had helped you and the both of you ended up in the cluttered closet. How the glow stick had fallen on you.

"That's all?" Beth frowned.

"I told you, nothing happened." You insisted.

"Well, Carl genuinely likes ya. No doubt about that." Maggie stated as you smiled, amused. The two of you were just beginning to be friends, that's all.

"I've been around Carl for a long time and he's really sweet once you get to know him." Beth spoke.

"Yeah. I'm gonna check on Daryl before he leaves."

"I'll come, too. I need to drop Judy off first, though."

"Alright." You grunted getting to your feet as you patted your leg for Hush to follow along. Maggie headed out with a wave.

>>><<<

Since Daryl would be off on a supply run you found that a goodbye was in order. If he was the first one to get you out of your shell then he deserved a farewell. So you approached the buff man with a weight on your shoulders, but a determined stance. More than anything you were worried and you'd just known this man for a few weeks.

A few weeks, you scoffed and shook your head. Watch me be with these people for years. How am I am suppose to handle something like this then? You bit the inside of your cheek as you stopped behind the bowman. He loaded up the car casually, most likely having done it before. I probably won't even last that long... Wow, I'm optimistic.

"Hey." You glanced up at Daryl and gave a small nod at his greeting. He gave you a questionable squint of his eyes.

"...How long or... When will you guys be back?" you muttered looking down at your hands in front of you. The archer breathed a deep breath through his nose and turned back towards his car. He seemed hesitant in answering.

"Could be a few hours, maybe more." Hushed voices caught your attention and you grinned spotting Beth with her boyfriend. They were sweet together.

"What're you thinkin' in there?" Daryl huffed throwing that massive hand of his on your head once more as you lowered from its weight.

"Nothing." you grabbed his hand in attempt to see the size difference. "Just don't get your ass kicked." you laughed as he raised both hands against you in reply to your warning. You slid backwards on the crumbling pavement doing your best to plush against the rugged man in front of you, but it was no use. You were a teenager and this man was a muscled beast.

"You should be tellin' yourself that."

"I'm a good shot believe it or not... Besides I'm not good at fighting and stay well away from forearms like this--" you nodded to his bulging muscles and sighed, backing up and losing your grip on his rough palms.

"Good shot, huh?" He scoffed and ruffled your hair playfully. "Gonna have to prove that when I get back."

"I will" you promised and offered a smile. "Stay safe."

"Always do."

"Mmm," you replied undoubtedly and ducked under his arm heading back to your cell block. "See you." Daryl didn't reply as you waved and left him to finish loading the car. When you reached your block you could hear the roar of engines and frowned, grimacing. You hoped everyone came back, but this being your first supply run while being here you were sure that was going to be a long shot. You weren't sure if it was just you, but you had always thought yourself a bad luck charm. Slipping inside the cool building you decided it was time for a nap.

>>><<<

You ran a hand through your hair as you yawned fishing around for your brush in your pack. Hush grumbled, his head wrapped up in his towel next to you nearly falling over your lap as he fought to get the cloth off him. His struggling lump scrambled around on you blindly as you huffed from his weight and quickly pulled the rag from his head. Once you Hush had situated himself on the floor you freshened yourself up and finally left the cell. Hurrying down the steps with Hush right behind you your footfalls echoed and you realized it was strangely quiet. You wondered where the usual laughter from the kids were.

They outside? You wondered as you made your way out of the block. Nope, you answered silently seeing no sign of them. Oh, wait, story time, you remembered and nodded to yourself.

Hearing footsteps against the loose gravel behind you, you glanced over your shoulder and blinked. The approaching figure was none other than the brunette, however he looked a bit...hurried? Confused? You weren't quite sure.

"Hey...?" you frowned when he slowed to a stop in front of you.

"Hey." His blue eyes were dark as he shifted his gaze towards the ground.

"...You okay?" you glanced down at Hush as he sat on your left, tail wagging.

"Yeah..." The teen mumbled, seeming lost in thought. You held in a sigh. You were suppose to be the one who drifted off in sentences, not him.

Leading him to your spot in the meadow you stayed close enjoying the comfortable silence for once. Sitting down on the prickly, but soft grass you sighed as a small breeze blew and watched Hush gallop around to take in his massive surroundings once more. With both Carl's and your legs crisscrossed, he finally spoke up.

"...Michonne dropped by."

"Really?" your eyes went wide as you turned. You hadn't seen the woman in days.

"She went on the supply run with the rest of 'em."

"Oh...I hope everything goes okay," you sighed thinking of the archer and samurai (having learned Michonne had a freaking sword handy).

"It will. We're careful, don't take many risks..." You glanced up at Carl again and grimaced when he was staring at the grass.

"Carl," you whispered softly. He blinked and looked up, giving you his attention. You gave him a look, inquiring what happened before you saw him. The teen breathed a deep exhale and frowned.

"Have you... Did you ever go to story time?"

"No...?" A flash of relief went over his face, but it quickly morphed into a scowl. "Should I have?" you asked leaning towards him slowly.

"I just thought I should check it out. Dad said to go and I didn't have anything else to do." He stopped when you blinked at him.

"So, what happened?"

"Carol started to teach the kids about knives." He looked at you glowering as you went still.

"...So?" you inquired softly raising your shoulders a bit. Carl's eyes widened as he turned his full focus on you. "I mean, I don't see the harm in it...? I had to find out that stuff on my own...so..."

"They're kids," he huffed and you furrowed your eyebrows.

"But so are we," you replied. The blue eyes you had come to like a great amount lowered as Carl focused on something ahead, a slight pout on his face. "It's better to learn ahead of time, then it be too late. Trust me on that..." you drifted off as you frowned reaching out with your free hand to pet Hush as he bolted by.

"I just--" The brunette shook his head. Your dog barked trying to lick your face as you pushed him away, ruffling his fur messily.

"I get it." you nodded. "We're safe, so we should enjoy it and be kids. But there's no harm in learning... We'll have to face again at some point..." your heart hammered against your chest at the realization.

"Yeah...guess you're right."

"On a lighter note--" you started.

"Let's ask questions." He states.

"So, like twenty questions each or...?"

"Are you trying to make it a game?" He chuckled as you shrugged. "When is your birthday?"

"(Month/day/year)."

"Im older" he teased as you shoved him playfully. Revealing his birthday you huffed seeing that he was, in fact, older. [A/n sorry if you're older than him]

"...Full name?" you hummed glancing up at Carl as you leaned over to grab Hush once more as he attempted to roll away.

"Grimes, Carl Grimes."

"Pulling a James Bond? Really?"

"Yeah, it was a long shot. You're a book nerd not a movie nerd." You gave him a bland glare. "Joking, joking." He grinned and your eyes locked. "What's yours?"

"(Y/n)...(l/n)." your last name was a bit (ordinary/weird).

"Fits you." Carl smiled as you rolled your eyes, your cheeks starting to hurt from how much you were smiling.

"It's not a 'Carl Grimes' kind of fit, but yeah--" you nodded as he laughed, "good enough, I guess."

 

Chapter Text

"I think we should stop for now." You sighed looking over your shoulder to see Carol setting up for dinner. Carl tensed next to you at the sight of her. You frowned wondering how he was going to handle the current situation. "So, your dad doesn't know a thing? About the lessons?" You tried to clear up. The brunette shook his head sending a few shaggy locks out of his eyes.

"What are you gonna do?" You muttered as he sighed looking at the ground as he thought about the question or his answer. You noticed that the teen did that a lot. One of his many (adorable) quirks. Your gaze seemed to shift to the side or upwards more than anything when you were lost in your head. If your eyes went down that meant you were hiding something or...looking down you guess. "Carl?" You called softly when he didn't reply.

"I'll figure it out" he breathed and shot you a small grin before helping you up with a small grunt. "Least we got to hang out a bit..." You grinned and whistled for Hush to return to your side.

"We see each other every other morning, afternoon, and always at dinner. Pretty sure you'll get tired of me at some point..." You admitted jokingly with a few nods.

"I don't think so." He shook his head disagreeing.

"Well, if you're not sure then--"

"I'm positive." You gave him a questioning expression before looking away as you heard the clatter of plates.

"I'm gonna go help Carol." You blinked spotting Rick coming up the gravel path. You weren't too sure from the distance, but you thought you spotted a bit of blood on his clothes. Your stomach twisted.

"He went to check the snares" Carl stated as you glanced at him, worried. "I should probably go..."

"Alright."

"Play cards at dinner?"

"Sure." 

>>><<<

The run hadn't gone well.

You had been relieved to see Daryl stepping out of the car alongside Michonne, but the looks on their faces made your gut twist in dread.

"Daryl?" You called once he was in earshot. He shook his head passively and walked on. It felt like a punch to the stomach.

"Just give him some time," your savior sighed coming to stand beside you as you watched the archer leave, heading towards a cell block. "He's got to tell Beth..." You squinted your eyes in confusion until it dawned on you.

