Actions

Work Header

Is There Life Out There?

Chapter Text

The sun was shining brightly through the fourth floor window of your bedroom and the sky was a cloudless shade of blue that just demanded for you get out of your room and be a part of it. You dressed quickly, throwing on jeans and a sweater, preparing to spend the afternoon outside.

Once in the stairwell, the rumbling sound of engines returning to the Sanctuary from wherever they went caught your ear, and your heart fluttered with joy. That sound meant only one thing and you rushed, taking the stairs two at a time to greet your returning husband.

As you made your way outside a loud commotion told you to change your direction but curiosity had you sliding against the building to get a peek around the corner. The picture you were met with made your insides seethe. Negan’s men had cornered someone, a man with messy, dark hair, dressed in a sweatshirt that was far too big for him. You didn’t recognize him which wasn’t unusual since people came and went around the Sanctuary all the time.

Even if you paid attention to the strangers who found shelter in the warehouse, the Sanctuary had become too loud and more crowded than you were comfortable with and you had taken to spending most of your time in your room. Sure, your days were monotonous and lonely but monotonous and lonely was better than what it could be, safer too. Besides if you ever were to get too lonely, you could always count on one of the other wives to alleviate the boredom with a game of cards or maybe after a drink or three, some good old fashioned gossip.

The commotion halted as quickly as it began, and it grew silent, one by one the men dropped like dominoes, to take a knee with the exception of the man cornered like a trapped rat, who stood defensively, fists raised, awaiting the next blow. It didn’t take a magic eight ball to figure out who had also heard the commotion and that who wasn’t going to be happy when he found out you were in the attendance.

Leisurely, Negan and his damned baseball bat, strolled over toward the gathering of underlings without a care in the world, but when he caught you in his peripheral, his direction changed taking him toward your hiding spot.

A smile rose in your cheeks though your husband was less than so, and you stood on tiptoes to wrap your arms around his neck, welcoming him home with a tame kiss. His free arm snaked around your waist, pulling you against his side, affectionately crushing you into his leather jacket and you inhaled deeply. His scent was one that had always brought comfort to you.

His deep voice bellowed, scolding the crowd, “It appears you all have upset my angel here.”

You shook your head at the obvious misunderstanding.“No, I'm fine. I just came outside. I... I didn't see..."

Ignoring your denial, your husband's anger grew and he snapped, first at you then at the men. “No, no, no, these sorry sacks know better than to conduct business around any of my girls.”

You squirmed out from under his arm, staring him down and quietly said, “Just because you say something, doesn’t make it true.”

“That’s enough out of you. Go back inside,” He raised an eyebrow at you as a warning before turning to the disheveled and bruised man, “Not even here a day and already startin’ some shit.”

Upon getting the order from their leader, several of Negan’s soldiers crowded the prisoner and resumed using their fists on the defenseless man. The dark, dirty hair was strewn across an already swollen and bruised face, but as you observed the scene, defiantly, from over the artificial safety of Negan’s shoulder, you noticed the man's eyes were full of fire.

When the beat down ended, the man was dragged inside, cursing and, much to your surprise, still fighting the hands that were struggling to hold him. Someone with that much spirit would never survive long around the Sanctuary if something wasn't done and for the first time in years, you felt compelled to intervene.

Stepping closer to your husband, you stated firmly,“Him. I want him.”

Negan did a double take, surprised to still see you standing there, “Thought I told you to go inside.”

“Did you hear me? I want him.”

“No, angel, he’s a prisoner and a pain in the ass, at that.”

“I don't care if he's brothers with the fucking devil. That man just got jumped by all your goons and he’s still fighting. If that was any one of your men, he’d be crying like a newborn with a belly full of gas after taking half of that.”

Through gritted teeth, Negan repeated, slowly, “He is a prisoner."

Folding your arms across your chest, you frowned, “You always say if I want something all I have to do is ask. Well, I'm asking. I need someone capable and he looks damned capable to me.”

“Enough! I said no,” he growled.

Openly pouting with disappointment, Negan steered you back toward the building. As he patted your ass, his lips brushed the top of your head before sending you back inside.


 

 

It was late in the day, when, without knocking, because he never bothered to knock, Negan entered your room. Though you were happy he chose to visit with you, instead of the other wives, you refused to show it, still annoyed from earlier.

Before sitting on the couch, he stood over you, casting a shadow over the pages you were pretending to read, “Got you something.”

“Oh yeah,”you mumbled with disinterest, eyes never leaving the book.

He placed a ceramic cow on your thigh.

Any other day, just hearing you were on his mind while out getting supplies, that he actually brought something back for you, would have sent you over the moon, but right now, it would take a hell of a lot more than a cow to make you soften.

Picking up the ceramic animal, your eyes glanced to his before putting the gift on the end table next to the couch. “Cute.”

Sliding closer, he took the book from your hand and like a teenage boy on his first date, wrapped an arm around you, “Saw it and said to myself, I do believe my angel would love this.”

His angel.

Damn him.

That got you every. single. time.

Maybe you were acting like a spoiled brat? Your teeth tugged at your bottom lip as you thought about his words. He didn’t have pet names for the other wives. That had to mean something, right? In the beginning, long before he had soldiers and needed a harem, you were Negan's first acquisition in the world where the dead didn't stay that way, finding you moments after his wife, his real wife, passed away, just as the world was spiraling into a shit show. It wasn't that you could relate to what he was going through but you sure knew tragedy, you’d been doggy paddling in that shit for years and he was the only one who ever offered you a hand.

He nudged your shoulder with his to get your attention, “I promise, we’ll find someone you like better than Larry. Tomorrow, I'll make sure Frankie or someone checks in on you. You know, I’d go to the ends of the earth to make you happy, don't you, angel?”

“I know," you nodded, running your knuckles against his 5 o’clock shadow, "You need a shave.”

“I need a shave? What about you," he chuckled, as he slipped his hand into your pants, gently caressing your mound as his playful smile brought out his dimples, "What's all this, angel? Are you making 70's porn behind my back? You got a national forest growing in here.”

Feigning umbrage, you slapped at his arm, “Hey! Such a jerk.”

Negan pulled you closer for a kiss, his fingers continued their ministrations until you were a dripping, squirming mess, “You love this jerk.”

You hummed, “Sometimes.”

“Just sometimes,” he questioned, as the hand down your pants, suddenly, stilled and you shamelessly arched up, seeking out more friction. His grin was so wide it seeped into his words, “Tell me you love me.”

You pushed yourself harder against his hand as a frustrated whine rumbled from your lips.

“Now if you want me to finish playing with this lovely little pussy,” the tip of his finger tapped your needy and engorged clit after every word, “I want to hear the words, angel.”

Pressing your face into the side of his arm, sinking your teeth, lightly, into his flesh before giving him exactly what he wanted, “You know I love you, you big jerk.”

“That’s Mr. Big Dicked Jerk to you and don’t you forget it,” he said as he scooped you up into his arms and lay you down on your unmade bed.

After he set you down on he bed, you stripped off your clothes and leaned back on your elbows, spreading yourself to his eyes.

Taking a step back, he drank in the sight of you, wet and desperate for him. Unlike the other wives, who came to the Sanctuary with a husband, or a boyfriends, you had only been Negan's. Sure, he wasn't the only man you'd been with, you were an adult woman, after all, but no one in the building had ever tasted your charms. It was a luxury that would always be his and his alone.

“Now get over here and fuck me already, you big dicked jerk.”

Chuckling, Negan shed his clothes and was quick to comply.

Chapter Text

It was on the day of the next supply run, when Negan gave you a surprise. An early morning knock on the door startled you. It was far too early for one of the other wives to be visiting, and it couldn’t be your husband, he never bothered to knock. You sat up on the couch and placed the ragged paperback copy of The Eyes of the Dragon, you had been involved in, to the side and told whoever it was to come in.

The door slowly opened, and you were perplexed to see the prisoner from the other day, tentatively shuffle inside, with Dwight following close behind. Sensing the question making its way to your lips, Dwight beat you to it and said, "Negan says, you win."

Your head tilted to the side, like a dog that was trying to understand.

You won?

In even the most trivial of circumstances, your husband was as stubborn as they get and defeat was not something he took lightly so you were dumbfounded, to say the least.

The prisoner didn’t flinch when Dwight invaded his space, getting nose to nose with him with a deadly warning, “Remember what I said, if anything happens to her…”

The unnecessary bravado made your eyes roll, “All right, Dwight. You can go now.”

Halfway out the door, Dwight called over his shoulder, “Larry’s right in the hall. Anything happens, you yell for him, you hear?”

Once the door shut, you made your way over to the strange man. He shifted uncomfortably as you stood before him with a warm smile.

After sizing you up, he raised his eyes to meet yours and mumbled, "Too old to be needin’ a baby sitter."

The observation made you grin and you asked, "You saying I look old?”

His body stiffened as he averted his eyes. Your teasing sailed right over his head when all you were trying to do was put him at ease. The arrangement would never work if he felt uncomfortable around you.

“Guess I’m not as funny as I think, huh? Please, sit. Relax. It's safe here.”

Not believing you, he turned his head with snort and remained standing, "Ain't safe anywhere."

"Swear. They don't come in here unless... but that's why I asked for you."

Still looking away from you, his tone was biting, "Don't know me. Could be as useless as they are."

"True, you could be, but my gut is telling me that is not the case."

Huffing in disbelief, he asked, "Always listen tuh yer gut?"

Nodding, you offered him a chair and he hesitated but when you curled up on the couch, he sat down, "Sure. It knows me better than anyone and it's been with me the longest."


 

 

Time moved slow, painfully so, as you and your babysitter sat in complete silence. If you asked Daryl a question, he'd mumble a reply but offered nothing beyond the answer. He wasn't chatty like Larry, who would talk so much it made it hard to think and you weren't sure which was better- a capable mute or an incompetent chatterbox? After a while, you finally thought of something to say and offered him the use of your shower, hoping that small comfort might start to build the trust.

His jaw went rigid, and his eyes squinted at you, “Yuh sayin’ I smell?”

Embarrassment quickly prickled at your face, shaking your head at the misunderstanding, you stammered an apology, “No. That wasn’t my meaning... I’m so sorry if you… ”

Stepping into the bathroom, he called back, “Guess I ain't that funny either.”

While he was in the shower, it occurred to you that, once clean, he had nothing to change into and he‘d end up right back in that dirty beige sweat suit so you started to rummage through your things for anything Negan may have left behind when you came across a pair of dark blue pajama pants. After some more digging, you had a faded concert tee of a band you'd never heard of to offer, as well. Lastly, you pulled out a pair of socks that may or may not have been yours but with the world as it was, gender specific socks were the least of anyone's problems.

You knocked on the door but you couldn't be sure if he heard you over the water. The lock on the bathroom, like the main door to you room, had been removed by Negan , years ago, so you opened it a crack and as the steam drifted across your face, you shouted, “I found some things for you to change into. I’m gonna put them on the sink for you, okay?”

He gave no reply so you slipped into the room, keeping your back to the shower and quickly dropped the clothes on the sink before shutting the door behind you. The steam left a light film on your skin and as you wiped your face with your arm, the shower turned off and you squished into the corner of the couch, pulling the blanket off the back and laying it over your lap.

Steam flooded your room when the door reopened and Daryl stood hovering in the doorway, dressed in your husband’s clothes, his wet hair pushed out of his face.

"Promise I didn't peek or anyth...," you began to say, but all your thoughts were lost, as you were taken aback by the vast difference a shower had on him. Words were spoken, his mouth moved but they made no sense in your brain.

Noting your surprise, he grumbled before turning his head and examining the wall, “Whut?”

Shaking yourself out of your fog, you, know-er of many words, very eloquently answered him with, “Huh?”

He grunted and moved over to the chair.

Feeling your cheeks blush, you composed yourself, “Sorry. Are you hungry? Cuz I could eat.”

He hesitated before giving a slight nod.

"Good, good," you smiled, clapping your hands together before you stepped into the hall and asked Larry to have someone bring up some lunch.

The conversation with Larry made your patience wear thin before finally snapping. “I know you’re not supposed to leave the floor. I didn’t ask for you specifically, to bring up some food. Just go tell Owen or someone."

Larry explained that Owen was with Negan.

"What about Joey? "

To which you received the same answer.

"Well, shit, there’s gotta be somebody that Negan didn't take with him. Can't be just you and me holding down the fort. Just get on your walkie talkie and find someone."

Slamming the door, you sat back down in a huff. Staring at you, Daryl’s brow furrowed.

Sheepishly, you apologized, “I'm not usually such a bitch. It's just I hate being talked to like I’m the idiot. Worse, like some three-year-old. Which is what everyone secretly thinks of me. No thanks to Negan.”

After the food arrived, you served the roasted chicken and the boxed mac 'n cheese before sitting across from Daryl on the floor.

Pulling the chicken out of his mouth, he broke the silence that had been lingering since your earlier rant, "Know what yuh mean 'bout people talkin' to yuh like yer dumb."

He took another bite of chicken and those were the last words you'd get out of him before one of Negan's goons came around to take him back to his cell.

Chapter Text

 

“How’d everything go,” Negan asked as he strolled through your door.

You flew from the couch and wrapped your arms around him, mumbling gratitude into his chest. One hand cupped the back of your head as the other remained on the small of your back.

Once the embrace broke, he took your hand lacing his fingers with yours while you stepped to back, looking up at him with adoration in yours eyes and a smile so bright it even lit up your husband's face.

“How about we have dinner outside tonight?”

Biting your lip, you quickly did the math in your head before the answer came to you, "But... it's Frankie's night."

With his free hand, he lifted your chin and placed a kiss upon your nose, "Not until later. Besides, what's the point of being the boss if you can't change the rules from time to time?"

Smiling, you grabbed for a sweater while Negan waited by the door, hand outstretched, waiting for yours.

 

 

An early evening breeze wafted in the air as Negan talked all about his day, while refilling your glass with wine. You smiled and laughed accordingly, as you twirled spaghetti around your fork.  

He wiped his mouth on his napkin, "Now, tell me about your day. Did my prisoner behave himself?"

"Daryl was fine," you nodded, taking a sip of wine, before sharing the uneventful details of your day. Negan played the dutiful husband, listening, attentively, finishing off his wine until you made the mistake of mentioning Larry and the food incident.

"He was rude to you? What is that shit?"

The sound of what was the beginnings of his anger made you cringe, "It was nothing. Just a misunderstanding."

"No one talks to you like that. You hear me? Next time anyone... you call me or Simon and we will handle it."

Exhaling in frustration, you dropped your fork into your plate, "And that's exactly why... The way you treat me... You don't let me handle anything by myself. I'm capable of doing that. I was just venting. No one needs to get hurt over lunch."

After a long silence, he calmed himself down and smiled, "I forgot to mention, I had breakfast with Ever. There was syrup involved. Things got messy."

Ever

Hearing that name always made you smile. Not having seen her for more days than you could recall, a hundred and one questions ran through your brain, "Is she feeling better?"

"Doc thinks it's a virus of some kind."

You frowned. Negan would never allow you a visit until she was, at least, two hundred percent healthy, the risk being too great to your own health, or so he insisted.

"The guys are looking, hoping to find more medicine. Nothing we have is doing the job."

That was not comforting to hear and your face scrunched in concern. If anything happened to her, you were positive it would kill you. You played with the food on your plate and even though you already knew the answer you still asked to see her.

"Not yet, angel. But don't you worry. She's being taken care of. I offered triple points to anyone willing to look after her. Monica stepped up."

Monica's husband, Rob, had been under the doctor's care for over a month now ever since he was accidentally shot by one of Negan's goons while out scavenging. Monica couldn't worry about catching whatever Ever had, they needed all the points they could get.

When your frown never lifted, Negan pulled you over to him, setting you on his lap, his arm around your waist, comforting you, "Got the Doc checking in on her all day long, angel."

You wiggle your butt, trying to get comfortable, when, out of nowhere, he pulled out a slice of cake he had hidden, "I had Mary number two make her famous carrot cake. Even had her make something that almost tastes like that icing you like."

With a finger, you poked at the cake, taking the icing and popping it on his nose with a smile.

"Oh, angel, your wasting good icing there," he scolded as he went to wipe it off but you giggled and held his hand back.

"I'd never," you said before kissing his nose clean.

"All right. Playtime's over. Let's finish up that cake so we can go back to your room," he winked, and from under your butt you felt his cock stir.

Squirming against his erection, you asked, "Shouldn't you be saving that for Frankie?"

He laughed at that, "Think you'll wear me out? When have I ever not risen to the occasion?"

"I dunno. You are getting kind of old."

You squirmed on his lap as he tickled your ribs with his fingers, "Old? I'll show you old."

Still giggling, you grabbed the plate and rushed inside, Negan, coolly, following behind. Once inside, you paused at the door, waiting, peeking out the window for him to get closer when you had a silly idea and you prayed no one would round the corner and catch you.

The door opened and the night air fell upon your exposed back. After hearing his laugh, he said, "What are you doing there, angel?"

You turn to him, topless, your breasts coated in icing.

"My God," stunned, he rubbed his face and shook his head, "You are crazy. You know that?"

Pulling you to him, he took your top and the cake from your hands, "What if someone saw you?"

Wrapping you within his arms, Negan walked you up the stairs, his aroused cock pressed firmly against you the whole way. Stopping at the first landing, he spun you around, backing you up against the wall before he dipped his head, bringing his lips to your right breast as the warm tongue teased and licked through the icing in long strokes. Saliva and sugar leaving your skin tight and sticky.

He wrapped you up again in his arms and you went up the next flight of stairs, stopping on the landing. He repeated the action on every floor until you reached the fourth floor where he pushed you up against the wall, thoroughly, ravaging your mouth. His hand moved to your waistband, pulling it open as the pants pressed harshly against your behind. With his other hand, he took the slice of cake and shoved it down the space he made between the pants and your skin. He continued to spread the cake all over you and in you, until not a single part of your nether region was free from the delicious confection.

"Uh. You're cleaning that up."

"That was the plan," He picked you up in his arms and headed straight back to your room, and that's where he remained until no traces of the cake could be found.

Chapter Text

 

A pattern quickly emerged. Each morning, one of Negan's goons would escort Daryl to your room. Once he arrived, you’d offer him a shower and when he was finished, you'd either go for breakfast or have it waiting for him. After that, depending on the day, he’d help you with whatever you needed during the day, whether it was working in the garden, cleaning your room, laundry or sorting through boxes of loot Negan and his men brought back for the Sanctuary and if there was nothing to do, you'd watch a movie or play a game. At the end of the day, he’d be dragged back down to his cell when either the guards remembered to get him or Negan stopped in to see you.

Because your husband was often busy making sure everything ran smoothly, you were grateful to have Daryl around. Even if he didn't talk much, he made you feel a little less isolated. Maybe you were just being paranoid but you could swear the other wives were acting differently toward you. There had always been some aloofness between you and them, but ever since Daryl had become a regular presence in your room they had been coming around even less. Your gossip sessions with Amber had all but stopped, and you hadn't been invited to movie night in ages. It seemed that you only ever talked with them now if you ran into them outside or in the cafeteria, and even that was brief.

 

One morning, you started to feel antsy. You jumped up from the couch, pulled on a sweater and said, "C'mon. Let's go have a smoke."

Stepping out of your room, you looked down the hall, catching Larry's eye, before you waved for Daryl to follow. You pulled a crumpled pack from your pocket and waved it at Larry.

Adjusted his rifle, an annoyed look flashed across Larry's face but he opened the door and watched you step onto the catwalk. As Daryl followed, Larry cornered him, putting his face too close to Daryl's and said something you couldn't discern before letting him pass.

Glaring over at Larry, you asked Daryl, "Want one?"

Silently, Daryl answered with a nod.

"Good. I hate to smoke alone," you said, handing him a cigarette before lighting your own and passing on the disposable lighter, "What'd Larry say?"

You got no answer and you figured, he'd never tell. Not just because he didn't talk a lot but it seemed almost a point of pride. You recalled when a few mornings back, he was dropped off, noticeably roughed up, bruised with dried blood on his face. You had repeatedly asked what happened and even after you called for the doctor to stitch up a nasty cut over Daryl's eye, he kept insisting it was nothing. The more you pressed, the more annoyed his few words became until you dropped the inquiry and pulled out a deck of cards, hoping a few games of Rummy would distract you from the sadness you felt over his battered face.

 

Long after Daryl had gone back to his cell, you turned on the shower and checked the spray, waiting for the temperature to warm. After undressing, you caught something in your reflection and ran your fingers over the scaly, red, rash on your chest. You spent so much of your time ignoring symptoms because you'd never leave your bed if you didn't, but now they were staring you right in the face, refusing to be ignored any longer.

  "Shit," you groaned. You'd take care of it in the morning.

 

 

 

Jared opened the door and pulled him out with unnecessary roughness. Though there was no way for him to tell time, it was later than usual cuz 'is stomach had been growlin'. Only Jared did not take 'im up to your room. Instead, without explanation, Jared, silently, lead 'im up to the first floor, through a maze of corridors, he didn't recognize. His survival instincts were kickin' in, tellin' 'im, these were his last minutes on earth and his brain started workin', waitin' to make a move. Though, instead of finding the death he imagined, he was shoved through the doors of the infirmary.

“Ain't hurt,” he mumbled, squirming in the gun toting goon's grip.

Jared shrugged,looking around the room, “Hey doc, got your prisoner."

The doctor stepped out from behind the white curtain, but didn’t bother to shut it completely, and he dismissed the goon.

Once Jared had left, the doctor gestured behind him to the curtain and said, “She was asking for you before she fell asleep. I thought it'd be good if you were here when she woke up.”

Through the gap in the curtain, he could see you, fast asleep, layin' on a gurney, an IV hooked up to your arm. The clear IV tube hung, limply, above you drippin' into your vein. Turning back to the doctor, with a question on his lips, his mouth opened slightly but the doctor had already started answerin'.

“She needs to rest now. The steroids will have wired for hours when she wakes up. Good luck with that," the doc chuckled more to himself than to 'im, “Last time we had to do this, she spent hours organizing and restocking my shelves, wired like the energizer bunny.”

“What's wrong with 'er?”

“She never told you?”

"Nah," he scratched his face before turning his head to look at you again.

Sighing, the doctor walked over to his filing cabinet and pulled out a thick folder.

“Doctor patient confidentiality, you understand? But since you're going to be watching her it's important that you to know.” he placed the manila folder on his desk, giving it a pat before walking toward the door, “Take your time. I’ll be back in a few if you have any questions.”

Once the doctor was gone, he made his way 'round the desk an' ran his fingers over yer name, written in block letters, across the top. The file was thicker than others stacked around the desk, holding all your mysteries inside. He flipped through the pages, eyes scanning over the words. You were sick. You are sick and he searched through dozens of fancy, doctor-y words 'til he found what he was looking for.

The official diagnosis - Lupus*.

Even though he didn’t know exactly what it was or what it meant for you, it finally made sense to him why you needed someone keeping an eye on you.


 

 

Carefully removing the IV, you placed the needle on a tray beside before slowly stepping out from behind the curtain, your eyes looked for Carson and instead found Daryl with his back to you, standing at the desk, reading something. You crossed the room, sneaking up behind him and took a glance over his shoulder. He was reading your file and you suddenly felt incredibly violated.

With your arms folded over your chest, you said, “See you found my secret.”

Startled, the folder fell from his fingers. “Shoulda told me you was sick.”

You stifled the sarcastic laugh with a snort, “Would you want everyone knowing you were useless?”

Daryl turned and leaned back on the desk, “Bein’ sick don’t make yuh useless.”

“Some would disagree. But Doc’s hopeful. He can manage some of the symptoms since we have steroids.”

“What about you? You hopeful?"

You hesitantly raised your eyes, dreading the "poor girl" pity look you were so accustomed to seeing, but not an ounce of pity could be found in his gaze. Instead, all you could see in those blue eyes was an intense look of curiosity and something else. Concern? Worry?

“Sure, sure,” but from the expression on Daryl's face you weren't fooling him one bit. You were well aware of what Lupus could and eventually would do to your body but it was better for everyone if you kept that to yourself so you gave him your best fake smile.

“One of the first things he, uh, Negan did was have Carson write up a list of everything he would ever need to treat me, from absolute worse case scenario to the smallest flare, like this," you shrugged and pulled your shirt revealing the scaly patch of red skin to him, "Negan, he, wanted to be prepared for everything. I swear, it wouldn't surprise me if he's got a list of people willing to offer up body parts in case... But,in my opinion, that'd just be just a waste of resources."

Mumbling, he asked, “What makes yuh special?”

“Guess I remind him of his wife," when you noticed the confusion on Daryl's face, you quickly added, "his, uh, real wife. Just between you and me, I imagine he's atoning for past sins.”

With a snort, Daryl said, “Got a lot to atone.”

  Biting your bottom lip, your eyes flicked up in time to catch the unreadable stare he was throwing your way, and you averted your eyes, finding cover in the blur of your peripheral vision, “Don’t we all?”

Chapter Text

The doctor returned just as you were getting ready to leave the infirmary. Carson held Daryl back for a moment while you went to wait in the hall. When Daryl finally exited a few minutes later you led the way to the cafeteria, figuring he probably hadn't eaten anything decent, if at all, since the previous day.

Staring out the window, you dragged your fork around the plate, making patterns in the food. The steroids left a metallic taste in your mouth making even the thought of eating anything, utterly, unappealing.

Noticing your disinterest, Daryl swallowed the food in his mouth and grumbled, "Need to eat that. Not play with it.”

“Tastes like I'm eating a tin can,” you whined, looking up at him as you push the plate away, "You wanna finish it?"

He set his fork down and stood, going back over to the food line. You watched as he said something to one of the servers before pointing at you. She walked away only to return with a small plastic bowl.

Daryl sat back down, across from you, and pushed the bowl in front of you.

You frowned when you saw the weird, grayish colored, ice cream, "Told you..."

"Eat," his words were forceful, insistent, as he stuck a plastic spoon in the bowl, "Need somethin’ in yer stomach.”

After some reluctance, you took a small taste. Your eyes widened in surprise. The "chocolate" had covered up much of the metallic taste, “How’d you…”

He just shrugged.

As you finished off the ice cream, you wondered if this was why Negan had finally agreed to letting you have Daryl around. Maybe to get a difficult person to do something, all they needed was another equally difficult person to take charge? You supposed it worked because you ate the ice cream, but there was a little part of you that worried you were reverting back to old habits, allowing someone else control over your life. Though, it was too late to worry about that now, the mission had been accomplished and you scraped the last bit of the ice cream onto your spoon.

 

 

When Negan strolled into your room later that afternoon, his entrance went completely ignored because you and Daryl were in the middle of an intense game of Rummy. Daryl slammed his cards down on the coffee table, triumphantly, winning another hand.

Flinging your cards at Daryl, you growled in mock anger before scooping up his discarded hand and scanning through them, picking up the six of spades, “Ugh, you suck. You had my card!"

“Yer a bad loser.”

A sudden laugh broke your concentration, and you used the table to get to your feet, greeting your husband with a quick kiss. Before you could move away his hands cupped your cheeks, keeping you still, before pressing the back of his hand to your forehead. You rolled your eyes. He was checking for signs of a fever, “Doc said you had a flare.”

You tried to shake away from the hands holding you, “It was nothing.”

He glared at you, turning stern, “Let me see the rash.”

You whined, resisting his order.

His voice raised, “Now.”

“This is stupid,” you huffed but complied with your husband's request. Tentative fingers pulled down the neck of your tank top, revealing the patches of blotchy skin.

Thick fingers traced over one prominent circle in particular and he asked, “When did you notice it?”

“I don't know. A few days ago. Maybe.”

His chest puffed out when he inhaled sharply, “You know…”

You cut him off, “I know everything. It is my lupus. Not yours. Not ours. Mine”

“If you get worse…”

“Doc says my heart and lungs sounded fine. Kidneys functioning as they're supposed to,” You said, giving him a thumbs up with mock enthusiasm.

“Still warm though.”

“But I feel okay. Please, just let me feel okay and you can save all your worrying for when I don’t.”

More for his own comfort than for your own, Negan pulled you to his chest, stroking your back, before the man on the floor caught his attention, and the hard, brash Negan, quickly, returned, “Get up, time to go.”

Daryl got to his feet and headed toward the door. Negan, unnecessarily and much too forcefully, grabbed the nape of Daryl's sweatshirt, and looked back at you, “When I get back, you and me, we're going to have a talk about that.”

Instantly, the thought of having that conversation again made you groan.

Negan's dark eyes burned into you,"What was that, angel?"

"Yeah, sure."

 

 

You'd been here before. It was a conversation that didn't change. He'd start off by telling you how much you meant to him and how much you getting sick upset him. Though, you knew it came from a place of love, it always felt as if you were being scolded and it always seemed to end with you, eyes spilling tears, apologizing profusely and making promises to appease him. But this time, he decided to add something extra to the conversation as it was wrapping up.

"How am I supposed to trust that you're taking care of yourself, angel? I don't want to have to do this, but if you insist on keeping things from me, I will have to start checking you myself," Negan knew from past experience, that the very idea of him inspecting every inch of your skin for signs of a rash was humiliating, making you feel like livestock at auction. It also triggered something deep down that you were never able to verbalize but the threat alone was upsetting enough to make you comply. For a while.

Tears pricked at the corners of your eyes as you shook your head, "You don't have to..."

"Aww, angel, don't go working yourself up. I won't have to do anything if you take care of yourself," Negan held out his arms and you found yourself pressing against his chest while he rubbed your back and whispered soothing affections into your ear.

 

Chapter Text


The talk with Negan left you feeling uneasy. Even after curling into bed, the anxiety lingered, leaving you to toss and turn, images of dark eyes, and hands as sturdy as a lumberjack's turned you, this way and that, ran a loop in your head straight until sunrise.

Everything Negan did was in your best interest, right? Besides, he needed you and more than that Ever needed you. What would happen to them if you weren't around?

Running on half sleep, that early morning knock came much too soon. Fatigued, leaden limbs sent you stumbling in search of clothes. When the door opened, not only did Daryl enter your room, but in came Dwight seconds after.

"Were you sleeping? I can bring him back up later if you want."

Waving your hand, you pushed disheveled strands of hair off your face, "Didn't get much sleep."

"Do you need to go see Doc?"

After violently tossing a sweater and leggings onto the closest chair, you got to your feet, dangerously, glaring at Dwight.

"Ne...," Dwight meant well but...

Knowing too well what was coming next, you snapped, "I know, okay? I know, he worries but I've been dealing with this a lot longer than he's been around and right now I'm not in the mood to hear about how my shit affects everyone else."

When you finally stopped, the two men were staring at you. The rant left Dwight's mouth agape in mid-speak. Sheepishly, you apologized.

It was with a mirthless chuckle, you gathered your clothes, "I'm gonna change. I'm a real bitch before I get my coffee, huh?"

 

 

The cafeteria was clearing out as you arrived with Daryl. Tanya and Sherry were finishing up their breakfast, and there was no way to avoid them, but you quickly crossed the room, smiling as you passed them, and went right for the coffee. As you filled your mug, you kept an eye on Daryl, making sure he got enough to eat.

"Ain't yuh gonna eat." he eyed you carefully as he shoveled a forkful of eggs into his mouth.

Taking a sip of coffee, you shrugged. The shake of his head was so subtle you almost missed it but it still made you sigh. "Not you too?"

With the fork suspended in midair, he mumbled, "Suppose tuh be lookin' out for yuh."

Before you can even form a reply, you remember that "looking out for you" is the only reason Daryl was sitting across from you, the only reason he wasn't rotting away in a cell below the Sanctuary. Reaching across the table, you pick at a muffin that had been shoved to the side of the orange, plastic tray just as Sherry slid up next to you with Tanya fast on her heels.

Your eyes never moved, choosing to concentrate on the muffin instead, "If you run into Dwight can you tell him I'm sorry?"

"What happened, hun," a concerned hand rested on your shoulder. Sherry's voice sounded sincere, but you wondered if it was just a ruse. None of you were friends by choice, only bound to each other by circumstance.

You waved off her question, when Tanya piped in,"We heard you weren't feeling so great."

Tanya gave a quick yelp and when you looked down you caught Sherry's hand retreating, leaving a little red reminder on Tanya's arm.

You wanted to lash out at Tanya, like you did earlier with Dwight, but Daryl was watching you from under his shaggy hair, and you took a long sip of coffee instead.

Sherry smiled and bumped your shoulder, "Why don't you come around tonight? I thought since Negan won't be around we could have a movie night."

You don't even ask why your communal husband wouldn't be around, unsure if you cared about the reason but you agreed with a nod. After they express their enthusiasm, the women walked away, discussing what they wanted to watch.

"Don't look happy 'bout that."

"Not much for the sympathy invite."

After Daryl polished off what's left on his plate, he chewed on his lip for a moment before reluctantly asking, "If I ask yuh somethin', promise yuh won't get mad?"

"Seems kind of unfair, don't you think? If I don't know what you wanna ask, how can I know how I'll react?"

He looked away, as he picked the fork up and fidgeted with it, "Forget it."

Sipping your coffee, your eyes wandered around the room when it occurred to you that this was the first time Daryl had expressed wanting to ask you something, and it began to pique your interest, "Go 'head. Ask."

"Ain't important."

