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A Hard Lesson to Learn

Chapter Text

“You’ve been here a week and all you’ve done was sulk in the corner,” Rick told her gesturing around the cement block build cell that had become her home. “Tell me what Negan is planning and I’ll cut ya some slack. A nice home cooked meal, nice and hot just waiting for you,” he tried to bargain.

“Fuck off,” she had mumbled too tired from being partially malnourished and dehydrated. She looked at Rick as he leaned against the iron bars that kept her from escaping and going home. The mattress that she was being forced to sleep lay beside her as she sat in the corner. She wouldn’t wish sleeping on that mattress upon her worst enemy, in this case being Rick, to sleep on because that’s how shitty it was. The blood stains and grime that were on it only covered by a thin white sheet. No padding so it felt like she was sleeping on the floor with an even shittier pillow under her head. Things were so much better at The Sanctuary and she knew that Negan would be by any day to get her, but he never came. Day after day she waited and waited, still no Negan.

“He doesn’t care about you, ya know? Don’t you think he’d shown up by now? You were nothing, but just another soldier, nothing else,” Rick spat, his blue eyes trying to find her brown ones. “Those people under his control, he doesn’t care about any of them. Not you, them, anyone. The only person Negan cares for is his self,” Rick told her coldly. “What’s your name?”

Kali groaned throwing her head back against the wall. “Are you going to ask me the same stupid ass questions every fucking day till you get the answers you want,” she paused waiting for an answer but none came. “Name’s Kayley. There ya happy?”

A smirk tugged at Rick’s lips as he lowered his head and chuckled. “What were you in the old world?” He watched as Kali rolled her head to the side and glared at him clearly giving him a look of annoyance. “I was a sheriff’s deputy before all this.”

“Woah, big shocker there,” Kali quipped sarcastically. “Did it make you feel all powerful and shit toting a gun around and the badge on your chest,” she chuckled quietly. “Why are you wanting to know all this stuff about me, Rick? Like you said, I’m a nobody. No one cares about me. So why?”

“I try to see what everyone has in their arsenal to see what they can do. So, what did you do?”

Kali sighed. “If you really want to fucking know, I was a history teacher at a school in North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean I can’t kick your ass, Rick.”

“Never said you couldn’t,” he laughed, “why were you with Negan?”

“For fuck's sake Rick can you just give me that water bottle and daily peanut butter sandwich and leave me the hell alone,” Kali groaned ignoring the mans latest question.

“Answer the question and I’ll think about it,” he bargained once more. “Why were you with Negan,” he asked once more.

Pushing up from her spot in the corner, Kali stretched quickly becoming dizzy and black spots filling her vision before they scurried away. Taking a couple steps towards the door, Rick’s eyes locked on her as she made a slow walk towards him. “You want to know why I was with Negan,” she asked him once she was right in front of the door that Rick now stood on the other side of instead of leaning. Just because he had her weaker now doesn’t mean that she still wasn’t deadly. “He was the first person that I came across when I was out there on my own. We met in a little run-down town outside Greensboro, where he took me in and I’ve been with him ever since.”

“After everything, he’s done you’re still with him? All the people he’s killed for no reason other than want?”

Kali groaned as she slid down the wall beside the door. “I answered your fucking question, Rick. Now give me my food,” she demanded reaching a hand out to the door.

“Last one then you can eat. Why were you still with him?”

“Jesus Christ Rick do you think that he’s the only bad one here? How many people have you killed? Why? How many of them did you kill because they threatened you, Rick? Hmm? We just learned to survive somehow. Do you think we could have built what we had now if people didn’t trust us? You should know. This place you have here, it looks nice from what I can see from my tiny window over there. How did you end up here Rick? How many people did you kill? Stop looking at us like we’re the bad guys and accept the fact that you are just like us. Hell, this right here is kidnapping. Ain’t that right sheriff? Holding someone against their will. Figured a lawman like yourself would know better.”

She heard Rick take a deep breath before replying. “We killed when we had to. There’s no doubt about it,” he paused, “what y’all are doing is despicable and I’m going to make sure that you and Negan learn your lesson,” he promised.

“What about those men that were sleeping when you cut their throat? Hmm. Why didn’t you just kill me too? After what I did to your man, why didn’t you kill me too? Being dead would be a lot better than being here.”

“That’s enough,” Rick snapped.”You’ll learn. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I’ll make sure that you get it. You can’t just go around taking from people and killing them when they don’t comply. Before you know it, the saviors will be no more, Negan will be dead, and you’ll still be here, in this cell. Here’s your dinner,” he said slipping the water and sandwich through the cell door. “Get some rest. You’re gonna need it.”

“Promises Rick promises. Don’t write checks your ass can’t cash,” Kali yelled, but Rick ignored her and made his way up the stairs. She listened as his boots had made their way up the stairs, the sound disappearing, and the door up top creaking shut. The sound of the lock lacking made her let out a shaky breath. Quietly, Kali gathered her ‘dinner’ and made her way over to that lumpy mattress. Sitting with her back against the wall, Kali undid the plastic wrapper that encased her sandwich and took a quick bite. Her stomach grumbled in anticipation. The peanut butter creamy on her tongue as she swallowed it letting out a moan.

Popping the cap off the water, she took a long chug before remembering that she needed to make it last. Slowly eating her food with a couple sips of water along the way, she watched through the window as the clouds rolled across the sky. Where was Negan? Was Rick going to leave her in here forever just because she was one of Negan’s lieutenants?

Before she realized how quickly time had flown by the sun was setting and darkness was setting in. Her eyes began to droop with sleep. Forcing herself to lay down and sleep, Kali pulled the other sheet-like blanket over her form before turning to face the wall. Tomorrow would just be another day. More of Rick’s questions, shitty food, a bathroom break and if she’s lucky a bath. Negan would be here soon…right?

Chapter Text

“Kali, could you stay a minute,” Negan asked as the rest of the lieutenants made their way out of the meeting room. The others gave her a look of worry, some wrinkled their foreheads in confusion before leaving. He was still sitting at the end of the table, his long legs perched on it because he did in fact ‘own this fucking place’ like he had said multiple times.

“Sure thing boss,” she replied immediately giving the others a reassuring look. Once they had all exited, Kali shut gray steel door behind them and turned to Negan. “What’s up,” she asked once she had retaken her seat to his left, her curiosity running rampant.

Negan eyed her for a second before removing his legs from the table and resting on his elbows, Lucille, never too far away, lay beside him as he continued to stare at her. “You remember when we first met,” he asked receiving an ‘hmm’ from Kali. “You were a scrawny little thing back then. Didn’t know anything about survival, how to shoot a gun. Hell, I remember watching you from down the street deal with two walkers and one would have got ya if I hadn’t stepped in,” he boasted.

Kali laughed softly at his recollection of how they had met. “Sorry to tell you Negan, but I think your memories are a bit altered from what actually happened. As I recall,” she started laying more on her elbows now to get closer, “I believe it was you who needed saving on that street that day,” she prodded. “In fact, I remember shooting my gun and dropping both of ‘em. Then you marched up to me and yanked my gun from hands calling me a lunatic for shooting so close to living person, sir.”

Both of them started laughing. Negan’s eyes scrunching shut and he laughed loudly drowning out Kali’s own laughter. “Damn good times back before we built all this. All those times you kicked my ass,” Negan remember quietly to himself. “Anyways, I asked you stay because I’m sending you to the southern outpost. Thomas, that was over it, got himself killed while they were scavenging for some supplies.”

Kali jerked in shock, confusion plastered all over her face. “Well shit, don’t act so surprised,” he teased.
“I thought you didn’t want me out there? Or at least that is what you said every time I even hinted at it. Always said ‘you’re not going out there and that’s final’, before storming off.”

Negan rolled his eyes. “Do you want it or not? I’d be more than happy to give that position to someone else,” he warned.
Pushing her chair back enthusiastically causing it to tip over and clamor against the cement floors. “Are you serious,” she asked him straight-faced knowing how cruel he can be at times. She watched as Negan’s eyes lit up watching her. “You are fucking serious! Oh, my. It’s about fucking time,” she played.

“Just don’t fuck up and die on me okay. I don’t think I could handle that,” he told her honestly looking into her brown eyes sincerely.

“I won’t let you down Negan,” she promised.

“I know,” he said softly flicking is fingers towards the door, “go pack your bags. You’re moving.”
----
Kali groaned as she rolled off the mattress landing on same cold floor that she woke up on daily now. Her hot breath visible against it. Resting her forehead against it, Kali took in a deep breath trying to find the strength to pick herself up and deal with Rick and company for another day. It was tempting to just lay there beside that mattress until Rick comes to bother her again just wasting away the day. Taking one last deep breath, Kali placed her palms on the floor and pushed herself up also bringing her knees in, so she could sit on them. If she was going to be stuck in here for a while, then maybe it was time she started doing some fitness exercises.
Kali was staring at the block wall when a voice called out from behind her. “It’s about time you woke up. I’ve been here awhile,” Rick chastised causing Kali to whip her head around.

“What the fuck Rick? Do you get off on watching people sleep when you have them locked up down here? You need to get more hobbies,” she cracked looking at him. “So, what’s on the schedule for today prick,” she asked flopping down the mattress, her breath temporarily leaving her. “Another day of shooting the shit Rick? What do you want to know today?”

Rick smiled. The edges of his lips curling in amusement. One hand rested on the outside blocks of the cell and one on his hips. That light blue button up clinging to his body. His brown curls stuck to his head. Those blue eyes sparkling like the sun reflecting off the ocean. “I thought we’d try something different today,” he drawled out, “but since you seem to enjoy it so much, we’ll do the other stuff later.”

Kali rolled her eyes while still looking at the ceiling. Concrete surrounded her up, down, left, and right. The tiny window giving her a ground view of the street leading away from whomever’s house she’s locked up in. “You know what Rick? I think I’m just going to lay here all day and not give a shit what you or your people do,” she told him matter of factly. “So just go about your day and don’t mind me.”

“How about you stand your ass up, walk over here, and we go do what I have planned for you to do,” Rick asked her rhetorically. Sooner or later, she’d have to do it, or he’d continue to bug her all damn day. “Get up,” he demanded.

Kali let out a huff before obeying Rick’s orders. Back at The Sanctuary, she was one of the top dogs. Giving out orders and taking no shit in return, but here the tables were turned. She was the one forced to comply with what these people had to say in order to live. It made a sick feeling rest in her stomach. Pushing off the mattress and standing to her feet, Kali looked at the man dead in the eyes. “What now prick,” she asked him agitated.

“Walk towards the back wall, face it,” he ordered. Taking a deep breath and exhaling loudly, Kali obeyed. The cell door creaked open causing Kali to turn her head. “Don’t look at me. Keep your eyes on the wall,” Rick ordered stepping into the cell.
She heard his boots skid across the floor, his presence strong behind her. He grabbed one of her wrists causing her to try and jerk away, but he held her firm. Pulling the zip-tie from his pocket, Rick reached for her other wrist holding the two together. His breath hot on her neck was not a welcome feeling. “I own you,” he whispered pulling the plastic tight causing her to grimace.

“Are you into some kinky shit Rick? Gonna hold me down and give it to me like only a real man can? You fucking asshole,” she seethed, hiding her fear.

Rick said nothing only grabbing her arm and guiding her out the door. Each step of the stairs squeaking under their combined weight. Her heartbeat accelerating as the door came closer. Rick pushed the door open. The bright light caused Kali to squint. Taking a glance around the house, she noticed they had come up into the kitchen. Michonne, who had been down to the cell a couple times, sat at the table giving the pair a look. She and Rick shared a nod before Rick started leading her out of the kitchen.
The walls were a mutual grey lined with white borders. The tile floor in the kitchen faded into dark brown hardwood throughout the rest of the house. Random pictures lined the walls. Kali’s black combat boots tapped against the floor as she walked. Rick guided her towards another set of stairs.

Kali froze. Rick quickly grew impatient and started pushing her. “No Rick, no,” she said as she shook her head. “No.”
Rick continued to ignore her pushing her up the stairs one at a time. Her legs had grown heavy. Her pulse quickening by the second. Her breath hitched. “Walk on your own before I drag you up these stairs,” Rick threatened lowly.

Reluctantly, Kali did as she was told and ever so slowly walked herself up the stairs, Rick’s grip on her arm never faltering. Once they reached the top, she stopped. “Rick…please, don’t do this,” she begged. “Please.”

“Will you just shut up,” Rick asked her annoyed as he pushed her into the bedroom. Kali tried to jerk away, but Rick was quick and held her arm tight. “Calm the hell down. Nothing’s happening in here except you’re taking a shower. You’re nasty,” he told her leading her into the bathroom just adjacent to the bedroom. Rick pulled her closer to him, his hand gripping her upper arm. Flicking his knife out, the cool metal brushed against her skin as he severed her binds. “Clean yourself up. There isn’t anything in here for you to hurt yourself or anyone else with. So, don’t try anything,” he said firmly, an ungiven warning clear under his tone. “Michonne will be bringing you some clothes. Twenty minutes is all you get,” Rick told her shutting the door and locking it from the other side.

Kali let out a shaky breath examining the bathroom. Baby blue walls with light grey lining matched the gray granite counter. A white shower curtain hung from the shower rod. Turning to look at herself in the mirror for the first time, Kali blinked in surprise. Rick was right, she was nasty. A cut from her eyebrow to mid-cheek was scabbed over. The remnants of blood crusted on her face. Her left eye had a nice fading shiner on it. Dirt and some blood caked the rest of her face.

Stepping over to the shower, Kali played with the nobs until she found the right temperature. Shedding her clothes, she pulled the white t-shirt off grimacing as her muscles screamed in protests. Her shirts had blood splatters on it probably from the men she killed. Easily kicking off her boots, Kali unbuttoned her jeans pushing them down and stepping out of them. Left in only her sports bra and panties, she took a deep breath before shedding them too and stepping under the hot stream of water.
Instantly, the grime that layered her body began to wash away and swirl around the drain. Taking the time to check herself, Kali checked herself out making sure that there were no significant injuries. Three bottles sat on the shelf. A shampoo, conditioner, and body wash along with a washcloth. She heard the door be pushed up and seconds later close back. Peaking outside she saw a fresh stack of clothes folded on the counter.

Quickly washing, she let the water run over her body until there was a knock at the door. The signal that her twenty minutes was up. Twenty minutes of freedom, sort of, gone. Cutting off the water, she shivered the cold air attacking her. Scurrying to dress, she pulled the jeans and short sleeve shirt over her still damp body. She pulled her hair into a ponytail.

A few minutes later the door reopened, this time Rick stood in the doorway of the still steamy bathroom. Kalie sat on the toilet seat until they locked eyes for a moment before she looked away. “Get up. Turn around,” Rick said gruffly. With full compliance this time, Kali obeyed. Rick stepped forward and bound her hands again. Rick pulled her out of the bathroom, out of the bedroom, and down the stairs. They stopped once in the kitchen again, were Michonne was feeding a toddler, to get a water bottle and snack bar before guiding her down the stairs to her ‘home’.

Rick pulled the door open and Kali walked inside expecting him to follow. The sound of the cell closing made her whip around, her hands still bound behind her back. “Rick, what the hell?”

He stared at her for a minute before speaking. “Walk to the door,” he paused waiting for her to follow his direction. “Turn around,” he commanded once she was at the door. Rick reached through the cell door and cut her binds. “What’s your name,” he asked her holding the cut zip-tie and the water and food.

Kali smirked when she turned around to face him again. “What’s your name,” he asked once more.

“I’m Negan.”

Chapter Text

The sound of the cell door opening caught Kali’s attention. She’d been up for a couple hours now but lay on her mattress pretending to be asleep. She had heard their boots as they descended the stairs, their voices in a whisper. The sound of boots skidding across the floor, caused her muscles to contract with the want to attack. This wasn’t Rick. He never came into her cell when she was asleep or pretending to be. He either called her bluff or waited until she woke up.

When rough hands touched her shoulder, Kali involuntarily flinched. Curling her right hand into a fist she waited. When the person pulled her over onto her back, Kali came up swinging. She caught a glimpse of brown hair as the person jerked away and fell to the ground. She heard his groans as she scrambled to her feet. Her heart rate was quickening as she scrambled to get to the open cell door, only to be stopped in her tracks by a man pointing a black Glock at her. “You just don’t know how to stop do you,” the man asked, “What was your plan huh? Kill us too and make a run for The Sanctuary? You do know that if you ever try to leave here, Rick will hunt you down and kill ya right? Maybe we should just save him the trouble. Kill ya right now. We could say that you tried to get my gun, so we didn’t have a choice. How does that sound?”

Kali raised her hands in surrender. Today was not the day to get shot by a couple of pricks who wanted her dead anyway. “I panicked. Your buddy over there grabbed me and I panicked. No need to fucking shoot me when I’m just standing here,” Kali defended.

The man eyed her. His eyes full of hatred as he stared at her. “Tommy you alright,” he asked the man that was still collecting himself on the floor.

“Yeah Mitch,” he answered. “For a woman, she sure does pack a hell of a punch,” Tommy had said standing to his feet. “What did you think you were going to do Miss Kayley? Think you’d get away,” he asked this time closer so that his breath was hot her neck. Kali closed her eyes that same feeling of discomfort from when Rick was behind her amplified by this man. His hands reached up and brought her hands behind her back. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this but….,” he paused slipping the zip-ties around her wrist, “that isn’t how things work around here,” as he pulled the ties tight causing her to grimace.

“Aw Tommy, I think you hurt her,” teased Mitch. He had put the gun away and stepped forward into the cell. He walked around her pulling the ties tighter. Tommy was now in front of her rubbing his jaw. “I think it’s fair to say what goes around comes around,” Tommy said before delivering a blow to Kali’s face. With a small sliver of blood coming from her lip Kali turned her head back recovering from the hit delivering a glare at the man.“That’ll teach ya not to fuck with me,” he seethed before punching her again.

The rest was a blur as the pair basically drug her from the cell. One on each side holding her up and forcing her to walk down the street. When she would miss a step, they’d jerk her up causing her to groan. This was the first time that she has been outside of Rick’s house. “Where are you taking me,” she grumbled her jaw aching and dazed from the punches. The bright rays from the sun caused her to squint.

“Shut up,” Tommy demanded as they drug her along. Along the way, they passed other Alexandrians that just watched the scene. An outline of a church came into view up ahead. The duo continued to drag her towards the church. “Get ready to repent your sins,” one of them whispered pushing the door open.

Rick was at the back of the church talking to Michonne. He turned and looked when the door opened. Tommy and Mitch walked her to him before letting go. “Hey there Rick, how have ya been? It’s been about a week since I last saw you right?”

“What happened,” he asked taking hold of her chin examining her newly busted lip and a bruise forming on her cheek. When he touched her, Kali tried to pull away, but Rick didn’t let go. Looking up Kali’s eyes met Rick’s. His eyes full of worry. “What happened,” he grounded out breaking eye contact with her to look at Tommy and Mitch.

“Just a little misunderstanding is all. Ain’t that right Miss Kayley,” she heard from behind her. Silently she nodded her head to ashamed or scared to look Rick in the eyes. Rick looked her over once more before dismissing the men and guiding Kali to a chair at the front of the church facing everyone.

Rick helped her sit down and he squatted down in front of her. One of his hands was on her knee. “Kayley, what happened?”

“I punched him first,” she admitted. “They scared me. I reacted. I hit him, he hit me. We’re even,” she nearly whispered.

She heard Rick take a deep breath and exhale. “I figured you started it honestly. Just cooperate from now on okay? This won’t happen again.”

Again, Kali nodded her head. There was no reason to try and argue. They would always see her as a bad guy. She didn’t want that. She just wanted to go home. Go back to Negan. Tell him to leave Alexandria alone, and move on, but there was a chance she would never see beyond those walls again.

The sound of people filling the church caused Kali to raise her head. Nearly every Alexandrian was there. Every person that wanted her dead all in one room. She just figured this was a trail with her enemies on the jury ready to sentence her to death. Each of them looked at her with hatred in their eyes, making Kali want to crawl into a shell. Michonne stood beside the chair that Kali was sat in observing the looks that Kali was getting.

Rick took his place at the front of the gathered congregation. “Thank you all for showing up. I know some of y’all don’t want to discuss this but it’s time. This is Kayley,” Rick said turning and pointing to her, “She’s one of Negan’s people.” Rick paused a second letting the crowd settle down. “She’s been here for two weeks. Aside from a few disruptions, she’s been a model prisoner.”

“Hostage sounds more like what this is,” she quipped causing Rick to turn and glare at her.

“Anyways, I’ve decided that-,” Rick was cut off by a man in the crowd.

“I say we just kill her already and get it over with,” yelled a man with dingy brown hair.

“We’re not doing that Daryl. If Negan attacks, then we’ll have something he wants. Right now, he doesn’t know we have her and we’re going to keep her alive.”

“Rick, she killed three of our men before we were able to get her. Would have killed more if her gun hadn’t of jammed,” Daryl tried to reason.

“Fuck you, you redneck,” Kali yelled.

“That’s enough,” Rick demanded. “She’s staying alive and that’s final.”

“Are you seriously okay with this,” asked the redneck again causing Rick to lock his jaw and look at him. “Those three men had families and now their killer gets to live in our community?”

The whole time they were speaking, Kali’s temper was flaring. “What about all my people you killed? Huh? They had families. What about those families? Do you not care about them because they’re apart of Negan’s community,” Kali finally yelled causing the church to go silent.

“Kayley that’s enough,” Rick said quietly barely turning his head to her.

“No Rick it’s not. Y’all want to bitch because I’m here? Go ahead kill me. I don’t give a shit,” Kali said trying to stand on her feet, but Michonne’s hand on her shoulder stopped her. “That night I was defending myself. You people killed my men in their sleep. In their fucking sleep. You want to call Negan and the Saviors evil, take a look in the fucking mirror.”

“That’s enough,” Rick yelled this time scanning the group. “I know some of y’all don’t approve of what I’m doing, but it’s happening,” he said staring at Daryl. “We have something Negan’s going to be looking for soon. She’ll be our bartering chip. We don’t kill without a reason,” he emphasized. “This is my call and it’s final.”

Kali watched as some in the group gave Rick a disapproving look while some looked at her with some sort of compassion in their eyes. Rick and Michonne stayed put as the crowd filed out of the church and onto the streets. Rick turned rubbing his temples. His blue eyes stared holes into Kali. “Don’t you ever think about talking to us like that again,” he growled. “They want you dead. I would try to not piss them off anymore.”

Kali held Rick’s glare. “Well next time leave me in my damn cell if you’re going to say how I am the only bad person here. Just kill me or let me go. Stop dragging this out. Take me out to the middle of nowhere and leave me. I can survive. I’ve done it before I can do it again. Just get this over with. Damn it I don’t want to live like this. Wondering when one of your people is going to try to kill me. Just please let me go,” she pleaded.

Before he could think, Rick was grabbing her by the shirt hauling her to her feet. His hands were twisted in her shirt as he held her close. Kali’s breath caught in her throat. Her eyes frantically search his. “You don’t get to make demands. This is your way of life now. Get used to or don’t. You belong to me now,” he growled. “Do you understand that?”

Kali just nodded her head. Rick let her go and Michonne held her. They watched as Rick walked around clearly trying to suppress some of his anger. Kali flinched when he suddenly threw an old hymn book against the wall. A hand came up and rubbed his forehead before he turned back to them.

“Come on,” he said walking over to her and grabbing her arm. She knew better than to resist. So, she gave in and let Rick walk her out of the church and down the road. She listened to the birds’ chirp and the sun was warm on her face, something she hadn’t heard or felt in a while. Once they were on Rick’s porch, Kali stopped. Rick jerked her arm, but she didn’t budge. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she imagined she was back at The Sanctuary where she belonged and not here.

Rick pulled her again and she opened her eyes. Her imagination faded quickly as she was forced inside the house. “You need to fix these stairs,” she told him as they creaked once more under their weight. He pushed her into the cell and closed the door locking it. She still had her back to him waiting for him to cut her bind when the walkie came to life on his hip made her turn around.

“Boss we searched the whole place and there isn’t any sign of her,” came a voice that Kali immediately recognized as Simon’s. “We think that the people who attacked this place have her. There are three dead men in her room, she put up a fight.”

There was a long pause. Rick unclipped the radio and held it close to his ear.

“Goddamn it Kali where are you,” the next voice said. Negan was looking for her. She knew it.

Her eyes were as wide as saucers when she met Rick’s glare. His jaw was locked like earlier, and she could tell he was mad. “Kali is it,” Rick seethed.

The two continued to stare at each other through the cell door before Rick shook his head and glided up the stairs leaving her alone. “Rick my hands,” she called, but it landed on deaf ears as Rick slammed the basement door shut.

She needed that walkie. Get that walkie and call to Negan. He’d save her, just like she knew he would. She had to get that walkie. Had to.

Chapter Text

The thunder rolled in the distance as it eased closer to Alexandria. Looking out the top of the window from the corner, Kali could see the dark storm clouds as the danced across the sky. Storms always peeked her interests. She loved how the atmosphere changed before a storm. The cool air that was shot in as the stormed roared in the distance. Now being in an apocalypse, every chance she has when it rained or stormed, Kali was out in it. The rain served as a way of washing away her troubles and tension.

-
She remembered one time at The Sanctuary when it was raining, and the thunder was clapping that she was outside dancing around in the rain with the little kids. They were all giggling and jumping in puddles. The children weren’t used to having one of the higher ups playing around with them so when Kali had invited them to play, they were hesitant. After a little convincing, one by one they ran outside letting the rain wash over them. A smile graced their faces as they danced around and around. Kali was taken off guard when a couple of them crashed into her causing her to fall to the ground landing in the fresh mud. The mood quickly took a turn south when that happened as the children looked at her with fear in their eyes. “It’s alright guys, just a little mud that can we washed off easily,” she had told them but most of the kids had already retreated into the building leaving her laying there.

She let out a sigh as she watched the rest of the kids leave her too. Gracefully, she pushed herself to her feet as the rain continued to fall. Looking toward the building she saw the door was open, but all the people that once was watching were gone. Slowly, she raked her eyes up to the balcony feeling eyes on her. Negan stood under the cover of the awning staring at her. He gave her a nod of the head before turning and heading back inside. Kali huffed and trudged her mud-covered body towards the building. She needed to shower and then talk to Negan.
-

A loud strike of lightening jerked Kali out of her daydream. Those memories of The Sanctuary, where just that, memories. She didn’t know if she would ever see that place again. Right now, she just hoped that one day she’d get to enjoy the outside like she used to. There wouldn’t be anyone around her pulling her around or having to watch everything from the little square window in this cell. She heard the door at the top of the stairs creak open and footsteps make their way down them. Those footsteps didn’t belong to Rick either.

It had been nearly two weeks since she had seen Rick when she thinks about it. Every night when someone would come down there, she’d ask where he was only to be ignored. The only person that gave her an answer was Michonne. “He’s busy,” was her reply before walking back up the stairs.

When the person came to rest in front of the cell door, Kali glanced out of the side of her eye to see who it was. Kali let out a soft sigh when she realized who it was. “My grandmother used to tell me that I could estimate how far the storm was away by how long the thunder rolls. She’d tell me to count how long the thunder rumbled and that’s how far the storm was away, but seeing that you’re here I guess the storm is right outside?”

Slowly, she shifted to look directly at the door. “You’re Rosita, right? I remember you from the outpost and the church a couple weeks ago. Why are you here,” Kali prodded.

“Has anyone told you about what happened?”

“No,” Kali said firmly. “Y’all don’t tell me anything. I miss my buddy Rick. Do you know where he is perhaps?”

“Rick isn’t important right now. Negan found us. He lined some of us up in the woods. He killed two of our people. Then he took Rick off in the RV. Rick won’t tell anyone what happened. When he got back, you could see that he was broken. He looked lost. We had to gather up the bodies of the ones Negan killed. We buried them at the hilltop. Negan told us that when he comes by and if he finds you here, that he’d kill everyone right in front of Rick. So, I’m going to save this place. Save my family.”

Kali just nodded her head. A small smile slid across her face. Negan was coming. “So, what are you going to do Rosita? Kill me,” Kali laughed. “I don’t think Rick would appreciate that very much.”

“Then I guess it’s a good thing Rick isn’t here right now, ain’t it,” Rosita said putting the cell key into door turning the lock. “No one is here to hear you scream so go ahead,” she said pulling the cell door open.

Kali felt her heart rate pick up when the cell door creaked open. She could feel the sweat on her palms. Quickly, she jumped to her feet facing Rosita. “Are you going to shoot me? If so just go ahead, shoot me.”

Rosita chuckled. “No, I’m not going to shoot you. That would too quick,” she said stepping further into the cell. “I think you deserve to die the same way that you people did. A nice long slash across your throat. Letting your blood seep from your body slowly. Then you’ll turn, and we’ll send you in a box to The Sanctuary so that Negan can see what we are capable of.”

Kali raised her hands, trying to will Rosita to stop. “Are you fucking crazy? Y’all want to call me a sick person, but I see the shit that you all do. Now you want to kill me for doing what exactly? I’ve done everything you fuckers have asked me to do.”

“This isn’t about cooperation. This is revenge. Negan killed two of ours so I’m going to kill one of his,” she seethed. Rosita was on her quick. She had Kali pinned against the wall, hands wrapped around her throat. “I’m going to kill you.”