"Oh, no..." You breathed. "Ugh, that's awful..." your voice lowered. The blonde and you had grown close these couple of weeks and you knew she'd liked that boy a lot. Hopefully she would get better after the news. Death was random, but not uncommon.

"Glad your back at least" You stated looking up at the dark woman with a small smile. She returned it and wound an arm around your shoulders pulling you close. Her warmth was appreciated even in the relatively sweaty evening.

"So... Carl seemed happy when I got back."

"..."

"Anything to spill?"

"Not really." Even you know you sounded suspicious.

"Uh huh." You laughed as she mussed your hair and started towards the dinner shack to grab some grub. Sighing you ran your fingers through your tangled locks and hurried to your cell to get Hush's dinner, parting from the samurai's hug. After feeding him and putting the pup to bed you would get some food for yourself as well.

>>><<<

"Can't do it tonight" Daryl stated once he'd caught sight of you sitting on the picnic tables. It was already dark and people were hurrying to their cells for a good night's rest.

"I know... I just..." You sighed and pushed off the table wrapping your arms around yourself. He grunted and looked away. "Are you okay?" You muttered.

"M'fine." He replied, albeit softly and messed up your hair in return for the awkward silence. "Get some sleep."

"I should be saying that to you, black eyes."

"Take a look in the mirror."

"You'd break it with one glance."

"Touché."

You cracked a smile and breathed a deep breath. At least you could still joke around.

"I'm glad you're okay." You admitted.

"...See you tomorrow." You nodded and turned heading off to your cell block. "Ey, little might." Looking over your shoulder you spotted Daryl's tired form. "Beatin' ya next game." He'd seen you beat Carl most likely after dinner.

You huffed and grinned replying, "Looking forward to it."

>>><<<

Muffled voices, two of them. One was quiet, sounding breathless as the other sobbed with distorted words and heavy gasps. From the moment the sounds of the scene met your ears you knew you wanted to rip yourself away from the memory.

No. You thought instantly wanting to shake yourself until everything turned to mush and faded away. No, wake up. Wake up!

The light was coming into view, the feeling of the hardwood floor digging into your back as you struggled to get up and run away. Your breath was coming out rugged and short as something weighed down on you like the world itself. The blurred outline of a figure above you made your heart go into frenzy as you shook and thrashed.

Stop-STOP! You opened your mouth and finally your voice broke through, but then you realized two things.

It wasn't yours.

And you weren't the only one screaming.

>>><<<

You sat upright in bed slamming your forehead against the medal underside of the bunk. You flinched as the screaming started to sink into your brain as well as the pain. Your ears rung at the sudden wake up call as you grabbed at your head feeling blood rush to the surface where a bruise started to form.

What's happening? Was the first question that came to mind. Blinking your eyes repeatedly you turned stumbling over Hush's corner to see shadows rushing past your curtain from far away. Getting to your feet you staggered forward--still holding your head--and wrenched the cloth away to look out at the chaos that you had woken up to.

Blood. You could smell it and you could see bodies littering the cell block as you yanked yourself away from the bar door and hurried to pull the curtain back over it in fright. Your heart was in your throat as you tried to swallow the pressure in it, struggling to breathe.

They got in. Were we overrun? Did the gates fall?

Your eyes widened as several faces flashed through your head.

No... You spun on your heel digging through your pack for anything to use as a weapon. Cursing under your breath you found nothing. Being so busy with work and pretending like the apocalypse wasn't mere yards away from you you had forgotten to ask for your weapons back.

What do I do? What do I do? The question repeated itself in your head, multiplying until your brain started to throb and an ache became prominent. You applied pressure to your aching temples and winced remembering the bruise from the bed.

Bed. The thought came to mind as your eyes flickered to said object and down to the rustling fluff pile below it. Hush was going crazy howling afraid. You hurried to quiet him before a walker heard him over the cries of the other residents in the block. Getting the dog to calm down you noticed he was shaking just as bad as you was.

What am I supposed to do? You had no weapons and from the sounds of it you had no chance in getting all the way down to the exit without running into one of the undead. I have to wait it out. That was the only thing you could do at the moment. With that plan in action you knew only two things could come from it.

The rest of the prison would come looking for survivors at some point.

Or you would have to make a break for it and start back from square one.

Your entire world shattered at the latter. Everything that had been created in mere weeks was being destroyed right before your eyes. Friendships you hadn't set in stone--relationships you hadn't thought over... Gone.

This is what I get. Your eyes watered as you fell to your knees resting your back against the bed. You stroked Hush trying to find some comfort in the midst of death. This is what I get for trying to live again-- You flinched as a sound slammed into your eardrums.

A gunshot.

Chapter Text

Scrambling to your feet you collapsed against the back wall wondering if the prison had been taken over by some other group. What would you do when they reached your cell? There was nowhere to hide. Hush was silent and still beside you as your heart pounded into your throat making it hard to breathe.

Soon enough the sound of walkers and screams died down and you could make out footsteps. They were heavy, possibly men. Your stomach twisted in fear as you tensed holding Hush close for dear life. A yell sounded and a familiar snap of a weapon you had yet to try out because the holder was so damn stubborn.

With shaky legs, you walked to your cell door and peered through the curtain hesitantly. Figures stood a cell or two away as your breath caught in your throat. You slid your door open as you called out in a pathetic voice, "Daryl?"

A tired face snapped towards you as you stepped out onto the bloody walkway. You sighed in relief at the sight of the few men you had come to know. The archer stomped towards you holding his crossbow at a distance in case the arrow was shot accidentally. With one thick arm, he yanked you into a breathless hug, you getting crushed to the rock hard chest of the bowman. Suddenly you were eye to eye with familiar squinted eyes.

"Hurt? Bit?" He hurried out looking your form up in down. You shook your head jerkily noticing Glenn and Rick behind the worried male as they spoke in quiet voices glancing at you nervously. Rick's blue eyes turned as he looked back into the cell he had just exited and your heart dropped.

"Daryl" the dark haired man called. You pushed passed said man staring towards the cell door that was being looked into. "Don't--" Rick tried to stop you, putting his hand on your shoulder but it was too late. Your eyes were wide as they caught sight of a corpse, bloody and rotted, but new, even for a walker.

"P-Patrick..." you stuttered hearing nothing but white noise as you were jostled, the scene blurring as your dazed figure was pulled away.

It's shock. You thought as the floor fell away and you were staring up at the ceiling, it rushes by. You couldn't believe... Did that mean...Beth? Carl? The state of Rick came to mind. No, he seemed fine. If Carl had...unless he didn't know...

"...Ey...Hey!" you jumped, shivering in your spot as your eyes scanned from left to right taking in the new surroundings.

"W-what--what?" you choked out gasping as your focus landed on Daryl, squatting in front of you.

"You're fine, fuckin' breathe." He ordered ruffling your hair as you winced and nodded taking in shuttering breaths. You blinked and felt Hush scrambling around you, frantic as your heartbeat. Choking at the sight of blood on your feet, you realized you had stepped into someones remains... Who had it been?

"D-did Mika--C-Carl--?" You stammered, hope barely flickering in your chest.

"Fine--They're fine." The bowman stated as you sighed feeling his heavy hand fall to your shoulder in a firm grip. Where was your casual tease towards the man? Somewhere stuck in your throat along with your heart most likely.

"Hershel's gonna check over ya, I've got to go to a meetin' alright? Don't leave, somethin's spreadin', a sickness or some shit. Just keep breathin', read a damn book or somethin'. I'll be back to check on you. Alright?" you managed a nod despite your awful shaking. "Deep breaths. Be back soon." With that his large figure disappeared.

Deep breaths. You opened your mouth and followed his instructions, petting Hush to calm yourself down as he laid his head in your lap. Everyone's fine...not everyone, but everyone I care about most...

"Ya doin' good, keep that up." you glimpsed up as Hershel kneeled down in front of you starting to check you over. Slowly you began to relax, your quivering skin slowing to a slight flinch from anxiety.

Once you had all your bearings you noticed you were in one of the hallways of your block on the first floor. You could hear people crying not too far off and winced feeling pity rise in you. Your mind went blank as muffled voices sounded above. You were sitting down still too numb to comprehend much other than the somber cries of those who had been lost.

"Glenn."

"Yeah?"

"Keep her busy for me, I have to check the others."

"What do I--?"

"Talk about Maggie, Carl, someone that will keep her calm. She's still recovering from shock." you jumped as someone squatted in front of your sight. The black hair and slightly Asian-looking face revealed who it was.

"Hey Glenn..." you muttered holding Hush to your chest as you looked down nervously.

"Hey, (y/n). You doing okay?"

"Y-yeah..." you weren't too sure anymore.

"So, uh, Maggie told me you like books?" He was trying, that was more than enough.

"Y-yeah...c-classics and, uh...fictional stuff."

"I was more of a comic book kind of guy."

"Like Carl?" you asked softly looking up as the married man nodded grinning at you.