Finishing up the coffee, you got up for more. When you return, you're holding two mugs, "Let's go smoke, huh?"

   

Pulling the crumpled pack of some no name brand cigarettes from your pocket, you sat astride the rickety picnic table and lit two. Automatically, Daryl's hand was reaching out as you pass him the second, hand bumping up against his as you maneuvered the lit cigarette, careful not to burn him.

Inhaling, you look at him, "You gonna ask me or what?"

"Nah," Daryl blew smoke into the air, "Not with the mood yer in."

For some unknown reason his answer made you grin. "No, please, ask. I, uh, promise, I won't get too mad."

Eyeing you, skeptically, he said, "What happen last night?"

Looking into the distance, you take a long drag and try to form a coherent stream of words, "Negan... I dunno... Sometimes... when someone knows just the right thing to say to get in your head...it can mess you up."

"He done that?"

"That's sort of his thing. I... mostly, I'm used to it. It's just one of the many perks that come with being his wife."

"Why yuh let 'im do that?"

Let? That struck you as funny and a sardonic chuckle passed your lips. You couldn't imagine anyone ever stopped Negan from doing anything in his life. Nah. Your husband just did. Rules didn't apply to him.

"Not like there are options. It's either suck it up and deal or what? Fend for myself out there? Wouldn't last a day on my own."

"Yuh just haven't learned how. Think everyone knew what they were doin' in the beginin'?"

Just then you heard laughing and yelling in the distance. The children were coming outside to play and you turned your head to watch them. The Sanctuary was home for several children of various ages. It wasn't an ideal place for them to be growing up but you figured it was safer than what was outside the walls.

"Got any kids in Alexandria?"

"One," he nodded then after a long pause he continued, "Got another on the way."

A newborn. Oh man. Just thinking about something so small and innocent with those tiny little clothes and *that* baby smell, had put a smile on your lips in seconds.

"It's gotta be weird, huh? Them, having to grow up in this," you sighed and took another drag, "Though, I suppose I'd trade growing up the way I did for this any day."

Stubbing out his cigarette on the table, Daryl's too blue eyes squint at you. There's an unspoken question there but you don't ask what he's thinking and he never asks. Instead, you look back to the children when you see a little girl wearing a yellow dress in the distance and your heart stilled.

 

Chapter Text

The sudden movement of being dragged into Negan's arms woke you from your sleep. Turning your head, your husband's face was still, blissfully asleep. Careful not to wake him you maneuvered yourself out from under his grip and slipped out of bed. Rubbing the sleep from your eyes, you headed to the bathroom when you felt a slow drip slither down your thigh and the events from the night came flooding back to you.

 

 

Barely able to keep your eyes open, Negan held you close, grinding against your cotton covered ass. He lifted your shirt, bunching it up under your breasts. By the time you halfheartedly give in, he already had your panties down past your hips. The only effort you made was helping remove them the rest of the way while his hand works you up. He gives you a light slap to your nether lips and soon, he had you right where he wanted you. Pushing into you sloooowly, his lips settle against your neck. It didn't take long before heavy breathing turned into determined grunts, thrusting rapidly, right before he stilled, finishing inside you.

That fuck.

With urgency, you got to the toilet, although it was almost definitely too late. Still, you tried to coax out whatever was left, silently praying that he didn't get you pregnant. When there was nothing left to expel, you pushed the shower curtain back and turned the water on. Leaning against the dull grey tile, you waited for the water to become bearable as the mirror over the sink mocked you for allowing yourself to trust the man asleep in your bed, to trust any man ever again. All you could think about, all you could feel was the hurt, the anger, and the betrayal of what your husband had done.

Once you've tested the spray and stepped under the too warm mist, and scrubbed yourself red until running the sponge over your skin started to burn.

Out of the shower, you threw on your tee shirt and sat back down on the bed, towel drying your hair trying to ignore the movement on the bed as Negan crawled up behind you. Big hands roamed over still dewy skin searching out to mold and squeeze your breasts.

With his nose nestled in your hair, he panted into your ear, "I just love waking up to that smell. Best way to start my day."

Ignoring him, you continued to use the towel to shake the water from your hair. One hand kneaded your breast as the other worked it's way in between slightly parted thighs. Thick fingers worked methodically, stroking your rubbed raw lips before his fingers sought out your clit. "Gonna get you all wet for me, angel."

You shuddered, more out of discomfort than out of pleasure, though his fingers knew exactly what they were doing. While your body reacted, your brain screamed for you to get the hell off the bed, reminding you that you were still angry at your husband.

Your body stiffened and you wiggled out of his grasp, "Okay. That's enough of that."

Melted chocolate rejection stared at you as you crossed the room and began to dress. "Not in the mood to play your broodmare today."

Negan growled, "What...?"

You drop the sweater in your hand and turn to face the bed, "Don't play innocent. Not after... Just how stupid do you think I am? Thought I wouldn't figure out that you came inside me last night."

From your dresser you watched as his expression changed, turning into something in between anger and disbelief. Shaking your head, you continued to dress and your voice raised.

"Are you really that fucking selfish? I thought we, you and me, we agreed that it wasn't the right time to have a baby, but I guess you just want what you want and screw everyone else, right? Maybe now would be good time for you to explain exactly how your concern for my health works? I want to get this straight. I'm not healthy enough to spend a day with Ever but I'm all kindsa good to go through nine months of pregnancy?"

"Ever still has..."

“STOP! Just STOP acting like every little thing I want to do is going to make me sicker. Trust me, it won’t. I’m fine.”

“Yeah. You're fine right now but you weren't fine a few days ago. It’s too much for you to be chasing after her.”

“But getting me pregnant wouldn’t be?"

“That’s different and you know it.”

"Right," you rolled your eyes, unable stop the words coming out of your mouth, "Poor Negan has yet to sire a boychild. Boo hoo. You’re breaking my heart.”

Growing angry, his lip started to twitch, “You better watch that tone with me, angel.”

“Or what? You gonna put me in the yard with your little collection of walkers? Lock me in your dungeon like one of your prisoners? How about you just hit me with that fucking bat and we can end this all right now? What would Lucille think…,” you stopped short, not finishing your words as Negan's eyes grew dark and wide.

It was then, the door opened and Daryl was shoved straight into the war zone, but his arrival barely even registered and it sure didn’t stop the fight, though, it may have been what changed your fate.

Throwing her name up during an argument was shitty and you knew it. "I didn't... I'm sorr..."

But any apology you gave was too little, too late to keep Negan from blowing up. “Don’t you darethrow her in my face, you fucking whore.”

 

And there it was. The word that finally snapped the camel's back and you went at him, ready to strike him but Negan was stronger, bigger, and quicker. He caught your arm, mid-flight, and shoved you roughly onto the couch, “Sit your ass down.”

Nervous adrenaline flooded your being and you tried to rise from the couch, but Negan shoved you back down, one hand gripped your wrist, too tightly as the other pushed your forehead back with such force that your head bounced off the back of the couch.

“Calm your ass down,” he warned you as his eyes were flashing danger signs, daring you cross him. He loomed, menacingly, above you, keeping you in place, as you fumed in his grip. Chancing it, you glared up at him and dug your nails into his arm, but his hold on you only got tighter, and a pitiful sound exited your mouth.

As soon as the noise left your mouth, Daryl was on your husband, pulling him off of you, “Yer hurtin’ her.”

Negan gave a chuckle as he stepped closer, practically putting them nose to nose in an attempt to intimidate, but Daryl never flinched, never blinked and for a few seconds, it was a tense stare down until Negan grabbed Daryl, pinning him against the wall and gave a mirthless chuckle. "Were you this much of a pain in the God damned ass for Rick, too?"

With the attention now off of you, you took the moment of freedom to propel yourself off the couch, lunging at your husband before he could do any harm to Daryl.

Like a gnat, Negan batted you away, shaking you off, sending you flying into the dresser. After impact, you landed on the floor. The dresser rocked from the jolt, before tipping over in slow motion and crashing to the ground. Scrambling on your hands and knees, you managed to get out of the way, as perfume bottles and other assorted trinkets broke before your eyes.

Thoroughly shaken, you slowly lifted your head with a hard stare of death, you yelled for your husband to get out.

Negan's voice boomed, an incredulous look in his eyes. “What. Did. You. Say?”

Pointing to the door for emphasis, you repeated yourself, only louder this time, “Get. Out.”

In a flash, Negan grabbed the collar of Daryl's beige sweatshirt pulling it, much too tightly, against his throat before shoving him into the door but you shook your head. “No. Not him. Just you.”

You watch the anger spread out all over your husband's face to something just beyond rage, from his tight jaw, to his twisted mouth, all the way up to the 'if looks could kill' stare.

Quickly, you tried to deescalate the situation. “Gonna need help cleaning up the mess you made and I don’t want to see your face right now. I'll need Daryl's help for that. That is what he's here for, isn't it?”

With your arms folded across your chest, Negan turned back to you before letting Daryl go. He stormed out the door, slamming it behind him. You could hear his gruff bark fading as he headed off down the hall.

Scanning the mess, you sighed and got down on the floor to pick up all of your broken memories. "Sorry you had to see that."

Kneeling next to you, Daryl picked up the, now, decapitated ceramic cow. “Could still be fixed.”

Barely glancing at the tchotchke, you shook your head. Such things really shouldn’t matter anymore. Other people may have had the luxury of keeping mementos, but not you. Everything you’ve ever had became garbage at some point.

“Just toss it."

The headless cow clanked as it was dropped into the trashcan while the anger and frustration culminates, bringing tears to your eyes. The need to explain, to defend your husband weighed heavy on your lips and you wiped the tears away with your sleeve. “That... It wasn’t all him. He wouldn’t have... not really... His bark is worse...”

"Don't gotta explain nothin'."

“He, uh, brought up having a baby," Sitting back on your heels with tears still falling, you chuckled grimly as you offer another unsolicited explanation, "Well, not so much brought up but... the subtext was clear.”

The heat from his glare could have set your skin on fire, “You ain’t gonna…”

Shrugging, you wiped your eyes again, “It’s what he wants.”

“Do everythin' he wants?”

“No,” Your head snapped up to look at him but your voice softened as you looked away, “I dunno. It’s kinda what’s expected.”

His anger spiked, “Bullshit. Needs to be worryin’ bout gettin’ you better. Sides, this ain’t no place for a kid to grow up.”

A cold, hopeless feeling ran through you. He was right. Kids needed to grow up in a place with grass and trees and gentleness. Not in a factory full of guns and violence.

Letting the silence grow heavy, you stand, giving a once over to all the broken pieces that represented a semblance of a normal life, “Please, just toss everything. I’m gonna go find something to make it smell less like a brothel in here.”

By the time you returned, the dresser was back to its upright position all your clothes were moved in a pile and Daryl was picking up broken pieces of ceramic and glass from the floor.

Gently scolding him, you smiled, “Don’t do that. You’ll cut yourself.”

“’m fine.”

Holding a broom in one hand and a dustpan in the other, you said with a little more force. “Here. Let me.”

Looking up from the floor, he asked, “Why you ain't like all a them?”

“Who?”

“Everyone here.”

"I’m not?"

Shaking his head, he mumbled, "Nah. They ain't… good."

Good?

Huh.

You never thought of yourself as good, at least not more than anyone else, but you tried to treat people with kindness, as equals.

"Maybe… " nervously, you chewed on your bottom lip, contemplating your next words, "maybe... I've just seen too many people doing too many shitty things... and I don’t ever want to be like them."

"Nah. Yuh don't got it in yuh."

But you weren't so sure about that.

Chapter Text

Once your room was back to its original state, it still didn't feel quite right to you. It was something that all the books, knickknacks and jewelry that filled the space could never correct. Those were an illusion, a lie, just like the act you'd kept up after years of rehearsal but your cheeks were starting to ache under the heavy strain of a smile that had ensured your survival.

Slowly, your eyes drifted from the window, over to the man sitting, quietly, at other end of the couch. What he had said kept replaying in your head. Good.He thought you were good. But if you were being honest, good was something you hadn't felt like you were in years. Sure, you tried to be, and maybe, you really wanted to be, but the only thing being good ever did was get you hurt and you've had more than your share of that for multiple lifetimes. What was it that Daryl saw in you that you weren't able to see for yourself?

When it came to your husband, goodness wasn't what he was looking for. He couldn't give a shit if you or any of his wives were good people. The only thing he really cared about was if you were loyal but that same loyalty didn't apply to him. Hell, he collected wives like baseball cards. What had started to worry you, was that, maybe, what Negan saw when he looked at you was something much worse than an object. Maybe, all he saw was a womb, something to impregnate, over and over and over again, until he had his very own army of offspring to carry on his legacy. Did you really want to see yourself through Negan's eyes?

Pulling yourself away from the window, a thought occurred to you. Maybe, there was one thing, one little thing, that could help remind you that the kind of person Daryl believed you to be was still alive inside of you.

You headed to your closet and searched through pockets for the crumpled pack of cigarettes. When they were in your hand, you held them up triumphantly, waving them at Daryl, "Think it's time for a smoke. What do ya say?"


 

 

With no one else in the yard, the only sounds that could be heard were the incessant snarls from the walkers that Negan kept around the perimeter, like they were rabid guard dogs and hadn't once been living, breathing humans. Even though the rationale behind keeping those things around, had been told to you repeatedly, you still didn't like it. Some of them were people you had known, people you talked to, shared a laugh or two with. It would have been kinder to put them out of their misery but what Negan did to them seemed almost worse than what those things did. After all, they didn't know any better but, he, on the other hand...

Before you could even light your cigarette, Daryl was already exhaling smoke from his lungs, and stepped up on the bench before sitting on top of the picnic table.

About 50 feet away from where you sat was a well secured enclosure with an old rocking horse, a brightly colored plastic slide and a sandbox. In the center, you could see a small patch of grass where a few toys and a teddy bear lay, abandoned.

Suddenly, the growls and groans of the walkers were replaced by the joyful sound of children emerging from the stuffy confines of the Sanctuary, as they ran off to play under the overcast sky.

Not long after, a frumpy woman, about a decade or two older than you, dressed in cargo pants and a ratty sweater, stepped outside with a little girl, dressed in little red overalls, excitedly swinging the hand she was holding. The high pitched squeal the child made as she ran to the gate, instantly curled your lips into a smile. The woman attentively opened the gate before sitting down in a green Adirondack chair with her cup of coffee and a paperback, while the child ran off and plopped herself down on the ground next to the teddy bear.

When you finished your cigarette, you tugged Daryl down off the table, curling your fingers into the excess material of his sleeve.

"Come on."

Chewing on the inside of his lip, he asked, "Yuh wanna go back?"

You shook your head and gave his sleeve a little tug, "Not yet. There's someone I'd like you to meet."

It felt like the sleeve in your grip was sending you little waves of courage while you walked straight toward the enclosure but as you approached the gate, your anxiety began to rise and you took a deep breath.

Opening the gate, your fingers clutching the beige sleeve like a life raft. You and Peggy quickly exchange strained pleasantries. Daryl hesitated before taking a step, following close behind you. Neither of you missed the bitchface Peggy was throwing. Unsure who it was intended for, you put on your game face and smiled.

When the little girl looked over and saw you, her entire face lit up like a Christmas tree. Abandoning her toys, she got to her feet, running as fast as her little legs could take her. Her high pitched voice called out, "Mama!"

As your daughter dove into your waiting arms, her arms wrapped around your neck and you lifted her up, kissing her cheek. "Hey, bug."

You didn't have to turn your head to know that the expressionless face, standing next to you, had finally found an expression.

Bouncing her in your arms, you said,"Can you say hi to mama's friend?"

Your little girl shoved her hand in her mouth before, bashfully, hiding her face in the crook of your neck.

"Aww, what's the matter, bug? You playing shy today?"

"Nuh sigh," shaking her head, skeptical brown eyes took a quick peek at the man standing next to you.

Daryl tapped his finger against her little leg, "Yuh got a name, lil' girl?"

With a big smile, your daughter shook her head, her dark brown hair flying everywhere.

"What? Yer mama didn't have the sense to name ya?"

All she did was giggle.

Daryl's fingers wiggled her shoe, "I think yer lyin'."

"Noooooooooo," she laughed.

He raised an eyebrow, "No, huh?"

It was completely unexpected, the way he interacted with your daughter and you couldn't fight your amused grin.

Smiling down at the little girl in your arms, you poke at her tummy and than her chest. "I did too name you, silly."

When you pulled your eyes away from your daughter, Daryl was looking back at you in a way that made your cheeks start to burn, "This, here, is Everly."

Evvie wiggled in your arms, wanting to get down. Once her feet hit the ground, she raced over to the teddy bear and when she returned, held it out, offering it to Daryl.

Taking the toy in his hand, Daryl held it awkwardly, "Yuh givin' this to me, lil' girl?"

Giggling, Evvie nodded before running back to stand in front of you and you absently reached down to stroke her messy, dark hair as she leaned into your touch.

While you were busy being consumed with emotion after seeing your daughter for the first time in weeks, you never noticed Peggy had left until you heard an all too familiar voice yelling in the distance. It was getting louder as Negan stomped toward you with Dwight, a few steps behind.

“Ever! Get over here!”

Evvie scurried to hide behind your legs.

Negan barked as he neared the fence, “What the hell do you think you're doing, Y/N?”

You groaned, knowing that Peggy had ratted you out.

“C’mon Ever, let’s go see Peggy.”

“Nnnnnoooooo,” Evvie cried, arms tightly wrapping around your leg.

“Come on, Negan, we’re playing.”

“Don’t know what goes on in that head of yours, sometimes. First, you take my prisoner outside, alone, without a guard and then you bring him around our kid. Where is your God. Damned. sense, Y/N?"

With his hands curling into a tight fists, Daryl inched closer to you. His protective stance did not escape Negan's notice and the deep, mirthless chuckle that followed told you that trouble was on its way.

"Twice in one day? You must love being on my bad side. Keep this up, Daryl, and we'll never be friends," he spun around toward his companion, "All right! Playtime is over. Take our guest back down to his room, Dwighty boy .”

Not needing to be told twice, Dwight moved in, quickly. As he subdued the slightly struggling, Daryl, the teddy bear fell from his fingers as he was dragged inside The Sanctuary.

Rolling your eyes, you huffed, “Real nice. Ruin the afternoon.”

With the wicked grin came a dry chuckle. “You’ve had some attitude lately, angel. Keep it up and I’ll ruin more than just today,” turning his attention to your daughter, he held out his hand, “Say goodbye to your mother, Ever.”

Now whimpering, Evvie remained glued behind you and Negan snapped, “Goddamnit, Everly! Let’s go!”

You reach around your back, placing a hand on your daughter in a futile attempt to soothe her,"Stop. You're scaring her. I’m the one you’re pissed at. Deal with me."

As you continued to defy Negan again, his dark eyes again grew darker and his body turned rigid with anger. This fight was lost and nothing you could say would change that.

You pried the little hands from your leg and picked up your daughter, wiping her tear stained face with the sleeve of your shirt, “It’s okay, bug. Daddy's not mad at you.”

Kissing your daughter, you carried Evvie over to her father, who angrily snatched the child from your arms before leaving you with a warning, "I'll deal with you later."

And with that, he carried the sobbing, screaming child back inside.

Chapter Text

Dwight, the sumbitch that shot him, gave a hard shove to tha middle of his back, pushin' him off of the last step onto tha landin'. They weren't alone. He never expected them to be, an' his eyes darted wildly from man to man but no matter tha numbers, could be 2 could be 22, the odds were against him.

Hell, he knew he deserved whatever was comin' to him. Evrythin' he done had caused the opposite of his intentions. Instead of Negan usin' that damn bat on 'him, he went off an' killed Glenn. He'duv been okay bein' in Glen's place. He was ready for that. Wouldn't have thrown that punch if he weren't.

The Saviors circled ‘round him.

Then someone threw a punch.

Then another.

And then a third.

The strikes kept on comin' 'til he couldn't count them anymore, until he was down on the floor, but even that didn't stop the blows. Fists were then replaced by heavy soled boots that continued to do the Saviors' dirty work, stompin' on already bruised muscle and bone, 'til all he could do was lay there, taking in the pain while he waited for it to end. He had no idea how long it went on but when it was finally over, someone dragged him back to the cell and locked him in.

Alone in the cold, dark cell, Daryl struggled to sit himself up, carefully, leanin' his back against the door. Ignoring the pain that was radiating throughout his body, he stared at walls he couldn't see.

Something he'd said to you kept comin; back to him, gnawin' at his brain, like a starved dog on a chicken bone, even though he had said it before he knew about your lil' girl. Still, he meant what he'd said. Wouldn't have said it, if he didn't. No kid should be growing up in a place like The Sanctuary.

He found himself gettin' pissed at you. What was you thinkin', bringin' a kid into a world like this and you shoulda known better than to be havin' a kid with an asshole like Negan.

And what? That sum bitch hada damn kid. Not much left in this world surprised him but that... that sure did. That was the kind of information Alexandria could use against Negan, to bring down The Saviors. Maybe that was why you kept her secret for so long? Even with the anger he felt tward that jackass, he wasn't capable of hurtin' a lil' kid, though, that didn't mean others wouldn't hesitate.

Now, he ain't never cared much for people. It took him a good while to even warm up to his own people and he'd been wit them goin' on a few years now. He may have not have came off like he knew a lot but he sure as hell knew that most folks weren't nice without wantin' somethin', 'specially how things were now. Though, instead of tryin' to get somethin' from him, not that he had anythin' to give, you gave him clothes, an' you was always makin' sure he ate enough. Sure, you needed his help but yuh always seemed reluctant to ask for it when you did and even then, you was always polite about it.

Maybe you were growin' on him a 'lil bit or maybe it was just too much time being locked up, alone but he was noticin' that he'd been lookin' forward to those assholes bringin' him up to see yuh. That was probly over now.

He coulda been in that cell for days when he heard somethin' movin' outside the door. Quickly he backed away from it, to see the light from the crack in the door was gone. Someone was out there. Was it one of the Saviors comin' back to finish what they started? Listening closely, he heard a sigh and then a little thump. From the way it sounded, all light and gentle like, he was almost positive he knew who it was.

He slid himself closer to the door and whispered, “Shouldn’t be down here.”

A few seconds later, he heard you whisper back, “You okay?”

He stopped chewing on his bottom lip and said, “'m fine. You?”

“Sorry about today.”

That irked him. Why were yuh always sayin' sorry for things that wasn't yuh fault? His voice raised in irritation, "Don't need to be apologizin’ an' yuh don’t need ta be gettin’ on 'is bad side cuza me.”

After a long silence, he finally found more words to say, “Yer lil' girl’s cute.”

“Yeah? I like to think so.”

There was a definite change in the tone of your voice once you started talkin' about your 'lil girl and if he were a bettin' man, he'd have bet all his money that you had a smile on yer face. He let you talk for a while, not like you was hurtin' anyone. He even asked a question or two, to keep hearin' your voice and the more you talked, the better you sounded.

It was after the second time he heard you yawn, he realized he was keepin' you talkin' and said, "Yuh should probly head back before someone comes down here."

He heard you agree with a sigh and then you said, "Thanks for listening."

As he listened to you walk away, he shut his eyes, and he tried to recall every word you'd said to him, just in case that was the last time he heard your voice.

Chapter Text

 

It had been three days since you saw your husband. He hadn't even bothered to stop by to "deal with you" but you were perfectly fine with that, figuring you both needed some time to cool off but that also meant you were alone. You hadn't seen your daughter since the incident or Daryl for that matter.

Sure, Frankie and Sherry had all popped in for a moment, but that didn't count. They seemed to be testing the waters, evaluating your state of mind for Negan. His traitorous intentions to hijack your womb was too much of a betrayal and odds were, your mood was not likely to improve anytime soon.

Things had been different with Everly, she was planned, agreed upon, one-hundred percent wanted. Though, you never intended for her to be an only child, between your dubious health and Negan off doing whatever he did, the timing had yet to work out. It wasn't a big secret that your husband desperately wanted a son, to carry on his name, but that was one of the few things that were out of his control. He didn't love Ever any less, but his desire for a son was so much bigger. If only one of the other wives would just hurry up and get pregnant, the pressure would be off of you. Until that time came, he'd keep trying with you, since you were the first one to prove successful.

The sudden shouts from outside got your attention and you went to the window to see what was going on. Looking out onto the yard, a handful of walkers staggered around a few of the beige sweat suit wearing prisoners in the yard, when Daryl's battered and bruised face, quickly, caught your eye. The humiliating way the guards were treating the prisoners made your blood boil.

You stomped down the stairs, straight to Negan’s room, ready for a fight. Without knocking, you barged in, interrupting a conversation he was having with Amber. They both stop speaking and looked up to stare at you.

Crossing your arms over your chest, you asked, “Why is he out there?”

He chuckled, “Gotta exercise the animals, angel.”

Your eyes burn into his smug face before throwing up your hands and without a plan, you stormed out and went straight to the yard. Lou, one of the guards overseeing the prisoners, held up his hand and situated himself to block your way.

Your unamused eyes flicked up to Lou's, and you calmly stated, "You're in my way."

Lou shifted his gun, “You can’t be here, Y/N.”

“Then you're gonna have to shoot me cuz I’m going in,” your eyes dared him to do something as you took a courageous step onto the dirt.

Grabbing your arm, Lou tried stopping you, again. With more force than necessary, you twisted out of his grip you, losing your balance, and falling backwards, smacking you head on a rock. Stunned, you touched your head, and your fingers came back covered in blood.

Intensely watching the scene unfold, Daryl rushed toward you. Lou tried to keep him back but he was no match for Daryl and Daryl dropped to the ground, pressing a hand to your head to slow the bleeding.

Lou and another guard tried to get Daryl away from you, yelling and threatening, while you sat, stunned and bleeding, fighting the blackness that's started to take over as Daryl cradled your head in his hand.

“What the shit is going on,” Negan yelled as he stormed toward the commotion.

“She fell…,” Lou stammered, nervous at the sight of his boss.

“Bullshit! Yuh grabbed 'er,” Daryl shouted back at Lou as he helped you sit up.

“She’s not supposed…” Lou stopped talking when he saw the look on Negan's face.

“Not supposed to," he laughed dryly, "Not supposed to? This angel, right here, outranks everyone out here, except for me, Lou, and if she wanted to chop off that empty head of yours and dance around the yard wearing it like a god damned hat while singing Zip a dee doo dah, I wouldn’t do a god damned thing about it. Now, did I hear something about you putting your hands on her?”

Shit. This isn't going to go well.

After thoroughly leveling Lou into a stuttering, apologizing mess, Negan grabbed your arm, lifting you to your feet and walked you back inside. Resisting, you argued that you were fine.

Negan sighed, before snapping, “If you didn’t go out there, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”

You sigh under your breath, "Been hurt worse than this."

"Not on my watch."

“You gonna wrap me in bubble wrap?”

Negan shook his head, "If I have to I will."





In the infirmary, Negan paced the room while the doctor examined your head. Once your wound had been cleaned and patched up, Negan escorted you back to your room.

Forcing you down onto the couch, he ordered, “Now rest.”

“Negan...”

“Rest,” he cut you off, his voice, stern, as he pulled the blanket from the back of the couch and covered you with it.

Reaching out, you grabbed his hand.

He stopped, never looking at you, “Something you need?”

You shook your head. The quick movement, bringing pain, made you groan.

Negan squatted down next to the couch, his brown eyes scanned your face, until they crinkled up and he was grinning at you. Before he stood, his lips brushed against your forehead, “I’ll bring you up some dinner.”

After he left, you pulled the blanket up around your neck and closed your eyes, feeling the pain from the wound and the embarrassment from your wounded ego, immensely.

What were you doing out there in the first place? Negan was right. Besides, you had no plan. You let your anger lead you and for what? Because Daryl was out there? Getting on Negan's bad side wasn't a great idea even on a good day and whatever it was that you were doing, just kept getting you in trouble.

You laughed to yourself. What would possess you to jeopardize everything you had for a prisoner? A prisoner, you idiot. You don't even know what he'd done to become one.



Much to your surprise, you woke up in bed alone. Vaguely, you remembered, Negan putting you to bed, sometime after you finished dinner, a headache coming in quick.

You weren't alone for very long when the door flew open and in came your husband carrying Evvie in his arms, "Look who I have."

He walked over to the bed and Evvie stretched her arms out toward you, "Mama!"

"Hey bug," taking her into your arms, you gave her a kiss before asking Negan, "What's going on?"

"Thought we could use a little family time."

There was no way you could refuse such a proposition but your brow scrunched with skepticism, “What brought this on?”

“Even I deserve a day off, don't I? Why shouldn’t I spend it with my girls?”

You smiled down at your daughter and brushed her hair with your fingers, “Sounds perfect.”

Chapter Text

As you picked up toys from around the room, you watched Evvie, with a doting smile, as she rubbed her nose before her mouth opened for a big yawn.

"Looks like someone's sleepy."

Evvie whined and shook her head, "No sweep, mama."

"You want to lay down with Mama on the big bed?"

Evvie twisted her body, rubbed her nose and yawned again. That's when Negan lent a hand. He picked up Ever and carried her over to the bed, "All right, missy, time for bed."

You nodded your thanks and had Evvie settled underneath the comforter, before getting into bed next to her.

Disturbing the sheets, Evvie shot up, "Dada too!"

"It's too early for dada to sleep," Negan grumbled, sitting back on the couch.

With a pout, Evvie turned to you,"Awl sweep, mama."

"Daddy," you called for his attention with a smile, "I think it's bedtime for you too. You can pretend for ten minutes."

Negan sighed and got back up. He trudged back over to the bed and slipped in next to his daughter, "Gonna make an Ever sandwich."

Evvie giggled and flung her arms around her father's neck before settling in between the two of you. She rubbed at your face and you rolled onto your side. Curling yourself around your daughter, you played with her soft dark hair. When you felt Negan watching you, your eyes lifted toward his, and you gave him a small smile before setting your attention back to Evvie's slowly shutting eyes.

Ducking out of the room, Negan was quick to return, holding a bottle of wine in hand. Making himself comfortable on the couch, he waved you over but you stayed where you were, stroking Evvie's hair until you were sure she was asleep before untangling yourself from your daughter's hold.

While you moved across the room, Negan poured the wine, and your eyes moved between the couch and the floor, debating on where to sit. Picking what would hopefully be the lesser of two evils, you settled on the floor, in front of the coffee table.

"Y/N, you're killing me, angel," he grunted, as he joined you on the floor, "I'm too old to be sitting on the ground."

He settled on the carpet and held out a glass to you. Taking the proffered glass from his hand, you silently argued with yourself. You were well acquainted with precarious scenarios and this one had way more potential than you liked.

A good part of the evening was spent talking, mostly about Evvie but as the bottle emptied, your husband started laying on the charm, sweet talk and innocuous petting.

Stroking your face, he gently tilted your head toward his and leaned in close. His mouth caught yours as his tongue flicked over your lips before it teased its way into your mouth. You taste wine, lust and dominance as he invaded your mouth and a battle broke out in your mind.

After you got a chance, you pulled away, taking a long sip from your glass, as you glare at him from your peripheral. "I'm still mad at you."

Negan groaned, head rolling back against the couch, “All right. All right. I was being an asshole. Tomorrow, spend all the time you want with Ever.”

Elated, you leap into his lap, “And…?”

“And what? That’s it," he snapped.

Sitting back on the floor, you pout, "You always say you want someone else around when I’m with her in case…”

“No,” He growled, “You two have been a pain in my ass. Both of you need to learn.”

"What if something..."

He glared hard, warning you not to anger him.

But your pouty silence was slowly getting to him. His eyes may have flashed anger but after a while his bark was slowly turning into less of a threat, “Fine. I’ll make sure someone brings him up in the morning.”

You snuggled into his chest, “You mean it?”

Rubbing your arm, he nods against your head.

"Thank you."

“You think I like fighting with you?”

With a pout on your lips, you raised eyes and said, “Then don’t.”

Taking your chin between his fingers, he lifted your head, holding you still so he could stare you down, “You can’t backtalk me in front of my men, angel. Outside this room, you gotta be respectful or I will be forced to show you who’s in charge. Understand?"

Nodding, your eyes drop to his chest.

He frowned at the nonverbal response,"What's that?"

"I understand."

"Understand what, angel?"

"Outside this room, you're in charge."

"There's my good girl," he smiled, pulling you to his chest before kissing the top of your head and you snuggled closer before placing a kiss on his cheek.

“Missed you like this, Y/N,” his hand stroked your leg.

Tilting your head up, you said, “Sorry about actin’ like such a brat lately.”

“You know what happens to brats, don’t ya,” he winked before pulling you over onto his lap.

Straddling his thighs, he pulled off your shirt, burying his face in your cleavage, before pulling the cups of your bra down, exposing you to the tepid room. Teeth and tongue roam the pale flesh while one hand slid down, stroking your side, before drifting over your ass and giving it a swat. It was rougher than necessary, making you rise up with a squeak.

Holding you as you hover above his lap, he doesn't let you sit back down, instead he tugs your leggings down along with your panties, and continues swatting you as his other hand guides you into his chest, leaning you against him. It doesn't take long before your wetness drips onto his lap, giving Negan a good chuckle, "I know just how you like it, angel. Know what gets that pussy ready for me."