Kali tried to pry the hands off her neck but had little success. Throwing a quick elbow that luckily made contact with Rosita’s nose gave Kali a quick second to catch her breath. Taking steps towards the woman, Kali was ready to fight. Rosita lunged knocking the pair to the ground. Fists landed harshly on her face as Rosita unleashed a string of punches. Kali squirmed under her trying to throw her off. She brought her hands up and delivered an unexpected punch to Rosita which caused the woman to roll off her.

“Just stop this. You can go back to whatever you were doing, and I won’t tell Rick,” Kali pleaded trying to catch her breath.

“I think it’s time you shut up,” Rosita yelled lunging back towards Kali. This time Kali was ready and caught her. Rosita grunted as she swiftly kneed Kali in the stomach. Kali dropped to her knees doubling over, pain radiating through her body. A couple of kicks to her stomach caused Kali to fall over onto her side. A hand pulled her hair harshly making Kali let out a yell as she pulled roughly back to her knees. She felt Rosita’s weight on her back.

The cold blade of a knife pressed against her throat. Kali’s hands grabbed Rosita’s arms trying to dislodge her but to no avail. “Any last words,” Rosita said a murderous tent to her voice.

“Please. Don’t,” Kali gulped causing the blade of the knife to nick at her skin. “Don’t do this.”

“I have to.”

Kali threw her head back knocking making contact with Rosita, knocking her off. The knife clamored against the cement floor. She heard Rosita scream. Looking towards the woman, a crimson river of blood was making its way from her nose.

Scurrying to her feet, Kali took off out of the cell. If she could make it outside, she could find someone. Not that they’d believe her, but there was a chance she could get away. Just as she was about to climb the stairs, a body crashed into her from behind causing her to fall and a loud crack echoed through the basement.

Rosita smiled triumphally rolling a defenseless Kali onto her back. Kali was lifeless under her. Her head was bleeding from where she had struck the steps. Rosita had the knife in her hand from where she picked it up in the cell. She had put it against Kali’s neck when the door at the top of the stairs bursts open. She stopped when she caught sight of the man at the top of the stairs. “Rick, I-,” she stammered before being cut off by the look in his eyes.

“What happened,” he said lowly making is way down the stairs. Each step on the way down creaked with his weight. Maybe it was time he fixed these stairs. He kept his eyes on Rosita as he walked. “What did you do,” he yelled.

He watched as Rosita drew the knife back. “I-I-I…I wanted to…um,” she stumbled, “ugh…She…I.”

“Stop. Get off her,” he demanded.

Rosita complied quickly. Rick’s boots had just touched the concrete and her heart rate skyrocketed. She watched as he dropped to his knees and gently picked up her head. “Go get the doctor,” he said gruffly.

“Rick…She’s one of Negan’s, just let it happen,” she tried to reason.

“GO GET THE DOCTOR,” he yelled this time. A look of betrayal washed over her face before she stepped over the pair and ascended the stairs. Rick cradled Kali’s head in the crook of his arm. She looked so peaceful right now. Rick sighed as he leaned back against the wall holding an unconscious Kali in his arms. He let out a shaky breath. Softly he brushed the hair out of her face. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I tried to protect you. Things are going to change around here, I promise. I promise,” he told her. He leaned his head back letting out a breath waiting for the doctor to come. Things were going to be different for her, for everyone.

Chapter Text

Throbbing and pain that’s all she felt. She felt like her head was splitting in two. She groaned when she shifted slightly, and the pain kicked up a couple notches. She lay there on that mattress for a couple more moments trying to get her bearings in order. She flickered her eyes open and scrunched her eyes as the sunlight infiltrated her vision. “Damn,” she muttered.

She relaxed onto the mattress and sank into the comfort of the bed. A soft pillow was tucked under her head. She opened her eyes once more scanning the cell quickly. She was alone. What had happened?

Slowly, Kali sat up on the mattress. She had to steady herself stopping herself from falling over. The room was spinning. She propped herself up with her arms, her long legs stretching to the end of the mattress. She glanced back, and the left side of the pillow had blood smeared on it. Reaching up and grazing her head, she jerked pain shooting through her head. “Fucking hell,” she whispered.

Looking down a bottle of water sat beside the mattress along with a couple little blue pills in a little plastic cup. She popped the cap off the water and tossed the pills into her mouth, swallowing them with a swig of water. Gulping down a couple more drinks of water, she sighed twisting the cap back on the bottle.

She sat back against the wall careful not to make her head hit against the wall. Looking out the window, she saw the blue clear skies and the top of white fluffy clouds as they glided across the sky. She watched for a little while, watching nature as it worked before glancing around the cell again.

Jerking her head back towards the cell door, her eyes went wide at the sight of the cell door open. She had to shut her eyes to stave off the nausea that came on suddenly. After taking a minute to gather herself, she once again looked towards the cell door. Was this a joke?

Kali pushed herself off her bed and shakily stood to her feet. Dizziness took over and Kali rushed to the bucket in the room and emptied the contents of her stomach in the gray pail. Heaving into the pail a couple more times, Kali emptied her stomach completely. Spitting into the bucket one last time, Kali brought her hand to her mouth and wiped away remnants of her episode.

Standing to her feet, she took a few shaky steps toward the cell door. Slowly she pushed it the rest of the way open. The door creaked open causing Kali to wince pulling away from the door. Everything made her hurt. Taking a couple shaky steps out of the cell, Kali had one hand hold the cell door and the other shielding her eyes. Maybe she should run up those steps and probably get caught by Rick or someone or maybe she should wait it out and see what they had planned. She didn’t remember what had happened down here a day ago, a couple days ago? She didn’t know.

Taking in the stairs that led to the house, the bottom stair caught her attention. There was a chip missing from the bottom stair and blood was dried on it. So, there was the missing piece of the puzzle. Her head, that stair, and now here. She rolled her eyes. Those damn Alexandrians don’t know how to leave shit alone. What had she done besides get into that one scuffle with Mitch and Tommy?

She took one last look at that stairs. The want to run up the stairs and try to get away was overbearing but given her current state, Kali decided against it. If this was just a test, then maybe she’d pass with flying colors earning a little sliver of freedom and trust from Rick.

She sighed as she walked slowly back into the cell. Her one chance at freedom vaporized into thin air because she decided the risk was not worth the reward. Slowly she made her way across the cell to the back wall. Sliding down she felt the concrete bricks nip at her back through her clothes. She’d just wait.

She waited and waited against the wall for Rick to come for her. Finally, when she was just starting to doze off when the door at the top of the stairs opened and softly shut. She heard the stairs creak under the weight of the person and a small smirk graced her face. “Hey there Rick,” she slurred once the curly-headed man was standing in the open cell door. “I bet you didn’t expect to see me here.”

The man continued to stare at her. His eyes locked on hers. “You just sit here all day with the door open,” he asked after a few moments.

“Nah, Rick. Ya see I tried my best to convince myself to walk my merry ass up that stairs but I didn’t want to fall and hurt myself. Especially since I have absolutely zero fucking idea what when down here that left me with a splittin’ headache. Would you be so kind and to tell me,” she asked him sarcastically. “Cause from what I saw there’s a nice little chunk of that bottom stair missing and a nice gash right here on my head that gives it away plain as day. You need to control your people prick.”

Rick put his hands on his hips looking down at the floor for a quick second before looking back at her. “You feel alright?”

“Got a massive splittin’ headache. Sorta double vision since there are two of you,” she laughed. “Kind of dizzy when I stand up or try to walk so no Rick I am not feeling alright. Thanks for asking though,” she jested.

Rolling his eyes Rick walked deeper into the cell until he was standing in front of her. Her heart rate increased as he walked closer. “Are you here to finish me off? There won’t be much of a fight so just do it.” To her surprise, when Rick bent down to grab her, he grabbed under her arm and slowly raised her to her feet. He put her arm around his shoulder. “Where are we going, Rick?”

“Can you please shut up for two minutes,” he pleaded. Slowly and gently Rick helped her out the cell and up the stairs. He pushed the door open with his free arm and the scent of home-made food wafted through Kali’s nostrils like a bullet fired from a gun. He helped her over to the table and sat her down in the wooden chair before going towards the stove grabbing a bowl and filling it with food.

When Rick placed the bowl in front of her, Kali just looked at it. Watching the steam rise off the food, her mouth watering in anticipation. “It’s not going to hurt ya,” Rick said cutting through her thoughts. She raised her eyes to look at the man as he leaned against the counter his arms crossed watching her.

Shakily, Kali lifted the spoon that sat beside the bowl and it clinked against it. Swallowing down the first spoon fun, Kali let out a moan. “Mmmmm. Good stuff right here Rick. You didn’t poison it did you?”

Rick rolled his eyes. “Do you want me to take it away,” he asked.

Kali shook her head no as she continued to shovel the food down. “Did you make this or was it in a can? Please tell me you cooked it. Ricky pricky making me food. How cute,” she teased.

“Yep. You’re done,” Rick said walking over to her to grab the bowl. To his astonishment the bowl was empty.

She grinned at him as he put the bowl in the sink. “Damn that was good. After a month or so of eating peanut butter sandwiches, I needed that.” Softly chuckling, Rick walked around the kitchen making his way over to her once more.

He gently grabbed her raising her from the chair. He felt her stiffen once he put her arm back around his shoulder. “Guess it’s time to go back to jail,” she said dejectedly once Rick had her on her feet. To her surprise, Rick didn’t guide her down the stairs toward her cell instead he took her around the house towards another set of stairs. The same ones that Rick had taken her up when she took her shower. “I don’t really feel like a shower right now Rick. Thanks for the offer though. Maybe tomorrow.”

Rick ignored her as he walked them slowly up the stairs being mindful of Kali’s dizziness. Once they made it to the top, he pushed the door open at the end of the hall. He sat her down on the bed shucking her arm off his shoulder. “This is your room. Do whatever ya want. Sleep, shower, use the bathroom, I don’t care. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he told her before heading to the door.

Just when he was about to shut it, he heard Kali call to him. “Hey Rick…thanks,” she said quietly. Rick nodded his head before shutting the door. She heard the ‘click’ of the lock being turned causing her to smile a little bit. She decided against a shower. Instead, she eased out of her clothes letting them pile in a pool beside the bed.

She slid under the cover relishing in the warmth from a comforter instead of a thin paper-like sheet. Her throbbing laid on a soft pillow causing her to sigh. She could shower tomorrow. Tonight, all she wanted was a good night rest. Closing her eyes, she faded into sleep.

Chapter Text

The green trees on the side of the road whipped by as the gray sedan flew down the road. Kali was scrunched in the seat, her eyes watching the outside world through the window. Early this morning she was dragged from her bed by Michonne and Rick and stuffed in a car with Michonne behind the wheel being driven away from Alexandria.

The roar of the tires filled the car over the soft song that was barely heard from a CD that was inside the car. Michonne’s focus was on the road but Kali could see her occasionally sneak a peek at her. From the start of this whole thing, Michonne was one of the nicest ones to her. When Rick wasn’t around, Michonne was usually the one to take care of her unless she was off with Rick or doing something else at the time.

“Why are you pouting,” Michonne called breaking the silence between the two.

Kali turned her head to look at her for a second before looking back out the window. “I’m not pouting.”

She heard the woman scoff. “You’ve been doing good for the past week. It was Rick’s idea to send you on this run. So, take a deep breath and relax.”

“Are you going to try and kill me too,” she asked turning to look at Michonne again. “Cause if so just shoot me and get it over with. Is this “run” a scheme to get me away from Alexandria so your people won’t know that you and Rick decided to get rid of me.”

A small smile tugged at Michonne’s lips revealing her pearly whites. “Rick actually addressed that whole situation while you were knocked out. He wants you to feel like you belong at Alexandria, that you aren’t just a prisoner. He wants things to change with Negan. He’s trying to get everything back to how they were before. You can be part of the change.”

Kali rolled her eyes as the pair continued to travel down the road. “Rick,” she said drawing out his name, “sure does want a lot of things.”

“You just need to open your eyes and see things from our perspective. We look like the bad guys to you, I get it, but all we wanted was to keep our family safe.”

Kali rolled her eyes again. “Ahh we’re here,” Michonne said as she pulled the car into the lot that was filled with old cars. From her spot in the car, Kali would see a few walkers staggering around the lot. An old store that was starting to cave in on the side sat in the back of the lot.

Michonne got out of the car first closing the door. Kali too got out of the car, her backpack on her shoulder. She and Michonne walked towards the building. She watched as Michonne pulled her katana sword from its white and brown case with small black diamonds. Carefully she approached a nearby walker and quickly sunk the tip of the sword into the walker’s head causing it to drop to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

Kali watched as Michonne dropped the rest of the walkers that were in the lot in their spots. “Can I get a knife or something,” Kali asked. All she earned from Michonne was a look and a shake of the head before the pair made their way inside the building. “Why not,” she asked only to be ignored.

“Stay close so I can protect you,” called Michonne over her shoulder, a playful tone to her voice.

Once again, Kali rolled her eyes following behind Michonne. The pair made their way through the abandoned building stuffing supplies in their backpacks.

The pair made their way over to the outdoor section of the store putting leftover ammo in their bags. Kali was behind the counter searching through the hidden storage when she came across a gun. Her fingertips brushed against the cold black metal. She grabbed the pistol and put it on the counter. Michonne’s eyes instantly found hers when she stood back up. “Here,” Kali said softly turning the gun so that the handle was facing Michonne. Slowly, the woman stepped over towards her keep an eye on her for sudden movements.

Michonne grabbed the pistol examining it to make sure that it was unloaded. After pushing the clip back into the gun, Michonne put the pistol in her backpack before facing Kali. “Anything else back there,” she asked the woman that was still standing behind the counter.

“Just a couple of knives and some more ammo boxes,” Kali answered, her eyes scanning back over the contents of the case.

“Put them in your bag. We need to go check the food. We’re running low and now we have to find supplies for Negan too,” Michonne said using her had to signal Kali to come on.

Kali nodded her head and started to follow Michonne through the store. Along the way, the toddler clothes caught her attention. “Umm…hey. Does Rick’s little girl need some clothes,” Kali asked stopped in front of a rack of new clothes.

Michonne turned to look at her. “She’s a growing girl. She always needs new clothes,” she smiled. “Why don’t you pick some out. Just find some clothes that you think she would fit into soon.”

Kali grinned back before eagerly stepping into the clothes. She picked up a couple of flowery shirts, some striped ones, and some shirts that had some designs on them. Also, she grabbed a couple pair of pants and shorts. After getting a couple of dresses for the little girl, she headed over to the shoes to get a couple pairs of tennis shoes, sandals, and a pair of boots for the toddler.

Once she was done, she joined Michonne in the main aisle and they started towards the food. Kali lost track of time as they stuffed the duffle bag that they found with the remaining canned goods left in the store. When they were done, the shelves were bare. After scanning a couple more isles and gathering a couple more items, they decided to leave the store.

Michonne went out first. She had her large duffle bag thrown over her shoulder. She was almost to the car when she heard a body drop to the ground behind her.

A walker had stumbled around the corner of the building and had Kali pinned to the ground. Her hands were on the walkers’ shoulders trying to push it away. Her hands pushing against the bones caused them to crack. Kali tried to push the walker away as it tried to take a bite out of her. She tried to push the walker’s face away, but all her hand did was to sweep away the skin revealing bones and nerves.

A silver tip of the sword pierced through the walker’s head killing it once and for all. The dead weight dropped heavily onto Kali’s small frame causing her to let out a huff as some air left her body. Pushing against the corpse with her already tired arms, Kali struggled to push the walker off. When she finally did, she closed her eyes feeling the warm sun on her face until the light was blocked.

She opened her eyes to see Michonne standing over her. Her long black dreadlocks keeping the sun from shiny on Kali’s face. “Are you alright? No bites or anything,” Michonne asked with clear worry embedded in her voice.

“I think I’m good, just help me up,” Kali replied raising her hand. Michonne grabbed her hand bringing her to her feet. Once she was standing Kali gave herself a look over just to make sure that the walker didn’t get a lucky nibble in anywhere. “I look like the day I was born with all this blood,” Kali said gesturing down her frame as the blood that the walker had left on her during the scuffle.

This time it was Michonne’s turn to roll her eyes before walking back towards the car gathering the bags that she had put down when she went to help Kali. Kali followed along, tossing her backpack in the back seat before taking her spot in the passenger seat. She looked towards the other woman, who had just started the car. “Thanks,” she said softly, “for that back there. Didn’t really want to die today.”

Michonne nodded her head. “That’s what we do. We look out for people even if we don’t necessarily agree with everything they say or do. We want what’s best for our people, just like Negan and you do, but there must be another way of doing it without killing people.”

The ride back to Alexandria was quiet just like the ride out to the store was. After a two hour ride out and then scavenging for a couple more hours, the women were ready to be back in Alexandria. The ride back always seems quicker than the journey to the destination. So, when the gates came into view both were equally thrilled.

The gate was pulled back to reveal half of Alexandria standing there. Rick was in front, his hand placed on his hips as he watched the pair drive in. Michonne got out first and was quickly engulfed in a hug by Rick and a couple other Alexandrians. When Kali got out all she got was hard pointed stares. She offered them a small shy smile before departing the scene and heading straight to Rick’s house.

“Why is she covered in blood,” Rick asked once Kali was out of earshot.

“A walker jumped her on the way out of the store. She’s fine though. She checked herself over once the initial shock of everything wore off,” Michonne informed the worried man as they watched Kali get smaller as she continued to walk down the road towards Rick’s. “How did everything with Negan go today,” she asked changing the subject.

Rick had to tear his eyes away from Kali’s disappearing form to look at the woman before him. “As well as we could expect. Carl nearly shot one of his men, so he took all our guns. He didn’t see anything that made it look like Kali was here, but he reminded us that if he stops by and finds her here, he’ll kill us all,” he said locking his blue eyes onto hers.

A small smile tugged at her lips. “This thing with Negan might be over sooner than we all think.” Rick gave her a quizzical look. “I think she’ll come around soon then Negan will be easier to deal with. Did he say when he was coming again?”

“No,” Rick said gruffly, “just that he’d see us soon. We have that walkie, so we should be able to get a head start when they decide to come just like we did today.”

Michonne nodded as they watched the others get the bags from the car. She stopped them when they grabbed Kali’s bag and gave it to Rick. “She got Judith some clothes. There’s other stuff in there too, you can decide what to do with that. I think it’s time I go shower too,” she said starting to walk past Rick.

His free hand quickly grabbed her arm before she could leave. “Are you sure she’s going to be alright?”

“Yeah. She’ll be fine. We all will be.”

Chapter Text

She didn’t know how she got here. One-minute Kali is laying in bed fighting against sleep and the next she’s sneaking down the stairs to the kitchen. The house was quite as the rest of its occupants rested peacefully in their beds. This was her chance to finally get the walkie and call to Negan, then he would come save her. Her feet padded around the wooden kitchen in the darkness of the night searching frantically for the walkie. She opened and closed cabinets quietly trying not to alert her captors as they slept.

Her eyes were sweeping the kitchen from her spot behind the counter when the walkie caught her attention from where it sat on the wooden table. Taking a glance at the stairs making sure that this was not a test from Rick and he’d swoop in and catch her before she could even try. When no one appeared, she scrambled over across the floor to the table. Kali looked once more at the stairs and still, no one was there.

Making her way over to the wall beside the doorway, Kali slid down the gray wall stretching her feet out in front of her. She looked down at the black walkie in her hands. After this Rick was sure to kill her. She pressed the button on the side of walkie bringing it closer to her mouth. “Where’s Negan?”

It was silent for a few seconds before the walkie crackled to life in her hand. “I am Negan,” said the voice that belonged to the savior on the other end.

Kali closed her eyes rolling her head back against the wall. “Listen here, buddy. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what he’s doing. I don’t care who he is with. If he’s asleep wake his ass up. Tell him it’s Kali.”


His hands were planted on both sides of her head as he rocked into her. Negan had his head buried in the crook of her neck as he thrust slowly. The woman, Sherry, had her hand running through his black locks and the other on the small of his back. It was late, and she did not need him falling asleep on her again.

There was a knock at the door making Sherry's eyes flick to the door. Negan still pumps himself in and out her before groaning. “What,” he snaps raising his head. He looks down at the woman as he continues to slowly thrust. “There better be a damn good reason why you’re disturbing me right now,” he warns.

Another knock echoes from the door. “Son of a bitch,” he whispers as he stops. He looks down at Sherry. “Sorry,” he says as he withdraws from her sitting up. He throws his long legs over the side of the bed and gathers up his clothes tossing them on the bed, so he can redress. He’s sliding his jeans over his long legs and boxers when he calls out to the door. “What the mother fucking shit is so damn important that you had to come get me now. Dwight or Simon couldn’t have taken care of this? I promise you if this is some dumb ass shit Lucille will be the last of your problems,” he warned venomously as he walked across the wooden floor barefoot and shirtless. His belt was still undone causing the pants to hang low on his hips.

“S-s-s-sorry sir,” the savior stuttered. Negan leaned his head back annoyed before tossing an apologetic look at Sherry as she covered herself with his gray comforter. “There’s someone calling for you on the walkie. They said it was Kali.”

Negan jerked the door open causing the young savior on the other side to jump back. “What did you say,” he questioned lowly.

“There’s a person on the walkie calling for you. They say they are Kali,” the savior said holding the walking up for Negan to take as he tries to sneak a look passed Negan and into the room.

Negan jerks the walkie from the young man’s hand. “Go,” he demands pointing down the hall. The young man nods and scurries down the hallway. Negan walks back into the room softly closing the door behind him. He walks back over to the bed and sits down on the edge opposite of Sherry as she watches.

“Negan here,” he says bringing the walkie to his mouth.

“Negan,” he hears her say. “Oh, my goodness. I miss you so much and the sanctuary. I want to come home. Please come get me,” she says quickly into the walkie.

“Kali,” he pauses holding back the emotion that is threatening to overflow. “Slow down. Where the hell are you,” he asks reaching for his shirt getting ready to send his whole damn army to get her back.

“I’m at Ale-,” she started but was cut off by the sound of a gunshot coming across the radio.

“KALI? KALI,” he yelled into the walkie. There was no reply. His hazel eyes found Sherry’s as they filled with malice. He lifts the walkie back to his lips. “Wake up everyone,” he demands to the saviors that were awake on watch. “We’re going to Alexandria and killing every last one of those fuckers,” he says dropping the walkie onto the bed. He shoved off the bed and walked to his closet throwing the door open. He grabbed his trusty leather jacket and slipped his boots on as he made his way to the door. He grabbed Lucille before opening the door and walking out, slamming it closed.


“Fuck,” she shouted jumping as the gun fired causing her to toss the walkie. It slid across the hardwood floor before being stopped by the island in the middle of the kitchen. She looked up expecting Rick to be glaring at her his head tilted sideways pointing the gun at her ready to finally kill her once and for all.

Instead, it was Carl. His right eye covered by the bandage that wrapped around his head. His blue eye was staring her as he continued to point the gun at Kali as she sat on the floor. “Carl,” she started.

“Shut up,” he said flatly. They heard ruckus upstairs. Moments later, Rick rushed around the corner taking in the scene with his forehead scrunched in confusion. Another movement caught Kali’s attention as Michonne appeared from behind him. Rick checked behind him before focusing back on the situation at hand.

“What? Why? Carl,” Rick rambled looking around the kitchen before seeing where Carl’s gun was pointed. He tilted his head, his blue eyes now angry.

“She was talking to Negan,” he said flatly gesturing to the walkie that now rests against the counter. “I heard it all. He’s on his way here now. Said he was going to kill all of us.”

Kali tried to stay focused on what they were saying, but Rick’s chest caught her attention. His chiseled chest illuminated by the moonlight that slipped through the window. She felt her mouth drop open slightly taking him in.

“Give me the gun,” he said to Carl who looked taken back to first before complying and handing his father the gun. “Son of a,” he stopped himself rubbing his temples. “Carl go get Daryl. He’ll know what to do. Get everyone to the sewers. Only necessities. Michonne-,” he was cut off by the wail of a child up the stairs. “Judith,” he said looking to Michonne quickly. She put her hand on his shoulder and nodded her head. Michonne disappeared up the stairs leaving the pair alone.

“Rick,” Kali started.

“Stop,” he demanded. “You don’t get to talk,” he said pointing at her as she sat. “Why can’t you just leave shit alone? Whatever Negan does, whoever he kills its blood on your hands.”

“Rick. I just want to go home. Let me go and all this is over,” she begged. “We’ll move on. There doesn’t have to be any more blood. Just end this already.”

“I said stop,” he yelled pointing at her again. “Do you know who you’re talking to? We, I, own you. I don’t care what you want. I don’t care about you. We’re not friends. You are nothing here. Nothing but a prisoner. Negan’s coming. He wants to kill us, we won’t go down without a fight.” He glared at her for a second, as she stared back. He could see the regret starting to pool in her eyes. This time Kali was going to learn from her mistake.

Michonne came back down the stairs Judith in tow with a duffle bag slipped over her shoulder. She tossed Rick a shirt and he quickly slipped it on and buttoned it up. “Come on,” he said leaning down and jerking Kali up. He pushed her out of the house in the jeans and unbuttoned flannel over a white shirt. He pulled her down the street as people around them rushed for the sewer opening.

Looking around she saw Alexandrians rushing out of their houses and down the street. Worry was painted on their faces. Kali stopped in the road watching. Stopping for a second, Rick turned to look at her before tightening his grip and pulling her back on the path before focusing back ahead. Kali glanced at him, but he was focused on the road ahead

When they got to the pothole in the middle of the road, Michonne handed Judith down to someone before descending the ladder after dropping some old shoes at Kali’s feet. “Put them on now,” Rick demanded leaving her no chance to ask. “Go,” he said pointing towards the ladder.

Taking a breath Kali did as she was told and descended the ladder. Each rung was seemed to be taking her deeper into hell. When she made it to the bottom Kali looked up to see Rick standing above the hole. Disappointment and anger mixed in his features.

He climbed down the ladder giving Kali a nice view as he did so. When he reached the ground, he instantly grabbed her arm again and began dragging her down the tunnel. They passed women who were crying, a few children that were cuddled into their parents trying to find comfort, and men who tried to soothe their families.

Rick pulled her to the end of the tube and made a left turn taking her down another tunnel where a couple of cots were laid out with a lantern providing a little light. Rick stopped her on the other side of the wall. Obeying his silent orders Kali lowered herself to the ground. He walked over to Michonne who dug something out of the bag before giving it to him and he walked back. Rick squatted taking Kali’s right arm and putting the object around her wrist.

The cool metal of handcuffs ghosted her skin. He reached and attached the other end to a steel pipe that attached to the wall beside her, leaving her limp arm hanging with the steel resting against her skin. She could feel his breath on her face and his brown beard was inches away from her face. He pulled back for a second sitting on his heels as he stared at her.

He put a hand beside her head before leaning in. His beard pressed against her cheek as he whispered in her ear. When he pulled away, Kali stared at the mud on the ground her trying to stave off emotions. She could feel his blue eyes on her for a second longer, but she could not look him in eyes.

He stood up and walked back over to Michonne who was now holding Judith again. He put his hand on the back of Judith’s head and gave her a little kiss on the forehead before leaning down and kissing Michonne. “I have to go. I’ll be back,” he told her.

“I know,” she replied.

Rick took one last look down the tunnel at Kali where she sat her head still lowered. “If she gives you any problems. Don’t be afraid,” he said handing her the gun that he took from Carl in the house. “I’ll be back.”

Michonne nodded. She handed Judith off to someone before sitting the gun down on a small table that sat near the opening of the second tunnel. She looked at Kali for a second before turning back to the others.

Kali saw Rick leave from the corner of her eye. She took a deep breath leaning her head back against the metal wall behind her. Every little detail of the night running on replay in her mind countless times. She closed her eyes and silent tears rolled down her cheek as she listened to some of the Alexandrians cry and other getting ready to end this war with Negan once and for all.

Chapter Text

“I swear Negan these men here are absolute morons,” Kali said into the walkie as she lay on her bed in her quarters. “No wonder Thomas got himself killed.”

She heard Negan’s laugh come through the walkie causing her to crack a smile herself. “Oh, come on. They can’t be that bad.”

Moonlight slipped through the window above her bed illuminating the pictures that hung on the wall. One was of her and her family before the apocalypse. Another was her and her students on a field trip. The last one was one of Kali and Negan after a long day of work to get the factory in living condition. Both of their faces’ were covered in dirt and soot. negan had insisted that they take the picture with the polaroid he recently found. 

“They’ve been dicking around trying to find these people you sent them after. We still don’t have any leads. No one knows what this Rick person looks like anyway,” Kali told him throwing her hands in the air like he could see what she was doing.

She heard Negan sigh through the walkie. “Do you want me to send someone else to oversee the operation of the outpost?”

“No,” she replied quickly. “Don’t you dare you son of a bitch.”

“Damn girl. Just a question,” he laughed softly. “What are you doing up this late anyway?”

“Couldn’t sleep,” she told him sitting up. Her boot-clad feet meeting the cement floor. “I got this feeling that some shit is about to go down. I can’t shake it. It’s been like that for a couple days.”

“Do you want more men? I need you to be safe Kali,” he told her his voice full of concern.