"Yeah, like Carl. He actually let me read a few when Michonne picked some up. She brought you back that time."

"She did?"

"Yeah, but I think he was more interested in you than the comics at the time." you huffed letting a small grin grace your face.

"He's nice..." you muttered unconsciously.

"Yeah, he's a good kid..."

"...Thanks Glenn" you smiled, nodding. "I'm okay now." His eyes widened as he returned a nod and got to his feet, patting your head once, although a bit hesitantly before walking off to help most likely.

>>><<<

It was a blur to be blunt. The council--the people who ran the prison--had decided that the sickness had to be contained before the entire prison got overrun with disease. And from the pressure in your head and coughing itching its way up your throat you knew you had caught it.

Is this what killed Patrick? you thought and his crumbling corpse came to mind as you shuttered. What if that was you in a just a few short hours? Your whole body jumped as something touched your shoulder and you looked up at Hershel.

"Here's your cell." you nodded blowing out a breath while stepping into the small room with a bunk, much like your previous abode. Something softened the mood once you noticed a few books laying around. With a shaky sigh, you sat down and rubbed your head wincing once again at the bruise.

"Should be gone in a few days, isn't that bad." Hershel stated as you nodded feeling too lethargic to do much else. "You'll be fine, just a little flu goin' around. Daryl and a few others went to get some medicine. They'll be back soon. Think you'll be alright until then?" Another nod despite not knowing the answer.

You're sure he was just trying to keep the sick crowd from freaking out, you knew better to believe this was just some flu. You'd had it before (wasn't fun) and this was not the same. Maybe it was because you knew it had caused a casualty.

"Be back soon to check on ya."

Daryl said that... You shut your eyes knowing you couldn't blame the guy. He was on the council so he had to go and get the medicine. The last thing you wanted was for him to get sick, but he was out in the damned world and so was Michonne. Really not any better for your nerves. Just had to care for them, didn't you?

A cough tore from your throat as you felt the symptoms coming to surface fast. Looking down you grimaced when you saw no sight of Hush like you'd grown accustomed to.

It'll be fine. Beth or someone else has him... The brunette came to mind as you laid down for a much needed rest. His blue eyes brought a tranquil atmosphere to your crazed position as you remembered your 'date' and slowly drifted off.

Let me live... Let me see them again...

>>><<<

"Hey Maggie." you murmured staring past the transparent wall towards the hard worked woman. She looked as stressed as your body felt under all the pressure of the 'flu'. Her chestnut hair was tousled, eyes sunken and tired, even her usual grin was somber.

"How's it goin' in there?" She questioned slowly, trying for a sweet smile on her face.

"It's...getting worse." you weren't about to lie seeing as your own being was dreadful looking. She could probably see the death on your face. Crossing your arms you let out a ragged cough and grabbed at your aching throat, wincing with a grimace.

"How worse?" Her dark eyes bore into yours, concerned.

"People are dying... I'm getting sicker--" a new series of hacks spilled to prove your point as you shook your head in discomfort, trying to fight the moisture climbing from your throat to your eyes. "I'm scared, Maggie..." you laughed bitterly, pushing the aching tears down into your sore body. Silence echoed.

"Carl's worried sick. Won't stop takin' care of everythin'. Mika keeps askin' 'bout you, just like him." you felt a more prominent ache in your chest at the thought of them.

"And Hush?"

"Fine. He's quarantined, but we're takin' good care of him. I've heard him barkin' through the door." you smiled at that. It had been such a risk to let an animal into the midst of healthy people, but Daryl had pulled some strings and gotten the mutt to a safe spot. It had been him, Michonne, or maybe even Rick. Whoever it was you were so damn grateful.

"Things'll get better soon. We just gotta wait on Daryl."

"I'll do my best." you managed a nod.

"See you soon?"

"I hope so."

"Take care of yourself, hear?" Maggie stared at you with a determined, but tired gaze.

"I will."

I'll try.

>>><<<

The warm tea was heaven as soon as it entered your throat. The soothing liquid eased the burning itch in your esophagus every time you coughed or spoke and you felt just a tad bit better.

Hershel had been busy leaving another doctor, Caleb you think his name was, to check over Lizzy and you. Soon enough a little boy was in your mix of sickness. Mika's sister would read alongside you not making much conversation and the lad tended to stay quiet only letting out stray coughs every now and again. The little tikes seemed much healthier than you, though, so that was a good sign.

At some point, your fever reached its deadly limit. You were sweating bullets and could barely keep your eyes open. Your throat was raw as you choked on coughs leaning over the bed to gag up a metallic taste brewing at the back of your mouth. Blood. Throwing up the crimson liquid was never a good sign.

"Her-shel!" you breathed, scared as your voice cracked and barely audible. Lizzy's echoed as blurry figures ran circles around you.

I can't breathe... Your lungs weren't working properly, the blood was clogging up your air pipe. You flinched as you were slammed onto your stomach and vomited up everything stuck in your throat. At the sight of red, you wondered if this was it. Dying of a flu..never thought that would happen.

Voices rung in your ears as you shut your eyes losing yourself to a forced and fatigued sleep.

Chapter Text

You could feel yourself waking up and instantly noticed you weren't laying on your stomach like you'd previously been. Another thing to add was your throat no longer felt like shredded strips along with your head that seemed much lighter. All the symptoms of the disease seemed to be nonexistent. What luck with that terrible episode you had gone through. You had thought you were dead, but it looked like fate had more in store for you.

As you came to you vaguely felt a warmth surrounding your right hand, filling your nerves with comfort for some odd reason. When you opened your eyes the sight of a blurred brown took up most of your focus to the right. The color belonged to a hat. That particular accessory laid on a tilted head, looking down as if the figure were asleep.

...Cowboy hat? You wondered. Moving your hand you realized someone else was holding it and sighed as the figure lifted his gaze to meet yours. The tranquility touch made sense now.

"Hey stranger." you whispered, your mouth a bit dry as Carl's grip on your hand tightened.

"You scared me." He breathed instantly. The statement held a double meaning. Although at first glance you would say he'd been afraid of you dying, something told you you'd truly frightened him just now with your awakening. Who knew what side would surface after the scene you'd created?

"I'm sorry." with a cough you cleared your throat and started to lean up as Carl shifted letting go of your hand so it could aid you in your movement. Out of the corner of your eyes you saw the brunette bend down. You smiled, gratefully accepting the cup of water as he offered it. Gulping it down you sighed at the coolness and ran a hand through your hair, switching to massaging your neck that ached a good bit.

Probably from being slammed into the ground... Or maybe you just didn't remember some other part.

"How long...?"

"A day. Maybe a day and a half." The teen took your now empty cup and set it down next to a familiar pile of fur residing by it. Your inner worry vanished at the sight of your dog. The bugger didn't even greet your awakening, but he was asleep so you decided to let him off easy.

Blinking you realized you weren't in your usual cell. The curtains were a different shade and you no longer had a bunk. That meant no more hitting your head on the infernal thing at least. You smiled as Hush finally jumped up to greet you, noticing your alerted state while licking at your face mercilessly as you coughed, chuckling lightly.

"Which cell block am I in?" you questioned pushed your trusted canine down to lay atop your lap, whilst looking around curiously. The dog was certainly heavy, now being nearly full grown.

"Mine." Carl took your hand again as you slid your legs off the mattress (with struggle because of the dog) and faced him in his chair. Your eyes widened at the news of the current building you laid in.Hush pummeled into the ground to attack his food bowl that had been filled sometime during your sleep.

"What? Why?" you frowned leaning forward slightly.

"The other blocks are being cleaned out and we didn't want you getting sick again. Besides Beth wanted you as a neighbor."

"She's next door?" you smiled and huffed out a laugh softly, looking down at the teen's hands. "You'll never see me, then."

"I can share," Carl huffed getting to his feet with a small grunt. How long had he been sitting beside you? Your gaze fell onto your interlocked hands. You'd missed the warmth.

"Is everyone...?" you followed after him, hesitantly with bare feet against the chilly ground. Anxiety filled you at the frown that graced his face at your question.

"Daryl, Michonne...?" you choked out clutching his palm in terror. Carl shook his head and squeezed your hand in comfort as he focused his gaze on your grasp adding the other to the mix. Both set of fingers gripped yours.

"No, they're fine...."

Your shoulders slumped in deep relief. The main people who were stuck within the chaos were alive. Hush definitely was and so was Carl. You felt your breath catch as his warm fingers ghosted over your forehead. You barely perceived him moving in your dazed state.

Oh yeah, the bruise, you remembered as a sting of pain echoed through your head. Suddenly embarrassment filled you and you hoped he wouldn't ask how you received the discolored patch of skin. Knocking your head on the underside of a bunk bed was idiotic sounding compared to... What? Tripping up because of a walker and face planting the ground? Both of those are completely embarrassing... Why the hell am I even stressing over this? You glanced up focusing on the brunette. He seems to be...