Pavlov's dog immediately came to mind and your face burned as you blink back the tears that were threatening to fall, telling yourself: your body was preparing itself, readying itself, for the inevitable. That's all that was. Still, he knew. Used the pain against you. Used it for his own pleasure. It was the first time in ages, the act, that over time, you had learned to enjoy with Negan, made you feel dirty, made you feel like you were no longer in control.

The strong hands on your hips pull you lower, as the hard cock teased over your clit. The strong sensation makes you gasp, arousing you further and you stifle a moan and look toward the child, sleeping on your bed. Part of you prayed for her not to wake up and the other part of you begged for her to, just so the moment could end.

Your wetness continued to flow as Negan steers himself toward your entrance, wet and wanting. The throbbing from your mound tells you how much your body yearned for his cock and slowly, your husband works his way inside your channel, filling you.

Defeated by your need, you shut your eyes and lower your forehead against his neck as Negan bucks up into you and your body reacts accordingly. In between grunts, he whispers things that begin to make you sad.

Chapter Text

Groaning, you wake up on the floor with a throbbing head that you can barely lift. The wine was officially proving to have been a very bad idea. You groped around for something to throw on, knowing that your daughter could be up at any moment.

While getting your shirt on, you noticed crusty flakes on your stomach, a reminder that Negan didn't cum inside of you, and that almost seemed like a small victory. Perhaps, your anger had gotten through to him?

The door opened slowly, and your eyes shifted to see your husband, carrying a plate of food and coffee.

"Morning, angel," he smiles and you groan at the sudden loudness. Hovering above you, Negan set everything on the table before before squatting down for a kiss. You mechanically return the affection but all you really care about is what was inside the mug.

He handed you a plastic bottle, "Thought you might be a little hung over."

Taking the pills, you swallow several with a sip of coffee as he gets back down on the floor and slides the plate toward you, "Eat something."

Spying some fruit on the plate, you pick a piece as Negan pulls you to him, settling you between his legs, with your back resting against his chest.

With his face buried into your neck, he chuckles, "Shit, angel, you were incredible last night. I swear, you nearly broke my dick off."

Negan kept you close, while you both ate breakfast before you started to feel the slow creep of his hand moving down your belly, fingers sliding between your legs to stroke your overly sensitive labia and you squeezed your eyes shut, trying to will away the arousal he was stirring up in you.

His lips brushed your neck, teeth nipping your skin, "Ready for round two?"

Shaking your head, you panicked, "Evvie's gonna wake up soon."

He groaned, wrapping one arm tighter around you, fingers parting your folds before circling your clit, "She didn't wake up last night..."

You try to pull away but with his arm wrapped around your middle, escape was futile, "I was drunk last night."

"Yeah, you sure were. You make me so hard, y/n. Can't get enough of you or this sweet pussy you got here," his fingers skated through the moisture that was now freely flowing, "See how much you want me, angel? How worked up you get when I touch you."

The wetness you felt between your thighs along with Negan's persistence was slowly making your stomach twist. Unwrapping his arm from you, Negan turned your head and clamped his mouth onto yours. His tongue invaded you as he took away your voice and he slid his thick fingers inside you, when a knock at the door interrupted him.

"Hold on a damn minute," he growled in irritation before directing his bark at you, "Go put something on."

You scurried over to your dresser, pulling out a cotton sundress, and throwing it over your head, before rummaging around for underwear.

Negan's eyes roam over you, waiting until your halfway decent before as he gets the door, "Dwight, Dwight, Dwight, you have some of the worst god damned timing. Just because you ain't gettin' any doesn't mean the rest of us aren't."

He turned back to you, "Gonna let me leave without kiss goodbye?"

Slowly, you pad across the rug, and press your lips to his cheek. He stops you from retreating and pulls you in so he could get one last grope as he goes in for an all too invasive kiss.

"See you tonight, angel," He smiled, adjusted himself through his jeans and laughed, "God damn. Everyone should have one of her to wake up to. Makes me feel 16 again."

The minute his back was to you, you wiped his saliva off of your lips.

Dwight said goodbye to you and both men are out the door, when you hear your husband chuckle, "That one can never seem to get enough. It's true what they say. The broken ones are the best. Think she might've fractured my dick last night."

Negan's accolades set your skin ablaze. Shaking your head, you fake a smile toward Daryl but the way he was looking back at you made you squirm under the harsh judgement of his gaze. You turned your head toward Evvie, miraculously, still asleep on the bed, to avoid seeing that look again. Warm tears started to fall from your eyes and you wiped them away with the underwear that was still in your hand, before they can stream down your face.

“Shouldn’t be doin' that to yuh," he nodded toward the door, "Sayin' those things”

“He just likes to brag, thinks it makes him... I dunno," you shrug, "You take the good with the bad. Just how marriage is, right?”

"Nah. That's not... that's not marriage. That ain't even...," he shook his head never finishing his thought.

Though you're damn curious how his sentence was going to end, his silence gives you a moment to ask,"Would you mind watching her for a second. I want to... bathroom..."

Once he agreed, you close the bathroom door and turned on the water, paying extra attention to scrub the dried cum and unwanted arousal from your skin.

When you felt more like yourself, you returned to your room and the first thing you noticed was that Evvie had pulled out her basket of toys and was joyfully, showing each one to Daryl, who was placating her with what you could only imagine was, false enthusiasm.

Once he heard you moving around, he poked Evvie's arm to get her attention then pointed toward you. She gave you a big smile and in her slept in blue and white striped overalls, she quickly got to her feet, stumbling over to you.

Kneeling on the floor, you catch the little girl in your arms, kissing her cheek.

"Morning, bug," brushing back her dark, messy hair, you smiled at her, "You hungry, Ev?"

"Already fed 'er," Daryl moved his chin over to the plate on your coffee table.

"Were you showing Daryl your toys?"

Evvie twists her hands before pointing to her toys, "Pay, mama?"

Carrying her across the room, you set Evvie down before taking a seat. As you looked around the floor, you can't stop the amusement you feel when you realize she had taken all of her toys out. All. Of. Them. "Did you have to show Daryl every one of your toys, bug?"

Looking up at you like it would have been crazy for her not to show him all her toys, Evvie toddled over to a rag doll and picks it up.

"Thanks for watching her."

Daryl shrugged, "Wasn't no bother."

The rest of the morning was spent entertaining Evvie until she started to get tired. Her tell tale sign, rubbing her nose before yawning showed up two times before you could get her to curl up on the couch. After covering the little girl with a blanket, you run a hand over her hair before kissing her head.

You catch Daryl watching you, a slight grin pulling on the corners of his mouth, “What?”

Saying nothing, he only shook his head.

He finished off the food from earlier while you watched him in your peripheral and built up the courage to ask what you were dying to know.

“Jus spit it out,” he swallowed the food quickly, “By time you get it out, I’ll be needin’ a hearin’ aid.”

Getting the go ahead, you asked him, point blank, "How did you end up here?"

He pushed his hair out of his face and said, "Sure yuh wanna know?"

You nodded and he answered you in more words than you'd ever heard come out of his mouth before. At first, you're horrified. Not by him. Not by what Alexandria had done to the outposts. No, you were horrified by your husband's actions. You knew Negan killed people, that wasn't a secret but the terror he'd been causing was frightening.

Being an asshole and being a monster were not the same in your book and finding out your husband was both, well, that was too much for you. But, there was one detail in his story that you managed to take amusement out of.

"You punched him? Like, really hit him?"

"Mmmhmm," he hummed, looking down at his hands.

"Sure wish I saw that."

Blue eyes raised slightly from his hands, confused.

Shaking your head, afraid of being misunderstood, you added, "Not the killing part, just the hitting."

"How come yuh ain't pissed?"

"It's good to know that there's someone around here that's not afraid to stand up to him."

"Why don't yuh?"

You laughed, "Hit him?

"Stand up tuh 'im?"

"There's just too much to lose now that I've got Evvie."

He rubbed his chin in thought, "With 'im, games already rigged. Yer always gonna lose."

Chapter Text

It had just started to get dark when Peggy arrived to take Evvie back to her father. The first thing she saw was Evvie, on the floor, building a tower out of blocks, jabbering to Daryl and her face became portrait of disdain, directed at Daryl, that she was unable to hide.

Refusing to let the offending look pass, with a sickeningly sweet voice, you asked, “Something wrong, Peggy?”

“It doesn’t seem right, Y/N, letting someone like that around Ever.”

Even if Daryl showed no reaction, there was no way he didn't hear Peggy but he kept his head down and continued stacking blocks for Evvie to knock over.

“She’s my kid, Peggy. Let me worry about who she plays with.”

Grunting, Peggy said, “Come on, Ever. Time to go. Daddy’s waiting to have dinner with you.”

Evvie took her time getting to her feet, forcing you and Peggy to stand next to each other in a strained silence. She wrapped her arms around Daryl, giving him a hug, as he froze in surprise.

"Buh, Daw," Evvie said.

He turned his head, "See yuh later, lil' girl."

“All right, bug," you picked her up,"Be a good girl, okay?”

Evvie put her hands on your cheeks and kissed you, "You goo, mama."

"Love you, baby. Mama will see you soon."

“For pancays,” Evvie asked with big, hopeful eyes.

“Sure, bug, we can have pancakes together.”

“Coco ones?”

You laughed, “We’ll see about that. Now give mama a kiss.”

Evvie puckered her lips, kissing you before you handed her off.

Peggy stiffened and left quickly once she had the little girl’s hand in hers. Evvie could be heard excitedly babbling as they walked down the hall.

You watched them until they're turned into the stairwell. Closing the door, you rested your back against it with a sigh for a moment before you started to pick up Evvie’s toys, putting on your best fake smile, but Daryl noticed the sad look that lingered deep in your eyes and he lay a hand on your forearm, to get your attention, “Hey."

Never looking up, you stop what you were doing and let your eyes shift toward him.

"You okay?”

Tilting your head, it occurred to you that no one had ever really asked you that question with the amount of sincerity that Daryl had in his voice and you knew he actually wanted to know. So, forgetting the mess, you sat on the floor and proceeded to answer him.

“It’s just… I'm a mom in name only, you know? I don't get these moments with her too often and when I do, I have to fight for every single one of them and I worry... I worry that one day, I... won't have any fight left in me and she’ll grow up hating me or thinking that I didn’t want her because I was never around.”

“Lil' girl seems to like yuh all right.”

"Yeah, for now," the look you give him is grim, “She's still a baby. If anything, I’m just another playmate to her."

"None of that's yer fault. When she's bigger she'll know the truth."

Hoping he was right, you changed the subject and asked, “So... what was life like for you before all this, Daryl?”

“Lot less killin’.”

His answer made you grin. “Married? Kids? Was there a missus Daryl?”

He turned his head away from you. “Nah.”

Curious, you tilted your head, “Why not?”

He shrugged, “Had a brother, though. Kinda just went wherever he went. Things wasn’t much different. Just… survived.”

Survival was something you understood.

“I had a brother, too,” you ran your hand over your forehead, “Pretty sure he’s dead now.”

“Were yuh close?”

“When we were little, we were, had to be. He went off to college and I... was never given that choice. Guess none of it matters anymore, right?”

"That make yuh mad?"

"I had other reasons to be mad. My brother deserved a better hand than he was dealt."

"What about you?"

"I was a lost cause back then. He didn't need to be."

"Merle... he was jus fine draggin' me down wit 'im."

"Misery sure love it's company, doesn't it?"

He grunted in agreement.

As it grew later, you both continued to talk, bouncing from topic to topic. Well, you talked. Mostly, he said a handful of words, here and there, that kept you talking.

After a while, Daryl asked the million dollar question, “How’dya end up with him?”

“Wrong place, right time,” you shrug as guilt starts to fill you, remembering Negan and your origin story, “I was in the hospital when this shit started… Not exactly the best place to be, seeing that hospitals and death go together like peanut butter and jelly. His wife... she had just died and he took me with him. He was different then. Vulnerable, lost. Just needed something to take care of. I never woulda made it if he wasn’t there.”

“Feel like yuh owe ‘im?”

Absently, you nod the reply. In five measly words, in little more than a nutshell, Daryl managed to sum up the story of your life. Always been made to feel you were indebted to someone, for food, for shelter, for the most basic of life’s necessities but no matter how much they took from you, you were always in the red. Yours was a debt that never seemed to go down.

He glanced toward the door before looking back at you,"Guess they forgot about me, huh?”

“You in a rush to go? Got somewhere to be?”

He scoffed, as small grin crept up his lips, “Me and Peggy, we got plans later.”

Cracking a smile, you threw one of Evvie’s stuffed animals at him, “Smart ass.”

Time kept moving forward and the sky outside your window transformed into the midnight blue of twilight.

“Ain’t yuh hungry?”

You shook your head, “But if you are...”

“I'm good.”

You both knew that if you told whichever guard on the floor that you wanted food, whoever delivered it would take Daryl back to his cell, and you weren’t quite ready to see him go. Having him there, having real conversations with him, that felt nice, like, you had made a new friend.

Chapter Text

It was a few days later when a pale and shivering Daryl was shoved into the room. It wasn’t particularly cold so you knew something was wrong. Sitting him down, you pressed the back of your hand to his forehead.

After a moment of badly attempting to avoid your touch, he grumbled, “’m fine.”

That was a lie.

His skin was burning up. Shoving a blanket into his arms, you ordered him to lay down, “I think I have some Tylenol or something around here…”

Opening drawers, you found a large bottle of generic Tylenol and brought it to him with some water. “Up ya go. You need to take two.”

He resisted, annoyed. “Tole yuh ‘m fine.”

Impatiently, you held out your hand, the capsules resting in your palm and your voice lost its gentle tone. “Take them and lay back down. Looks like I’m taking care of you today.”

Daryl hesitated before popping the capsules into his mouth and taking a swig of water. A triumphant grin settled upon your lips and you plugged in the TV/DVD combo into the outlet, then you browsed for a DVD that might lull him to sleep. Running your hand across the selection of movies Negan had found while out scavenging, you pulled out The Lion King, hoping the soundtrack would do the trick.

The second after the music began, Daryl grunted up at you from his supine position, “I ain’t five.”

“Shush. It’s not on for you to watch, anyway. You’re supposed to be resting. Now rest.”

Rolling onto his side, he said, “Yes, ma’am.”

You could've sworn you heard a slight grin in his reply, and you covered him with another blanket, making him grumble. Not long after you settled on your bed with a book, you heard a soft wheeze coming from the couch and you knew he was finally getting some rest.


 

 

That evening, when the Bret showed up to get Daryl, he was sleeping again, thanks to the pm cold medication you found, and you refused to let him go, knowing that the cold, unheated cell would only make worse whatever he'd been fighting off all day.

Bret grumbled, “Gotta take him back, Y/N. I can’t leave him here.”

You stood your ground, refusing to let him anywhere near Daryl.

“But…”

“I'm not waking him and neither are you."

Going back and forth for several minutes, it was clear, you had reached an impasse. Bret would not budge, too afraid of your husband to make such a decision on his own.

Sighing, you tried another angle, "Okay... how about this? You go get Negan and I'll tell him. That way you won't get into trouble.”

After thinking that option over for a few seconds, Bret relented, turning his back to you, he stepped out into the hall to radio Negan. You followed behind and heard Negan's voice bellow through the speakers -"What the hell is she... God damn it! I'll be right there."

While you waited for husband, you smiled awkwardly at an uneasy Bret and everything stilled. It was the calm before the storm and it wouldn't last. Soon, you heard the angry grumblings growing louder and louder before your husband appeared.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Daryl, he's sick. If he goes back down to that hell hole you keep him in, he'll just get worse."

"Abso-fucking-lutely not. Have you lost your god damned mind? You want to have a slumber party with my prisoner. That's where I draw the line. What if you catch whatever he's got?"

Pleading with your eyes, you said,"I'll be careful. Besides, I'd rather get a cold than go through another rotation of your surly band of incompetents."

Scrubbing his hand over his face, Negan sighed, knowing you were right. You had never been happy with anyone he found to look after you. Except for Simon and maybe, Dwight, but Negan needed them and you'd feel better knowing that they had your husband's back. Against his better judgement he made up his mind.

"Fine, he can stay, but only for tonight and I'm staying too. I'm not leaving you alone with him all night."

It was Sherry's night with Negan and you knew she wouldn't really care, but still you didn't need another babysitter.

"Fine but there will be no funny business. Got it?"

Negan chuckled, "You think I want an audience?"

You rolled your eyes, "I never know with you."

"Besides there's always the bathroom," Negan winked.

You eyed him and grinned, "Maybe... if you're good."

Negan's eyes followed you as you moved around the room, trying to make your sleeping patient more comfortable, mumbling how unnecessary it was the whole time.

You ignored your husbands comments, setting out some food, the faux Tylenol and a bottle of water on the coffee table for Daryl, covered him with all the blankets you could spare, hoping he would sweat out the fever overnight.

As you were slipping into bed, Negan said, "When did you become Florence fucking Nightingale?"

Curling up into him, you pouted, "I can do things."

"I know you can. I'm just teasing. You've always been good at taking care of people. You've got a good heart, Y/N."

His words shocked you and he noticed your eyes squint up at him in surprise before he continued.

"It's true, angel. When we first met, I was in real bad shape and you took care of me."

"We took care of each other," you corrected him.

"But it comes natural to you. Me, I saw a pretty woman in distress and even though, Lucille just died, I admit, I was wondering what it would take to get you in the sack," he pulled you into his arms.

"The dead rising definitely helped your cause."

"Not sure if I like you playing doctor with someone else, though."

You scoffed, "Next time you get sick, I'll do the same for you."

"Mmm. I'd like that," kissing your neck, his hand played with the hem of your tank top before it slid underneath and gave your breast a playful squeeze,"I'll be sure to keep an eye out for one of those white nurses dresses or maybe I'll just dress you up like a candy striper and have you give me a sponge bath."

Teasingly, you push on his chest, "I am much too old to be a candy striper"

Gently, he resumed fondling your breast before bringing his lips to suckle your nipple. He raised his eyes, searching for yours, "But you're just as sweet."

After a few minutes, Negan took your hand and pulled you off the bed, leading you into the bathroom. Resisting never even crossed your mind.





When you woke, Negan was gone but Daryl was sitting up and picking at the food you'd left out. The blankets, damp from sweat, were tossed on the floor, though one still hung from his shoulders.

Sitting up, you watched him with a sleepy smile. “You look better. How do you feel?”

He nodded and swallowed the food in his mouth.

Getting to your feet, you pulled out a clean pair of Negan's pajamas pants and a tee shirt, and placed them on the bed,"If you want, you can shower. I know whenever I've had a fever, a shower always makes me feel better."

Getting up from the couch, the blanket fell from his body and he stepped over it with a grunt, walking past you into the bathroom.

"Wait! You forgot your clothes," you shouted to the closed door.

The bathroom door swung open and Daryl stomped over to your bed, snatching up the clothes before turning to go. It was the first time you had seen him without a shirt and you didn't mean to gasp but after seeing the scars that marred his back, you couldn't stop it from leaving your throat. Though they were faded from time, it was like seeing graffiti on a Picasso.

  When he heard the gasp, his head turned and you quickly did the same and he snapped as he stormed back into the bathroom and slammed the door, “What? Ain’t yuh ever seen scars before?”

 



Once he was out of the shower, he settled on the other end of the couch, neither of you said a word at first but after a long silence, his gaze remained planted on his hands, he sighed and he quietly began to speak.

  “Never knew when it was comin'. All depended on 'is mood. Could break a dish one day and he might break one with yuh or knock yuh into next week. Was just somethin’ yuh had to get through.”

Nodding, you cautiously slid closer to him, “He use a belt?”

  It came out sounding like less of a question, but it made him look up. Questions ran through his eyes, before he nodded, "An' other things. Wasn't too particular."

"Didn't anyone...," you bit your lip to keep from saying anything more. You already knew the answer. No one ever does anything.

But he snapped at you all the same, "No one sticks their neck out for trash. Come straight from a long line of it and was never gonna amount tuh more. People looked at me an' seen my brother. Figgered I was just like him. Figgered I deserved it too.”

As he spoke, rage toward everyone that failed him, that failed all the kids like him, suddenly burned through your veins. Too well, you remembered those authority figures, the teachers and the social workers who turned a blind eye to the children who needed their protection the most. The innumerable black eyes and busted lips your brother had received over the years flashed through your mind, and except for some stares and whispers, the situation went entirely ignored.

Your hand hovered, wanting to comfort him but you refrained and your words were barely a whisper, “You didn't… No one... ”

Fidgeting, he stood up, interrupting you, “It don't... Whatever. Deserved some of 'em. Maybe most. Never was no saint.”

  The idea of him as the rebellious saint made you grin, and though you couldn’t see a halo, you were sure as you knew your eye color, there was goodness hidden underneath the rough exterior.

With a sigh, you headed to the closet, grabbing the cigarettes and said, "Care for a smoke?"

  "Thought yuh never ask."

 

Chapter Text

Leaning against the building, Daryl said even less than usual, choosing instead to watch the cigarette burn between his fingers. The deliberate lack of conversation made you uneasy and when you finally had enough of his nonverbal replies, you asked if he was okay.

" 'm fine," he mumbled but his stiff demeanor told a different story.

Taking a drag, you asked, "Does it bother you that I saw your..., you know?"

The grunt he gave you sounded like a negative.

You exhale a cloud of smoke, "You want to talk about..."

"Nuthin' tuh say ."

Well, at least he was talking with complete words now.

Finishing your cigarette, you sighed wearily, dropping the butt on the concrete and waited for him to finish before heading back inside.

 

 

Once back to your room, moments after the door closed, the nervous energy had you fidgeting with your hands, and you rubbed the side of your face until it turned a violent pink. The silence, his silence, shouldn't bother you, but you couldn't help but try one more time, because, it did.

"Did I... do something? Because I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I might have done. If I did something to upset you, I'd rather you tell me to go fuck myself than..."

"Ain't up ta yuh how I act."

Seven whole words. Now, you were getting somewhere. Not that they made you feel any better.

As he collected his words, he shook his head at you and you waited in curious silence, until he said, "Don't get yuh."

Huh? You look back at him with disconcerted eyes.

"He treats yuh like shit an' then yuh...," he said with a heavy sigh, shaking his head, as if he could shake the rest of his thoughts out of his mind, "Whatever."

Confused and curious, you asked, "Then I what?"

Stubbornly, he refused to answer, or even look at you.

Now, infuriated, you tried again, desperately wanting to understand. "Then I what, Daryl?"

"Don't matter."

"Kind of seems like it does."

His eyes were cold as he jerked his head toward the bathroom, "an' then yer in there, playin' doctor with 'im."

Oh.

OH!

Shit.

"That yer thing, huh? Yuh like bein' treated like shit? Think yuh don't deserve any better?"

You blink hard, not understanding where all this was coming from, "He's my hus..."

Daryl's eyes were now cast off to the side but you knew he was watching you, "Nah... That ain't it."

"I don't expect you to understand. "

"Pfffft," he scoffed, "Understand plenty. Understand he uses yuh."

You sigh, "It's just complicated... all relationships are."

"Ain't really, though."

You started to babble, nervously, defending yourself. "I know he can be a dick but he means well... provides for me and Evvie. Protects us. Maybe, if I didn't have a little girl to think about it'd be easier to disturb the balance but we have a kid."

"A kid he hardly lets yuh see. 'sides, he coulda knocked up any of them other wives. Just happen to be you. Uses you. Uses all of 'em. Ain't nothing but whores for 'im."

His words, that word, made your face flush and suddenly, the carpet became an interesting puzzle that your eyes needed to roam, looking for the patterns to solve. Fresh tears blurred your vision and a chilling thought came to mind - Maybe there was something about you that brought out the worst in people.

The tears that rolled down your cheeks upset you more than Daryl's words and you silently scolded yourself.

"I... didn't... shit," Daryl shuffled toward you, "Come on. Don't be doin' that."

You took a deep breath and wiped your eyes before you looked up and saw the worry, the concern, the regret that convoluted his stony face and at that moment everything clicked. You finally understood everything that was going on in his head as the butterflies started to flutter in your stomach again. He moved closer, close enough for you to smell your soap on his skin. When he reached out a hand in comfort, you didn't even think, and before you could stop yourself, you were, boldly, pressing your mouth to his, finally, tasting him on your tongue.

 

After a brief hesitation, apprehensive hands fumbled before gripping your hips, drawing you closer. He deepened the kiss, slow and soft. Teeth and tongues met head-on, as your hand tangled at the hair at the base of his neck, wanting to devour every ounce of him and even though you had everything you could ever need with Negan, comfort, protection, a family, if asked you’d follow that kiss anywhere.

When the kiss finally ended, neither of you moved, lingering in each others touch. He dropped his forehead, pressing it against yours. Rough fingers traced your face, as a thumb brushed over your bottom lip before lifting your chin and bringing his mouth back to yours. Teasing you, his mouth pulled away from yours, drawing it out, slowly, unwilling to let you go and he wavered for a bit before stepping back. The butterflies that had been fluttering in your stomach had made their way straight to your chest.

You felt his stare, hot on your skin, watching you, curiously, as you quickly moved around the room, pushing a waist high bookshelf against the door to barricade you both inside the room. If someone tried to come in, it wouldn't keep them out, but it would be enough to slow them down. Taking such a precaution, you understood, with one hundred percent clarity, you were about to commit the ultimate sin but in the moment, that sin didn't matter one bit.

Moving back to the bed, you sat in front of him, and wrapped your arms around his waist, pulling him closer to rest your head against his stomach. A hand rested upon of your head, gently raking through your Y/H/C hair, as the other wrapped around your back.

“Ain't sorry I did that.”

Craning your neck back, your eyes traveled to meet his, “Me neither.”

His hand slid down, cupping your cheek and your head turned, placing little kisses over the rough, cracked skin. Your heart pounded in your chest as you pulled him down onto the bed beside you. He turned on his side and your soft, nervous fingers traced along his face, outlining it, putting every detail to memory.

A rough hand slipped beneath your shirt, stroking the soft flesh of your stomach as Daryl's lips hovered just out of reach, teasing you, and a frustrated whine fell from your own. His lips twisted into something resembling a grin, as you tried to reach his mouth, but he continued to tease, keeping his mouth just out of your reach, and you couldn't recall if you've ever seen him look so playful before but it was something you hoped to see more of.

His hand slipped down your stomach, fingers trailing along the waistband of your pants. Pulling them down slowly, like he was savoring a gift, revealing black panties, already damp in anticipation. Blue eyes flicked up, watching your reaction, searching for permission. As he licked his lips, you arched up, raising your hips in acquiescence, to help finish the task.

Once he had you completely undressed, his hands roamed over your skin. Graying whiskers and a frenzied mouth drifted over your sensitive flesh, leaving kisses in their wake. Every touch was electric, lighting you up, and you were eager for what was to come. You brushed the hair out of his eyes to watch as he continued to educate himself with your body, growing harder against your thigh.

Lips and teeth grazed your neck, as his hand drifted down to your mound. Rubbing it gently, he tested your arousal, and rasped against your ear, "Yuh feel even better than I thought. "

Casting a nervous glance toward the door, you hands tug the blue pajama pants over his hips, and, at last, naked flesh pressed against naked flesh, and his arousal dribbled its plans upon your skin. He lingered against you and you sought out his mouth, tongue twisting with his, before fitting himself between your waiting thighs.

 

Chapter Text

Daryl stroked your back with his fingertips as you slowly came down from your forbidden climax, your head resting against his chest. The rhythmic beat of his heart against your ear was comforting. The heartbeat was so calm, so steady, like he hadn't any idea what would happen if Negan were to even think he had an idea of what just happened, but you knew, you've had front row seats to what happens when your husband thinks something had gone on behind his back, so your heart pounded, accordingly, furiously inside your chest, and you’re almost afraid it would shatter your ribs, burst through your skin, and continue to thump around on the floor.

Sitting up, you tug the sheet up over yourself,“That... that wasn’t because of…him. You know that, right?"

“Whut was it about then?”

“I wanted to know what it was like to kiss you," you said, honestly, with a small voice. You looked down at the disheveled sheets, smoothing out the wrinkles to keep your hands busy. Wanting someone was almost new to you. Sex had always been survival... but this was different. This was real, a fulfilled desire.

“Done more than kiss,” he reminded you, making you blush.

“It felt right, ya know?"

Daryl brushed his lips against the side of your head, as his fingers ran across a series of deliberate scars underneath your left breast, white and circular, right on the bone, “Whut's this from?”

Those stupid little scars suddenly left you feeling more vulnerable underneath his eyes than being naked ever could, bringing memories with them, ones you never spoke of, ones you never planned to speak of but you hadn't planned on meeting someone as sharp-eyed as Daryl, either. The fact that he noticed them at all startled you. Not even Negan mentioned them, and over the years he had plenty of chances to bring them up.

Pushing back your hair, you tugged up the sheet and swiveled the out of bed. With your feet on the floor, you wrapped the sheet tightly around you and from over your shoulder, you looked back at him. “Never knew many nice people.”

Turning away, you gathered up your clothes, keeping your eyes low so you didn’t have to watch him pondered your reply or see his jaw twist or his eyes crinkle while he worked out the subtext in his head. You knew he was doing all those things but he asked no more questions, allowing you to keep your secret for a little bit longer.

He moved forward on the bed, close enough to reach out and turned you toward him. He pulled on the sheet, loosening it from your grip and tossed it to the side, exposing you to the bright room. Leaving you bare before him, he placed a hand on your hip to keep you from moving. There was an odd mix of confidence and insecurity in his eyes, as he warily placed soft kisses upon the little round circles, before releasing you to your task.



After showering, you both headed down to the cafeteria. The secret you now carried made it feel like everyone in the room was staring at you, as if they could see the sin in your eyes.

Frankie pushed through the line of people to get to you. Scrutinizing eyes studied your face, "How you doing, hun?"

Pursing your lips, you answered, "Good... fine. The same."

Frankie, wrapped her fingers around your arm and pressed her other hand to your head, "You don't feel warm, but your face is all flushed."

Mumbling, you looked away, "Just showered."

"Kinda late, isn't it?"

You shrugged, "One of those lazy."

"I got some gossip for you, girl," Frankie whispered as her eyes flitted over to Daryl before going back to yours, "Talk tonight?"

You nodded as Frankie cut the line to grab some food before taking off in a ginger blur. You piled your tray with all the things that Daryl liked to eat and headed for the outside door as Daryl rushed to hold it open for you.

Stepping outside, the balmy afternoon air hit you quickly just as a slight breeze wandered by. You shake your hair out of your face and set the tray down on a picnic table. A few of the Saviors, who had congregated there, stood up, moving on to their posts, as you and Daryl took a seat at the end of the table.

Raising his eyes at you, Daryl muttered, "Sure know how tuh clear a room."

"Just one of my many talents," you push the tray toward him, "Eat."

Nodding toward the tray, Daryl said, "Yuh gotta eat too."

"Fine," you huffed, picking up some breakfast pastry thing from the tray and took a bite. With your mouth full, you said, "Eating... See?"

He gave you an approving grunt then picked up his fork.



That night, it was Dwight that came to take Daryl back to his cell. As he turned to go, you asked him to hold on a second.

Perplexed eyes looked back at you, "Something you need, Y/N?"

Shaking your head, "About the other day, it's been really bothering me and I just wanted to let you know I'm really sorry for snapping at you."

"Don't worry about that. It's fine. Already forgotten."

"It wasn't fine. It was a shitty thing to do. I was in a mood and I should never have taken it out on you."

"Happens to all of us."

"So we're cool?"

"We were never not cool.That all?"

You nod and the two men headed out the door.

"Oh," Dwight turns his head to look back at you, "Supposed to let you know, Negan won't be around tonight but he wanted me to tell you that you can have Everly tomorrow, if you want. So... what do you want me to tell him?"

A smile builds on your face, "Yes, yes. Of course."

Daryl's blue eyes turned, catching a glimpse of your excitement through disheveled hair, and the corners of his mouth curled slightly upwards.

Again, you thanked Dwight before shutting the door, making a mental note of all the things that needed to be done before the morning and you couldn't help noticing that Daryl's scent lingered in the air and on your sheets. Quickly, you cleaned up the scene of the crime, stripping down the bed, and tossing the sheets onto the floor but that just made you feel guiltier, made you miss him all the more and you lay down on the bare mattress, shut your eyes and tried to remember how it felt when he was there.

Chapter Text

The door to your room opened and it didn't matter how tired you were, your day was about to begin.

Tiny fingers prodded your arm before you felt Evvie climb into your bed. Soon, she was giggling and poking your face. Too tired eyes forced their way open with a groan as your daughter too a seat right under your sternum and pressed those little hands pressed into your cheeks, "Up, mama."

"Hey, bug," you gave her a sleepy smile.

After you were able to sit up, you pulled Evvie into a cuddle, taking in the little denim dress with a red cardigan, rainbow heart patterned tights and bright, red sneakers.

Poking her belly, you said, "I like those sneakers."

Evvie looked down and tugged on a shoe, before plopping her head against you,"Pwetty, mama?"

"Very pretty, bug."

Playing with her dark hair, you smiled in thought. It always amazed you how much Everly resembled her father. If you hadn't spent all those hours in labor with her, you'd swear not a drop of your DNA existed inside the tiny human.