“Nah. No need for that Negan. We can hold our own. When are you coming back this way?”

“No idea. Maybe a couple of weeks. Why ya miss me,” he teased.

This time it was Kali’s turn to laugh. “You are such a jokester. We’re going to be pretty busy here so don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear from me.”

“I trust you, Kali. Get some rest. Let me know if you need anything.”

“I will. Night Negan.”

“Sleep good Kali. Bye,” he told her signing off.

She stood up from her bunk and grabbed her pistol off the nightstand moving over to her desk. She opened the metal cabinet that was against the wall at the end of her bed pulling out her cleaning kit for her pistol. She flipped on the lights before walking back to the desk. Kali pulled the metal chair out and sat down.

Kali was about to start cleaning her gun when a gunshot rang out through the compound. She lifted her arm to look at her watch. 2:18 in the morning was showed on the watch face. Kali reached over and grabbed her walkie quickly flipping the channel to the one that her men were on. “Who the hell is shooting,” she questioned.

It was a few minutes later before she tried again. “James? Kyle? Anyone hear me,” she called into the walkie standing up. She slid the clip out of the gun making sure that it was indeed loaded. “Someone answer me,” she demanded.

Once again there was no reply. Instead, the whole building erupted with gunfire. She walked to her door, pressed her ear to the door and listened. She heard her men shouting for others to get guns and take cover before guns were fired and she heard bodies drop.

She backed away from the door in shock. Someone was attacking them. She scurried across the room to the walkie. She was just about to call to Negan when her door handle turned.

Kali whipped around aiming her gun. When the door open and the person pushed in, Kali fired dropping him. She heard more people yelling and another man tried to creep into her room. She dropped him too. The building alarm sounded no doubt that her men pulled it trying to signal another outpost.

Her door opened again. The man pushed it wide open staring down at the bodies of his comrades laying at his feet. He looked up to see the barrel of Kali’s pistol pointed at him. He was about to come at her when she fired hitting him square in the head. He dropped, his blood seeping onto her floor.

She heard running down the hallway when another man appeared in her doorway. His ocean blue eyes made contact with Kali’s. She aimed her gun to shoot. She pulled the trigger and nothing. Of course, the gun had to jam now. “Who are you,” she asked the man who pointed his silver revolver at her. “Are you Rick? You look like a Rick,” she tried to stall long enough for her men to come, but the building had gone eerily silent. 

“Shut up,” he seethed. He walked over to Kali and pressed the cold metal against her temple. “Drop your gun.” She did as he commanded since it wouldn’t do her any good now anyway. “Walk,” he ground out pushing the gun harder against her head.

She walked slowly to the door. Right when she was about to step out, she stopped. She heard the man behind her pull the hammer back on his gun. “Move.”

“Don’t kill me, Rick. I’m not worth it.”

The man leaned in behind her. “I’m not going to kill you,” he said lowly against her ear. “I’m going to do something much, much worse. You don’t deserve death.  Move,” he demanded again.

“You don’t want to do this. The moment you walked in here, you were dead.”

“Shut up and move,” he warned once more pressing the barrel harder against the back of her head. Still, Kali refused to move in hope that her men would come to save her. So, after a few minutes, she stepped out in the hallway that was littered with savior’s dead bodies. The man pushed her down a hallway. She stopped when she looked up and saw an army of people aiming their guns down the hallway.

“Woah,” she whispered. She felt the handle of the man’s gun knock her in the back of the head. Pain filled her as she dropped to the floor. Through her flickering eyes, she saw the man’s boots as he walked beside her. Two fingers pressed against her neck checking her pulse and Kali succumbed to the darkness.

Kali jerked awake. Her hand stopped by the cuff attached to the pipe. She looked over tugging slightly at the cuffs causing them to rattle. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head back against the steel wall. A string of coughs rattled her body. A bottle of water or a little sip would suffice for right now, but she didn’t bother to ask because they all hated her now more than ever.

She sat in silence listening to the Alexandrians in the other tunnel talk amongst themselves. She heard the children that were once crying, laughing as they played with one another. She heard the women gossiping talking about their old lives and how they got where they are today.

The light from that lantern was blocked and Kali cracked her eyes to see Michonne squatted down in front of her. She looked at her for a second, the feeling of regret that settled in her core began to come untwined and spreading through her veins. Kali closed her eyes trying to ignore the woman in front of her.

“Here,” she heard Michonne say causing her to open her eyes again. “I heard you coughing and figured you needed a drink. It’s hot down here and we’ve been down here for a couple of hours already.” Michonne lifted the bottle of water to Kali’s vision. “It’s not going to hurt you.”

Kali moved her right hand slightly before it was stopped by the cuff. She cracked a smirk before reaching up with her other hand. Michonne gave her the bottle and watched as she chugged half of it. “Thanks,” she grounded out handing it back to Michonne who twisted the cap back on the bottle and sat it on the small round table between the two cots adjacent to Kali.

“Let me know if you need more,” she said before rising to her feet and starting to walk away.

“Wait,” Kali called moving her right hand again causing that metal to clink. “What’s happening?”

Michonne walked back over pulling her chair that she was sitting in over. “We won’t know till Rick or Daryl get back. I imagine Negan is here by now and causing mass destruction looking for you. I’m not going to ask why you did it, because I know. I’ve been in your position before with another group. I just want to know what you think you would have accomplished.”

“I figured I could call to Negan and get him here,” she said as Michonne started to walk away again. “Carl just has to be a light sleeper huh,” she joked dryly. “I don’t belong here, Michonne. I just want to go home.”

Michonne took her seat in front of Kali again, looking down at the woman who seems to be brought to the lowest of lows. “We’re trying to take care of our people,” she said. “Negan doesn’t want to change the way he does things, which is leading to a war. We have other communities that are ready to revolt. After tonight, I think the end is near. You might not feel like you belong, you may never feel that you do, but you still have a chance to redeem yourself. You’ll have to pay for this. Rick’s angry. I haven’t seen him like this in a long time,” she paused, “but that means he cares. He cares about you, Kali. He wants you to thrive. We want what’s best for you. You just need to open your eyes, see what we are trying to accomplish and accept us.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. Rick doesn’t care about me. He said it himself. I’m just a prisoner here. A prisoner on death row awaiting execution. I’m tired of this, but I’ll never get to leave,” Kali said defeated looking away from Michonne.

“Kali, things will get better. Just keep your looking forward to tomorrow. This is just a bump in the road, we’ll get past this. Everything will be okay. Here drink some water,” she said reaching behind her and grabbing the water, unscrewing the cap and handing it to Kali.

Kali looked at her for a second in amazement. This woman was about to go to war because of her and she was being nice to her. She took the water and took a sip before handing it back to Michonne. “I’ll be lucky to see tomorrow,” Kali said her voice fading.

Someone cleared their throat at the end of the tunnel causing both women to turn their heads and look. There stood Rick Grimes. His hands on his hips, his silver python tucked securely in his holster. Kali flicked her eyes up to his face that now adorned some fresh cuts, no doubt he’d been in a fight. He stared at the women, mainly focusing on Kali. If there was a thermometer outside his body, every time he looked at Kali it would climb to threatening levels as if he’s about to explode.

He gestured with his head and Michonne followed his silent order quickly. She took the chair back to the tunnel opening. She wrapped her arms around him, holding the back in his head. He nestled into the crook of her neck and he wrapped her arms around her and hugged her tight. Michonne was first to pull away, holding him at an arm’s length away checking him over for injuries.

She turned him and sat him in the chair that she moved up there. Quickly she moved for the small first aid kit that they have stashed down here. From his spot in the chair, Rick flicked his eyes at Kali causing her to lower her head.

Michonne cleaned his wounds causing him to hiss slightly. Michonne cracked a smile. Once she was done, she leaned up and placed a kiss on his lips. When she pulled away, she noticed his eyes were on Kali. She tapped his legs making him focus her attention on her. They shared a silent exchange before Rick nodded and she stood up. Michonne disappeared down the other tunnel leaving Rick and Kali alone.

Rick stood and walked over to where Kali sat. Kali could feel his him staring down at her. She heard him groan and the sound of his back sliding down the metal of the wall. His boots nearly touched the shoes that he made Kali slip on before they climbed down the ladder.

She barely lifted her head before quickly looking back down upon seeing Rick’s angry blue eyes staring at her. It could have been hours, minutes, seconds before someone opened the pothole cover and gave the all clear and it still wasn’t soon enough.

She heard Rick grunt as she stood to his feet. His boots sloshed in the mud as he walked over to her. He undid the cuff attached to the pole first letting her hand fall before he reached down the grabbed her arm. He undid the cuff and put her hand back down. She heard him jingle the cuffs around closing them and stuffing them in his pocket.

He reached down and grabbed her arm pulling her to her feet. His blue eyes locking on her. Kali prepared for the hit to come, but it never did. Instead, Rick grabbed her arm like he did earlier and started moving her back through the tunnel. The others that were down here had already cleared out. Rick pulled her over to the ladder giving her the silent order to climb.

Kali did what he wanted, her arm still tired from hanging making it challenging. Eventually, she made it to the top. The darkness that was here when they went down into the sewer was replaced by the early sun of dawn. She waited at the top for Rick to join her. Once he made it to the top, he moved the cover back over the hole.

Rick stood back up and tightly gripped her arm against. Sure enough, Kali knew that there would definitely be a bruise there tomorrow. He led her back to the house. Once inside Kali figured Rick would take her up to her room and toss her in without a word before slamming the door. Instead, when he opened the door instead of leading to her room, he led her through the house back to that door in the kitchen. He tossed the door open causing it to slam against the wall.

Kali stood frozen in the doorway. She did not want to go back to the cell. He pushed her in the back nearly causing her to topple down the stairs. She looked over her shoulder at him. His eyes full of malice daring her not to obey him so he could shoot her without a thought.

Slowly, she started walking down the stairs memories of loneliness, helplessness, and seclusion coming back at once causing her eyes to water. When they reached the bottom, she walked into the cell her back facing him as he closed the door. She heard him turn the lock. Kali waited on him to scream at her, but when she turned around he was once again staring holes through her.

“Rick,” she calls causing his eyes to meet hers. She goes to say something else but stops when he turns away from the door. “Rick,” she calls again causing him to stop as he beings to climb the stairs. “Rick, I’m sorry,” she says softly.

This caused Rick to whip around. He walked quickly over to the door. “You’re sorry,” he asked amazed. “That doesn’t mean shit to me. Negan killed five of our people last night because of you,” he yelled the last part. “That makes eight bodies on your hands. I can’t stand you. You’ve caused nothing but destruction since you’ve got here. I wanted to change you. I wanted to make you a good person, but you’ve fought me every step of the way,” he spat. He brought his hand up to rub his temple. “I don’t know what you want me to do,” he said moving his arms out wide. “You betrayed us last night. You betrayed me. I don’t care what happens with you from now on. This war with Negan will end. He’ll be dead and so will you,” he told her before storming the stairs, slamming the door.

Kali stood in the middle of the cell. Tears rolling down her cheeks. She dropped to her knees on the concrete. Kali folded over, her forehead resting against the cool concrete as heavy sobs wracked her body.

Chapter Text

Her head was pounding as she lay in the middle of the concrete cell floor. It had been days since she had seen Rick or Michonne. Which, in turn, means that Kali had not had anything to eat or drink in days. Of course, she had gone days without eating before, but that was by choice or a sacrifice for people in the community to eat. Now she didn’t have a choice.

She heard the door at the top of the stairs open and close. Boots scuffed against the wooden stairs as the person descended them. This was not Rick. As the cell door was unlocked and pulled open, Kali’s eyes shot open. She was looking at the ceiling when the dingy haired man appeared in her vision. “You’re Daryl, right?”

The man only grunted. His torso was covered by a black shirt that was cut off at the sleeves and a black tattered vest over it. He wore black jeans to go along with it. “Let’s go girly,” he grumbled gesturing for her to get up. Kali rolled over on the stomach. Her arms burned, and her legs protested as she tried to stand, taking too long for Daryl’s liking. Daryl grabbed hold of her helping to her feet causing Kali to grimace. His hand planted firmly where Rick had dragged her to and from the house a couple nights ago. Rick had left a mean black bruise just on the underside of her arm.

“Come on. There are things to do,” he said walking back to the cell door. Daryl turned looking back at where she stood in the middle of the cell watching him. Daryl motioned toward the stairs wordlessly ordering Kali to move.

Slowly, she walked across the concrete floor. Kali waited at the bottom of the stairs for Daryl to take her arm like Rick always did and force her up the stairs. Instead, Daryl just stood in silence behind her. “Is that where ya hit your head,” he asked breaking the silence. Kali looked down at the bottom stair where the piece of wood was missing, and splatters of blood had dried. She nodded her head. “Alright. Up the stairs. Let’s go,” he ordered behind her.

Kali trudged up the wooden stairs. Pushing the door open at the top of the stairs, Kali saw that the living floor of the house of empty. “Where’s Rick,” she wondered aloud, her voice ruff coming from her dry throat. Kali glanced around the kitchen in search of another living person. A black trash bag popping in the wind caught her attention. The bag was covering the broken window on the other side of the dining room.

Behind her, Daryl gently pushed Kali’s making her walk forward. “Let’s get going. People are waiting,” he said brushing passed her at to the door. Kali stood in the middle of the floor for a few more moments staring at the broken window and the shards of glass that rested on the wooden floor. Daryl cleared his throat from the front door causing Kali to turn her head.

Slowly, Kali walked across the floor towards Daryl and the door. Daryl pulled the door open gesturing and waited for Kali to walk out first. Kali stood on the top step looking up and down the street as Alexandrians walked towards the gate, some with guns clutched in their hands and other with guns strapped over their shoulders.

Daryl leaned down beside her and grabbed his cross-bow. Skillfully he draped the strap across his chest so that the weapon would lay across his back. Gently, Daryl grabbed hold of Kali’s arm leading her down the stairs. Once they reached the concrete pathway at the bottom of the stairs, Daryl let go of Kali’s arm.

Kali hesitated for a second watching Daryl glide down the road before following him. Her flannel flapped in the wind as she walked down the asphalt road lingering behind Daryl. Kali knew this path from before when Rick had sent her on the run with Michonne to get her out of the community so Negan would not see her. She was looking down occasionally kicking a rock that was in her path. Kali watched her feet in the tattered canvas shoes that Michonne had dropped at her feet a couple nights ago as they flexed and threatened to come apart at the seams.

When she looked up, Kali saw Daryl standing at the open trunk of a nearby car. She walked closer, tucking her hands in her pockets. Getting closer to the car trunk, Kali expected it to be stuffed full of ammo containers and guns. To her surprise the trunk was empty.

“Sit,” Daryl ordered pointing to the edge of the open trunk. Kali shuffled her feet across the pavement as she moved to sit down. She turned to face the man. Slowly, she lowered herself down to the edge of the trunk. Daryl reached in his pocket pulling out a black zip-tie. When his eyes met Kali’s, a grin cracked across his face at her look of annoyance.

Reluctantly, without being told or asked, Kali lifted her wrists for Daryl to bind them together. Daryl stepped forward taking hold of Kali’s wrist. He threaded the plastic through the hole making a circle for Kali to slip her hands through. Once she did, Daryl pulled the tie tight being mindful not to pull it too tight. He pulled the plastic testing the hold of the zip-tie.

Once he was satisfied, Daryl disappeared around the edge of the car. Kali looked around at the Alexandrians that were moving around gathering guns and handing them out to all able body bodies. Out of all the controlled chaos going on around her, Kali was able to see Michonne standing at the gate talking to someone hidden by a car. She watched as Michonne and the person talked. It wasn’t until the person leaned in to kiss the woman did Kali know it was.

Kali felt her blood drain from her face as Rick Grimes made his way towards where she sat. She was too busy focusing on Rick that she didn’t even notice Daryl was back, a burlap sack in his hand. Daryl followed her gaze. He saw Rick stopping to make sure that everyone was getting ready and assuring them that they would win this war.

Taking advantage of Kali’s distracted state, Daryl tossed the sack over her head. He’d be lying if he said that he didn’t expect her to fight, but Kali sat perfectly still on the edge of the trunk. “I guess you want me to get in the trunk too,” Kali said causing the burlap to pop out as she talked. She started to lean back when a hand caught the back of her head easing her down in the trunk. Next, there were hands on her feet getting them positioned comfortably in the tiny trunk.

“We’re all loaded up. We need to get on the road. Never know that the saviors have planned,” said the smooth southern voice that belonged to the former sheriff’s deputy. She heard one of them walk away and a motorcycle fired to life close to the car. A few more moments went by and Kali’s lay quietly in the trunk avoiding having to talk to Rick before it was absolutely necessary. The trunk lid was gently closed enclosing her in darkness.

Moments later, a car door was opened, and the car came to life. Kali felt the driver do a quick three-point turn before starting on a smooth pace. The car came to a screeching halt causing Kali to roll and clamor against the back of the trunk, no doubt the driver did this on purpose. “Son of a bitch,” she said softly as the driver stomped on the gas causing Kali to tumble the other way slamming against the metal. “Damn it,” she whispered to herself trying to adjust her position after the driver finally started to drive normal. That last one hurt.

The car traveled down the road for a while hitting small bumps along the way. Kali lay still feeling the car make left and right turns on the way to their destination. It was maybe half an hour before the car came to a stop. She heard car doors open and close as people exited the vehicle. A ‘pop’ sound radiated through the trunk.

The sack that was over Kali’s head was yanked off. Sunlight infiltrated her eyes’ causing her to grimace slightly. Rick Grimes appeared in her vision after Kali recovered from the temporary blindness. The former sheriff’s deputy scowled down at the woman that lay bound in the trunk. He reached down and pulled Kali’s legs to the edge of the trunk before grabbing her shoulders bringing Kali to sitting position.

Kali eyed the man as he stood mere inches from her. His brown beard was fuller than it was the last time she saw him. “I’m……I’m sorry,” she said looking up at the man. She watched as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The man didn’t say anything as he grabbed her arm.

A wall of Alexandrian’s formed around them as they walked. They moved across the grassy field toward a hill. Most of the group had rifles in their hands as they walked. Rick had his strapped across his chest. Michonne was close by a rifle in her hand and her katana resting against her back.

A shrill sound of an old familiar whistle cut through the air. Rick dropped Kali’s arm and quickly had his rifle in his hands, just like the rest of the people in the group. Kali looked around at the rest of the group. A group that had remarkably grown into a size that astonished Kali. All three communities rallied together to destroy the dictator. They looked around for the source of that deadly whistle eager to shoot.

“Well, damn Rick. Pegged again. Pegged so very hard. I ambushed your ambush with an even bigger ambush,” called the voice that was blaring from a mysterious location.

“Why don’t you step on out and face us,” Rick yelled looking around trying to spot Negan in his hiding spot.

“Oh, I am everywhere Rick,” Negan teased. “More bullhorns, more walkies. Pick a direction and run see how you do. Make it fun for all of us. Guess what else I did, I brought you some of your old friends. You remember your old buddy Eugene? Well, he is the person that made today possible. Same goes for Dwighty boy here. He didn’t purposely lead you astray Rick. Nah, he’s just a good for nothing piece of shit that sucks at life. Now he gets to stand up here and watch you all die and he’s going to live with that. Gabriel? He’s got to go too,” Negan continued. The click of a hammer being pulled back coming over the walkie. “I’m cleaning house today Rick and then, there’s you. It never had to be a fight. You just had to accept how things are. So, here we go. Congratulations Rick,” there was a long pause before Negan spoke again. “I know you brought Kali with ya, Rick. So why don’t ya send my girl right on over so she doesn’t have to die in the mess you created.”

Rick cut his eyes to Kali. Her face was drained of all color as she stood in the middle of the group her hands still bound. “What? No dice Rick? If anything happens to her, I’ll be sure to make sure your death is nice and slow,” Negan’s voice poured through the hidden walkies that surrounded them. “THREE……….TWO………..,” Negan yelled into the walkie.

Movement at the top of the hill caught the groups attention. Hundreds of saviors came over the ridge all with guns aimed down at the group that now seemed much smaller in size. “ONE,” was finally yelled by Negan.

Kali expected there to be bullets flying everywhere from every direction. She slammed her eyes shut and dropped to the ground expecting radiating pain to explode from bullet wounds, but it never came. In fact, all she heard was Rick yelling, feet running forward, and other bodies hitting the grass close by. Kali opened her eyes to see the group fighting off saviors that charged down the hill. She looked to her right and saw a member of the group laying on the ground, a fresh bullet hole in his chest.

Thinking quickly, Kali army crawled over to the body. Kali felt around his body finally finding a knife. After a little maneuvering, she was able to cut the zip-tie from her wrist. Next, she grabbed his pistol from his side standing to her feet.

The cool metal of the gun rested in her palm as she stood over the body. She looked up to see many members of the group in hand to hand combat with some saviors as others ran up the grassy hill after Negan. Her eyes found Rick as he turned to look back. He quickly caught sight of the shiny pistol that now graced Kali’s hand. Rick raised his gun towards her. He didn’t really want to shoot her as he looked down the sights. Kali too quickly raised her gun aiming at the man. She fired wasting no time. 

She saw Rick tense waiting for the bullet to rip through him. Instead, to his surprise, he heard a thump behind him. He glanced around to see the body of a savior with a bleeding hole in her forehead. He stole a glance back at Kali before he ran up the hill. There was only one person that he came here to kill today, that person wore a black leather jacket and carried a bat called Lucille.

Kali walked up the hill that was now littered with dead bodies mostly those of saviors. When she broke the crest of the hill, all-out war is what she expected. Instead, she was greeted with the sight of saviors on their knees surrendering. Kali walked passed the surrenders and their guard. She maneuvered her way through the vehicles to the other side of the hill looking down at the group that brought her here and the man that saved her life multiple times.

She couldn’t hear what Rick was saying, but the two stood under a tree having a tense uneasy conversation. Kali saw the reflection of sunlight on the metal blade. She started to yell but was cut off by the sound of a gunshot and pain flooding her body.

Her breath caught in her throat as she dropped to her knees. Her side was on fire. Kali looked down crimson blood staining the front of her shirt. A hand grabbed her hair, twisting it. “Since you wanted to betray us, you get to die like one of them,” the voice seethed as Kali started to struggle to breathe. “Negan cares about you too much. You clouded his vision. Now you’re going to die like you deserve.”

Kali knew that voice, but the name that it belonged to escaped her. The person pushed her down on the ground. Kali’s gasps for breath becoming more and more strained as blood continued to seep out of her wound.

She must have blacked out for a minute or two because when she came to Kali was being held by Michonne, who had tied Kali’s flannel around her stomach, applying pressure to her wound. Michonne’s fingers danced across her forehead brushed her hair out of her face. It wasn’t much longer till two more people ran over.

Kali heard Siddiq’s worried voice through the haziness.

“We need to get her back if there’s a chance to save her Rick. She’s lost a lot of blood. Even if we make it back, there’s no guarantee. We need to move now,” said the voice of the doctor. Siddiq had tended to Kali before. She felt hands all over her body until she was cradled against a warm chest as the person ran. “We need to get them both back. They’ve lost a lot of blood.” Car doors opened and closed. The car fired to life. “Drive as fast as you can Michonne. Rick, I need you to keep her awake. Apply pressure to reduce blood flow. You’re going to be just fine Kali,” Siddiq said from the front seat reassuring her softly.

Rick sat in the back. His hand covered in fresh crimson blood as he applied pressure to Kali’s wound. Michonne was driving. Her eyes kept flicking to the review mirror watching Rick as she drove. His gaze was steadily looking down at the woman who lay barely conscious in his lap. He wasn’t going to let her die like this, she didn’t deserve to die like this. “I’m sorry,” Rick whispered gently brushing her hair out of the face, “I’m so sorry.”

Chapter Text

he ride to Alexandria was long. Longer and further than Rick remembered and much too far for his liking. He watched the dying girl that lay in his lap as she fought to stay alive. He didn’t know if she would survive by the time they got back. In this world, nothing was taken for granted. It was a miracle they found Siddiq wondering out in the wilderness. He had a family to look out for. Carl, Judith, Michonne, Daryl, Maggie, and Carol they are his family. Now, he can’t shake the want to make Kali apart of that family.

He heard someone call his name. They had stopped in front of the infirmary. Both rear doors were opened as Michonne and Siddiq waited on him to get out of the car with the injured girl. Instead of handing her off to the others, Rick slid out of the car with Kali in his arms. Siddiq ushered him into the infirmary. Softly, he laid her down on the table. “Rick, I need you to hold her down. The first incision is going to hurt her a lot.”

His feet had a mind of their own as he walked towards the end of the bed. His hands were firmly grasping her shoulders tightly. He nodded to Siddiq. He felt her jerk under his hands as her scream bounced off the walls before she passed out. “Michonne, get that resuscitation bag out of the cabinet and place it over her mouth and squeeze it.” The two swapped places quickly and Michonne got to work breathing for Kali.

Rick backed away until his back was firmly against the wall. The door to the infirmary flew open causing the three inhabitants to snap their heads that direction. Other Alexandrians barged in carrying a long, lanky body. They tossed it down on the other table looks of disgust on their face. Rick looked over to see Negan’s lifeless body laying on the other table. Oh, how bad he wanted to walk over there, pull out his gun, and put a bullet in that man’s head…but he can’t. He wants to show Judith and Carl that this world can still be good. Sure, there might be a couple bad apples in the bunch, but all it takes is some correction and everything will be alright. Is that why he wants Kali to live? Does he want her to the example that people can change? That people have a choice about who they want to be? Is she his proof? Is that why he cares so much?

The room was overcrowded by Alexandrians and too noisy for Siddiq. The man who was working profusely on Kali’s wound yelled, “Everyone out! We need blood. O negative. If you’re going to donate form a line if you’re not, get out. You’ll get an update when we have one.”

Everyone in the room immediately hushed. People looked at each other surprised at Siddiq’s actions. Nobody had heard him yell or really talk that much before. His assistants, on the other hand, leaped into action. One getting supplies ready for blood donors and the other was on Negan applying pressure to his wound.

Michonne looked up to Rick where he stood against the wall, he looked lost. “Rick,” she called softly. “Go home. Take a shower. She’ll be okay. I’ll come get you if something happens.”

Unable to form words or try to defend himself, Rick slowly nodded his head. He slipped through the crowd of people that still hung around to give blood. He was amazed at the people that hung around to try to save her when just days ago they all wanted her dead.

When he walked into the house Carl was sitting at the table. “Dad,” the boy questioned. “Are you okay,” he asked once he saw the amount of blood that was on his father’s clothes.

“I’m….I’m fine,” he croaked. “Not..not mine.”

“Is it Michonne? Is she okay? Is she in the infirmary? Did you leave her out there,” the teen questioned a mile a minute.

Rick shook his head. “Not Michonne’s. She’s in the infirmary with Kali. Kali was shot. Negan’s there too. I don’t know if she’ll make it,” he told him. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” he continued to whisper to himself as he climbed the stairs. He stopped briefly by Kali’s room looking around letting a sliver of regret wash over him before continuing to his room to wash her blood off his hands.

It took Rick a little bit to collect himself in the shower. The hot water had long turned ice cold. There was a red ring around the drain of the tub where Kali’s blood had stained the metal ring. When he finally turned the water off and stepped out of the shower, his skin was raw from how hard he tried to scrub away any trace of Kali.

Freshly out of the shower and dressed in a fresh pair of jeans and a clean shirt, Rick finally descended the stairs nearly an hour and a half later. His boots scuffed against the wooden stairs.

He turned the corner to the kitchen expecting to see Carl sitting at the table feeding Judith since it around the time for her to eat. Instead, he was greeted with the sight of Daryl sitting at the table feeding Judith. The toddler who was chowing down on her food and grinned at her father who entered the kitchen.

“Is she dead,” he asked lowly afraid of the answer he might get.

“No. Your girl is a fighter, Rick. She ain’t out of the woods yet. Just have to wait it out and see,” Daryl replied his voice gruff. Rick just nodded his head.

“Did Carl say where he was going,” Rick asked walking toward the table. His hands gripped the back of the chair beside the man looking down at his daughter.

The other man grunted in response. “It’s just been me and little ass kicker down here for the last little bit. Your boy took off nearly as soon as I came in the door.”

Once again Rick nodded his head. “Thanks for taking care of her,” he said lowly, his blue eyes locked on Judith, who just finished her food. The older man walked around the table to the girl. He reached down for her and she eagerly reached back for him. He held her on his hip leaning his head back to look at her. A small smile graced his face before he leaned forward and planted a kiss on the top of her head. “We’re going to check on everyone if you want to tag along,” he told the other man walking around the table and towards the door.

Father and daughter stepped out onto the door greeted by the afternoon sunset. The sun was barely peeking over the tall pines that stood in the distance. The sky had been painted a beautiful mix of orange, pink, and blue. There was a light breeze bringing in the coolness of the fall. The pair was joined by Daryl on the porch, who too stopped to enjoy the sunset.

“Meryl would kick my ass for standing here watching a sunset,” Daryl said breaking the silence that had overtaken the men causing Rick grin. “Let’s get to stepping sheriff,” he said walking ahead of the man and down the road.

