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Negan's Girl

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Chapter One

For us it started in New York, one of the worst places to have been when the infections started spreading. Over 8 million people trying to get out of the state, to go anywhere. Roads were blocked, closed and run through and the crashes and explosions forced people out of their home and into the streets where they stocked up on anything they could get their hands on. Children could be heard crying, some left behind on purpose and some were separated from their families. Parents screamed at officers to kill the people whose skin was starting to fall off. Guns, knives and homemade bombs littered the streets...

All of this happened within just a few weeks after a horde came through from Vermont and Massachusetts. New York was cornered by all sides, people fled in boats and some tried to swim only to either drown or get eaten by sharks. It wasn't good. My family and I came from upstate New York where our traveling Renaissance fair was hit by the Shufflers, hard. thousands of people filtered in and out every year to watch our seasonal show and only hundreds made it out alive to their cars. We were saved by a man with a motor home but that was short lived when we got to New York and saw the devastation. My brother was left somewhere in the city, separated by a group of survivors who thought that if they went towards the sea they'd be safe. I gave up on him when cell phones officially went out after a couple months. My parents had given up long before that I think.

Survivors seems like a dumb term for what we were, our group in Maryland was just a bunch of people trying not to kill each other. But that's where it really started, after two years of circling around Pennsylvania and Delaware avoiding cannibals and savages who thought that killing everyone including the Shufflers would make the world a better place. I had never killed anyone before, my past life I was vegetarian verging on becoming vegan but here I was, sitting around a campfire years later wanting seconds on the meat that was in front of me holding the knife I had used to kill Shufflers with blood still caked around my jacket sleeves.

They couldn't handle it, my parents. It was like I was looking after them along with our forty other people, a mix of kids and older people and younger men and women who were as dirty and tired as I was everyday. No dogs, no livestock, we didn't even have plants. we just moved from site to site every time the Shufflers became to much to handle in that area. We've been in this site for a couple days now, I was hoping we'd get a good week in here at least before we crossed over into Virginia. some people were trying to make it to Bethesda, some had family there and some had heard of some safe zones still working and taking people in. I was waiting until someone offered to go to the White House. From other groups we had run into throughout the states it seemed like the whole world had turned off, nobody was trying to straighten anything out.

They had all said they were just trying to survive, and if we had any sense we'd stop trying to find poeple and start worrying about ourselves individually. I bit into the meat, finishing it before throwing it into the fire and going to our RV where a younger kid around ten was sitting next to, he looked up at me expectantly as I stopped on the steps.

"Can't sleep?" I asked, he shook his head and I opened up the door for him, "Wanna come in?"

He wordlessly got up and went in, I closed the door and began to strip out of the gear I had on as the kid curled up on the sofa with a blanket and faced away from me. His name was Michael, his mom died two days ago when we came up across a group that seemed hellbent on killing us and taking everything we had. I found him underneath one of their cars, eyes screwed shut so tight I thought his skin would start to tear.

I walked to the sink and pumped some water into my hands, watching the flaked blood drip down the drain as someone put the fire out outside. I could hear my parents sleeping in the room, my dad snored when he was stressed out. He hadn't stopped snoring since we left New York.

I walked to the driver seat and propped my legs up, wrapping a blanket around me and stared outside where a younger couple was holding hands and walking to their RV as well. Some people made it look so easy to just keep surviving for love and friendship and family. I heard one of my parents roll over and bang themselves against the wall, I wouldn't keep living just to see them again, it was like they were strangers to me even now. Just more people that I had to look after carefully; both were in their 50s and both were losing it day by day as y we lost more people to other humans and Shufflers.

"Hey."

I jumped as a tall man opened the passenger door and slid in, catching his foot on the door and cursing before closing it. I settled back in my seat and locked the doors as he smiled at me, dirt smeared across his nose.

"Where've you been?" I mumbled, handing him a blanket.

"We just got back, had to take a detour. We should be gone by noon, they're close behind us. They stopped for the night too a couple hours away but they're not giving up yet." He reclined his seat and stretched, bones and joints popping from running around and crouching all day, "How's it been here?"

"James says that we're running really low on food and even lower on water. We've got a handful of people and most of them are...expendable...He says." I looked back to the bedroom and brought my voice down to a whisper, "I'm pretty sure the next time we stop he's going to leave the older folks behind, Leo. He keeps mentioning how much they're slowing us down."

"Maybe the cannibals can make use of them." Leo snickered and I hit his arm, "Sorry. I really shouldn't be saying anything being the town medic and all. What about you? You good?"

"Fine. I just want to get somewhere where we can stay awhile and not worry about anything." I ran a hand over my face and groaned, "And take a shower to get all this shit off of me."

Leo looked me over once smiling to himself, and I knew he wasn't faring any better underneath his ratty long sleeve. Dirt, blood and god knows what else had caked into our skin. If someone smelled good we'd probably think it was the opposite. He leaned back in his chair and I did the same, our conversation dwindling out, I set an alarm on my watch for a couple hours and closed my eyes. Just another day.

---

"You see that? Melaney wake the hell up!"

I was shoved into my seat by Leo several hours later. I sat up tiredly, shoving his hand off of me and yawning as he leaned forward in his chair looking outside the windshield and the mirrors as the sun began to peak through the trees.

"My alarm-"

"Melaney shut up for a second." he slammed a hand over my mouth and we stayed silent, hearts now racing as I struggled to hear what he was listening to.

No, there it was. Someone was yelling outside, very softly. We stood up slowly, craning our head to the side like dogs as we tried to hear the noises again. I grabbed my gear from where I had thrown it last night as Leo woke up Michael and my parents. He came back, cocking his gun as I buckled myholster up. I didn't like guns, I didn't know how to use them and I didn't want to. We had run across a small town which had a tactical shop and i stole pretty much all of their knives and tactical modern swords. I felt like Alice strapped up fighting the Umbrella corp...but this was somehow more terrifying.

"What's going on?" My mom came out the room, eyes wide. My dad put his hands on her shoulders as Leo talked Michael into hiding in the closet, "Laney?"

"Just stay put, we heard someone yelling outside, Leo's gonna check it out. Leo?"

"Yeah, just stay here and wait for me to come back." Leo slid out the door quietly and I went to the windows, trying to peek out at anything from behind the curtains. Everyone's cars and Rv's were still in place, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

"Michael you okay in there sweetie?" my mom knocked on the closet door and Michael cracked it open to watch us peer out the windows.

"Melaney!" Michael stood out from the closet and pointed out the window.

I turned to see one of our members stumbling out of the RV in front of us, holding his arm and trying to stop the blood where it was lacerated on his shoulder.

"Everyone stay inside!" I yelled back to everyone before jumping across the driver seat and opening the door, I hopped out and grabbed the younger man and pulled him into the RV, "Sam what happened?!"

Sam was crying, and I could barely hear what he was saying through his mumbles as my mom running about the RV trying to find our first aid kit.

"Came and took her-" He shook his head as I pressed a spare cloth over his shoulder.

"Sam!" I tried getting his attention but it was no use, he jerked his arm and cried out when the cloth ripped some of his skin off, "For fucks sake Sam stop moving!"

"They carved into them-they killed her right in front of me!" Sam grabbed my arm before his eyes glazed over like he wasn't even looking at me.

"Here!" my mom tossed the medical bag my way as my dad knelt down and began cleaning and wrapping his arm up properly. He was a mess, bleeding everywhere until I realized that some of the blood were splatter marks, "Sam honey, where's Katie?"

"Melaney!" Michael screamed again from the closet and there was a scream outside.

I looked out the windshield again to see blood splattered across it from outside with Katie, Sam's girlfriend sinking down to the ground. Michael slammed the closet door just as a monster of a man climbed into our RV, eyes squinting as he looked over us. He raised a crowbar.

"Move him to the bed!" I yelled, pulling out my machete and blocking he man's way. I couldn't see his face, wrapped in a bloody cloth as blood dripped off the bar, "Come on then."

He stepped forward and swung, I ducked and swung up, managing to slice the inside of his thigh. He went down to the floor on one knee, cloutching himself as I got up and dove across the drivers side and closed it before turning back in my seat. He was over me in a second, hands grabbing at my clothes to get a better grip on me as he raised his weapon again and swung, smashing the window to pieces as I tried to grab the gun on my waist.

There was a pop and he slumped forward before Leo was there, covered in blood and reloading his weapon. He grabbed the man and shoved him out the passenger side before closing and locking his doors.

"Start the RV." He ordered. I wiped the blood off my face and grabbed the keys under the mat as he jumped out and grabbed several more of our people and shoving them inside the vehicle, "Go Melaney!"

I slammed on the gas and we drove off, slamming into our circle of RV's and cars on the way out onto the road. The tires squealed on the pavement as we passed the campsite. There were gunshots following us as we took off.

"What the fuck happened?!" I yelled over my shoulder over the terrified conversations of the people Leo had managed to save. James appeared next to me, the man that we looked up to as our leader, his red beard was splattered darker red. He was cut across his head and over his collarbone as he lowered himself slowly into the passenger seat in pain.

"They came fifteen minutes ago, barged in and just started swinging. Everyone was attacked. I heard the kids yelling first before they came into the bedroom and I opened up the window and fell out." James was staring at the road, white knuckling the seat belt but not putting it on as I tried to will this heap of junk to go faster. Leo was quieting everyone down as they listened to James, "We left so many people behind back there."

"They must have decided to come early, didn't even hear them pull up." Leo crouched between us on the console as he wrapped his own hands up and slicked back his short dark hair before realizing he still had blood in his fingers, "I counted fifteen dead before we came in here."

Everyone was quiet at that. I didn't even have anything to say as I dodged broken down cars and Shufflers coming out across the road. James sighed and looked back to the others before looking to me.

"How much gas do we-"

"Full tank and we have extra gallons underneath. Where are we heading?" I cut him off and he nodded thoughtfully.

"Head for Arlington. I had maps of Bethesda on the walls, I don't want them following our trail." He looked behind him to see if anyone had any objections, no one said a word.

"Alright, we've got an hour and a half then so everybody just hold on alright?" I voiced, I looked quickly to see eight people spread all over the couch and floor. Nobody got out unscathed except for me, my parents and Michael, "Leo, can check on Michael?"

Leo got up and dissapeared as my mom began handing out waters. I leaned back in my seat, my knuckles white with tension and i relaxed looking in the side mirrors. Nobody was following us, not yet anyways. I looked at my watch. It wasn't even noon yet.

---

When we crossed into Virginia it went to hell.

They had caught up to us, somehow they had gotten up right besides us and took out all of our tires. They fired warning shots through the window. I had swerved the RV into them but they just held back and watched as the tires blew out from underneath us and sparks shot up from the rims as the RV tipped and fell. I had screamed, slamming my head against the glass as we skidded across the road.

I could hear everyone else yelling and tumbling and smacking into whatever was in the vehicle. When we finally stopped, I was ontop of the door and Leo was crushed besides me, arm bent behind him funny.

"We need to get out." I groaned to Leo as we heard the savages' vehicle pull up and we heard them hop out their own vehicle and walk across the glass in the road. I couldn't see well my vision was hazy. I made out little Michael struggling to get out from underneath what looked like a dead James. I didn't know where my mom and dad were amidst the mess of blood and bodies, "Leo!"

"Melaney!" Michael cried out as we heard the men jump on top our vehicle laughing.

I sat up, wincing as my hip twinged in pain and my leg twisted. Not broken, but definitely not right either. I crawled to Michael, shoving James off of him and he curled into my arms as Leo grabbed his gun from where it flew. I tossed my ruined knives on the floor, the collision had snapped the tips off. Not a big use to us now.

"We go out through the bathroom window. They're making their way to the wind shield." Leo grunted as we listened to them laugh and tap on the vehicle with their weapons, mocking us.

We crawled to the bathroom, slamming the door behind us as the Savages made it to the front of the RV busted out the windshield.

"We head for the trees. Michael goes first then you and then me. You cover me." Leo knocked the bigger pieces of glass away from the bathroom window as we heard the savages enter, "Michael, go!"

Michael scrambled out and stumbled into the coverage of the trees before diving behind a tree. Leo handed me his gun and I began to drag myself over the glass.

"Fuck." My waist strap caught on a bent piece of metal and I heard footsteps come from the around the side. Leo pulled me back in and I pulled out my machete. One of the men bent and peeked in, iI slid the blade into his skull quietly and he dropped like a sack of rocks, "Leo, just go."

Leo jerked himself out of the window, using the man's body to not cut himself on the glass and I followed soon after. We stumbled into the forest, grabbing Michael and running through the trees. I could barely breath, my chest was tight with pain and guilt. My parents...I stopped and looked back as screams rose up from the wreckage. I took a step back unconsciously and Leo grabbed my arm.

"Melaney no-"

"Hey! We got runners!"

"Fuck! Go!" Leo ducked as the men shot at us blindly through the trees, they were a ways off but they knew we were running now. Michael was making a path for us as we ran.

Shufflers appeared here and there but they couldn't catch us but we could hear the men's shouting coming closer and closer. My boots sunk into mud and dirt as we crossed into an opening in the forest line. We ducked behind some cut down trees, chests heaving as we struggled to catch our breath. We watched the men come into the opening, only five strong but they had guns. All we had was a half empty chamber, my hunting knife and machete.

"Michael, you need to run. Run and keep running, don't wait for us alright?" I turned to the kid, pressing the knife into his hand. His brown eyes got wide but I brushed his hair out of his face as Leo and I got ready for a fight, "You need to do this. For me and Leo and your parents. I know you're scared Mikey but you need to go."

"Melaney I don't w-want to leave you-"

"Shufflers get a hit to the head, humans do too." I kissed his forehead and shoved him towards the closest trees. He stumbled and fell to his knees, crawling the rest of the way. He looked back to us, lost and afraid and only ten. The men shouted and he disappeared through the brush. I saw a glimpse of his floppy uncut hair running away before he was out of sight, "Leo."

"Right here. We need to split up, distract them then duck. I can shoot but we need to keep distracting one by one. If my shots count then we could take them out in a timely manner." his hands were shaking as the men grouped together and faced each direction carefully, trying to find us.

"Yeah, okay." I tucked my weapon away and took in a deep breath, eyeing the closest stump, "Three trees. That's all I've got over here for coverage."

"I'll make it count."

I flew out from our hiding spot, grabbing their attention and making them shoot at my path. I yelled and slammed against the other side of the second stump, safe. I heard Leo shoot three times and then three bodies dropped and the last two men yelled and shot out angrily with their guns. Fuck. I got to my knees again and fell down to my elbows as pain racked my entire middle section.

"Melaney!" A body slammed next to me, Leo, before more gunfire erupted. Leo showed me his gun, "I'm out."

"Out?! there's two more!" I yelled and he made a face.

"Come on out and we won't shoot you lovelies. Well the boy we might." There was an evil laugh and we heard the men draw closer, "Girl we might take ourselves."

"Fuck." I got to my knees, crouched behind the tree as Leo looked at his bleeding shoulder, "Hey."

"One just grazed me. Almost blew off my foot too."

"I only have the fucking machete. I say we throw it over their heads, hope theyh follow it and tackled them." I took out my knife and Leo nodded, taking it from me, "Try to think javelin."

"We need a distraction so they don't blow our heads off though."

"MELANEY!"

We looked around the stump to see Michael on the other side of the clearing, standing out in the open. Knife still in hand and waving.

"Michael, no!" I shot up as the two men turned around and raised their weapons at Michael.

Michael ducked back into the trees and Leo stood up, throwing the machete over his head and managing to hit one of the guys in the neck, brigning him down to the ground, dead. I tackled the other one to the ground, forcing the bullets to pepper everywhere as we landed on the twigs and sticks and dirt. I rolled off of him and kicked the man's gun away from him as Leo tossed me the machete through the air.

I caught it and lunged forward, swiping the air as the Savage got up and swerved to the side, smashing his palm against my ribcage. I yelled and went down and there was a shot in the air. A single shot.

Leo fell down on top of me as the man's body dropped to the ground, Leo looked behind me as he shielded his body with his own as another shot rang out and the man bleeding from the neck jerked to the side.

"Are you shot?" I checked his chest and he frowned, shaking his head before we heard footsteps come out from the trees.

A dozen men and two giant trucks rolled into the clearing where Michael had run into. We sat up, grabbing my machete and aiming it at them as the trucks stopped on top of the first man's body, crushing it. Men on foot crowded around us lazily, grinning at us; some were clean shaven and some had beards. They were all decked out in and looking like they could kill us with a snap. They watched us languidly, like this was just another day for them. The white truck closest to us opened up and I saw heavy black boots hit the ground as the person walked around.

An older man wielding a bat wrapped in wire, smiled as he surveyed the scene and then his eyes found us. Bloodied on the ground and still on our ass, holding each other. His red scarf brought out his charming smile he plastered across his face.

"I don't suppose you're responsible for all that racket, are you two?"

"Melaney!"

"Michael, no!" I reached out as Michael came running past the truck and bent down next to us. The man with a bat made a face as Michael came into out arms and hugged us.

"So that little shit is with you then. He came sprinting out of god knows where onto the damn road and nearly made us go off the road ourselves." he swung the bat down on the ground, kicking up dirt as he leaned on it, "Now why-oh fucking hell get that shit out of here."

We turned around to see some Shufflers coming out of the woods. The men shot them easily before the man snapped at us, getting our attention back to him.

"Hi, I'm Negan. So, for compensation for almost running us off the road, wanna tell me what the fuck went on here?"

"Not really." I answered, Leo slammed a hand over my mouth as Negan raised an eyebrow at me.

"Our group was attacked by another one about two hours ago. They caught up with us, turned our van over and we ran." Leo answered and Negan nodded his head and pursed his lips. "Thank you. For this, Negan."

"We could have handled it ourselves." I mumbled, Negan heard it clearly though, he straightened up and came closer before crouching in front of me. Leo gripped my arm hard as Negan leaned forwad.

"Watch your mouth, girl. I don't know you and you clearly don't know me so why don't we behave like civilized people?" Negan smiled warmly and got up, gestureing around us with open arms, "After all this ain't the end of the world yet...you're Melaney, right?"

I nodded.

"And that shit's Michael. And you are?"

"Leo."

"Right. So, you're out of a group and you're hurt, obviously. Got any plan?"

"...If you're trying to humiliate us into asking to be with you-" I started, Leo put a hand over my mouth again.

"I'm a trained paramedic, Melaney is as well and she knows how to fight. Michael's only ten but he's strong." Leo spoke up, I gave him a look and he shushed me as he stood up, "We can't repay you for saving us from them but we can try. We need a group, we can't survive hurt like we are."

Negan was smiling again and so was his men, but it was a different kind of odd smile that sent shivers down your spine. He tapped on the end of his bat as I tried to stand up but my knee gave out and Michael struggled to help me back up from the ground.