All of a sudden, Evvie sat upright and her big brown eyes carefully scanned every inch of your room before turning to you with a disappointed pout. "Daw?"

"He's coming, bug. Gotta be patient. Why don't you go pick out a book and we can read it while we wait."

Sliding off the bed, Evvie toddled over to her basket, bringing back a familiar hard covered book back to bed with her. It was one you've read to her at least a hundred times. Scooping her into your arms, you settle her back on the bed and she cuddled up next to you. You wrapped one arm around her and began to read:

"In an old house in Paris
That was covered in vines
Lived twelve little girls
In two straight lines."

Bouncing up and down, gleefully, Evvie pointed her finger at the drawing of the row of little girls, "Ma-line."

"You're such a smart girl," leaning in closer, you placed a kiss on her dark brown hair, "That's Madeline."

You continued to read to your daughter and she listened like it was the first time she was hearing the story, until the door opened. Evvie promptly squirmed out of your arms, abandoning you and the twelve little French girls for the man who had entered. Boldly, Evvie went right over to him, arms raised above her head, demanding. Appeasing her, Daryl lifted her off the ground so she could wrap her arms around his neck, giving him a hug before settling her head upon his shoulder.

Bringing your feet to the rough carpet, you sat on the edge of the bed and clap your hands, "All right, who wants pancakes?"  

"Me, mama!

"What do you say, Daryl? In the mood to brave the cafeteria with that one?"
 

 

 

"Come on, Evvie, you can walk," you admonished your daughter when she refused to walk down the hall, and started to whine, insisting that Daryl carry her to the cafeteria. 

Stomping her feet, Evvie demanded, "Nnnnoooo. Daw, cawwy."  

"Up yuh go," Daryl lifted Evvie, up in the air, as if she weren't any bother.  

Exasperated, you shook your head before mouthing a silent thank you to Daryl.

"Ain't no trouble, are ya, lil' girl?"

"No tubba."

With an empty hallway at your disposal, you fixed Evvie's dress, pulling it down as you deliberately let your fingers brush against Daryl's hand and when you met his eyes, a shy, secretive, smile followed before you take the lead, turning into the stairwell.


 

 

Evvie frowned at the pancakes as you cut them into bite sized pieces, "Coco, mama."

"They don't have those, bug," you say, hoping she wouldn't cause a scene in the bustling cafeteria.

  Evvie's dark brown eyes looked at you with confusion,"Dada gets."

  "Maybe they'll have them tomorrow," you say, figuring chocolate pancakes were something Negan had specially made for her but you didn't have his type of influence over the kitchen staff so she would simply have to make due.

With her fingers, Evvie picked out a piece of pancake, and held it out to Daryl, in offering.

You say with a sigh, "Evvie, leave Daryl alone and eat your breakfast."

At first, he refused, showing her his plate, "Got my own, right here."

But your daughter persisted until he gave in, allowing her to push the bite sized piece into his mouth as she giggled. Then Daryl picked up a piece of pancake, held it out to Evvie and said,"Yer turn."

With her mouth open, Evvie leaned in, chomping at the pancake with a giggle. The two of them repeated the action over and over until Sherry walked past the table, shooting a smile at Evvie, and it was then you realized all of the eyes were on your table, watching closely.

"How adorable," Sherry commented as she ruffled Evvie's hair.

Unsure of how to take the comment, you decided to put an end to their fun.  "All right, you two. This isn't playtime. Come on, Evvie, eat your breakfast like a big girl then we can go outside and play."

  Eating now, with an all too serious look on your daughter's face, you were finally able to finish your own breakfast and enjoy your coffee without reprimanding her again as she ate her way to the outdoor reward.

 



After a few hours of running around under the bright sun, Evvie started the familiar routine of rubbing her nose before letting out a big yawn. Without so much as a whine, she let you carry her back inside and put her down for her nap. Sitting beside her, you placed a stuffed animal under the covers with her, and played with her hair until she drifted off to sleep all under Daryl's watchful stare. Your face flushed, under his gaze, and your eyes drift over toward where he was seated.

Once Evvie was sleeping soundly, you crossed the room and held out your hand. Daryl's serious eyes, closely watched your every move before taking the offering, allowing you to lead him into the bathroom.

Closing the door, he turned you around to face him, his height dwarfed you, as he stepped closer, crowding your airspace and you stepped backwards until you were flush with the bathroom door. Looking down at you, long brown hair hung over his face, establishing your consent. Y /E /C/ eyes, stormy with desire, drift upwards until they met fierce blue ones, holding your gaze and the anticipation to feel his lips, again, spiked within the pit of your stomach.

Fingers move around to the small of your back while the other hand trailed down the side of your face. Daryl's mouth found its way to yours, and your heart dances in delight, as tiny kisses are peppered upon awaiting lips. A warm tongue sweeps across them, soft, yet, determined, desperate for entrance and your lips part, granting him access. In a lust filled battle, tongue and teeth collide, as you both race toward a fulfillment that never seemed to be enough.

The kiss lingered on your lips, long after it ended. Warm breath wafted over heated skin as you remained in Daryl's embrace.

His lips grazed your forehead. "Yuh okay?"

With a shy, little nod, you run a finger over your bottom lip before pushing the hair from his eyes. You were better than okay.

Chapter Text

Those stolen moments, the lazy afternoons you spent wrapped in Daryl's strong, protective arms had you all too conscious of your transgressions, constantly aware of the precarious situation you had put yourself and him in. It was never your intention to put anyone in danger, especially Daryl, who had been nothing but kind to you but you had and now you carried the weight of that guilt around for the both of you.

Really, Y/N? What were you thinking? Are you thinking? Surely, you're not thinking about anyone but yourself. So what you felt something for your babysitter? What possessed you to act on it? Your life may not be perfect, but it's not "end the fucking world" terrible and it certainly is not bad enough to put someone you care about in danger. It's not like Negan even needed tangible evidence to destroy everything, a feeling was good enough for him.

It was to put all those new and exciting feelings aside when you were with your husband and too often, you found your thoughts drifting down to the cell, to Daryl. You worried if he was cold, if he was hungry, if he was being hassled by someone. Not that he'd ever tell you any of those things, but mostly, you wondered if he thought about you as much as you did him.

This thing with Daryl wasn't even a "fuck you" to your husband, though, it would've been one hell of a "fuck you" if that had been your intention. Not that it would ever justify what you were doing, but it would've made more sense than you ran with your gut because you had felt some butterflies in your stomach whenever those blue eyes met yours.

You looked across the table to your husband, eating dinner and sipping on some old scotch, that he was babbling about finding, you started to think about all the things he'd done for you over the years. The truth was that without Negan there was no way you'd still be alive. He took care of you, treated you well enough, and if it came down to it, he'd kill for you, but above all things, he gave you the best and most important thing in your life, your little girl.

Though you had to admit that on more than one occasion you wondered if there was any love between the both of you. Hell, you weren't even sure you believed in the idea of romantic love. The four letter word was easy enough to say, but the meaning, the feeling, was all but lost on you. Love was a thing you only really understood when it came to Evvie. Holding her in your arms for the first time, something in you had changed and you felt it every time she smiled at you or took your hand in hers.

If you had never found Negan, would there have been someone else? Would you have followed Mr. XYZ around like a lost puppy, too, just because it was easier than being on your own? Would you ever have discovered that feeling only Evvie invoked in you? With anyone other than Negan, you were one hundred percent certain that you would have never brought a child into this world and without Evvie, with nothing to lose, would you have found a way to survive?

You had survived before, maybe you'd have figured out how to do it again.

There was one question you couldn't stop going back to. What if someone else were to come along, someone you thought you could feel something for? Maybe someone like...

Seriously? Why were you trying to fool your internal dialogue? There was no hypothetical mystery man. There was only one person that someone could be, the only person you found yourself feeling something for, something that felt a lot like love.

It was true. There was something about Daryl, and even though he was often quiet, he had managed to find the right combination of words to make you smile, to make you laugh, and the way he was with your daughter, that was the kind of stuff that made your heart melt.

If, and that was an enormous if, you could be together, in some alternative universe, would you just be reverting back, resorting to bouncing around from man to man in an illusion of safety? In the past, that never worked out well for you and it wasn't just you anymore. There was Evvie to think about now. Hell, everything you did was for her, had to be or you'd be no better than your own parents. Evvie deserved the stability you never had.

But there was no future there with Daryl. Your husband would never sit quietly by and let you go. You knew these things, just as you knew the sun would rise and set. It could only be a dalliance, a momentary bright spot, in the cold, iron-fisted reality. A life outside the Sanctuary, was one you'd never see, and you were far too old to believe in fantasy.

Negan turned your chin so you were looking at him, "What are you thinking about, angel?"

Blinking into his brown eyes, as if your own would give away your thoughts, you went to your automatic response and smiled, "Just... Evvie."

Negan stood up with a smile and took your hand, leading you upstairs to Evvie's room. Standing in the doorway, you watched your little girl sleep, without a care in the world, illuminated by a nightlight, all spread out on the bed, in an X, one hand clasped onto the ear of a stuffed rabbit.

"Such a little bed hog," closing the door, you said, quietly, and turned to your husband with a chuckle, "She's lucky she's adorable."

Negan squeezed you against his side, "Just like her mother."

"Nah. That girl is all you. The hair, the eyes... irritatingly adorable."

"She has your grumpy look," he scrunched his face in mockery of you.

"I don't have...," catching his knowing glare, you concede with a smirk, "I don't know what you're talking about."

The amused chuckle brought out his dimples, "No? Huh?"  

Holding you close, his lips brushed your cheek and in the middle of this sweet, silly moment with your husband, out of the blue, something snapped and the next thing you knew, your brain went into full on panic mode. You couldn't swallow and it was getting harder for you to breathe. You needed to get away, so you broke out of Negan's stifling grip. You needed fresh air or you'd suffocate for sure and you took off for the nearest exit.

Once outside, you filled your lungs with the night air in, as your heart continued to race. Taking a seat on the concrete, you pulled your sweater over your head, before leaning back against the brick building, trying to get comfortable.

Moments later, Negan was there, crouching by your side, your sweater in his hand, "Haven't seen you have one of these in a while, angel. What brought this on?"

With a shrug, you brushed off his question. You noticed that "poor girl" look on his face and you pulled a cigarette from your pocket just so you didn't have to see that look anymore.

Chapter Text

There was no sleep to bring you comfort as you lay awake, watching as the sky change over from midnight blue to the pale colors of morning. The panic attack may have subsided but there was still too many things rattling around in your brain and under your skin, that left you tossing and turning.

As the sky began to brighten, it cast a lazy glow upon the sturdy body of your husband, sleeping like a log, beside you, leaving you envious at his ability to catch those elusive z's and you elbowed him, several times, simply out of annoyance.

By the time you got out of the shower, you felt slightly more human, knowing that lots of coffee would be on its way to help you get through the day. Negan was already awake and getting dressed. He turned his head just as you took a seat on the bed, "Feeling better?"

Rubbing your chin against your shoulder, it was through sleepy eyes, you looked up at your husband. "Some. Better than last night. Still tired though."

"Worry not, angel. Coffee is on it's way. With all that tossing around you were doing, did you get any sleep at all," he zipped up his pants and sat down next to you, taking your hand, "I don't like seeing you like that, you know? It always makes me feel helpless."

Yeah? Me too.

You pat his hand as a weak smile crossed your lips, "Nothing you can do about that unless you can wrangle up some Xanax or Zoloft or something."

"Got people out looking. If it's out there, they'll find it," he frowned, knowing exactly what you needed but it seemed that many of those medications that would help you often vanished once they made it to the sanctuary, "Did you try those breathing things the doc told you about?"

You rolled your eyes, wishing it was that easy, "Those never work. Not for me, at least."

Negan put his hand on your your back, rubbing soothing circles against your skin, "Just need to get that brain of yours to settle down."

"Thought you liked me warts and all?"

He smiled, grimly, "Not when you're hurting yourself."

Then came the knock you'd been eagerly and anxiously waiting for. Negan patted your back, stood up from the bed and slid his arms into his jacket before shouting for them to come on in. Daryl entered first with Dwight right behind him, bearing two mugs of that beautiful caffeinated beverage you desperately craved.

Following your husband, you stood by his side, casting a quick glance at Daryl, a smile tugging at the corners of your mouth. Not wanting to give yourself away, you fought the smile on your face, shifting it into neutral, before turning a forced smile up at your husband as you gave his unshaven face a playful scratch. Though, Daryl's face remained in it's perpetual state of emotionlessness, the glaring side eye, that he was throwing your way, didn’t escape your attention.

Giddy, you held your hands out and Negan chuckled at your enthusiasm, as he handed you a mug. When the smell hit you, your excited E/C eyes lit up and you took a tentative sip of the hot beverage.

Barely taking a sip of his own, Negan turned to look at Daryl, "Y/N had a rough night. If she has another episode, just yell to Larry. He'll be in the hall. He'll go get the doc for her."

  Concerned and questioning eyes glanced over to you, forcing your eyes to look down into the mug, swirling the brown liquid around, like you were playing one of those plastic 'put the ball in the hole' games, the kind you would get in a gift bag when you were five.

Negan kissed your cheek before he and Dwight went on their way, leaving you and Daryl alone in an awkward silence. You drummed nervous fingers on the mug as Daryl worked up something in his head.

With every question you asked him, one word answers and grunts were returned but once you finished your coffee, his words were blunt and his tone was accusatory. “Yuh sleep with 'im ?”

Taken aback by the question, you stammered, “That’s… none of…”

Cutting you off, he snapped, "If yer sleepin’ wit me, it is.”

That was fair. If he were sleeping with someone else, you knew you’d be angry, too. Slowly, looking up at him, you shook your head, “I didn’t.”

“Would yuh have?”

For a few minutes, you froze. You honestly didn’t know the answer and when you felt like you were taking too long to reply, you told him so.

His blue eyes had turned dark as he tried to keep his breathing steady. He rubbed his chin in thought, “Nah. Huh?”

“Don’t… please, don’t do that.”

“Do whut,” he shot back at you with a grunt.

“That face, that grunt. Don't get mad at me. You're not being fair."

"Yeah...well...life ain't fair."

"He’s my husband and in case you forgot, we’re… we’re the ones that are doing wrong here. Don’t you get that?"

"Yuh weren't sayin' that when we were in yer bed."

Running a hand through your HL/ HC/ hair, you sighed, "No but there is so much to lose here, and pissing him off doesn't benefit either of us. If keeping him happy means that I get to spend time with my daughter or it keeps you safe and out of that cell for a little while... If all he wants in return is for me to spend a little time with him, it's a small price for those things."

"Never asked for yuh..."

"Everything I have is because of him and he could take it all away if the mood strikes. And the last thing either of us need is for Negan to start getting suspicious because he would not hesitate..."

Too painful to complete the thought, you let the rest of the sentence dangle in the air. Turning away from Daryl, you swallow the lump of fear that had found it's way to your throat.

"You... you saw what he did to Dwight's face, and shit, he kinda likes Dwight. I don't want to think about what he'd do... I'll do whatever necessary to keep him away from those thoughts, if only to keep you safe... That's what I fear the most, ya know? Every second of every day, I’m terrified that he’ll figure out what’s been going on, that he’ll take one look at me, see straight through to my guilty soul and realize that while he wasn’t looking, I fell in love with someone else.”

FUCK. You couldn't stop the words from coming but there it was, your secret laid out bare before him. When you finally built up the courage to turn back to him, he had sat on down on the bed, staring at you, with those unreadable blue eyes.

Looking down, your voice became little more than a whisper, “Shit. I shouldn’t have…”

Imaginary birds chirped, emphasizing the thunderous silence that had settled in the small space between you. Had you just made huge mistake?

Before he broke the silence, his lips twisted up into a grin, “Yuh mean that?”

And you were nodding, slowly, as you made your way over to Daryl, but he met you halfway, wrapping his arms around your waist.

You leaned into him, whispering against his chest, “So much. So very much.”

Chapter Text


Daryl's fingers, lazily, raked through yer sweaty hair, as you rested, curled up against him. He had fallen deep in thought, an' he had a hell of a lot tuh be thinkin' about, after what yuh said.

Lately, he had been feelin' different, it was a strange, foreign feelin', but whatever it was, he wasn't hatin' it. He was sure it had somethin' to do with you, comin' into 'is life and if he let that feelin' slip away he'd be a damn fool.

It was becomin' clearer what he needed to do to keep that feelin' around but things had to be said, an' he was no good when it came to sayin' things like that. His brain was workin' fast, tryin' to figure out the words.

Brushing back the hair on your forehead, he looked down at you and asked,“You awake?”

With your eyes closed, you smiled, mumbling, “Mmmhmm.”

“Yuh know, I’m gettin’ outta here, right?”

Sitting up, that serene look on your face, quickly, fell and he started cussin' himself in 'is head. He couldn'ta started any worse than he did.

Giving him a small, sad, nod, you said, “I figured you had something up your sleeve."

“Hey...hey...,” he nudged at your arm so that you would to look at him, "Been thinkin’ maybe you an' lil girl could come with me when I go.”

The words were barely out of his mouth before you were throwing off the sheets and had straddled his lap. Your hands cupped his face as your E/C eyes sparkled with excitement, "Seriously? You'd want that? Like, for real?"

"Think yuh'd like Alexandria. Think lil' girl might like it there, too. Even got another one, over there, 'bout her age, tuh play with."

He watched as a symphony of emotions played out on your face. It started with happiness, though, over several seconds the brightness in your E/C eyes dimmed, your smile plummeted into sadness and your shoulders slumped in defeat as tears filled your eyes.

The whisper that fell from your trembling lips was deafening to his ears,“He... He would kill me.”

Rough fingers lifted your chin until your watery eyes were fixed upon his and with all the sternness he could muster, he said, “Never lettin’ that happen, yuh hear me?"

Sliding off his lap with a sigh, you said, "What you're saying...it's impossible. We...We could run all the way to China but he would never stop looking for Evvie or me."

He didn't hold back the grunt when you mentioned lil' girl. Wasn't no secret that Negan didn't hardly paid her no mind.

As if reading his thoughts, you answered him, "I know, his interest in Evvie comes and goes, but she's still his, and technically, so am I."

Touching the side of your face, with a firm voice he said, "Nah. Don't belong to him. Don't belong tuh anyone, 'cept yerself."

Wrapping his arm around you, he tugged you close, as you trembled against his skin. He got why you were afraid. Yer husband was a bully, an' he knew bullies. Hell, he grew up in a house of ‘em, but he ain’t never backed down to one, yet, an' he wasn't goin' tuh be startin' now.

"Leave wit me an' you ain't gotta worry 'bout 'im, again," his scruffy beard grazed against your cheek and you squirmed into his side as the prickly hairs tickled your face, before his mouth pressed against your cheek and he whispered, “I'd take good care of you an’ lil' girl, ya know?”

“No," and he was frownin' before you could even start explainin' yourself, “If... If I were to leave with you, it can't be like that... it can't. I don't want to be a burden anymore."

"Yuh ain't no..."

Waving him off, you shook your head,"Things have to be different. I don't want Evvie growing up, seeing me as weak or useless. She needs a mother who doesn't need to depend on someone else to survive. So, if I go, you are going to have to teach me how to take care of myself out there. I need to learn.”

“Know how to use a gun?”

You shrugged,“It's been awhile.”

“How 'bout a knife?”

He grinned as you made several, silly, karate-like, stabbing motions before he took hold of your hand and placed a kiss on it, “Ain't gonna get real far, actin' like yer Kung Fu theater out there."

Stifling a smile, you said, "Pffft, I've got mad skills."

"Pffft," he scoffed, giving you a nudge.

Climbing onto his lap, the tip of your nose brushed his before your mouth traveled down, ghosting over waiting lips.

With a frustrated grunt, his fingers tangled in the hair at the base your skull, pulling your mouth in for a kiss, "Maybe, yuh got potential.”

 

 

Long after Daryl had gone back to his cell, Negan made an impromptu visit to your room. As he nibbled and sucked on delicate flesh, like a ravenous vampire, past experience told you the blood vessels, beneath your skin would break, leaving ugly, painless, blotches like footprints, revealing all the areas your husband had traveled.

In hopes of distracting him, to lessen the damage to your terrain, you interrupted him, repeatedly, with the most trivial questions you could think of.

Sitting back, Negan groaned, in exasperation, casting a glance at his dick, "Come on, angel, you're ruining this for me."

Sighing, you, reluctantly, fell into the familiar routine of appeasing your husband's amorous mood, wondering, silently, if you would you readily admit to this in the morning light, even if you knew it would upset him or would you wait and see if Daryl brought it up again? Either way, you already felt guilty, but if Negan had no qualms about sleeping with whoever he wanted on the same day, why should you?

Who were you trying to kid, Y/N?

It was different for you, and you couldn't pretend that it wasn't.

 

 

With your knees pulled up your chin, you sat up in bed and watched as your husband dressed, preparing to head off to wherever he was supposed to be. He leaned over, placing a kiss on your temple, "Might not be around for a few days."

Your brow crumpled, asking, "Why? Is... is something wrong?"

"Got some business to take care of with the other communities," Negan rubbed your shoulder, "Don't you worry, angel. I'll stop by to see you before I leave."

Scratching his unshaven face, you nod in thought. Knowing that Negan and many of his men would be away from The Sanctuary, the time had come for you to do the right thing. No matter how much it might hurt.

Chapter Text

The morning had finally arrived. Negan had kept his word and dropped by the evening before he left, letting you know he would be heading out before dawn. You spent the rest of the night alone and awake, staring at the ceiling as trepidation built and demolished skyscrapers out of your anxiety, while you worked on your goodbye speech.

After you showered, you sat down on the couch and waited for Daryl to arrive.

And waited.

And waited.

Then you waited some more.

When the waiting had spiraled into frenzied worrying, you knew that something was amiss so you headed out, to see if you could find anyone who knew what was going on.

The first person with any sort of authority you came across was Simon. After taking a deep, centering, breath, you tapped him on the shoulder, interrupting him as he looked over the clipboard he was holding his hand.

As he turned his attention toward you, his eyes went soft and he lowered the clipboard, giving you his full attention,"What can I do for ya, Y,N?"

Treading carefully, you calmly said, “Daryl, he, uh, never showed up this morning.”

“Boss man didn’t tell you?

"Tell me what?"

"He mentioned something about taking your little friend with him when he left this morning.”

Fucking Negan.

Terror broke out underneath your skin and you fought the waves of nausea that had started in your stomach. Keeping your voice calm and steady, you asked, “What? Why?”

A mustached smile curled upon Simon’s lips, “You’d have to ask him, darling. Whatever Negan does or doesn’t do, explaining his reasons to me is something he definitely does not do.”

You nod, fully understanding that Negan did what he did and that was all there was to it.

“Right. Thanks,” and you turned to leave, getting a few steps away before you heard:

“Everything all right? You feel okay, don’t you?”

Stopping, you turned your head and from over your shoulder you answer the question, managing to hide your worry with a stiff smile, "Yeah, I'm fine. I just didn't know, you know?"

"That's the boss man for ya. Always full of surprises."

Rolling your eyes, you continued on your way. All of your plans, thwarted by Negan and one impulsive decision. But nothing he did was ever truly impulsive now was it? There was always a reason, a method to his madness. If only you knew what was going on in his mind and why he needed to take Daryl with him.

 

 

Back in your room, the florescent overhead lighting buzzed as it illuminated the book in your hand. You found yourself rereading the same paragraph over and over, unable to concentrate as you fought off falling tears while your thoughts wandered and worried over where and why Negan took Daryl and whether he'd be coming back to keep the shining promise he made to you.

And it was that moment, you began to pray. Not that you were a huge believer that anyone was listening up there. Prayer had never done anything for you, never saved you when you needed it, so you had little faith that it would help now, but you needed to believe that maybe, just maybe there was an off chance that whatever you sent out into the universe would be enough to protect Daryl. You needed something to hold on, just a small speck of hope, to keep you believing that everything could be okay. That he was coming back to you. That Ever would be able to grow up safe and unafraid, far away from the darkness and cruelty of The Sanctuary.

Alexandria sounded like an absolute dream, but there was a nagging worry at the back of your brain telling you that somehow Negan would destroy that dream for you and you would never make it there.

To keep yourself from straying too close to that dark, terrifying thought, you started making a mental list of all the things you would need to take with you and what you would have to leave behind.

The fluorescent light started to flicker above you. Shooting it an annoyed frown, you started going through your things, looking for your old backpack. Finding it flattened out, kicked into the back corner of your closet, you pulled it out and shook off the dust before shoving some of Evvie's things into it.

The light continued to flicker and buzz until it gave one loud, final pop before leaving you, in complete darkness.

"Son of a...," looking up at the ceiling, you sighed and headed out in search of someone to change the bulb for you.

 

 

Walking up the stairs, you hit the landing and just as you were about to turn the corner into the hall, you heard Simon talking to someone.

“Negan's got his reasons. Just keep your eyes and ears open for anything suspicious. And if she is spreading those legs for anyone else, if any of them are even thinking about being unfaithful, the big man wants to know.”

Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit.

Panic ripped through you like a bullet as waves of nausea rippled and bubbled in your stomach, like a cauldron in a cartoon. After gulping down a few breaths of air, you gathered up some of your composure before rounding the corner, practically running face first into Simon.

Yelping, you jumped back in surprise.

Simon's fingers encircled your arm as he got his wits together, "Aww hell, Y/N, you nearly scared me half to death. You all right, hun?

As your heart raced, you managed to give a little nod .

Simon's mustached face grinned down upon you, "Is there something you need?"

Quickly, you explained to him about the light, "And it's just too high up for me to fix by myself."

"Wouldn't expect for you to do such a thing," he nodded over to the unfamiliar guy with a military style crew cut, standing a few paces behind him, "Madsen, why don't you go get one of those light bulbs from down in maintenance and help, the lovely Miss Y/N, out?"

The thin bodied Madsen gave Simon a quick nod as he shifted the weapon that was hanging off his shoulder before heading off on the errand.

Gently, taking you by the arm, Simon walked you back to your room, making small talk along the way. "Need anything else, Y/N? Want me to have someone bring you something to eat?"

With a shake of your head, you asked if Negan would be coming back tonight.

"Don't expect he'll be gone much longer. When he gets back, you want me to tell him you were looking for him?"

"Nah," you sigh, "I'm sure he'll be tired. Just tell him I said goodnight."

Carrying the long, fluorescent, light bulb in his hand, Madsen arrived at your door just as Simon was saying his goodbyes. You struggled to keep up your end of the banal conversation Madsen was attempting to have with you, but you kept going back to the one you overheard in the stairwell.

Though you could not ask, you needed to find out who it was Simon was talking about, who it was that Negan was suspicious of, and just what you were going to do "if" those suspicions had fallen upon you?

 

Chapter Text

 

The rumbling sound of trucks returning to the sanctuary had you rushing to find a window that would give you the view you desperately needed. For several minutes you watched Negan's men along with Arat hop out of the trucks and unload the newly pillaged loot, before Negan sauntered down the row of trucks, pointing this way and that, directing them and your heart stilled.

waiting

waiting

waiting

to beat again.

Your face grew warm and tears were threatening to blur your vision when you noticed there was someone being pulled roughly from the back of one of the trucks. A joyful feeling flowed through your chest as the all too familiar beige sweatshirt and messy hair, you had grown so very fond of, became clearer.

 

 

Later in the day, Sherry entered your room, looking none too pleased and after seeing the annoyance plastered on her face, you asked her what was going on?

  "He wants us all together."

  Groaning, you asked, "What is it now?"

  With a heavy sigh, she answered you, "Amber screwed up. Screwed up big."

  Following Sherry into the wives lounge, you startled when you not only saw Negan in the midst of a deep conversation with Amber but also Daryl, standing there with Dwight's hand tightly twisting his sweatshirt at he center of his back. He stood there, holding a plate in his hand, with his eyes cast down like he was Negan's house boy.

Was making him play the servant an upgrade or a demotion in Negan’s eyes? Either way, it was a demeaning to you, making you think back to something Negan had once said: 'You have to break them down before you can rebuild them into what you need.' It made your stomach turn to think that was his plan all along. To turn Daryl into one more obedient lapdog for him.

As you located an open seat across the room, you shot a sympathetic look Daryl's way and hurried to sit down hoping to obscure your uneasiness.

When Sherry skirted past Negan, she remarked with the bitterness of a grapefruit, "Next time, get Y/N yourself. I'm not your messenger."

  Catching her by the arm, Negan stopped her from advancing and gritted his teeth, "You are whatever I say you are, darlin'."

  Negan turned his head in your direction, flashing a big dimpled smile, "Welcome to the pregame, angel. I thought since your little friend is going to be busy helping me out today, there was no reason for you to be holed up in your room all by your lonesome."

  Pregame?

  Feeling as if you were missing out on some very pertinent information, you look over at Sherry for an indication as to what was going on, but after she caught your look, she just shook her head and stared at her nails.

  A teary, red faced Amber came into your line of sight, meekly, crossing the room to sit down next to you. In an attempt to console her, you put an arm around her. Welcoming the comfort, she leaned her head against you.

  Keeping eye contact with you, Negan pointed over to the boy in the room, you hadn't noticed was standing there, "I want you to meet the kid who just tried to kill me."

  A sinking feeling formed in your chest and you wanted nothing more than to make all of this go away. When you found your voice, you interrupted Negan, calling his name but never responded to you.

  His amused laugh worried you even more as he ignored you, "Let me tell you. This kid, right here, has got some serious, elephant sized balls. Don't you, Carl? Not like his bitch father. He stowed away on one of my trucks and killed several of my guys while trying to take me out."

  You shut your eyes in fear, "Let the kid go home. He doesn't need to be here."

  "That's where You. Are. Wrong. Carl came all this way, he deserves the full tour. Come on, we're going on a field trip."

  All of the wives, plus Dwight and Daryl, filed out of the room, following your husband and Carl as they headed down to the furnace room. There in the middle of the room, sat Amber's former boyfriend, Mark, tied to a chair as a crowd of people who resided in The Sanctuary stood in a circle around him, waiting.

  It was with much fanfare that Negan gave his speech. He said many words but you checked out as soon as he started speaking, casting nervous glances over to Daryl and that kid, Carl.

  There was something about the stench of seared flesh that never quite leaves you. Sure, it will linger in your hair, your clothes, on your skin but that would eventually fade after long bouts with soap and warm showers. What could never be scrubbed away was the memory it left behind.

  While Daryl mopped up the puddle of urine that Mark's bladder expelled during his time with the iron, you wiped away the tears from your eyes as you went over to check on how Amber was doing.

The rest of the day was spent with the other wives, attempting to comfort Amber. You tried so very hard to be present but your thoughts always managed to drift back to Daryl. What you were doing was no different than what Amber had done. Though your secret was safe for now, you knew the rules and still, you readily broke them. How much longer could you keep your crimes hidden without repercussion?

 

 

When morning finally arrived, Daryl was back and the second the door closed behind him, you had him wrapped in your arms. Frenzied, mouths and teeth and tongues collided, while hands tugged and gripped and stroked in what felt like far more places than either of you had hands and at that moment, you weren't exactly sure who needed who more.

Refusing to release any part of you, he walked you back toward the bed, leaving a trail of discarded clothes in your wake. When you eventually broke away from his mouth, an annoyed grumble followed your departure.

The tip of your nose, slowly, dragged against an unshaven cheek as one hand slid down over warm, taut skin until it located the already hard cock. Your fingers encircled his organ, stroking its velvety texture as it grew ever harder from your touch.

Slipping to the floor, you knelt before him and let your soft, pink tongue sweep and swirl over the spongy head. Brushing over his slit with your tongue, you alternate between tonguing the precum and the frenulum.

The cock stiffens further under your attention before you took him into your mouth. For a few minutes, you licked, sucked and ran your tongue up and down, playfully working the warm shaft and when you heard him moan, you cast your eyes upwards.

With the crown between your soft lips, you continued teasing him with your tongue as you took in his lax face, the half-lidded eyes, while his fingers, soothingly, comb through your H/C hair. The soft sounds of his approval encouraged you to continue, inciting even more delicious sounds, before taking his cock all the way down until the unruly public hair tickled and scratched and tickled at your nose.

After a while, Daryl dragged his spit soaked cock from your lips and pulled you up onto the bed, as he slid himself back against the headboard. The need for him was intense and you wasted no time aligning his cock before sliding down on his length with a lust-filled gasp as he fit inside of you, so perfectly, like the missing piece of a puzzle.

Before you even settled, he brought his mouth to your beckoning breasts, to suck, lick and nibble on the delicate, soft skin as you slowly start to move on top of him.

For several minutes after he came, the two of you lay there, panting and sweaty before he began kissing and licking your neck and along your shoulder. It was then, you went into emotional overload, ruining the moment by drenching his skin with tears.

It was with confusion that Daryl looked at you and asked with a kiss, “Why yuh cryin’ for?”

“When you... didn’t show I thought... ::sob::something terrible…::sob::but...you're here.::sob::.

Pulling you closer, he pressed his nose into your hair,"Thought yuh wasn't gonna see me again?"

With wet, red rimmed eyes, you looked up at him before pressing your forehead back into his chest. All you could do was cry.