Rick fell into step walking down the road with Judith. They walked the main street of Alexandria to the house that had become the infirmary. When they arrived, he could see a crowd of sitting on the porch caught Rick by surprise. His blue eyes swept over the crowd making eye contact with everyone. Carol, who was sitting on the porch with Ezekiel, walked over to him and took the little girl from his arms. “I’ll hold her while you go check on everyone. She’ll be fine, don’t worry,” she said touching his arm.

“Thank you. I’ll only be a minute,” he said making his way past her. He walked through the crowd feeling their eyes on him.

“Hey Rick,” he heard Carol call from behind him. “We’ll be fine. Take your time.”

Simply he nodded his head and entered the house. The house was eerily silent. No sounds of the Siddiq barking orders or any type of machine being used to keep track of a heartbeat. He walked to the room where the operation had taken place, but there was no one there. “Michonne,” he called into the house.

“Rick,” he heard her say behind him. Quickly he turned around to see the woman leaning against the wooden door frame. She walked towards him slowly and wrapped her arms around his neck pulling him close. He closed the distance between them, placing his lips on hers before wrapping his arms around her nestling into the crook of her neck.

“Where are they,” he asked, his voice gruff. Michonne simply took his hand and led out of the room to another room down the hall. She pushed the door open gently leading him to the yellow room. His eyes quickly became fixated on the figure that lay flat in the bed. The long legs, now in sweatpants, hanging over the edge of the bed slightly. He lifted his eyes to see both hands cuffed to either side of the bed. The right hand now had a thick layer of bandage wrapped around it. His eyes continued upward to the rise and fall the chest that proved the person was indeed alive. Next, his eyes swept over the face of the sleeping man.

Rick felt his blood began to boil. Everyone wanted him dead. He was the reason that Abraham and Glenn were dead. He didn’t want to change his ways which led to a war that left many on both sides dead and hurt. The overwhelming urge to end the man’s life was itching at Rick’s core. Nobody would miss him anyway. Even his own people didn’t want him to live anymore. No one would complain. Then the thought of Kali swept into his mind. She was the reason that Negan was cuffed to the bed unconscious right now and not walking around with the other corpses.

“I know what you want to do right now and I’m urging you not to do it,” Michonne said from beside him. “Remember what we are doing here. What we are trying to build,” she reminded.

“He doesn’t deserve it. He doesn’t deserve to live.”

“I know. He won’t be walking around here free. Maybe he’ll never be outside again once he’s in the cell.” Rick nodded his head. “I know that doesn’t make it easier, but we’ll get better. We won’t give him that satisfaction of seeing our rage.”

The pair stood in the room for a few more minutes before Michonne spoke again. “You want to see her?” She didn’t wait for Rick’s response before taking his hand again and leading him back down the hallway passed the room he was first into a room on the other end of the hallway from Negan’s room. The door was cracked open before Michonne pushed the door open.

Unlike Negan’s room, this one was gray. There was a window that had blinds on it covering the setting sun. There was a chair pulled up the other side of the bed facing the door and a book was sitting on the side table. The girl was laying in the bed. She was nearly as pale as the white sheet that she lay on. A light blanket was covering her. One hand was cuffed to the side of the bed as a precaution in case she turned during the night. “Siddiq said he got the bullet out. It was close to her spine so if she wakes up, we will not know if she’ll be able to walk or stand. Other than that, he stopped the bleeding. It’s just up to her now.”

“Can I get a minute,” he asked her softly never tearing his eyes from the sleeping form of the woman lying in the bed.

“I’ll be outside if you need me,” she said walking out the door. He listened to her footsteps walk down the hallway and the front door open and close.

His boots felt as if they had become full of cement as he walked around the bed. He sat down in the chair carefully. He leaned forward, his elbows resting on the bed as he looked at the girl. “I’m sorry this happened to you,” he whispered. “I’m goin’ to find who did it. This wasn’t what I wanted to happen,” he continued putting his hand on her arm. “I know..I know what I said the other night,” Rick stopped expecting to see her brown eyes staring at him, but was saddened when he realized she wasn’t going to wake up for this. He gently placed on hand on the top of her brown hair. He thumbed some wild hair back away from her forehead. “I want you to be the change. I need you to change this world. Change this place. I don’t know why Kali, but I care about you too much. I said I didn’t, but I lied. You don’t deserve to die like this. You are stronger than this. This world is going to need you, Kali. We are going to need you. Don’t let this beat you. You can fight, and you can win. You will win.”

Chapter Text

For Rick the days blended into nights. He’d been to visit Kali regularly, at least twice a day. Once in the morning before his day started and at some point, during the evening. It had been three weeks since they had defeated Negan. Two weeks since they had moved Negan to the cell in the basement of Rick’s house.

The communities had started to rebuild. Slowly, they would back to how it was before. The Saviors that decided to stay were now going to be apart of the larger community that was assembling. The Hilltop, the Kingdom, Sanctuary, and Alexandria all pulling to together to survive.

They had spent the day teaching the saviors how to cultivate the land and helping them get rows ready for planting. When they finally set out on the road for home, each person was daydreaming of their beds back home.

The car had just pulled through the gates of Alexandria when Rick saw Enid waiting at the gates. Recently, she had been studying under Siddiq to learn the ropes of the medical practice the best she could because the communities needed more than one doctor.

Rick was the first out of the car. “What is it,” he asked roughly before the young girl could even open her mouth.

“Siddiq said to come get you as soon as you got back. He said you’d want to know about this.”

As soon as the words left her mouth, Rick made a beeline for the infirmary. Michonne and Carl were right on his heels. He wanted this to be news that Kali had woken up and was fine, but a feeling in his gut gave him doubt. Her wound was like his when he was shot. Even then with the best medical equipment and doctors, that had done surgeries before, he was in a coma for a month.

He slung the door open causing it to bang against the house. Rick basically ran down the hallway to her room. Just when he was about to throw the door open and barge in, the door opened. Siddiq had heard the man coming in. “What is it,” he said gruffly looking around the room for a sign.

Siddiq stepped out of the room and gently shut the door behind him. “She’s resting,” he said shortly trying to step beside the man.

Rick was quick and grabbed his arm tightly. “What do you mean she’s resting?”

“Rick, I think you’ll want to move away from the door to have this conversation. Let’s go to the main room and I’ll explain,” Siddiq said motioning back down the hallway.

Reluctantly, Rick followed the doctor down the hallway. Carl and Michonne were waiting in the main room when the pair walked in. Siddiq stood across from Rick and Carl, who had leaned against the operating table. “What happened?”

Siddiq took a long breath before he started. “It wasn’t long after everyone left this morning that I heard a noise. Knowing she and I were the only ones in the house, I walked to her room. When I opened the door, Kali was having a bad dream. I tried to calm her down, but she kept whimpering and turning. She kept moving her arm tugging on the cuff. If I didn’t wake her up, she would have reopened her wound. Once I got her awake and calmed, I had to make sure that she didn’t have any damages or anything. I know when I got the bullet, there was a possibility that she wouldn’t walk again because of the bullet. I checked her reflexes in her feet and..,” he paused.

“And what Siddiq,” Michonne asked a sinking feeling beginning to wash over her.

“There was some delay. Like her nerves are all shook up and didn’t know what to do. She felt everything though, so she has feeling, it’s just getting the movement back.”

He was about to finish when Rick shook his head. “Is that what you had to say? Was that really that important it couldn’t wait?”

“Rick,” Michonne snapped causing the main to stop. “Let him finish.”

“She doesn’t remember,” Siddiq said looking into Rick’s blue eyes.

“What do you mean she doesn’t remember?”

“Like she remembers the night at the outpost. She remembers being here and the cell. She remembers the events leading to the fight, but she doesn’t remember.”

“She doesn’t remember getting shot?”

“No,” Siddiq said shaking his head.

“The fight?”

“I asked her what the very last thing was she remembered. She said she was standing on top of the hill looking down at Rick and Negan. She saw you slash his throat then nothing,” Siddiq explained.

“So, she doesn’t know-,” Michonne started to say, but was cut off by Carl.

“Negan. She thinks he’s dead. She doesn’t know.”

“Yeah,” the doctor said. “I thought I’d leave that up to you to decide to tell her or not.”

“No,” Rick said sharply, “we don’t tell her, and we don’t tell Negan. To each other, they’re both dead.”
-----------------------------------

It was a short time later when Rick and Michonne returned to the infirmary. Both were in agreement that Kali would not know that Negan was in the cell. Michonne was hesitant to go along with the plan at first because she knew how she would react if Rick was locked away from her without her knowing it, thinking he buried six feet deep or worse a rotting corpse walking around.

Both were quiet when they entered the room. Kali was still asleep from earlier. Her right arm was in a black arm sling that was tucked against the chest. Her left hand still cuffed to the bed. Her skin tone had improved greatly as she had gotten her color back awhile ago.

Michonne walked around the bed to the chair sat beside the bed. Rick stood at the foot of the bed against the wall watching Kali as she slept. The pair waited in a comfortable silence for the woman to wake up.

The sun was starting to set when there was finally movement from the bed. Just a small twitch of the arm causing the cuff to jingle had the pair on their toes. They stayed silent waiting for the girl to wake up. “Kali,” Michonne called softly in the silent room.

Her eyes slowly fluttered open. She tried to move her left hand, but it was quickly pulled back by the cuff. “Can we take this damn handcuff off now that I’m not dying,” she asked staring at the ceiling. She saw Michonne lean forward from the corner of her eye and put the key into the lock. She quickly moved her hand away once the metal was removed. “Thanks,” she whispered.

“Kali,” Rick called from his spot against the wall.

“Woah. If it isn’t Rick, the prick. Figured you’d be here to rub it in my face. When do I get to go back home,” she asked rolling her head to look at Michonne.

“This is your home now Kali. We’ve talked about this before,” said Rick.

“I meant my cell. Locked away from everyone and everything. Left to rot alone in a twelve by twelve square with a single window letting sunlight fill the room. Those steel bars keeping us separated like I am a damn animal. Daily visits. Getting to shoot the shit with my favorite former sheriff, talking about stuff and things, this and that. Can’t forget about your people trying to kill me. That’s the icing on the cake right there. I’m just itching to go back. So, when can I?”

“Kali,” Michonne said softly grabbing her attention, “That cell isn’t where you belong anymore.”

“Ah hell, why not? I loved my cell. Given my current situation, I’d have to have some help getting down the stairs, but other than that I would be good to go.”

“You’re not going to the cell,” Rick said firmly. “Things have changed.”

“I killed your people Rick. I’m one of Negan’s. Lock me and throw away the key. He’s gone, isn’t he? You killed him,” her voice dropped dangerously low as she choked up. Her eyes began to fill with tears when she finally admitted it out loud.

Rick pushed off the wall and walked over to the bed. He was just about to touch her arm when she jerked away. “You killed him, didn’t you? All this talk about changing people. He’s gone. I’m next. You killed him.”

“Yeah,” Rick said softly. He jumped a little when Kali started to cry in the bed. He and Michonne looked at each other, both startled momentarily by the emotion shown from the woman. “Kali,” Rick tried, but she kept crying.

He softly put his hand on her arm to try and soothe her when she suddenly jerked under him. “Let go of me! Get out! Go away,” she cried curling away from him.

Siddiq opened the door from the outside. “I think it’s best y’all leave. She doesn’t need this stress right now. She can’t handle it.”

Rick looked at Michonne, who simply nodded her head. “Maybe later,” he said walking out the door leaving the two women alone. He walked out of the house and sat down on the concrete steps. Leaning his head forward, he ran his hands through his hair letting out a shaky breath. He had broken her.

He sat there on the porch for a while longer, listening to the crickets as they began their nightly song. For a while, he could still hear Kali’s cries, but they were now drowned out with his own thoughts. He would try to talk to her tomorrow, but tonight she needed to rest.

He pushed off the stairs and headed down the road towards his house. He opened the door to see Carl and Judith laying together on the couch. She was too occupied with the movie they were watching to notice that her father had walked in. Carl gave his father a look before refocusing on the screen.

Rick walked through the house to the kitchen. He opened the cabinets and pulled out the contents to make a sandwich. Two big globs of peanut butter and jelly of the bread, he slapped them together. He wrapped the sandwich in a paper towel. “Carl,” he called, “I’ll be back in a little bit.”

Rick headed towards the door that led to the basement. The door that kept the man that hurt his family tucked away from everyone. The man that should be dead. Rick opened the door and slowly headed down the stairs. He pulled the chair from its spot on the wall over to the cell door.

He sat the meal down on the concrete floor and pushed it through the crack at the bottom of the door. “It’s been a couple days since we talked. I know it’s hard for you right now, so I’ll do most of the talking. It’s day twenty-two. We went to the sanctuary today. Your people are ready to rebuild. Everyone is pulling together to get us back to where we were. Nothing will change what you did, but we can build from the rubble and come back better than we were before. You didn’t beat us. We are rebuilding, we are making a better future for ourselves,” Rick finished causing a chuckle from Negan. “You need to eat to get your energy and strength back up. You’re still recovering too. So, eat your food,” he demanded.

Rick drug the chair back across the floor towards the wall causing the wood to scrape the cement floor. It was so faint he almost missed it. “What was that,” he asked walking back towards the cell door.

“Where is she,” the voice whispered. He had to choose his words carefully. Each one hurting as it vibrated his vocal cords.

“Your bat is put away. No one will use it again,” he said turning to walk away from the door.

“No,” the voice called softly. “Kali. Where is she,” the voice strained.

Rick looked through the bars at the silhouette of the man that lay on the cot. “She’s dead, Negan. The Saviors killed her during the war. She’s gone.” He watched as Negan seemed to stop breathing. His chest flat, unmoving for a few seconds. “I’m sorry Negan.” Rick walked away this time, ignoring the hoarse cries of his name as he climbed the stairs.

Chapter Text

The next day Rick tried to get Kali to talk to him, but she refused. He sat beside her bed and waiting, but she turned away from him and stared at the wall. His words were left unanswered as Kali refused to answer or even look at him. Deep down she wanted to turn over and yell at him. She wanted to cry.

Negan was her best friend and she was his. Since that day on the streets that they met, the two were inseparable. From finding that group with Dwight and Sherry to being taken down by Rick and Co, she believed in him. There were times, of course, that she did not agree with everything he did, and she made sure he knew it.

Two days later, Rick tried again. He was making his way into the infirmary when the saw Siddiq helping Kali take small steps through the window. He couldn't help but smile at the sight. Her steps were shaky and uneven at first with Siddiq by her side. Rick made his way up the stairs and inside the house. When he opened the door, both Kali and Siddiq looked at him. Kali's eyes were full of malice when she met his eyes.

"I'm done for today," she told Siddiq. "Can you help me back," Kali asked trying to turn around.

"I'll help," Rick volunteered walking over to the pair.

Kali rolled her eyes. "I'm good thanks. I'd rather fall," she said putting her good arm against the wall trying to steady herself enough to walk.

Rick walked forward and slipped her arm around the back of shoulders. "You're going to hurt yourself," he told her as he slowly walked her down the hallway.

"Good," she snapped. "Your people couldn't finish the job by shooting me, so I'll just do it myself," she quipped.

It was Rick's turn to roll his eyes. Once they reached the room, he gently helped her sit down on the small twin bed. "We don't know who shot you, Kali. We're trying to figure it out."

"Probably that feisty Latino girl y'all got. The one that tried to kill me before. Rosita, right? Finally got her shot and fucking missed. Maybe it was that dingy, greasy haired redneck. He didn't seem to like me either. Doesn't matter. As soon as I'm better I'm gone. I'm not staying here," she told hard brown eyes staring into his hardening blues.

Rick shook his head and brought his hand to his forehead. "Kali, can we talk about this at another time? Maybe once you are all healed up."

"Fine Rick. Still won't change my find. There's nothing left for me in this area anymore anyways. You killed Negan. I'll stay till this fucking sling comes off, but then I'm leaving."

Rick slowly shook his head as he made his way towards the door. "Get some rest. You made some progress today. I'll get ya out of here soon," he told her walking out of the door and down the hallway. Kali listened to his boots as he walked down the wooden hallway.

 

Kali laid back on the bed pulling the covers over her body. She laid there listening to the two men talk in hushed tones as she drifted to sleep.

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"How long till she's able to get out of here," Rick asked the doctor keeping his voice low.

"Rick," Siddiq said exasperated, "she's just now getting back on her feet. You saw how unsteady she was. She's going to have to have therapy for her arm once it gets healed. Plus, her legs. I think this is the best place for her to stay right now."

"We can get her a cane or there's a wheelchair around here that we can get her to roll around with for a while, while you do your therapy. She won't like it, but we need to try and integrate her into the community as a member, not a prisoner. We need to make everyone see that she's one of us now. That if anything happens to her, the person will be treated like they hurt one of us."

"I understand that Rick, but I think she needs more time to recuperate after everything. What will you do if she gets out exploring around and finds out Negan is still alive," the doctor asked keeping his voice barely above a whisper.

"She won't," Rick said huskily. "Kali needs to know people care about her being here, even if it is just Michonne and I. Can we move her tomorrow?"

"She won't like it and I don't," Siddiq said earning a glare from the man, "but tomorrow we'll get her set up back in her old room at your house. That way she's under your supervision."

"Thanks, Doc. I'll see ya bright and early okay? Are you going to do a therapy session in the morning?"

"I was planning on it, but it all depends on her," Siddiq replied.

"I want to be here."

Siddiq was hesitant to agree. He knew Kali was not Rick's biggest fan right now, but the man was his "leader" and his son had openly welcomed him into their community against his father's wishes. "Fine," he finally agreed after a minute, "but if she starts to get upset, you have to leave."

"Okay," Rick agreed, "I'll see you in the morning. Goodnight Siddiq."

"Night Rick."

------------------------------------------

When he left the infirmary in the late evening, Rick headed straight home. He needed to check on Negan. Since he had delivered the news that Kali had been "killed" the man refused to eat. Rick would take him a sandwich and a drink each night only to return in the morning to a full plate and a half-full cup. Even the little bit of liquid he was drinking, was nowhere near the amount he needed.

So, when Rick made his way down to the basement that night, he had a bowl of soup on the tray in his hands. Maybe this would be easier on Negan's throat when he swallows it. "Negan," he called once he was down the stairs. Rick huffed as he made his way over to the cell bars. He grabbed the chair that he had sat in when he delivered the news about Kali.

"Negan," he called as he put the tray down on the floor just under the cell bars. Gently, Rick pushed the tray deeper into the cell trying not to spill the content of the bowl. "You need to eat," he said sitting down. Rick looked into the cell, the moonlight shining through the window was barely enough to provide light. He could see the silhouette of the man that sat on the cot pressed against the back of the wall. "Negan."

"Rick," replied the hoarse voice.

"Eat," Rick demanded.

"Are you going to stay and talk to me," the man asked. "It sure is lonely down here. Having no one to talk to. You stay, I eat."

Rick wanted to leave. He didn't want to give the man the satisfaction of controlling what he did. He should have gotten up and left the basement without another word, but instead, he stayed. He sat there in that chair well into the night talking with Negan, reminding the man to eat. Rick could hear the slurp as Negan swallowed the soup down. The soup had to be cold by the time that Negan finished it, but the man ate every drop.

"Why did you do it, Rick?"

"Do what? Keep you alive? We need to show these people that we are going to be civilized again. When they do something wrong, they'll be punished for it. Death isn't the only option now. We're changing," Rick explained.

Negan scoffed. Rick heard the springs of the bed squeak as the man stood to his feet. His bare feet padded against the cement floor. Negan stood in front of him, the bars separating them. He wrapped his hands around the cool metal. "You kept the wrong one us alive, Rick. I don't deserve to live. She did. She didn't deserve what you did to her," Negan's said his voice laced with sadness.

"We didn't kill Kali. It was the saviors. When they came over the hill, we lost her and a couple others. Your people killed her."

"No. No," Negan whispered. "She was smarter than that. Kali," he had to stop to compose himself, "Kali was different. This world didn't deserve her. She didn't deserve to die like that Rick."

Rick stayed silent listening to the man. He thought about the woman sleeping just down the road in the infirmary. How she reacted when he told her. He should have known Negan would react similarly. "Kali was going to be the change in the world. Proof that people can change. She had a chance to kill me, but she didn't."

"Shame," Negan replied.

Rick shook his head as he stood to his feet. "It's a hard lesson to learn Negan. I'll be back soon. Take care of yourself. Live your life for her. Kali wouldn't want you to hurt yourself more."

"You don't get to talk about her like you knew her," Negan bit back. "Don't try to tell me what she would want, you didn't know her. You're the reason she's dead."

Rick leaned forward and grabbed the tray with the bowl on it. "I'll be back soon," he told the man one last time making his way to the stairs. He stopped and turned back to look at Negan, who was still clutching the bars. He shook his head one last time before climbing the stairs.

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The sun was just peeking over the trees when Rick was already on his way to the infirmary. The mornings were chiller, but the evenings were pleasant, so the weather had Alexandria residents preparing for the winter. Rick had a stack of clothes in his hands consisting of a pair of sweatpants, a loose-fitting long sleeve shirt, a pair of socks, and a pair of slippers for Kali to put on.

He wasn't surprised when he walked into Kali's room to see her still asleep. He set the clothes down the table beside her bed. He walked quietly to the other side of the bed, so he could gently shake her without hurting her wound. "Kali," he whispered to receive no answer. "Kali," he called again. He tried one last time to wake her without shaking her.

Just as his hands were about to touch her shoulder, Kali stopped him. "You touch me, and you'll lose the hand. I promise you that," she said with her eyes still closed.

"Well good morning to you too," Rick played a smile on his face.

"What do you want," she asked yawning, stretching her good arm.

"You need to get up and put those clothes on."

Kali looked at him through squinted eyes. "Who do you think you are? Do you think you're my dad?"

Rick's laugh echoed in the small room. "Only if you want me to be," he quipped.

Instantly, Kali rolled her eyes. "Get out," she demanded.

Siddiq cleared his throat from the doorway causing the pair to focus their attention on him. "You are here early," he said to Rick pushing off the door. "You could have waited."

"Big day Doc. Couldn't contain my excitement," he said looking towards the doctor. Rick walked towards the door. "You," he said pointing back to Kali, "get up. Put those on. We have stuff and things to do today," he said walking out the door with Siddiq down the hall letting the woman change.

The morning passed quickly. Kali was resistant to Rick's help all through the morning session with Siddiq. She was getting stronger each day. It wouldn't be long till Rick had to have the talk about her leaving and honestly, he was avoiding it.

It was around midday when the pair started towards Rick's house. When Rick brought the wheelchair into view on the porch, Kali tried to turn around and walk back inside the infirmary, but Siddiq stopped her. "I'm not sitting in that and letting you roll me down the street," she said when Rick looked at her with a smile on his face.

"If you plan on getting to where we're going sometime today, then you'll sit down and enjoy the ride." So, Kali found herself sitting in the black wheelchair with Rick pushing her down the street. Many of the citizens of Alexandria were milling around in the freshly plowed field. Others were busy building new buildings and houses. No ones seemed to pay the pair any attention as they went along, and Kali was thankful for that.

When they finally arrived at Rick's house, a part of Kali was relieved. At least this part felt familiar. Rick helped her out of the chair and up the porch steps. "We'll get you a cane or something till you're able to walk steadily on your own," Rick told her once they were in the door. The next big journey for the two was the stairs to Kali's room.

Each step made her side ache more and more. It had been a long time since the had been on her feet this much, plus climbing stairs. As much as she didn't want to, Kali clung to Rick as he helped her up the stairs. They were about halfway up when she stopped. "You okay," he asked.

"I just need a minute, or you can just drag me to the top. Either works really. Just get this torture over with."

Rick chuckled softly. "We're almost to the top. Just a couple more stairs. You can do it."

"Great motivational speech there Rick. Might want to pick up that on as a hobby. You'd be great at it."

"Smartass," he whispered. "Come on. I know it hurts, but it will be over soon," he said starting to move her up the stairs again. Rick smiled at the many expletives that came out of Kali's mouth the last few steps. "There ya go," he said once the pair finally made it to the top of the stairs.

"Oh, thank God," she cried when Rick opened the bedroom door and she saw the bed was still there. The full bed could not compare to her's at the Sanctuary, but she sure was glad to see it after sleeping in the infirmary bed.

He sat her down gently on the bed before backing away. He watched as she laid back resting against the soft mattress. "I'll be back to bring you some food in a little bit. Don't hurt yourself trying to do too much," he told her walking towards the door. He was just about to close the door when he heard his name from the room. "Hmm?"

"When I was out of it, I had a dream that I was back at the Sanctuary. The war was over. Your people were our workers. Michonne, Daryl, all those people out there. Carl was tucked under Negan's wing as he showed him how to lead the people. I couldn't find you though. I looked. I did, but I couldn't find you. So, I went lower. Down to the bottom level where we kept the prisoners. That dreadful song that Negan insisted playing as torture was playing eardrum-shattering loud. I could hear someone pleading from one of the cells. When I got closer, the voice was pleading for freedom. That he would cooperate now. He won't fight anymore. He was broken," she paused for a second. "When I opened the door, the man hid from the light from the hallway. The cell reeked. The man was pleading for me to stop the music. To stop his torture. After I told the guards to cut the song off, the man started crying. The most fucked up part of this dream Rick is that that man was you," she continued staring at the ceiling. "We had won the war. You and your people could join our ranks or get out. We didn't kill you. I'm sure Negan could have, but he didn't. You killed him."

Rick brought his hand to his forehead and rubbed his temples. "Kali things will get better here. The situation of you being here has changed. We want you to be a willing member here, just keep your head up."

"The thing is Rick since I woke up, I can't stop thinking about the night at the outpost. If only my gun hadn't of jammed, you would have just been another body on the floor. You are the one that should be dead. Not Negan. You started this. You had me as a prisoner for leverage, but Negan never came. He was too smart for your games. I shouldn't be here. I should not have been here in the first place. I should have killed you. Then your people, probably Michonne, would have killed me," she laughed from the bed. "You and me, we should be dead. Now he's gone, and I didn't even get to say goodbye," she felt her eyes getting watery. Tears began to flow down her cheek. "I bet you didn't even put him down, did you? He's still out there walking around as a walker ain't he? When I get healed, I am going after him. You'll have to put me six feet under before you stop me too," she promised him turning her head to look at him.

Rick didn't say anything as he shut the door. She heard his boots as he walked down the stairs and the slam of the front door as he left the house.

If she learned anything from before, a silent Rick was a mad Rick and Kali was just getting started.

Chapter Text

Within a few weeks after she woke up, Kali finally got her sling off. Rick tried to convince her to stay in Alexandria during the winter, but Kali was not willing to negotiate. Instead, Rick gave in to letting her live in a house about five miles away from Alexandria. Michonne had helped talk him into it, because she could see that Kali simply was not happy there.

She tried to be independent without Alexandria's help, but Rick and Michonne still sent her supplies to help her get by. It never was much. Just some fresh eggs from the chickens from the Kingdom or some canned goods they had found on a recent run. Sometimes Rick dropped them off and stayed around to talk, Michonne came to occasionally, other times it was Daryl.

Her favorite on to see standing on her porch out of all of them was Carl. The young man was wise beyond his years and more caring than he should be.

Today, she was in the backyard cutting firewood to keep the house warm when she looked up to see Carl standing in the doorway. She gave him a smile. "What are you doing here," she asked putting the ax down and gathering the firewood she had just split.

"Dad and Daryl just got back from a run and I volunteered to bring you some," he said raising the bag in his hand for her to see.

"You are just so sweet," she teased him making a face.

The boy rolled his one good eye. "Don't call me sweet."

"Is that reserved for Enid?"

"No. We don't...I don't like her. We're just friends," he tried to defend.

Kali gave him a look with her eyebrows slightly raised and a smirk on her face as she passed by him and into the house. "Sure," she said drawing out the word much longer than was needed.

"We're friends," the boy defended.

"Carl, I was a high school teacher when the world went to shit. I know the look of love-struck teenagers when I see it." Kali sat the wood down on the floor close to the fireplace before poking the burning logs with her stick.

The two settled into a comfortable silence for a while listening to the wood crackle and pop. The sun was starting to set when Kali spoke again, "Are you going to tell me why you're actually here this time or do I have to guess?"

"What makes you think I want something?"

"You have that look on your face like you want something, but you don't know how to ask for it," she said. "Like last time when you wanted me to come back. So, what is this time?"

"Why won't you come back," he asked looking at the woman across the room.

Kali chuckled leaning against the wall. "I'm not coming back, Carl."

"But why?"

"There is nothing there for me, Carl. I needed to leave. After the winter, I am gone. Your dad asked me to stay around until spring and it's time for me to move on from here," she tried to explain to the boy.

"How can you just leave people that care about you," Carl asked, his voice barely reaching her ears.

"Carl," she paused thinking how to word what she wanted to say. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Negan. He saved me. He...He cared about me. Alexandria, you, your dad, Michonne, they don't. It might seem like you do, that you want me to stay, but Carl, I can't stay here. Not with his memory hanging over me every time someone mentions his name or when I see what's left of the saviors and the way everyone looks at me. I can't stay here Carl."

The house grew silent again for a while. Kali tended to the fire making sure it was burning to keep the house warm. "You mind if I stay," he asked as the sun started to settle beneath the horizon.

"Your dad would absolutely kill me if I let you go out at night by yourself so yes. Make yourself at home."