"Up you go." Broad hands gripped my arm and I looked up to find Negan inches away from me, leather jacket shining in the sun as he helped steady me, "You know what, I like you three. So I think I'll to take you with me."

Negan shouldered his bat and Leo grabbed me from him with a thank you as Negan's men retreated back into the trees as well as hopping up in the tailgates.

I sat in the truck in between Negan and Michael. Leo sitting by the window. I brushed Michael's hair back and kissed his forehead as we pulled out of the clearing and onto the road again.

When we passed the flipped RV, it was on fire.

Chapter Text

"He wants to talk with you."

I looked up as Dwight stood over me, eyes squinting from the sun as I ripped my knife out of a Shuffler's face.

I was outside the Sanctuary gates, where I wasn't supposed to be. I sighed and motioned for Dwight to take me back and he turned around wiping the sweat off of his face.

Negan was obviously spying on me again in order to even send Dwight out after me. I wiped the blood off the blade as we walked back to camp. He was on edge, like he always was. He looked at me over his shoulder as I fixed the straps on my waist.

"You make him mad a lot Melaney, more mad than when one of us tries to leave." He stopped so I could catch up and I tried to shrug the comment off, guilt crawling up my throat, "I honestly don't know how you're not dead with how much you piss him off. Lucky he's taken a liking to you likethe Wives."

"He hasn't taken a liking to me, Dwight. And I'm not one of his dang wives." I shoved him as we walked up to the gates where the other Saviors whistled at us, knowing full well Negan was gonna beat the shit out of me with words, "He just...I'm the only female here that hasn't reached 30 yet."

"Twenty three is right up his alley. Wife material." Dwight teased and I rolled my eyes as we made it through. He walked away and I continued my journey up to where factory stood.

Leo waved to me from where he was sitting outside with several other guards, jogging up to me with a smile on his face before falling into pace besides me.

"Hey Laney. Heard Negan was pissed you left again." He opened the door to the wide open factory floors, "Ken, you need to stop doing this. It wasn't Negan's fault and it wasn't yours."

"Thanks Dicaprio, I really needed to hear that." I snapped at him and he faltered in his step before pushing it aside. We made our way up the steps and started across the catwalk to Negan's side of this domain. Leo let his hand graze against the railing as he watched our guys filter in and out beneath, eating food and playing cards to pass the time.

"You were gone for two days. People notice around here when we go missing. Especially when you're Negan's girl-"

"For fucks sake!" I spun around to him and a couple of the groups below stared, I lowered my voice, "If I hear someone say that one more fucking time..."

"Mel...you're the only girl here actually helps us fight. Besides everyone's wives and girlfriends who Negan keeps up in his room all the time, you're pretty much the only girl we see on a regular basis. You're also the only girl here who doesn't drop their pants to get fucked because we're all afraid Negan will cut our dicks off. You're on the hands off policy remember? A policy only reserved for the wives?"

"...Still not his damn wife." I muttered and Leo sighed.

"Melaney...all I'm saying is that what happened to Michael wasn't your fault. It wasn't anyone's fault, if you're going to point fingers point them at the fact that Mike was disturbed from what happened to Jonah last month. Going out there looking for trouble with the dead, isn't safe." Leo put a hand on my chin and made me look at him, brushing my grown out hair off my shoulder, "Please just try to stop inching closer to death by Lucille. I can't imagine being here without you by my side everyday."

"Melaney."

We turned to see Negan leaning against the far railing leading up to his room, he was glaring daggers at Leo who instantly ripped his hand away from me and coughed uncomfortably before looking at me again and beginning to make his exit.

"You have to let his death go, Mel."

Leo tromped away and down the stairs, running a hand through his outgrown hair before I sighed and made my way over to Negan. He adjusted his leather jacket and I followed him the rest of the way in silence as he looked at his nails in front of me. I forgot how giant the man was.

"So, can you just give me my reprimand out here so I can-"

"Get the fuck inside and stop giving me lip." he cut me off, running a hand over his salt and pepper stubble which he had just shaved a few days ago. I sighed and walked into his lavish room and he followed silently, closing and locking the door, "Weapons off, you know the drill."

Negan entered the room, saying hello to the women that stayed around. I walked behind him, straightening up and laying my things over a chair. I nodded to a brunette in lingerie who was lounging across one of the couches as Negan sat down next to a redheaded woman, looking over her hand as she cradled it to her.

"Hey Amber." I sat next to her and she brushed mascara out of her eye.

"Hey Melaney, fuck up again?" She smiled and we looked to Negan who was creating a splint for the redhead, "Seems to be alot of that going around this month."

"Negan okay?" I asked and she shrugged.

"Haven't really seen him around here the past few days, he hauled himself up in the spare room up top so we've just been...here." she gestured around and I nodded as Negan finished and whistled for me to follow him into his extra room, "Take it easy on her, Negan. She's only a kid."

"Yeah Negan, there's not enough splints to go around here." another woman spoke up, teasing.

"I'm not going to beat the shit out of her you all know that, fucking calm down." Negan rolled his eyes as I entered the study, he gave them the finger and they laughed before he closed the door.

He went and sat at his desk which was laid over with crap of maps and bullets. Behind him on the wall, Lucille rested. He watched me, like he always does these days, as I sat down on the chair where a couple extra shirts of his were resting and looked at him as he propped his boots up on his desk.

Negan was a hawk, eyes always watching and drinking everything in. He was smirking to himself as I waited for him to start speaking.

6 months Leo and I have been here and it only took 4 of those months for me to lose everything. Michael was dead and I rarely saw Leo anymore because Negan had him and half his men searching for other groups to trade and tackle with. I always had to stay behind under Negan's lock and key, just guarding the gates and throwing rocks off the top of the factory. Occasionally when Negan went out with his men I relaxed with the Wives upstairs and let them pamper me for a bit. They were nice ladies, not the sluts everyone deemed them to be. They didn't want Negan to look after them, they wanted out but they couldn't lift a finger against him.

It wasn't like Negan ever laid a hand on them, hell, Negan hadn't laid a single harsh hand to me and I was the one always getting in trouble with him. But Negan had branded me without ever touching me, labeled as on of the 'wives' as everyone so lovingly called it. I wasn't, didn't want to be but Negan...it's in his smile and the way he held himself.

He could disarm me with a smile meant for grace and poise but it could kill me at the same time, and it's all a natural part to him; his charm was in his violence. It was part of the brutality underneath that charming exterior, he could smile and laugh and be dragging a knife along my throat at the same time. He was dangerous and it was a rush talking to him, being in his presence and even leaning against his clothes t in the chair. To say he took my breath away was an understatement, he choked the life out of me every time I saw him.

"Why."

"Why are you always watching me?" I countered and he raised an eyebrow, "I'm sure there are other things to do besides sit on the roof with binoculars and watch my every move."

"You and I both know I don't need binoculars to know where you are." he folded his arms behind his head and stretched lazily, groaning, "So why, Melaney, do you piss me off so damn much and go over the gates?"

"I like being alone, not everyone can be like you, Negan." I gave in and he shrugged, "...and I just...wanted to be outside for a while."

"Ain't no use beating yourself up over the kid." his eyes flashed to mine, holding them, "Ain't no use pissing me the fuck off either because of it."

"Why don't you ask Lucille what you're going to do to me then." I muttered under my breath but he caught it immediately.

Negan stood up, watching me with a concerned look before moving to me and crouching down, shoulders wider than my own as he placed a hand on my knee carefully, always watching and studying me.

"Laney...do you want to die?"

I held his stare and thought about it, the answer was no of course not, but another answer was yes. My prolonged silence must have put him on edge because he reached out, cupping my face with both of his hands and forcing me to bend closer to him.

"Laney, don't you every say you want to fucking die. I promised you I wouldn't let anything ever happen to you, I promised I wouldn't ever fucking leave you alone. I made a fucking promise to you baby girl and I'm going to keep that promise. Do. You. Understand?"

I'd remember that day until I died. It was something I'd never forget about him.

"Laney, answer me!"

"I don't want to die Negan, fuck. I understand alright?" I knocked his hands away, all of my tough exterior melting at his expression. My face burned in shame as I looked down to my lap and he remained in front of me, hands on the chair blocking me in.

"Good. 'Cause you forget a lot of fucking things I say, girl." He made me look at him again, one hand softly caressing my cheek as the other grabbed my hand, I was shaking again.

He released me and got up, leaning against his desk like he was a professor in being a complete asshole. Oh wait, he was.

"Knock it off. It doesn't look good on you."

"Excuse me?" I looked down at my clothesin confusion.

"The attitude. The whole 'I'm a badass and a rebel' can't do shit with you. You ain't like that." he grinned and I looked away to the concoction of weapons I wore everyday and he caught that, "No doubt you could kick ass, but I miss the old you."

"The old me?"

"The one I picked up in the forest. The one that used to cry at night and was nice to everyone in here." He folded his arms and I looked to Lucille behind him, "The girl that tried to kiss me when she was fucked up drunk."

"Oh go screw yourself." I glared but ended up smiling myself along with him, "You're the one who never gives me anything to do here."

"You help protect what I've built here."

"I throw rocks of the top of the building, Negan." I deadpanned and he shrugged before adjusting his scarf.

It was true, I had definitely faked being a hard ass for a long time. But this, laughing felt nice for once. And Negan was right, of course he was. Everyone had known my name because I would help everyone that came in here, I took over being a medic when Leo was assigned to go out but I skirted that job after Michael's death and decided to become a pain in everyone's ass.

"Alright, I've got shit to do now." Negan winked and turned back to his desk, ripping some paper off a clipboard and it to me, "Go do this shit, come back and I'll give you your weapons back."

"You're taking my shit?" I grabbed the paper and read it as Negan got up and called Amber to grab my things. She came in and smiled at us, Negan took my holster from her and hung it up next to Lucille before handing me a knife strap to go around my belt, "Amber, you suck."

"Go fetch Samantha will you?" Negan smiled, slapping Ambers ass as she walked out, he turned back to me, "Well, you won't hop over the walls with less than a knife I've learned. Now go get lost."

He grabbed my arm at the last second as I turned to leave and pulled me back, he always pressed too close to me.

"Negan-"

"Don't fuck up." he smiled and for a moment his eyes changed as he watched me carefully, he frowned for a second, "Melaney-"

"Negan, baby!"

We broke apart, tension between us evaporating as one of the older black women came in with a sly smile. Negan smiled charmingly and I brushed past them quickly, slamming the door behind me before I heard himstart fucking her. Like hell I was Negan's girl.

It was evening when one of our small groups came back from visiting the Hilltop Sanctuary, bearing a couple sacks of food for the next week but not a whole lot more. I was outside the building's doors, talking with some of the other guards while watching Negan greet everyone but then get disappointed at the loot. He was decked out in his leather jacket and scarf again, grin plastered on his face trying to keep everyone's spirits up.

"We've gotta branch out." Leo commented as we made our way into the open floor where people were eating and relxing, the others nodded in agreement.

"Or we need better negotiation tactics." Steven cackled mercilessly and I smacked him upside his dumb head. Steven was one of our motorcycle men, they usually sped around looking to scavenge people, "Fuck!"

"Or Negan needs to get his shit together for everyone here and stop focusing on just him and his circle of idiots." I picked food up and stuck it on my plate, noticing Dwight and his girlfriend and their friend inject insulin into her arm and stick a water bottle in her hands, "We don't need just food, we need medical supplies and-"

"That's what the Hilltop is for, they've got shit." Another motorcycle idiot spoke up as we sat down.

"Hilltop is the only one producing said shit, and they're running out." I replied, Leo nodded to me, pointing at me with a fork as we watched the hall slowly fill up with more people, "Everyone's running out of everything nowadays."

I ate my food in silence as the others conversed about their run and what happened on the road. Leo was staring off behind me, chewing slowly before raising an eyebrow and nodded, I turned to where he was staring only to have a face full of Negan's crotch as he appeared behind us. Leo burst out into laughter and I spun around, kicking him underneath the table. Negan didn't seem to notice.

"How we doing boys?"

Boys, ladies even kids. I noticed he never really took to memorizing any of the people's names here, always nicknames based on our appearances. For instance, Leo used to be Medic or Doc and I used to just be Knives for a while until one of our runs went bad against another group and I almost died. That's when I was put on lockdown here.

"-not much on the south end." Steven was saying as Negan took a seat next to him, back turned to me, ignoring my existence, "Should be more in a couple weeks."

"Good, good. And Hilltop?"

"Hey." Leo bumped my foot with his as Negan became engrossed in the information. He tapped my hand as I tried to stare daggers into Negan, "Wanna go up top?"

"Hell yes," I nodded and we stood up; up top on the roof was our favorite place, we could see everyth-

"Where the hell you two going?"

We dumped our plates in the trash, Negan was turned back to us, looking between Leo and I carefully. He watched the way I looked to Leo for an answer and how Leo just grabbed my hand throwing a hasty 'practice time!' over his shoulder before pulling me out of the mess hall.

"Shit that was close!" Leo was laughing as we ran around to the fire escape out front, passing some of the men and women milling about. They nodded to us and pulled the ladder down and shoved it back up as soon as we started climbing, "Did you see his face? Man, he can't live without an audience!"

"Just keep climbing, he's probably gonna come after us in like five minutes." I giggled as we made it to the top and walked out to the front of the ledge, leaning against it and staring out at everything. I sat on it, legs swinging over the side dangerously and Leo stood behind me, head resting on my shoulder as he wrapped his arms around me comfortably.

Up here it was quiet and nothing could get us. No Negan, no dead people and no other real people. When we first came to Sanctuary we would come up here at night, just to get away from our rooms. I wasn't used to having a room, a bed for myself and neither was Leo. Being in Negan's group had its pros and cons, as did every group though.

"Whatcha thinking about?" Leo whispered as I gazed out into the trees, if I focused hard enough I swear I could hear the Shuffler's moaning outside the gates.

"When we first came here, how often we came up here."

"Yeah...we haven't been up here together in weeks." He breathed and I frowned.

"You're always on runs and Negan's always making me do menial tasks." I flicked a cockroach off the ledge and it fell dramatically. Leo brushed hair out of my face and pressed a kiss to my temple.

"I think he does it on purpose."

"Does what?"

"Sends me out so I'm never with you anymore. Less competition for him." Leo bit out but I could hear the smile in his voice.

"He should be worried about you. You're my bestie." I turned to him and kissed him softly, Leo smiled and hugged me closer, burying his face in my neck as we laughed.

"Man I miss you, Melaney. If it wasn't so bad out there we could head out on our own. We'd protect each other."

Something in my chest turned at that, Negan's words haunting my head before I shook it off and checked my watch. Leo noticed and sighed before helping me of the ledge and over to the fire escape. I was on lock down, bedtime was 11 for me and we all knew better than to question Negan's reasoning. Still, the ten minutes we had up here made up for lost time.

We dropped to the ground a couple minutes later, close together and holding hands as we made our way into the building and up the stairs and to our rooms. Most everyone else were retiring to their places as well. I was laughing, too busy engrossed in one of Leo's old stories to watch the brooding Savior Leader come down from his steps and watch us go to my room where we shared a kiss and departed from each other with a promise of hanging our tomorrow. Leo walked to his place and I watched him leave, leaning against the door and making faces at him until he was out of sight down below. I didn't see the dangerous glint in the Negan's eyes begin to form as I opened my door up and stepped. All I felt was my door get jammed with a black boot sticking in it.

"Negan?"

Negan leaned against the door clumsily, his hair was ruffled and his smile was charming and sloppy. Drunk off his ass, god I was only gone for ten minutes.

"Wanted to make sure you got in, rules and shit." he , pulled me out of my room and closed my door before turning to his doors, gesturing me to follow him. We entered his room a moment later and he locked the door before collapsing into one of his plush chairs tiredly.

"Where are the girls at?" I asked, looking around the empty loft, Negan gestured out the window then gestured everywhere else.

"Sent them off to do crap. Wanted time to themselves, whatever the fuck that meant." He sat up and looked to me

"Okay, well then why am I here..."

"You know, the moment I laid eyes on you-knew you were special." he slurred, grinning lopsided, "Used to go out of my way to check on yous-you, when you first got here. 'Member that?"

Of course I did, I remembered everything Negan did. My name was the only one he ever bothered memorizing and it was true, he'd seek me out throughout the days we were settling in just to say hello and make sure I wasn't going to dart out.

"Cut too tight."

"What?" I snapped out of it as Negan mumbled, he gestured to me drunkenly.

"Clothes, don't need to be that fuckin' tight on you. Men watchin' you move all day, staring at your ass." He grumbled more to himself and I folded my arms, slowly smiling.

"...you jealous, Negan?"

His eyes went clear, almost looking right through me and I swore he was faking being drunk for a second. He frowned.

"You jealous they get to look at me all day?" I whispered, coming closer to him and dropping the knife he gave me earlier onto the floor.

His eyes drank everything in, his chest rose and fell deeply as he watched me step closer. It was silent, completely silent as it hit the floor with a thump. I was inches away from him, our knees brushing together for a moment.

"Don't be a fuckin' tease, baby girl." He growled, leaning forward. I pushed him back hard in the chair, leaning over him with me hands on his knees. His eyes were black as he watched me...with no trace of alcohol on his breath.

"I'm not your baby girl. Go fuck yourself, Negan." I whispered before releasing him and grabbing my things off the floor. Negan chuckled darkly as I made my way to the door.

"Oh, but I'd much rather fuck you instead."

I slammed the door behind me and went to my room for the night. His fucking games were beginning to be too much for me.

---

"Hold fucking still!"

I couldn't breath, I couldn't see. I was being held down by hands too strong for me to break through. I couldn't tell if I was the one yelling in pain or if it was the people around me.

"Melaney you need to relax! You need to clam down, just start breathing all right? In and out, in and out-" Someone grabbed my hand, softer than the ones holding me down and someone else put a hand over the blindfold as I tried to jerk my head to the side.

"Don't let him in here!"

"Where is she?! What are you doing to her!?"

There was a booming yell outside the room and I could hear a small fight begin to start as red hot liquid began to pierce through my side and my thigh. I arched my body away from it, yelling obscenities as the white pain explodes behind my eyes.

"Let me in!"

"Melaney just breath." There was a voice, piercing through everyone else's, Leo was somewhere in the room whispering to me and for some reason his voice was the loudest of them all.

The pain was gone for a moment and the hands loosened their grip on me as my body began to twitch. I could feel my blood begin to trickle underneath me on the gurney, because that's where I was. I could smell antibiotics and the powder from the medical gloves and I could see the bright lights of the makeshift station here at the Sanctuary basement.

I let out a slow breath as the blindfold was removed and when my eyes adjusted I could see people pressing gauze and wrapping up my leg and torso where I had gotten shot at. I spotted an arrow and a piece of glass on the table, still dripping with my blood.