He chuckled at your reaction, rubbing your back, "Take more than that to get rid a me."

Once you regained control over your emotions, you reached up to swipe at the dark hair and asked, "Where'd he take you?"

He shrugged,"Went for a ride. Watched 'em clean out Alexandria. Took stuff. Medicine, beds. "

"Your friends... how are they?"

"How you think they are," he quickly shot back.

Startled by the sudden burst of anger in his voice, you frowned, offering an apology.

Rugged fingers gently wiped the remaining tears from your face, "Nothin' for yuh tuh be sorry about."

But you were sorry. So very sorry. Though they were strangers to you, the people living in Alexandria were suffering because of your husband's actions. Maybe if you were stronger, had more influence over Negan, you could've prevented him from doing so much harm in the world but there was nothing you could do to make him listen or to make things better for the all people he'd hurt along the way but if given the opportunity, you vowed you would do everything in your power to try.

Chapter Text

 

While Daryl was in the shower, you took the opportunity to get out a piece of Evvie's bright yellow construction paper and with a black sharpie, you sloppily sketched out an escape plan from memory. There was an out of the way exit off the main floor, past some rooms that were used for storage, that was left unguarded. It would get him outside and onto a short path that would lead away from The Sanctuary. The path was in the open but there was a spot that would lead to a heavily wooden area. From there, he'd find his way. After all, the woods were his comfort zone.

The next thing you did was empty Evvie's things from your backpack, refilling it with some food you had in your room and a couple bottles of water, hoping it would be enough just to get him home. Though you didn't have a clue how far home was for him, you knew from some of his stories, he was resourceful, a survivor and he'd make whatever you packed for him last. The final thing you added to the pack, before zipping it up was Evvie's stuffed bear, the one she had tried to give him on the day they met.

You went back over to the bed and slipped your hand under the mattress. You felt around until your hand collided with what you were looking for. An old knife you kept for just in case scenarios because you'd always known that safety from the dead, even tucked away behind the walls of The Sanctuary, was never a hundred percent guaranteed.

When you heard the water turn off, you shoved the knife in the waistband of your pants and set the bag against the door before sitting on the edge of the mattress, waiting for him to emerge.

 

The way Daryl looked at you when he came out of the bathroom, was like he knew you had been plotting something but you couldn't let the suspicious look bother you. He had to get out of The Sanctuary and it had to happen now.

You got to your feet, meeting him half way and kissed his lips. Tugging on the sleeve of his borrowed flannel shirt, you smiled and said, “Come on.”

“Where we goin’?”

Pulling him toward the door, you picked up the backpack, shrugging it over your shoulder before holding the knife out to him, “I’m getting you out of here.”

He put the breaks on, holding you just out of reach of the door, "What?"

“Alexandria and your people, they need you. There are bigger things out there that you need to be a part of.”

His eyes had the look of a boy who just watched someone kill his puppy and he pulled his hand out of yours. Chewing the inside of his cheek, he started shaking his head as he said, “Nah… not goin’ anywhere without you.”

Though your heart fluttered at his words, he couldn't stay here with you anymore, “Please, Daryl, listen to me. If you don’t go, I am going to lose you. Maybe you’ll end up joining The Saviors or maybe I’ll lose you to something far worse but eventually it will happen and I will lose you.”

"Sendin' me away, ain't that losin' me too?"

"No. Sending you home is a choice. It's something I can control. Go back to Alexandria, fight with your people, put an end to all this fighting between the communities. And when it's all over, if it takes a week, a month or three years, I swear, I'll be waiting for you."

"Tole yuh before. You, me an' lil' girl, we all go or we don't. Made a promise."

With a morbid chuckle, you shook your head, "I'm not going to hold you to anything you said after sex. It was just nice that you made the offer."

He growled at you. His voice was so stern it was almost frightening, "Said, I keep my promises."

Defeated, you slumped down on the edge of the bed with a sigh and rubbed your forehead with the palm of your hand in frustration. What was it going to take to make his stubborn ass understand that he had to go? You couldn't sit around and watch your husband destroy Daryl like he had done to so many others.

It was with weary, frustration, you asked,"Why are you being so difficult?"

He sat down, taking your hand in his. As he stared down at the carpet, he rubbed circles with his thumb on your skin. The dark brown hair hung in his face, obscuring his expression from you, "There ain't been a whole lotta people in this world that cared for me an' I ain't come across many I cared for neither so I... I ain't walkin' away from this an' yuh can't make me."

Falling backwards on the bed, you said with a sigh, "What am I going to do with you, Dixon?"  

Shifting onto his side, he propped himself up on one arm while his free hand stroked the exposed skin between the hem of your tank top and the waistband of your pj pants,"Yer gonna leave wit me, when it's right. You an' yer lil' girl."

The look on your face must have worried him.

"Have yuh changed yer mind?"

Resting your hand on top of his,"You're the only thing I'm sure about."

 

 

The day wore on and eventually lunch was brought up to you. Daryl and you settled on the carpet, dangerously close to one another. Much to your surprise and delight, someone had been nice enough to include dessert on the tray. Forgoing any of the actual food, you went straight for the cake.

It wasn't until Daryl took a pause in eating that he looked over and saw you were covered in crumbs. With a half grin and a snort, he shook his head before leaning over to lick the mess from your face.

“Look at yuh. Makin’ a mess. Think yer worse at eatin’ than yer lil’ girl.”

You shrugged sheepishly, swallowing the cake stuffed in your mouth,“What? I like icing.”

With a grunt, Daryl wiped some stray crumbs from your lips with a rough thumb and said, "Couldn't tell. Glad yuh said somethin'."

Picking up a napkin, you finish wiping away the remaining crumbs and icing along with every trace of amusement that was left.

Taking his hand, you said,"You have to go."

"If I left when yuh said, I'da missed seein' yuh destroy that cake."

You frowned,"I'm being serious here."

"So am I. Took on that thing like you was a bobcat or some shit."

Stifling your laugh, you set your jaw and shoved him with your elbow,"Can't you just let me be mad at you?"

"We havin' our first fight?"

"Nah. This is more of a disagreement."

"Too bad."

Curiously, you tilted your head.

He brought his lips to yours, a hand was placed at the back of your head, drawing you closer, "Know how ta end a fight."

You hummed into his mouth and your hands cupped his face just as an unexpected knock on the door startled the both of you.

Chapter Text

The knock had startled him just as much as it did you, though, probably for different reasons. That Y/E/C eyed fear he saw staring back at him, once your lips parted, that’s when he finally understood how dangerous this was for you. Even before everything went to hell, death was jus how things went and it weren’t somethin’ he thought much about. Been hunting long enough to know that everything died, but you and him came from different places and if he had tuh guess he’d guess yuh never saw anything bigger than a bug meet it's demise.

Nah, dyin’ didn’t worry him, he’d stared it right in the eye a time or two, but you had yer lil’ girl to worry about. It wasn't a secret that you were scared of yer husband but that look on your face told him just how scared yuh was. If you was tuh get caught, his fate was already known but what Negan would do to you, no one had a damn clue.

You was the only one who was takin’ a risk an’ you was doin’ it cuz of 'im. Back before the walkers, someone like you woulda never look twice at some redneck asshole like him, ‘less he was fillin’ up yer tank or handin’ yuh change but you went an' said that yuh was fallin’…

He shook the missing words out of his head, as if thinkin’ about them too much or too long might make the memory fade an' he liked rememberin' you sayin' it to 'im and he’d spend every day showing yuh just how much yuh meant to him, too.

But he couldn't understand why you felt the way yuh did. He wasn’t anyone. Never done anything in his whole damn life to deserve the way yuh smiled at him but still, yuh did. An' he knew yuh meant it. There was somethin’ ‘bout the way yuh looked at him, even when yuh didn’t know he was payin' attention. In 'is whole life, no one looked at him like that an' if he wanted to keep it around, he needed to act quick. There was never gonna be a right time to bust outta The Sanctuary. It was always gonna be dangerous but the time had come for him to take you home.


Once he got yuh safe and away from from your… away from Negan, he’d take care of you and lil’ girl. Might not be able to give you a room full of books or clothes or a TV/DVD combo or whatever other fancy shit Negan showered you with, but he’d give you a home, a place to raise yer lil’ girl and you would never have to be afraid of him, or anyone, as long as he was around.

Trembling, your hand slipped out of his as you stood on shaky legs, waiting for the door to open.





There was a finite amount of time before whoever was outside your door would grow concerned and barge right in, sans invite. After a minor medical scare, Negan ordered the lock to be removed. At first, it had only been a mild inconvenience but now that you had something to hide, you wished you had been more forceful resisting its removal.

As the door slowly opened, your heart raced, pumping icy cold fear through your veins.

“Delivery,” sang Frankie, waltzing through the door and you finally allowed yourself to exhale.

"Damn, girl. That took forever. What were you doing in here," Frankie handed you the bag in her hand, "Doc asked me to bring this up to you.”

"I was in the...," you looked back toward the bathroom.

Understanding, she nodded with a smile as her eyes swept around your room, lingering on the unmade bed before landing upon the coffee table, "Looks like you got the good cake. Wasn't it delicious?"

Agreeing, you took the bag from your friend and opened it up, finding dozens of prescription bottles inside. Randomly, you pulled out a bottle and saw the word: Xanax. The next bottle your fingers reached for read Lexapro. The entire bag was a mishmash of Anti-depressants and Benzodiazepines. Everything you needed to help with your anxiety.

A pang of guilt pierced straight through your chest because, once again, Negan had come through, and for a second, you wished you could devour all of the Xanax to kill the guilt. But you weren’t sorry for falling for Daryl, not even a little, and you weren’t going to let a little bit of Negan’s kindness change that.

Frankie spoke again, relieving you from your thoughts, "There's enough shit in there to medicate Texas. Doc checked them out. Said that when you try something to make sure to check in with him. Let him know how you feel but something is bound to help you."

Raising the bag in mock toast, you smile, before placing it on the table, "Here's hoping."

Medication had always been a crap shoot but you'd been on one thing or another, for longer than you hadn't, and you could suss out what would work and what wouldn't pretty quickly.

"You should have him clean up around here. I know if I had someone just sitting around...," Frankie said, gesturing to Daryl with her head.

Your brow knit as your words came out far more defensively than what was intended, "Daryl's not here to be my maid."

"I know. I’m just saying, it'll give him something to do. I mean, why waste free labor?"

The annoyance you felt came oozing out through clenched teeth, "He has things to do."

"Right. Like eating cake and making sure you don’t get tired or whatever," Frankie rolled her eyes.

Get fatigued were the words she was failing to find. She would never understand what it felt to take a shower and by the end feel so exhausted you needed to lay down or how after a long day every part of your body could feel so insanely heavy that even thinking about moving hurt. No, Frankie would never understand until it happened to her.

With your cheeks burning from being judged, your eyes dropped to the carpet while you searched your brain for a topic change, "How's Amber? I've been meaning to see her but…"

“She's about how you'd expect but she understands. If she didn't, she'd be bitching so much, it'd get back to you, for sure.”





The small talk continued for a while before Frankie finally took off in a whirl of ginger hair. Once she was gone, you slumped down on the couch, feeling even more uneasy than you did before. Daryl pushed himself up onto the couch next to you and you leaned into him, letting your head rest against his arm.

Nodding toward the bag Frankie brought you, Daryl asked, “Whas all that for?”

“I…uh…get panic attacks.”

Threading his fingers with yours, he asked, “Why’s that?”

“Who knows," you sighed, with a shrug, "Did Frankie seem off to you?”

He turned his head and looked at you curiously, "How yuh mean?"

"I dunno," you pulled your hand away and start to fidget with your fingers,"Acting weird. Like she was looking for something?"

“Nah," Daryl mumbled, but he didn’t sound so sure, "Yer thinkin’ too much.”

You let out a mirthless chuckle, "Ain't that the truth."

After a long silence, he pushed the hair out of his face and asked, “What about tomorrow?”

Tilting your head in confusion, you asked, “What about it?”

Looking up into your eyes, a half smile started to curl on his lips, “We get the hell outta here.”

Chapter Text


 

He'd been runnin' on instinct his whole life. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't, but it kept him alive so far. Recently, though, he'd been second guessin' himself. Not about you. Nah, he only wanted to be where you were. The doubt he had was all on Alexandria. After everything he done, was he even welcome back there? After all, Glenn was dead cuz of what he done. Were his people, his friends, the people he thought of as family, blamin' him as much as he blamed himself?

Livin' there, he'd been on 'is own, hell, he'd always been on 'is own, 'cept for Merle and that didn't count, but now, in some bizarre plot twist, he'd become a we, part of an us and if he wasn't welcome then he didn't wanna be draggin’ yuh into a mess he caused all on his own. If it was jus' him, he could survive on 'is own, for a while, without a community, but he didn't want to be draggin' you and lil' girl around like that. You needed a place tuh be, a home tuh settle into with lil' girl. He said he'd give that to yuh, wanted yuh to have those things, and if he wasn't welcome back, where would he take yuh?

Now, if he was really being honest with himself, not bein' welcome back in Alexandria wasn't the only reason for 'im delayin' escapin' the Sanctuary.

The truth was he was afraid.

Scratch that.

That ain't the right word.

He wasn't afraid of nothin'.

But... he was worried.

Opening himself up to anyone scared the hell outta him. It wasn't somethin’ he did. Never had he'd been inclined to expose all them broken, gnarled pieces to anyone before. To him, that was scarier than his father bein' home in the middle of a bender, scarier than bein’ unarmed in the middle of a herd of walkers. Those things were nothin' compared to lettin' you see the whole dark and messy truth. Even though he told you some stories, on those rare times when he got to talkin', you didn't really know who he was or the things he done to make it this far. What if you saw that person and yuh start regrettin' leavin' with him or worse, it changed how yuh felt 'bout 'im.

Then, there was his history with women. It weren't like his dad an' Merle, set the best example when it came tuh women and the elder Dixon's reputations hung over his head like a cloud of shit. Sure, it was different now but back then, it limited him, to one nighters with the shady friends of the shadier women Merle would pick up. Pity sex, he imagined, cuz he sure as hell wasn't charmin' the pants off of 'em. Nah, between the two of 'em, Merle was the one who got all the charm when it came to women. No matter how shitty Merle was, it seemed he was always managin' to sweet talk one into his bed and talked their friend into spendin' the night with his little brother. But you wasn't like them women that was takin' one for the team. You had wanted him. Even kissed him first. Said you loved him. Treatin' yuh proper was somethin' he'd need tuh figure out on his own.

As he watched the surprise grow on your face, he wasn't sure if you reached for his hand or if he'd taken yours but when he noticed your fingers were entwined with his, he felt that warm feelin' start to fill in his chest again and he knew it was time to put all his worries to the side.

"Yeah? You mean it? Like, for real, for real?”

After giving an affirmative grunt, he replied as a small, half grin appeared, "Said it, didn't I?"

 

 

 

Later that night, you lay awake in bed as excitement and worry wrestled in your bones, making it impossible for you to fall asleep. You had packed hours ago and were ready to leave, though there was still one thing nagging in the back of your head, one thing left to be done.

Once you convinced yourself that you needed to do the right thing, you rolled out of bed, and zipped up your sweatshirt before forcing your feet into a beat up pair of Doc Martens. You stuffed your cigarettes into your pocket and headed out of your room.

 

With your nerves popping, you stood in front of his door, knocking once. A few moments passed until you heard Negan snap from inside, “Do you have any God damn idea what time it is? This better be real fucking important.”

Turning the knob, you poked your head around the door, “Did I wake you?”

He tried to rub the days exhaustion from his face, “Just winding down. It's a little late for a visit, isn't it?"

Once you slipped inside the bedroom, you hugged the wall and watched him settle into bed. You always liked Negan best when he was away from everyone. It was like he was a different person, one on one. Though Lucille was never far from his reach, his walls were down and the brutishness was all but gone.

He must have felt your stare and he raised his eyes to meet your gaze, "Got something on your mind, angel?”

“I…," with a small, genuine, smile, you explained, "I just wanted to thank you for the medication. Frankie brought it this afternoon.”

Negan returned the smile and moved to the center of the bed, motioning for you to sit next to him. Accepting the invitation, you perched on the edge of the bed, knowing it would be the last time you would have one of these late night chats with him.

Putting his arm around you, he said, “I'm just glad we found something for you.”

As you talked with him for a while, your smile began to, slowly, fade. His phrasing didn't sit well with you. Something felt off with him using the word "we". He didn't do anything. He wasn't the one who went out and looked for all those pills. No. All he did was instruct other people to do his bidding and every insignificant thing that cluttered your room was because someone else was risked their life. They risked, and sometimes lost, their lives so Negan could receive the praise, the thank yous, that he didn't deserve. Those poor men and women put their lives on the line because Negan saw them as expendable. Who made Negan the judge of who was and wasn't disposable? They were the ones who deserved the gratitude and when everything was said and done, you'd find a way to thank those people. You'd make right all the things Negan made wrong. There was going to be a lot of work ahead of you.

After you kissed him goodbye for the last time, Negan wrapped you in his arms and you pressed your head against his heart. You couldn't hold back the tears that were filling your eyes as they wandered up to meet his.

He asked, with a light chuckle, "Why are you doing that now, angel?"

With a shrug, you answered, "Just... there is a good man in there. I really hope you haven't forgotten that."

When he released you from his arms there was a perplexed look on his face. You touched his face and brushed your lips to his before heading for the door.

After you opened the door, you turned back to look at him as he was settling into bed, "If it's okay with you, I'd like to see Evvie tomorrow."

Without an argument, he agreed and you bid him good night. As you headed back to your room, the road to redemption had begun.







Chapter Text


From the passenger seat of a late modeled sedan, you drummed nervous fingers against your thigh as you stared at the blurred and unfamiliar scenery. The multiple shades of browns and greens were electric to your eyes. It had been a long time since you’d been out in the world and everything looked surreal, over-saturated. The long-haired man with the impish smile in the driver’s seat, who called himself Jesus, made polite conversation but his words were white noise to you. Too much had happened that morning and you needed to process.



First to arrive that morning was Daryl and with him came a strong concern that your late-night appeal for Evvie had slipped your husband’s mind. Stepping into the hall, you were expressing your concern to the Larry, when you heard Evvie squeal. Relief flooding you, as she broke free from Peggy's side and took off down the hall, throwing herself into your arms.

But your relief didn’t last long. After closing the door, you heard, "Yuh went an' saw 'im last night?" The jealous tibre in his voice made you cringe.

"Had to,” you answered as you set Evvie on the floor before looking up at him, “Had to see about getting her."

Cold, blue eyes were now scrutinizing you, and his words were bitter and full of mistrust, "That all yuh done?"

The question stung as you glared back at him and after a pause you shot back, "Why don't you just ask if I slept with him? That's what you’re really asking, isn't it?"

He shifted his weight uncomfortably, but the cold blue stare remained focused on you, "Well... did yuh?"

Even though the accusation enraged you, it was a fair question and you swallowed down your anger and calmly told him that you hadn't.

Satisfied with your answer, he nodded, curtly before rummaging around your room for anything that might be of use, while you settled on the floor and attempted to get Evvie into her sweater.

"Bug, come on, we can't go outside until you put your sweater on."

"Pay, mama?"

Nodding with a smile, you said, “Would you like that?"

Giggling, your daughter bounced and clapped her hands in excitement.

"You need to put on your sweater first."

And the mood quickly soured and Evvie started to fuss, wiggling away from you in defiance and tears, "No wan tuh."

You groaned in exasperation, “Come on, bug. Don't you want to go outside?"

"No!" she shouted, pulling the sweater out of your hand and flinging it on the floor before throwing herself onto the couch in a tear filled huff.

Putting the bag of goods aside, Daryl stopped his hunting and gathering to reason with your daughter. He squatted down in front of the couch, and tapped her on the arm to get her attention.

With tears and snot streaming down her face, Evvie raised her head up off the cushions with a sniffle to looked at him.

"Can't play til yuh put that on," Daryl said and held out his hand. Evvie crawled down off the couch, instantly taking the hand in hers.

“Come ‘ere,” he positioned her in front of him and cleaned off her face before walking her over to where you were waiting with the offending sweater in your hand, "Yuh gotta listen to yer ma, okay?"

His words worked like a magical balm and Evvie instantly stood still, allowing you to tug the little striped sweater onto her. As soon as you got it on her, she ran off to dig out her crayons and you mouthed a grateful "thank you" up at Daryl.

 

 

Rolling down the window, you rested your head on the ledge and let the fragrant scents of nature waft over your face. Jesus turned his head to look at you and asked if you were okay.

"It just... It all feels so strange."

Giving you a sympathetic nod, he asked,“When was the last time you were outside of Sanctuary?”

  “Oh god…," an embarrassed chuckle escaped you as you righted yourself in the passenger seat and let your head recline against the headrest, "Not counting the yard, I don’t even know. Pretty sad, huh?”

“Just give it time. It'll start to feel normal. Well, normal for how things are now.”

But you worried after what you saw earlier, things would never feel anywhere close to normal.

 

 

Ominously, a lone crow squawked in the distance as the three of you took your first steps toward a new life but you didn't make it far before Fat Joey rounded the corner, with a sandwich in his hand. Upon seeing you, he stopped in his tracks, calling out your name. In a panic, you froze, looking nervously over at Daryl, who changed direction, and headed directly toward Joey.

Putting his hands up in surrender, Joey started to plead, **"Woah! It's cool. I swear. Buddy, you can walk right out that back gate there, and I won't say anything to anybody. I'm suppose to be there now, but, listen. I'm... I'm just trying to get by, just like you. Please."**

Where or when Daryl picked up the pipe, you didn't know, but the moment he raised it, you knew something very bad was about to happen.

"No. Don't," you cried out and though, your words were louder than intended, they were drowned out by the sound of the pipe crashing into Joey’s skull.

Turning away with eyes shut, you held Evvie close against your chest,shielding her from the carnage. Every time the pipe struck Joey, the noise made your whole body tense up and your grip on Evvie grew even tighter.

A long haired man in the trench coat came out of nowhere and called out to Daryl just as he finished beating Joey into nonexistence.

“Come on, I’ve got a car.” the stranger called with a wave of his hand.

The pipe clanged, noisily, against the pavement causing you to look over. You couldn't help but see Joey's battered remains as Daryl walked, briskly, in your direction, keeping his head down.

Shifting Evvie onto your hip, you reached for his hand as he got closer. Daryl stopped, refusing to meet your eye, choosing instead to stare off at the row of motorcycles parked several steps away. His fingers anxiously twitched against your palm for a moment before he tore away, storming off toward the bikes.

“Get ‘em somewhere safe,” Daryl shouted at the other man, and seconds later, one of the motorcycles roared to life.

After Daryl had sped off and was no longer was visible to your eyes, you sought out the stranger, who was motioning for you to follow. Years of being taught about stranger danger had you wavering before you let your feet to follow the strange man to a new life.


 

Pulling up to the gates of The Hilltop, you suddenly grew anxious when you didn’t see any signs of Daryl or the pilfered bike. Noticing your sudden unease, Jesus gently patted your arm before getting out of the car. "There isn’t any reason to be nervous. The people at Hilltop, they're are all good people,” he paused then continued adding a chuckle, “Except maybe for Gregory.”

After speaking with an armed man, standing guard at the gate, Jesus returned to the car and opened your door. With a gentle smile and a nod of his head, Jesus beckoned you out of the car,"It's okay, Y/N/. He's already inside."

Knowing he was safe, inside the heavily guarded walls, your trepidation subsided, giving you the courage to step out of the car and wrestle Evvie out of the backseat.

Chapter Text

Once the gates of Hilltop shut behind you, you breathed a sigh of relief, knowing you were safe, at least, for now. From behind, you felt a tap you on the shoulder, making you jump.

"Didn't mean to scare you," Jesus stood there looking, sheepish, "I want to introduce you to Maggie."

You followed Jesus through the Hilltop, and stopped at a small trailer. After he knocked on the door, you were welcomed inside by a friendly but tough looking woman, no older than you were.

Sitting down at a table was another woman, about your age, as well, and Jesus quickly made the introductions. Though, her eyes were weary, Maggie welcomed you with a warm smile.

After a brief back and forth with Jesus, Maggie said, "I’m sure you and your daughter will want to rest some, maybe get cleaned up. We can talk after.” Maggie then called over a teenage girl and gave her instructions to take you inside and find you an unoccupied room.

Jesus said goodbye and promised he'd come see you later before the girl, Enid, led you toward the big house. Taking you up the staircase, she pointed out the bathroom before opening a door to a bedroom, “This should be okay for now. Sorry we don’t have a crib for your daughter, though.”

“It’s fine. Just grateful to be able to rest for a bit. Aren't we, bug? We’re gonna take a little nap and you get to sleep on the big bed.”

Without protest, Ever rubbed at her nose before she yawned and rested her head back on your shoulder.

Leaning against the doorframe, Enid said, "There are towels in the bathroom, if you want to wash up. Would you like something to eat?"

"Thanks, we're good right now," you set Evvie down in the middle of the queen sized bed, before asking, "Have you seen... Do you know Daryl?"

"Yeah, sure."

Evvie perked up, "Daw? Where Daw?"

Sitting down, you placed your hand on Evvie's leg to quiet her, "If you see him..."

Looking surprised, Enid cut you off and asked,"He's here?"

"The man at the gate said he arrived before we did."

Enid nodded, "If I see him, I'll let him know where you are."

After thanking Enid, she left you alone in the strange bedroom, in this foreign land. You settled Evvie under the covers and slid in next to her, curling protectively around her.


 

 

The creaking of the door, instantly, woke you from your brief snooze. You lifted your head and with unfocused eyes tried to make out the blurry figure that was slipping, stealthily, into the room.

Untangling yourself from Everly's grip, you sat up and rubbed your eyes.

Standing against the wall, Daryl looked more pensive than usual as he said,"Didn't mean tuh wake yuh."

Relieved. you spun around and placed your feet on the floor, “Can you watch Evvie, just make sure she doesn’t roll off the bed or anything? I need to pee.”

Mumbling his consent, you headed out of the room but not before taking his hand and giving him a quick peck on the cheek.

You weren't gone for more than a few minutes but what you found when you came back made you pause in the doorway so not to disturb them. Damn, how you wished there were still cameras because it was an image you wanted to remember.

At some point, Evvie had made her way onto Daryl's lap, her head, resting, against his chest as he sat upright, against the headboard in the center of the bed, with his eyes closed and one arm was wrapped around her, keeping her close.

“I think she likes you,” you smiled and his blue eyes squinted opened as you walked across the room and slipped back into the bed next to him, “Want me to take her?”

Looking down, he checked Evvie, breathing softly against his shirt, “Probably shouldn’t move ‘er.”

You stroked the back of Evvie’s head then rested yours against Daryl's shoulder before thanking him.

"Fer what?"

Taking his free hand in yours, you said, "For this. For you. For giving me a reason to leave."




The second time you woke up, Daryl was nowhere to be found so you roused Evvie and decided to head out to take a look around. After wandering for a few minutes, Enid found you and took you outside to a picnic table where Maggie was sitting.

Putting Ever down on the bench, you rummaged through your bag for something that would occupy your daughter.

“Aren’t you just a little doll," Maggie commented, directing a smile over at Ever, who was busying herself with the broken crayons, scribbling in the dog eared coloring book, "How old is she?”

“About year and a half.”

“Was it difficult?”

"About 15 hours of labor," you shook the exhausting memory from your head, "And this one did not want to come out. I joked that she must've known what was waiting for her and was all…oh hell no. I’m not going anywhere.”

"I don't blame her one bit for that," Maggie chuckled,“It'd be nice if you’re here when I... I’d like someone around whose been through it.”

“You’re…," you asked, in surprise.

With a small nod, Maggie smiled but it wasn't a completely happy one. It was a smile that held an ocean of sadness behind it.

Congratulating her, you smiled back, remembering when Daryl told you that there was a baby on the way in his community, "Yeah, sure but I don't know how much help I'll be."

The both of you talked until the sun started to set. After you had something to eat, Maggie took you for a walk over to the area of the Hilltop where several RVs were parked in a row and opened the door to one.

The trailer was outdated, with dark brown faux wood walls and stained shag carpet. It was musty and drab but it had a bed and a bathroom and best of all, freedom. There was no doubt in your mind it would quickly feel like home.

“It’s not Buckingham Palace but I don’t suspect much is these days,” Maggie said, with an apologetic shrug as she forced opened a window, “Maybe if we air it out…”

You smiled appreciatively then looked around for Evvie, finding she had already pulled her bear from your backpack and climbed up onto the built – in couch, her head resting upon it's rough grey arm, “It’s perfect.”

“Jesus is out looking for a crib and other things you might be able to use but I’m going to ask around. Maybe… we can find you an upgrade.”

“That’s not necessary. Really, this is fine. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”

As Maggie was heading out, she left you a final warning, "When you run into Gregory, and, unfortunately, you will, don't pay him any mind. I didn't."

Aside from Daryl, you couldn’t remember the last time you made a real friend, but you were pretty sure you just did.

 

Chapter Text

The atmosphere in tiny trailer had grown tense as the heated standoff between you and your eighteen month old, over bedtime, continued. Standing her ground, Evvie stood against the fake wood wall, defiantly motionless, with a pout that covered her entire being like a big blanket of nope.

Standing by the bed with the covers pulled down, you implored Evvie over to the bed, "Come on, bug. It's been a long day, baby, and mama is ragged."

Evvie's entire face scrunched up as she whined, "Noooooo seeeeep."

"Please, Ev, come lay down next to bear," you picked up her stuffed bear and waved it at her, "Bear can't go to sleep without you."

"No," she shook her head, her dark brown hair flying everywhere, "Dada ny ny."

Shit. You didn't see that coming. It never even crossed your mind that Negan might have had a nighttime ritual with Evvie. You scratched at your nose and yawned as you said,, "Baby, daddy isn't here."

And then came the hysterics. Fat tears rolled down pudgy cheeks, turning Evvie's face into a blotchy Impasto of sadness. In between the sobs and the hiccups, Evvie repeatedly said as she slid down the wall, falling to the floor in a heap, "Wan Dada."

Joining her on the floor, every attempt you made to comfort your daughter was rebuffed, and she pulled away, continuing to cry.

Each and every one of those tears had you feeling like the worst mother in the entire history of motherhood for not being able to console her. You had no idea how long you sat there, a prisoner forced to listen to her heartbreaking sobs, when the trailer door opened. <{>Heavy footsteps stomped against the floor and the familiar voice followed, calling out, "Someone gettin' murdered in here?"

Though, the tears continued, Evvie pushed herself off the carpet and stumbled over to Daryl, wrapping her arms around his leg. He lifted the crying child into his arms and started whispering in her ear. Evvie started sniffling, holding back her tears, as he slowly calmed her down while walking over to you.

Getting up off the floor, you gave him a weak smiles. "Someone thinks we don't need to sleep."

"No seep," Evvie lifted her head and whined, rubbing her nose with a fist before burying her tear and snot covered face back into Daryl's shirt.

He bounced her in his arms,"We all gotta sleep, lil' girl."

Raising her head from Daryl's shirt, Evvie looked at him as if she were contemplating his words. "Bear seep?"

Daryl sat down on the edge of the bed and Evvie reached for the stuffed bear, handing it to him.

Holding the bear awkwardly in his hand, Daryl nodded and set the toy on top of a pillow, "Bear needs tuh sleep too."

Evvie wiped her face on the front of Daryl's shirt and called you over to the bed as she crawled off of Daryl's lap and snuggled next to bear.

It didn't take long for Evvie to fall asleep, allowing you and Daryl to carefully slip out of bed. Quietly, you rummaged through your bags and pulled out one of Negan's shirts before closing the accordion style door, separating Evvie from the rest of the trailer.

Unlatching the rickety kitchen table that was attached to the wall, you placed the shirt on top of it and said, "If you leave your shirt, I'll get it clean for you."

Standing by the door with twitchy limbs, Daryl's face wore the same pensive look he had earlier. "Don't need to be doin' that."

Scoffing, you said, "Don't be silly. You don't want to be walking around Hilltop covered in Evvie's slobber."

"Been covered in worse," he shrugged, still looking uncomfortable.

Placing your hands on the table, you leaned on them and watched him with concern, "Is something wrong?"

He shook his head in exasperation and shouted at you. "What - er yuh doin' here, holed up in this shit trailer, an' for what? For someone yuh don’t hardly know. What you seen back there today ain't the first time I killed someone, an' I'll do it again. It's who I am.”

Straightening up, you nodded slowly, taking in his comments, and the word survivor instantly came to mind, "Those other people, why'd you kill them?"

Angry eyes shot in your direction, "What yuh mean why? I done it. Why don't matter."

"Context always matters," you looked back at him, sadly, "Was it because people were in danger? So they could survive?"

Shrugging, he shifted his stance and grunted, "Most of 'em."

"And today?"

He turned his head, mumbling,“I dunno.”

“Well... it looked a lot like survival to me.”

"You don't know nuthin'," he snapped before grumbling, “Shouldn’t’ve taken yuh here.”

“Don’t do that," you shook your head and took a tentative step in his direction, "Don’t push me away when we’ve only just gotten here. At least wait til tomorrow. It's been a long day. If you don’t like me in the morning… we can deal with it then. After breakfast would be ideal."