Kali stood from her place on the floor and disappeared back into her bedroom for a moment before returning with a stack of blankets and pillows in her arms. When she first left Alexandria with Rick and Michonne to clear out a house not far from the gates, she didn't want a big house. So instead she settled into a small one-bedroom, one-bathroom house in the woods away from everyone and everything.

They easily set up at a perimeter to keep the walkers away from her house, but she still had to go out from time to time to clear the line so that walkers wouldn't be attracted to the noise.

"There's enough blankets along with the fire to keep us warm. So, help me make a pallet or you can sleep in the cold," she told him dropping the stack her hands to the floor causing Carl to look at from under his father's sheriff's hat.

The teen huffed as the pushed off the couch and got in the floor to help Kali spread the blankets on the floor close to the fireplace. Afterward, the pair settled onto the blankets. Carl on his side and Kali on hers.

"Can you at least think about it," he asked.

"Carl," she groaned turning away from him. She took a deep breath before she continued. "I'll think about it. I'm not saying I'm coming back. I still plan on leaving, but I'll think about it. No promises."

She heard Carl say a quiet thank you as the two once again settled into a comfortable silence before drifting off to sleep.
===================================

When she woke up the next morning, the sun was barely above the trees. Since she had been on her own, Kali was waking up earlier in the morning to get everything done around the house. Looking around, she saw Carl was still asleep wrapped in a bundle of covers curled in a ball. The fire had dwindled during the night so her first move was to put some logs on the fire to try and warm the house back up.

Quietly, trying not to wake Carl, Kali made her way into the kitchen to where they had left the supplies the boy had brought. She dug through the bag until she found the eggs she was looking for. Grabbing a pan from the cabinets, she made her way back to the living room where the fire was.

The one thing she did miss about Alexandria was having a stove that actually worked.

When Carl finally woke up, Kali had finished the second batch of eggs. "Good morning sleepy head," she teased causing the boy to roll his eye. "Want some breakfast," she asked handing him a plate with freshly prepared eggs with a smile.

"Thanks," he murmured as he stuffed his face with the eggs she prepared. It wasn't much, but this was the apocalypse so when you did eat, you were thankful.

"I'm going to go change clothes and wash up. I'll be back in a few minutes. Don't run off on my now," she told him standing to her feet. Kali walked down the hallway into her bedroom to change clothes. She settled on a plain gray crew sweatshirt over a short sleeve shirt with a pair of jeans. She walked to her bathroom where she had a fresh bucket of water. Quickly, she freshened herself up. She would get some more water later and take a proper bath, but this would have to do for now. She grabbed her deodorant that Rick had brought her the last time he came and applied some quickly. Next time Rick or Michonne came, she would ask them to if they could try to find her some more.

When she returned to the living room a couple minutes later, Carl had folded the blankets they had slept on and put them in a pile on the couch. "I think it's time you head back. I know your dad is worried about you. He never liked you being out on your own," she told him walking into the living room holding the bag he brought with him.

"He worries about everything," Carl said causing Kali to smile slightly.

"That's his job," she told him walking closer. "He wants to keep you and everyone safe. You're his child, he's supposed to worry about you."

"He worries about you too," he said looking Kali in the eyes.

Kali shook her head as handed him the bag. "It's not the same, Carl. Maybe you'll understand one day. Come on. It's time for you to head back," she told him walking to the door and opening it.

Carl huffed as he walked across the wooden floor towards the door. Kali wrapped her arms around him and held him close. Instantly, Carl hugged her back not wanting to let her go. "Come back with me," he tried one last time. "Everyone misses you. Dad, Michonne, me, Daryl, even Judith."

"Carl," she said pulling back to hold him at an arm's length, "I can't. I need more time. I'll think about it, but I'm not saying I'll be back. I need more time to myself away from everything and everyone."

He nodded his head in understanding. "Don't leave without saying bye," he told her walking out on the door.

Kali grinned walking towards the door. "I'll see ya in a few weeks," she called to the young man who was walking across the lawn towards the road. "Hey Carl," she yelled causing the boy to turn around, "stay safe."

"You too," he called before turning and walking down the road towards Alexandria.

Kali stayed on the porch watching as Carl disappeared from her sight. Maybe she should run and catch up with him and go back to Alexandria. A part of her wanted to go back behind the metal walls, but she put a stop to the train of thought almost immediately. She knew she needed to get away from Alexandria, away from the sanctuary, and away from the sweeping memory of Negan everywhere she went. She couldn't move on with her life unless she put this behind her and moved on.
======================================

Days had passed since Carl's visit and Kali could not shake what he had said. A couple times, she was tempted to pack up and head to Alexandria, but Kali could not make herself do it. Instead, she busied herself with fixing up the area surrounding the house.

It was late morning and Kali found herself in the middle of the barren woods. As she walked the line, there were no walkers trying to get in so that made the walk a little more enjoyable. She always enjoyed being out in nature before the apocalypse and that hadn't really changed since the dead started walking.

Kali was almost done doing her check when she heard twigs and leaves snap beyond the boundary that she had. She looked deeper in the woods through the bushes and trees trying to see if she could see the walker as it staggered by, that way she could take care of it before it got stuck on her fence.

With one hand on her pistol that was tucked away in its holster and a knife in the other, Kali stepped beyond her border of safety to the dangerous world beyond. She didn't venture far into passed her boarder until she caught sight of what was making the racket. A walker was tied to a tree, a single rope around its waist keeping it from getting away.

She walked over carefully, looking to the ground in case whoever tied this walker up had set a for her too. Kali plunged the knife easily into the decayed head. Pulling her knife free, the walker collapsed against the tree.

Kali turned back towards her home, taking a mental note to keep a lookout for someone around the property for the next couple days that wasn't from Alexandria. She heard twigs start snapping again and leaves being crunched under the heavy footfalls of running feet.

She went to turn pulling her gun from the holster, but it was too late. The butt of the person's gun hit her in the head causing Kali to fall limply the ground. Her pistol fell from her hand when she was hit. The person walked around her body and the boots filled her vision. The person leaned down and grabbed the discarded pistol, tucking it into their pants. "They are going to so happy when I get back with you," the voice said, and Kali gave in to the unconsciousness that was pulling her under.

Chapter Text

Pitch black darkness is what Kali woke up to. Her head was pounding as she lay prone on the hard cold floor. She did not know how long she had been knocked out for or who had taken her. Kali’s shoulders were on burning with pain because her arms were tied together behind her back.

Her mind drifted back to when she was first captured by Rick. How she woke up in that cell the first time with Rick sitting right outside the door waiting for her to wake up. Kali might not have like the situation but deep in her core, she felt safe.

Now this time, she was literally afraid. She didn’t know who had knocked her out in the woods or where she currently was being held prisoner once again. Kali rolled onto her side and pushed herself upright. On her knees, Kali shuffled across the floor trying to find a wall. She didn’t have to move far before she bumped into the concrete wall. Kali rested her head against the cold concrete shutting her eyes behind the blindfold wrapped around her head.

Kali turned and pressed her back against the wall. She sat against the wall rolling her head against the wall. Kali tried to make herself comfortable given the situation, but she had a feeling this wouldn’t go the same way it did in Alexandria. She sat against the hard wall blindfolded, hands bound behind her back, and settled in for the long haul. The waiting game was just beginning.
====================================

Kali didn’t know how much time had passed. She just sat in the darkness waiting. Waiting for someone to come for her because she knew they wouldn’t take her then leave her to rot without coming to make sure she’s suffering enough.

 

The door screeching open brought Kali back to reality. She had drifted off into her mind thinking about how Alexandria was doing. She wondered about Carl and Judith. If they were okay, if Alexandria was okay. Thoughts Rick and Michonne, the two people who had given her a second chance, drifted through her mind. If the people who took her attacked them too, were they okay? Were they in a situation like her now?

“Well…. well…. well…look what the boys brought me to play with,” the female voice said. Kali sat in silence listening to the woman’s footsteps walking around the cell and others whispers from the door. “You aren’t dead are you,” the woman asked her nudging Kali with her boot.

“What do you want,” Kali asked the woman.

The woman’s laughter filled the concrete cell. “What do I want? I want to make you pay for all the pain you caused us over the years. All that time with Negan and now you’re all alone. A perfect opportunity if I do say so myself,” the woman boasted.

“What are you going to do,” Kali asked still sitting calmly against the wall. It wasn’t like she could fight back with her hands bound behind her back.

The lady walked till she was standing in front of Kali on the ground. Kali heard the woman squat down in front of her. She flinched when the woman’s hand brushed against her face. “We’re going to make you pay,” she whispered gently stroking Kali’s cheek.

“What exactly did I do to you?”

“Years of walking around like you were our leader. Keeping Negan from doing what needed to be done just because you didn’t agree with it. Stealing what we deserved from us just, so you could live all high and mighty. You distracted him from what he needed to do. He was too focused on you that day in the field, now Rick’s got him. He can’t lead us anymore because of you,” the woman said still squatting in front of Kali.

Kali shook her head slightly. “It wasn’t like that,” she defended. “Negan was always looking out for the saviors. He was blinded by the fact that there are other communities out there trying to get by like the sanctuary was. I tried to help him understand that you can’t just take and take from people. This world kills enough living already. We’re supposed to adapt and help each other. Not kill each other over food when there are walkers just outside ready to tear into our flesh.”

The lady’s laughter once again filled the room. “That’s really some philosophical shit right there Kali. If I didn’t know better, I would say we had Rick Grimes in this cell instead of you.”

“So, what are you going to do? Kill me? Wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to kill me. Who are you?”

“I don’t think you deserve to know that.”

Kali cracked a small smirk as she laughed. “You’re going to kill me without letting me see who you are? Maybe you are as weak as I think you are.”

Kali felt hands twist the first of her shirt as the woman grabbed hold of her and hauled her to her feet. She slammed Kali’s back against the wall causing her to grimace. “You think I’m weak? You think that we are weak,” the woman yelled. A hand gripped the side the blindfold and yanked it off.

Once the blindfold was off, Kali immediately locked eyes with her captor. She started laughing tilting her head toward the ceiling. “You think this is funny,” the woman asked gripping Kali’s face making her look at her.

“Yeah. I do,” Kali smirked looking at the woman. “What are you going to do Regina? Huh? I know you. I know everything Negan taught you. You and everyone involved are in over your heads. Don’t you know that? You all are already dead.”

The fist connected with Kali’s face before she could prepare for it. It left her reeling. The hands still clutching the front of her shirt kept her upright against the wall. “I tried to kill you in the field that day, but Rick decided you needed saving. Remember that time when a lot of us went on a run and you fell in the walker pit? Or that time a herd attacked the building we were looting, and you got separated from us all and Negan made us save you,” she paused looking at Kali who was still shaking off the effects of the punch. “I tried to kill you before, but you don't know how to die,” she yelled pulling Kali away from the wall only to slam her back against it. “I guess I’ll just have to beat you to it.”

Regina pulled a dazed Kali away from the wall. Carelessly, she tossed her onto the hard ground. The sound of her shoulder popping caused the crowd around the door to groan and gasps. Kali immediately felt her arm go numb and pain flooded her body. She wanted to scream but found something within her did not want to give Regina the satisfaction of knowing she’s in pain.

Kali heard Regina’s footsteps get closer. “There isn’t anyone around to save you this time,” she said delivering a kick straight to Kali’s ribs. “Negan is in prison,” another kick. “Rick banished you his community,” another kick. “There isn’t anyone else that cares about you enough to save you,” another kick. “You ruined everything,” she yelled down at the semi-conscious woman. Regina then unleashed a long string of hard kicks into Kali’s ribs.

Kali jolted with each contact of the foot to her torso. She was barely holding onto consciousness when Regina bent down and grabbed ahold of her hair.

Spitefully she jerked Kali’s head back causing the girl to groan. “How are you feeling now? Huh? Still find it funny? You’re going to wish you died that day in the field when I’m done with you,” she seethed.

“Hey Reg,” someone called from the door. “Sorry to interrupt, but we have a problem upstairs that needs your attention,” the Savior said.

Regina smiled dropping Kali’s hair and the woman doubled over in the middle of the concrete cell. “It’s okay. She can wait. It isn’t like she has somewhere to be anyways.” Regina started walking away from the woman when she stopped turning back. The boot made contact with Kali’s head sending her deep into unconsciousness laying facedown on the concrete floor. “Be back soon,” she said looking down at the unconscious girl before walking to the door. Regina slammed the steel door closed leaving Kali in darkness once again.

Chapter Text

When she woke up again, it was because the steel door of her cell was pulled over again and screech pulled her from the sleep that she desperately wanted to return to. Kali did not have the strength to try and fight back so she just laid there in pain waiting for the Saviors next move. With her hands still bound behind her back keeping her shoulder pulled at an uncomfortable angle, Kali hadn't had a relief from the pain once it started.

The kicks began again almost as soon as the saviors returned. "Stop," she begs trying to turn away. "Please. Stop."

"That's enough," a voice says to the saviors that Kali recognized as Regina. "Better stop if we don't want her to start coughing up blood. That would be a real downer on what we have planned for later."

"I'm sorry," Kali cried from the floor.

Kali heard Regina walk towards her. "What was that? Did you say you're sorry?"

"Please...please stop. Stop. Please. Please stop. I'm.... I'm sorry."

"Aww how adorable. You hear that boys? She says she's sorry," Regina mocked. Kali heard the saviors laugh around her. "Get her up," Regina demands.

Immediately hands were all over Kali. She hissed when they grabbed hold of her injured shoulder. The two saviors holding her dropped Kali into a chair that was brought in the middle of the cell. The zip-tie around her wrist had cut into her skin leaving her wrists bloody and irritated. Regina grabbed hold of Kali's hair once more and pulled her head back. "Please stop," Kali whispered, begging for this to end.

Regina laughed down at the woman in the chair. "I told you you'd wish you died in that field when I was done with you. Our visitors on their way to see you. I, for one, can't wait for them to see what I've done to you, but we aren't done yet." She let go of Kali's hair letting the woman's head fall forward.

Someone took ahold of her face leaning her head back. A fist once again connected with the side of the face sending Kali's head snapping to the side. A hand pulled her face forward and they tilted her face side to side getting a look at the damage they had caused. They looked over her busted lip with the crusted blood dried around her mouth. Her face was scraped from where Regina had thrown her on the concrete floor. There was a nasty bruise forming from where Regina's boot made contact with her face. One of her eyes was swelling and there were multiple bruises forming from the punches she had received. Kali knew that there were broken ribs from the kicks. The bruising was going to be terrible on her torso.

One last punch connected with nose and blood started spilling. "Damn," one of the saviors whispered looking over their handy work. "Well shit Reg, ya think you finally did it before the fun actually started," the savior asked looking down at Kali, who sat limply in the chair.

Regina stepped forward and grabbed Kali's chin. "Nah," she said tilting the woman's face up. "You aren't dead are you," she asked.

Kali tried to open her eyes as much as she could. "No," she whispered looking Regina dead in the eyes. "Just stop this. Please. I'll do what you want, just stop."

The walkie that a savior had in their hands crackled to life. "Looks like our visitors have finally arrived," the voice crackled over the radio.

"Good," Regina said with a smile on her face. "The show is just getting started today then. Put her by the door. I want our guest to see her as soon as the door is opened," Regina demanded of the saviors. They weren't gentle when they jerked Kali to her feet. They tried to make her stand by herself, but Kali simply could not stand alone which they laughed at. They weren't gentle as the drug her across the small room and slammed her against the wall. They dropped her to the ground carelessly. "We'll be back soon with guests. Try not to run off anywhere," Regina said shutting the cell door. Kali heard the lock turn and for the first-time relief went through her veins. Kali knew that if this kept up or got worse, she would be dead soon and she was content with that fact.

Kali was drifting in and out of consciousness and Negan's favorite song was blasting through the cell corridor. She smiled slightly knowing that a small piece of Negan would be with her during her final moments in this hell hole.

Her foot was rocking back and forth knocking on the door. She was begging them to come back, to kill her already, and telling them she's sorry, but no one came. Kali just wanted it to end.

She didn't know how long they were gone, just that it took them forever to return.

When the door opened, Kali knew this would be over soon and she would free from the pain. Whoever they brought down here with them was probably just as dead set on Kali dying as they were. Unknown to her, her foot was still moving like it was still hitting the door and her pleas still escaped her lips. The music was shut off as the group along with the newcomers stared down at the woman.

"What is this," the angry southern voice growled stepping into the cell. He squatted down over the outstretched legs of the woman sitting against the wall. Rick can see the blood that was dried and caked along with the bruises that lined her face. "Oh god," he whispered bringing his hand up to cover his mouth briefly.

Rick had seen a lot from his previous life as a sheriff's deputy and the journey he has taken to get where he was. The sight of the woman in front of him made him sick to his stomach. He had to fight the urge to throw up right there in that cell.

"Kali," he whispered gently grasping the woman's shoulders and slightly shaking her. "Kali," he called again.

"Stop," she cried, "Please. Please stop."

Rick shushed her gently. "Kali," he tried again. "Kali," Rick said again this time louder.

Kali jerked under him slightly. She opened her eyes as much as she could. "Rick," she gasped, "hey Rick," she tried to smile. "I'm sorry, Rick. I'm sorry," she slurred. "I'll come back. I'll do what you want. I'll be good. Please," she cried. "I'm sorry," she continued. "I'll do better. I'm sorry. I'm sorry," she continued to cry softly.

"Hey hey hey," Rick said softly leaning forward to bring Kali into his body. "It's going to be alright," he told her softly as she started to cry into his shoulder. "We're here now. Shhh. It's okay." He looked back towards Daryl who was standing at the door. "Help me get her up," he told him.

Quickly, Daryl leapt forward and helped ease the injured Kali to her feet. He could tell from his experience that her shoulder did not look right at all. "Rick,'' he called, "her shoulder, it's not right." Rick was reluctant to let Kali go but did and let her lean mainly on the man that he considered his brother.

Kali didn't know who all was there from Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom. She cried out when Daryl first started to move with her. Carl rushed to her side and cut the binds on her wrist, but she didn't move them. Daryl made Carl swap sides with him because he knew he had to be gentle with her shoulder or she would be in a great deal of pain. He grabbed hold of her elbow and brought her arm to her chest like it would be if she had a sling on, to try and relieve some of the pain that she was feeling.

"Get her to the truck. Hilltop is closest and Siddiq is there already for Hershel so that's where we'll take her," she heard a woman say. The names of all the community members floated around in her head till the lady's name hit her. Carol. She liked Carol. Carol made the best cookies.

Daryl and Carl tried their best to be easy with Kali as they walked up the many flights of stairs to the ground floor of the factory. Each flight was a challenge in itself. Kali was getting more and more tired with each flight causing her to put more and more weight on the guys helping her.

By the time they make it to the top, Kali is drifting in and out of consciousness. She fought to try to stay awake, but she was losing the battle.

Rick's angry voice reached her ears. "Who knew," he shouted scanning the crowd of the remaining saviors. When no one stepped forward, it only made Rick madder. Michonne had a death grip on Regina keeping her from escaping. "I won't ask again," he said sternly. "Who knew," he shouted once more.

An audible gasp was heard from most of the members of the sanctuary when Daryl and Carl helped a beaten Kali across the factory floor towards the door.

A small group of five saviors stepped forward. All with stone cold faces. The innocents within the community separated themselves from the small group leaving them on an island in the middle of the factory floor.

"Outside," Rick demanded looking at the small group in disgust. "Now," he shouted causing some within the ground to flitch. The group of saviors passed Rick, who flared his nostrils in anger. He followed the group outside. He pulled his python from its holster and pressed the barrel to Regina's forehead. "On your knees," he barked.

Regina was baffled from her spot in the gravel. "You're going to kill us," she asked shocked. "We gave you what you wanted. Negan was on a silver platter waiting for you to kill him, but did you? No. Now her, she got what she deserved."

"No! No! No," Rick yelled stepping forward. "Kali...She...she change. We let her leave Alexandria to live on her own. We had people always on the lookout because she's apart of us now. You people had no reason. Kali didn't deserve this."

"What her and Negan did," she paused, "how are you okay with them living?"

Michonne stepped forward in the gravel. "That's the past. Negan is not here. Kali embraced the change apparently you all did not."

"Revenge," one of the saviors in the line said. "That's what we wanted. We wanted her to suffer like we did for all those years. After everything, we saw a chance and took it. I will not apologize or be remorseful for what I did. I hope she dies."

Up and down the line, the saviors agree.

From beside him, Rick hears Michonne say his name, but he didn't need her to approve of what he was about to do. Six gunshots were fired from his gun within a matter of seconds. The bodies of Regina and her renegade band of saviors lay bleeding from their heads where they lay in the gravel.

Rick lowers his gun before turning back toward the community that was watching. "This will not be tolerated," he shouted. "They decided to take life into their own hands and we do not do that anymore. You're free to come with us or go to the Kingdom or Hilltop. This...what happened here, it won't happen again. It's your choice. Either adapt and overcome or get left behind. We're done here."

Daryl stayed in the back of the old army truck with Kali keeping a watchful eye over the woman. He looked up to see Rick tucking the python back in its holster. The group walked back to the convoy of vehicles leaving the community behind them in shambles. The rest of the sanctuary had a choice. Adapt and survive or get left behind.

Chapter Text

The days passed slowly for Kali. Each morning she jerked awake from her sleep after having a nightmare about Regina and the saviors. It got so bad for a while that she refused to sleep. She refused too much of anything really. Kali stayed to herself in her room in Rick's house.

For the past month, Rick mainly would come into her room to bring her something to eat and find her sitting in the chair by her window staring blankly in the abyss outside. Other times he would just check in on her, but she wouldn't pay him attention.

The only person that Kali seemed to pay attention to was Judith. The little girl would sneak into her room bringing her dolls in there getting Kali to play with her. Rick would stand in the crack of the door watching the two. It made him smile seeing the woman interact and smile with the little girl. So, it wasn't a surprise when Judith had gotten Kali outside the house and the two were playing in the garden.

Rick and Michonne sat on the stairs of their porch watching. Judith had snuck into Kali's room early this morning and begged and begged until the woman caved into her pleas of playing outside. Spring was starting to finally show its presence and after being forced to play inside all winter, Judith wanted Kali to play with her outside.
The pair had a blanket spread out in the grass on the outside of the garden. Judith was playing with her doll, making it have a conversation with the one that Kali was holding. Kali looked up to see Rick approaching.

Swiftly, he scooped Judith up causing the young girl to squeal when he picked her up. He quickly turned her around and effortlessly tossed the little girl in the air causing Judith's cries of laughter to fill the air. Kali smiled at the sight of the father and daughter. Rick placed the little girl on his hip and gave her a funny look with his face scrunched. Judith laughed reaching for his face causing Kali to laugh.

"Will you go with momma, so Kali and I can have a talk," Rick asked the little girl in his arms looking down at her.

Judith shook her head against her father's chest. "No daddy. I want Kali," she half whined.

"Please," Rick says drawing the word out in a playful manner for the child. "Just for a little bit. I need to talk to Miss Kali."

Kali stood from her place on the blanket. "We can play right after Judi. I promise. Let me and your daddy talk. Okay? It won't take long," she interjected when she saw Judith was about to protest again.

"Okay miss Kali," Judith agreed. Rick put her down on her feet and gently patted her on the seat of her pants. Judith took off in a beeline towards Michonne who sat on the stairs of their porch. A wide smile was on her face when she took Judith into a big hug. Kali couldn't let but smile at the younger girl's giggles with her mom.

"Let's go for a walk," Rick said to Kali gesturing down the road. The pair walked down the road away from the hustle and bustle of the community down the road lined with houses on each side. "How are you," Rick asked turning his head to look at her.

"I'm fine," she replied looking straight forward as they walked.

"You haven't gotten out much since you've been back."

Kali gave him a 'mmhmm' in response. She really didn't want to talk about the saviors and what they did.
They didn't make it much farther until Rick stopped in the road. "What is it, Rick?"

"Are you okay? After everything that's happened. I know it's been tough, but you're still here. You're still fighting."

Kali rolled her head and looked at him annoyed for a second before she threw her hands out. "I'm fine Rick. No thoughts of ending it all if that's what you're wondering."

"That's not what I meant, Kali," he said moving his arm towards her. "We don't want you to close yourself off from everyone. Michonne and I talked about it. We think it would be good for you if you moved out of the house."

Kali scoffed. "How nice. Save my ass then kick me out. You've got to be fucking kidding me," she said trying to walk passed him back towards his house and her room.
Rick moved swiftly and grabbed her arm as she started to walk by. Kali turned around quickly, glaring at him. Rick let go and held his hands up in mock surrender. "We didn't mean it like that. We thought you would like to live in your own house. So, we are not breathing down your neck. It's about...I don't know Kali. We just want you to be happy and comfortable here."

"Where will I go, Rick?"

"Here," he says making her look towards the house beside them.

The house Rick motioned to was a two-story square house with a triangle roof that looks like it was freshly cut out of a magazine. The siding was yellow accompanied by a black shutter roof. The wooden porch wrapped around the front of the house. White pillars attached to the banister that lined the wooden porch. The door was a dark mocha color. There was a double window that let you peek into the house from the porch.

Rick looked over at Kali. The woman stood with her mouth slight agape. She looked towards Rick quickly before she looked back at the house. Rick chuckled quietly as he watched her look back and forth from the house to him. "You're serious," she asked him making sure this was not some type of joke.

"Yes, Kali. We want what's best for you," he told her shifting his feet and putting his hands on his hips.

"I could hug you Rick Grimes, but I think I'll just say thank you for now."

Rick cracked a small smile. "We can go to the Sanctuary and get some of your stuff-," he started but was quickly cut off by Kali.

"I'd prefer not to," she said without looking at him.

"If it will make you more comfortable, I will go get some your stuff from there soon. That way you won't have to," he paused momentarily. Rick put a hand on her shoulder. "Regina and those Saviors that hurt you, they won't hurt you again."

Kali turns to look at him. "I know you killed them," she said looking him in the eyes before she looked away. "I've heard the whispers. I know what you did. I don't want to go back there. If you want to go then go, but I'd prefer to stay here."

"That's fine. You don't have to go back there unless you want to. I won't force you to go."

A comfortable silence fell over the two as they stood in front of the house. "We've already got a lot of the stuff inside furnished. I was hoping I could get you to come back and stay after you left. It's just up to you."

Slowly, Rick moved more towards her. He pulled her into his chest. Her head resting on his shoulder. "Thanks, Rick," he heard her mumble standing in his arms.

"It's not a problem Kali," he said letting her go. Reluctantly, Kali let herself be pushed away from his body. "I'm going to go back to Judith and Michonne. I'll tell Judith that you needed to rest so you can get comfortable in your new place."

Kali just nods in agreement staring at her new house. "We'll go in the next couple days or weeks and get some of your stuff," Rick continued as Kali nodded along. "Get some rest," he says before walking away.

Rick doesn't make it very far before Kali is calling out for him causing him to stop in the road looking back at her. "Yeah?"

"Thanks."

"It's not a problem, Kali," he said once more.

"No," she says causing his eyebrows to furrow in confusion. "Thanks for taking a chance on me."

A large smile swept across Rick's face quickly. "I'm glad I did," he said back before turning and walking away. Back down the streets of Alexandria to his house.
---------------------------------------------------------
He met Michonne in the kitchen of their house. Rick put a hand on her hip pulling her to him before he kissed her quickly. Michonne laughed placing a hand on his chest and pulling away, keeping him for furthering the kiss deeper.

"I take it that it went well," she said turning back to the task before her. She was slicing a tomato making a sandwich.

"Yeah," he said reaching for a slice of apple that Michonne had already sliced and had on the plate. She smacking his hand away gently. "I think it will be good for her to get away from us while she still works through everything."

"It will be good for her," she said placing the final touches on the sandwich before her. "Has she asked about him again," she asked.

"No. Is that his dinner?"

"Yeah, but I doubt he eats it. He hasn't eaten the last couple times I took his food down to him. Judith is in her room so you can go down and talk to him, try to get him to eat something if you want."

Rick's brows furrowed in confusion once more. "Why is he not eating? Doc said his throat was fine."

Michonne shrugged. "I don't know. He always seemed to like you more so maybe you can talk some sense into him."

"Should we tell him? You think that would help," Rick asked her from his spot beside her. One hand on the counter as he was turned to look at her.

"No," she answered quickly. "Then he'd want to see her and Kali isn't ready for that. It's been about seven months since he's been in the cell. I don't think Negan should know and Kali does not need to know."

"What if they find out about each other," Rick wondered out loud.

"Then we'll deal with it," Michonne reassured him covering the small space between them. She wrapped her arms around his waist causing him to stand up straight. She leaned in and captured his lips. Rick moved his hand up to cup her face.

Rick pulled away after a few seconds with a sigh. He rested his forehead against hers. "I'll go see if I can get him to eat," he said reaching around her for the plate.

Michonne grabbed his blue denim button-up shirt and kissed him one last time. "We're going to be okay Rick. We won. We're going to be just fine."

"I know," he said. "I'll be back," he said easing out of her arms.

"Have fun," she said once he was at the door leading to the basement causing Rick to chuckle.

He opened the door and slipped into the blackness that houses the monster that lived downstairs leaving Michonne alone in the silence of the kitchen.