There was a bang and Negan entered the room looking wild, shoving the doors as they bounced back against their hinges. Blood was still splattered across his face, his neck and his jacket and Lucille was still clutched in his hand. I dropped my head onto the makeshift pillow that had been placed under me as Negan shoved everyone not helping out of the way.

"Baby girl." Negan's voice was soft and smooth and it washed over me like morphine, he stood over me blocking out the harsh light and touched my hand, "Fuck."

He brushed the hair out of my face, rough hands wiping my blood off of my own face and checked my new wounds himself. I let my head flop to one side, trying to spot Leo but the group has already sectioned him off, working on him. Negan rested his elbows on the gurney, head bent over my chest as he tried to compose himself.

When he looked back up, his eyes were tinged red and he was smiling that insane smile like he had just lost everything in his life. He ran a hand over his face and laughed.

"Thought I fucking lost you out there. Those fucking assholes all fucking died out there. I made sure of that. Nobody gets away with trying to kill you." Negan placed a rough kiss to my temple and hovered over me as I faded in and out of consciousness, "Go to sleep Laney, I'll be right here when you wake up."

I did.
---

I was in so much pain when I woke up.

Negan was passed out at the foot of the gurney that had been pushed up against the wall, Lucille rested between his legs. I could see more blood on the floor behind the sectioned off curtain where Leo had been. I got up slowly, cringing as my body urged me to stay in bed and rest. Negan didn't even stir as I shuffled my way to Leo's corner, clutching the soaked through bandages on my side as I used an extra swivel chair to hold myself up.

I pulled Leo's curtain away and stared. Then I screamed.

"Melaney!"

I fell back on the floor, backing away from the body on the bed that was strapped down with ties and leather. Negan was at my side in an instant, covering me as the animated corpse came to life and began moving against the restraints.

"No! NO!" I beat Negan's chest, knocking Lucille away from him, the bat clattered on the ground and stopped in Leo's blood on the floor, "LEO!"

"He's gone, Laney baby he's gone." Negan was holding me as I started crying, hysterical tears and cries escaped me and I couldn't hold down the sobs or cracked sadness that seeped through my skin.

My best friend was dead, replaced by one of the dead. Negan called in the others and they rushed in. What a sight to see; their fearless leader trying to control a girl who was still bleedig and trying to fight aginst Negan to get to the hungr corpse whose eyes had faded to white.

"Get him out of here!" Negan boomed, they nodded and one of them grabbed a scalpel as they rolled Leo away.

There was silence on the other end of the basement doors and the wheeling away had stopped a little bit later. I was crushing Negan's arms, holding them against me as he rocked me back and forth listening to me cry and mumble and scream out for Leo to come back, to come back and be with me. Negan was crying with me, whispering how sorry he was and kissing my face and wiping my tears away even though they fell continuously. I buried my face in his jacket and he picked me up carefully and took me out of the basement, away from Leo and away from the blood.

---Earlier---

Routine, routine, routine.

I stared down at the rebellious group that had set a couple of our cars on fire a couple days before. Leo stood next to me, eyes trained on the men as Steven started his speech about how ungrateful they were to turn against us like they did when they protected them.

"Ain't fucking nice is what it was." Steven finished and he looked to us as we stood by, "Get over here, Knives."

I left Leo's side and brandished my machete, standing behind the seven people. Steven stood behind as well and the others cocked their guns. Leo turned to go to the back of our truck for tarps for the bodies as Steven relayed the order in which they were going to die.

"Go ahead, Knives."

"Red Alert!" one of our men screamed at the top of his lungs, bursting through the trees as Shufflers came in at all angles.

I was hit in the knee by the captives. I fell and swiped out, catching them in the faces as I got to my feet. There was a sharp pain in my leg and my side as I swung down and killed another one of them as Steven took out the rest.

"Back to the truck! Forget about them!" Steven grabbed me and shoved me in the bed of the truck. Shufflers clawed the truck as we burst out from the open area we had been in. Leo was in the front, holding himself closely through the window. I looked down as I slid on something wet as I tried to put my weapon away. Fuck I was bleeding, "Melaney!"

I fell out of the truck as I tried to stand up and everything went hazy and black as blood poured out of me.

---Now---

Negan was holding me against him as the sun came through his open window. I was wrapped in his blankets and bandages. I was staring outside on my good side as he breathed evenly behind me, stirring awake and moving slowly.

Leo was gone, Michael was gone. I was alone.

"Laney." Negan sat up suddenly then looked down to me before sliding back into bed and bringing me closer to him.

I rolled over to face him, he was still tired from dealing with everything the day before. It felt so long ago but my bloody bandages on the floor reminded me the pain would come back stronger throughout the day. The loft was empty, no Wives and no ghosts.

I reached for Negan and he closed his eyes for a moment as I felt the scratch of his stubble against my hand and the softness of his hair in between my fingers. He caught my hand in his and kissed it softly. I let my hand fall to his chest, tracing the horned tattoo over his heart.

"You have me." He whispered and I looked back at him, sunlight shining right onto his face and lighting his face up like an angel, "You're my girl, forever."

"Yeah, okay Negan."

He kissed me roughly, always pressing too close to me. I hated him, I did but I could never had resisted him for too long. I just wanted to forget everyone else and Negan let me as I melted into him.

Chapter Text

"Like a fucking power high!"

Beer spilled over Negan's hand as he clashed it in the table and the surrounding men yelled with joy and raised their glasses as Negan continued his speech. I was cleaning up a table along with another girl, Dwight's girlfriend. She looked to me as Negan yelled and slammed Lucille down on the table, the barbed wire ringing through the entire room. I smiled to myself and threw the trash away and she looked away from the commotion, trying to get as far away from them as possible.

"We took them out and we'll take out any other stupid fucking group that comes along trying to take us out." Negan was vicious looking out over his men but then his eyes landed on me, "And we take out anyone who hurts our fucking people."

I looked away and continued cleaning while the men cheered. I could feel him still staring at me as I bent down and began folding the extra chairs away, the men were going to get wasted and break all our shit again I just knew it. I walked to the storage room and began shoving the chair in while Dwight's girl finished up on the factory floor.

"Lights out, baby."

I gasped in surprise as Negan attacked me from behind, slamming the storage door close and pushing me against the far wall, cornering me in as he clicked off the light. I slammed my hands on his chest, eyes adjusting to the darkness as Negan breathed coolly in front of me. I could hear the shit eating grin spreading across his face.

"Negan."

"Don't be like that, baby girl. I know you were watchin' me all night." he cooed in my ear, leather jacket catching on my shirt and he began to trace the exposed skin on my hip, "Like the way I look?"

"You look the same." I replied, making out his face in the darkness, I unzipped his jacket and pushed it off of his shoulders. There was a knock on the door as he began to kiss my neck. He slammed a fist against the wall and kicked the door.

"Fuck off!" He boomed.

The person on the other side ran off but only to yell to the men in the hall that Negan was trapped in the closet again. Wolf whistles followed for a moment as Negan gripped my hips with his hands but they slowly died out. Negan laughed darkly as he dropped his jacket to the floor and easily slid my long sleeve off to join his there.

"Its disgusting in here." I breathed as Negan kissed me again, teeth scraping against my neck as I pushed his shirt up to grab at him.

"It's disgusting everywhere, we can make it worse though with that fucking mouth." He picked me up, slamming me against the wall again and I wrapped my legs around his waist as he fumbled with his belt and his buckle, he pushed up the skirt I had been wearing, "This skirt supposed to be this short?"

"It's not even that short."

"Short enough for me to rip it the fuck away." he growled in my ear as I slid down the wall closer to him, "Shouldn't fucking wear it around here anymore."

"Yeah, okay Negan." I breathed as he pressed closer to me and I closed my eyes.

 

---

"I love you."

It was whispered into the air as I watched Negan circle some people from the Hilltop as they came in from their community, hauling a small cow who was busy looking left and right and sniffing the ground. I was sitting on one of the tailgate of the trucks, enjoying being out in the sunlight and Negan had been sitting besides me for a while, ignoring the women that kept glancing our way, confused. I could feel it in my bones, a year after coming into the Saviors group that I was meant to be here, meant to be under Negan's command and what he had going on here.

He turned towards one of the taller men, whose hair was long and face calm as he handed over the cattle to Steven who immediately led it away. Negan smiled and clapped him on the back, handing water bottles to the men and sending them back out the gate. Negan turned back to me and grinned, leather jacket shining under the sun and body moving slow and steady. I watched one of the woman try to catch his eye, one of the old Wives, she gave up as he brushed her off and came back to me.

"Did you miss me?" He ran a hand over my thigh and squeezed it.

"Yeah, Negan." I laughed and he planted a foot on a rock next to the truck like some dark Captain Morgan, "When are they going out?"

"Here soon. We've got to check on a few...installments up and down the road. I won't be gone too long." He grinned and kissed me on the corner of my mouth before getting up and walking away to the factory.

I swung my feet back and forth as one of the nameless Wives walked by me, nose turned up. I smirked behind my water bottle and continued watching everyone mosey around the Sanctuary. He had stopped after awhile, screwing around with the other woman, after I hurt myself a year ago and lost my best friend. So it had become true, what Dwight said all those months ago. 'Negan's girl.' I didn't ask him to stop seeing the Wives but he released them all back to their real husbands and boyfriends. I must have been worth keeping after all. It was more terrifying than I had come to think. I hopped of the truck and went to go find Dwight and his girlfriend.

"You gonna stay here with me forever, baby girl?" Negan turned over in bed, naked chest shining in the afternoon. I smiled to myself as I redid my laces on my boots.

"Yeah Negan I am."

I felt his hand creep up my shirt as his fingers traced a scar on my ribcage, he tugged me back onto his chest and looked down at me thoughtfully as he grinned to himself, happy.

"Good, 'cause I'd have to kill you if you ran away."

And just like that, my blood had run cold every time I looked out the gates, Negan's words always running through me. I opened the door to the greenhouse and was stunned to see it empty for once. Usually Dwight was in here tending the food along with the others. There was a small crash in the back out the doors and I drew my gun, walking forward and knocking over a couple pots on accident as I came to the door and pressed my ear against it. I could hear voices, someone was trying very hard not to yell.

"Dwight?" I knocked on the door and there was silence before it swung open, revealing Dwight with insane hair, "Woah, calm down."

"Melaney. You're late." He glared and stepped back into the room as I took out a couple of syringes out of my jacket and handed them to him. I never bothered to learn his girlfriend's name as well as their diabetic friend, "Thank you."

"How's she doing?" I asked, bending down next to the pixie haired girl and finding her pulse. His girlfriend stood up and paced behind me.

"Not good. Sometimes she's fine and other times I don't know if she'll wake up." She bit her nails as Dwight injected the medicine into her arm and stored the others in the crappy fridge, "We're not good here anymore Kennedy. We need to leave."

"I know. I'm sending out a wanted list with the others when they take off. Any medicine they find to hep her, goes to me right off the bat and then to you. I've promised you that." I looked to her as the diabetic girl moaned in her sleep and weakly wiped the sweat off her forehead, "Wait a month here and then I'll help you leave I promise."

"You're so good to us." she hugged me and Dwight rolled his eyes, "Negan-"

"Negan won't know shit about you leaving...but you should let him know about her. You know he listens to everyone here for their opinions and concerns guys. The only good thing about Negan is that he actually does care about this place."

"Selfish bastard doesn't care about anyone." Dwight bit out then glanced to me, "No offense."

"None taken." I shrugged and heard Negan call for me outside "Stay low of you guys want. Grab some food later, especially her when she wakes up. I've got to go."

I left and they locked the door behind me, I came outside the House and smacked right into Negan's chest. He steadied me and looked to the greenhouse then back to me carefully.

"Why-"

"What'd you call me for?"

"You hiding something from me?" Negan glared at me and I sighed before leading him away from the greenhouse and back towards the factory, "Laney-"

"The girl who's always passing out, she's sick. She needs medicine and we're running out of all types of diabetic medication." I watched him frown then look around in concern before looking back at me.

"You sure?"

"Why would I lie to you?" I followed him back out to the group that was leaving as he started scribbling something down on a piece of paper.

"That it?" He turned to me as he handed the paper over to Steven, I nodded and Negan let go, "Don't come back until you have that shit."

"Got it, boss."

We stepped back as they rolled out and another truck rolled up for Negan, he turned to me and kissed me goodbye as one of the men handed him Lucille. I was left in the dust and watched them leave quickly going opposite of Steven down the road. The gates closed and I retreated back to the building, going up to Negan's room and shuffling through his desk for the map of what we had discovered so far.

There was us, the Hilltop and the dozens of outposts we had along the neighboring town. No new survivors anymore, all of them had attacked us in retaliation, claiming we traded and took too much of their things. It was becoming true, we had at least sixty Saviors now in total and Negan was becoming more violent in getting his points across that no one ever crossed us. There was still an undiscovered area South of us, a city called Alexandria. Nobody had bothered even scoping that place out at all. Maybe next time I rode along on a run I could convince one of the men to head that way.

"Opening the gate!"

I frowned, going to the window and looking down to see Negan's truck roll up again, trunk packed with a small group of people. Holy fuck, they found more people. I shoved the map away and ran out the room and down the stairs to outside. Everyone had gathered, curious of the new group as well.

Only nine people hopped out of the truck but it was enough to make us raise eyebrows. Negan got out of the truck and I stopped as he made them form a line, swinging Lucille around the air as he introduced himself. Routine as always, he'd ask who they were and what they could bring to the table and then decide if they were worth keeping. Lately, nobody had been worth keeping and Lucille saw more heads of humans than Shufflers it seemed. Negan stopped in front of a dirty couple and shook the man's hand.

The man...that woman...

I walked forward, Negan saw me out the corner of his eye and turned to tell me to go back but I stopped anyways.

"Laney, baby girl I need you to-"

"Mom? Dad?"

The couple looked around Negan and their eyes grew until all I could see where the whites of them. My mom stepped forward and Negan stepped back, taken back from the scene.

"Melaney? It's...it's Melaney!"

"Mom!"

I ran into her arms, they were warm and crushed me and my father was crying as he hugged me too. I heard Negan call the other people in their group away as he surveyed the three of us with a blank expression, Lucille rested on his shoulder .

I was crying into her shoulder, crying 'I love you' and 'I missed you so much'. I couldn't understand what they were saying, I don't think they did either as they grasped me like they were afraid I'd crumble into ash if they let go. My dad was telling me how happy he was to see me alive, my mom was criticizing my dirty skin. I didn't let go of them until Negan cleared his throat and stepped forward towards us, hand snaking up my back in warning.

"Mom, dad this is Negan. This is our Sanctuary, I've been with him since the RV flipped. He took us in and...fuck, I'm so happy to see you guys again." I cried happily, hugging my dad again as my mom turned to Negan who was smiling like he wanted to punch them in the face.

"You kept our daughter safe? All this time?"

"Well of course, I love your daughter as much as you do." he commented and I saw the glint in his eye flash but I mostly felt my heart stop at his words, "Ain't that right, baby girl?"

"Negan." I voiced warningly, already feeling my dad tense up at Negan's remark. Negan laughed and shifted Lucille on his shoulder.

"I'm joking! Joking! Please, come inside and spend some time with Kennedy." He gestured to the building with Lucille and I smiled, leading them inside.

I didn't look back in time to see Negan frowning, didn't see the jealous rage in his eyes as my parents kissed me and held me close until they could feel my heartbeat in their skin. I didn't see him give the order to kill the other survivors, I didn't even hear them scream as I led my parents to my old room and closed the door.

---

"This place has held up quite well. I'm surprised, the places we've been with always fell after a couple months." My dad was looking out my window, looking around the guards below us outside as my mom came out of the shower, smiling.

"It feels so good to shower again, brush my teeth." she sighed and sat next to me on the beat up couch. My dad sat on the table and looked at me carefully, rubbing his clean shaven face from the Jesus beard he had been sporting, "I see your hairs gone back to its original color and length."

"Well yeah mom, I don't exactly have the tools to dye my hair and chop it anymore." I smiled as she pulled at my black strands that had finally grown out evenly a year later, "You guys look good though."

"I'm so sorry about Leo, honey. We know he meant alot to you, he did to us." She grabbed my hand and I nodded.

"I know, I've gotten over it though. It just happens now, I can't stop people from dying by being bitten. I'm sure you guys have seen your fair share of people dying too."

"That we have." My dad nodded, "But this place...is it safe? Negan doesn't seem like a very trustworthy leader."

"Nobody attacks us, we trade with another community and in return we protect them from other groups that want to harm them. Negan...Negan's just a different kind of person dad, you just have to get to know him."

"He seems to know you pretty well."

"I'm not discussing my sex life with you...again." I deadpanned and he shrugged, sharing an uneasy look with my mom, "What?"

"We're not staying honey, our group is going to another in Alexandria. Your Negan picked us up and offered us shelter but, we weren't going to stay indefinitely." My mom was watching me carefully, "You're coming with us."

"I can't just leave Negan and the Saviors, mom. It's not that easy." I stood up slowly, "You guys will be safer here than in a town that only may be alive still!"

"You won't leave Negan, you mean." My dad stood up as well and my mom put out a hand to stop us from arguing, "This place isn't safe, we've heard of Negan and what he does to people."

"Negan chooses-"

"He's a monster, Melaney and you have no place being here with him." He grabbed my shoulders and I couldn't think of a reply, "We've been lost without you for a year, you're going to come with us to Alexandria and leave this place behind."

"Dad...it's not that easy." I sighed and looked down at my boots and he released me, "Leaving Sanctuary isn't that easy for your group or me. For dozens of reasons."

'If you left I'd have to kill you', Negan's voice whispered in the back of my head.

"You're with us now, honey. You don't need Negan, you need a family that actually cares about you." My mom kissed me cheek and I felt my heart drop to my stomach, "We're going to leave in two days but we'll try to negotiate with Negan first. After all, you said he was the most understanding person there was when it came to the well being of his people right?"

"Yeah. He was." I nodded and she seemed satisfied by that before yawning tiredly, "I should let you two sleep. I'll see you guys in the morning."

I kissed them goodnight and walked out of the room and down the walkway to the loft. I would go with them, of course I would. But Negan...I couldn't leave him like that, just vanishing and hoped he wouldn't send men after me and kill my parents in retaliation. I shrugged out of my holster, hanging it up besides Lucille on the wall...I stopped and turned around, Lucille wasn't up on the wall.

A light flicked on in the loft and I turned to find Negan sitting on the couch, hunched over and slowly turning Lucille on the carpet. He looked up at me, eyes bloodshot as I stopped a few chairs away. I walked past him and started taking off my shoes, he was so quiet, he didn't even turn to look at me as I tossed the boots in the corner of his open bed with a bang.

"Your parents...seem nice, Melaney."