Your lighter, joking tone at the end seemed to go over his head and his solemn stance remained, "Like yuh just fine. Just... didn't need tuh be seein'..."

Cutting him off, you said,"You mentioned doing those things before."

"Hearin' 'bout it and seein' it in front of yuh ain't the same."

"True...but I didn't see much," slowly and hesitantly, you reached to uncurl his tightly clenched fist then slipped your hand into his,"I, uh, shut my eyes."

Giving him a wink, you led him over to the couch and sat him down before straddling his lap, your knees pressed into the hard grey couch cushions, arms draped upon his strong shoulders while your fingers stroked the nape of his neck.

Drawing his head back against the couch, confused eyes looked up at you, "Whut are yuh..."

"First night in a new place. It's bad luck if we don't christen at least one room," you leaned into him, letting your lips ghost over his, teasing out a small grin.

One of Daryl's hands rested on your hip as the other drew you closer to his mouth. Before his lips found their way to yours, his eyes studied yours carefully, "Bad luck, huh?"

Your affirmative reply fell into his mouth as his tongue slipped into yours, and through the denim of his pants, he grew harder beneath you.

Chapter Text

On the first day of this, your new life, the morning, lazily, worked its way through the trailer's windows, stirring you from out of your slumber. Even if it had been gloomy and grey outside with rain pouring down from the sky, it still would have been a perfect way to wake up because you were nestled in the comfort of Daryl's sturdy arms. He slept, upright, against the couch, keeping you close and though, the stained, the shag carpet left its angry imprint upon your thigh, and the position left your neck stiff, still, the moment filled you with a warm glow.

With your head on Daryl's chest and an arm bent upon his abdomen, Daryl's fingers, were gently, carding through your hair and though, you knew you couldn't stay like that forever, but you wanted just a little more time before the day began. Once your eyes fluttered open Daryl pulled his hand away as if he had been caught in the cookie jar.

Stretching out the kinks in your joints, there was a smile in your eyes as you gazed at his half hidden face, and sleepily said, "Morning."

To cover up the shy little grin that was beginning to grow, he brought his thumb to his lips and started to gnaw at the skin as he mumbled back a "hey."

Sitting up, you threw a leg over his lap to straddle him and pulled his hand away, replacing it with a long, slow, kiss. Tongues teased each other as his hands crept under your shirt to caress your skin. Strong hands descended to the base of your spine before wrapping around your hips, keeping you planted upon his lap.

The kiss carried on for several minutes and would have led to more but the cranky sounds of a just woken up Evvie put an end to those ideas. Your forehead rested against his collarbone for a long moment as your daughter toddled toward you, dragging bear along with her.

"Morning, bug," you said, sliding off Daryl's lap, landing on the floor before Evvie settled down on yours with an annoyed, just woken up, pout. You combed through her unruly, morning hair with your fingers before placing a kiss upon her head.

Moments later, Daryl pushed himself off the floor, mumbling something about finding something to eat, as he ruffled Evvie's hair and headed to the bathroom.

 

 

After Daryl finished eating, he immediately stood up from the picnic table but you grabbed his hand to keep him from leaving.

"Want to have that talk now?"

  Squeezing your hand, he placed a kiss on the side of your head, telling you he'd see you later before taking off, leaving you to your own devices.

With Evvie in tow, you took a walk around The Hilltop, exploring the mysterious community. It was on your adventure that you ran into Jesus and he asked if you wanted to take a walk over to see the garden.

"Did you settle in all right?"

Scratching at your arm, you nodded, keeping your eyes firmly planted on Evvie who had scampered ahead of you, excited by the dandelions she thought were flowers. "Yeah. I'm just happy that she gets to experience a world outside the Sanctuary."

"So, she was born there?"

"First time outside those walls." Shit. You knew the next sentence before Jesus could even open his mouth.

"What happened to her father?"

Pausing for just a little too long, you thought about how to answer the question. Someone was bound to ask you that very question, eventually, but you never planned on how you'd respond. Should you lie? You really didn't want to start off your life outside the Sanctuary lying to people but you feared the truth would only put a bullseye upon your daughter's back.

Noticing the extended silence, Jesus stammered, apologetically,"I'm sorry. That's none of my..."

"No. It's... fine. It's just complicated."

Jesus chuckled,"What relationship isn't?"

You agreed with a smile and built up the courage to say, "He's, uh, back at The Sanctuary."

The look of shock bled into his words, "He's alive?"

Running back to you, Evvie interrupted you before you could answer, holding a fist full of already wilting dandelions for you to see, "Mama, look! Pwetty."

Looking down at your daughter, you placed your hand on her head and indulged her excitement over the weeds, "Very pretty, bug. Do you remember what color that is?"

Scrunching her face, in thought, she smiled brightly, "Yow."

"Very good, they are yellow. Do you want to go pick some more?"

As she scampered off, you continued your conversation with Jesus, "Turned out, her dad wasn't such a good guy."

Placing a comforting hand upon your arm, Jesus gave you a sympathetic look as you continued toward the garden, "Then it's good you're here."





Once you reached the garden, you offered your services and helped do some weeding while Evvie played around in the dirt. While you worked, a couple of the residents came over and introduced themselves. Casually chatting while you worked under an afternoon sun. It felt good to work, even if it was something as simple as gardening, it was still more than Negan ever let you do. You blatantly ignored that your old friend fatigue had begun inching its way into your limbs. When the fatigue became too difficult to ignore, you sat on the ground, defeated by your illness, close to where your daughter played and took a break. It wasn't long after that, when you heard someone yelling in the distance that The Saviors were coming.

Before you could exhale the breath you didn't realize you were holding, Daryl came out of nowhere and went straight into protective mode. Yelling for you to follow him, he scooped Evvie into his arms. It was Maggie who noticed the difficulty you were having and she helped you to your feet. You followed as fast as you could as Maggie and Daryl sought out somewhere safe to hide. The search ended inside of a storage pantry.

Quickly, Daryl got to work, moving crates and boxes around, barricading the four of you behind the wall he created. Hushing Evvie, you whispered to her that you needed to play the quiet game again and held her against your chest as you nervously waited, sweating from the heat, in the small space, for something to happen.

The tension in the tiny space grew all the more tense, even before the unaccompanied Savior stepped inside the pantry. There was something else going on, something strained and unspoken between Daryl and Maggie and you were getting the feeling it went beyond The Saviors being at The Hilltop.

The very thought of going back to Sanctuary scared the hell out of you, but you knew it would be better for everyone if you were the one to be found than if Daryl or Maggie,were so you made a snap decision. Stepping out from the corner you were crammed into, you said, with every ounce of courage you could muster,“Let me go. They’ll leave as soon as they have someone. You’ll be safe.”

“Ain’t goin' nowhere.” The knife in Daryl's hand made his whispered words seem far more menacing then they were meant to be.

Opening your mouth to protest, Maggie put her hand on your arm and shook her head, stopping anything else from leaving your mouth and you retreated back into the shadows.

With the knife raised in preparation, Daryl remained crouched low, peeking through a crack in the barricade, waiting for his chance to take out the nameless savior while he continued to rummage around the pantry.

Maggie stopped Daryl before anything drastic could be done. They exchanged hushed, yet, heated, words, you could not decipher from where you were seated but you could clearly see his face as he broke down and started to cry. The agony on his face and in his sobs, showed you just how much pain Daryl had been carrying around inside of him, bringing tears to your eyes.

 

 

After safely avoiding the saviors, you went back to the trailer and soon Evvie was fast asleep on the couch. Retiring to the bedroom, your curiosity was getting the better of you and though you didn't want to dredge up whatever had upset Daryl that afternoon, you, instead, asked where the father of Maggie’s baby's was.

Daryl's response answered all the questions you had, making your stomach twist violently. As tears began to blur your vision, you grabbed for your things, hastily, throwing them into the empty backpack.

From the edge of the bed, Daryl watched with worry, “Where yuh think yer goin'?”

Shaking your head, you couldn't bring yourself to look at him, “I can’t stay here. Negan, he hurt so many of these people.”

With your body, tired and heavy, fatigued from the day, your legs shook from exertion, causing you to stumbled as you tried to move to the living room.

Jumping up from the bed Daryl, quickly, reached for you, steadying you before pulling the backpack from your shoulder, “Why? Yuh ain’t done none uh them things.”

You sobbed, “But he did. He did such terrible things and Evvie and I, we're an extension of that cruelty.”

“Those things ain't on yuh. Ain't got a mean bone in yuh," he said as he wrapped his arms around you and rested his chin atop your head, " 'sides, if yuh go, just gonna have tuh go after yuh. An' I'll find yuh. Don't want tuh be testin' my trackin' skills."

Daryl held you for a while, before moving you to the bed. Once he got you settled in, he slid in behind you and held you close, comforting you, until you cried yourself out, falling into a much needed sleep.

Chapter Text


It was time to wake up when the strong, comforting arm, that had held you throughout the night finally released you and you heard Daryl say, “C’mere, lil’ girl. Let yer ma sleep.”

With a head, aching and heavy, from all the crying you had done, you slowly rolled onto your back into the still warm space on the mattress that was left by Daryl just moments before. You had almost gotten yourself into a seated position, when Evvie tackled you, forcing you down onto your back, giggling wildly.

Reaching out to give Evvie a little nudge, Daryl grumbled, "Suppose tuh let your ma sleep."

"Noooooo. Up, mama. Up," with determination, Evvie pushed at your chest.

"I'm up. I'm up,"you groaned, the weight of your daughter, sitting on your torso, like a sack of potatoes, made it difficult to sit up and you nudged Evvie onto the bed and shot Daryl a sleepy smile, "It's the thought that counts, right?"

 

 

Before you could even think of putting anything in your queasy stomach, there was something you had to do. Leaving Daryl to get Evvie fed, you located your target, and with great trepidation, you headed over to where Maggie was seated. When she turned her head, smiling up at you, tears erupted from your eyes, all over again.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know,” you cried, “Please understand, I was kept in the dark about so much.”

You continued to babble incoherently, apologizing and explaining as the tears continued flowing down your cheeks, garbling your words before a very confused Maggie put her hand on your arm, to stop you.

With a confused chuckle, she said, "You need to breath."

Composing yourself for a moment, you blurted out, “Daryl, he told me what happened to your husband.”

At the mention of the memory, Maggie’s eyes closed and her body stiffened, as if reliving the nightmare all over again,"Why? What…?”

“It’s only fair that you know… I am…I was… shit. Maybe I still am? I don’t know,” a nervous chuckle escaped before you could continue, “What I’m trying to tell you is that I was one of Negan’s wives.”

Maggie’s jaw dropped at your admission.

“and Evvie’s…”

Swallowing the lump stuck in her throat, Maggie nodded, slowly understanding “…she’s his daughter.”

“I needed you to hear it from me. I'm so sorry, so, so sorry. I could never make any of the things he did right, but if there was, I swear, I would. You gotta believe me."

You paused watching for Maggie's reaction before going on,"I’ll understand if you don’t want us here… I’ll leave right now and you’ll never have to see us again.”

The long silence in between your words and hers was hell on your nerves.

She wiped away the unshed tears that had fixed themselves in her eyes, and took a deep breath to compose herself, “Please, I don’t want you to leave. I don’t want to lose anymore people. Besides, if you try to go anywhere, I’m pretty sure Daryl’s just going to hunt you down and bring you right back.”

Through your tears, a small chuckle forced its way out, “He said the same thing.”

“Anyway, you can't go anywhere until I hear all about how that happened.”

As Maggie noticed your confusion, she quickly explained, “You and him. One day, we’ll have to sit down so you can tell me all about it. I'm going to need that mystery solved.”

It was the least you could do. Through your tears, you managed to sniffle out the words with a smile, “Just name the day.”



Unexpectedly, the Alexandrians arrived at the Hilltop, later that day. You stood on the sidelines, silently, watching the impromptu reunion. Though, you were glad Daryl was reunited with his people, you felt awkward and out of place and maybe just a little bit intimidated. It was clear from the moment they saw Daryl, they weren’t just people who knew him, they were his family.

When he noticed you were standing off to the side, Daryl slipped over toward where you stood and slid his hand in yours, tugging you out of your hiding spot. Though, he made no introductions and gave no explanation, it seemed just the simple act of taking your hand explained everything.

A woman with a sword strapped to her back sized you up along with the little girl in your arms as she moved toward you. Her hard expression melted into a smiled, “You’re the wife.”

Startled, your heart pounded as she continued, “Got a little visit from the Saviors. Said if we found Daryl, the wife and kid would be close by. Looks like we’re just going to have to hide you better.”

Giving her a grateful smile, you said with your next breath, “The samurai.”

Your words got laugh from her, “I’m surprised you even got that much out of him.”

“Pwetty, ” Evvie reached out for the new woman and her dread locked hair, babbling before trying to put a strand in her mouth, giving the samurai another hearty laugh.

Evvie whined as you freed the samurai from your daughter’s grip, “No, bug. We don’t do that. I’m so sorry.”

Upon hearing Evvie’s whine and your admonishment, Daryl turned toward you and put his arms out, taking her from you, “You causin’ trouble there, lil’ girl?”

Evvie grinned cheekily, shaking her head.

“No, huh,” he frowned at her, “Are yuh lyin’ to me?”

“Noooowah,” she giggled.

“I think yuh are.”

Evvie started laughing as Daryl bounced her in his arms.

Several pairs of eyes stared at the interaction, filled with unasked questions, until it was decided to continue on inside. Not wanting to impose on their reunion any longer than you had to, you reached out to relieve Daryl from your daughter. “Here. Let me take her.”

“I got ‘er,” Daryl insisted, shifting Evvie to his side. His free hand reached down for yours, making sure you followed him.



Anger and tears filled you as you listened to how Negan continued to terrorize these people and the other communities. The only logical solution to put an end to the terror was a war, to take Negan out of power. Though you didn't like the idea of more violence, more death, admittedly, you were biased. Negan would always be the father of your child, and even if you didn't want to see him again, you certainly didn't want his death to be the reason. So, you remained silent as the group discussed their ideas and made their plans.

Several times during the afternoon, Daryl attempted to convince you to go along with everyone to The Kingdom, but you insisted on staying behind, not wanting to intrude on their business any longer. As you walked him out to the truck, he tried to convince you one last time but, again, you refused.

“Sure yuh’ll be all right?”

Giving him a curt, reassuring, nod, you said, “I’ll be fine. Now, go. Be with your friends.”

You stood at the gate, watching the truck get further away, until it turned into a tiny speck on the road before heading back toward the trailer. You wondered what a war with The Saviors would be like and you hoped to hell that these new people, that you chose to align yourself with, were capable of emerging victorious because if they weren't...

Chapter Text

Though you wore no watch, every second still turned into a minute, but instead of an hour, each of those minutes that you were separated from Daryl felt like an eternity. Not that you were clingy, by any means, it was just that you didn't realize how empty the trailer would feel without him being there but it was the space where he slept that felt the most desolate of all.

To help you from dwelling on all the terrible "what if" scenarios that played out in your head, you settled into bed next to Evvie as her little body splayed out in a ridiculous X, arms and legs akimbo, hogging the mattress, leaving you to teeter on the edge. Never fully awake, yet always on alert, you spent the night in a hellish state of half sleep, listening for any sign of his return.


 

 
There were still no signs of the group when you woke up so you trudged through your morning routine and after breakfast, you headed back to the trailer to clean up Evvie after she managed to get jam all over herself.

The door to the trailer opened while you were scrubbing the sticky red mess from Evvie's face and hands, and you called out in excitement, “Daryl? We're in the back. We had another jam disaster.”

“It's just me,” Jesus yelled as the door shut behind him and he headed toward the bedroom, "Sorry to disappoint."

Setting Evvie onto the floor, you felt your heart plummet into the acidic pit of your stomach as you stood up, “Did something… Is Daryl... Is everyone okay?”

“Everyone is fine. Just..." Jesus paused, catching the worry that had crept back on your face, "the King has offered him asylum, but he’d be more inclined to stay where he'd be safe if you were there. I can take you to him when you’re ready to leave.”

Relieved, you smiled and asked, “So are you, like, my own personal Sherpa?”

“Looks like,” Jesus chuckled as he squatted down to Evvie's eye level and ruffled her hair, "It breaks up the monotony and it gives me time to hang out with this little one."


 

 

Entering The Kingdom gates reminded you of the moment when Dorothy Gale stepped out of her black and white world and into the technicolor land of Oz. Bright and flourishing, a vast contrast to the sepia world you had left behind. Every direction you turned, the people appeared to be happy as they passed you by, going about their business, and unlike the Sanctuary, the voices that filled the air were not juxtaposed with the chilling sounds of the dead.

Jesus tapped you on the shoulder, shaking you from out of your reverie, "Come on, Y/N. There's someone's waiting for you."



 
 

Walking into the dark, quiet of the auditorium, the first thing that caught your attention was the tiger upon the stage and when Evvie noticed the animal, she had only seen in books, and she quickly put an end to the silence.

“Kit-eeeee,” Evvie squealed in delight, her voice echoing in the darkness.

As soon as Daryl heard her voice, his head whipped around and he jumped down from the stage. He headed up the incline to get to you. As soon as he got close enough, he placed a hand on Evvie’s head before his other hand pressed on the small of your back, “Jesus get yuh here okay?”

Leaning your shoulder into him, you nodded, "Still in one piece."

“Kit-eee, mama.” Evvie pointed at the stage and struggled to get out of your arms.

“I see the kitty, bug.”

“Wan,” Evvie wiggled with more urgency.

“Give 'er here,” Daryl held out his arms, which Evvie, eagerly, lunged into, and he took her down to the stage to give her a better look.

The tiger paced back and forth in it's cage as Daryl set her down. She bounced in excitement, giggling as the tiger rubbed against the bars with a purr.

Evvie tugged on Daryl’s pant leg with all the urgency that an impatient child could muster,“Me do.”

Though, you were completely confidant Evvie was safe with Daryl, the mama bear in you wanted to snatch her away from the cage, “Please, be careful.”

Daryl bent down and once he deemed it safe, he took Evvie's hand in his, slipped it through the bars and let her little fingers brush against the tiger's soft fur. When the cat purred again, she turned her head to look at him with wide-eyed exhilaration.

"Yuh like that," Daryl returned her excitement with a bemused grin before picking Evvie back up, “C’mon. Gonna give yer ma a heart attack.”

From behind you came a deep, booming chuckle,"Ah! To be so curious and unafraid. It is truly a gift only to be found in the young.”

You spun around to see who was there and you took in the long greying hair and the crazy cosplay clothing. “I heard we had some new arrivals. Welcome. I am King Ezekiel. You must be Y/N."

Giving him a grateful smile, you thanked him for offering to let Daryl stay at The Kingdom.

"To offer safe accommodations is the least I can do. It pleases me tremendously that you have also accepted my invitation."

As Daryl joined the conversation, the king turned his attention toward him, “Now I see why you were so insistent on getting back to them. You are a lucky man, Daryl.”

Turning your head, you caught Daryl burying his, now, blushing face against Evvie and you couldn't help teasing him a bit. Nudging him with your elbow, you said with an amused grin, “Aww. Did you miss me?”

The King clapped his hands before Daryl could respond. “Jerry, would you please show our new friends to their accommodations so they can rest before lunch. Then I would like it very much if you would dine with me.”

 

Following the friendly man out of the auditorium, Evvie reached out to grab a handful of The King's hair. He laughed at her attempt but Daryl caught her hand immediately, receiving a frustrated whine for his trouble.

  "Hey. Hey. Hey," he bounced her in his arms and gently admonished her, "Yuh can't be grabbin' on people like that, lil' girl."

 

 

As Jerry led you to the room, he said he'd come get you when it was time for lunch. You thanked him before you plopped down onto the double bed with a relaxed sigh. Here you were in another new room, with another new bed and you wondered just how much newness you'd have to get used to.

Interrupting your thoughts, Daryl said, “Don’t haveta go nowhere if yuh wanna sleep.”

“No, no. I'm fine. It’d be rude not to accept the King's invitation. Anyway, how often does one get to dine with royalty,” you smiled, trying to lighten his surly demeanor.

He scoffed, “Ain’t no damn king. Let’s The Saviors walk all over him. Needs tuh step up or someone's gonna dethrone his ass.”

Recalling what Jesus told you in the car about how badly the meeting went, you nodded, “We’ll just have to change his mind, now, won't we?”

Daryl rubbed the back of his neck and said with a grunt,“Must like wastin' yer breath.”

Even if he didn’t care much for social pleasantries or being social, period, you generally liked people until the very moment they proved themselves unworthy and you were open to giving the king a chance .

“Maybe so... but, at least we can try to persuade him and we’ll get a meal out of it, maybe even a fun story,” you smiled but all you got in response was a grumble as he moved closer the bed.

“Should just tire yuh out so yuh don't want no lunch," he pushed you back on the bed, slowly crawling up your body until his mouth was hovering, seductively, above yours.

His warm breath fluttered over your skin,"I did, yuh know?”

"Did what," your question fell against his lips.

"Missed yuh," he replied as his mouth made contact with your lips before moving down to the delicate skin on your neck, sending a wave of desire straight to through you and for a moment you thought maybe you didn't need to have lunch.

Your hand tangled in his unwashed hair as his mouth skillfully worked his way back to yours and that's when you heard the sound of a zipper being unzipped. Your eyes widened in shock and you shook your head before gesturing toward your daughter in warning, "We can't do that now."

Confusion fell across his face and he pulled his mouth from you. His body remained above yours, using both his arms to prop himself up. Two pairs of eyes traveled to the floor, discovering that Evvie had unzipped your bag and dumped all of the contents onto the floor.

You groaned, partly at the mess your daughter created and partly at the loss of Daryl's mouth, “No, bug. Please don’t do that.”

With a smile on her face, Evvie held up her book, "Mad-line, mama?"

"Gonna finish that later," Daryl warned as he, reluctantly, dragged himself off of the bed and got down on the floor next to your daughter. He took the proffered book from her tiny hand and studied it, "Now, what we got here, lil' girl?"

Positioning yourself on your side, you watched with a smile as Evvie excitedly walked Daryl through her book, pointing Ma-line on every page. He reacted to her enthusiasm with an interest that could almost appear as genuine if you hadn't seen him react similarly a dozen times. It was then you fully understood that no matter how many new rooms or beds or communities you found yourself in, wherever Daryl was, would be home.

Chapter Text

"Tole yuh. Waste of time talkin' tuh 'im," Daryl huffed, stomping off ahead of you.

With disbelieving eyes, you watched as he walked further away, but once you got over the feeling of being left behind, a sense of relief came over you, and you were grateful to have the time apart.

All throughout lunch, Daryl's demeanor had been brusque and at times, downright cringeworthy, making his disdain for Ezekiel all too obvious but The King didn't seem to notice or if he did, was too polite to say anything, remaining a friendly and generous host.

With the exception of Daryl's questionable behavior, it had been a pleasant lunch, but the rest of your visit did not go exactly as you hoped and you ended up walking away from it feeling discouraged.

While Ezekiel had extended you an offer of permanence, a residency within the Kingdom, he remained unbending, refusing to change his stance on joining with Alexandria to stand against Negan.

After reaching an empty picnic table, you settled Evvie down on a patch of grass, next to some dandelions, and took a seat at the table. Resting an elbow on top of the worn out wood, you kept your daughter in your line of sight as you leaned your head on your hand.

The click clack of wood against wood soon caught your attention and you saw that Morgan practicing the bo staff with a young man with blonde hair. You watched with great interest, letting it distract you.

Noticing he had gained an audience, Morgan called over to you and asked if you wanted to give it a try.

Looking down at Evvie, who was engrossed in collecting all the dandelions, you chuckled, dryly, "Don't think we'll make it five minutes before she interrupts us."

The young man lowered his staff with an offer,"If you want to have a go, I can watch her for you. I don't mind. I, uh, have a little brother so you don't have to worry. I know what I'm doing."

After Morgan vouched for the teen, Benjamin, you walked over to the pair and under Morgan's instruction, you took the proffered bo staff from Benjamin and spent the rest of the afternoon learning a new skill.

 

 

Upon returning to your room, you were taken aback when you saw a pack and play, filled with baby necessities, sitting in the middle of the floor. There was a note taped to the side. You set Evvie down and reached for the note - For the munchkin, A gift from King Ezekiel.

"Look, bug. A bed of your very own. Wasn't that nice of the King?"

"Me, Mama?"

"All yours. You want to try it out?"

As you started to empty out the pack and play, Evvie broke from your side to pull out her bear then waited impatiently for you to be done.

 

 

Eager to try out her new gift, Evvie, quickly and without a fight, settled into her new bed with bear, allowing you time to wind down. You stayed up, reading a dog-eared paperback that was left in the nightstand.

With no idea on how long you had been lost in the book, you jumped when the door knob started to rattle, the sound of metal against wood, and you started to panic before Daryl slipped into the room.

"Scared the shit outta me," you threw a pillow at him which he promptly caught and tossed back on the bed.

"Figured you'd be asleep by now," he said, shedding all the things he was carrying, dropping them on the chair next to the door before taking a curious peek inside the pack and play, getting a glimpse of a soundly sleeping Evvie.

"Found a book. Do anything interest...," you held up the paperback before noticing the weapon that he brought with him, "Is that... is that a crossbow?"

He nodded and rubbed at his face,"Went out lookin' for someone."

Curiosity got the better of you and you put the book aside and asked, "A friend?"

Sitting down at the foot of the bed, he nodded to the pack and play, "Where that come from?"

"Seems that The King has taken a shine to little miss Evvie."

"That right? We gonna have tuh scrape up a dowry, now?"

With a chuckle, you said,"Pretty sure we still have a few years for that."

Laying back on the bed, his hair fell away from his face exposing his so often hidden eyes, and he stretched his arms up over his head, reaching out to take your hand.

"Think we should go back to Hilltop in the mornin'."

Shaking your head, your hand went lax in his, "I don't... It's not safe there, for any of us."

Quickly, pulling his hand away from yours, Daryl sat up and in an accusatory tone said, "What? Think Imma let somethin' happen to yuh?"

You groaned, hating that he was making this difficult,"That's not... no. It's just... the Saviors, they don't come inside here."

"How long yuh think that's gonna last? King ain't doin'..."

Not wanting to rehash the afternoon, you relented, cutting him off, "Okay. I get it, okay? There isn't anywhere that's one hundred percent safe."

A few minutes later, his attitude changed as he slowly started to rub your leg, reassuringly, "Will be someday. Gonna make sure of that."

Smiling at his hopeful words, you scooted down the bed. Kneeling behind him, you brushed the hair out of the way, placing little kisses on his neck before asking, "Aren't you forgetting something?"

Turning his head and tilting it slightly as questioning eyes squinted at you.

"If I recall correctly, you have something that needs finishing," you elaborated, with a sly smile.

He sat up, spinning around to face to you, hands went the swell of your ass, pulling you closer to him, making you squeak in surprise.

Shushing you with his lips, he warned you. “Gonna wake lil' girl.”

The kiss only made your desire for him stronger and your hand stroked him over his pants. Grinning against his warm skin, you pleaded, "Promise I'll be quiet."

  Wrapping his arms around you, he pulled you down onto the mattress with him. His mouth latched onto yours as his hand crept under the hem of your tee shirt and rough hands stroked and squeezed soft flesh before descending. His smile grew against your neck and with a rumbling whisper, he said, "Like it when you're loud."

Daryl's hand stroked and squeezed the inside of your thighs before testing your arousal. Once he deemed that you were sufficiently wet, you heard the familiar sound of unzipping and felt him tugging down the waistband of the uncute cotton granny panties you were wearing.

Teasing you with his cock, the organ slid through already wet folds, paying extra attention to your tiny bundle of sensitive nerves, meant only to frustrate or arouse, both of which you already were.

You whined, desperate and wanting, when he pulled away. Your hand stretched for the slats of the headboard as he slowly entered you and you bit down on your lip to stifle the sounds of pleasure that were building in your throat.


 

 

"So much room," sated, you sighed, rolling over onto your back. Daryl proceeded to stretch out beside you, taking your hand and nuzzling against it, "Got to remember to thank Ezekiel before we leave."

Daryl rolled onto his side and cocked an eyebrow, "Yuh sure about that?"

Though you were still feeling uneasy, you forced a reassuring smile in his direction,"Ye- Yeah."

From the look on is face, he knew you were lying.

Rolling onto your side, you ran your fingers along the side of his face, from his temple down to the unruly whiskers on chin, and said, "You jump, I jump, right? I mean, I don't love the idea, but I trust you to make the right decision. "

And maybe, just maybe, that would be your first mistake.

Chapter Text

Once you were back at the Hilltop, things moved along quickly. Daryl had only been gone a few hours, doing whatever he did during the day, when Jesus showed up at your door with Sasha, the woman you remembered meeting when you first arrived at the Hilltop.

"Glad to have you back," Jesus smiled, entering the trailer, "Got a minute to look over something for me?"

Intrigued by the request, you smiled, "Let me put Evvie down for her N-A-P so we won't be interrupted." Jesus agreed and you continued to set up the pack and play, while Evvie clung to your side, suspiciously eyeing the intruders at your door, holding bear in one hand as she rubbed her nose with the other before opening her mouth and letting out a yawn.

After settling Ever in her bed, you shut the accordion door, half way, and sat down at the table as Sasha got straight to the point of the visit, "I'm going after Negan."

Those words caused you to shudder but you managed to maintain your composure, and asked,"How can I...?

"Jesus thought since you lived there, you might be able to help," Sasha said as she dug into her pocket to pull out a crudely drawn map. She unfolded it before placing it on the table.

You glanced over the paper, with scrutiny when Jesus interrupted, "That's just from memory."

"No. It's not bad. Here," you took the map in your hand and though you felt a sharp sting of what could only be described as misplaced guilt, you picked up the pencil and proceeded to correct the map, filling in blank spaces as you marked out several important areas that Jesus had missed.


 

 

Once you finally put Evvie to bed for the night, you used the time alone to clean up around the trailer. Various clothes and toys filled your arms when the door flew opened and violently crashed into the wall before Daryl stomped in with a grunt.

Frowning at his noisy entrance, you looked toward the bedroom, waiting to hear if the noise woke Evvie, but when no sound came, you relaxed."What's wrong? Did something happen?"

"Sasha and Rosita are gone. Went after 'im."

In shock, you dropped everything you had collected, "Rosita went with her?"

"Whut," his blue eyes flashed with accusations,"Yuh knew about it?"

Wringing your hands, nervously, you took a few steps away from him, "I, uh, yeah. I helped fill in the map Jesus made."

The imposing body closed the small gap between you and you took another step back, trapping yourself between anger and the faux wood wall. Leaving you with no escape, you froze in panic, waiting for Daryl to release his anger upon you. You only hoped he'd make it quick, and that Evvie would sleep through it, but when his arms encircled you, pulling you to his chest, you were finally able to release the breath that had been stuck in your chest and welcomed his body against yours.

He pulled his head back to study you face, "Know what they're plannin' tuh do?

"Mmmhmm," you swallowed the traitorous lump that had formed in your traitorous throat.

He pressed his chin to the top of your head, letting out a sigh into your hair, "Didn't have tuh do that."

"Yeah I did. I, uh, wanted to help," you shrugged. Though it was the truth, it was naive of you to think that anything would.




When everyone set out for Oceanside, you stayed behind in Alexandria*, a typical suburban subdivision full of family sized homes. you imagined that, at one time, these houses were home to barbecues on the in the summer and colorful lights strung on the windows in the winter. A place where everyone appeared to be perfectly happy, and hell, maybe they were.

But to you, places like Alexandria represented a fantasy, an illusion of happiness and the delusion of safety. You grew up being leery of the kind of places where everything looked like a magazine ad for breakfast cereal from the sidewalk but where darkness lurked just behind the door. To you, it was the ultimate nightmare and you were thankful that, for all of Daryl's talk of Alexandria, he had yet to move you there.

With Evvie back at the Hilltop, and without anything to distract you, the house you were holed up in brought back long dormant memories from your life before the walkers that you worked damned hard to keep locked away so you opted to stay on the porch, too afraid of the past you'd be forced to confront behind closed doors. Though, the porch only managed a temporary solace, as the memories tried their damnedest to force their way out into the light of day.

The air got cooler as the sky effortlessly slipped into twilight and from your position on the porch you saw Rosita return. She walked with purpose through the gates with someone. You could determine by the build and the gait of their walk that someone was definitely not Sasha and as she got closer to the porch, you recognized the blonde haired man following her and you called out to her.

Rosita stopped, meeting you halfway with an unasked explanation, "I'm taking him to wait for Rick."

Dwight. It was Dwight with her, and your eyes widened in surprise meeting his own surprised expression. Exchanging nods of acknowledgement, he gave you a half smile. "Are you and Ever okay?"

Now glaring at you for the familiarity you both shared, like it was a crime, and who knows, in her mind maybe it was. In a tone as accusatory as her glare, Rosita said, "You...you know him?"

You nodded, "He used to babysit me once in a while."

Rosita continued on her way, taking Dwight with her but soon she came back sans your former babysitter and nodded her head at you, "Come on."

Knowing she wanted answers about the impromptu reunion she witnessed, you followed her to the gate and waited with her, vaguely filling in the gaps for her, until the group returned from Oceanside and their mission.