Chapter Text

Being true to his word, Rick left about half a week later with a couple other members of Alexandria including Daryl for a short run to the Sanctuary and back. Rick had asked her the day before if she could watch Judith while he was gone because Michonne had gone to the Hilltop the evening before and she wouldn't be back until later that evening. Kali was quick to agree. She had been watching the young girl for the last couple days so it was not that big of a deal.

It was early morning when Rick knocked on her door with Judith, who was clinging to her father after falling back asleep on the venture over to Kali's house. Rick gave Judith to Kali. Kali felt her heart swell when Judith latched onto her and tucked her head between Kali's neck and shoulder. Rick mouthed her a 'thank you' before she shut the door. Kali took Judith to her room on the bottom floor and laid the girl down her bed letting her sleep for a little while longer.

It was a couple hours later when Judith woke up. Kali was sitting on the couch in the living room when she heard the sounds of Judith's small feet as she walked down the hallway. Kali smiled she finally peeked around the corner. Judith rubbed her eyes when she entered the living room still tired. When she saw Kali sitting on the couch that tiredness quickly disappeared as her eyes lit up with excitement. She squealed as she covered the short distance between them.

The grin never left Kali's face as the pulled the young girl into her lap. Judith laid her head on Kali's shoulder and the two sat in the silence watching a movie that Kali had slipped into the VCR. Kali tried her best to smooth the girl's hair out from where she slept before she pulled Judith's hair into a ponytail.

"Are you hungry," Kali asked the young girl looking down at her. Judith shook her head against her seeming still half asleep. "Okay," Kali said moving the girl off her lap and beside her on the couch. "Whatcha want?"

Judith shrugged her shoulders causing Kali to laugh. "Momma makes eggs and toast."

"Then eggs and toast are what we will eat. Come on," she said standing to her feet. She watched Judith sit on the couch for a moment longer before she hopped off the couch and trudged towards her and into the kitchen, they went to make breakfast.

 

Judith in the evening was nothing compared to the morning Judith that she saw that morning. She was running around all over the house. The quietness that was once in the house was long gone and replaced by questions about everything. It made Kali think about why she wanted to teach high schoolers instead of the younger kids.

"Do you believe in monsters," Judith asked from where she sat in the floor with her toys while they watched a movie.

Slightly, Kali scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. "Whatcha mean kiddo?"

"Daddy says that we have a monster in the basement."

Kali laughed. "Do you remember when I was in your basement?"

Judith nodded her head ecstatically 'yes'.

"Did you think I was a monster when your daddy came to talk to me?"

"No, I saw you."

"I think your daddy doesn't want you to go down there by yourself."

While Kali was talking Judith kept shaking her head 'no' quickly. "Daddy went down there the other day and talked to something. He sounded angry."

It was Kali's turn to shake her head. She knew Judith was imagining things. Little kids have the best imagination. "Jude, there isn't a monster in your basement."

"Yes, there is," the young girl insisted.

"Jude," Kali groaned, but she kept insisting over and over that there was indeed a monster in the basement.

Thankfully it wasn't much longer until there was a knock at the door. Kali left the girl in the living room as she went to answer the door. Kali pulled the door open to reveal the man standing on her porch in the late evening sun. "Hey there Rick," she says once the door was open.

Rick is standing on the wooden porch. His denim button-up shirt dirty. He had pit stains from where he was out gathering all day. "Brought ya something," he said with a smile gesturing to both sides of the door. Kali peeked out the door to see two big totes on one side and three on the other overflowing with stuff from the sanctuary.

"Did you bring back the whole place," she teased.

"Nah," he said his southern accent coming out thick. "We left the foundation and walls. That's about it."

It was Kali's turn to laugh. "You didn't have to bring back all this stuff," she said once again looking over the totes sitting beside the door.

Rick just shrugged. "It was nothing. Just wanted to get you some stuff. One of the former saviors showed us your room and we cleared it out. There're some clothes, shoes, pictures, and momentous. Almost everything."

"Thank you. Seriously, I appreciate it."

Rick opened his mouth like he was about to say something else when the pair was interrupted by the screech of the little girl followed by her running footsteps towards them.

"Daddy!" she yelled running through the house towards the door.

Rick bent down and let the little curly headed girl run straight into his arms. He lifted her effortlessly putting her on his hip so he could look down at her. Bringing one hand up he cupped the back of her head and pulled her into his chest. He planted a kiss on the top of her head before pulling away and looking at her again. "What did you do today with Miss Kali?"

"We played dolls. We watched The Lion King like me and Carl do sometimes, played house and I told her we have a monster in our basement," Judith rambled.

Kali was too busy looking at Judith, she didn't catch Rick's face changing from happiness to one of fear. Rick laughed nervously keeping his eyes on Kali. "What do you mean a monster? We don't have a monster in our basement," he said looking down at her on his hip.

"Then why do you go down there so much and talk," Judith asked innocently.

This causes Kali to look at him. Rick peeked his eyes at her quickly before looking back at Judith. "Sometimes daddy just needs to talk to himself. I promise that there is not a monster in our basement." An evil, terrible man, well that's another story, he thinks to himself. Seeming satisfied with his answer, Judith laid her head on his shoulder perfectly content. "Momma should have dinner done at the house," he said putting Judith back down on her feet. Gently, she swatted her butt sending the young girl on her way giggling.

"Monsters huh," Kali plays.

Rick shakes his head. "You know kids. They have an interesting imagination," he chuckles. "Let me help you get these boxes inside," he said already moving to grab one.

Kali starts shaking her head no, but Rick doesn't see it. "I got it. The shoulder is all healed up now so I can do it."

It is too late because Rick already has one in his hands before she can stop him. "Where do you want these?"

Kali moves out of the doorway. "Living room, I guess," she tells the man who is already inside her house.

It only took the pair a handful of minutes to get the totes all inside Kali's living room. Kali popped the lid off the box closest to her and pulled it across the floor towards the couch. She plopped down on the sofa and began digging through the box.

She pulled out a picture that was laying on top of everything. It was one of her family when she was around sixteen and they were at a county fair. Her mom, dad, baby brother, and herself all had smiles painted on their face as they posed for the camera. She laughed thinking back to the night remembering all the good times she had with her family before. Now, she didn't even know if they were alive or not. She was in the North Carolina when the outbreak happened, and her parents had long since moved to Wyoming to enjoy the country. Her brother, Jason, was a sheriff's deputy in Oklahoma. She was on the phone with him when the cell service dropped, and she hasn't heard from him since.

"That your family," Rick asks yanking Kali out her memory.

"Yeah," she says softly placing the picture beside her on the couch. She continues to pull out various items from the tote giving Rick a backstory to each one. The two were having an enjoyable time until Kali pulled out a worn-out baseball cap from the tote and she got quiet. She couldn't stop the tears from filling her eyes.

Rick swiftly sat down beside her on the couch. "What is it," he asked concerned.

"It was his," she says softly afraid that speaking too loudly will cause her to break into a million pieces. Rick could see her bottom lip start to quiver. He stayed silent scooting closer to her. Slowly, he drapes an arm over her shoulder. He pulls her into him so that her head is resting on his shoulder.

They sat in silence for a for a while as Kali held the hat in her hands. Rick could feel the shoulder of his shirt becoming damp with her tears, but he wasn't going to push the woman away.

Kali pushed herself away from him and sat up. "okay. That's enough of that," she says once sitting up and wiping away the tears still in her eyes. "Thank you. Seriously thank you for bringing me all this stuff. It's going to be helpful around here."

Rick stood to his feet in front of the couch. "It wasn't a problem. We got some supplies to start building new places around here." A short uncomfortable silence settled over the two momentarily before Rick spoke again. "I better head back to Michonne. She'll be mad if I'm not back before the food gets cold."

Kali looked up at him, her eyes still red. "Don't want to get on her bad side."

Rick laughs. "Yeah. Don't want to do that." Kali followed Rick to the door. He opened the door and stepped out of the house onto the porch in the darkness of night. "Have a good night Kali," Rick says before walking down the stairs.

"Bye Rick," she called to the man as he made his way off her porch and down the road. She leaned against the door watching the man walk down the road. Deep down she wanted to call out to him, ask him to stay for just a bit longer, but she let the man walk away towards his own house down the road.

Rick had long disappeared into the night when Kali finally closed the door. She walked back into the living room to the tote sitting in front of the couch. There was another picture flipped over sitting on top of a pile of clothes at the bottom. She reached down to get. She sat down on the floor in front of the couch before flipping the picture over in her hands. Instantly, she felt the tears start to swell in her eyes again. The picture was of her and Negan a couple months after they had met. They found an instant camera with some film and spent the night taking various pictures of themselves so they could always remember each other.

Kali couldn't stop the tears from falling as she stared at the picture. In the years that followed this moment together, the two were set on a path of survival. They did things they didn't want to, but it was stuff they had to do. They weren't the same people that they were at the beginning of the apocalypse. They changed because they had to survive.

 

Now, Kali sat in a house in a community that once held her prisoner and Negan was gone. She didn't know if they had put him down after Rick slashed his throat or if he was still walking around as a walker. She just wanted to be able to tell him goodbye, but she knew she'd never get the chance.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Once Rick made it back to his house, he made his way towards the basement to the monster. Negan was laying on his cot in the back of the cell. "Negan," he called once he was at the bottom of the stairs looking directly into the cell.

"Rick," Negan replied still laying down. "What is it today Rick? What problem do I need to solve for you today?"

Rick rolled his eyes stepping closer to the cell. "I wanted to give you something," he said looking at the man in the cell.

Negan huffed as he sat up on the old army cot that was provided for him. "What is it?"

Rick reached in his back pocket and pulled out a picture that he took from Kali's room back at the sanctuary. He held the photo through the bars waiting for the man to get it. Rick could see that Negan was hesitant to reach for it. "It's just a picture. It's not going to hurt you," he teased.

"Fuck you, Grimes," he huffed reaching for the picture and jerking it from Rick's hand. He remembered the night it was taken. It wasn't long after he met Kali and they found an instant camera. Oh, how the longed to see that face again, but she was dead. He never got to say goodbye, and probably never will. Negan was quiet for a bit looking over every aspect of the picture in the dim light that the moon provided. "Can I see her grave," he asked already knowing the answer.

"No."

"Rick, I'll be a good little boy. I won't try to get away. Cuff me, make me wear shackles, hold a fucking gun to my head. Just let me say goodbye to my girl," he began to beg. "She didn't deserve this. She was the only thing I had left in this world, now she's gone. Please, Rick. Please."

"No Negan. You're never getting out of this cell. You're going to rot in the cell until the day you die."

"This isn't about me," Negan raised his voice. "This is about her. Two minutes that's all I'll need. Two minutes to tell her goodbye then I won't ask again. Please, Rick."

"Negan," Rick started but was cut off by the man.

"Damnit, Rick. She deserved better than what you did to her. Kali was-"

"Negan!" Rick yelled finally causing the man to stop talking. "There isn't a grave to visit."

Negan was quiet trying to wrap is head around what Rick had just said. "Then where is she?"

"I don't know."

"You left her laying in that field didn't you," Negan asked his voice becoming unstable by the second. "How could you," he asked his voice cracking. "I bet you let her turn into a fucking walker. Did you? Is she a fucking walker?"

Rick didn't answer. He stood in the darkness in front of the cell watching the man in the moonlight. He heard Negan sob one time before he turned to make his way up the stairs. He was almost to the door when he heard Negan call for him, but he ignored him.

"Rick! Come back here! Please. Rick! Rick," Negan continued well after the door had clicked shut and locked leaving the monster by himself once again.

Chapter Text

Negan didn't sleep that night. Instead, he just sat in the corner on his cot staring at the picture in his hands. He missed the woman beside him in the picture. She was the only thing that kept him going after the world ended and they found each other. Negan felt tears start to form in his eyes while he continued to study the picture.

He lost track of time because it was morning before he knew it. He was pulled from his haze by the sound of his breakfast tray being slid under the door of the cell. He didn't bother to look. He knew it was Rick here to bask in his suffering.

Rick looked into the cell to find the man still holding the picture in his hands. His hair was disheveled and from the side of his face that Rick could see, he could see that Negan's eyes were red. No doubt that the man had been crying. Negan never took his eyes off the picture the whole time that Rick was standing there. "You need to eat," he said sternly looking at Negan between the bars.

His demand fell on deaf ears as Negan did not make a move for the plate that was brought to him. "Negan," he called loud enough to grab the man's attention.

Negan turned his head to look at him. The look in his eyes sent a chill down Rick's spine. The eyes were void of the fire that once was lit inside them. "You need to eat," Rick said again this time softer.

"No," Negan said lowly, the sound barely reaching Rick's ears.

Shaking his head and taking one last look at the man sitting in the dark corner of the cell. He turned and stomped up the stairs, slamming the door shut leaving the man alone once again.

For all the people that came to see him, watch him, or to give him food, Negan did not even bother to give them the time of day. All their voices running together as one over the next couple of days. Still, he refused to sleep. He refused to eat. He didn't deserve to live even it was locked in a cell under Grimes' house.

When he lost Lucille, his world shattered. He couldn't even put her down after she turned. There were people that he met before he ran into Kali on the street that day, but he never got to know them for too long before they were killed by walkers. Meeting Kali was like a breath of fresh air. She made him want to live again. She helped him survive and he helped her.

Now, she was gone. Lucille was gone. Kali was gone, and Negan didn't have a want to live anymore. He was ready for Rick to end his life already. He wasn't going to fight it.

It has been four days since Rick brought him the picture of Kali and himself. Which means that Negan was on his fifth night of no sleep, no food, and no will to live.

When Rick came back, he found Negan the same exact way that he had left him. Looking down, he noticed the plate untouched from where a guard had brought Negan his food earlier in the day. Rick knew what it was like to lose someone you loved. He lost Lori at the prison and he never got the chance to say goodbye to her either. It had been six months since he first delivered the news to Negan that Kali didn't make it. If he knew that bringing him that picture would send him into a downward spiral, Rick would have kept it tucked in his back pocket.

Rick unlocked the door and pushed it open. He squatted down and picked the old plate up and replaced it with a plate with Negan's dinner. Rick stood and took the plate outside the cell to the chair that he sits in to talk to the man sometimes. Walking back to the open cell he stood there looking at Negan. "Negan," he calls, but once again his calls were left unanswered.

"Negan," he says again to no avail. "Negan."

"Damnit, Grimes. Just leave me to suffer alone. You wanted me to hurt right? To knock me on my ass so I couldn't get up? Well, congratulations. You fucking won. Just leave me alone," Negan finally spoke breaking his prolonged silence.

"Negan."

Negan huffed from the darkness. "For fuck's sake Rick. Just go."

"Negan, get up," he growled. His temper starts to flare when Negan ignores him once again. "Get up," he demands.

"No," the man says defiantly.

Finally, Rick snapped. He stormed across the small cell and grabbed Negan by the shirt and hauled him to his feet. The adrenaline was pumping through his veins as he slammed Negan against the wall. "Do you think she would want you like this," he asks jolting Negan. "Huh?"

"No," he says shaking his head. Tears starting to fall.

"Exactly. So, man the fuck up already."

"I can't," he cries. His hand hanging down. His tears hitting Rick's shoulder where just days before Kali had cried into his shoulder too. "Just kill me already. Please," he begged his voice full of emotion. His tears still flowing down his face. "Just do it. Please."

"What?"

"Kill me. Please! Kill me," he yelled. His voice rattled as he sobbed heavily.

Rick had to mentally back himself up. The man that once caused so much chaos and hurt was under his hands begging for him to end his life. "Negan-," he began but was cut off once again.

"Just let me see my Lucille again and Kali. Please, Rick, kill me! Kill me!"

Rick pulls the man off the wall and turns him around so he's facing the wall. Negan is still shaking in his hands. The former sheriff reached into his back pocket and pulled out the pair of metal cuffs. Negan is too busy blubbering into the wall that he doesn't notice Rick pulling his arms behind his back and slipping the cuffs around his wrist and latching them.

He holds him against the wall letting the man quiet down, so he doesn't wake Judith up when they go upstairs. Once he was quiet, Rick pulled the lanky man off the wall and towards the cell door. Negan just lets himself be pushed out of the tiny cell and up the stairs.

"Where are you taking me," he asked his voice barely above a whisper once they made it to the top and Rick pushed him towards the door of the house.

"Just walk," Rick says, his voice laced with slight annoyance.

Once they made it out of the house, Rick could see that Negan was starting to sober up. It was the dead of night, so Rick wasn't worried about someone seeing Negan out of the cell. The only people out this late in the night, well early morning, was Rick, Negan, and the Alexandrians who were on watch at the gate.

Rick walked him a little more down the road before they came to a clearing and he was directed into the grassy plot of land. "What is this?"

Rick doesn't answer his question instead he walked Negan deeper into the clearing. Negan knew this clearing. It was where he almost killed Carl until the tiger jumped in to save the day. It seemed fitting to him that Rick killed him here.

Abruptly, he jerked Negan to a stop and pushed the older man to the ground. Rick noticed how Negan seemed to relax slightly once he was released from Rick's grasps. There was barely a light casting over them from the spot in the clearing.

Negan sat back on his ankles waiting for Rick to finally do it, but it never came. Looking over his shoulder, he could see that Rick had backed away from him. He could see the fire in those baby blues even in the darkness. "You've got five minutes," Rick said looking over Negan's shoulder.

He looked back in front of him. There was a makeshift cross made of sticks was planted in the ground. Was Rick going to make Negan beg? "What?"

"You wanted to say goodbye right?"

Negan felt the sadness start drumming in his core. He closed his eyes and tightened his jaw. "You said you didn't know," he growled at Rick standing behind him.

"I lied," Rick said plainly.

That's all it took for Negan to break down again. He slumped over the grave crying hysterically. "I'm sorry. I'm so so fucking sorry," he cried. His whole-body wracking with sobs. "Please forgive me. Please. It's all my fault."

Rick gave the man more than the five minutes that he said. It well over twenty and Negan was still bawling over the grave. He had backed away to give the man some privacy, but he could still hear his sobs and apologies.

"You were right. I should have listened," Negan continued.

Rick stood back and let the man grieve. After a while, he could hear Negan's sobs start to die down even though he was still slumped over the grave. He walked up to the man and put his hand on Negan's shoulder. "Let's go," he says softly. He sees Negan nod his head sluggishly. Rick grabs him under his arm and helps Negan to his feet.

They quickly made it down the road and into Rick's house. To Rick, Negan seemed content for the time being. Neither said a word as they walked back down the stairs to the cell. Negan walked in the cell and waited for Rick to close the door. Once he heard the sound of the metal banging together and locking, Negan backed up and stuck his hands through the bars. Rick undid the metal cuffs around his wrists, but Negan doesn't move.

It's not until Rick clears his throat that Negan turns around. His eyes are still red, but there is a little sliver of life within those tired hazel eyes. "Will you eat now," he asks gesturing to the tray on the floor of the cell that Rick brought earlier.

Negan doesn't say a word, he just bends down and takes the sandwich and takes a large bite.

Seeing what he wants to see, Rick turns to make his way up the stairs. "Thanks, Rick," he heard Negan say quietly.

"We're not monsters Negan. Everyone heals differently. Get some rest, you look like shit," Rick says causing Negan to smile. Rick makes his way up the stairs and out of the basement. He shut the door gently not wanting to wake Judith, Carl, or Michonne.

Negan walks over to his cot and sits down. He sees the white backside of the picture that fell from his hand when Rick slammed him against the wall. He takes one last look at the woman beside him in the picture. Oh, how he missed her, but at least he finally got to say goodbye. He tucked the picture under his pillow before he laid down.

He didn't have to wait to fall asleep. As soon as his head hit the pillow, Negan was out. Finally, at peace.

------------------------------------------------

Neither of the two saw the young girl sitting at the top of the stairs when they walked back in the house. Judith heard the door open which woke her up. She checked the rooms. Carl was asleep. Michonne was asleep. Her father was missing. So, she moved to the stairs that let her look straight down at the door.

She sat in just the right spot so that she would be able to see who came back in without them seeing her.

She didn't know the man with her father when they came back through the door. He looked like he'd been crying though. What did her daddy do to hurt him? He always held Judith tight when she cried so why wasn't he hugging this man?

A few minutes later, she heard the sound of the basement door closing. Judith heard her father take a deep breath. Hearing his footsteps come closer, Judith scrambled back to her room. She knew what the monster looked like now, and he didn't look like a monster to her.

She had to tell Kali then she'd believe her that there was something in her basement.

Chapter Text

Dark clouds moved into the area the evening before. The gusty wind came along with the clouds. A mid-spring storm was prepared to roll through the area. Lightening cracked and thunder rolled all throughout the night. Rain poured heavily from the roofs of the houses in Alexandria.

When the morning came around, the world outside was normal. The storm long moved out of the area and the sun was shining brightly. There was a pleasant breeze flowing through the area. Kali left her house that morning with the intention of joining people in the garden to help get the land ready for crops once they found enough seeds for the communities.

Rick met her about halfway between her house and the garden. "Are you free today?"

Kali looked at him from under the brim on the baseball cap on her head. "I was about to head to the garden. You need me to do something else?"

"Was wondering if you wanted to go out to look at the damage from the storm with me. Check to see if there are any herds or anything coming this way."

Kali nodded her head. "Yeah, that's fine. I can do that."

That's how she found herself walking down the road miles away from Alexandria with Rick Grimes by her side. They had not seen anything that caught their attention. There were a few walkers that stumbled across their path, but Rick put them down effortlessly.

The pair continued down the road for a while. "You hear that," Kali asked breaking the silence between them.

"Yeah," Rick replied shortly.

They didn't have to go much farther before they found the source of the noise. The river had flooded during the storm and wiped the bridge out. The water was gushed down the stream. The currents were white capping from the gusts of wind that blew through the night before.

"This bridge could cut the travel time between Hilltop, Kingdom, and Alexandria. Easier routes for the horses. Quicker in general," Rick said walking towards the collapsed bridge. "Shouldn't be too hard with enough people."

Kali scoffed. "You want everyone to get along to build a bridge? Like this whole thing is just literal water under the bridge. Good luck with that."

"You don't think we can do," Rick asked turning to look at her a questioning look on his face. "All the manpower at the hilltop from the saviors that went there. The kingdom has people. Alexandria would help. It won't be easy, but we could do it."

At the mention of the former saviors, a chill went down Kali's spine. "Where do you plan on getting the supplies?"

"Well, we have trees all around us. Hilltop has a blacksmith that could manufacture the nails. We aren't that far from the capitol. The museums have to have something we could use."

"The museums would have some good stuff if they weren't ransacked already. Most of the equipment works with a little bit of tinkering on it. There might be some seeds for the communities too."

Rick nods along as Kali talks. "We need to get everyone together and talk about. I'm sure they'd be willing to help out."

"We expect different things from the same people Rick. Only one of us can be right and I hope it's you. If it's me then this is a just a massive waste of time."

"Why can't you see the good in people," Rick snapped. "I took a chance on you and so far, you haven't let me down. So why can't you give someone else a chance," he continued, his voice getting louder as he stepped closer to her. "We're here to create a new beginning. To start fresh. Give people a chance," Rick came to a stop just in front of her.

His breath was hot on her face from how close he was standing. She closed the small gap between them, so their chests were pressed against each other. She had to look up at him since he was just a bit taller than her. "Until they lock you in a tiny cell and beat the shit out of you, you don't get to question how I feel about them," she seethed. "You don't know what they did. You made a choice. Let me make my own choices."

Without another word, she turned and started to walk away from him. "Kali," he called after her, but she ignored him and kept walking. She heard him running up behind her. Rick grabbed her arm causing her to jerk around. His hands were on her face before she could react. The next few seconds passed like minutes as he lowered his lips to hers. Kali let herself melt into his lips savoring the way his lips danced with hers, before pushing him away.

 

"What the hell was that," she asked wiping her lips with the back of her arm. "You think that would fix this? Negan tried that shit once and I kicked his ass for it." Kali rolled her eyes when Rick stood there motionless and quiet. She turned around and started heading back towards Alexandria. She heard his footsteps behind her as he followed her back to the community. Neither said a word as they trekked back, but Kali couldn't stop thinking about the kiss that happened minutes ago.
--------------------------------------------------------

Today was the perfect day for Judith to finally see the monster in her basement. Her father was out with Kali. Michonne was handling business around Alexandria and Carl was at the Hilltop visiting Enid and everyone. Michonne had asked an Alexandria woman named Kimberly to watch her. The woman walked outside at some point during their playing and never came back.

Her father's words about the monster in their basement began to float through her mind. Judith walked into the kitchen to the door leading to the basement. Her small hand wrapped around the metal doorknob. To her surprise, the door wasn't locked like it usually was.

When she first steps on the stairs she expected there to be a growl or something from the monster like the ones that lived outside the gates. Instead, the basement was eerily quiet. Her little heart hammered inside her chest as she slowly walked down the stairs slowly. She was afraid something was going to jump out and grab her, but nothing did.

Once she made it to the bottom, she looked around the concrete room expecting to see a monster waiting to eat her as her daddy had said. Instead, she only saw a man sitting on a bed behind some metal bars.

The man doesn't notice her at first. He's too busy reading a book to notice her. When she steps off the stairs and starts walking across the concrete towards him. Her shoes scraping against the floor made the man snap his head up to look at her.

Immediately, Judith froze. She stood like a stone while the man peered at her through the bars. He had glasses on his nose from where he was reading. "Well hello there sweetheart," the man said softly.

Judith gave the man a look of confusion which caused him to laugh. This wasn't a monster that she was used to. "Are you a monster?"

Negan's chuckle fills the basement. "Did your daddy tell you that?" Judith empathically nodded her head. "You need to go back upstairs," he tells her sitting his book down on the bed beside him.

"Why," her little voice asks.

Negan sighs from the bed. "Your daddy doesn't want you down here. He thinks you'll get hurt."

"You hurt me?"

"No," Negan says shaking his head. "No Judith. I would not ever hurt you."

"Why are you here?"

"Let's just say I did some bad things to some nice people and now I'm in timeout."

Judith scrunches her eyebrows together and she looks just like Rick at that moment. "Uncle Glenn and Abe?"

Negan fills a lump in his throat. Shit. She remembers. "Yeah," he says softly unable to look the little girl in the eyes. He hears Judith make a 'hmmm' sound followed by the sound of her walking across the concrete floor until she's in front of the cell where she sits down. "What are you doing?" Judith only shrugged her shoulders in response.

Negan groaned as the stands up from the old army cot causing the springs to creak under the shifting weight. He stretched her underused joints making them pop before padding across the cold cement floor. The shirt on his back is nipped by the blocks as he slides down the wall to that he's sitting with Judith on the floor. Only the cell bar was separating the pair.

"Where's your daddy at?"

Judith shrugged. "Do your feet get cold," she asks looking at his bare feet.

Negan turns his head to look at her. His eyes are soft, and a small smile graced his face. "Sometimes, but I cover 'em up and all the little piggies are warm again."

Judith's laughter radiated throughout the small basement causing Negan to laugh too.

"Do you get bored," she asked suddenly cutting off her laughter.

"I read. I read a lot. Your daddy has started to bring me some books so it's not that bad. I wish I had a ball to throw. I used to be a ping-pong coach."

"Ping-pong," Judith says confused.

"It's a game. I slap a little plastic ball over a net, you slap it back-," he stops once he sees Judith's confused face. "Maybe I can show you someday kiddo."

"Really," she squeals.

"Yeah. Someday," he smiles. "I have to be really really good for your momma and daddy. Maybe one day I can teach you." Negan watches her for a second seeing her eagerness to learn a new game. "I think you should head back upstairs. Your momma is probably looking for you about now."

Judith stands to her feet. "What's your name?"

"Negan. I'm Negan," he replies and instantly regrets it because it takes him back to before.

"Bye Negan," she says walking over to the stairs. He watched her carefully run up the stairs as her blonde waves bounce on her head.

The little girl is long gone when Negan finally says bye back. He leans his head back against the concrete. He needed to ask Rick for a hair cut and beard trim soon before this shit got too long to handle.

Not long after, he heard the front door open. He can hear Rick and Michonne talking, but he can't make out what they are saying. He listens to their footsteps as they walk closer to the door. "Door's open," he hears Rick say.

Two sets of feet make their way hastily down the stairs. "You're still here," Rick says a sense a relief in his voice.

"Where the hell am I supposed to go," Negan asks his face laced with sarcasm.

"Nowhere."

"Exactly," he says turning his head to look at the pair. "Hey there Michonne. It's been awhile."

"Negan," she says flatly.

"Damn what crawled up y'all's asses and bit ya? Good lord."

They hear small footsteps overhead followed by the call of momma which causes Michonne to hurry back up the stairs leaving the pair alone. "How was your day, Rick?"

Rick pulled up the chair from across the room to a spot close to Negan, who was still sitting on the floor. "Uneventful. Went out to look at the storm damage from last night. There's a bridge that was wiped out by the river that we could fix to make the trading system better for the communities. Other than that, nothing really. Did you finish your book?"

"Almost. Not really into that romance shit though. If the next one can be some action or some sci-fi shit that would be delightful."

Rick laughs and all Negan can think about was Judith's laugh just a little bit ago. "I'll try. Anything else you'd like to add to the list?"

"Well since you're asking, I could use some slippers or something my toes are gonna freeze off down here. A hair cut and beard trim wouldn't hurt. Some cards. Maybe a crossword puzzle. I could really use some more clothes these are starting to smell."