"Hey," you called softly as Carl frowned and stared at you worriedly. His ocean-colored eyes made your heart crack when you saw how tired and concerned they were. "I'm fine, okay?" you smiled and tipped his hat up teasingly for more space to lean closer, brown bangs peeking out even more from under the headgear. "No need to worry, cowboy."

You tensed as his arms slid around your waist pulling you into a tight hug as you curled into him instantaneously. He was as warm as you remembered and the usual safety came within his embrace. Your hands mimicked his as you held him around the waist resting your cheek against his shoulder. He breathed deeply into your hair as his lips came to rest against your ear.

"If I wasn't so happy to see you I'd hate that nickname." you shivered as his tepid breath hit your skin and huffed against his shirt. Feeling his shoulder muscles shift under your jaw you spoke softly.

"Not as bad as little might." You both broke off into pithy laughter. The whole world was shut out as you felt his lips against yours and slowly came to melt in his arms. Your hands against his taut back splayed out unconsciously as you pulled him closer. It felt like second nature being this close, this intimate with him. When had you even begun to be so comfortable around this boy?

"Eh hem."

You both jumped apart at the sound of someone clearing their throat and you bit the inside of your cheek as Carl's hand flew to fix his hat that had threatened to fall off from the sudden snap back.

He's adorable. You turned to see who had caught your reunion and felt your heart freeze in your chest. Shit. Daryl stared at your flustered forms as you felt your face heat high up enough to compete with the sun. The archer only nodded to the plate of food in his hand (his reason for being here most likely) whilst leaning against the cell door's frame as casual as cicadas on a summer night out in the country.

"How long this been a thing?" He asked bluntly, offering the dinner at arm's length like you had something he'd catch. You couldn't imagine Daryl lovesick like you, but you'd pay anything to see it. Currently, though, you felt like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.

"Daryl..." you muttered a warning both embarrassed and a bit disappointed at being interrupted. Carl stepped away leaning around you to grab something as he muttered an excuse about getting some water. The sound of glass scraping against the stone revealed he'd gotten the cup you'd drank from previously. At least he could get away, you were stuck under the squinted eyes of the redneck.

Once the brunette was behind the bowman (and away from his perceptive gaze) he gave you a sly smirk before disappearing out of sight. Your heart thundered in your chest as warmth filled you. It was just a hug so, why were you so embarrassed?

"Hungry?" Daryl piped up as you blinked and frowned accepting the plate with a quiet 'thanks'. "Feelin' better?" He crossed his arms as you sat on your bed once more, nodding in reply as you picked at your food with the fork that had come along with it.

"...Don't tell anyone," you muttered.

"Who're you afraid of findin' out?"

"..."

"Pretty sure Rick knows--"

You snapped your wide eyes onto his tired face in shock. Both because he read your mind and from the actual reply.

"He does?!" you squeaked out, just above a whisper. Daryl just shrugged as you groaned and rubbed your face. "...He scares the shit outta me. I can't--what if--?"

"If he didn't like ya he wouldn't have let ya work for him let alone be aroun' Carl."

"But--"

"Look he's a good kid, so're you. Things were bound to happen." He stated, looking away awkwardly as you sighed and scooped a forkful of food into your mouth to distract you and your nerves. You jumped as the rugged man whistled shortly. "Beth!" He called in a scratchy bark as he looked over his shoulder out at the cell block.

"Yeah?" The blonde sounded like she was somewhere below on the first floor.

"Keep an eye on 'em!" He hollered spinning on his heel to leave as your jaw dropped and you ducked in pure embarrassment.

"DARYL!" you hissed loudly as various chuckles sounded around the building.

"Will do!" The blonde called back cheerfully as you bowed your head in defeat, eating out your nervousness. Now everyone knew about Carl and you and would be teasing even more often than before.

Great, you thought with a roll of your eyes. At the sound of whining, you shifted and stared down at Hush as he wagged his tail wanting his daily dose of attention. Setting your half eaten food aside you fumbled with the animal and scratched at his tummy as you dug around in your pack that had been stuffed under your new bed, checking to see everything was there. As you were straightening from being bent over you nearly screamed at the sight of someone a foot or two away from you. You grabbed at your heart and blinked at Carl who smiled, amused by the scare with a fresh cup of water in hand.

"...Did you hear Daryl?" you frowned, slanting your eyes at him. He relaxed his posture and nodded as you exhaled harshly, blowing a few pieces of hair from your face. While you were fixing the knotty (h/c) strands Carl sat back in the chair that had been brought in and just grinned, observing quietly.

"So..." you mumbled scratching Hush behind his floppy ears. The brunette handed you the water as you thanked him taking another sip. "Mind explaining the hat?" you quipped motioning with one finger off the glass as the canine howled shortly in assumed agreement.

"...It was my dad's," Carl explained as he took the sheriff hat off and twirled it in his hands lazily. You bit the inside of your cheek at his messy hair and looked down at Hush. You ran a finger over the bridge of his nose as he blinked at you, grumbling cutely.

"Sheriff?" you hummed softly returning your focus to the teen in front of you.

"Yeah..."

"Sheriff Grimes," you stated, pursing your lips and nodding. "Fits your dad..." you glanced up as his blue eyes caught yours. "Fits you too." The boy's smile made your heart flip as you glimpsed down once more spotting your necklace. You almost forgot about it, used to the feeling of the chain around your neck. Glancing up you saw Carl's eyes on the rings and you gave a small smile holding them up.

"They were my parents..." you murmured.

"...Fits you."

You scoffed playfully and tucked the jewelry into your shirt shaking your head.

"My mom's a little big on me, but I'm sure I'll grow into it someday."

Who knows if it will ever mean marriage, though... The future was way too far away to even think about.

Crossing your legs you realized you wanted a shower before falling back to sleep. It was late and by the sounds of it everyone was heading to bed as well. After taking in Carl's appearance you realized he needed to even more so than you. There were faint, dark circles under his breathtaking eyes and just a tired outlook on his everyday quirks (with the adorable addition of his hat). Laying the pup back on the ground you stood, stooping down to grab your pack as the cowboy stood as well.

"Go get some sleep" you told him shrugging one leather strap over your shoulder.

"What're you--?"

"Shower" you cut in and grinned as he looked away with a quiet and understanding 'oh'. Feeling a few butterflies in your stomach you pushed them down and leaned forward pecking the brunette's cheek quickly. "See you in the morning?" you asked starting towards the cell door. Carl followed, but grabbed your hand, interlacing your fingers. You froze as he pulled you back and laughed and he stole a quick kiss from your lips.

"Yeah," he answered, although a bit late as you pushed him out of your room playfully. He leaned back against your hands playing along as well as you chortled. Getting out onto the walkway you spotted Beth entering her room with a beaming smile on her face and blushed clearing your throat. Carl didn't seem to mind and practically dragged you down the steps and towards the showers. Dropping you off you thanked him and tried to pull your hand from his grasp.

"Carl..." you sighed, grinning like an idiot. "We need to split before you get an earful from Daryl, or worse your dad." you stressed the last word severely.

"Why do you think I don't want to leave?" Blue eyes widened, faking fear. "He's waiting to jump me" the boy mumbled with a small pout that made you squeal internally.

"Stop procrastinating" you tried to push him away from the bathrooms. He didn't budge, but you could feel how sturdy his chest was. Carl would have some major muscles if he kept working at the garden at this point... You shook your head losing yourself in your head once more. "Go..." you glared softly.

"Or else?" The brunette prodded trying to buy himself time, but you could see Rick's figure in the farther parts of the cell block behind him. It was only a matter of time.

"...Or else your dad will drag you away." Carl sighed leaning to one side as he pocketed his hands, you already missed their warmth.

"Fine" he gave in starting back towards the staircase, but not before giving one last heart stopping smirk of his over his shoulder at you. You watched him silently to see which cell he was in and met Rick's gaze. With a shy wave you escaped into the showers where you spotted Michonne coming out. She gave you a small wink as you groaned at the ceiling making her chuckle.

 

Chapter Text

"(Y/n)










"(Y/n)."

At the sound of a deep, scratchy voice you cracked open your eyes only to have the sunlight assault them viciously. Sitting up you winced when you found no bed above you and remembered you were in a new cell.

Who...? you blinked and rubbed your eyes to see a figure by your cell door, the one who had woken you at a cursed time of the day.

"Rick?" you muttered quietly feeling your heart pick up its pace. You were up and alert now. He nodded to you and you swallowed at his foreboding gaze.

"Let's have a talk. Get dressed, I'll meet you outside."

"Y-yes, sir..." The older brunette turned on his heel and left you to get ready as you stayed frozen in place, terror seizing you.

What the hell...? Was this about Carl and you? Oh shit...am I about to get a lecture on the birds and the bees or some kind of 'stay away'? You frowned at the thought. Best to get it over with. You nodded.

Brushing your hair and going downstairs to brush your teeth you nearly stumbled over Hush twice in the process. When the pup was put up and you were finally ready, you made your way outside and found Rick by the food shack. Carol was nowhere to be seen. Was it too early for breakfast? Patrick would have been...