"They are." I raised an eyebrow at him at the use of my full name, he looked over his shoulder at me, "Negan, I need to talk to you about something and-"

"Come here."

"Negan I-"

"That wasn't a fucking request." he slammed the tip of Lucille down on the ground with a bang, "Don't make me ask again."

I walked back to him softly and he locked eyes with me, murder clearly sharpening the edges of his black irises. I could feel the tension in the air begin to rise and choke me as he continued to spin Lucille, the barbed wire destroying the carpet.

"I said come. Here." He sat up straighter and I stepped forward until I was in between his open legs, "Good girl."

Lucille was swung up, I jumped thinking he was trying to kill me but instead he trapped me in with the bat pressed against my lower back, forcing me to awkwardly straddle him to not get cut up by the wire.

"Negan!"

"Shut the fuck up." he growled, grabbing the back of my neck and dropping Lucille on the corner of the couch before slamming me down on the pillows and holding me down with his body. I began to struggle as his weight crushed me, he was too heavy.

"Negan please don't do this, please-"

"I don't do that shit. you know that, clam the fuck down." He propped himself on one elbow, the other hand gripping my jaw and forcing me to look at him while his hips were steady on mine, still holding me down. It was silent again, he was breathing hard as he looked down at me, "Say it."

"What?"

"Say you love me." He whispered, and his voice broke, "Say you won't leave me."

I was taken back, he already knew? I sank back into the cushion, pushing his hair back into place as he stared at me waiting.

"I love you."

"Mean it. You have to fucking mean it." Negan hit my hand away and I shoved him off of me only for him to slam me down again with a laugh, "You can't fucking lie to me, I know you better than that."

"Then you're dumb as fuck if you think I don't love you."

He was above me, holding my arms down and his eyes were glazing over. His biceps tensed underneath his jacket before he let go of one of my hands to stare at me, his pupils expanding as I could literally feel the energy in his body began to pump through his skin. In a second he had picked me up along with Lucille and brought us over to the bed, shoving the sheets out of the way as he dropped us. He crawled back over me, one hand fisted in my hair.

"Take it off."

I unzipped his jacket and pulled the scarf over his head, dropping both to the floor as Negan kissed me. He wasn't sweet, that's not who Negan was but in the kiss, in the way he touched me and slid my clothes off I could feel him trying to make up for everything. Negan wasn't a nice person, his smile could kill you faster than a bullet in between the eyes but he wasn't a monster.

Negan groaned as the rest of our clothing fell to the floor and he pulled me closer to him, hands rough as he grabbed and massaged and put the right amount of pressure everywhere on me. A hand in my hair, forcing me to keel back as he deepened the kiss, a hand under my knee as he flipped me over and pressed down on my back with his chest, a rough threatening whisper in my ear to keep the fuck quiet or else.

The completely erotic moan he released when he finally made his way inside of me slowly. A heavy hand on my lower back as he positioned us right and the way he bent over me, whispering what he was going to do to me and shoving his free hand over my mouth to keep from crying out. Sweat started snaking its way between our bodies as the bed began to hit the wall, Lucille clattered to the ground and rolled away as Negan's groans rose and rose and got louder with each flex of his hips.

I loved him.

---

I woke up to an empty bed, Negan's side still warm. I lazily curled up on his side, could still smell the shitty soap he used. There was a shout outside and more laughter and I got up, retrieving my pants and grabbing one of Negan's old shirts on the ground.

I needed to talk to him about my parents and I still needed to talk to my parents about him. I grabbed my holster off the wall and slipped it on, walking out of the room and down the walkway, saying hello to the other Saviors who were starting their day as well, I stopped as I noticed my parents' door was open.

"Knock, knock." I called out, braiding my hair up in the mirror and waiting for them to respond, "Hello?"

I walked into the room and picked up an overturned chair before making my way into the bedroom to find no one around. I turned around as someone came barreling into the room. Dwight's girlfriend was out of breath and terrified.

"Negan has your parents on the outskirts! They just left!" She yelled. My entire body went cold as she leaned against the wall, "He slaughtered their group yesterday, Melaney. He's going to kill them."

I was out of that room with her right on my feet, sprinting down the steps and out into the yard. The gates closed and I could hear Negan's truck squealing down the road. Steven and the other guards aimed their guns at me as I came running up to the gate.

"You're not allowed-"

"That's my family you fucking fuck!" I screamed, smashing my fist into his face and drawing his gun on the others, holding him hostage, "Listen to me you fat fucks. You grab me a vehicle or I kill each and every one of you right here right now."

"Get her the bike." Steven bit out as I slammed my knee into his back, "NOW!"

I shot out of the Sanctuary like a bat out of hell, the motorbike's tires screeching across the dirt road, I could see Negan's tire tracks still. I heard more bikes start up and shoot out the gates after me but I didn't care.

He had known about their plan and he was going to kill them. He was going to kill my parents.

I swerved into the clearing we called the outskirts. It was just a forest full of dead shufflers but Negan usually reserved it for dumping bodies. The bike slid in the mud and I was flung off of it, rolling away before catching myself and pushing onto my feet.

I stood up, heart slamming in my ears as I strained for voices or to see tire tracks in the mud. I heard the other bikes pull up somewhere to my left and- there! Voices! I started running, slipping on leaves and mud and cutting myself on bark as I hopped up the bank I had crashed into. When I got to the top I hid behind a fallen tree, watching the scene beneath me.

Negan had my parents kneeling in front of him, faces already bruised and bleeding. Negan was pissed, he wasn't speaking to them at all, just couched in front of them, staring with Lucille tucked under his arm. I watched the men that had followed me walk up to him and point in the direction I had gone. Negan looked around and nodded, swinging Lucille in circles a he walked back to my parents.

"Looks like we got a bit of an audience." Negan spoke up, circling my dad with Lucille smacking onto his back, my dad jumped in pain.

"Please, Negan-"

"Did I say you could talk?" Negan laughed, "I don't think I said you could fucking talk, now did I!?"

He raised Lucille and I jumped out, sprinting across the field screaming. Negan was waiting for it, he caught my outstretched arms easily and thew me down on the ground and I rolled away.

"There she is! Your little baby girl am I right, Dad?!" Negan laughed again as Steven grabbed me and knocked me down to my knees, holding me in place with a gun to my head, "Hate to break it to you, Dad but you're little girl got fucked hard last night. By me."

Negan grinned and my dad closed his eyes as Negan bent down to my mom next, grabbing the back of her head and forced her to stare at me.

"And man Mom, you sure know how to raise a dirty little girl. Cried out begging for more while I fucked her from behind-"

"Negan Stop! Please, please don't do this." I pleaded, Steven hit me in the back of the head with his gun and I bent down, clutching where the gun cut me. Negan chucked a rock at him and Steven cursed as it hit him in the side.

"Did I say you could fucking hit her?! No? Then don't fucking hit her!" he swung the bat behind him blindly, nearly cutting my dad's face open, "Can't take a fucking hint these days, these guys. Where were we...oh yeah. You were going to take her away from me."

"She's not yours! Melaney isn't property-" My dad was cut off as Negan smacked him with the hilt of Lucille in the nose. My dad bent over, clutching his face.

"Actually, she is. And nobody's taking her away from me. Not you, not these men, not even those fucking dead things out there. Your girl, is my bitch. Now and forever." Negan knelt down in front of my dad, "So, you wanna die first for trying to take away what's mine or should I beat your wife up in front of you? 'Cause someone's gotta die today."

"Daddy!" I cried out, Steven hauled me to my feet, knife pressed against my throat ordering me to shut up, Negan walked forward to me and Steven let me go as Negan shot him a look. Then it was Negan filling my vision, soft and concerned for me.

"Hey baby, baby girl I'm right here. He ain't your daddy." Negan held my face in his hands, a look of disbelief on his face as he smiled trying to calm me down, "Don't cry baby girl, please don't cry, I don't want to ever see you sad."

"Let them go, please. I won't go with them, Negan please don't." I pleaded again, grabbing his hands. if I gripped hard enough he wouldn't be able to grab a hold of Lucille again. HE shook his head, closing his eyes as if this choice actually pained him.

"That's not how this works baby. You know that." He whispered and I cried out as Steven grabbed me again and Negan dislodged himself before walking back to my parents.

"Mom, Dad I'm so sorry." I whispered, voice breaking.

"We love you." MY mom nodded to me, tears caking through the dirt on her face. She and my Dad kneeled tall, trying not to tremble.

"I love you guys so much. I'm so sorry." I cried, struggling against Steven when Negan stopped suddenly in front of my dad, Lucille raised above his head. He turned to me then back to them with a cold glare, "I love you momma...dad..."

"So that's what it sounds like when you actually love someone." Negan was staring at me, pissed, "You lied to me."

Lucille was swung down, smashing into my mother's skull and splaying her out. I screamed, throat scratching as she fell, body twitching as blood splurted out of her mouth. My dad screamed and Negan kicked him in the face as he hit my mom again until Lucille smacked into the ground.

"Monica!" My dad yelled and Negan turned and swung Lucille as my dad got up, the barbed wire caught him in the stomach and my dad fell back to the ground and Negan swung again, catching him in the throat.

"NO!" I grabbed the knife around Steven's belt and stabbed him, Steven went down, clutching his thigh and I ran at Negan.

Negan blocked my swipe at his face and he blocked the jabs I made at him. Lucille didn't even chip as I continued to swing at his fucking face. The barbed wire clanged against the metal and Negan slammed a boot into my stomach and I fell next to my dad who was still trying to take in breaths as his throat bled out, knife flying away from me and sticking in the ground. Negan cursed and hit the ground with Lucille.

"What the fuck, Laney Why the hell would you make me do that to you?!" He exclaimed, mad at himself for having to actually use violence on me. Negan never hit any of the girls, never even raised his voice at them. Except for me now.

"Daddy...oh god, dad..." I crawled to my dad, cradling his head and putting a hand over his to hold down the blood.

He looked up at me, hands drenched in blood as they closed over mine. My tears hit his face like a waterfall and dripped down his face as he took his last few breaths. I couldn't tell where the pain began and ended in my body as his body went limp, blood still trickling out. I closed my eyes, teeth grinding as I tried not to cry out.

"Laney, look at me."

Lucille, still covered in my parents blood, pushed my chin up so I was forced to look at Negan. He wasn't grinning, he wasn't happy; he wasn't anything. He just looked...dangerous.

"Do it. You've taken everything from me you fucking monster. Let your fucking bat rip me apart, I'd rather be dead than be with you." I spit out, pressing forward so the wire cut into my skin, "I hate you."

"Melaney."

"Fuck. You. Negan."

Negan grabbed me, hauling me up and slamming me on the ground away from my parents, boot pressed to my throat. I didn't even try to fight it as he raised Lucille above his head, just grabbed his foot and closed my eyes. But there was nothing except the sound of Lucille smashing into the dirt besides my head. I looked up at him, as he released me and bent down, hauling me up by his own shirt, which he noticed.

"No. You're not getting away from me that easily." Negan stared at me and kissed me roughly before picking me up and dragging me to the truck by my hair and throwing me in, tying my hands together and shoving my sword back in my holster.

The Saviors lit my parents' bodies on fire and departed after us as Negan headed back to the Sanctuary. I sat in silence, breaking into pieces in the passenger seat, he was right. I didn't love him.

 

Chapter Text

"Let me the fuck out of here!"

I slammed my fists on the cell bars, already bruised from hitting against the walls earlier and screamed at the top of my lungs. I yelled to be let out again but nobody came running to my rescue. Nobody had come running for two weeks now, it was probably longer than that. I was just counting the days by the food.

I slammed my fists against them one last time before turning around and collapsing down on the chair. I put my head in my hands and started counting again, the tremors in my hands stopped and I looked up at the sound of a door opening and closing somewhere else in the factory

I stared at my bare feet as I heard footsteps come towards my area. I didn't bother looking up as Negan came sauntering in, food in one hand and a water bottle in the other.

"Evenin'."

"I'm going to kill you."

"Watch your mouth, Laney." He slid the food through the bars but dangled the water bottle in front of me for a second before tossing it over. He seemed tired as he rested his body against the bar and studied me, "You sleep okay?"

"Dreamt about how I'd kill you." I responded, sitting down on the ground in front of my food and eating it, Negan crouched down to eye level and reached out, I dodged his hand, "Thought about suffocating you with your own scarf."

"Don't be like this, baby girl. I had to do what I had to do to protect you."

"It doesn't matter how you say it. But if it makes you feel better, go right the fuck ahead." I got up and sat on the bed again, food tray pulled close as Negan hung his head, "What are you doing here? You never bring me my shit."

"I missed you."

"That why you rounded up the Wives again?" I laughed and Negan frowned, straightening up, "Calm down, I ain't jealous. Never was that special to me."

"I told you to watch your fucking mouth-"

"Or what? You gonna kill me? Lay a finger on me 'cause you're in love? You couldn't love anyone if your life depended on it, dick head." I interrupted him, tossing the food to his feet where it splattered over his boots, "C'mon Negan, where's that bad boy attitude? Use it all up killing other people's parents?"

"Melaney, you're crossing on thin fucking ice here." He growled, I smiled and walked up to the bars, leaning against them and Negan mirrored back. I touched his gloved hand and looked at him.

"So do something about it."

I lunged forward through the bars as much as I could, grabbing the collar of his leather jacket and jerked him forward with all of my strength. Off balance and caught by surprise, Negan tumbled forward and slammed his head against the bar.

"Fucking bitch!" He yelled out, holding his nose as I released him and retreated back to my bed, "Melaney...fucking..."

"Why don't you get one of your Wives to come and shove it up her ass for you? Since that's where your heads at half the time these days, I heard." I put my head on my hands on the bar as Negan wiped the blood away and stared at me in utter amazement, "What? Don't like this side of me? What did you call it half a year ago, you missed the sweetheart me? Heads up, Negan. Life ain't sweet asses and cupcakes."

"Steven!" Negan boomed down the corridor and a returning yell was replied, "Come in here and beat the shit out of her."

"You sure you wanna do that? He might break a nail." I called after Negan as he exited, Steven appeared in my vision with a baton, "Come on, pretty boy, I've been yelling for hours for a good fight."

He opened the door and came in.


Most nights when Negan called all the Saviors for a meeting, it was over within an hour or so. Some nights, like tonight though, Negan made a point to set aside two hours worth of everyone's time to go over new and old rules and regulations and news.

Negan had let me out after four weeks in the cell, had one of the Wives come and grab me before taking me up to his loft and allowing me to shower and make myself a human again. I hadn't seen him for a few days, I had returned to my old room before he had a chance to come and talk to me about what was supposed to happen next. The scary thing about what may happen next to me was nothing, Negan could have forgiven me completely which was incredibly unlike him but he hadn't made any move to make me think otherwise.

Negan tapped Lucille on the metal tabletop he seated himself on, immediately everyone in the factory stopped what they were talking about, pingpong paddles were set down quietly and those who weren't sitting sat themselves on the floor obediently. I was standing with Amber near the factory windows, she folded her arms as Negan cleared his throat. She was getting fed up with how he had been treating the other Wives lately, he brought them back in and he barely cared about them at all anymore.

"Everyone listening? Good. We got a few issues to cover since Hilltop isn't giving us the shit we need in the time we need it." Negan twirled Lucille, "Now before we cover that, anyone got anything to say aboutt he shit that hit the fan earlier today?"

Nobody said a word about one of the Saviors going insane and trying to kill himself, nobody even batted an eye and Negan nodded.

"I understand, it's a tough subject. But you men and women, are part of our family. We take care of each other right? Kill the people who harm our people?" He looked over everyone who gave small nods, "So that means if you've got a fucking problem you talk to someone about it. Don't fucking ram a knife in your shoulder and run around screaming."

"He should have aimed it at you." Amber muttered, I smiled and looked out the window before Negan could catch us giggling.

"-so find that person later after the meeting and fucking tell them. Alright, back to the Hilltop shit. Byron, how much meat were we supposed to get from them this week?"

Negan called on a redheaded man who immdiately stood up with a sheet in hand. I shook my head and watched the guards outside move back and forth on their positions. I shifted and Amber knocked against the cuffs on my wrist, oh right, I was free from the cell but I was still pretty much detained to not being able to stretch at all.

"You sure you don't want me or Kara to grab the keys off Negan when he's asleep? Could get you some relief." Amber whispered as I messed with the cuffs and rubbed the red marks on my wrist, "I could get the gate keys while I'm at it."

"If only you could get the gate keys, I would leave here in an instant." I felt a lump settle in my throat as I watched the gate through the window, "I'm not supposed to be here anymore, Amber. Negan...after what he did to my parents..."

"I know Melaney, I know." She smiled, "Just be thankful you're not locked up in his room all the time in this crap."

She gestured down to the lingerie that was barely hidden by the long jacket she was wearing. I watched her smile before looking up and becoming still for a moment before hurriedly looking back to NEgan. I followed her line of sight and saw her boyfriend sitting not too far away near the ping pong tables. He was watching her, eyes soft and sad as he had to view his girlfriend across the floor, knowing if he laid a finger on her Negan would kill him.

"You ever talk to him?" I asked as we watched Negan begin to lay out a plan to figure out a way for Hilltop to produce more, Amber shook her head.

"I'm too afraid of what Negan would do to him. I don't even like looking at him in case Negan sees."

"I'm sorry, Amber."

"You got something to say, Melaney?" Negan spoke up and all eyes shifted to me. I froze where I was perched as Negan looked at me expectantly, he hated being interrupted for anything, "Well? Either shut up or-"

"Maybe if you stopped beating the hell out of their members everyday they'd produce more crops and learn to actually irrigate their water right. Putting the fear of God into them doesn't help them." I spit out, Negan raised an eyebrow.

"I ain't putting the fear of God into them, I'm putting the fear of me, into them." He smiled and some of the men cheered at that, I rolled my eyes.

"Well maybe if you stopped fucking them, they'd have time to learn what to do and do it right so the next time your bitches roll up they'll have everything ready." I stood up and Negan put a foot down on the ground like he was going to meet me halfway, but stopped, "Unless, your plan is to kill them all one by one until we have nobody to trade with and we all die...then I guess, what was the point of the whole 'we are a family' speech about?"

"Put her in the fucking back." Negan ordered Steven but Amber stepped forward.

"I can do it, she's just tired Negan, take it easy on her alright?" She grabbed my arm and began leading me away, Negan just rolled his eyes and turned back to addressing everyone. Steven watched me go like a hawk, a sneer curling on his lips. I flipped him off and Amber shoved me.

Amber led me to the cell and I went in, again, she left the door open like she usually did when she was the one putting me in here. She sat with me on the bed and took off her heels, stretching her feet and laying back. I picked up her heels and bent some of the material to give more. The fact Negan had all of the girls wearing these all day every day was ridiculous. If something were to happen to the base and the Wives had to run they'd instantly break an ankle trying to get away.