"Is that all," Rick asks standing to his feet an amused smile on his face.

"For now. I'll let ya know if there's something else."

"We'll see. I'll have your dinner down soon," the man says walking to the stairs and gliding up them.

"See ya," he says to Rick's fleeting form.

Negan was back on his cot when a furious Rick came storming down the stairs. "What did you say to her," he growls at the man behind the bars.

"What the hell are you talking about," Negan asks confused.

"What did you say to Judith?!?"

"Nothing important. We just talked."

"I swear Negan if you hurt her or said anything-"

The fire lights in Negan's eyes. He can fill his blood start to boil. He pushed himself off the bed and stalks towards the bars. "You think I would hurt her," he yells. "What the fuck Grimes."

Rick draws his arm back and throws the ball that was in his hand hitting Negan in the chest catching the man off guard. "If you did anything to her, I swear I will kill you."

"I wouldn't hurt a kid. I never hurt Carl. Trust me there were plenty of opportunities to do it, but I didn't. I don't hurt kids," he growled.

"You almost killed Carl."

"And you almost killed me," he countered. Both men fuming.

"Stay away from my kids," Rick growls walking away from the bars.

"Like I can get away from them," he yells after the man who went up the stairs.

It's sometime later when Rick reappears in the basement a tray of food and a book in his hands. He sits them both down under the cell bars and pushed them into the ten by ten concrete cell.

"You wanna throw those at me too?"

"You deserved it. Now eat," he demands.

Negan holds his hands up in mock surrender before he pulls himself from the bed. "That's a hell of a right arm you got there Rick. Probably left a damn bruise on my fucking shoulder."

"Negan," Rick growled.

"Okay. Okay. I got it, eat." Negan picked up the tray and walked back towards his bed. He sat down looking over the novel that Rick brought him. "Oh, a crime mystery. Gonna be calling me detective Negan before long."

"Michonne got it from the Hilltop a while ago. Figured you'd like it."

"Yeah totally. Thank you." A silence fell over the two as Negan dug into his food. "That was delicious," he said after he finished. "What better than the typical sandwich dinner." Negan slides the tray back across the cell and right to Rick's feet, a move that he's practiced time and time again. "You know I'd never heard your kids, right? Those little fuckers are special."

"I want to. I really want to, but I don't know Negan. I can't trust you."

Negan sighs. "I won't hurt them. Ever."

"Okay," Rick says as he collects the tray from the floor. "Enjoy your book. I'll be back in the morning."

"Bye Rick." Negan collects his book and settles back onto his bed and starts reading. The late evening sun provided him just enough light to read a couple chapters before he passed out the book falling on his chest.

Chapter Text

The next couple of weeks passed quickly for Kali. They made a run to the museums in D.C. to scavenge some much needed equipment to get the bridge started and for the communities. They found a wagon that would be useful hauling the wood to the bridge and easier for a large group to travel at once. It was a miracle that Ezekiel wasn't eaten by the walkers when the glass broke, and he was hanging on for dear life. Also, the found an old plow that would make it easier to get the gardens ready planting, only to have it break when the horses got scared and it fell off the wagon. The Hilltop's blacksmith was charged with getting it fixed.

The bridge was starting to be built. They started the process by cutting down several trees and getting them ready to build. It was a total community effort. To Kali's surprise, Rick was right. The saviors that decided to stay around after they condemned the Sanctuary did pull most of the weight when it came to laying the timber for the bridge. The Hilltop, Kingdom, and Alexandria all helped too.

Rick was staying at the campsite close by to make sure that everything was going peacefully. Sometimes he'd be gone for five or six days before showing his face again in Alexandria, then there were times that he would come home every night to see Judith and Michonne. Rick and Kali haven't really talked since the day the found the bridge. Thoughts of the kiss still haunting them.

Kali was helping Michonne handle things around Alexandria. No, she wasn't a leader, just part of the community. Most the time she was watching Judith or in the garden. Michonne wanted her to start a school for the kids in Alexandria so they would learn the basics of education, but Kali did not really want to go back to teaching. She loved kids, she really did, but Kali wanted to spend more time helping the community thrive.

The one kid that she did not mind reading to or teaching was Judith. That's why she found herself in the Grimes' back yard on a blanket in the grass reading to the little girl. Judith had insisted on The Wizard of Oz, even though Rick and Michonne had read it to her hundreds of times.

They had the back glass door open so they could hear if Michonne called them from inside the house. Judith was stumbling over the words on the page when the gate opened. Kali thought it was Rick since it was about time for him to come home again.

While she was trying to pay attention to Judith's reading, the sound of commotion within the house caught her attention. "Maggie think about this," she barely heard Michonne say.

"He deserves to die. He shouldn't get to live," she heard the other woman say coldly.

"Maggie," Michonne tried again her voice losing hope with each passing second.

"Are you going to stand in my way or let me through? This ends today. One way or another."

Kali turned her heads towards the house. She could see Michonne standing by the table. "I'll be right back Judi. I need to talk to your momma for a minute." Kali peeled herself away from the small girl and stood on the grass. Quickly, she walked across the yard and went up the steps hastily.

Once she's in the house she saw Michonne standing there her katana in hand. The door to the basement was wide open. "Why's Maggie here," she asks the woman in front of her.

Michonne said nothing. Her hand wrapped tightly around the handle of her weapon. She stared at Kali in front of her. She knew that their secret was about to be found out.

She heard a somber laugh float up the stairs. "She just let ya waltz right on by huh? That's a shame. I thought my girl Michonne had my back. It's okay though. You have that fire. I knew it would be you. It was meant to be you. I used to say I didn't enjoy bashing people's heads in, but that night. Your husband, he was different."

"So, you remember me?"

She heard the man's laugh again. "I sure do. The way you were crying that night in the clearing. The way I hit your husband's head so damn hard that his eyeball popped out of his head. Oh, I enjoyed that. So, do what you came here to do. Don't wimp out like Rick did. Do it! Kill me!"

Kali felt her heart stop beating. She knew that voice. A tingle ran down her spine. Her eyes lock onto Michonne's. Her blood was boiling. Kali felt her teeth begin to grind together. She wanted to run down the stairs, but she couldn't make herself move. It was like her feet were cemented into the floor.

She heard the cell door be thrown open and the sound of a body hitting the wall. "Kill me. Please kill me."

"Why," she hears the woman yell.

"So, I can be with Lucille! So, I can be with my wife. I've tried and I couldn't do it. It has to be you! Please! Kill me!"

Kali starts towards the door and is almost on the stairs when she feels Michonne's arms wrap around her pulling her back. Kali can see Negan sitting against the wall. His short grey hair and a long untrimmed beard. She tried to break free from Michonne's grasps, but the woman was holding her tight.

Michonne covered her mouth with her hand preventing her from screaming. Michonne dragged her away from the door back towards the glass door leading to the backyard.

"I came here to kill Negan, but you're already worse than dead," they heard Maggie say followed by the sound of the cell door closing and Negan's cries carrying up the stairs. Michonne was still holding Kali back when Maggie finally came back up the stairs. The crowbar that she intended to end Negan's life with in her hand. She closed the door to the basement and Michonne finally let go of Kali.

Maggie never was a big fan of Kali. After they captured her that night at the outpost, Maggie thought it would be best if they just went ahead and killed her. She was one of Negan's so she "couldn't be trusted".

Rick barges in through the front door. Kali could tell by the look on his face that he was frantic. He must have left the bridge as soon as he heard that Maggie was on her way to Alexandria. He takes in the scene before him. Maggie is standing in front of the closed door her crowbar in hand. Michonne was standing behind Kali, who was still fuming. "Maggie," He starts but doesn't get to finish.

"He's still alive," she says shortly. Her eyes locked on Kali. Michonne grabbed back ahold of Kali's arm keeping her from charging the woman. Maggie turned and walked towards Rick. She handed him the crowbar.

"Thank you," he said lowly.

"It's not about you, Rick. He's worse than dead down there. Glenn...he would have wanted him to live, to me, he's already dead." She brushes past the man and leaves the house without another word.

Rick turns to watch her leave before turning back towards Kali and Michonne. "Kali-"

Kali already pulled her arm out of Michonne's hand and was charging across the kitchen towards Rick. He drops the crowbar letting it clammer to the floor. He grabs hold of Kali's fists as they fly towards him. Tears streaked down her face. She keeps trying to swing and hit Rick, but he still has a hold of her arms preventing her from connecting. Eventually, she tires herself out and becomes quiet against Rick's chest.

He wraps his arms around her and puts one hand on the back of her head. "You lied to me."

"I had to Kali. I need you to understand that. We didn't mean to hurt you, but I had to. We couldn't let you know he was alive." He looked at Michonne was studying the pair. "I'm sorry," he said looking back down at Kali.

"Can I see him," she mumbles against him.

Rick looks back to Michonne, who was shaking her head. "Not yet."

"When?"

Rick shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know. Soon, later. Right now, you need some air. Come on." He walks them back to the backyard. Judith is still trying to read on the blanket spread out in the grass. Michonne follows them outside and stands by the door. Rick and Kali sit down on the stairs. Kali pushes away from him and wipes her eyes.

They were quiet for a while listening to Judith try to read in the yard. The birds chirped enjoying the warm spring day. Rick thought about how Kali now knowing the secret would affect her within Alexandria.

A wave of nauseousness washed over Kali. She could feel her body shaking. Kali put her head down in her hands trying to compose herself. All those tears spilled for a person that she was told to be dead, is actually locked in the basement. In the same cell that she was once locked in. A prisoner in Alexandria.

Noticing the adult now outside, Judith runs across the yard to her father. "Daddy," she yells seeing him for the first time in days. Rick takes her in his arms and sits her on his knees. "Is Miss Kali okay daddy," she asks seeing the side of Kali's red face.

"Yeah. She's just sad right now Judi."

"Does she know about the monster?"

Rick takes a deep breath looking over at Kali, who still had her head in her hands, and to Michonne behind him before looking back to Judith. "Yeah," he says barely audible. "Yeah, Miss Kali knows about the monster."

Chapter Text

He was sitting in the wooden chair that Rick always sat in when he came to talk to him. His hands were cuffed behind his back, keeping him from trying anything. Rick was leaned up against the bars just inside the cell supervising. It was haircut day.

Rick stirred him from his sleep when he opened the cell door. He placed the chair in the middle of the cell and Negan knew he was supposed to sit there before Rick said anything. That's how he found himself with his head tilted back, hands cuffed behind him, and Nora, at least he thought that was her name, was trimming his beard.

"God this is going to feel wonderful. It's hot as shit down here now and it's time that Santa beard was gone. If I'd kept this thing any longer, I'd be looking like that old guy from Harry Potter," Negan said with a smile on his face.

"Wasn't my idea."

"Well whoever the hell it was, give them my utmost thank you because I sure as shit needed it." A short silence fell over them and only the sound of Nora's clippers cutting away his hair being heard in the cell before Negan started again. "Have I told you about the time Kali had to cut my hair," he asked cutting his eyes to Rick.

Rick shakes his head no. "You've told a lot of stories, but not that one."

"It was after we found the sanctuary. I fucked my damn shoulder up good. I couldn't do jack shit. I was starting to look like a man that went to the bar every night and got plastered to pass out just to wake up and do it again. I kept bitching about my hair and beard. She must have heard enough of it because she came in my room that night, went straight to the bathroom, grabbed my razor and went to town. I kept talking and talking-"

"Shocker," Nora said above him.

Negan pulled away from her just a bit just looking at her. "Excuse the shit out of me, but I think I was telling a story here," he says before looking at Rick who was just smirking. "Anyways...she ended up butchering the shit out of my hair. She did her best, but damn you could tell she didn't go to fucking cosmetology school. I had to wear a damn hat for two weeks just to let it grow back. It was terrible."

Nora tilted his head back making Negan look at the ceiling. "She tried her best, but it was shit."

"At least she tried."

Negan went to reply when he felt the blade of the razor run over the scar on his neck. He felt the metal nip against his skin as Nora shaved his neck. "If you keep talking, I will wind up accidentally cutting you," she warned pausing for a second causing Rick to laugh. Negan cut his eyes to the man giving him a glare the best he could.

Nora grabbed the rag and wiped the left-over shaving cream from his neck. Negan stayed still until she tilted his head back down. His beard was now a nice stubble instead of almost down to his stomach. He always preferred stubble over a long beard or clean shaven.

She moved around him leaving just Rick in his sight. Nora grabbed the water that was in a pan and ran it over his head. "Ahh shit that feels good," he sighed closing his eyes enjoying the woman cutting his hair. They were all quiet for a while the only sound was the sound of the clippers slicing through his hair.

Negan relaxed into the seat. He must have dozed off for a minute or two because the next thing he knew, Rick was calling his name.

"Rick," he replied lazily.

"Nora finished about five minutes ago."

"Shit really," he asked opening his eyes and looking around. Nora was indeed gone. "Damn. Well, that was fun. You wanna undo my hands now?"

Rick was still leaned against the cell bars. "Not yet."

Negan groaned throwing his head back, nearly tipping the chair over. "If you wanted to tie me up and have your way with me Rick, all you had to do was ask," he said earning a glare from the man causing Negan to chuckle. "All right. What is this time?"

"There's been issues at the bridge lately."

Negan rolled his head popping his neck. "Am I the only person you talk to about your issues?"

Rick ignored the question. "There's some saviors that have gone missing. We went out to look for them but there's not a trace of 'em. People are not wanting to work and are asking questions. It's not the first time that some have wandered off, but they'd come back a few days later. People are starting to get worried. It's driving them apart."

"Who's missing?"

"Tommy, Mike, and Pat have been missing for a while. Um, recently Arat has been missing."

Negan scrunches his eyebrows trying to think. "Tommy, Mike, and Pat probably just left because they were always lazy pieces of shit. Arat though, she wouldn't just go missing."

Rick pushed off the bars and moved behind Negan. He reached down and undid the man's hands. Rick walks back to the cell bars in front of the man. "Arat was always willing to work. She went out one night and never came back. No one seems to know what happened."

Negan leaned forward, his elbows on his thighs. "What do you want me to do about it? I can't do anything here."

"You know your people better than anyone. Why would they just disappear like that?"

"Maybe they decided they didn't want to work for your ass anymore. Maybe there are some people in your camp that don't want them around anymore, so they decided to get rid of them. If not, then people are just getting sick of working for something that isn't worth it to them."

"That bridge is for the future. It's going to help the communities. It's for everyone."

"Tell them that. Not me. You've said that I won't ever see outside these walls again, so don't waste your breath of trying to convince me. Convince them. They are the ones doing the labor. I'm locked in here away from everyone and everything," Negan said leaning back against the chair. "For me, it was either work or barely survive."

"Look how that worked out for you," Rick quipped.

"Hey- you asked," Negan said throwing his hands up, "I don't know what you want me to tell you, Grimes. Give them something to work for."

"Any suggestions?"

"How about a wack at the prisoner in the basement? I'm sure that would make them kick it into high gear," Negan said running a hand through his newly cut hair, a smile on his face.

Rick laughed pushing off the bars once more. "Alright, up. I need my chair," he said motioning for Negan to stand.

Negan obeyed quickly. He moved towards his bed. This was a routine that they followed from times before that Rick had been in the cell.

Rick picked the chair up and moved it out of the cell back to its position against the cement wall in front of the cell. He took the key out of his pocket and closed the door. The lock clicked signifying to Negan to no matter how much Rick talked about his problems, he didn't need Negan's help fixing them.

He took a deep breath before sighing. "There's someone that wants to see you."

Negan laid down on his cot within his cell letting out a sigh. "Ummm," he says starring at the ceiling. His last visitor was not so friendly. "Not today. It's been a busy day down here. Wore me slap out. Tell whoever it is that my schedule is booked for today."

"Okay," Rick said drawing out the 'O' adding a bit of singsong to the word. He turned and headed towards the stairs. His foot was on the bottom step about to climb them when Negan talks again.

"Who is it anyway?"

"What does it matter? You're booked for today remember," Rick replied, sarcasm evident in his voice. Rick goes up the stairs leaving the man alone. He shut the door, but the door at the top doesn't lock.

The only sound in the basement for was a shit coming from Negan's mouth once he was alone. The next time that he would be around anyone would be meal time. He wanted to know who wanted to see him and why Rick wanted to know if he wanted a visitor. Most people just walked down the stairs and confronted the man. He tried to rack his brain trying to think if there was anyone left that wanted to see him. There was not a reasonable idea of who would want to see him. Everyone alive hated him and wanted him to stay in this cell for the rest of his life. The next time that Rick asked, if he did ask again, he'd take the visitor with arms wide up.

Chapter Text

The tires roared as the car rolled down the road. The two occupants inside had barely exchanged words the whole journey to the Hilltop. Rick was driving, while Kali was laid back in the seat just resting her eyes like she had told Rick when they left. Rick knew that she was awake because he could see her eyes moving as the stared out of the window.

"I heard you snapped at Judith yesterday."

"Sorry," she mumbled not tearing her eyes away from the window.

"It's not her fault. It was my choice."

Kali turned her head to look at him. "I know that. You've said it every time I have even mentioned anything about it," she snapped. "Why did you even drag me along on this trip to the Hilltop anyway? I don't want to be there," she mumbled sinking back in her seat staring out the window.

"We need to talk to Maggie and check on people. They're still apart of the family."

"You need to talk to Maggie. You need to check on people. Your family, not mine," she said just loud enough for him to hear. "These people are not my family. The only reason I'm even in this car headed to the Hilltop is because you made me get in the car. I would rather be back in Alexandria with the only family that I have left, which you decided to keep from me for nearly a year while he was in that fucking cell."

Rick turned his head to look at her but stopped himself from saying anything that would escalate the situation farther. He looked back towards the road and turned the car onto the dirt road that leads to the Hilltop. Within minutes the gate of the community came into view. Gate guards opened the gate letting the car drive through.

Rick was first out of the car and Kali followed not long after. It was Rick that caught the dirty glare coming from Daryl at the pair.

Kali was too busy looking around. She had been to the Hilltop twice before the saviors ever met Rick. She had come with Simon on a pickup once. The only thing that she could remember that was the same is the large brick house in the center of the community. She could see a large number of former saviors that were working within the community.

Her eyes landed on Daryl standing just off of the group acting as their supervisor. His glare was cold and full of hatred. Inside, she feels herself start to panic. If it wasn't for Rick walking behind her and putting his hand on the small of her back, she would have run out of the community. She should not have come here.

Rick motioned towards the house. He led the way to the house, Kali in his footsteps. The only person they hadn't seen yet was Maggie, but she saw them since they got here from the large white balcony.

Once inside, Kali was blown away by the elegance of the house. She had never stepped foot inside when she was here before. Growing up she didn't live a great and grand house, it was a simple house fit for the country life.

They made their way up the stairs to the study. The balcony door was open and they could see Maggie sitting in the rocker beside the door with Hershel in his playpen. "Why is she here," she asked her southern voice laced with anger.

"Maggie...," Rick tried but Maggie spoke again.

"Get her out of my house. If you want to talk to me that's fine Rick, but we will not discuss community problems with her here."

Rick turned to look at Kali. "Like I wanted to be here anyway," she said loud enough that Maggie could here. Kali turned and left the room.

The pair upstairs were quiet as they listen to Kali leave the house and the door downstairs closed. They could see Kali walk towards the car and stop in the driveway just looking around at the hustle and bustle of the community around her.

"You didn't have to do that," Rick said as he walked out onto the balcony to join the woman sitting out there. "She didn't want to come in the first place."

"Then why is she here?"

"I made her come."

"Why?"

"It's not safe to be out here by yourself. It's good to have someone you trust with you-"

"You trust her," Maggie asked raising her eyes to look at the man.

Rick nods his head. "After everything that's happened. Yeah. Also, I figured you two could talk, try to find some common ground. The war is over. She didn't have anything to do with it anyway."

Maggie turns her attention back to Kali, who started making her way over to some former saviors and Alden before she faces Rick again. "The war is over. My husband is dead. My son doesn't have his father. Negan is still alive, and you have his right hand running around free."

Rick sighs. "How are you," he asks trying to change the subject. Maybe the two could talk at another time.

"All things considered, I am fine."

"That's good. Judith misses you. She keeps asking when Aunt Maggie is going to visit her again and I'm running out of excuses."

 

Maggie's face hardened. "I'm not going back. I did what I had to do with Negan. Judith and Carl are welcome here anytime. What did you come here to discuss?"

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

"Misty," she said walking up to the woman, who was folding a basket of laundry. "Misty. It's me," she called once again when her first attempt at conversation was ignored.

The lady turned and her eyes locked with Kali's. "I know who you are. I'm not interested in catching up with you. We are not the same people that you once helped rule over," she spat at Kali before going back to work and ignoring Kali's presence.

Kali bit her bottom lip deciding it was best not to start something here. The former saviors all seemed to forget that she was the one that looked out for them the most when it came between her and Negan. If one was sick and desperately needed medicine, she would sneak them some so they could go back to work and provide for their families. She would give the ones that could barely afford to eat themselves, a portion of her food or even another plate from the dining hall. All against Negan's orders and rules.

Kali tried to talk to the other saviors that were working around, and they all ignored her, most not bothering to look at her. She wondered around the community receiving some glares from people around the Hilltop. Kali made found herself away from the noise of the community and in a little grassy area off to the side of the house.

She noticed the graves along the fence line. Walking over, she noticed the names carved into the crosses planted in the ground at the top of the graves. Abraham was carved into one and the name Glenn on the one that she was standing beside.

"Ah, so you're the Glenn that I've heard so much about huh? You know who I am," she said stuffing her hands in her jean pockets. "I wasn't there that night when Negan did this, but you know that too. You know where I was because you were there that night when y'all decided to raid my outpost and slaughter my men in their sleep. I don't know why everyone couldn't have just gotten along. Things were so much simpler, and you'd probably still be alive. A lot of people would still be alive," she paused. "I'm sorry this happened to you. I have heard a lot of stories about you and you sounded like a real top-notch guy. There's nothing I can do now to fix what he did. I'm not Negan. Not anymore, I'm just Kali. We can't just hit rewind and start this whole thing over again. If I could, I would have never gone to that outpost. I would have made Negan talk to Rick, make them find a way that everyone could just get along before things got out of hand. Maybe you'd still be here. Here with your wife and son. I'm sorry this happened to you, but if we started this all again, who's to say it wouldn't be the same exact as it is today. Thanks for letting me talk to you," she says looking down. "You're about the only one that would listen to me here. Maybe we can do this again one day."

"Like hell," a gruff voice said behind her causing Kali to whip around.

"How long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough," Daryl, the man that helped save her when Regina had captured her. "Did you mean anything you just said?"

"No. I said it because I knew you were standing behind me with my spidey senses eavesdropping on my private conversation. What the hell do you think dumbass," she asked throwing her arms out to her side.

Daryl was quick. His long strides bring him closer to Kali as she backed away from him. Her eyes were wide with fear as the man advanced towards her.

Kali keeps going back until her back bumps into the wooden fence that surrounds the Hilltop. Her heart rate increasing rapidly once the angry man was on her. She sees him start to move his hand up and involuntarily flinched waiting for the hit to come. Kali slammed her eyes closed expected his hind to make contact with her face, but it never came. She opened one eye to see Daryl's finger mere inches away from her face.

"Watch your mouth girl. Rick might trust you, but you better keep yourself in line because everyone is just itching for a reason to put a bullet in ya."

Kali pushes towards him, newfound courage rising in her core. "Do it. You wouldn't be the first person to do it so go ahead."

"Don't tempt me," he growls jabbing his finger towards her face before grabbing her arm and pulling her away from the graves. Daryl dragged her to the car that she had arrived in just in time for Rick to come out of the house, seeing the heated look on both their faces.

"Everything okay?"

Kali jerked her arm from Daryl's grasp. "Just peachy," she said sarcastically.

"Daryl?"

"Fine," he huffs, and he storms away from the pair.

"Are you okay," Rick asks putting his hand on her shoulder.

"I'm fine," Kali replied swiping his hand off her arm. "Just ready to get out here."

"They're going to give us some supplies for Alexandria so we'll have to hang out for just a bit longer, but it shouldn't be too long."

Kali lets out a huff. "I'm going to hang out in the car. I've had enough of not being welcome today." Rick went to say something, but Kali was already walking around to the passenger side of the car and slipped inside. Rick shook his head before he started after Daryl to find out what happened.

Kali closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the headrest. She was basking in the sun shining through the window of the car, trying to relax and stay out of everyone's way. A feeling that she was being watched caused her to open her eyes. Looking around the outside of the house she didn't see anyone paying her any attention. When her eyes swept up to the balcony, she saw Maggie staring down at the car. They locked eyes for a minute, but for Kali, it felt like a lifetime before Maggie turned away and picked up Hershel before heading into the house.

Her temper got the best of her and Kali slipped out of the car, slamming the door harshly behind her. She tried to help them load the supplies in the car, but no one would let her help. Instead of trying to fight it, Kali just backed away from the supply train and just them do it until the car was stuffed to max leaving just enough room for Kali and Rick to get in the car.

The ride back to Alexandria was silent between the two. Kali just wanted to know what she had to do to be accepted by these people. She didn't know if it was because how quickly Rick accepted her into the community, or it was the person that she chose to align herself with in order to survive. In this world, you did what you had to in order to survive. Rick, Michonne, and most of the people in Alexandria seem to be the only people left that care if she survives or dies. She was going to saw Maggie, Daryl, and everyone else that she isn't the same person that she once was. She needed to talk to Negan, finally, he would give her the right advice. She'd have to ask Rick when they got back home.

Chapter Text

Kali heard his voice float up the stairs that she stood in the kitchen. Just down those stairs, is the man that took her in when the world ended. It's been nearly a year since she last saw him since she left for the outpost before the attack, she thought she would never see him again. She wondered how he would react because both were told each was dead.

“There’s someone that wants to see you,” she hears Rick drawl. She feels her heart start to hammer in her chest. A newfound nervousness washed over her. She didn’t know why she was nervous. Negan was the one the saved her. He was like her brother, she’d do anything for him if it needed to be done. He would always take care of her no matter the situation. From the beginning to the fall of the Sanctuary, Negan took care of her. It was her turn to do the same for him.

His low chuckle reached her ears. “Why would anyone want to see me? The prisoner locked away for life in the great Rick Grimes basement. No one is left to care about what happens to me. I’m just here as your example of mercy, an example of the past.”

Kali caught Rick’s eyes when he looked up the stairs. She wanted to just walk down there at the start, but Rick was adamant that she would wait until he gave the all clear. “They’re probably the last person that cares about you,” Rick says looking back to Negan, who is sitting on his bed leaned against the wall.

“Is it one of my wives? You allowing conjugal visits now, Rick? Now you’re speaking my language,” Negan’s voice laced with sarcasm. The springs of the bed creaked as the man shifted his weight, so he was sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Not a wife,” Rick says shortly.

Negan pushed off the bed. His bare feet padded across the cold concrete floor towards the cell bars. “Well, now you’ve got my attention, Grimes. Why don’t ya send em on in and we get the show on the road.”

“Do you ever get tired of pretending that you’re still in charge,” Rick asked annoyed with the man’s antics.

“Do you,” Negan quipped earning a glare from Rick. “Alright. Sorry. Now, who is it that wants to see dear old Negan?”

Rick tore his eyes away from Negan and looked up the stairs. Simply, he gave a nod to the person at the top.

Her steps down the wooden stairs were shaky. Kali had to hold onto the banister afraid that she would end up falling down them.

“Holy shit,” Negan gasps once he was her. The basement fell silent once Kali finally reached the bottom and stood next to Rick. “There’s no goddamn way,” he said breaking the short silence.

Kali’s voice caught her throat. She tried to speak, but nothing came out. She walked towards the cell bars that Negan stood just behind. He backed away quickly trying to get as far away as he could get in the small concrete cell.

Negan was backed into the corner away from the cell bars. There was ten feet plus steel bars between them, but to Negan it was not far enough. His eyes bounced frantically between the two of them. “What is this shit Rick,” Negan yelled his question at the man. For the second time in his life, Negan was legitimately afraid.

Rick cleared his throat. “Negan…you know who this is,” Rick’s voice calm trying to get the man behind the bars to settle down.

Negan’s eyes settled on Kali’s form behind the bars. Deep in his core, we wanted this to be Kali, but she was dead…or that’s what Rick had told him months ago. To him, she looked so much the same, but at the same time so different. He noticed that she was thinner than the last time he saw her. Her hair was shorter like it was when they first met. Her eyes were soft when she looked at him. She didn’t look puzzled seeing him down here. It’s like she knew he was here. “There’s no way she’s here. You that Kali was dead. You said that she was killed that day in the field,” he said pointing at Rick. “What the fuck is wrong with me,” he asked. His voice wavering as he slid down the wall in the corner.

Kali turned to look at Rick. Her eyes silently pleading that he open the door and let her in there with him. Rick was tore between opening the door or just walking away taking Kali with him and leaving the man alone. Rick shook his head walking to the cell door. He slipped the key into the door and opened the door. Immediately, Kali was inside the cell making her way over to Negan’s crumpled form in the corner.

“Stay away from me,” he shouted at Kali once she was inside the cell. His red-rimmed eyes stared at her as he tried to sink deeper into the corner away from her. “Stay the fuck away from me!”