You frowned and picked up your pace to talk with the once sheriff. Going up in front of the intimidating man you just noticed a familiar gun next to him on the table. Your eyes widened and Rick noticed your state and cracked a smile.

"Daryl said you were a good shot--" he passed you your weapon, "--prove it."

>>><<<

Another can flew off the gate as you smiled, beaming at your good aim. It had been awhile since you'd shot a gun, you hadn't had any ammo to spare on a stray walker passing by, but Rick had loaded you up with more bullets than you could count. It was nice to have your protection back and your first true gun. It still had the carving you'd done at some point in your boredom on the handle. It was a childish doodle of a book, but that's all that had came to mind in that moment that you'd liked.

"Good." Rick nodded with his hands on his hips. "You know your gun pretty well."

"I've had it since the beginning..." you shrugged and picked up the stray bullet shells. The first few tries had been horrific, but you were back in the saddle again with a trigger finger.

"Father's?" you tensed and nodded. "Well, if we get you used to some bigger guns you might be useful on the front lines if ever needed."

"...I don't think..." you muttered and turned, your eyes wide.

"I was kiddin'."

With a sigh you cracked a smile. "Maybe I could, but I dunno..." you murmured. The front lines didn't sound so bad. You had some thing to fight for after all.

And here I thought I would be getting a lecture.

"Now about Carl..."

...God dammit! Me and my timing...

"I'm fine with it" Rick stated as your eyes widened a fraction. "Just don't let him keep you from your work."

"...What if it's the other way around?" you murmured. Your mind seemed to place you in the distraction bin along with the brunette himself.

"You know what to do," he stated in all seriousness as you nodded. He chuckled lightly and waved his hand over his shoulder. "Go ahead. He's probably up by now." You grinned and thanked him hurrying back towards the cell block.

When you were nearing the building you spotted Michonne and Hershel and decided to say hi. You hadn't seen the old man since the sick cell block incident and needed to thank him.

"Hey" Michonne grinned as you approached.

"Hey, uh...I wanted to thank you..." you started awkwardly towards Hershel as he chuckled and nodded.

"All in a day's work. You did good taking care of yourself for the longest time."

"I wouldn't say that... What's are you guys up to?" your head swiveled back and forth to motion towards the two.

"Bodies..." Michonne sighed. "Gotta burn 'em outside."

"Wait you're leaving?" you frowned. She seemed to be doing that a lot.

"We'll be back."

"But..." you looked down at the ground and saw your gun back in its holder on your hip. Your hand tingled from shooting it just moments ago, already used to the jerk back from the weapon. Furrowing your eyebrows you frowned in thought. It was time to woman up. You needed to face the world instead of hiding from it. Things wouldn't always be peaceful and when shit hit the fan it was your turn to run towards the chaos not away from it.

I have people to protect now. I need to practice.

"Can I come?" you asked looking up at the two adults.

"(Y/n)..." Michonne started, her tone revealing a probable no.

"Please?" you leaned forward placing a hand on your gun. "I need...I need to practice. I'm tired of being holed up in here doing nothing."

"We're burning bodies not battling a hoard of walkers."

"Michonne..." you pleaded. The savior of mine sighed and shook her head looking at Hershel for guidance. The old man hummed deeply and glanced at her as well.

"Mm...Carl made me take 'im out a few days back. Might as well" the old man revealed.

Carl went out? Your stomach churned at the thought. He would no doubt feel the same when it came to you. If you were this worried about something he had done how would he feel of it was something you were about to do? You realized if you went to say goodbye he would most likely keep you behind. Carl seemed like the protective type.

Hearing a door shut you turned half afraid to see the brunette, but it was only Beth walking towards your small group with Hush prancing behind her.

"He got out, your door was cracked." you thanked her and decided to take him with you. The dog knew to be quiet and it was best not to let him get used to safety. In hindsight this probably wasn't the best idea, but you both had to face the subject of surviving. Beside who would leave their sidekick behind?

"Tell Carl I'll be back later." you said as the blonde frowned in confusion. Her bright eyes flickered to the woman behind your form for answers.

"She's coming with us" Michonne stated nodding back towards a car hooked up to a carrier. You wondered how you had missed all the dead bodies.

"...Alright. Be careful."

You smiled and hugged the blonde. She trusted you and didn't try to keep you here where it was safe and you were grateful. You were a free spirit and part of you was glad to get some new scenery after weeks of the prison. Now that Hush was nearly full grown as well it would give him some good exercise.

"Let's go" a dark hand landed on your shoulder to go with the statement and you followed Michonne towards the car. Taking a deep breath as you sat in the back you looked out at the prison blocks. Your canine sat in the seat next to you, staring out the window as well.

Stay safe... The car engine started as determination filled you. I'll be back.

>>><<<

You stumbled holding the feet of a body as Michonne paused waiting for you to gain your footing again. With a sigh you nodded and muttered an apology as you tossed the once living being onto the pile with the rest. Your stomach lurched at the smell that invaded your nostrils once more. Rubbing your face with your upper arm you turned from the pit and spotted Hush in his spot where you had told him to sit. He watched silently, his ears perking up every once in awhile.

"Nearly done" Michonne huffed as she and Hershel picked up another corpse starting towards the soon to be fire pit. Resting against the car you inhaled a deep breath and heard a snap from somewhere to your right. Looking up you spotted a figure shuffling through the trees a good distance away. It was a walker.

"I got it," you called starting towards the wandering body. At your voice the dead one turned and growled starting towards you.

"You sure?"

"You know how long I've been out here. I can do it." you stated plucking your knife from your pants that you had also been received from the used-to-be sheriff. Patting your thigh with your other hand Hush followed along a few paces behind like a good dog.

Coming up on the dead one you paused, took a breath, and ran at it confidently. Your foot connected with its weak leg as it collapsed nearly grabbing your shoulder as you stumbled away watching it slam to the ground. Stepping up on it you dug your foot into its chest as it reached for you and lodged your blade into its skull.

Kind of nice, you thought as you pulled the weapon free sending a few drops of rotted blood to the ground beneath you, to run forward instead of way... Glancing at Hush you beamed at him and squatted running your hand over him as he tail wagged energetically behind him. I'm doing good, right? you asked him silently as he jumped up trying to lick you. Huffing you nudged him away playfully with your greasy hands from dragging bodies around for the last hour. Looking ahead your smile dropped as you spotted a scene you had somehow missed during your first kill after weeks.

A one eyed man pointing a gun at Hershel. And Michonne was nowhere to be seen.

 

Chapter Text

Before the man noticed you, you ducked behind a tree, dragging Hush in front of you as you switched the dagger for your gun. You shushed the dog quietly and motioned him to sit; he listened, thank God. Curling around the tree you clicked the safety on your weapon off and aimed at the stranger. You didn't have the nerve to kill the living, but one good hit on his shooting hand and everything would be fine. You had the advantage here, not him. You just had to keep believing that.

Your heart raced as you blinked seeing the man load something into the car. It was a body. No, it was Michonne.

Is she dead? The thought was screamed in your mind, but from the looks of things she was just knocked out, or at least you hoped. She can't be dead, why would he bring her along if she was? Focusing back on the man you cursed as he made his way into the driver's seat. Hershel was in the car as well pronounced a prisoner. You had to do something! From here you had a clear shot of the bastard's head, just one flick of the finger...

Your father's face flashed into your head as you began to shake.

Do it! You bit your lip as the car was turned on and started to pull away.

"Damn it!" you pulled back hiding behind the trunk as you lowered your gun watching as the car drove off. You had two choices:

Follow the car.

Or go and get help.

What if they're gone by the time I get help? The prison was a good distance away, you didn't even know if you would make it back...

Shit! You panted feeling your eyes start to water. Why didn't I just stay at the prison?! Why didn't I shoot him?! Hush whined as you looked down at him placing your gun back in its holder. You had to hurry. There was no time for crying. Running towards the dirt road to start your journey back towards the prison your dog was right behind you. You would find your way back, it wasn't that far.

I can do this...

>>><<<

Before you knew it you had lost track of time and your feet were aching. The stitch in your side wasn't helping either. Sweat dribbled down your forehead as you gasped for air bending over to rest a bit. Hush scattered from your arms as you choked on humid air.

Just a little farther... You tried to think, forcing yourself back into a slow jog while watching the road in the distance for the first sign of the prison.

A mile or two later you were struggling to keep upright. Stupid endurance.

"Fu-ck..." you choked looking towards the sky and you inhaled a shaky breath. Hush barked and shrieked making your heart skip a beat in horror. You turned as a walker came up from the left, your dog circling behind you. Groaning you grabbed your knife and headed towards the dead. All it took was a firm grip on the shoulder and a swift stab. The rotting hands froze in the air next to you for a split second before falling still as you pulled away from the disgusting body, letting it collapse into a fleshed heap. Looking up you saw no sign of home and looked back down at the walker.