"Wanna take a nap with me?" Amber asked, already half asleep. I put her things down and scooted back, letting her head rest in my lap and I closed my eyes as she started humming to herself.

 

Two Hours Later

"Get her the fuck up!"

"Negan!"

I woke up with a violent start as Amber screamed. I was thrown against the dar cell wall and Amber was pushed out the cell. Negan handed her the heels and ordered her to leave. I slid down the wall, Steven standing over me with a smile as Negan came in and closed the bars behind him.

"Negan you can't do this to her!" Amber chucked her heels away and banged on the bars, "NEGAN FOR FUCK'S SAKE!"

"This doesn't fucking concern you, Amber! Steven!" Negan shoved his right hand man towards the brunette and he went out, grabbing Amber and hauling her away. They left us with a bang of the door. Amber's heels were still sitting outside my cell.

I looked up at Negan, hands still cuffed together as he stood over me, just staring with no expression at all on his face. I moved to get up but he stepped forward closer and I slid down on my ass again huddled in the corner.

"I'm real sorry about this, baby girl." Negan whispered, shedding his leather jacket on my bed and looking down at his hands, "It ain't right, never was in the old world and it ain't in the new world."

"Negan-"

"I gave you alot of chances to shape the fuck up after the shit you pulled with your folks." Negan crouched down to me, hand balled into fists, "But you keep fucking shit up."

"I-"

He grabbed me, twisting my shirt in his hand and throwing me down to the ground again. My head smacked into the concrete and I groaned, rolling onto my stomach as everything began to get dizzy. Negan laughed above me, not happily, but enough to send shivers down my spine. I tried crawling towards my bed but Negan just grabbed my legs and pulled me backwards, flipping me over to grip my jaw.

"You were a pain in my fucking ass tonight with what you said." He hissed, "Had people fucking questioning me."

He cracked his fist across my face, splitting my cheek and I cried out, I felt my face begin to bleed and swell up as Negan cracked me across the face two more times before dropping me to the ground. I couldn't even raise my hands to cradle my own face as Negan attached a long chain from the cuffs to the bed post. I jerked them back but Negan's hand found its way into my stomach to stop me from doing that.

"And we just can't have that." Negan continued, circling me as I rolled on my back in pain crying, "Have to make a lesson out of you just like I do with those hilltop pricks."

"Negan, please."

"Don't cry, Laney, don't. This is hard enough for me to fucking do. Don't fucking cry and make me regret this." Negan ordered, sounding like he wanted to cry himself, "Just...just close your eyes baby girl."

Negan's foot crushed down on my leg and I screamed as I felt the bone bend dangerously. He grabbed me and hauled me up again, forcing me to stand on the leg before throwing against the wall and slapping me across the bruising he had caused earlier. The chain on the bed clanged at the tension around my wrists. I fell to my knees as Negan reached for something in the corner of the cell. With his back to me, he sighed and inspected his gloved hands.

"Never wanted to lay a hand on you. Never wanted to lay anything but my lips on you."

He turned around with Lucille in hand, hands gripping the bat like it was his lifeline. I sniffled, snot and blood coming out of my nose as I laid there on the ground, completely weak and helpless. Negan slowly walked to where I was lying, planting his feet on both sides of my head. He sighed and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck go straight up as he lifted Lucille on his shoulder.

I was crying, too weak to even try and act tough with the pain rolling through my body. Some people could get beat for hours on TV and act like it was nothing; the reality of it was just a couple punches by the right person could send you to your knees in just two minutes.

"Baby girl, you know I love you."

Negan whispered and I closed my eyes before the world suddenly exploded into white and then I couldn't think anymore.


Amber slid out of the bed she was sharing with Negan and Victoria. She held her breath as Negan turned over and cradled Victoria against his chest before falling back asleep again. She tip-toed out of the loft and picked up the key she had stolen off of Negan hours earlier when she spiked his drink. She turned to find a young man with dirty blonde hair come through the loft door with a duffel bag.

"You have everything?" She whispered, grabbing a cover up and meeting Dwight on the steps outside the loft, closing the door quietly. He nodded and handed her the key to the back gate.

"We don't have alot of time, Amber." He followed her down the steps and down to the cell basement, she shushed him as someone walked past, "Amber!"

"Just keep quiet, Dwight. This is our only chance."

Amber ran down the hall with Dwight on her heels and came to a stop in front of the cell with the only resident. Dwight cringed as he shone a flashlight over the girl's body.

Negan had beaten her to death it looked. Right eye swollen, nose bloodied and possibly broken. God, there was just so much blood on her pillow but she was alive, breathing very shallowly.

"She's...she's gonna make it out, right?" Dwight asked as Amber unlocked the gate and went in. He set the bag of weapons, food and medical supplies down, going through it to make sure she would have enough to escape.

"Melaney? Melaney wake up." Amber shook the young woman awake, who groaned in pain and managed to open up her good eye.

"Am..ber?"

"Get up, Melaney. You're leaving the Saviors right now."

Chapter Text

I woke up to mud and dirt caked onto my skin. I woke up to my sides screaming in pain and my head spinning...just like it had the past week, the only difference were the trees and bushes I was hiding under. I sat up slowly, taking out the bandages and clean water, cleaning myself up again as the sun beat through the trees, it was quiet.

Negan was out there, his men were still out there patrolling the streets looking for me. I leaned against the tree and shouldered the duffel bag and began my hike through the woods again, every breath was agony and every step ripped up my bare feet. They were out there, they were looking for me with orders to kill or worse, take me back. I stopped and took out some water, listening for bikes and Shufflers hidden in the trees. I closed my eyes for a second, I didn't know where I was.

"Melaney!"

I couldn't stop, I had to keep quiet, I placed a hand over my mouth shaking as I tried to curl up as tight as I could underneath the bank. Negan was going to find me, drag me back and throw me in the cell.

"Melaney! Baby! Come on, I know you didn't mean to escape baby, just come on out and we can talk!" Negan shouted from where he was above me.

I ...I was so fucking scared. I could see him through the brush, could spot Lucille swinging in his hand and the frown that spread a ross his face as he looked around wildly for me. I had been crawling for two days, bleeding and crying, before Negan's wolves picked up on my trail and alerted him. I didn't know what happened to Amber and Dwight, but I knew it couldn't be good whether or not Negan found out. But I owed them, everything. A map to Alexandria, food, water and guns and knives...I had an arsenal and it was all their doing to get me out of Negan's reach. But now I was broken.

"LANEY!" Negan slammed the bat against a tree and yelled in frustration before taking off out of my sight. I closed my eyes and held my own hand over my mouth tighter as my heart pounded in my ears. I couldn't come out, I'd never come out of this hole I dug.

I'd never lay eyes on that man again.

"Fuck." I bent down and dug a thorn out of my heel, feeling sweat drip down my face before seeing it hit the ground. I stood back up and continued on my way towards where Alexandria was marked at.

It had been a long time since I was on my own...it's been awhile since I've been outside of the Sanctuary gates to be honest and it felt nice. I didn't have Negan's men breathing down my neck all the time and I didn't have to worry about being looked at like I was under a microscope. I jumped as a shuffler came out of nowhere but fell down due to its broken leg. It started crawling towards me but its fingers were trashed, couldn't find a grip in the dirt. I carefully stepped around it and unhooked my gun from my waist just in case.

It was like I just escaped a really bad relationship, I let myself laugh out loud for a second before ducking under some brush. I was stupid, so stupid to think that they were actually Saviors, men and women trying to help each other. Leeches, they were all leeches. Negan...Negan killed everyone who did him dirty. I know he killed Leo, Leo was my best friend and a threat to Negan all the time because of how close we were. Negan let him get bit, let him die.

I stepped out into a road, feet aching from stepping and dragging through the mud. I set my bag down and stretched as I looked over the map again, I was only ten blocks away it seemed, not too far. We had never gone to Alexandria, it was a pretty far ways away from Sanctuary so we never bothered. It was probably filled with cannibals for all I knew.

My head snapped up at the sound of a motor off in the distance. Cursing, I cinched the bag tighter around me and took off down the road, feet pounding on the hot concrete. I had to make it, I had to. If Negan or his men found me...I didn't even want to think about it. I picked up my pace and ran towards where Alexandria was as if the Devil was chasing me himself...and in a way, he was.

I almost tripped over myself and skidded along the ground as I rounded a street a couple minutes later, sweat pouring over my face and ribs hurting. There were so many dead Shufflers, spread out all along the road, the sides. I carefully stepped past them, chest heaving from exhaustion as I pulled out the map again and crossed into the safety of some brush. I was supposed to be looking for some watch towers which would lead to the main gate but all I saw around me were trees. I screamed in frustration and threw the map on the ground, kicking it before collapsing and crying with my head in my hands.

Alexandria was my last chance to get away from Negan, to get away from my past life. I wiped my face carefully, my bruises were still tender from Negan's fists. Still tender from the beating he took out on me, tender from him kissing me afterwards as I laid on the jail cell floor covered in blood and blacking out.

I looked up behind me as shufflers appeared, I grabbed the dirty map and continued through the brush before the Shufflers could catch up to me again. I burst out of the brush and looked up as a giant shadow was cast over me...a fence. I looked down to the crumpled map as my breath was taken from me. I had made it. I made it to Alexandria.

I slammed my hands against the thick walls and followed them, tears streaming down my face as I ran alongside the wall to where I turned a corner and found a run down watch tower. I shifted the bag higher on my shoulder as I walked towards the front gate.

"Wherever you are, wherever you are in this world Melaney, I'll always fucking find you." Negan whispered as he left the cell, "You're never going to leave me that fucking easy."

I stopped walking as I stepped in front of the gate, Negan's words ringing in my head. Ever since I left, small memories of him talking would hit me like a brick. If Negan found me, if he found me with these people he would kill them without a thought.

"Who are you?"

I jumped away from the fence with a gasp as a figure appeared on the other side, tall and bigger.

"State your name...please." he continued talking, awkward as I stood on the other end. I couldn't stay here, I couldn't put these people through Negan's wrath if he found me, "Ma'am?"

"I...I'm sorry. Wrong place..." I stepped back then looked up as a slender black woman peered over the edge of the wall up top with a gun strapped to her.

"Eugene, go get Rick." she called down to the man at the gate and aimed the gun at me as he disappeared, "Don't move a muscle."

I put my hands up and watched her for a few moments before three more men came to the gate, all black figures through their extra levels of protection by their gates. One drew away the inner gate and I got an eyeful of sweaty, armed men.

"It's alright, Sasha, we got this." The man closest to me through the gate nodded to the girl above and she left the post. He was southern, something I was used to hearing when I was down in Florida as a kid, "Who're you?"

"Rick, the bag." one of his men stepped forward, crossbow on his back as he motioned to my duffel.

I looked down at it where it had ripped, anyone could see the obvious outlines of guns and knives and ammo in it. Carefully, I strapped it tighter around me and took a step back, bare feet burning on the ground.

"Where'd you get that bag?" Rick asked, already making a move to open the gate, giving me a warning look, "Where'd you get the bag?"

"I'm sorry, I think this is the wrong place-"

"That's our fuckin' weapons!" The red head who had been flanking the other two stepped around Rick and ripped the gate open and holy fuck was he an impressive god damned gorilla, "You-"

He reached for his gun but I was quicker, I popped off a warning shot over their heads, hitting their wall and took off down the road. Bad idea, bad idea, bad idea Fuck! I sprinted across the ground as I heard the men yell after me as they took off. I rounded the corner I came from and slammed into the shufflers, in panic I shot blindly and managed to kill them before getting up bloody, and running again. Shots fired off above me and around me as their men tried to follow me at their posts.

I could hear Rick screaming for them to stop and cease fire as I rounded their base, and hit plush grass...which I wasn't expecting and hit the ground, sliding over myself as green stained my skin and clothes. I rolled over my bag, feeling the weapons curve and jut into me as I fell. Rick and the red headed gorilla caught up to me easily and had their weapons drawn as I pushed myself to my feet.

"Hands up!" Rick ordered and I obeyed, dropping my duffel to my feet and un-clipped my own gun and let it fall onto the pile as well, "Don't make any stupid moves. Abraham?"

"Yeah." The red headed gorilla stalked forward and grabbed the duffel from me, ripping it open as I stood there, hands raised and heaving from the stitches in my side from running. My feet felt like they were sizzling, settling on the cool grass, "Uh, Rick?"

"It's all mine. I haven't stolen anything." I whispered as Rick walked forward and inspected my bag as well, "Whatever you think I did. I didn't do it alright, I-"

I heard the rip of a motorcycle and I froze, they were here. Negan's men found me. I dropped my hands and spun around wildly, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. It was loud, it was close and I felt my heart start beating fast.

"We have to leave."

"Who the hell are you kid-"

"WE HAVE TO LEAVE!" I yelled, grabbing my bag away from them in an instant, shocked they let it happen as I began pushing them towards the safety of the trees, "He's coming, we have to leave! Go!"

"What the fuck-" Abraham let me shove him for a minute before twisting my arm behind my back and bringing me to the ground, "Calm the hell down nobody's coming. Rick, she's crazy."

"Hey, hey you gotta quiet down." Rick knelt down next to me as I bucked against Abraham's hold on me. I screamed and Abraham covered my mouth.

I bit him hard and kicked him off of me, scrambling to my feet as the motorcycle engine ripped down the street. Fine, they could die but like hell I was going to let Negan fucking have me again.

"HEY!"

I stumbled across the road as quick as I could after bursting through the trees, the two men behind me. I stopped dead in my tracks as the motorcycle came down the street, gravel flying under it. The man was making a beeline for me.

"KID!"

I turned around and was immediately punched in the face by Abraham. I went flying a foot backwards before landing on my bag and heard my spine crack. I groaned in pain, and rolled to my stomach.

"He's here, he's coming! He's coming..." I cried as the motorcycle rider came to a stop a little ways away from us. I shakily got to my feet, my whole body trembling in pain as Abraham's punch opened up the cut on my eyebrow from Negan.

"Daryl, you freaked her out." Abraham chuckled as a man in a leather vest hopped off the bike and drew his crossbow at me.

Rick was the first to come forward to me as I studied Daryl. Not one of Negan's...Negan wasn't coming. For a second I was relieved but then I began to feel dizzy. Abraham came over to me again as Rick picked up my gun from where it had smashed onto the ground and holstered it on his own belt. Abraham ripped my duffel off of me and threw it to Daryl who caught it easily and set it on his bike. All three men were watching me carefully.

"So...now that we're all here. I'm gonna ask you again." Rick crouched in front of me as I sat back on my ass weakly, "Where'd you get the bag?"

"None of your fucking business." I spit out, he looked disapointed.

"Where'd you get all of that gear strapped to you then?" He motioned to my old harness that I used to stuff my machetes into, wrapped around my waist.

"I didn't steal it from you...stole it from somebody else." I frowned as my vision started to black slowly. Rick nodded and rubbed the stubble on his chin before looking carefully at me.

"How'd you get beat up?"

I didn't give him an answer to that and he sighed before standing up. Abraham and Daryl were looking at him expectantly as I laid down on the ground, letting the sun wash over me as I put a hand to my eyebrow as pain began pounding through my body.

"We can't leave her out here, Rick. Stick her in the cell when we get back." Daryl voiced and Abraham nodded.

"None of that's our missing stuff, wherever she came from...they're jacked to the fuckin' teeth."

Rick nodded to them and they spoke softer as I tried to turn onto my side, feeling like I was going to throw up. After a few more minutes Abraham knelt next to me, suddenly soft as he helped me up to my feet and gently picked me up in his arms. Rick was next to him as Daryl revved up his chopper and took off with my bag strapped to the back.

"Alexandria..." I whispered, Rick looked at me in Abraham's arms.

"What did you say?"

"I was looking for Alexandria." I whispered and closed my eyes, passing out as the men walked towards a back gate with me in their arms.

Chapter Text

The house was surprisingly warm and homey, which was odd considering what was going on outside in the real world. All of the houses in this small community were welcoming and furnished like nothing ever happened to cause the world to go into decay. There was a bottle of champagne on the table and beer had been passed around earlier as people filed in from their jobs outside.

Alexandria wasn't like Sanctuary at all, in the several weeks I had been here I had noticed how genuinely nice this place was. People had gardens, they had meetings every couple days not for the sake of rallying the troops but to check in on everyone and make sure they were healthy and in order. I was waiting for the day Deanna started serving out sentences but it never came, the older woman was calm and collected and thought out her words before she spoke very carefully.

I was away from everyone, standing closest to the kitchen with a sweating water bottle in my hand as everyone listened to Glenn's report about one of the towns having some supplies they could still go out and search through. Everyone listened, spoke up their worries and concerns about the Walkers that hadn't been cleared out from there yet. Rick voiced that they wouldn't be a problem, that his group would take care of it quickly and be back with everyone in one piece. I watched Deanna nod and begin speaking about why she had really wanted us to gather tonight.

"Even with supplies in the next town, we need to make more frequent runs, I was thinking twice weekly to ensure that we don't run out of things that we truly need; medical supplies and hygiene products for those of us who still need them." she looked over everyone crowded in her tiny living room, "So I'm going to have to ask that more people volunteer, not just Rick's group."

Deanna's eyes swept over everyone and then landed on me, still silent and cradling an unopened bottle of water.

"And that includes everyone, thinking about volunteering."

"We can head out tomorrow, around noon and be back around three. Gives us enough time for three cars to branch out and then head back with what they grab." Rick crossed his arms, "Just let one of us know who want to ride along tomorrow."

Everyone nodded and got up, meeting finished and began to file out the house. I moved to exit but Deanna caught my arm before I could escape. For an older woman, she was kind of scary. She pulled me back, away from the thinning crowd and closer to where Rick's group was talking.

"I think you should go. I think it's safe to say you're all healed up." She pushed me towards Rick gently and I pulled back, out of her grasp and away from her, "No use helping Carol or the infirmary anymore, you can get out there and do what they need you to do."

"I don't think it's a good idea at all for me to go out." I watched her happy smile fade into one of anger. Rick and the others noticed our tense conversation, "I'm better off here."

"And why is that?"

In case Negan finds me, takes me back and kills everyone else around me.

"I don't like it out there anymore...scares me." I tried to turn away from Rick's eyes on me. He was always watching me ever since they released me from their medic, always trying to figure me out. Deanna sighed.

"We don't like alot of things, Melaney but we have to step up-"

"Step up? Like you've set a toe outside these fucking walls." I snapped, "Don't you dare preach to me about sucking it up until you've been out there fighting for your life when you know you're going to die anyways either by the dead or someone else."

I brushed past her, slamming the door behind me and nearly smacking into the people who hadn't left to their houses yet. I walked to the house they put me in swiftly, anger seething through my bones and making me hot and itchy. I ignored the look Carol gave me as she stepped out of her house across the street with Rick's baby curled up in her arms.