When the caravan of cars approached, Rosita opened the gate and you ran through the people getting out of the trucks, searching for Daryl.

The second that you saw him, you lept into his arms, welcoming him back with kisses before you reluctantly pulled your mouth from his so you could ask how the mission went.

"Got all their guns," he said, against your neck, "Still won't fight though."

He lowered you back to the ground as you let out a dejected sigh right before switching gears. You perked up if only to reassure him and said, "It's okay. We don't need them. Guess you'll just have to start training me up now."

His hard gaze already told you his answer without uttering a single sound but you stood your ground, "You're going to need all hands on deck now. Besides, you promised. Unless you think my Kung Fu theater skills will be enough."

Though a grunt of irritation was his reply, you could see his lips curl up slightly as he shook his head as he pulled you along with him, "C'mon, Bruce Lee."

As you headed back through the gate, you heard Rosita say, *"There's someone here."





After Rosita opened the cell door, revealing Dwight, barely a second later Daryl let out a growl, and was going straight for him, but Rick moved fast and though there was a struggle, he managed to hold him back. Desperately trying to calm him down, you placed a hand upon his arm and rubbed it soothingly, as he stood panting and huffing, his chest rapidly rising and falling like an animal desperate to reach it's kill.

*Rosita said, "He wants to help us."

*Rick stepped closer to Dwight, "That true? You wanna help?

*Dwight said, "I do."

*"Okay," Rick pulled his gun and pointed it right at Dwight, "Get on your knees."

Dwight complied, keeping his eyes on Daryl.

*"Look at me," Rick ordered, "Why?"

*Dwight said, "I want it stopped. I want Negan dead."

Dwight continued his explanation and you knew he was sincere. He had lost so much because of Negan. You were unable to fault him for the things he was made to do under Negan, everything he did to ensure Sherri's safety and it went the same for her. All you could feel was pity for him and a jealous admiration for the love they had for each other.

What brought you back to the moment was when you saw a young woman, with dark hair, pulled into ponytail, get up in Dwight's face. *"That girl you murdered, her name was Denise and she was a doctor and she helped people."

Flatly, Dwight replied, *“I wasn’t aiming for her.”

Automatically, your hand gripped Daryl’s shirt, but there was no way in hell you could hold back that amount of strength and rage, and he ripped out of your hold, going straight for Dwight, with his knife in hand. Temporarily stunned from the elbow you received to the face for your effort, you shook it off and stepped forward, rubbing your face as you moved toward the two men.

“Y/N,” Dwight's eyes met your face and his face matched his tone. There was legitimate concern for you when he asked if you were okay.

"She ain't gonna save you," Daryl snarled with heavy breath, his knife hand never faltered.

From somewhere behind you, the dark haired woman began to speak again, egging Daryl on to kill Dwight, making your temper flair and your hand curled up into a fist with her name, whatever it was, on it.

You silently implored Daryl not to kill him as your eyes zeroed in on the knife, barely a breath away from Dwight's face.

The dark haired woman continued to spew her murderous, manipulative words and everything muted itself. You spun around, fist ready, but it was the words Rosita uttered that made you pause.

*Rosita said, "... But I trust Daryl."

Silently, you agreed with her and your fist fell to your side.Yeah, I trust him too.

Soon after, the concrete cell started to clear out, and a moment of regret flashed across Daryl's face, He hesitated before sidling up next to you. Keeping his eyes, averted, he said, "Didn't mean tuh do that."

Giving him a little of your best side eye, you admitted, "Had me worried there for a minute, Dixon."

He wiped the blood from your split lip with his thumb, and rubbed it on his pants before fitting his hand in yours, "Let's go tuh bed. Whadda ya think?"

 

 

 

Once outside, Daryl steered you in the direction of where Rick was standing, but that woman, the one who had been so eager to watch Daryl take a life, caught your eye. She was sitting alone, off to the side, on a set of stairs and though your anger was vastly reduced, there was still something you needed to say or it would keep you up all night.

You stopped in your tracks. "I'll be right back."

Grumbling, Daryl asked, where you were going.

Patting his arm, you said, "Just something I need to do. Won't take a minute."

When he let go of your hand, you trooped straight over to where the dark haired woman sat, and in an attempt to not seem confrontational, you fixed a smile upon your face, "Hey. Can I talk to you for a minute?"

She nodded, curious and confused.

"Sorry about your friend. I get your anger. I really do but...," you paused, unsure if you should continue speaking but when you looked over to where Daryl stood, you found the courage to commence, "but... don't pull that shit again. If you want Dwight dead, do it your damn self. Try that shit again and it might be one of the last things you do."

The woman's mouth was poised to say something but there was nothing you needed to hear from her.

You took a step forward, forcing her to sit back and your eyes burned with fire, "You got me?"

With her jaw opened in shock, she managed a jerky nod of agreement.

"Good, good. So...Oh, excuse me, where are my manners? I didn't get your name."

With a shaky voice, she replied, "Tara."

With your anger nearly gone, you offered her your hand, which she shook skeptically, "Nice to meet you, Tara, I'm Y/N. I hope you won't hold this against me. I'm not normally a confrontational person, it's just...," your eyes traveled back over to Daryl, who was in deep conversation with Rick, "I care about him, you know?"

Tara said with a small, sad voice,"I cared about Denise, too."

On any other night, her words would have broken you, but on this night, nothing was going to do that after what she tried to do, "I get it, I do and you deserve to see Dwight pay for what he's done but don't be a coward. Take your own revenge or else it won't feel like revenge.."

Squinting, curiously, at the muted discussion he wasn't hearing you have, Daryl called over to you and ask if you were ready to go.

Taking a deep breath, you patted Tara's bicep, like a football coach giving a pep talk and said, "Okay, then. Good talk."

Daryl extended his hand in wait and as you got close, you happily took up the offer.

With a curious glare, he asked, "What'd yuh say tuh her?"

Smiling slyly, you said, "Girl talk."

Chapter Text

Sometime before dawn, a light hand swept over your H/C hair, just before lips gently grazed your forehead, cautious not to wake you, but you were only half asleep. It was with still closed eyes, you reached for the hand before it could slip away.

Sleepily, you pleaded, "Don't go."

Daryl's gravelly voice hushed you, "Go back tuh sleep. Sun ain't even up yet."

"I'm awake," you murmured, forcing your body into a seated position.

"Liar. Look just as mad as lil' girl when yuh wake 'er up," he chuckled, as you let the look of petulant, indignation be your response, "Even got tha pout down."

"Won't pout if you come back to bed," you implored, tugging his hand.

His lips brushed your hair as he extracted himself out of your grip and said, "Need tuh go."

"Nooooo," you whined, giving him your best puppy dog eyes, "Just a few minutes."

With a skeptically raised eyebrow, he said, "Pfft. Ain't gonna be a few minutes an' yuh know it."

Now, Daryl was one hundred percent correct in his assessment. If it were up to you, he would stay in that borrowed bed with you until the fight was over but the Saviors were on their way and Daryl wasn't going to be sidelined just because you wanted to cuddle.

His thumb rubbed circles into the top of your hand, "Wish yuh'd go tuh Hilltop. Could still take yuh there, if yuh want."

There wasn't anywhere you wanted to be if he wasn't there with you. "Not a chance, buddy. Think I'm going to give some other girl the chance to move in on you after your victory lap."

”Pfffft,” Daryl scoffed before his tone changed, and he sounded almost hopeful, "Yuh think Peggy'll show up with 'em?"

Daryl didn't make jokes often but when he did it always made you laugh. Once your laughter subsided, the silence became was stifling, accentuating the graveness of what was to come. Negan needed to be stopped from all the pillaging and terrorizing that he was doing to the communities but you worried that people would get hurt, would die, and that Alexandria's paltry militia didn't have enough manpower to fight them successfully.

Daryl head tilted, watching closely as you silently contemplated all the possible outcomes the day could bring. The pad of his thumb, tenderly, traced down your jaw before skirting over your bottom lip, and he took a deep breath. "Do yuh know how much..."

From your blushing cheeks to your adoring eyes, you were unable to hide the excitement from the unfinished sentence, but you could not let him finish and with a quick, flailing, motion, you covered his mouth with your hand, before he could say any more. If he were about to say what you thought he was going to say, it couldn't be now.

Gentle teeth, teasingly, nipped against the skin of your palm but you remained resolute and shook your head in refusal. "Don't. If you say it now, it'll feel too... final. This is not that kind of goodbye. This is one of those 'going to the store to pick up some milk' goodbyes."

After placing a small kiss to your palm, Daryl removed your hand from his lips and didn't finish his sentence.

"Now, if you're not going to get back in this bed and cuddle the fuck outta me, you need to get going before Rick and them think I'm holding you hostage."

After getting a curt nod and a kiss upon your head, you settled back into bed, watching as Daryl gathered up his things. He paused in doorway, to take a quick, rueful, look at the bed from over his shoulder before continuing down the hall.

 

 

With still wet hair, you emerged from the bathroom in search of something to feed your rumbling stomach. Water droplets rolled down your face, and collected on the grey speckled counter top as you leaned on it to reach for an old box of cereal, knocking over a newly filled water bottle in the process. You watched the bottle roll along the counter top before grabbing a handful of stale cereal. After hastily popping it into your mouth, you looked around the house for a cozy place to hole up and weather out the storm.

Settling on the shabby chic sun room, situated off the kitchen, you had been curled up in an overstuffed love seat for a while when you heard a long forgotten voice, whisper your name.

And you knew,

you knew,

you fucking knew it was only your head.

And even though you knew that familiar voice was (hopefully) long dead, your apprehensive eyes still swept around the sea foam green room, waiting for someone or something to pounce. Those wretched ghosts of your youth were back, banging on the walls you built around them, fighting for your attention, demanding to be remembered.

Anxiety began to fill your chest, quickly, forcing you to your feet. Movement, you needed movement you thought as you began to pace. And that worked until the walls started to close in. Air, you needed air, you thought and you snatched the water bottle from the counter and foolishly stormed out the front door.

 

 

Feeling calmer in the fresh air, it was with heedful steps, you set out for the gates of Alexandria. No one paid any attention to you, all of them too busy, preparing finishing touches and getting into their designated places, in wait for the Saviors arrival.

But Daryl was not like the others, as soon as those vigilant blue eyes caught movement, he lowered his gun, letting it swing from his shoulder, and soon, he was stomping over in your direction. The sight of his anger froze you where you stood.

"Don’t lis’en fer shit," Daryl growled before wrapping a hand around your bicep with a bruising grip, “Tole yuh tuh stay in tha damn house.”

Avoiding eye contact, you held the plastic bottle awkwardly toward him. Daryl took it with a grunt and a nod of his chin, in gratitude, before he started to drag you back down the road, chastising you.

"Whut're yuh doin' out here? Yuh lookin' to get hurt? Killed? Whut then, huh? Whut about lil' girl? Want her growin' up without 'er ma?"

Before you had a chance to feel guilt or utter a response, the sound of loud, rumbling, engines filled the air as they rolled up to Alexandria. Daryl quickly pulled you between two houses and shoved one of his hunting knife in your hand. He checked the chamber of one of the guns he was carrying before handing that to you too.

"When yuh see an openin', get back to the house. Anythin' comes near yuh, jus' start shootin'," he said with a growl before heading back into position.

 

 

The moment you heard the sound of Negan's threatening voice, your entire being began to tremble and you took a step back, than another and another, until you collided with a series of bushes that lined the side of the house.

While Negan was spewing his rage fueled diatribe at Rick, you got your wits together and carefully, slid along side the house to sneak a peek at what was going on.

Negan said, *“Dwight, Simon, chop, chop.”

Sticking your head around the corner of the house, you saw that upon Negan’s command, the two men obediently walked over to a flatbed truck, removed a tarp to reveal a large casket.

*"So you guys don't like Eugene anymore, you guys gotta like Sasha…”

Tears blurred your view and your head shook violently in denial. If something happened to Sasha you weren't sure how you'd live with yourself.

The next thing you heard come out of Negan's mouth was,*“Daryl. Oooh I gotta get my Daryl back.”

No. You could not let that happen. Darting out from the side of the house, the moment your feet hit the pavement, heads turned and so did their guns, pointing at you from every direction. Noticing the sudden motion of the guns, Negan's eyes followed their direction, quickly landing, heavily, upon you.

With his lips curled into a dangerous grin, he said,“Well, shit. Look who we have here.”

Chapter Text

Dark and unblinking eyes bore into you, rooting underneath layers of skin, searching for something that might be hidden underneath. Answers? Signs of distress? Whatever he was looking for, he wasn't going to like what he'd find no more than you liked the feeling of having his eyes on you again.

"Is this where you've been hiding, angel?"

Taking that as your cue, you moved in tentative steps, all too cognizant of the quantity of guns pointed and ready to fire without a second thought. You hoped that Negan's familiarity with you was enough to keep you alive as you maneuvered your way through the maze of people, only stopping once you reached safety, standing right by Daryl's side.

You had to let his presence alone be a comfort to you because you were unable to look at him and instead, you kept your stare planted on Negan, preferring his autumn colored rage over the apoplectic blueness of Daryl's. This was one of, like, three scenarios he wanted you to avoid, but he didn't know that one threat thrown in his direction would have you storming straight into it. It wasn't because you were the kind of person who'd run into a burning building to save a box of kittens or anything. That wasn't who you were, not yet anyway, but it seemed that protecting the man who you had fallen for was all the stimulant you needed to put your bravery in overdrive.

“Now what I want to know is just how long have you two," for emphasis, Negan pointed his bat first at you then at Daryl, "been slapping sloppies? Was it before you ran off or are we dealing with one of those Stockholm situations here?"

Whether it was in surprise or in fear, you didn't know, but your eyes widened, helping confirm his accusation. Even if he didn't know before, he knew now. He knew and it was exactly as frightening as you imagined it would be.

"Ain't that some shit? And after everything I’ve. Done. For. You," letting out a mirthless laugh, he shook his head, "Guess it's true what they say... you can. not. turn a whore into a housewife."

Daryl shifted his body, putting you slightly behind him, as if that could shield you from Negan's words. His jaw clenched to the point of shattering and it was with a deadly calm voice he said, "Don't be callin' 'er that."

Negan's gaze flickered back and forth between you and Daryl. His voice became giddy like a cartoon villain taunting his victim and in a way, he was. “Oh? What's this? You mean You. Don’t. Know? Shit, angel, didn’t you tell him?"

For a split second, those eyes that had always looked upon you with such warmth, such kindness, and, you dare hope, with love, had grown dark, questioning the vagueness of Negan's words, but the only rebuttal you could muster in return, was a desolate shake of your head.

"It's a real tearjerker, too. A damn tragedy, isn't that right, Y/N? Now how is it that something as important as that never came up during all those long days you spent together, alone in your room? Or was your mouth too busy doing other things," in dramatic Negan fashion, he spun around to address his audience, "And believe me, she sure is good with her mouth. You know what I'm talking about, don't you, Daryl?”

Every single word Negan said was meant to hurt and embarrass you, while, at the same time, baiting Daryl into lashing out and doing something that could never be undone, giving Negan exactly what he wanted and in your case he was winning. Tears stung behind your eyes. You were hurt, yet, hardly surprised that Negan would resort to such a low blow, just to humiliate you in front of an audience.

"Wait wait, I got it," Negan said, proudly, "Maybe you were worried that a backwoods, piece of shit, like him, might have standards. Am I getting warmer?"

You forced out the plea that was caught in your throat. Swallowing hard, you said, “Please stop.”

"Now, baby, you know how I love it when you beg, gets my downstairs all tingly, but we'll have plenty of time for that later. Once we get you back home, you’ll have plenty of time to beg for my forgiveness and I might just give it to you. Not right away, of course, because no one puts me through what you did without some sort of punishment."

Noticing the state you were working yourself into, Negan paused for a moment before bringing out his patronizing tone, "Are... are you going to cry? What's the matter, angel? Is this not fun for you? Huh. Now you know how these last few days have been for me. Worrying about you, about Ever, worrying about what that asshole might have done to you. Do you have any idea what...”

He stopped himself from going any further as emotions began to work their way into his voice, and he stretched his neck from side to side as he composed himself.

Daryl held his gaze on Negan and took your shaking hand, drawing you closer so he could brush his lips against the side of your head. That small moment of affection did not escape Negan and as his bitter eyes zoomed in on the warmth shared between the two of you, he shook his head in disbelief.

With a menacing chuckle, Negan said, “We’ll be putting an end to that shit, real soon. I do not like to share my toys."

Daryl growled, "She ain't property."

Again, Negan laughed, "That's where you're wrong. She's my wife. Now, she may be a lyin', cheatin', little whore, but Y/N still belongs to me, until death do us part. Dwight, get her then go find Ever and take them back to the truck. I'll deal with her once we're back home."

Daryl's grip around your fingers grew tighter while your frantic eyes, futilely, searched for an eleventh-hour escape route. Dwight positioned himself before you and your defiant glare matched the very one that Daryl was throwing at him.

“Come on, Y/N. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.” Dwight's fingers made contact with your arm and Daryl gripped his gun as a threatening growl exited his chest.

"Can we get this God damned show on the road," Negan said, with an roll of his eyes, "I'd like to get home in time for dinner. Mary number two, is making her risotto tonight and I just love that shit."

Leaning into Daryl, you squeezed his hand in reassurance before brushing your lips against his ear, and whispering, "I'll be waiting for you."

Taking that first terrifying step, Dwight took the opportunity to seize your arm and tug you forward to get you moving but your grunt of discomfort caught Negan's ear.

"Shit, Dwight, don't go bruising her up on me now. Even if she went running around like a whore in heat, that's still my wife you got there," Negan winked at Daryl, "Mine."

As Dwight ushered you down the street, you looked over your shoulder with remorseful eyes. There was little fear for yourself or what waited for you back at the Sanctuary, but for the very real possibility that you might never see Daryl again.

Chapter Text

<

Dwight marched you down the street in a steady hustle, but you, filled with a new dread and burning defiance, kept slowing down the pace to take glances over your shoulder. You kept narrowing your eyes to keep Daryl in your sight. As long as you could see him, you knew you were safe, but his shape kept morphing in and out, turning him into a distorted and unrecognizable blur like a bad dream, first from the tears that kept filling your eyes then from the distance that was separating you and your courage waned the further away you were taken .

Was this part of your master plan, dumbass?

You shook the voice from your head. If only you had listened, you wouldn't be in this mess but was now really the time to dwell on past mistakes, no matter how recent they were made? No. Now was the time for action, now was the time to find your way out of this.

You gathered up what little remained of your courage and let your desperate eyes search for a way out but even if you could get free from Dwight, where would you go? Did you stand a chance beyond the protective walls of Alexandria?

Giving in to defeat already, are we, Y/N? How typical.

If you could have bitch slapped your inner monologue, she would have been laid out in the dirt in a heartbeat but alas, you were, perpetually, stuck with her and all her negativity.

With his hand still wrapped securely around your arm, Dwight interrupted your descent into madness, breaking the silence to ask where you were keeping Ever. Ignoring the question, you remained silent, keeping your attention firmly planted on the street. It wasn’t until he asked for a third time that you turned your head, giving him an indignant glare.

Gritting your teeth, you tried to pull out of his grip. "She's not here, you turn-coat motherf... "

He cut you off, spinning around to face you, and grabbed your other arm to give you a good hard shake to get your attention. "Damn it, Y/N, I need you listen to me.”

Dwight had never treated you in such a way before, and you, promptly, settled, taken aback by the forcefulness of the jolt and his demeanor.

Forcing you to look at him, he said, “Here's what's going to happen. When we turn off the road, you're going to run. Find somewhere you'll be safe and wait this out. Got it?"

Confused cluttered your brain and tried to process what was going on. You stared back at him, blankly. "Wait. Wha..."

"I'm not taking you back. Meant what I said last night, I'm out. Now that Sherry's gone, I've got no reason to help the Saviors anymore. I'm done with Negan. I just want this over with."

After a few more minutes of walking, he steered you toward a driveway and asked to see your knife. Warily, you pulled the weapon from your pants and turned the handle around, holding it out. Dwight took the knife and quickly, sunk it into the flesh of his upper arm, with a hiss as you looked on in disbelief. Without thinking, you pressed the sleeve of your shirt against the freshly made wound. Though, it came back stained with blood, the wound wasn't deep.

"Here's what happened. You got free. I caught up to you but then you...," he nodded his chin down toward his self-made injury, "you got away. Now get out of here."

With a grateful smile, you gave his hand a squeeze, thanking him before you started to run.

And run you did.

Ducking and dodging branches as they scraped and scratched your skin while you forced your way through bushes and shrubbery from one yard to the next. As Dwight kept up the ruse, shouting your name , you kept running, until your lungs burned, and your side ached. Through greening backyards, under and around fences, your heavy boots stomped through soft dirt and across long abandoned flower beds, while your heart pounded from the exertion as you went from house to house in search of an unlocked door.



With Daryl's knife at the ready, you climbed up the basement stairs, stepping head first into some low hanging cobwebs. The unexpected attack knocked you off balance falling hard against the drywall, and you steadied yourself before wiping your face with your free hand. Next you ran a hand through your hair, hoping to free yourself of any vengeful spiders that you may have callously evicted from their home.

The clingy, creepy feeling of the cobwebs lingered on your skin as you cautiously continued. Feeling your way in the darkness, you groped around for a door handle, turning it, slowly, and you emerged from the underground, stepping into a large open kitchen. You released some sort of primal, victorious, laugh as you moved deeper into the room, swinging the knife wildly.

The stark white kitchen, juxtaposed in dark wood had large windows that drenched the long abandoned room in light, so bright, you needed to shut your eyes. The smell that hit you next was another thing, entirely. A musty and stale odor hung in the air, reminiscent of childhood visits to ancient relatives, as you waited, restlessly, on dust laden carpets, counting down the minutes until it was time to leave. Now, the smell that reminded you of boredom and bright yellow lemonade in plastic, child sized, cups, had become one more refuge saving you from a life that no longer fit.

The sunlit kitchen would leave you vulnerable and exposed to any outside eyes so you quickly moved on, advancing down the hall. You checked around corners and kicked open doors, with caution as you sought out a hiding spot. There was little worry of running into a walker, still, you remained on high alert.

Locating a staircase, the second floor held some promise, even though you were hyper aware you were breaking a major horror movie "don't". You scouted the bedrooms and bathrooms, but it was a cluttered home office with one small window, you decided would do just fine. During your search, someone had left behind an afghan in one of the closets, and you wrapped it around yourself before settling on the office floor. You tried to relax but every time you heard a gun go off in the distance, the sound traveled up your spine, and you cocooned yourself tighter in the safety of the blanket.

You passed the long hours, flipping through books, without ever reading a single word, and with a deck of cards you found, still wrapped in the plastic, playing numerous games of solitaire until the light began to fade from the sky. When the room became too dark to see, you curled up on the floor and shut your eyes. Maybe rest would come easier now, since you could no longer hear the sounds of gunfire.

Chapter Text

You could have sworn you just closed your eyes when the sound of your name being shouted from somewhere within the house had you on your feet in an instant, knife in hand. As the footsteps grew closer, and the voice yelling your name sounded louder, you slunk into the hall, and turned the corner, just as Daryl came racing up the stairs. You hurried to meet him at the top of the staircase and before even uttering a sound, he had you in his arms, wrapping you in an all too smothering, full bodied hug, then he said, "Thought I lost yuh."

With your face smashed against his chest, you were struggling for air and you tapped your fingers against his back, rasping, "Can't. Breathe.”

After he gave you some space, his eyes examined you and as they traveled down to your arm, he stiffened. Swallowing the lump in his throat, he lifted your hand and warily began pulling up your blood stained sleeve, "Did yuh... Are yuh bit?"

Rapidly shaking your head, you looked into his panicked eyes, “No. No. It’s... that's Dwight’s blood.”

Just as you finished your sentence, his mouth came crashing down against yours and you felt his whole body relax in relief, but the moment Daryl let you go, he started in on you with a vengeance.

With arms flailing to emphasize his anger, he growled, "Can't just go runnin' off into danger like yuh done. Not fer me."

"It got his attention off of you, didn't it," you said, with a smirk.

Pointing now, he got up in your face, "Only one person yuh need tuh be doin' shit like that for or did yuh forget about 'er?"

The self-satisfied smirk slipped from your face and was quickly replaced with burning embarrassment. Storming into the line of Negan's fury, there was only one thought in your head and for the first time you realized, even if you had been holding Evvie in your arms, there wasn’t anything you’d have done differently.

"Woulda started a whole 'nother mess goin' in there tuh get yuh."

"No," you stated, looking him right in the eye.

Glaring back at you, he barked, "Whadda yuh mean no?"

"If we're putting rules on rescue scenarios then the same goes for you. You cannot run into danger just for me, either. There are too many people here that need you."

"Lil' girl needs yuh too."

You glanced away from him for a moment and said, "But I’m still here, aren’t I?"

“And if yuh weren’t," he shouted, working himself up again, "Dwight coulda been playin' us right from the start. Didn't yuh think about that?”

You kept your tone calm with the hope of cooling Daryl’s temper, "But he wasn't."

"Yuh didn't know that when yuh went out there, did yuh?"

“No," you sighed, "But when we took Evvie up to the Hilltop, I made arrangements with Maggie. If I didn't return, she said she’d take care of Evvie."

With a brusque huff, he spun his body away from you. He might be able to hide the look on face, but he sure couldn't hide the hurt that had found its way into his voice, “Didn’t think I was good enough? That it?"

Okay. You definitely did not see that coming.

You couldn’t help the stammer in your voice, "That isn't... not even..."

In all honesty, you'd only made the arrangement with Maggie because you needed to plan for a worst case scenario situation. It had certainly never crossed your mind that Daryl would want to be saddled with some kid that wasn't even his.

"Somethin’ happens then what? I lose yuh both,” he took a pause and when he continued, his voice broke at the end of the sentence, "Where’s that leave me, huh?"

Alone. That's where.

The crack in his typically stoic tone broke your heart. This was not a conversation you ever thought you’d be having. In fact, never did it occur to you that if something were to happen, he’d be back to being on his own or that he no longer wanted to be.

The remorse you felt had you throwing yourself into his arms. After you soaked his shirt with tears and uttered countless barely audible apologies into his chest, you took his hand, looked up at him and said, “Is that really... It's not like we ever talked about it. Is that really something... you'd be willing to do? Because there isn't anyone in this world I trust more than you when it comes to Evvie .”

He straightened himself up, raising his chin, "Said it, didn't I?"

You gave him a shy smile and brought the conversation back around to where it all began, "Out of both of us, it’d be better for me to be the one to go back there, you know? I mean, Negan would eventually forgive me, but for you, it'd be so much worse, and I couldn't live with that.”

His chin settled on the top of your head, “Know why you done it, but losin' you'd be worse than anythin' he coulda done.”

And there, with a new world just on the horizon, two people stood in an embrace, all too ready to sacrifice everything for the other and only one thought flashed through your mind - Was this the kind of love that was already doomed? Because of his words you already knew the answer, and suddenly you felt incredibly sad because now you had a pretty good idea how it was all going to end.

Chapter Text

The moment the door closed shut behind you, Daryl pounced, pinning you against the door, making the glass shake within the panes. Grinding his hips into you, he sniffed at your skin, in a way so primal, it bordered an obscenity. Your fingers curled around the beltless loops of his pants, drawing him closer and your breasts squished against his strong chest as he licked his lips in anticipation for what was to come.

Dipping his head down to meet your mouth he teased you with the promise of a kiss. His tongue stroked your lips, before pulling back and purring, "Second I saw yuh back on those stairs, I wanted tuh…”

The sentence dangled in the air, excitement rising like a elevator, and when it reached the top, your heart stopped mid beat as he slipped into your mouth, breathing life back into you. Mouth on mouth, your bodies generated friction while grunts and whimpers flooded the hall.

In a slow fluid motion, his mouth slipped away from yours and lips, tongue and teeth descended upon your neck, claiming your skin for Dixon, once again. There would be a trail of broken blood vessels for you to find in the morning, and you would wear those amorous marks with pride.

While Daryl's mouth was occupied, his strong hands slid up your sides, raising your shirt as they moved. Slowly, his fingers ran over your rib cage, as if checking to see that they were all there, Soon, your shirt was bunched up above your breasts as warm, rough, hands slipped around to your back, unhooking your bra, freeing new flesh for him to consume.

After realizing what he'd just done, it was with panic that you tugged at the the long hairs on the nape of his neck, attempting to redirect his attention, "Wait. Wait. Wait. Is anyone here?"

It was with a frustrated grunt, he pulled his mouth from your skin to answer, glistening strands of saliva clung from his lips to your chest, leaving you chilled from his absence, “Just us. Rick’s out checkin’ on Michonne.”

Without missing a beat, Daryl dove right back in, like Columbus, his mouth and hands continued to explore your landscape until he was unable to wait any longer. He scooped you into his arms, and carried you to the bedroom with a growl.

After you landed on the bed, Daryl pulled off your pants and flung them across the room. His aggressively passionate state was so out of character and you were fairly certain there would be nothing close to sleep anytime soon.

Whiskers scraped over your skin as he worked his way up your body, leaving kisses and nips in their wake. When he reached your mouth, your hands wrenched his pants over his hips and clutched his ass, while thrusting your hips, shamelessly, forward, wet and needy skin making contact with his and he worked his way inside of you, groaning into your mouth.

Worn out, he rolled over onto his back and pulled you against his side. His lips curled into a satisfied grin before letting his eyes fall shut. With your fingertips, you drew lazy lines in the sheen of sweat that had formed upon his skin.

When you were finally able to form a coherent thought, you teased, “If that’s how you get, I'll need to put myself in danger more often.”

Opening one blue eye, he glared at you in warning before placing a kiss to your temple, “Don’t yuh even…”

You nuzzled into him as his hand stroked your Y/H/L, Y/H/C hair. Laying in his arms, a serene feeling filled you as you began to drift off to sleep until his heart changed. It began to race beneath your ear. He was getting worked up over something and you didn't have to wait very long to discover what was on his mind.

Daryl's hand fell from your hair and his chin tilted down toward you asking, “What was he gettin' at out there?"

And just like that, the perfect feeling of bliss came crashing down around you, making your insides cringe. This was exactly what Negan wanted. It was his last chance to hurt you and he was about to succeed, like a champ.Your first instinct was to play dumb and feign confusion.

"Huh," warily, you raised your eyes to meet his, but once you saw him throwing you his squinty, 'cut the shit', glare, you swallowed hard and folded, like a bad poker hand, “Oh. That.”

"Remember him sayin' it before. Back at Sanctuary.”

Yup. You remembered, too, remembered every time Negan had called you that. How it would make your blood boil while at the same time choking you with disgust and self-loathing.

The longer you remained silent, the longer Daryl’s questioning gaze lingered upon your skin making you uneasy. You had hoped he'd forgotten about all the shit talk Negan had done, but it was just your luck, he hadn't.

What he was asking wasn't out of line and you were only ashamed of some of the answers but he would need to know the whole story, need to understand how certain events led to desperate choices. Now, you could put on your big girl pants, lay the truth out before him and hope that he really was the decent man you believed him to be, but once upon a not so long ago, you found the courage to tell Negan, who you believed was decent too, and he used that knowledge to hurt you whenever he was really angry.

You weren't sure which you were more afraid of - that he'd react like Negan or that or that he'd never see you the same after he knew. So after the silence went on for much too long, you lied to him, again. “That was nothing. Just him being an ass.”

He carefully studied your face before he said,“Got pretty upset over nothin'.”

"Yeah," turning away from him, you shrugged, "Oversensitive girl shit."

Rolling out of bed, you dragged the sheet with you and headed into the kitchen without another word.

Lighting up the kitchen, you started to rummage through the cabinets with the hope of finding something hard to drink. Climbing onto the counter, you continued to poke through cabinets until you found what you were looking for. Shoved all the way in the back, on a high shelf and covered in a thin layer of dust was an almost full bottle of sambuca.

Unscrewing the cap, you immediately took a sip of the vile, licorice flavored liquid, right from the bottle. The taste in your mouth made you gag and after forcing it down, your entire body shuddered.

You weren’t entirely sure if it was from the foul taste that lingered on your palate or from Daryl's question, but you needed the former to even think about the latter. Managing to keep the liquid down, you chalked it up as a win, though you now understood why the bottle was still there.

"I need a cigarette,” you sighed, out loud, to the empty room and pushed yourself off of the counter, hitting the beige linoleum with a thud.

After putting on your boots, you tightened the sheet around you, and headed out the front door with bottle in hand. Taking a seat on the top step, you set the bottle down beside you and lit your cigarette.

Exhaling, you watched the cloud of thick, white, smoke drift into the dark abyss, and bravely, downed another mouthful of sambuca with a hiss, because some memories had a mean uppercut.

A significant part of your teen years were spent living through a story you thought of as The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being a Victim, while the well schooled predator, over three times your age, was busy plagiarizing lines and taking cues directly from the pages ofHow to Succeed at Being a Monster Without Really Trying.

You couldn’t remember the first time he touched you, but you knew you never kissed him back, too frozen in shock to do much and though you cringed from every touch, gagged every time he'd shove his tongue or his fingers, or his... whatever, inside of you. He was unrelenting, as he molded you into another statistic.