I don't have time for this... You were too tired to fend off walkers and you had to focus on getting back to the prison. Your jaw clenched as you shut your eyes. Hush barked and you shushed him motioning him to keep up. Gritting your teeth you swallowed the fatigue and forced yourself into a bumbling half jog.

>>><<<

Your were worried for Michonne and Hershel, but it dawned on you if the man had a group as well. What if they were there when you got back?

Your question was answered when you arrived at the prison. It was afternoon, possibly later and the sight made you stop dead in your tracks. You should have known from the amount of walkers you had seen ahead of you. They had caused you to slow in order to not be seen by their sunken eyes.

No... Tears filled your eyesight at the sight of the dead encasing the prison. The gates were destroyed and one of the watchtowers too. You spotted the cars out front and a sob spilled at the sight of a tank. A fucking tank.

No...no!

Michonne. Hershel. Beth. Maggie. Daryl. Rick. Carl.

Your heart stung as you collapsed onto a tree feeling breath catch in your throat.

Carl...

You'd read countless stories where there were such things as the butterfly effect, or the domino theory. Why didn't you just fucking stop and think over those possible situations? One wrong turn and everything went to hell.

I just wanted... Were you not suppose to be brave? Wasn't it humane to want to be strong? To protect those you loved? You'd just wanted one simple thing...

Want lead to leave, leave turned to getting captured, getting captured ended with this. Loss.

You wanted to cry--scream--everything out of your system. But no one would hear it. Survivors or not you couldn't get into the mass of walkers. There were too many and unfortunately some had spotted you, making their way over.

Your heart broke as numbness encased you. It was all a callous blur--stumbling away from the prison as the dead dragged themselves behind you. Everything had fallen so fast, like the sudden crack of a gun. You'd lost everything all over again.

You were walking dead once more.

>>><<<

The sound of sharp whining and dull objects prodding at your arms along with a heavy weight made you snap your eyes open. You instantly felt the coat of blood staining you from head to toe and gagged at the smell that came along with it. So familiar.

Focusing on the hazed blob jumping back and forth in front of you you just realized Hush was the one to have woken you up. Giving a harsh huff you leaned up and glanced around your surroundings.

Somewhere in the woods... You scowled and ran a hand through your greasy hair. Not fucking helpful.

Your legs ached to hell and back and your arms felt like they were ready to snap off. You'd killed so many walkers, only losing a few after a quick decision to hide in a rooted hole under a half fallen tree. Why were you even out here? How did you get here? The questions brought on the memory of a walker-invested prison and the smell of death in the air. Your chest jerked as you felt your throat tighten. Shaking your head roughly you got to your feet pushing Hush off you in the process.

Water. Food. Ammo. You repeated the list of supplies in your head, blocking out any stray thoughts. Hush barked and you ignored him walking in a random direction. You would need to fins another corpse to freshen your scent up with, having done so at some point during the night, not sure when. When the dog kept on and started to trip you up something finally broke. You turned on him yelling profanities, harsh threats, swinging your arm warningly, but he stayed put.

"F-ucking mutt...damn dog--" you broke of into sobs as you collapsed to your knees lowering your head in shame. You couldn't protect anything, this animal was sentenced like the rest. Everyone you got close to was either gone or dead--mostly the latter. It seemed like your fate was to be alone.

You winced as something wet slipped over your hand and soon your face and looked up. Tears streamed from your raw eyes as Hush whined ducking his head repeatedly as he looked at you, barking and growling softly. He seemed cheerful as he nudged your hands trying to get you to pet him.

You let a few more sniffles slip before you wiped at your greasy face and stood, wincing as you noticed the dull throb in your foot. You hadn't noticed it in your numbed state. Sighing you pushed a few start hairs from your face and tied the rest of it up into a short, tangled bun with one of the few things you had left.

A hair tie, gun, and knife... my parent's rings... The canine barked reminding you, and Hush.

"...Come on," you whispered hoarsely, starting deeper into the forest. Your group wasn't easy to kill, you'd learned that after the few dozen stories that had been told to you these passed weeks. You weren't the only survivor--you knew you weren't.

"...Lets go find them."

 

Chapter Text

You were clearly lost. The worst part was you had practically nothing with you. To survive you needed supplies and you didn't have much.

I should have searched the prison and gotten my supplies... Even though you blamed yourself for not doing such you knew you could never have completed the task. Seeped in walker insides or not you were afraid of what you would see when you stumbled over those flimsy gates. What if someone you knew was a walking corpse? What if they were dead and you would see the horror of them being eaten? Your stomach churned at the thought.

What if there had been survivors?... No, it doesn't matter. You couldn't carry something like a body, the walkers would notice you and then all of you would be ripped to shreds. You just hoped if someone had been left behind they would make it out alive.

>>><<<

Late afternoon fell and soon enough the sun abandoned you like the strength you'd tried to gain. You were tired and hungry, nothing abnormal in an apocalypse. You were barely making any distance and not only that, but a few stray walkers would get a little too close for comfort because of Hush. You had freshened yourself up again today, but too much energy was wasted from it.

Coming to a stop at a formidable tree you wished to climb it, but no can do. You couldn't get Hush up there and couldn't very well leave him down below where he could be eaten during the night. Sitting down you started to shiver, your sweat turning cold and once again you wished you had brought your pack with you on the outing.

What happened to Michonne and Hershel...? It all came to mind that they had probably been hostages and that's what lead to the prison war you had missed.

You shook your head and tried to focus on something else. Shifting, you cringed as your gun and knife dug into your hip from being shoved into your pants line. Your shirt protected the skin beneath the weapons, thankfully.

The gun... The only original supplies you had left now were your mother's ring and your father's gun. Ironic, how they always seemed to stay a pair with you. All these years...

Hearing the distance sound of groans you pressed your lips into a thin line and pulled Hush as close to you as possible. He smelled awful, but smelling like a walker, animal or not, was safer even if it didn't work at times. It seemed the dead knew the difference between an animal either way, but if the dog wasn't walking, but laying still you didn't think they could tell the difference.

Hopefully they can't smell me... Your eyelids fluttered shut and you jerked catching yourself from falling forward. With a huff of fatigue you leaned back against the tree trunk feeling the rough bark dig into your neck. Feeling soft material against your hands you waited for Hush to get comfortable on your lap. The dog would stay quiet as long as he was cuddled up next to you. If a corpse got too close during the night he would wake you up. You was too tired to think of any risks and passed out.

>>><<<

Where am I? This is getting ridiculous...

Back before the prison you'd follow old maps to towns and streams or rivers on the way. You'd known the path to follow for a good while, before you started to do your own thing. You had checked every once in awhile to see where you location was, but that had been months ago.

Stumbling over dead leaves and roots you used tree trunks for support, but soon the trees began to space out and the grass became taller. Hush scattered around chasing at any forest animals that scampered by. He was still new to hunting, so he didn't catch anything and ended up panting and tired like his owner.

Good try, buddy... Maybe you'll be able to hunt at some point...that'd be something , bud...

Coming to a stop you huffed and wiped at your face while swallowing the saliva you didn't have. Your throat was dead dry and you craved water like a smoker craved his cigarette after a stressful day. You'd known a few smokers in your time... A stupid habit. It always was, and always would be.

Twigs snapped somewhere behind you and you turned, cussing under your breath as a walker followed after you, more were starting to come around as well because of your dog. The sweat you were producing probably was too much for dried blood to mask as well. A corpse growled raising its rotted arms towards you as you fumbled for your knife motioning for dog to scatter. He barked and you shushed him as you grabbed the walker by its shoulder seeing the other ones take notice.

Shit. It was too heavy, you should have known in your weak state. It lurched forward trying to tear a chunk from your face causing you to fall back. Gritting your teeth you gasped fumbling to try to stab the biter. Its disgusting odor made your empty stomach flip--you didn't have enough energy for this.

Groaning you pushed it away and stumbled back trying to catch your breath as the walker limped after you. When the eater was on you again you suddenly felt your legs give out. Your heart leapt to your throat as you yelled falling back into nothing, the walker in tow as more began to come closer. Kneeing the dead off you you tried to make a break for it. Slimy fingers wrapped around your foot as you cried out and kicked at the decomposing carcass weakly, trying to pull yourself back with scratched  arms. Hush growled leaping forward to bite at the attacker. You yelled at him, scared of him getting injured. Your eyes landed on the weapon ahead. Your knife was too far away having fallen from your grip. Pulling out your gun you shot the walker attached to you dead and one that was coming up on you. Hush knew to stick close to you as you clawed for your knife.

You let out scared huffs of breath at the thought of the decaying teeth coming close to your ankle and ripped yourself away rolling for your weapon. Looking up you saw luck was not on your side as you held in a scream. A whole hoard of the dead was making its way around you.

Fuck!