I closed the door behind me in my house and retreated to the living room where I had set up the couch as my bed. Angrily, I toed my shoes off and crawled into my covers, glaring at the lamp closest to the window and just staring at my distorted reflection.

I never wanted to go outside of any walls again,never wanted to use any more weapons on anyone. Father Gabriel didn't believe in killing and I agree with him now; I either only managed to kill them or they managed to survive and come back pissed with a vengeance. I looked at my holster that was hanging on one of the chairs, my knives and machetes and single pistol hung limply. Rick had given me my weapons back a little bit after I was released from the infirmary and made an official resident but I hadn't touched them since he dropped them off.

I didn't want to touch them again unless I was going to kill Negan.

"Well you're a seething ball of anger."

I looked up as Carol entered the room with Carl and baby Judith in tow, carrying some food. I sat up as Carol put the food in the fridge and waited for the lecture to begin.

"Heard you caused quite a stir in there, telling Deanna off and storming out." Carol came back and sat on the couch, moving empty bottles of water out of the way and Carl cradled Judith looking out the curtains, "She deserved it though, bit of a bitch in my book."

"She wants me to go out there. Help gather supplies." I watched Carl began to rock Judith to sleep, "I can't."

"You can't or you won't?" Carol gave me a look, "Staying locked up under your own lock and key isn't going to help you overcome what he did to you."

I told Carol about Negan, told her about what he did to me and what he couldn't do but hinted every day. She knew about Michael and Leo and Amber and my fucked up thoughts while I was Negan's girl in Sanctuary. She kept quiet about it, sharing her own story about her husband and her daughter.

"None of us have the same story, Melaney. But running from someone never heals the scars we can't physically see." Carol rubbed my shoulder and I put my head in my hands.

"My dad said you could drive, that way you wouldn't have to actually be outside." Carl spoke up.

"No offense Carl, but I don't need special treatment from anyone here. Especially your dad." I eyed the young teen before kicking the table softly in the silence, "I just want to be left alone."

"Well that's not going to happen when you're withing earshot of our group." Carol laughed just as we heard my door open again only for the Devil himself to come in.

"Looking for Judith and Carl." Rick nodded to us, and Carl handed over his baby sister carefully. Rick patted the sheriff's hat on Carl's head before the teen left with Carol following behind.

"So how long were you standing outside my door before you came in, Sheriff?" I asked, getting up and shrugging out of my sweater. Rick shrugged.

"You doin' alright? Deanna can be a handful sometimes." he ignored the question as he sat himself on the arm of my couch.

"Yeah, Rick. I'm good." I shook my head and went to grab another bottle of water for him before moving more of the blankets off the couch for him.

"Sit down."

"What?"

"Sit down Melaney." he waited for me to sit before putting on one of his stern faces, "We never finished talking about you when you were let out."

"I know." I watched Judith try and grab Rick's collar. He caught me staring and smiled before scooting off the arm of the couch and closer to me.

"You wanna hold her?"

"No."

"She's a good baby." Rick continued, getting up and softly placing Judith's heavy little body in my arms.

I couldn't look away, torn between wanting to cry for him to take her back away from me and staring into her bright eyes as she studied me. The smell of baby overpowered me for a minute, something I hadn't smelt in such a long time.

"Rick I don't want to drop her."

"You're doing good. Just hold her with your arm tucked like this," Rick moved my arms accordingly and stayed close as Judith saw him and gave a sleepy smile, "Now I can ask you questions and know you're not going anywhere."

"...Smooth move, Sheriff."

"How old are you? None of us can figure it out."

"Depends on what year it is. I feel like I'm twenty five but I don't know the month anymore, I could be twenty seven by now." I answered, watching Judith's eyes flutter close then open again, fighting off sleep.

"Carol mentioned you were running from someone."

I looked up at Rick at that, not expecting him to be so close but I turned back to Judith before I could tell what color his eyes were.

"Yeah, I am...but I don't want to talk about him, Sheriff."

"Well you don't have much of a choice. Especially when you're in here with my people, people I care about and consider family. People I've killed for, took hits for. I have to make sure that whoever you're running from can be dealt with."

"You can't kill him, you can try but you won't be able to."

"If he hurts my people, I can." Rick pressed and I scoffed, rolling my eyes.

"No you can't. And I'm not your people Rick so don't worry about it. If he finds me then he's going to grab me, maybe put up a fight with you but he'll mainly be interested in getting me back."

"Well you're not with his group, not with his people. I notice you help Father Gabriel and Carol alot, you keep an eye on Judith when she's being watched by people here. You keep an eye on everyone here, just like I do with my family."

"I haven't seen a baby in a couple years, I haven't seen people act as one like you guys do is all." I felt myself begin to break out in a cold sweat as Rick shifted next to me.

"I've lost people, good people to others who think they can take what they want by force. I don't intend on losing more good people because you're afraid to go out there."

"...You guys aren't a match for them. He'll kill you if you lay a hand on anything he owns."

"But you made it out."

"With help. If it weren't for them I'd be dead in a cell right now."

"Jail cell?" Rick gave me a look, "They locked you in a cell."

"I made him mad, over a course of serious events and he decided to teach me a lesson." I watched Judith sleep and almost felt the ghost of Negan's fists on my face, "Locked me up for everything."

"...and he was your boyfriend?"

"Ha. No he wasn't, not to me anyways." I shook my head and Rick fell silent, "She's asleep."

"She trusts you." Rick whispered, I looked up for a moment and noticed a scar on his face before he gently took Judith away and stood up with her cradled carefully to his chest, "We need a driver tomorrow, someone to ride with Daryl."

"You should ask someone else Rick. I don't want to face my demons again."

Rick just gave me a once over before saying goodnight and walking out the door, closing it softly. With everyone out of my house, it suddenly felt empty and too quiet. I felt cold, missing the warmth from Judith's body on mine. I got up, throwing a blanket over my holster and walked to the kitchen again, taking out some of Carol's food and staring out the open kitchen window.

I watched the crumbs drop into the sink and looked up to see Daryl walking to where his place was, squirrels hanging from around his waist. He nodded to me as he passed under a light and disappeared into the nighttime. I closed the windows, feeling sick to my stomach and caught my reflection in the window.

I couldn't see any of the bruises Negan had beaten into me, I could barely see the scar above my eyebrow where Lucille had clipped me. The rest of my scars were hidden underneath my clothing or by minimal makeup...there was nothing. Not a trace of him but the memories that sparked in my head every minute. He wasn't here, wouldn't come up behind me and whisper in my ear. Wouldn't wake me up just to make sure I'd never leave him. He was gone.

I closed the blinds and went back to my couch, clicking the light off and sending the room into darkness.


Rick let out a frustrated sigh as the car refused to start up. Daryl was at the hood, trying to jump start the hunk of crap but had no more luck than he was getting behind the wheel.

"Try it one more time." Daryl closed the hood and walked to the passenger side, climbing in and watching Rick calm himself before turning the key again but nothing happened. Daryl leaned back, "Slower, man."

The car roared to life and Daryl slapped the console and Rick grinned, getting out to see the other's sarcastic claps, Daryl retrieved his crossbow from atop the car before getting his attention and jerking his head to where they saw Melaney walking down the road to them, strapped to the nines with her weapons. Michonne walked up to Rick from behind and handed him one of Glenn's maps.

"Looks like the talk did her good." She put her hands on her hips as Glenn walked up to Melaney with a smile, noticing how she seemed skittish as he handed her a map as well, "She's gonna be a project to work on."

"She'll do fine." Daryl cut in and Michonne and Rick rolled their eyes at the wild man's obvious crush.

Rick had asked him about his interest in the young girl. He had just replied she was nice 'cause she didn't talk that much.

"You'll be riding with Daryl." Rick greeted her and she nodded, smiling politely to Daryl who called the others to line up to head out, "We'll be breaking off in separate packs at the fork."

"Glenn, he gave me a map." she was shaking a little bit, Rick ignored it.

"Good. There's walkies in the car, check in every thirty minutes. We've got three hours before we meet back here."

He departed from her, catching Daryl saying something to her and making her laugh softly before he jumped in Abraham's van with Maggie. They all pulled out and eventually went their separate ways at the fork in the road. Abraham leaned forward as Rick watched their car disappear from view.

"You sure we can trust her?"

"Carol trusts her." Maggie cut in, "Carl's been watching her and Daryl doesn't seem to mind her."

"Well, we'll see how she does after today." Rick agreed as he loaded his gun, remembering the conversation he had with her when they brought her back.

"I don't know how many people's death I'm responsible for, Sheriff. But I'm sure it's more than what you've estimated." Melaney had whispered from her spot on the infirmary gurney.

But like Daryl had commented the other day, she was damaged and whoever she was running from, would never leave her alone.

Chapter Text

When the Wolves attacked Alexandria I had never felt so alive.

I had been with Carol in her home, helping her cook when we saw Shelley get her throat sliced open across the street; we watched her fall down clutching herself before bleeding out all over her lawn. A behemoth of a man ran off, knife still bloody before Carol jumped into action. She had ran upstairs, yelling at me to get ready .

By the time I was done hooking up my straps to my machete, Carol was already out the door, her long jacket flapping behind her.

When I took out a Wolf, the blade sliced through his stomach like butter. I had stopped to watch the blood pour out of him, I had watched him bleed and bleed and bleed and I watched him look up at me and stare until the light in his eyes went out. When I stuck the tip through his head and into the ground beneath him, my adrenaline was pumping so hard I could hear nothing around me, just the thudding of my heart and the rushing of my blood through my veins. My body was electric and I was on fire, the last time I had killed was when Negan...

His name on my tongue tasted foreign and his voice had ran through my head and heart like ice and suddenly, every Walker that stumbled through when the walls crumbled, had his face and screamed with his voice and I...I killed so many that day.

When everyone regrouped later the next morning to survey the damage, I had gone back to my house, back to my couch and sat myself down in front of a blank sheet of paper. I didn't stop writing my letter to Negan until my hand cramped up and there were sheets around my feet with scribbles and crossed out words, I folded them all up and stuck them in the pocket of my jacket.

Daryl had then walked in, took one look at me and the smudged ink on my hands before sighing and leading me out and to the infirmary with a hand over mine.

I would never be his again, I would never kill for him, and I would never go back and tell him I loved him. And I promised I'd kill him, either with a knife through his head or some other way.

"If you left I'd have to kill you." Negan had whispered, fingers stroking through my hair.

I had laughed back then, turning around to look at him...and I could picture his face now, the way his eyes narrowed when I replied to him.

"Not if I get you first."


2 Months Later

I looked up from where Judith was playing on the floor to see Daryl stomp up the steps to the house, slinging his crossbow off his shoulder. He came in, silent as usual and went straight to the kitchen where I heard him open and shit the fridge door multiple times. Judith laughed sash threw a small ball, smacking me in the knee before it bounced back and went right over her head.

"Daryl?"

I waited for a reply, giving Judith the ball back before Daryl finally poked his head around the corner, mouth stuffed full of food.

"Huh."

"Just making sure you were alive in there squirrel man.." I looked back to Judith as Daryl made another noise before moving back to the kitchen, "You and Rick still going out on a run later?"

"Yeah. Tomorrow morning, got a list. Want to add anything?" Daryl came back into the room, dirty and eating an apple. I shook my head and smiled as Judith looked up at me blankly, "She good?"

"Yeah, it's almost nap time. I was going to go find Rick in a bit." I sat closer to Judith, allowing her to grab at my necklace for a moment before she got bored and stared at the dirty redneck lounging on the couch.

"Lil' ass kicker."

"What?"

"Used to call her that." he took a giant bite of an apple, wiping sweat off his forehead, "When she was...smaller."

"Quite a nickname." I smiled back at Judith as she yawned, "Finally, I've been waiting for that yawn for hours now. Can you grab her bag for me, it's-"

"I got it." Daryl got up and threw the apple core away as I gathered Judith in my arms, trying not to let her grab my hair again, "Carl's passed out again, pain meds Denise has been giving out kick some ass."

"At least he's getting used to his sight, I can see he has trouble from time to time." I shifted her to my hip and reached out for the baby bag but Daryl was already shouldering it, "I can take it."

"You've got the baby."

We stared at each other for an awkward couple of seconds before I just shook my head and opened the door instead. We walked out into the sunshine and Judith gave another giant yawn.

It was like this all the time now, between Daryl and me. Since my first outing a few months ago, when I rode with him in that car for a couple hours I started to grow more and more comfortable around him. We were both quiet people, I liked that I didn't have to keep a deep conversation going like I always had to when I was paired up with Rick...plus he's the only one that doesn't expect big things from me here, he knows I'm content watching Judith when everyone else is busy and he could always tell when I was getting agitated staying within the walls all the time, he'd take me out on random runs so I could work out my frustration on small dead groups.

Daryl was heaven sent to me, one look from him and it was like you just wanted to be closer to him. He reminded me of Leo, he reminded me of my best friend a lot actually.

"You alright?" Daryl was close to me, and I snapped out of my day dream, barely stepping around a puddle of blood, "Melaney?"

"Sorry. Got lost in my head." I checked on Judith, the sun was warming her up and making her sleepy, "She's so tired for someone who poops and sleeps all day."

"Yeah." Daryl watched me for a second before we heard a shout from behind us.

We turned to see Rick waving to us, jogging up from down the street with Carl trailing after him slowly, eye squinting and walking unsteadily.

"Looks like babysitting is over today."

"Yeah, until you two leave tomorrow morning." I scoffed and Daryl shrugged.

"I was just about to come get Judith." Rick nodded to me as he walked up to us, "Any trouble with her cough?"

"She seems to have gotten over it, Denise came by earlier to check and said her breathing was fine." I smiled, giving the sleeping baby over to Rick, "Hey Carl, you doin' alright?"

"Hi Melaney, yeah I am. Just itches all the time." Carl gave a small smile and made a move to itch but Rick knocked his hand away.

Rick cradled Judith to his chest and Carl took the bag from Daryl. The only time I think I had ever seen Rick smile was around his kids and Michonne. It had been so long since I had seen a family, since I had seen a baby even for that matter that it still stunned me every time Judith was around me. She was like some fairytale creature I was seeing for the first time.

Rick handed Judith to him to be taken inside and we watched him carefully walk back towards their house where a patient Enid was waiting on the front steps for them with bandages tucked under her arm.

"Daryl, you mind giving us a moment?"

"Yeah, I'll go pick up around Gabriel's."

I watched Daryl wander off on his mission form the sheriff before Rick nudged me to start walking towards the wall where Maggie and some of the other residents were busy reinforcing it for the tenth time this month.

"I feel like I've never fully thanked you for what you've done here. Watching Judith and putting yourself out there to fight when you didn't want to, it's not easy to do." We passed by Morgan who was meditating, "Morgan won't even kill because he's afraid, but you have."

"...it's not a big deal, Sheriff." We came to a stop near the little pond, "I thought I could hide forever in these walls wth you...obviously that's kind of impossible."

"You still haven't told us who 'they' are." Rick watched me carefully and I felt a cold sweat break out over my neck as I stumbled for words in my mouth, "And I'd like to know."

"And I don't want to tell unless they become a problem." I looked at him, watching his eyes try and stare through me, "So let's hope they never do."

He was quiet for a moment before sighing and nodding, he smiled softly and pulled at his shirt where he was sweating.

"You'll be able to watch Judith for me tomorrow?"

"If Carl can't handle it for a couple hours I can step in again. If not, I'm sure your son is capable of watching his sister." I saw him nod, looking at everyone working on building Alexandria up again, "So I saw that Deanna's...gone."

"Yeah, she is."

"Then it looks like Alexandria finally got its leader back...I'l see you around Sheriff."

"It's Rick."

"I know." I waved back to whims we departed silently and made my way to the steeple where Father Gabriel was trying to converse with Daryl in the middle of the street.

"Hey, Rick done with you?" Daryl turned to me, and I nodded to Father Gabriel in greeting.

"Yeah, why?"

"Father here needs some help with bodies. Everyone's up front and you need a job since the baby's gone. It's around back, c'mon."

"I'll be with you in a second." I smiled and the redneck nodded before walking away again. Father Gabriel smiled at me and touched my arm, "It's nice to see you Gabriel."

"How are you doing?"

"I was actually going to ask you the same thing...I saw you last night. I saw you leading everyone out. We all did here Father." I watched him look at the ground uncomfortably and shift his feet, "From someone who was afraid to come out of her house here when I was taken in by Rick and the others, this is a compliment Father."

"I killed-"

"You killed things that weren't alive. If it makes you feel any better just imagine the Devil raised the people from the dead and you were doing God's work to put them back down." I fixed his white collar before it fell out and I felt him take a huge breath in, "Out of everyone here, I admire you and Morgan the most. I tried not to kill anyone when I came here, but I did and it's like a drug."

"Thank you Melaney."

"No problem. I'll see you later."

We departed with a hug and I met Daryl around back, counting seven bodies already wrapped in some burlap. The redneck looked up at me before tossing me a shovel and leading me to another grave site.

"You made him feel better."

"Everyone deserves a chance to feel good, Daryl. People like to be recognized for what they've gone through."

"Except you." He looked back at me as we came to some half dug graves in a sectioned, private part of Alexandria, "You don't want to be recognized at all."

"That's the idea." I shrugged and went to a hole and started digging.

"Why?" He grunted, throwing dirt behind him.

"Why should I tell you?"

"Because you didn't finish telling me the other night."

I stopped digging besides him and he stopped too, pushing his long hair out of his eyes.

I forgot I had told him about Negan, about the group...well, I had told him I had come from a bad guy and some bad groups of people because I didn't want Negan's name rolling off his tongue around me.

"Why do you always run off in the middle of the night?" I countered and Daryl shook his head.

"Nah, not getting out of this one." He shoveled some dirt before turning back to me and sticking the shovel in the ground and doing the same with mine.

Next to me, I never thought much of how big Daryl was but standing in front f me he was like a monster...a very dirty monster.

"...I don't want to explain myself, Daryl." I looked down at my feet and he folded his arms, "Out of everyone here, I thought you'd understand that the most."

He looked around us for a minute, listening to the far off clatter of everyone up front before I felt his hand travel up my arm to come to a rest at my neck, pulling me closer to him.

"Don't hide from me."

"Daryl-"

"Nah you listen to me." he made me look up at him, my own hands finding their way onto his leather vest, "We're all family here. Rick brought you in and you've stayed and you've been our family for a couple months now, we ain't in the habit of keeping secrets from each other."

"I don't want to talk about him, I don't want to think about him and I don't want to remember what he looked like...much like how you don't want to remember your scars either." I felt him tense up as I tapped his back, "Daryl please don't ask me to remember him anymore. I'm trying to forget."

"You write letters every night. Those go to him?"