He was never gentle and it seldom felt good but it wasn't like it mattered to him. Not like you mattered to anyone. The only thing that ever fucking mattered was what he wanted, and much to your dismay what he wanted was you.

In your head, you could still hear him mocking you, calling you a tease, a slut, a whore for him. Always reminding you how worthless you were, how you and your brother were a burden and you owed him for his generosity. Yet, you complied and kept silent, never telling a soul, while he showed you what whores were good for. Utterly powerless, he turned you into an object for him to use and he used every part of you, until you finally aged out of foster care.

The things he did, the things he let his friends do, left an invisible layer of a filth on you that no soap could ever get clean but you endured every awful thing, for your brother. The only thing that mattered to you was keeping him safe and blissfully oblivious, securing him the kind of future you didn't deserve.

The shame of being complicit in those degradations set your skin on fire from the inside out, reddening every inch of you like a bad sunburn. How foolish it seemed to you now, sacrificing yourself like that, when no one had a future.

Except you did have one, thanks to Negan. In the beginning, you spent an inordinate amount of time being wary of him, of all men, really, but he had an incredible amount of patience with you and all of your hang ups. He was determined to show you that you were not some broken object, that you were worthy of being loved and deserved to be happy. It was quite an irony that the things he had shown you were the very things that gave you the courage to walk away.

In hindsight, if none of that ever happened, it was doubtful you'd still be breathing and if you were, you damn sure, wouldn’t have Evvie. Probably never would have found Daryl, either, and you couldn't imagine a life without either of them in it.

As the night air grew colder, goosebumps had started to cover your skin, and the bottle was significantly lighter, when there was a hand resting, gently, upon your head. Craning your neck back, you shot a smile in Daryl's direction as he looked down at you, holding your sweatshirt in his hand.

“Might need this if yer gonna stay here all night wearin' that sheet.”

After draping it over your shoulders, he turned to go back inside, but you reached for his hand and asked him to stay. He sat on the step next to you, with a weary sigh.

"He said them things tuh upset yuh," he shook his head in remorse and took your cigarette, taking a drag before giving it back. "Shouldn't've brought it up."

You took another drink, rubbed your chin against your shoulder and sighed, “You told me once, you thought I was good. Do you know how many times I went over those words? Part of me wanted to believe them, make them true, but... there's so much you don't know. So much that... i don't know if I'll ever feel those words. But I liked that you thought I was."

“Sayin' yer Ted Bundy or somethin'? That how yuh learned this,” he waved his arm frantically, mocking your knife wielding skills, trying to make you smile.

With some side eye and a slight bemused grin, you nudged him with your arm, letting out a somber chuckle before you continued to speak, "That word... It's dumb but... I... like the way you look at me and once you know why... it upsets me like it does, I’m afraid you won’t look at me like that anymore.”

As you brought the bottle back to your lips, he, gently, pulled it away, placing it off to the side and said, "Things from before, don’t matter now. Who yuh are now, that’s who yuh are. Nothin' he says gonna change that. If that was 'is plan, he don’t know shit."

Appreciating the sentiment, you leaned your heavy head against his rugged arm, "But... you should know what you're getting. What if..."

He cut you off, let his fingers twist around yours and stared off into the darkness. A small smile tugged at his lips, "Already like what I got."

And you knew he meant exactly what he said.

 

 

 

 

It wasn't the next night or the one after that or even the one after that, but it was on one, insignificant, night, further in the future than you ever thought you'd see, when after finally getting the kids to bed, you found yourself ready to talk and Daryl sat down, ready to listen. Holding you in his arms, he quietly listened as you relayed to him, every dark, horrible thing from your past. His grip on you growing tighter, the angrier he got.

Not once, in all your years together, did Daryl use the knowledge you gave him against you nor did he ever look at you with anything other than love and you wondered how you managed to get so lucky.

Chapter Text

It was with a heavy heart, you parted ways with Daryl, the following morning, and joined your daughter at the Hilltop. For too many days, a war went on beyond the fence that kept you safe but every time a group went off into battle, it seemed less would return, constantly reminding you that no one was immune to the perils of war.

With nothing but time to worry, and wait, you spent your days acquainting yourself with the residents, refreshing your shooting skills and helping out around the community to keep from overthinking but the nights were a different, lonelier story.

With Daryl off fighting and now that everyone knew who Evvie's father was your concern for her safety intensified. There was nothing you could do about the former, so you kept the latter even closer. What little rest you managed to catch was, more often than not, interrupted by tiny arms and legs being flung into you, jolting you awake. Once your sleep was disturbed, your brain went straight back to worrying, resigning you to long nights of stolen sleep and a head full of constant worry.

 

 

One afternoon, Jesus and Tara had returned with a group of saviors that had been captured and somehow you got dragged out of your trailer and into the debate over their destiny.

You, carefully, examined the lineup of haggard men, but not a single one stood out to you as being familiar. Shaking your head, you told the waiting pair, "Maybe they're from one of the outposts. Negan had a lot of people working for him."

Jesus nodded, taking your words as an approval while Tara stood, stewing, her arms folded across her chest. Before she could offer her two cents, you continued.

"Just because I don’t know them doesn’t mean they're not trouble," you explained in exasperation, "There are good people here, families, and children..."

Jesus did not take your words in kind. He frowned, reminding you, "Not too long ago, you were one of them, too."

Taken aback by Jesus’s words, you couldn't articulate a quick rebuttal but, much to your surprise, Tara jumped to your defense, "That's entirely different. She was a wife, not a soldier. It's not like she was out there doing his dirty work. Besides, Daryl trusts her. Think she'd be here if he didn't?"

Jesus sighed, "We don't know what they were doing for Negan. They could be innocent in all this."

With a snort, you said, “Doesn’t matter. They're all still Negan.”

They stared at you curiously until you explained, how everyone was Negan, that he demanded a cult-like loyalty from all his people.

When the two failed to reach agreement, Tara dragged you with her and Jesus, to see Maggie, for a decision. After hearing both sides of the argument, though she had reservations, Maggie, eventually, sided with Jesus, and allowed the men to stay at Hilltop as prisoners, much to your and Tara's dismay, It was hard to believe that someone you had been confrontational with, just a few days prior, was now on the same page as you.

As you came and went around the community, you paid little notice to the construction of the enclosure that would house the Saviors during their stay.

One overcast afternoon, not long after the group of captured Saviors arrived, you and Evvie headed out to pick berries, when you felt a spasm in your abdomen. "Must be that time of the month", you thought as you went about your business.

Settling down on the ground, you ignored the sporadic twinges in your abdomen as you picked blackberries off the bush. When the basket was never quite as full as it should have been, you noticed the purple stains all over your daughter.

Evvie had been working, stealthily, by your side, taking the berries out of the basket, almost as quickly as you were putting them in, bursting the juice filled bubbles in her hand before cramming their carcuses into her mouth and there was nothing you could do but laugh.

After managing to pick a few, low hanging, apples, you headed back to the house to drop off the fruit and clean Evvie up. It was then, as you passed by the makeshift prison enclosure, you heard someone call out to you. Up until that point, you hadn't given the enclosure a second thought, but hearing your name made you pause, and you turned your head to see who could know you.

Taking a few steps toward the fence, the young man behind the voice gave Evvie a little wave, which she responded to with a giggle before smashing her face against your leg. Not recognizing the guy, you, instinctively, reached for Evvie and twirled your fingers in her dark hair as you, again, carefully, scanned the weary faces of the other men in the enclosure, but, like the one who had gotten your attention, you may not have known them, sure as shit, they knew you.

With a guarded smile, you stared blankly at the young man and tried to figure out this guy's deal. "I'm sorry... I don't..."

He shook his head, absolving you of your confusion, “I'm Alden... Al. We never really met but... when I saw you walking by with your daughter," he nodded down at Evvie then smiled back at you, "It was good to see you two got out all right."

A strained smile crossed your lips as you thanked him, noticing several sets of scowling eyes burrowing into you. Each one thinking the exact same thing - Traitor, making your instantly uncomfortable.

With an urgent tug on the sleeve of your sweater, Evvie made her demand, "Pay, mama. Nooooooow."

"We're going, bug," you smiled, petting the top of her head, relieved to have a reason to get away from the glaring hostility, "Excuse me. I serve a pintsized tyrant with an agenda."

As you started to walk toward the house, something told you to stop and you turned back around, and reached into the basket, tossing an apple over the fence, "Here."

Alden caught the fruit as Evvie tugged you into the house.

 

 

In the kitchen, you were greeted with a warm smile by Catherine, a matronly woman that you had become friendly with. You leaned against the counter, with a grimace, as another sharp cramp hit you. Catherine caught the strained look on your face and asked if you were all right.

Forcing an uncomfortable smile, you shrugged it off and said, "Yeah. Just some female stuff."

Catherine chuckled, as she took the basket and looked it over, "I sure don't miss those days. But then you trade it in for whiskers and a head full of white hair."

"Baskets a little light today. Someone had herself a snack. Pretty sure there are more berries on her face than we brought back with us," you said, apologetically, smiling over at the messy face.

Catherine chuckled at Evvie's face, "Still plenty here to work with. She can have whatever she wants. Needs them more than any of us need dessert, that's for sure."

The small talk continued but once the kitchen got busier, you mouthed goodbye to Catherine, and slipped away to get Evvie cleaned up when a much stronger cramp hit you, folding you in two.

Chapter Text

Every day since leavin' Hilltop had been covered in blood, an’ the foul stench of decay was always one step behind, like the damn Grim Reaper was ridin' their ass. Those weren't what was botherin' him though.

He was worryin' cuz he'd been startin' to forget little things, like the way yer lips felt on his or the sounds you made when you was fallin' asleep next to 'im. The only thing that was keepin' 'im from throwin' down his bow and headin' back tuh Hilltop was remindin' himself what he was fightin' for, but that just got 'im back 'round tuh thinkin' of you again.

What was makin' things even harder was that he and Rick ain't been seein’ eye to eye on much these days. Maybe it's cuz they was runnin’ on fumes but the occasional disagreements turned to daily and had escalated from bickerin’ to full out brawlin’. What was it gonna take tuh make Rick see that after everythin’ they done, not a single one of them Saviors deserved to live?

Off in the distance, a small herd of walkers staggered down the dirt road, and he wiped the sweat from his brow before raising his crossbow but before he could even get off one shot, a station wagon came speeding in his direction, plowin' into the herd, and knocking them down like they was bowlin' pins, before halting to a stop.

Outta the passenger’s side, Rick hopped out the door, an' called ‘is name.

“What,” he barked back, still pissed from an earlier argument.

“You're needed at Hilltop. Maggie’s orders.”

“Yeah. Okay," confused, he lowered his weapon and headed toward the passenger side door. It didn't seem right, ditchin' Rick an' the others to resume the battle without 'im.

. He nodded at Jesus, seated behind the wheel, then leaned on the open door, "When I'm done, I’ll come find yuh. Finish this up.”

Rick turned 'is head fer a second, lookin' down the empty road, before meeting his eye. "Take as long as ya need."

Easing into the car, he set the bow down between his knees and leaned an elbow against the door so he could prop his head up on his hand. There was somethin’ Rick wasn't sayin' an' it took a few minutes into the ride to notice Jesus wasn't sayin' much either. The uncomfortable silence that was fillin' the car started makin' 'im jittery an' 'is knee bounced up an' down, in apprehension.

 

 

Rolling up to the gate, Maggie was pacin’ back an’ forth, lil’ girl propped on her hip. The pieces were puttin' themselves into place, an' he was halfway out the car before Jesus had a chance to roll to a stop.

When Maggie turned toward the car, there was no smile to greet him. Instead, she was pale, and her eyes looked about as tired as he felt. Suddenly he desperately needed that smile to know everythin' was okay. She headed in 'is direction, an' lil’ girl was reachin’ out for him, squealin' an' callin’ his name.

Once they were closer, he took lil’ girl, held 'er close to his chest and snapped, "Where is she?"

“With Carson. He's...," Maggie looked off beyond the gate.

Now, shouting. he cut Maggie off, and demanded an explanation. His bark sent Maggie recoilin’, two steps back, and made lil' girl's face scrunch up and her bottom lip was juttin' out, seconds away from burstin' into tears. He started bouncin' her in his arms and pressed his mouth against the side of 'er head, whisperin’ soothin’ words, anything tuh make that face go away.

Once she regained her voice, Maggie said, “He wanted to wait 'til you got here before...but...”

Before she could finish speakin', he stormin' in the direction of the medical trailer with Maggie, quickly, followin' after 'im.

 

 

At the sound of the door opening, Carson stopped restocking the supplies and turned his head as Daryl stomped into the trailer, “Is it the lupus?”

Carson moved to his desk with a sigh, "No, her Lupus had nothing to do with this."

Relieved, Daryl rested against the wall, listening to doc from over lil' girl's shoulder as she clung to him with her arms wrapped around 'is neck.

"She all right, then?"

Carson wavered, uneasily, over his reply, carefully explainin' that it was more complicated than yes or no. "Usually with these types of pregnancies, they would be treated with a medication that would stop cell growth and dissolve the existing cells. Unfortunately, I don't have access to that.”

“Yer sayin’…,” the words caught in his throat, he gripped lil' girl to his chest, as he processed what he was hearin', “she's pregnant?”

Carson frowned and reached for his pen, quickly scrawling out a crude image of the female reproductive system onto a piece of scrap paper and pointed out the uterus to Daryl with his pen.

"Normally, the embryo would be growing here. But this one has implanted here. The technical term is ectopic pregnancy," he moved the pen upwards, to where the embryo was located, and circled the Fallopian tube.

"The fallopian tube is not designed to accommodate a growing embryo, and if left untreated, it can tear, cause internal bleeding, and infection. In some cases, it could lead to death. What I did was remove the embryo before it got to that point and repaired the Fallopian tube."

There was a tornado of tumultuous emotions whirling around inside of him and Maggie rested a comforting hand on his shoulder. "It's safe, right? She'll be..."

Answering honestly, Carson said,"It would've be more harmful to have waited."

He nodded, once, in understanding, and paused at the door, before storming outside to think.

 

 

After placin' lil' girl down on the dirt, he told her not to wander off before sittin' down on the steps of the trailer. He planted his boots on the ground, stretched his arms out beyond his knees before lighin' up a cigarette. Keepin' one eye trained on lil' girl, he took a drag, feelin' the exhaustion settle down in his bones. He was done, though his mind was determined to keep goin'.

Any kind of surgery was dangerous, no matter how easy the doc made it sound, an' he didn't need some fancy medical degree tuh understand what the doc wasn't sayin' outright.

Anger started fillin' 'im up. He didn’t ask for this. Hell, he never asked for nothin’. He ain't thought about kids. Sure, he'duh died for Carl, Judith or lil’ girl, but never saw himself havin’ one.

Until he wasn't.

And now, here he was, tryin' tuh figure out how he could be missin’ somethin’ he almost had. Want something, he was only just realizin' he wanted. He might not've known how to be a father, but he was sure he knew how tuh not be like his. 

But there wasn't gonna be no baby.

Bringin' a kid into the world how it was now was crazy. He meant what he'd said all those time but... maybe wantin' tuh have a family wasn't the craziest thing, anymore.

Still, it wasn't safe. Not while them things were out walkin' around. Not when there was people out there, doin' anything they needed tuh survive. Kids, especially, babies, you couldn't take your eyes off of 'em fer a second. Not like when he was growin' up, when you could leave a kid alone for a few days an' the worst you'd find when yuh come back was a mess. He couldn't imagine leavin' lil' girl or Judith like that, makin' them fend fer themselves. Nah. Makin' more kids just tuh have 'em grow up tuh be walker chow, didn't seem right tuh him.

It was lil' girl's giddy squeals that finally got him outta 'is head. Wiping his eyes with his heel of his hand, he looked over at her, dirt coverin' her from nose to knees as she proudly toddled in his direction, with a rock in her outstretched hand.

Tossin' the burnt out cigarette, he took the offerin', which was more a clump of dirt than actual rock, an' ruffled her hair, thankin' her for the gift, cuz you'd been teachin' her about manners, before pickin' himself up off the step.

"All right, lil' girl. Ready tuh go back in?"

'is hand lingered on the latch and he took a deep breath, buryin' all the crazy an' impossible things that'd been runnin' 'round 'is head, deep down in a place where he could deal with or not.

Reachin' up, lil' girl wrapped her hand around his fingers, impatiently, tugging them, and pushed her free hand against the door.

He gave a glance at the tiny dirt stained hand on his. 'is eyes traveled tuh see her smilin' up at him an' somethin' inside of 'im started tuh shift.

"In, Dah?"

Nah.

Wantin' them things wasn't crazy at all.

Chapter Text

The first thing your bleary eyes noticed as you slowly regained consciousnesses was the bed sheet, faded and stained, that hung in lieu of a door, giving you a modicum of privacy in the overstuffed, makeshift hospital room. The space barely contained the cot you were laying on and the maroon leather accent chair, that once belonged inside Barringer House, now occupied by Tara and had been ever since she dragged you to the medical trailer earlier that day.

Still groggy and lethargic with a mouth that was desert dry, there was only one question on your mind. The words came out rushed and gravelly as you forced your voice to work.

"Where... Where's Evvie?"

The chair scraped against the floor when Tara jumped up, her body bumping the cot before clambering out of the room. The unexpected jolt shifted your body just enough, causing a lightning flash of pain to shoot from your side.

It was over.

Melancholia enveloped you when, for the millionth time that day, you did the math in your head. Approximately six weeks, Carson had told you after looking at the ultrasound.

Six weeks.

Who would have imagined something no bigger than a grain of rice could be capable of causing such chaos in such a short period of time?

Though, the two of you hadn’t been together long, no matter how many times you worked the numbers, it always added up to Daryl, and that situation was far too new to throw an unplanned pregnancy into a question mark.

No.

The fact that it wasn't happening was for the best.

...

...

...

Wasn't it?

Returning with the water, Tara's presence brought you back from the the hypothetical places your mind wandered to. Carefully, she helped you sit up, placing pillows and blankets behind you, before pressing a straw to your lips. The room temperature water tasted old and tinny on your tongue, but it did the job, quickly diluting the roughness. When you had enough, you waved the cup away, thanking her, finally sounding a little more human than before.

"I let Carson know you were awake. If the pain gets to be too much, just give him a shout and he'll give you something stronger."

Moments later, without any warning, the privacy curtain was shoved aside and confusion clouded you. The startling sight that was now on your side of the curtain caused an involuntary intake of breath. You blinked several times to be sure it was real, and it was, and you weren't prepared for the moment that was now thrust upon you.

Shit

Maggie.

You knew this was all Maggie's doing. You had gone through worse on your own, and had specifically asked her not to bother anyone, but clearly she took matters into her own hands because here you were.

Again, Tara stood and the chair scraped against the floor before bumping into the wall. "I'm just gonna... uh... check on Evvie."

Reaching for her arm, you, silently, implored her to stay. You just needed time to think, to find the words, but she just patted your hand, excusing herself as she squeezed past Daryl, disappearing into the trailer.

Looking exhausted, he made his way over to the side of bed, but kept kept a noticeable distance. Daryl's entire being slumped against the wall. His voice sounded calm or maybe it was just as tired as he was.

“Couldn't keep outta trouble, could yuh?”

He may have been trying to lighten the mood, but the morose look on his face made your heart break a little bit more. You did that. You caused that look, and the lump in your throat grew larger. Lowering your eyes, your hands fumbled nervously with the faded blue sheet that covered your lap, balling it up and twisting it around so you didn't have to see the pain your caused.

Staring down at the material in your fist, you sighed. “So... you know?”

His fingertips scratched at the wall as an affirmative sound came from his throat. “Doc, he, uh, he explained...”

Nodding, you studied his weary face, and what you saw made you frown. "When was the last time you slept?”

Answering your question with a shrug, you pulled back the sheet, and carefully made room, offering him space on the too small cot. "Get in."

Edging closer, a hand swept over his face as he carefully slid into the spot. Settling in, Daryl slipped an arm around and with his next breath came the words, “Missed this.”

Burying your nose in the threadbare cotton of his shirts, layered in the warm scent of the outdoors you detected the acerbic odor of sweat mingling with dirt that was embedded in his suntanned skin and those scents of him, of home, brought comfort and the silent tears began to fall.

Pulling your wet face from his shirt, you said, ”I am so sorry."

"Got nothin' to be sorry for."

You hiccuped, holding back the sobs, "But it's too much. It's not what you signed up for. I mean, we barely know each other. We're not even at the point where we should be raising a goldfish, let alone... this."

The corners of his eyes crinkle a bit as he gave a quick nod to your stomach. "Think yuh did that all on your own? Should know by now where babies come from," he teased.

“No, but…," you gave him a smirk and your hand scratched through your hair,"I dunno. I just didn't see this happening. Not like this, anyway. I mean, it’s not like we’ve been careful, like, ever, but if what we’ve got were to last, I figured, maybe, somewhere down the road, I don't know, we’d settle some place and it’d either happen or it wouldn’t."

Ending the dialog with an insecure little shrug, he raised an eyebrow in question as he looked down at you. “Yeah, huh? That, uh, that somethin’ you'd want?”

Heat started to rise in your cheeks, and you gave him a gentle, teasing shove. “Sure don’t mind all the practicing we do.”

“Well, if… if that’s what yuh want…,” looking away, he cleared his throat before going on,“Anyway, still got lil’ girl an’ if she’s all we get, that’d be fine, too.”

Twisting your fingers with Daryl's, his graying scruff nuzzled your skin before his lips pressed firmly against your temple. A smile started to rise, as you thought about his choice of words.

We

He said we

It was such a tiny word, but no matter the size, it filled your heart with warmth. Somehow, this man, known for using as few words as possible, managed to say the exact ones you needed to hear. His feelings for you were absolute. There were no terms or demands placed upon you. He asked for nothing beyond what was already given to him.

 

 

After some time had passed, Carson stuck his head around the privacy curtain. "Got someone here who wants to see you.”

Stepping around the curtain, he was carrying a tear stained and inconsolable toddler in his arms. Hiccuping, Evvie's little face was red from crying, as strands of drool streamed from her mouth and down her chin, creating a large wet spot on her pale pink tee shirt.

You chuckled at the little face so full of distress, "Aww. What's the matter, sweet girl?"

"Give 'er here," Daryl sat up with a grunt, sacrificing his own comfort for the toddler's.

"While I'm here, let's see how you're doing," Carson said, after handing the child over to Daryl.

While Carson was checking your vitals, Daryl settled Evvie down on his lap and made an attempt to clean your daughter up.

"Nooowah," she whined, turning her head away to avoid his hand.

"Can't be runnin' 'round with uh messy face now," Daryl chuckled.

Pleased with his findings, Carson finished up quickly, and chuckled at the struggle Daryl was having with Evvie before heading back out front.

When she was mostly clean, Daryl used the side of his pants to wipe all the drool and snot off his hand as Evvie turned her head to look at you with wide, curious eyes. She leaned in close and pressed her palm against your cheek.

“Bedder, mama," Evvie said, blinking up at you,

Covering your daughter’s hand with your own, you glanced up at Daryl before giving her a reassuring a smile. “Yeah. All better, bug.”

Chapter Text

Being on bed rest for two weeks had you going a little stir crazy. Your recovery was going as well as expected but Daryl insisted on following Dr. Carson's instructions to the strictest of T's and though, it was sometimes overbearing, Daryl had been an enormous help. The brusque man had taken on the role of care giver, once again, with unexpected ease.

After several days of bickering, you had finally won the battle or maybe you'd just wore Daryl down. Either way, he grudgingly agreed to take you outside.

On the steps of Barringer House, you sat in triumph, watching as Daryl chased Evvie around the yard under the bright blue sky. A feather-light breeze wafted over your skin, like an old friend, joyfully, welcoming you back into the world.

Throughout the morning, Daryl would take a moment at random to check in on you. He'd stop what he was doing, look over at you and wait for you to acknowledge him before going back to playing with your daughter.

The man who thought he ran the Hilltop hurried toward the steps. After passing you on the stairs, Gregory came to a stop and did a double take before backing down the step. With a furrowed brow, he looked you over.

“You’re still here?”

Avoiding Gregory's eyes and the ire you were bound to catch, your attention remained fixed upon your child, who was happily running around, playing something that looked a bit like tag to you.

“And you're very perceptive,” you said, "Could give Sherlock Holmes a real run for his money."

“I understand, I do, you had surgery and I'm sorry for... for your loss," Gregory said, with zero sincerity in his voice, right before he called you by the wrong name, "but by now shouldn't you be well enough to..."

Turning your head, at last, you looked up at him with icy disdain.

"This isn’t some halfway house or, or, or some drop-in center that you and that boyfriend of yours can just squat in. We can't just let anyone stay here."

Letting an impolite reply die on your tongue, you shrugged and finally said, "Anything I do seems to be up to Dr. Carson."

"It's not his place to say..." Gregory kept saying words but you had stopped hearing him.

 

 

When he turned his head to check on you, Daryl saw Gregory looming too close for his liking. He scooped up the wiggling and giggling tot and carried her under his arm like an old newspaper before stomping over in your direction.

After placing Evvie on the ground, he situated himself, towering and threatening without having to utter a single word, blocking Gregory from your sight.

“Hey,” he said, interrupting the tense silence that had settled between you and Gregory.

You smiled up at Daryl, but he was distracted. His squinting blue stare was fixed upon the increasing discomfort Gregory had started exhibiting ever since his arrival. With his bluster now gone, Gregory hurried into the house without another word.

Evvie took the newfound lack of supervision to climb onto the steps and up into your lap.

Absently, you stroked her hair. "Did you have fun, bug?”

“’e wunned, an, an, 'e ...,” Evvie continued to jabber, aimlessly with enthusiasm as you listened for familiar words that you could react to.

“I saw,” you pulled her closer and placed a kiss atop her messy head before she got off your lap and headed back onto the grass.

Gesturing toward the house with his chin, Daryl said, “What he want?”

Brushing off the incident with an indifferent shrug, you said, "He was trying to be intimidating but thankfully, you're much better at it."

With a smirk on his lips, Daryl scoffed as he took a seat beside you. His broad shoulder brushed up against yours as he moved his arm around your back, rubbing slow circles where your shirt had ridden up and exposed the skin. The innocuous expression of intimacy had you leaning into him. After weeks without him, the missing piece of your heart had returned and having him around had been perfect.

Well, almost. 

You had spent the last two weeks only sleeping next to him, but when it had been weeks since you saw him last and when his every touch ignited the desire of intimacy, each night had been what could only be described as frustration. Beyond that, there was an expiration date on your reunion and since you were getting better, it was only a matter of time before he'd leave to rejoin his people in the fight that was still raging on beyond the heavily watched gate.

He fingers continued to stroke your back as you both watched Evvie play with a shovel she had found until she yawned and started to rub at her nose with her little hand.

Slowly, Daryl removed his hand from your skin and got to his feet. "Should probably take 'er in. Looks like it's time for 'er nap."

Surprised that he, too, noticed her tell, you started to ask, “How…’d...”

“Do the same thing when yer tired.”

"..."

As if he read your mind, he said, “Notice everythin’ about you.”

Heat instantly warmed your skin. "Wow. That was... That was good. That's definitely going to get you a little laid tonight."

There was an amused chuckle followed by a shake of his head as he walked over to collect Evvie. Once she was in his arms she rested her cheek on his shoulder but before any of you could start up the stairs, a familiar voice called out your name, stopping you in your tracks. You told Daryl you'd be right back before turning around and slowly walking over to the prisoner enclosure.

"Hey, Al. Everything okay?”

Alden maneuvered his way around several prisoners so he could stand in front of the bars. "Haven’t seen you around in a while, Maggie said something about Dr. Carson putting you on bed rest.”

“Yeah but I'm better now,” you smiled, before catching the way Daryl was watching your conversation with the captive Savior from the corner of your eye. It had you shifting uncomfortably and you ran a hand through your hair as the smile fell from your lips, “I need to… Evvie had herself a big morning and she tired herself out. I’ll, uh, catch you later, okay?”

“Yeah, sure,” he nodded, “It, uh, was good seeing you again.”

Thanking him, you spun back around to follow Daryl back into the house.

Chapter Text

Irritating and useless, Gregory stood in the doorway to the kitchen doing nothing, well not nothing exactly. The disdain from his glare was burning holes in your skin as you helped Katherine sort through the vegetables that had just come in from the garden.

Now, a good community leader or even a halfway decent one should have had more important things to do with their time but to be fair, there weren't many people around the Hilltop who would ever accuse Gregory of being either. Instead, it seemed that ever since Daryl went back out to finish the fight, instead of doing any actual leading, he had his own agenda, spending much of his time trying to intimidate you into leaving the Hilltop.

At first, it was merely an annoyance, complaints and comments geared toward you whenever he saw you around, but as more time passed he upped his game The random run-ins had become a lot more frequent, more deliberate than you would have liked. Never far from where you were, it was as if he were looming over your shoulder, ready to remind you that you did not belong, that you should go back to your own people "whoever they might be".

You had tried to follow the advice Maggie gave you when you first got to the Hilltop, but ignoring the man was getting increasingly more difficult with every comment. It really didn't matter that Gregory's antics made you extremely uncomfortable nor did it matter that he didn't want you there. The both of you were stuck with each other until Daryl came back for you.

That is if he came back.

The concern you felt wasn't so much for his life, though you had never stopped worrying about that. It was an automatic, no different than breathing, but you knew he was capable of taking care of himself. This time, in the days leading up to his departure, things had grown mysteriously tense. When he left, he did so abruptly, taking off a few days before originally planned, but you felt it coming, saw the signs before he ever packed up his things, flashing red lights in his even longer silences and in the coldness of his body language. No matter how many times you went over every single detail of your time together since Maggie called him back, you couldn't figure out where everything went wrong.

With all the crap going on with Gregory, the last thing you should have been doing was spending more time in Barringer House but when Katherine asked if you'd be interested in helping her out around the kitchen you eagerly agreed, if only to keep yourself busy. Being around a two year old twenty-four hours a day hadn't been enough to quell all of the overthinking or the doom and gloom scenarios your brain liked to conjure up whenever it got too quiet.

Being in the kitchen all day finally gave you an endless supply of adult interactions which was desperately needed. In the beginning, you felt out of place in the kitchen. With the exception of eating, you knew practically nothing about cooking. It wasn't like anyone had shown you how to do anything useful in life, and you had no memory of seeing your own mother cook or if she ever had. You supposed she must have but...whatever. Thankfully, Katherine was patient and forgiving as you studied her, watching her closely, learning as she improvised recipes, and preparing meals*. The one thing that you could not handle was dressing the animals. You weren't blind to the fact it had to be done but it made you squeamish and quickly prompted you to explore alternative food options whenever possible.

Later in the day, Maggie stopped by the kitchen with an invitation for you. "Thought you might like to hang out tonight. Everyone's been so busy lately. We could all use a few laughs. Now that Daryl's gone again, you're all by yourself back there in the trailer. It's gotta be lonely. It'll be good for you to get out."

As your face lit up, you practically jumped at accepting the invitation without considering... well, you didn't consider what you would do with Evvie while you were out. Childcare had never exactly been a concern for you at the Sanctuary. You spent so little time with your daughter that if Negan was feeling benevolent enough to allow you some time with her, that was all you did, regardless of what was going on with the other wives.

But everything was different now. Your daughter had become an extra appendage and the only time she'd been out of your sight was when you were in the bathroom, but even then... well, Evvie didn't exactly have a grasp on the concept of personal space. Was it totally selfish to want to spend an hour in the company of people over the age of two? You hemmed and hawed over that question for the rest of the day, hesitant about leaving your daughter in the trailer, unattended, but the Hilltop was safe. Nothing got inside of those gates without somebody knowing. So you waited until Evvie was sound asleep before you headed back up to the house.

One hour and one drink easily turned into three hours and several drinks and it was for the second time that evening, you excused yourself from the conversation you were having with Tara and Jesus. Using the low light of the first quarter moon as your guide, you made the short trip back to the trailer to check on Evvie. Only, this time, thanks to Jesus, who had been pouring Gregory's secret stash of alcohol with a very heavy hand, you were far more tipsy than you should have been.

As you walked by yourself, your alcohol addled brain started to think again. One good thing came out of all the gloom and doom scenarios your mind conjured up. You were a mother and you needed a plan for the future especially if, by some chance, Daryl did not return. It was a train of thought you didn't like to wander down for very long, but you needed to have your ducks in order when it came to where you would raise your daughter.

Though you had friends at the Hilltop, you couldn't see residing in a place where you'd always feel unwelcome, again. No, the Kingdom seemed to be the safest and best option. You very much liked King Ezekiel and from the time you spent there the residents seemed okay. It helped that it was the only place that hadn't been tainted by the Saviors. That was a very important something both you and Evvie needed for the future. But, if Daryl failed to return, it most likely meant the Saviors had won, and if that were the case, would there even be a future for you?

Stumbling over a rock, you cursed that last drink, blaming it for your trip down such a depressing rabbit hole. Quickly, you tried shaking it off, deciding you needed to focus on the positive. He would be fine. He would be and whatever it was that had made things tense would get resolved. You needed to believe that everything would be okay.

When you arrived at the trailer, you saw something that made your heart stop beating.

The door was ajar.