Turning you stabbed a dead one clumsily and struggled to run, Hush hurrying by your side. The dead group a small distance away had already spotted you, their groans becoming louder as you tried your best to look for an escape route. Too many strays. Turning you squinted as some cadavers began to fall within their circle. Was something tripping them up? Stopping in your tracks you held up your gun and aimed looking for what was disrupting the walkers.

A flash of dark skin made your heart beat go wild.

...Michonne.

She was in the middle of the hoard, her katana in hand. Quickly snapping out of your shock you aimed at a few strays coming towards you and fired. The sound of carcasses hitting the dirt made your mind go blank as you concentrated on helping as well as protecting Michonne and yourself.

I can do this at least, kill the dead...

When all was silent you sagged in relief to see your savior. She was surrounded by the decaying bodies you had been trying to get rid of in the first place. The outing had turned into a nightmare.

"Y--" you choked up as you stumbled towards her, "you saved me again..." you sighed wiping at your face as she started towards you as well, looking tired and dirty as you. Though she wasn't covered in walker insides you both looked like shit. You just probably smelled worse.

"Thank God..." She muttered pulling you into a hug as you winced feeling your small scrapes sting. "I thought you were long gone..." Her voice was deep and raw, had she been crying?

"I didn't make it back in time..." your breath hitched as your eyes watered. "...What the fuck happened? Why...?" Her hands held your shoulders tightly as she leaned down to look you in the eye.

"It was out of our control. We keep moving..." She nodded and you struggled to suck up the sobs spilling from you.

"I-I'm sorry... I didn't... I could've killed..." Michonne blinked, confused before coming to the realization and shaking her head.

"It was right to stay hidden. Don't apologize..." The woman looked down. Hush greeted the friend of yours with head rubs to her knees. "Hmm, nice to see you too" the woman patted the canine's head. "Come on. We'll get to a town, a house--fix you up." you sniffed and nodded pocketing your gun and knife.

"I'm glad you're okay," you sighed as you started off on another journey.

"I found you first..." She ran a dirty hand through your greasy hair as she cracked a small smile down at you, "so it makes sense I'd find you again."

Chapter Text

We came upon a pebbled road and not too far off you spotted a stop sign.

We're close to civilization then...

Michonne walked a few paces ahead of you before coming to a stop and bending down at a strip of mud. Squinting you froze at the sight of footprints within the wet dirt. Hope filled you and then doubt came smashing in.

"Is..."

That one of ours? You faltered in asking the question as Michonne straightened and cast a glance your way with a light frown in place. You both turned to stare down the road where the footprints disappeared farther up the trail.

"C'mon..." She muttered and you followed after her, Hush pattering beside you with alerted eyes and ears. "Glad to see he made it." It took you a moment to realize the savior meant the dog.

"You know Hush..." you huffed. "All bark, some bite..."

"That's right..." Michonne nodded. "You do most of the biting, at least with that aim..." She grinned back at you as you shrugged looking away, only feeling a smudge of pride in yourself. That was one thing you could thank your father for, your trusty shooting arm.

"'Bout the only thing I can do..."

"Nah," she shook her head, "you got a lot of experience out here... That say's somethin'."

"So do you."

You were quiet for the next mile or two, and you nearly collapsed at the sight of a run down building with old bikes parked out front. It was a low chance any of them still ran.

Michonne breathed a deep breath and slid her sword from her sheath as you pulled out your gun, following right behind her with Hush on your heels. The woman went in first, and you accompanied her inside staring around the dusty restaurant of some kind. Maybe a biker bar at one point in time. You frowned at the sight of a walker's body and groaned stumbling onto a chair. A sigh left your lips. The hunger cramps were starting back up again.

"Rest for a bit, I'll see if I can find anything..." Michonne stayed alert as she headed deeper into building. When she returned you smiled sadly at her empty hands.

"Air. My favorite," you muttered.

"We'll find supplies sooner or later..." she assured. You humored her and nodded before getting to your feet.

"Walker..." you sighed spotting one outside. Michonne took care of it as you got back onto the road. You jumped when an arm circled around your shoulders.

"We'll find 'em."

Warmth filled you as you stared up at the friend of yours and nodded again. You had someone with you, someone to help you through everything at least.

'You'll just lose her again...' a part of you thought as you shook it away.

But I have her now... Looking up you put meaning in your step. Someone else was out there, two people by the footprints. They were part of the group, or another, or maybe just stray walkers, but you would come across them soon enough.

And I'm determined to keep it that way...

>>><<<

It was late afternoon, a few more hours of daylight left at best. You were running off of fumes at this point and Michonne was practically about to carry you. Hush scattered in and out of view as you focused on moving, counting your footsteps as you did. You were in the thousands at the moment.

Just as you were about to call quits and take a break for a few minutes, Michonne spoke up.

"Come on, I'm starting to see a few houses."

Looking up you saw them as well and clenched your jaw in terrified hope. You wanted to rest so very badly, but what if you both stumbled upon another hoard, or a few neighborly types?

Almost there, you thought, then I can sit down... The woman beside you started to slow. Glancing up at her you followed her gaze to something laying in the road. It seemed to be a giant can, a splotch of brown on it's white (and also brown) label. Whatever it was seemed to be cleaned out.

Hush hurried forward to smell it and Michonne hurried forward to hiss at him. You stumbled and gave her a confused look as she snatched the container off the ground.

"Chocolate," she muttered passing it to you as she turned her sights on the nearest house. You peered down into the can smelling what you would remember as pudding.

Oh, chocolate is bad for dogs... With a hum you grabbed Hush's collar before throwing the trash the farthest you could away. Dragging the dog away from the death wish he soon gave in to walking beside you once more.

"Come on," your savior waved and started forward. You took one step and frowned before forcing yourself on.

"Ugh...shit..." you whispered through your teeth as you struggled to get up the nearest house's steps. Fainting sounded like a great option at the moment.

Michonne helped you up, her sword in hand.

"Get your gun out just in case" she ordered. Doing as you were told you started around the porch sluggishly, but quietly making your way. That's when you heard the murmurs of voices. Leaning down silently against the wall Michonne motioned you to stay quiet as you nodded holding Hush tightly as he sat down beside you. He stilled sensing the seriousness as his ears perked up. Did he hear something you couldn't?

'Be right back' Michonne mouthed and proceeded around to the side of the house where the door was. You checked your gun and waited, feeling your heart start to race. A muffled knock sounded and you froze afraid. Was that a signal? No, there was no signal planned. What was happening?

The sound of something heavy moving inside made you tense as you got to your feet. The creak of a door echoed and shuffling footsteps as laughs sounded. Relaxing you started around the porch's corner, hush ahead. Michonne had found someone you knew--you could hear her voice. Coming around the corner you froze, hand at your waist as you were putting your gun away. Your eyes widened slightly in shock at the sight of chestnut hair and cerulean eyes.

Fatigue was forgotten as you walked forward, Carl rushing to scoop you into his embrace. His hug hurt--from how tight he was holding you--but it was entirely worth it. Even in the humid heat you favored his warmth and felt something mend inside you after all the shit you had gone through for the past few days.

You're here... you thought silently burying your face into his shoulder, you're alive... He had been a part of the few you'd desperately wanted to find again. All that was left was Daryl and Beth, but having Carl and Michonne you could make it through. You pulled back from the taut hug of reunion and cracked a grin at the sight of his handsome face.

"I probably look like shit" you sighed as the brunet chuckled helping you the rest of the way.

"Who cares..." He muttered and something seized up inside of you at the sound of his voice. You hadn't heard it in days, but it'd felt more like months. Everything was longer nowadays.

Looking up as you both started your two-way walk towards the front door you blinked as you spotted Rick, but then grimaced as you saw his bruised face.

"Jesus, what happened you?" you breathed as he chuckled lightly looking worn as hell. Michonne stepped passed him to head inside.

As everyone piled into the house a couch was pushed up against the door (probably being what you had heard before the reunion) and you collapsed down on it--a sigh escaping your lips at the feeling of cushions under you. Next was cleaning the blood and grime off you, but you were sure you would be stuck in your disgusting state for a while.

Grime, you thought and glanced at the brunets before you. Correction: Grimes.

"Water?" Michonne asked immediately as she kneeled down in front of you.

"I'll get some." Carl rushed out hurrying off with glances back at you. Hush jumped onto your lap and you grunted at the impact, his weight heavier than you recalled. Petting him you pushed him to your left to ease your battered body.

"What happened to you two?"

"Walkers." Michonne and you answered Rick tersely and in a bored tone. It was a normal answer nowadays.

"That just happen today?"

"More or less for the passed few." I shrugged. "For me at least," You added.

"She got left behind when he snatched us" Michonne spat speaking of the one eyed man most likely.

"Sorry..." you breathed as you heard Carl enter the living room with two bottles of water. You glanced at him as he passed you the water and took it with a shaking hand. Your nerves were shot with all the shock and pain and fatigue... The list was endless.