"It helps me deal." I sighed and Daryl held me closer to him, sweaty chest breathing deeply as the sun beat down on us. I could feel the lump in my throat threaten to make me cry.

It was a lie, I remembered Negan each and every day in perfect detail. When I woke up next to Daryl, it was always Negan in my mind screaming at me as he beat me bloody with Lucille. I hadn't gotten over him in the sense that I was still afraid.

"I won't let him near you again." Daryl whispered and I smiled into his arm and looked up at him and his dirty face and his god damn heartbreakingly beautiful soul that was hidden under all that dirt and locked up emotion.

"Let's finish up, we've got a long day." I pulled back and Daryl nodded, giving me a kiss on my cheek before he grabbed out shovels and we got back to work in comfortable silence.

I just hoped Alexandria was safe from the living now, not the dead.

 

Chapter Text

"You're going to want to put pressure in a triangular pattern when dealing with head wounds." Denise was whispering to herself.

She was bent over her books on the infirmary porch as I sat next to her cleaning out the new cut on my forearm from falling off the guard post, "I feel like that shouldn't be right for some reason if it's bleeding enough."

"It displays equal pressure since heads are soft," I chimed in and she nodded, noting it down on the page, "Heads are different than the rest of the bodies, girl."

"Who's body?" Tara came up, sitting next to Denise and going her a sweet kiss, both smiled and blushed before Denise returned to her book, "I wish I could have gotten your fall on tape."

"Ha ha, let's all laugh at the clutz." I glared at her and Tara laughed again.

"Maggie fixed the post though, you were right. It was pretty loose."

"Glad my fall saved another's life then." I mumbled, finishing patching up. I looked to the gate to see Sasha in my position, "Remind me to give Sasha a present for taking over."

"They're back." Tara got up immediately as the gates opened and sure enough, Rick and Daryl came driving in...not looking like they had anything.

Tara took off towards them and I hung back, not really curious but Denise got up and peered out as Rick and Daryl started struggling with somethings the back of the car. I went inside the infirmary, putting back the supplies I had basically stolen and turned to see the men dragging a body to us. Denise came back in and started organizing the gurney for the dude, wordlessly handing me her books to put away as Rick came in, sweaty mess along with Daryl and all but threw the man on the chair.

"Well...let's not all be violent if we can." I joked as the men huffed in exhaustion as Denise started checking over the guy.

"He ain't staying' though." Daryl was saying as I propped myself behind the guys and Denise on a seat, swiveling as she got to work. Rick gave Daryl a look, fanning himself.

"We'll see." Rick nodded to me in greeting, "We'll be back to lock him up later, let me know when you finish here."

"I'll play messenger then." I smiled and Daryl came over, kissing my temple before walking out with Rick, planning to go out again tomorrow.

"He's knocked out pretty bad, what the hell did they do to him?" Denise was covering his head, blocking him from my view as she inspected his eyes.

I got up and retrieved the guys beanie from the floor, dusting it off and then I frowned looking at it, I looked back to Denise as she moved away from the man and to her medicine cabinet, mumbling to herself.

I don't know how I got so close to him, but one second I was by the door and the next I was brushing the long hair away from his face to get a closer look.

This had to be a fucking joke.

"Melaney?"

"Huh?"

I turned around in what I thought was slow motion, but I guess I had jumped because Deise jerked back and almost dropped her tube of neosporin.

"Damn, you alright?" She was staring at me, concerned, and already putting her hand up to reach for my forehead.

"I'm fine, I better get back to guarding, I'll send Tara in to help you though."

"Oh...okay." she watched me flee the infirmary, I flung the beanie away from me, not caring where it touched down.

I made a beeline for the guard tower, one hand gripping the hilt of my machete, palms sweaty.

"You alright?" Sasha waved down to me and I nodded, walking past the guard tower to the gate and unlocking it angrily, "Hey-"

"I'm fine, I'll be back in five minutes. I gotta blow off some steam.." I waved her off and Eugene pulled the gate back but put an arm out to stop me, "Uh...Eugene..."

"Should we alert Daryl?"

"I'll be fine, Eugene..." Sasha and I shared a look before she shrugged and turned away.

"I'll come with you."

"Eugene that's not nece-"

"No lady should be left alone out there, I am also advancing my accuracy of killing those things out there as well. You won't even know I'm there, I'll stay five steps behind you."

I stared at the mullet hired man for second before giving in and sighing.

"Alright. Let's go then. Back in fifteen, Sasha."

"See you in an hour." she smirked and waved us off. I always took longer than what I said.

The gates clanged shut behind us and we set off, Eugene dutiful stayed a few steps behind me. I'd be lying if I said some part of me wasn't pleased that I had a silent companion.

We stayed on the road for a few minutes before venturing onto some paths that criss crossed across the road every so often, I was having fun leading Eugene everywhere, trying to get at least one complaint form the science man, and being lost in my thoughts.

We stopped in the woods for a moment, I was picking a rock out of my shoe when a hobbling Walker came stumbling past, the leg bone sticking out of the bottom and splintered. Eugene raised his gun but I tapped his arm away with my machete.

"Guns are too loud, try this."

"I don't...Uh..."

"Here's a tip Carl can't teach you. Let them run into it," I held the weapon away and waited until the Walker literally ran into the tip and let its guts fall out, "Then when it's close enough take out the smaller knife and kill it."

Eugene watched me grab my other knife from my back holster and stabbed the past lawyer-suit-Walker in the eye and into the head like butter. It dropped to the ground like a sack f bricks and off my machete. I handed the weapon to him and pointed to another Walker that was coming from behind, this one was a little bit faster.

"Try that one, hold the smaller knife in your less dominant hand and when it gets to close for comfort stab him."

"He'll grab me." Eugene was shaking, but switched hands and stood still, waiting. I started tying my shoe on again.

"Let them. They're going to be stuck in the blade, they can't exactly do a whole lot unless they don't have a stomach to get stuck on."

Eugene met the Walker halfway and the blade got stuck in the ribcage, keeping the Walkers' teeth a good distance away. He struggled for a moment trying to keep a good grip on the hilt, but then he reached out and slammed the knife into its face before dropping everything and stepping away back to me, breath coming short.

"That was amazing Eugene." I smiled, retrieving my weapons and wiping the guts on a nearby tree "You're definitely improving, no doubt."

"I waited too long."

"Just because you're not good at something the first time doesn't mean you won't be a professional at it by the end of the day if you want it." I shrugged and we started walking again, Eugene was silent for a minute.

"You weren't good at killing these things before like me...were you?"

"I was like you, really reluctant, relied on others way more than what I should have honestly. I could run though, that was my best ability."

"But you kill easily now."

"...Yeah, not exactly something I'm proud of you know. It's something nobody should be proud of. Killing humans and Walkers alike, it's not worthy of a medal."

"You've killed people before."

"I have, yeah."

"Was it justified?" Eugene was knocking branches out of my path as we made our way back to the road to Alexandria.

"Most of the time, no...it really wasn't."

"Well that certainly is a mistake."

"How?"

"Anyone who comes across you probably didn't survive." he held out a polite hand as we jumped across a small puddle of...something not pretty, "But I've learned in my recent travels that life's not fair. It's gonna try to kill you and you might as well learn how to shoot something in the head."

I laughed at that and Eugene managed to cracked a very small smile for once.

"Exactly, Eugene."

We became silent again, he fell back behind me a couple steps and I started focusing on the way my feet hit the ground and how much i didn't like my shoes anymore.

I remembered killing a couple men from Hilltop just because of Negan's orders, I remember doing it in front of a man with long hair and a beanie. I remember watching Steven punch that same man in the face; I watched him spit on the beaten man and walk away laughing.

That same man was lying in the infirmary back home.


"You need some actual sleep." I sat next to Daryl outside the jail cell where the man was being kept. Daryl just shrugged and took the couple sandwiches I had made for him, "I'm serious. Rick's had you out here all night."

"I don't mind it."

"But I do. I brought some water and snacks for myself, go back and sleep. It's only a couple hours until morning anyways, I can handle it." I bumped the redneck off the steps and Daryl groaned, getting up.

"Don't go inside, rick doesn't want him getting out and going back wherever the fuck he came from." He gave me a kiss on my cheek as I set myself up on the steps where he was, "Heard you went out today by the way."

"Yeah, Eugene went with me on a little walk."

"Eugene?" Daryl raised an eyebrow and tossed me the key to the door and I let it fall onto the step before picking it up, lazily.

"You guys need to start giving that guy some credit. There's more to him than what he lets on, you know."

Daryl shrugged and walked away, I could hear him ripping into the other sandwiches and I sighed, leaning against the wall and started counting to one hundred. Daryl never really slept, but I needed him gone to get into the jail and see the man.

After my walk with Eugene yesterday afternoon, I needed to see the man they brought in...and kill running to the infirmary with every intent on killing him to keep him silent, Denise said they moved him to the jail where Morgan guarded then Maggie and then Daryl. I had a better chance of moving Daryl than anyone else to get in.

If he started talking, if he recognized me then I'd be done for. Rick would know everything about me, know who I had been with and what I did.

I peeked out from the steps to the jail cell and looked around. Nobody around, nobody walking on dumb night walks anymore.I hopped down the steps and softly unlocked the door, listening for any sounds inside and behind me.

I went inside quietly, shutting and locking the door behind me, one hand gripping the knife on my back holster as I moved towards the lamp light on the ground in the other room. I saw a foot on the ground and as I turned the corner I saw a very awake man, sitting there and staring at me with a blank expression until I moved into the light and stood over him.

"...Laney, right?"

"Melaney, not Laney. Jesus, right?"

"...So Negan got another community, are you killing everyone here too?"

"Watch your mouth."

Jesus stood up and I moved accordingly, watching him dust himself off before looking at me up and down again.

"Door's 've got a hand on a weapon, Negan tell you to kill me?"

I stopped for a second at that and frowned...

"No...no, he didn't." I let go of the knife and Jesus followed my every move as I leaned against the wall, "I'm not...I ran away from the Saviors actually."

Suddenly I felt lost in this jail cell with him, I couldn't decipher whether me killing Jesus was me wanting to do it or if that was Negan in the back of my head today telling me to eliminate all sources.

"...I've been out for a long time now, I've been living here, hiding from them." I looked up at him and shook my head, "I'm so sorry. I-I came in here thinking I was going to kill you to not tell anyone who I was or where I've been...I-I..."

"I won't tell." Jesus was looking at me, "I never told anyone that you were the one that saved Kelly from being shot in the head by taking the fall."

"...I remember that." I looked down at myself and Jesus stretched, "They're not happy with what you did. the guy her win charge, Rick , said you stole a truck of food then ran it into the river?"

"That was an accident, I didn't expect your people to put up such a fight." Jesus smiled and then made a face, "Kind of strange to say 'your people' when I'm so used to seeing you in Negan's arms."

"...He tried to kill me." I swallowed a lump in my throat, "After I was mouthing off in one of his meetings, he had Steven beat the hell out of me and then he got in with Lucille. that night, one of the Wives helped me out and I ran."

"We knew something was wrong, he started demanding more and more things. Hilltop's almost run dry because of him, he wiped out a couple of their other supplier's from what I was told."

"How dry?"

"Dry enough to try and steal food from another group that needs it as much as we do." Jesus gestured around us and I nodded, "I want to speak with Rick."

"About what."

"We both have big communities, and by the looks of what you're carrying you have the firepower...Hilltop could use an ally against the Saviors to take them down."

"That's impossible. Negan's arsenal is ridiculous."

"Against Hilltop alone, of course. We have sticks, they have guns...what do you have."

I thought back to the armory and then realized his point, Jesus laughed at my expression.

"Exactly."

"Taking on the Saviors is insane, Jesus. It'll take a miracle to work perfectly-"

"But could you guys do it?"

"...I don't know." I shook my head at first but then thought back to the wall crumbling and everyone's fight for survival; the raw power everyone exerted to keep Alexandria safe, "...Yes, they could."

"That's all I want to talk to him about, you know I'm not going to try anything."

"That's true...Well this basement might not help much with that." I pushed away from the wall and checked my watch, "I'll make you a deal."

"Go ahead."

"I'll let you out, crack of dawn and lead you to Rick. Don't tell anyone about Negan and my affiliation with them...and don't kill Rick."

"Deal. How much longer until dawn?"

"I'll give an hour and a half I'll get you some food really quick, stay here." I left and grabbed some of the snacks I wasn't going to be able to hold down and returned, "I'm o sorry about everything that's happened, Jesus. With Negan...I don't know who I was."

Jesus took them and in a flash he grabbed my arm, I made a move to grab my knife but his grip softened.

"At least you mean it this time...running away has made you a healthy woman. Thank you."

"Yeah..."

I left him at that and went back outside, locking up the door before planting myself on the steps again, lost in more thoughts.

If Jesus was resorting to going out and cheating others out of food then the Saviors were doing worse than they ever had.

When I let Jesus out in the morning and directed him to Rick's house before going back to my own where Daryl was waiting, I had a feeling that I would be seeing the Saviors sooner than I ever wanted to.

 

Two Hours Later, Mid-Morning

I stood silently in front of Daryl as Rick stood outside talking; Jesus was standing next to Rick and Michonne and he was looking happier than I had ever seen him.

"There's another community, Hilltop." Rick was saying but I was barely paying attention.

I couldn't even focus on Daryl's hand on the small of my back behind me, I could barely remember why I even bothered to wake up and attend this. I already knew the plan, Jesus had gone into detail on the way over this morning before I left him and by the sounds of it, all that was left was take them to Hilltop, convince that bastard Gregory to join forces to survive and then convince everyone to attack the Saviors.

I shifted my weight as the meeting ended and someone left to go bring around the RV, Jesus and I locked eyes as everyone departed to pack up and came closer to me.

"You're not coming."

"I don't want to risk Gregory bashing me in the head for hitting him that one time." I turned away, pretending that I was inspecting my gun.

"The others are going to find out anyways."

"Not today."

"Not your people, us." Jesus began to walk away as the RV came up, I nodded.

"I know, I know...just not yet." I whispered as he walked away, Daryl came up, bag in his hand.

"...you staying?"

"Someone's gotta watch Judith and everyone else...and I'm getting carsick now. You guys will be back tonight, right?" I asked, Rick came up to us and looked around.

"We're gonna try. We don't know who these people are yet, If we're not back tonight or tomorrow, take Judith and Carl and go." He whispered and I nodded.

"Be safe. Figure out what's going on." I smiled and it seemed too fake but Daryl noted anyways, giving me a brief kiss on my head before everyone loaded up.

As soon as they were out of the gate I ran back to my house and locked up before diving for the bag of guns and extra ammunition I had stashed away.

For three hours I loaded and unloaded and cleaned and bleached every weapon that was in that bag. I was sweating so much, lost in my own world I didn't notice the folded up letters I had stashed in my jacket, Negan's name scrawled over and dripping with the future blood that was going to be spilt.

 

Chapter Text

I was sitting in the church already when they arrived back, Father Gabriel was next to me trying to calm my nerves down. When Rick walked in, dirty and tall, I knew it was over.

Negan's letters burned in my jacket pocket, my machete seemed to heavy for my waist as I stood up and acted like I had no idea what was going on. When everyone came in, I acted like I was anxious to see what they had to say. When Jesus came in, he brushed past me, arm purposefully bumping into mine and I could tell he got what he wanted. He gripped my hand briefly, whispering an 'I'm sorry' before sitting down. Andy, also from Hilltop, locked eyes with me then nodded before sitting down. Jesus told him but he was keeping his mouth shut too...I owed Jesus so much right now.

I looked down in my lap, feeling the outline of a piece of paper tucked under my sleeve. Jesus was right, they would find out sooner or later who I truly was...so it may as well be sooner rather than later. Carol had even urged me to come clean after I told her about Jesus and what he wanted from us here.

Daryl pulled me down to sit next to him in the front pew as the church doors closed behind everyone. He leaned forward and I put my hand on his thigh, trying to act as normally as I could, and Rick began.

"These Saviors, they almost killed Sasha, Daryl and Abraham on the road. Now sooner or later, they would've found us, just like those Wolves did, just like Jesus did." Rick looked to Jesus who stared blankly back, "They would have killed someone or some of us."

They would kill us, and tear us to pieces before pissing on our grave, I thought, already shaking as Negan began to appear in front of my eyes, taunting me and swinging Lucille around and around. Daryl was silent next to me, hunched over as Rick continued to rally us up.

"-if anybody objects, here's your chance to say your piece." Rick finished, we looked around at each other and then Morgan stood up slowly. I could see Rick hesitate.

"You're sure we can do it? We can beat them?"

I looked to Andy and Jesus, who refused to meet my gaze...but we were all thinking the same thing; no, but it was worth trying. The Saviors' armory was stocked, way more assault rifles and even snipers than what we possessed. The Saviors were about 80 people, probably more since I left. Rick's group barely reached twenty when everyone was all together. Morgan sat back down and Rick took the center stage again, trying to keep himself upright and tall.

"We kill them all...we don't all have to kill, but if people are gonna stay here...they do have to accept it." His eyes flashed to Morgan before closing off.

"Do we know how to get into the Saviors' buildings?" I asked, Rick nodded and looked back to Andy.

"Andy's going to draw up a map when we're done here. Let the others know what's going on, those who want to come, stay with us. Those who don't, go about your day."

The meeting ended, some people filtered out but most of us stayed and conversed. I met Jesus and Andy in the aisle as they stood up.

"Your map's not going to be accurate." I grabbed Andy's arm and he sighed, "How well do you know the inside?"

"You watched me half the time we brought things in, I know it pretty well."

"Melaney." Rick called to me and I let go of Andy, sharing a look with him before going over, "I want you in on this fight. The more people we have, the better."

"I'm in." I nodded and Rick seemed pleased.

"Alright, Andy we need to start mapping things out." Rick pulled out a table and everyone crowded around it, I hung back with Jesus as Andy began to draw on paper.

"We're going to Hilltop after this...they're going to recognize you there. I only told Andy." He looked to me and I nodded, showing him the slip of paper from jacket, "Melaney...I don't think now's the time to make it known."

"I couldn't sleep the past few days, I barely got any last night. Andy's map is accurate but I know Sanctuary inside and out." I unfolded the drawing and Jesus sighed.

"How do you think they'll take it?" Jesus stepped back as I squared myself up to give the paper to Rick.

I looked to Daryl who was busy studying the drawings.

"I'm only concerned about one person in this place that won't take it well." I whispered, Jesus gently squeezed my hand and I stepped forward.

"-What do you remember?" Glenn asked Andy, Andy frowned and racked his brain as I joined the circle next to Daryl, hanging back.

"They're loaded, there's no doubt about that."

"Daryl." I turned his head away from the conversation and he smiled for a second at me, his hand brushed something off my shoulder before he took my hand.

"You need anything?"