“Negan,” she said softly putting her hands out in front of her. She didn’t want to scare him. She just wanted to talk to him and hug him after all this time. “Negan,” she said once more taking a step towards him.

“Stop,” he tried to yell forcibly, but inside it came in a sob that hit Kali in her gut. “Please just stop. I’m sorry. Please, I’m so sorry. I did some really fucked up things in my life, but I’m so sorry. Please just leave me alone. I don’t want to be haunted by Kali too,” he cried. “I’m sorry. Please, Rick just end this. Please. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” he kept repeating as he cried.

Kali took the chance that she had and covered the rest of the distance between them. She went down to her knees to get closer to him. She was right in front of him when he opened his eyes. Kali’s eyes herself were overflowing with tears and they found their way down her cheek. “Negan,” she whispered.

“I’m sorry. I failed you,” he whimpered. “I should have done what you would have done. I failed you. I failed us,” he continued to bawl just inches away from her.

Kali leaned over him and wrapped her arms around his neck. Negan flinched at the contact. He was waiting for the pain to come, but the only thing he felt around him was warmth.

If she wasn’t real, he wouldn’t feel anything. The arms around his neck should be cold and lifeless, but instead, they were warm and holding him tight. He shouldn’t be able to feel her chest move with each breath that entered and left her body, but he could. He shouldn’t be able to feel her tears soaking through the shoulder of his shirt, but he did. He shouldn’t be able to feel her heartbeat as she was draped over him, but he could.

“You’re alive,” he mumbled into her neck. “You’re alive,” he said again before wrapping his own arms around her and squeezing her tight.

Kali’s cries erupted once he hugged her back. Her sobs muffled by his shoulder. “Shhhh,” he whispered rubbing her back. They sat like that for a while. Just holding each other and letting their tears fall.

Kali was first to pull away. She leaned back on her heels just looking at him. Negan shifted his position in the corner. Tentatively he reached out for her. His hand met her warm skin and she nestled into his touch. “I’m sorry I failed you. We tried to find you after the outpost, but then everything just went to hell.”

“Hush,” she whispered. “We’re both here. We’re both alive. That’s all that matters. We are alive.”

Negan nods. “I have missed you so much. Every day since I’ve missed you. I don’t know if I could have survived without you.”

“Don’t talk like that.”

“It’s true,” he says softly.

Rick coughs breaking the moment between the two. “Kali we don’t have all day,” he says from outside the cell. Negan’s eyes light with a new fire once he sees Rick.

Kali pulls away from Negan and he whimpers at the loss of her warmth causing her to smile. She stands her feet and reaches down for him. He takes ahold of her hand and Kali helps him to his feet. He wrapped his arms around her tighter now. He held her like he was afraid of losing her again. He didn’t want her to go, but she did not deserve to be down here with him. She was not him.

“Can I get a minute,” she asked looking at Rick, who shakes his head no. Kali hangs her head slightly before walking away from Negan and outside the cell. Rick steps forward and shuts the door before locking it.

“I have stuff to do. You can stay down here and talk if you want, but the door stays locked and he stays inside. Understand?”

Kali nods her head looking at Rick. Rick gives the pair of them one last glance over before he climbs the stairs and heads off to do whatever it was, he needed to do.

-------------------------------

The pair sat in the floor, stood, and paced all throughout their conversation. Kali didn’t know what time it was. She had lost all track of time. It was light outside when she first walked down in the basement, now it was pitch black outside.

“I don’t know what to do. It’s like everyone is waiting to put a bullet in me if I step out of line. I don’t want to be walking on eggshells around everyone. I want to be able to enjoy living here and being around these people and their communities. I don’t know. I don’t know what to do,” Kali rants pacing back and forth in front of the bars.

“Damn girl,” Negan laughed. “Slow down before you make me fucking dizzy. You were always the one that cared about people. What they thought, how they felt. Even at the end of the world, you cared about people. If you want them to trust you, prove to them that they can trust you. Show them that you will fight for them like you used to fight for me. You are so much more than what these people think including Rick. I saw the way he looked at you. He cares about you. He wants to trust you but seeing you with me seemed to make a wall form over his vision.”

The door at the top of the stairs opened and the sound of boots hurried down the stairs. Rick appeared at the bottom of the stairs a tray of food in his hand. “You’ve been down here all day,” Rick asked Kali.

“Yeah.”

Rick just nodded his head as he walked over to them. He slid the tray under the bars to Negan. “You need to eat,” he said to Negan. “They didn’t bring you anything today, so you need to eat.”

“Yes, sir dear dad,” Negan teased pulling the tray across the floor closer to him.

Rick rolled his eyes before looking at Kali. “You need to go home. Get some food, rest. We’ve got stuff going on tomorrow with the other communities.”

“Okay,” she says softly. Kali looked back to Negan. “I’m sorry I can’t stay with you.”

Negan laughs. “You don’t deserve to be where I am. I’m right where I am supposed to be.”

“I’ll see ya soon. Okay?”

“I will be right here. Isn’t anywhere too important that I need to be.”

Kali shakes her head with a smile and walked up the stairs leaving Rick alone with Negan.

“Is she really okay,” Negan asks once Kali left the basement.

“I think so,” Rick replies looking at the older man. “She’s doing a lot better than before.”

Negan takes a couple of bites of his food before sitting the plate on his lap. “Thanks for letting me see her. Threw me off my fucking game for a second.”

“She found out a couple of days ago that you were here. She asked to talk to you instead of forcing her way down here.”

“Who’s giving her trouble,” he asks looking up at Rick from the floor.

Rick huffs pulling the chair from the wall over to the cell. “Maggie, Daryl, Hilltop, former saviors. The list goes on, but that’s all I knew of. She doesn’t talk to me about it a lot. The saviors quit the bridge not long ago and it was washed out with water. I don’t know what to do really. I want everyone to get along, but there’s too much tension still around everyone.”

Negan laughs. “Well, it seems that you’re at a roadblock Grimes. Something will come up and you’ll find out a way to get everyone in line.”

“Yeah. One day. Let’s just hope we’re alive to see it.”

-----------------------------------------------------
Her house isn’t too far away from Rick’s house. It took her only a couple of minutes to get to her house. After today, she’s emotionally drained. Seeing Negan again lifted her spirits to a level that she hasn’t reached since before she went to the outpost.

She climbed the stairs ready to get inside and rest when she noticed the door was open. Kali scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. She swore she shut the door this morning when she left, but it’s possible the didn’t or the wind blew it open.

“Hello,” she yells pushing the door the rest of the way open. The house remained silent. “Hello,” she yelled once more stepping into the house. Kali shrugged her shoulders, she must have left the door open earlier instead of closing it all the way because she was in a hurry to get to Negan.

The door behind her slams closed causing her to whip around. Her heart racing and her eyes were wide as they landed on the person in her house. “We need to talk.”

Chapter Text

"Kali," he said gruffly his eyes flickering to the woman in the crowd of saviors trying to get out of the door as fast as possible.

Negan was still sitting at his end of the table with his feet now propped up on the table. Lucille resting just in front of him.

Kali stepped away from the line and waited for everyone else to leave. Some gave her a few looks of concern, but most did not even look her way. She waited until the line left the room before she closed the door and turned back to Negan.

"Negan," she said just as short as he did.

A sly smile graced his face. "Why don't ya take a seat right here," he said gesturing to the chair just to his left.

Kali did what he wanted. She walked across the room and sat in the chair beside him. "What do you want," she asked him already annoyed with his antics. She has seen him do this probably hundreds of time to try to frighten people just for the fun of it.

Negan ignored her question instead asking one of his own. "Why do we have rules, Kali?"

Kali rolled her eyes and pushed away from the table. "I don't have time for this today," she said standing from her chair and walking to the door.

"You have time for whatever I say you have time for and today you damn sure have time to relearn why we have rules," he seethed.

"I am not doing this today," she said pulling the door open.

The sound of Lucille slamming against the table stopped her in her tracks. "Close the damn door," he demanded.

Kali slammed the door shut before turning around to face him. "What the hell is your problem," she yelled walking across the room back towards Negan.

His feet were no longer propped up on the table. He leaned against his arms with Lucille now resting beside him on the table. She could see the anger in his face. "I know what you did," he said calmly enough to send a cold spell down her back.

Her anger evaporated as she walked back to the table with him. "What are you talking about," Kali asked putting her hands on the back of the chair she was sitting in just moments ago.

Kali had never seen him look at her with such anger. It made her think about everything she'd done in the last week that would make him this angry, but she could not think of anything. Unless he somehow found out about the thing, she did a couple of weeks ago, but there was no way. She covered her tracks.

"How could you be so fucking stupid?"

"Excuse me," she asked baffled.

Negan pushed his chair away from the table. His left hand coming down to rest on Lucille's handle. "Someone came to me a couple of days ago and told me a little something about you. At first, I didn't want to believe them because you're my right-hand woman. Then we did a little inventory of the medicine in Carson's office and sure enough, it was short. Now you wanna tell me about that or do I need to tell you what I know?"

"I don't see what the problem is. As a savior, I get what I want. Since I helped you find this place and get it running then I get special privileges. That's what you said anyways. Correct me if I'm wrong. What I do with my points is not a matter of your concern."

"People that don't work for their points should not get to reap the benefits of people that do. You know better than that," he scolded her like a father would scold a child.

Kali rolled her eyes. "What did you want me to do? Huh? Let someone suffer because they can't afford a box of medicine? If they can't work, they can't earn points. They fall behind and can never get caught up. So yes, I helped out someone that needed it."

Negan stood from his chair. He moved closer to her and his tall form towered over her. "What do you think that lets everyone down there think? They can't afford medicine, so they'll rely on you to get it for them. Before long no one is working, everyone just wants everything handed to them. It doesn't work like that."

"God forbid people know that there is still compassion and people that care for them in this world. Fuck this," she said pushing him in the chest. She tried to turn away from him, but Negan was quick and grabbed her arm before she could.

"Do you know what happens to people that steal from me," he asked her quietly still holding her arm in his grip as she tried to pull away from him.

"How can anyone still from you, if we are all Negan?"

"After today, you won't want to be Negan anymore," he seethed leaning in close to her.

Before she could process what he said, her first was flying towards him. Negan was quicker than her though like he could read her mind. He caught her fist just before it reached its destination. He had her arm twisted around her back before she could blink. "Uh uh," he whispered in her ear before starting to push her towards the door.

Kali let him push her where he wanted to go. They made it out the door and started down the hall. Kali struggled against his grip, but Negan held her tight probably leaving her bruises on her arms. He pushed her towards the common area. They walked out on the catwalk and looked down at the workers and saviors of the community. Nearly everyone has gathered around in a circle around a chair towards the back of the room close to the furnace.

Negan walked her down the stairs the bottom floor and the people parted the seas letting the two of them through. Kali caught sight of the woman that she had given the medicine standing on the other side of the circle. Her eyes were afraid, and a guilty look was on her face.

Negan moved her over to the chair and pushed her down in the chair. Simon, Negan's other right hand, moved behind her quickly and bound her hands to the arms of the chair.

Negan walked away from her twirling Lucille in his hand. "Ladies and Gentlemen, why do we have rules," he asked partially doing his signature lean.

"Rules keep us alive," the crowd around that was gathered around her answered like mindless robots replying to their master.

"Exactly," Negan sang turning back towards her. "Now what happens when someone breaks the rules?"

The crowd gathered around her muttered to themselves. No one wanting to answer the man wielding the lethal baseball bat as a weapon.

"You wouldn't," she seethed, glaring at the man in front of her.

The smile that already painted Negan's face spread wider at her claim. The fire behind him was already popping in the furnace. "Everyone here remembers what happened when Dwighty boy decided to run off with my smokin' hot future wife and a whole fucking lot insulin. We do not take lightly to people that steal from us."

"I didn't steal from you," Kali protested struggling against her bonds. "I paid for what I got."

"What would Roy and Karla say in this situation? What would mommy and daddy say? Can't forget about the baby brother, right? How do you think Jason would react?"

"Don't talk about them," Kali growled. Negan knew that better than try to talk about her family to entice a reaction from her. It took for a couple of years to tell him about her family. He was the only person that left that she could trust.

Negan walked over to the furnace and slipped on the large padded glove to protect his hand from the heat of the iron that was being heated for the occasion. Dwight pulled the metal iron from the flames with a long metal pole. The bottom of the iron was glowing red after being exposed to the heat of the flames for too long.

Kali's eyes stayed on Negan as he walked the short distance from the furnace to where she sat in the chair. A pair of hands grabbed her head holding her in place so she couldn't move from the scorching iron. She could feel the heat from the iron as Negan held it just inches from her left cheek. Her eyes weren't frantic as she glared at him. She didn't want to show him fear because that's what the thrived off of. She waited for him to press the piping hot iron to her face and get it over with.

A gust of cool air hit her cheek when Negan pulled the iron away. "You really are a badass," he boasted turning away from her. The hands on her head disappeared and the crowd around her started to murmur to each other. Kali glared at him as he sat the iron on the stone edge of the furnace and pulled the large glove off sitting it beside the scolding piece of metal.

"Let this be a sign that no matter who you are there are consequences to action," Negan said turning to meet Kali's glare. "No one gets a free pass anymore. This right here, well that just say that's another lesson in compassion," he smirked at her using her words from earlier against her. "Who are you," he asked pointing to a man in the crowd.

"Negan," the man replied gruffly.

"Who are you," Negan asked over and over to people all throughout the crowd.

The crowd around her sang a chorus of Negan as the man paraded around.

"Who are you," Negan asked stopping just in front of her.

"Fuck you," Kali grounded out causing Negan to laugh.

"Simon cut her loose. Take her to her room. Leave a guard. I'll be there later."

Simon walked back up behind her. She heard the flick of his knife as he opened it and started to cut at the bonds on her wrists. He grabbed hold of her arm and pulled Kali to her feet.

She didn't like being grabbed and she didn't like Simon. Something about the man always seemed a bit off to her, but Negan didn't listen. "I can take myself to my room," she said jerking her arm out of Simon's grasps. Instead of walking away like she knew she should have, Kali walked straight up to Negan.

Negan looked down at her that always present smirk on his face. Before he knew it, Kali sucker punched him leaving him reeling. He'd never been on the receiving end of on her punches until now, and he wasn't too interested into getting hit again.

Without a word, Kali turned and walked away from him. The crowd that was still gathered around quickly formed a path for her to get through.

"Kali," she heard someone call, but she ignored it and kept walking. "Kali. Kali. Kali."

Kali jerked awake. "It's about time you woke up," the person beside her teased. Kali looked around. She was still in her living room, she must have passed out on her couch after getting home last night. Her eyes landed on the person beside her.

"Rick," she groaned, drawing out his name, as she turned towards the back of the couch to try and go back to sleep. "Go away," she said but it was muffled by the cushions of the couch.

Rick huffed above her. "It's almost noon. We need to make the most of the daylight we have left."

"Tomorrow. We can do this tomorrow. I need to sleep."

"Come on. Everyone's waiting for you. We need to leave soon."

Kali groaned into the cushions before rolling back over and sitting up. Her hair was a mess and she still wore the clothes that she wore yesterday. "Get up," she said pushing him in the shoulder causing a playful laugh to escape him. Kali threw her legs off the edge of the couch after Rick stood up. "Let me splash some water on my face and change. I'll be down in a few," she said standing up and walking towards the stairs to her room.

"Don't forget about your hair," Rick teased earning a special finger from the woman walking up the stairs.

A few minutes for Kali turned into thirty. Rick was sure she had gone back to bed instead of getting ready for the day. He was about to go up the stairs to check on her when he heard the sound of her bedroom door open and feet start down the stairs. "Took you long enough," he teased earning a glare from the woman.

"Where are we going anyway," she asked as they headed towards the door. Rick opened the door and stepped outside. It was indeed not noon. The sun was just peaking over the trees and the dew was still on the grass in the yard. "You son of a bitch. I'm going to back to bed," she said turning back into her house.

"No, no, no," Rick said. "Come on. We have to make a special trip to a place not too far from here. We tried to get into it once, but it was overrun with walkers. Some others went by there the other day and said it looked clear. So we're going to check it out and I need to find Michonne some more toothpaste."

Kali huffed and walked back out of the house making sure to close the door behind her. "Why do I have to go?"

"Because I said so. What were you dreaming about always? You were jerking and whimpering. You okay?"

"Do you like watching me sleep or something? That's a weird hobby you have there Grimes," she teased. "I'm fine. Just remembered something that happened back at the sanctuary."

"You dream about that a lot," Rick asked turning his head to look at her.

Kali shook her head. "Nah. It happens every now and then. Nothing too bad."

"Bad? Didn't you help run that place? That's what we were told by a lot of the people."

A sad smile flashed on Kali's face before she turned her head to look at him. "There's a lot of things you don't know about me, Rick."

Rick caught her eyes before she looked away from him as the two walked up to the gate. There was a car waiting for them. Rick walked up to Michonne who was standing near the car. He gave her a small kiss before pulling away. "I really need to find that toothpaste," he teased, a playful smile on his face.

Michonne laughed as she playfully swatted him on the chest. "Keep it up and see what happens later," she warned him playfully.

"Is that a threat or a promise?"

"Keep pushing your luck and you'll find out," Michonne played.

Kali had to clear her throat to get the pair to break apart. "Still here," she said watching Michonne's face go red and a flustered Rick as the two broke apart.

"Alright, we need to head out. If we want to be back by tonight, then we need to go."

"I love you," Michonne whispered holding onto Rick's hand as he started to turn away.

"I love you too," he replied leaning back towards her and kissing her one last time before he left for the day.

Rick and Kali climbed into the car. The gate in front of them was pulled open. Rick started the car and they left Alexandria towards the place that Rick wanted to check out. Kali looked over her shoulder and watched the gate fade into the distance.

"So," Rick said breaking the silence between them, "tell me something about you I don't know."

Kali smiled looking over to him. "I'm not drunk enough to tell you anything right now. Try again later, you might get lucky."

Chapter Text

It took Rick and Kali a couple of hours to get to their destination. It’s the farthest Kali had been from Alexandria in a long time. The building that Rick wanted to search was an old grocery store warehouse. The sign on the side of the building was barely still attached to the metal side. The sign was covered in green mold from the years of not having the proper care.

“So are we splitting up or doing this together,” Kali asked after they exited the car.

“We’ll clear the place together then we can split. Not too far, but enough to cover the place quickly.”

Kali put her arms on the roof of the car looking at Rick. “Can I get a knife or something with a blade? Last time I did something like this Michonne it almost ended badly.”

A short laugh escapes Rick before he could catch it. He walked towards the trunk of the car and opened it. Kali can see him from the side ruffling through the trunk’s contents. He drops the bags that he’s pulling out on the ground as he continues to search through the trunk. He grabs one last item before closing the trunk and reaching down to gather the bags.

“You expecting to hit the apocalyptic lottery here Grimes,” Kali asked a teasing nature to her words.

“Always been to be prepared.”

“Right. Speaking of prepared…I need to defend myself somehow. So, what ya got for me?”

“Here,” he says handing her half the bags that were in his hands. One large backpack, a long duffle bag, and a smaller bag that would hold the loot if they found anything in the warehouse. Lastly, he hands her a small wooden handle that would be the weapon she requested.

A skeptical look washed over her face before she could stop it. “Are you serious,” she asks looking from her hand to Rick and back again.

“Yeah,” he replied slipping his backpack over his shoulder. A sly grin painted on his face.

“How am I supposed to kill a walker with this?”

“Like this,” Rick says swinging his arm from about his head down.

“It’s a damn hammer, Rick. There has to be something else in the trunk. You have your gun, knife, and hatchet. Give me a blade,” she tries to plead with him, but Rick is already walking towards the door on the side of the building closest to them.

Kali huffs and follows after him. Rick is waiting for her beside the door when she finally joins him so he can breach the warehouse. “It’s nice of you to join me,” he teases her causing Kali to roll her eyes.

“I hate you,” she tells him shortly her agitation clear.

“Now it’s not good to lie,” he continued to play. To him, it was fun to rile her up and get Kali agitated.

When Kali didn’t respond to his antics, Rick drew his blade from its sheath on his side. He pushed the door open and readied for a walker to come charging out at the pair. There was not a walker in sight, so Rick knocked on the metal door. The only sound was the echo of his knock throughout the warehouse.

He walks in front just in case with Kali following close behind. The place looked relatively untouched. The steels shelves reached from the ceiling to the concrete floor beneath their feet. The shelves are jammed packed with untouched packages and boxes. They make quick work of clearing the warehouse, thankful that there were no walkers inside the building.

They made quick work of clearing the place. They decided to start in the back and work their way to the front. Rick starts on the back isle collecting cans and other food items and stuffing them in his bag. Kali, on the other hand, makes her way into a nearby office. She can still see Rick through messed up blinds covering the windows. Kali riffles through the drawers just seeing what someone left behind. She tossed a stack of papers on the desk to clear her view.

A wide grin spread across her face when she looked back down. She peaked back up at Rick who was still stuffing things into his bags. She lifted the cold metal from the drawer. Kali checked the ammo left in the pistol and luckily it was a full clip. Kali tucked the gun behind her in her waistband. She opened a few more drawers before she found a couple of boxes of ammo which she slipped into the backpack on her back.

When she didn’t find anything else that would be useful, Kali met up with Rick, who had moved to another aisle and was still filing his bag. His long duffle bag was already overflowing. “Find anything,” he asked her looking up from his squatted position on the floor.

“Nah. Nothing we couldn’t live without,” she lied. “I’m going on the other side and start looking.”

“Okay. Stay close. When your bags get full take them by the door. We’ll get them when we get ready to leave.”

“Okay,” she replies before walking away. She goes a couple of aisles away from Rick. She shines the flashlight that was in her backpack on the steel shelves. Kali finds a few things and puts them in her bag before moving on to the next set of steel.

They scavenge like this for a while. Rick and Kali would see each other occasionally when changing aisles or taking their bags to the front, but no words were exchanged between the two. Kali was on her last bag when she hears a car door close followed by people talking. Quickly, she darts to the back trying to find Rick, but he’s nowhere to be found.

“It appears someone had beat us here,” she hears a man’s voice say. “Check the place. Bring me anyone you find,” the voice demands.

Luckily, Kali finds a small supply closet close by and silently she slips inside. She knows Rick heard the people too because he was nowhere to be found. She just hopes that he’s safe.

Kali draws the pistol from her waistband and points it at the door, waiting for someone to open it. Through the crack at the bottom of the door, Kali can see the shadows of a person’s feet as they walked close to her door. “There’s no one here. They must have bailed already,” she hears another person say as they walked away from the door.

Kali waits a few more minutes before opening the door. Her gun is still in hand as she slips out. Slowly, she eases down some aisles trying to as quiet as possible to not alert the people possibly waiting for them to come out.

She sees something move out of the corner on her eyes. Without a thought, she turned and aimed. She lets a sigh when she sees its Rick and she lowers her gun. Rick, who was pointing his python at her, lowered his gun too. A look of relief flashes across his face.

Kali walks over to him. They can still hear people talking towards the front of the building. “What do we do,” Kali whispers once she’s close enough to him.

“Stay low, stay quiet. We’ll get out of here alive.”

Rick stepped around her and towards the end of the aisle to look out when he knocked a piece of metal that was barely on a shelf to the floor. “Shit,” he mutters as the metal clatters to the ground.

“Joe take Avery and go check that out,” they hear one of the men say.

Rick grabs Kali by the arm and they rush to the end of the aisle close to the wall. He puts her back against the metal before sliding in front of her. He’s pressed up close against her trying to keep her covered in case someone was to find them. Their breaths were mixing together from their close proximity. Rick’s eyes moved from Kali’s eyes, downward and back up again.

Rick reaches down and takes his knife from its sheath on his hip. He puts the handle in Kali’s hand just as a beam of light lands on the wall just beside them. “Go check behind there Avery,” they hear the gruff voice of an older man tell the other.

“Anyone back there,” a young timid voice called walking closer to the pair. They could see his shadow growing larger as he got closer and closer.

Rick pushes himself away from Kali. She tries to stop him, but he shakes her off. Rick slips into the beam of light coming from the flashlight down the aisle. “Woah,” the man, probably Avery, said slightly shocked that someone was actually back there. Kali could tell that the man was scared. He sounded like a younger man, almost Carl’s age.

She could still see Rick. He stood just away from where he’d left her hidden in the darkness. His hands were up as he looked towards the pair of men. His gun still in his holster hanging on his hip. “You can take my stuff, just please leave me. I’m alone. Just trying to survive,” Rick says trying to get himself out of this without himself or Kali getting hurt.

Kali heard the heavy thuds of the other man’s boots as he walked closer. She could see his shadow next to Avery’s. “Well well well…good job Aves. A live one. We’re gonna have some fun with you pretty boy,” Joe said looking Rick over. “Come on.”

Rick walks forward. Kali wants to stop him and just end this now, but she knew Rick was doing this to keep her out of trouble and safe. Kali heard the sound of someone getting punched. Their breath leaving their body abruptly followed by the sound of someone being slammed against the steel. She heard Rick groan.

“Can’t take a little rough play pretty boy? Well we are gonna have some fun later you and I. You’re going to feel so good around me. Give little Avery a break for a while. Let’s get you back to the boss,” Joe says pulling Rick away back towards the front.

Kali peeks around the corner to see Avery standing towards the end of the aisle facing away from her. Kali slipped from her hiding spot, Rick’s knife in hand. She crept closer to where Avery was standing. Kali covers his mouth bringing the knife to his throat. She can feel the young man shaking under her grasps before she sliced his throat. She lowered his body quietly to the floor, letting him bleed out on the ground.

She moves to the end of the aisle and looks towards the front of the building. There are four men around Rick. Joe still stood close his eyes locked on Rick’s body. Kali knows she can’t risk shooting at them. One bullet might hit Rick and she wasn’t ready to deal with that guilt for the rest of her life.

Looking around she notices a wrench laying on the bottom shelf close to her. She grabbed the tool and tossed it away from her.

“Who’s with ya pretty boy?”

“No one. I’m alone,” Rick lied.

Kali peeks around the corner and sees Joe throw a punch hitting Rick in the gut. Rick drops to his knee with the man standing over him. “Go check that out,” the leader demands.

Kali moved away from the opening and slipped into the darkness. The man did not see her as he swept from aisle to aisle looking for the source of the noise. She grabs him and puts the bloody knife to his throat before he could make a sound. “You make a sound and you’ll join your buddy Avery over there on the floor,” she threatened leaning in close behind the man. “Walk,” she demands pushing the man forward.

“Damn it’s about time,” one of the other men teases once he sees his man walking back towards them. “Oh, who is this,” he asks seeing Kali behind the man still holding Rick’s knife to his throat.

“I’ll give you your man back if you give me mine. Then we can all go out separate ways,” Kali says trying to reach an agreement between the two groups instead of trying to kill each other.

“And if we don’t,” the leader asks an amused tone in his voice.

“I’ll start shooting,” Kali warns.

The group of men in front her laugh amongst themselves. Joe draws a gun and puts the barrel to Rick’s head.

“Don’t make me say it again,” she warns again.

Kali can see the man exchange looks before looking back towards her. “How about we take you and your man? Then everyone can have some fun,” the leader of the group said winking at her.

“You asked for it,” she tells them before dragging the knife across the throat of the man she was holding before dropping him to the floor without thought. Quickly, she drew her gun and fired, dropping one of the men where he stood. “Fair game now, fellas. You sure you want to do this?”

Kali moves a couple of steps closer to the men. The so-called “leader” bolted out the door leaving Rick, Joe, and Kali in the warehouse. Joe still had his gun pressed against Rick’s head. His finger close to the trigger. “Drop it,” Kali demands focusing her aim on the man.

Joe follows Kali’s demand and lowers the gun to the floor. A hesitant laugh escapes him looking at Kali, who still had her gun trained on him. “I guess I’ll be on my way then.”

“Yeah,” Kali says softly, “about that.” She fires just one shot hitting the man square between the eyes. He drops to the ground, his blood seeps out onto the concrete floor as Kali finally lowers her gun. “I think it’s time we head back,” she says tucking the gun back in her waistband.

Kali walks over to him to get the bags they had left by the door. Rick stops her and pulls her into his embrace. He wrapped his arms around her and held Kali close. Rick tucked his head into the crook of her neck and Kali laid her head on his shoulder. They stayed like that for a while. Holding each other close in the entrance of the warehouse. Letting each other process what just happened.

Neither said a word as they broke apart. Kali went and grabbed the bag that she had left when the men first came into the warehouse. When she came back, Rick already had the other bags loaded in the trunk of the car.

“Thank you,” Rick said softly, lowering his eyes to the ground. “For doing that. I know things haven’t always been the best between us but thank you.”

A small grin found its way onto Kali’s face. “You would have done the same thing for me. We take care of each other,” she told him walking over to the trunk and putting her bag in the trunk.

Rick only nodded closing the trunk. Rick draw her in for another hug and held her close again. “We’re family and family looks after each other,” he whispered in her ear.

Kali nodded against him. It was true. She was apart of his “family” now. Unknowingly, Rick had saved her from a path of destruction. Of course, Negan would always be her family. She was changed, now it was time for everyone to see it. Maybe along the way, she could help someone else change too.