"Don't." Michonne reminded you as you tried to apologize once more. She turned to Rick, water in hand as Carl took up residence beside you on your right. Leaning against him not caring that you had people watching you rested your head on his shoulder. Taking a sip of warm water you relaxed.

"Glad you have your hat..." you murmured glancing up at his Caribbean eyes.

He replied with a soft smile, his head laying against yours as you shut your eyes having no choice in the matter. The whole few days of nonstop anguish and fear finally caught up with you settling into joy and relaxation. The last thing you heard was Rick's muffled voice as you drifted off.

Chapter Text

The night was peaceful seeing as you got a good few hours of sleep without any nightmares, interruptions, or incidents. Being in a well-sized house you and Michonne had not only found spare clothes for yourselves, but some back up ones for the road, or at least for you.

Carl had enjoyed the look on your face when you managed to find a hoodie in the back of a closet, dusty but clean. You had been wanting one seeing as the season was still chilly at night, but you would survive with your new clothes anyhow.

Michonne went ahead and washed her bloodied garb because there weren't many adult clothing around the house, that or she just wanted to keep it, you didn't really ask. But with that you all settled down for the night. In the end you accepted defeat, slept soundly, and woke the next morning with Hush licking your face mercilessly.

Heading downstairs with Michonne finally cleaned up, you both split as you went to the kitchen and she some place else. Carl was already at the table eating a bowl of cereal in silence. Glancing up, your eyes met and he paused his chewing, causing you to crack a grin and huff. Getting seated across from the boy, Hush whined and you frowned having no food for him.

He can't eat sugar. You sighed wondering if there were any supplies left in the neighborhood.

"I'll have to go out and find something in one of the other houses for Hush." Carl shrugged, sympathetic.

"I didn't check everywhere, but the few houses around didn't really have anything."

"Besides pudding?" You teased as he rolled his eyes playfully. Chortling softly you flickered your focus to your right as a porcelain bowl was sat next to you beside another. Michonne also brought two bottles of water to help wash down the dry food. Hearing Carl chuckle you glanced back and forth, grabbing the plastic bag of cereal as the woman took a step back at his low laughter.

"Do you have something to say about my extremely comfortable and attractive shirt?" She questioned, sass in her deep voice.

"No, no, no. It-a-it looks great." He fumbled through his chortling as you spooned the crispy food into your mouth hungrily. Michonne busied herself with rolling the white sleeves of her shirt up as you ate. The sound of silverware clinking against a bowl sounded as Carl pointed. "Oh, you missed a..." He didn't have to finish as he nodded, going back to eating while Michonne fixed her shirt. Soon she too sat down and you smiled when you saw she had to tie a knot in her shirt as well in the back for her clothing to fit her.

"I wish we had some soy milk." She commented, pouring her cereal.

"Seriously?" the brunet asked, expression disgusted enough to cause you to snicker.

"Yes, seriously," the lady answered before raising her eyebrows at the boy. "Have you ever tried it?" She accused.

"My best friend in third grade--he was allergic to dairy."

"Oh no," You muttered as Michonne replied, "Uh huh."

"And every day he would bring this soy stuff to lunch. I tried it." Carl stated with a small shake of his head, grinning.

"And?" she pushed.

"I threw up."

You leaned forward on an elbow, resting your cheek in your hand as you laughed softly while the fellow female of the group sarcastically responded, "Oh, yeah, right."

"All right, all right. I almost threw up. But I was like, ugh." He acted poorly as you rolled your eyes, continuing to eat your meal. "It was so gross. I mean, literally, I would rather have powered milk than to have to drink that stuff again. I would rather have Judith's formu--"

Your stomach dropped as silence hit, weighing everyone down. It was only a few seconds before Carl pushed his chair back, hurrying away with the excuse of finishing a book and mumbling something about chapters left, or another. You opened your mouth, but nothing came out as you sunk back into your seat, eyes traveling down to Hush at your feet, ears perked from the brunet's departure. Bugs sang outside, louder than before, as you nudged your bowl away, sighing.

It hadn't gone unnoticed, honestly. As soon as you had taken a moment to realize something was missing between Rick and his son it had hit you hard. Judith was gone.

You knew better than to go asking what happened, it was easy enough to guess. She was just...gone. You didn't want to wonder if it was a permanent sense or a lost one, so you ignored the elephant in the room and went on along, just being happy enough to have the two Grimes back in your life as well as Michonne. But here it was, pulling your heart to pieces. You hand't grown close enough to Judy but it hurt seeing Carl so somber.

...Should I talk to him about it? The thought appeared, but was quickly scrapped as you shook your head, getting up from your seat. It had been a few minutes.

"I need to go find some food for Hush--"

"I'll go with you, just wait for a bit." Michonne called after you as you sagged in your steps, having no room to argue. Following in the steps of Carl unconsciously you soon found his room, the door was open so you slowed your pace, making the turn carefully. He was on the bed, back facing you so you couldn't see his expression. A painful streak wound around your heart as you kept silent, peering at the ground for a few seconds before continuing forward. You weren't confident enough to strike up a conversation nor lay with him, so you ended up sitting on the floor, shoulders back against the mattress. Silence strayed as you turned your head, looking back from the corner of your eye.

"I'm sorry..." your voice was quiet, but it reached him. He said nothing and of course you didn't expect him to.

I'm here for you, you wanted to say, but the gesture of sitting there was all you could manage. Hopefully, he received the meaning.

Closing your eyes you focused on the sound of his breathing. There was no rush, no deadline. He didn't have to explain or make excuses with you because you understood. Just like you he had no mother--lost a family member as you had.

But you still have your dad, you wanted to tell him. You still have Michonne.

The bright side was always impossible to see for someone in the position he was in. The apocalypse had taken something from everyone, it was common by now to know someone lost a significant other at some point. There were those who chose to shut themselves away when things began to get easier. Those types of people were the ones who were always ready to pack their bags and smash some heads in, walkers or not. They didn't grieve until death claimed them.

Of course, there were also the kind of people who grew accustomed to life away from the dead. Those were the more softhearted ones, the people who ended up dead as well or lost. You already knew which group you were in, it was plain obvious, but you couldn't help but feel split between the two.

You were both distant, yet softhearted when it came to people, or the world in general. It had taken weeks to get used to everything before it was all ripped away from you and that was the sole purpose you were so hesitant with the boy behind you. It wasn't like he knew you through all the years of this hell, so being distant was fine on his behalf. You just needed him to know there were people there for him and that he was lucky to even have someone left.

There was not enough time to grieve, but everyone coped differently with lost. It was always easier, though, when there was somebody to help you through it. After your mother died you had suffered a great deal, barely escaping the clutches of mental madness that would kill anyone faster than a walker. It didn't stop your heart, but it sure stretched it, poisoning your mind with things that were best left to the stuff of nightmares. Those would always be there for someone like you, however, after the things you'd done. The things you'd seen...

Why had you come in here? You couldn't help him and anyone could do better than you at this point. Blinking up at the ceiling you breathed a deep breath through your nose before hoisting yourself off the ground.

"We'll be heading out soon for supplies. You don't have to come if you don't want to." That was the last thing you said as you left the room.

>>><<<

The door creaked as Michonne stepped out onto the porch first, the heavy footsteps of Rick sounding behind you as Carl was the next out the door. Once you were all on the red-ish floor Rick spoke gruffly.

"How long do you think you'll be?"

"Fill a couple of bags, shouldn't be too long." The woman answered as you started down the steps first, Hush in tow. Your gun shifted in the waist of your jeans as you paused, taking in the neighborhood around you silently.

"It's 8:15 now."

You squinted at the time having lost it long ago, before glancing back at the three behind you. Rick was still bruised pretty badly and you'd heard about his small coma yesterday, so he would rest back here during the run.

Carl watched you, keeping an eye on your form as you listened.

"We'll be back by noon."

"Alright, you follow her lead." The father told his son before glancing at you below. Giving the man an 'ok' hand signal in reply he turned back to Carl, knowing that's all he would get out of you. "You understand?" With the question he gave his gun to the brunet. The boy placed it in the waist of his jeans as well as you turned at the sound of Hush huffing, sniffing the ground curiously.

"Hey. Everything okay?" The worry in the once sheriff's voice made you shut your eyes in agreement to the question.

"Yeah, I'm just...hungry." Carl excused numbly as you sighed softly. Rick practically whispered something from your spot, so you couldn't quite hear the reply, but you assumed he was just barely buying the response.

"I'll see you in a couple of hours."

With two addition of footsteps coming behind you, you began to walk ahead, Hush by your side obediently.

 

Chapter Text

Spoiler alert for new episode of walking dead.








 

 

 

 

 

 

If you've seen it I'm so sorry and I share your pain. I feel it, really I do, because I was so attached Carl. I made this story to show that and I hate what's happened.

So I can give y'all a choice

I can switch stuff around starting right when they meet Negan.

Or I can change what happened to Carl tonight.

Or I can let it all play out as it should and I'll make it as sweet as I can.

It's up to y'all. I'm so sorry.