"...no, not really." I lied, I took in another breath and looked down at my hands that were shaking in his.

I needed to get out of here, I needed to run back, back out those gates and away from everyone. I needed to get air in my lungs one last time before-

Jesus walked behind me and nudged me forward, snapping me out of my head. I let go of Daryl's hands.

"Andy's wrong, the hallway doesn't lead to the armory. The armory's on the other side of the building, tucked away in a corner." I spoke up, for a second everyone nodded but then Rick's head snapped up to me.

"How...how do you know that."

"Rick...please, stay calm." Jesus pleaded as everyone took a step away as I came to the table, I set down my map on top of Andy's.

"It's fine, Jesus." I took a deep breath, feeling dozens of eyes scorching my back.

I could feel Daryl behind me, I could hear him beginning to slip away through my fingers forever.

"You know the Saviors, Melaney?"

"I should...I was with them for a very long time." I nodded, meeting Rick's gaze.

There was silence, nobody moved or said a word as they took all the information in. Andy and Jesus were the only ones shifting from foot to foot in anticipation. I kept a hand near my gun on my belt as Rick processed this information, his face contorted in confusion then anger then more confusion.

In a second, Rick reached over the table, grabbed me by my holster strap across my chest and slammed me into the table, Glenn came up behind me and shoved a gun to my head and held me down. I didn't bother putting up a fight, I laid my hands down on the table and waited as everyone shouted in surprise.

"Rick!" Michonne had yelled at him but he waved the gun at everyone to back off, "Rick, if we just listen-"

"Were not listening to someone who we've got to kill." Rick growled, he came around to me and stripped me of my weapons.

"She's not like them!" Andy shouted, booming over everyone's comments as Daryl took my weapons away from Rick and tossed them on the pew, "Let go of her."

"Who the fuck are you?" Rick came closer to me, holding me down by my neck as Glenn stepped away.

I crumbled my paper underneath my head.

"My name is Melaney...I...Rick, I never wanted you-"

"You lied to us, tricked us into keeping you here. Then what was going to happen, you were just gonna disappear and come back with them? They ran Hilltop out of food and we've barely got anything, so it'd be easy to pick us off."

I started to cry softly, tears staining the ink on the paper and I squeezed my eyes shut as I saw Daryl look away from the scene I had created, one hand over his mouth and his eyes closed too. I had hurt him, I had hurt him and I couldn't take him back.

"I ran away from them, that day when I came outside your gates I was running. I had been wandering for weeks."

"Rick, please!" Jesus stepped in, one hand on Rick's arm as I tried to stop crying, "Please, she's telling the truth."

"...how many people have you killed?" Rick let me up, the barrel of his gun was pressed between my eyes, "How many?"

"I've lost count over the years...the high double digits. Past forty." I raised my hands up as he walked me into one of the pew chairs, my legs almost buckled out, "I've killed more Walkers than people though."

"You were a Savior."

"I resided in Sanctuary."

"You knew Negan."

I grew quiet at that, refusing to answer as I watched Daryl face around again, eyes red and mouth a tight line. Rick snapped at me, calling attention back.

"I was...I was his girl. He and I..." I couldn't finish, my throat blocked up and I stared down at my shoes as the crying stopped, "Sanctuary is a lot different than what Andy's drawn up, more complicated. Please, let me help."

"You expect us to just trust you after this?" Rick was fuming, everyone was watching, "You expect us to just let you in, let you take us there and hope you don't raise an alarm. You're one of them...we could use you as collateral."

"I'm not one of them." I felt my anger building up, "Negan killed me that night I was let out."

"Melaney-" Jesus warned, I lowered my hands slowly.

I knocked Rick's hand away in surprise, I snatched the gun from him and pointed it back. He drew another in a moment as well as the others around us...Daryl just stared, not moving.

"Negan killed my best friend, he watched him die and then he killed everyone else that I loved." I squeezed the handle on the revolver, feeling more and more anger build up inside of me, "I watched him murder my parents, I watched them bleed out and die. They're out there, in the woods somewhere rotting away and half eaten because of him."

"Melaney." Maggie raised her gun to my head as I continued to shake, Rick was watching me, "Put the gun down."

"Don't you dare say I'm a Savior, don't you ever let those words come out of your mouth. Negan beat me until I couldn't breath in that fucking jail cell they had. He said he loved me and he beat me and broke me and killed me there. I came here to hide away, I didn't want to go outside again!" I raised my voice, feeling laughter bubble up inside of me, "I told you I never anted to venture outside the walls again! And you asked why, 'why don't you want to go out Melaney?' Well, Sherriff, that's the fucking reason why."

"Put the gun down." Daryl ordered, walking to me and blocked Rick, I aimed the gun at him and he stopped.

"And you! You...I was never supposed to be with anyone again and you...well who the fuck cares, I've lost you now." I laughed and slammed the gun on the table next to me, not letting go, "This is suicide. Taking on the Saviors in their home. I was there, I know every twist and hole in that place and it will not be easy to take them out."

Rick followed my every move as I finally let go of his gun and slid it to him across the table. I sighed and wiped my face clean, grabbing the map and holding it out to him.

"I never wanted anyone of you to find out, I never wanted to stay here in the first place because I knew sooner or later they'd find me. If you're going to not trust me, then take this map at least and trust it. Andy's is good, but mine is more accurate to get to the armory."

Daryl was silent next to me as Rick and everyone else took in everything that I said. Jesus and Andy were on the other side of the table, silently watching for an answer from them. I looked over at Carol, Carol knew I had been with Negan since I stayed here, she understood and she looked to me and nodded, like I had done the right thing. I looked back to Rick.

"I was a Savior, I'm not anymore. I never want to be."

"It's true, Rick. She used to come to get supplies and she used to come and deliver messages to Hilltop...but she wasn't like the Saviors, wasn't like Negan." Jesus spoke as Rick inspected his gun in his hand.

"You know the buildings."

"Inside and out, anything you need to know about Sanctuary I have it memorized." I nodded and Rick holstered his weapon and looked at me, he let me meet his gaze before he looked to everyone else.

"You're taking us there, taking us out. If anyone dies, we kill you."

I looked behind me to Daryl, he just looked away and I nodded.

"We attack at night." Rick looked to everyone as he looked down at my map, "Andy can you lay this over yours?"

"Come on." Daryl grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the church and into the sunlight of Alexandria.

I stumbled after him as we went to his bike, he revved up the engine angrily and one of the residents opened the gate for us and we took off. I saw everyone else leave the church looking shaken out of the corner of my eye before we hit the road.

I felt like I couldn't breath, I felt like I was dead. We passed some Walkers dragging half of their bodies on the ground and I felt jealous for a second.

We came to a stop, a couple miles away from Alexandria on the turn where Rick and everyone had redirected the Walkers. The walls were still up, there were still some bodies lying around dead. Daryl cut the engine and I slid off, reaching for a weapon but finding nothing but my pockets. I had left everything back in the church. Daryl looked at me before getting off his bike and kicking the stand up. He looked as broken as I felt.

Everything was silent around us as we stood in the road.

"You lied to me."

"I never wanted to tell anyone about Negan." I could feel his name leaving a bad taste in my mouth already, "I wanted to stay away from that part of my life."

"He's the one you're always writing too, those letters scattered in the trash can. He's the one you wake up screaming about isn't he?" Daryl pushed his hair out of his eyes, "He's the one you used to be in love with."

"Not in love with...it was never love with him." I looked down at a dead Walker, "He killed four people that I loved, how could I love someone like that?"

"What was he like?" Daryl came closer to me, staring at me and I shook my head.

"He was a monster, someone's going to die tomorrow when you attack them. It always happens, nobody comes out unscathed with them."

"He hurt you?"

I looked up at that, raising a eyebrow but Daryl looked concerned, not angry anymore.

"Daryl-"

"Did he hurt you?"

"Yes...yeah, he did."

"...You should have told me." He broke at that, shoulders dropping in defeat and mouth quivering in sadness, I didn't know what to do with myself, "You should have said something."

"I didn't want you to be a part of it...if Negan ever laid a hand on you...Daryl, I'm so sorry."

"I'm gonna kill him."

"I'm sorry."

I didn't know what else to say, the sun was beating down on us and I felt like a complete idiot standing there trying to say I'm sorry and meaning it every time, but every time it came out of me, it just felt pathetic.

"We're with you, Mel. All of us are and I'll take care of that asshole, I swear. I won't let anything happen to you."

Daryl pulled me into him tight and I hung on, crying into his vest and trying not to say that I was sorry any longer.

We stood there in the middle of the dead, underneath the beating sun.

We would be going to war tonight, and I wanted to kill every last Savior there was.


The Raid

The first part of the plan against Sanctuary went perfectly. The two guards, men I hadn't seen before answered and died quietly as we attacked them. I watched Glenn and Heath enter the Sanctuary building after the others, we had broken in and killed the two guards not even five minutes ago. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply before letting it out slowly, this was it. Inside who knew who would be sleeping in the barracks, I had forgotten about the different people the Saviors took in.

I entered the building already recognizing everything in my path, I touched the wall as I followed behind Glenn and Heath down a hallway. I broke off of them a second later and quietly walked down another. I could hear my group silently opening doors and killing the men inside. My part of the plan was the just eliminate some of the Saviors, then help Glenn and Heath with the armory and get the hell out of there.

I opened one door quietly, gun and knife out, and stepped inside into the darkness. A part of me was hoping Negan would be in here, that he would be waiting for me in the dark and we would attack each other. I looked to the two beds in the room, two men asleep and facing the wall. I closed the door and approached one of the men but then noticed something out of the corner of my eye on the desk. I walked over and picked up some polaroid photos.

Most of the men traded photos of the bashing's Negan gave out. I put them down and flinched as one of the men stirred in his sleep, right, I had a mission here.

I didn't recognize the man's face as I slid my knife into his skull, and I didn't really want to. I pulled the pillow out from under him and placed it over his head before pulling the blankets over his body to hide him.

"What the fuck?"

I jumped and spun around as the other man woke up groggily, peering through the darkness at us. I froze for a second as he turned on the light, washing over us. I saw his face and I remembered him, he was one of the men who saved Leo, Michael and me that day in the forest. He froze too as he recognized me, he looked over my body and noted the weapons strapped to me. I took a step to the side, away from the other man's body and raised my gun at him, thanking Daryl silently for giving me a silencer.

"Look who finally fuckin' showed up." He pulled a knife out from underneath his own pillow and got up.

"Bite it." I growled, shooting him in the throat.

He yelled out, clutching his open throat and I grabbed his pillow as he fell to his knees on the floor. I stabbed him in the shoulder, hearing him gurgle out a scream as he fell onto his back. I straddled his chest and smacked his hands away from his throat and smothered him with the pillow. He struggled underneath me, legs kicking out and bloody hands grabbing at me weakly. His blood seeped through the pillow and became slippery where I was holding down.

He stopped struggling and finally went limp as the blood built more and more around the fabric. I got up and went back to the desk, ripping the polaroid's in half angrily and threw them over his body and walked out.

I wanted to end every last one of their lives.

I walked into the next room. brandishing my machete instead of my gun and slammed the door behind me loudly. Two of the occupants in the room jumped up from their beds at the sound of me. I swiped one across the face and he screamed out, I stuck the blade through his temple and spun around, feeling the rush of revenge and murder flow through me like ice. The man used a book on his side table to block me and tackled me to the ground. We slammed down hard and my weapon clanged away from me and the man began to lay into my side with punches. Yelling at the top of his lungs. I managed to block a fist to my face and grabbed my hidden knife on the back of my arm, stabbing his thighs where I could reach as he tried to straddle me for better aim. He fell off hissing in pain and I scrambled to my stomach lunging for my blade.

"You little fucker!" He screamed and grabbed my foot as I tried to stand up, I slammed back into the ground and looked behind as he dragged me closer to him.

"Fuck off!" I yelled, repeatedly slamming my foot into his face and breaking his nose. He let me go and I grabbed my blade and swung it behind me blindly.

The man fell silent instantly and I let go of my machete, watching it stick in the side of his head as he watched me for a second before falling over onto his side. I was breathing heavily as I watched him die very slowly at my feet, his hands twitched towards me for help before his mouth opened in one last breath.

"What's going on-"

Another Savior opened the door and snapped me out of watching the man die. I pulled out my gun and released a few shots into her abdomen and shot at one more who came running up behind her. They hit the floor like bricks and I cringed as I heard gunfire echo throughout the hallways accompanied by the blaring alarm. I covered my ears for a second and went down on my knees before getting up and limping out of the room, I looked up and saw the red flashing light on the walls and cursed. It had to be Glenn and Heath in the armory, one of the Saviors must have seen and set off an alarm.

I got up, cradling my arm and ripped my blade from his head, sending blood splattering everywhere, and limped out and into the hallway. I opened doors down the hallway Glenn went and noted the dead bodies already decaying inside. Good, they already made quick work. I looked up to find a Savior retreating and firing down the way to the armory in the hallway. They stopped running as I blocked their path, I raised my gun and fired before they could reload and continued walking until I turned the corner to find several bodies down the hallway in front of the armory with a shaken Glenn and Heath staring down at the dead with Jesus standing to the side with a gun in his hand.

"You guys alright?" I asked and Glenn nodded, Jesus touched my cheek.

"You're bleeding pretty bad, your nose broken?"

"You should see the other guy. Our time's up, you grab what you could?"

"Everything that could fit." Glenn nodded and I looked inside the armory before turning around and closing the bullet ridden door, "We need to go. This place is like a maze."

"Follow me." Jesus and I spoke at the same time, I laughed and allowed him to lead us out of there. I took up the back, limping as our feet hit the ground softly; we jogged back towards the exit as dawn began to break through the windows.

We sprinted out of the building using a side door, running back towards the rendevouz point Andy had drawn out, I felt like my lungs were going to burst. I slowed down behind everyone, taking a look back at the satellite dishes and the building...this used to be my home. I used to come here and be happy and consider those people family. Jesus grabbed my arm and pulled me along before I could take another step towards the doors again.

When everyone regrouped up I nearly cried when I saw Daryl come out again. None of us had died, we hadn't suffered any casualties at all. I bent over in the grass next to Daryl though, vomiting up nothing but bile and air as my stomach finally got the best of me. God, I had called those people family once and now they were all dead and waiting to rot. I had shared smiled, laughs and stories with them. They had watched me and they had known me since I had been there. I tried to stand up but my knees buckled again and I collapsed weakly. Daryl knelt down next to me.

"I know what you had to do, I'm sorry." Daryl pulled me close and helped me clean up before letting me lean against him.

"I'm fine." I stayed next to him as Rick came out along with Father Gabriel then Abraham and Sasha, "That wasn't all of them Daryl, there's...there's so much more of them."

Daryl grew quiet at that as I cried into his shoulder, trying to keep the vomit down again. I looked up as Rick conversed about leaving back to Alexandria as soon as possible.

"Come on, we killed a lot of them. We'll be fine for now." Daryl tried to console me as we walked closer to everyone else, I felt like I was going to faint any moment now, "He said he knifed someone that fit your description of Negan." Daryl answered and I shook my head, "What?"

"He didn't."

"How do you know?"

"...because we are all Negan." I looked to him and he frowned before we began walking towards everyone else in a loose circle.

"We all good?" Rick asked, everyone nodded and checked everyone else to make sure, "Good, good. Tara and-"

Rick was interrupted by a motorcycle revving up, I looked to Daryl but he was busy spinning around. Twenty feet away from us a bike ripped out of the side door with someone on it, Daryl and Rick cursed and took off after it. Jesus grabbed me as I tried to take off after the commotion as well, I was about to tell him off but he was looking towards the trees a ways away from us. I looked through the scope of the stolen sniper I had pulled from the armory and spotted movement.

"Who are they?"

"More trouble." He replied and tucked his mask tighter over his face.

We walked over to where Daryl was busy beating the crap out of the guy he had tackled from the bike, Rick pulled me over closer and Daryl got up.

"You know him?"

"Yeah. Hey Primo, what's up."

"You...puta-"

"Shut up, where'd you get the bike asshole?" Daryl smacked him across the face and the Mexican's head snapped to the side before he glared back at us.

"He won't talk, Primo was known for being loyal among all of us. He ran with a group of a couple other people who Negan always referred to as ass kissers." I turned to Rick ad he nodded solemnly as Primo started fighting again only to be hit by Daryl.

"Alright." Rick cocked his gun at Primo and Daryl got up to inspect the bike.

"Just do it! Like you did everyone else, right? Fuckin' traitor." Primo growled and Rick stepped closer only to be interrupted by the hiss and crackle of a radio.

"Lower your gun, prick."

"Everyone down!" Rick yelled as a woman's voice crackled over, everyone dropped to their knees and frantically searched the tree lines where we could be watched.

"You, with the colt python, all of you. Loser your weapons right now."

"Rick! His walkie." I motioned to Primo's belt and Rick ripped it away from him, slowly standing up and clicking on.

"Let's talk." Rick lowered his weapon and we did as well, Jesus motioned to the place where we had seen movement and I spotted someone wearing a dark shirt through the brush.

"We're not coming out, but we'll talk. We've got a Carol and a Maggie, I'm thinking that's something you want to chat about."

Glenn shouted and rushed forward to Rick but Jesus held him back as I looked through my scope again, I knew that voice. That bitch was still alive, she was probably with her usual group then since we had Primo here with us.

"Now we're going to work this out right now, and it's gonna go our way." she continued over the radio, Rick was staring hard at Primo before nodding to himself.

"You can see we have one of yours, we'll trade."

"I'm listening."

Rick listened for Maggie and Carol to come on the phone and I watched several figures move further back into the tree line where I lost sight of them.

"Do we have a deal?" Rick asked finally, looking around the rest of us as we waited for an answer, there was static and then silence, "Melaney, who is she?"

"Her name's Paula, and since we have Primo she's with three other people. Her husband guy, old fat lady and some biker chick. She's smart, Rick."

"Give the walkie to the girl next to you, the one loaded with the machete and rifle." Paula's voice came over and Rick hesitated before handing it to me.

"Paula, nice to hear from you."

"Melaney, you switched sides. You have fun killing your family in there?"

"Well I missed a couple people, but I'll be killing them soon...why don't you come out from the trees, Paula? Still a little scared cunt?"

"Negan's going to tear you limb from limb-"

"No, he won't." I smiled and waved to where they were hidden, "I just walked in and out of that building, and I'm gonna waltz in and out of Negan's death like a ballerina. Take the trade, Paula or it's going to end badly for you. This group, you don't want to cross them."

"..."

"Come on Paula, radio silence doesn't suit you." I waved Rick off as he went to grab Primo to accentuate the deal.

"I'll get back to you."

Paula clicked off and Primo cursed and Daryl punched him again, I handed the radio back and peered through the scope, nobody was hidden in the trees anymore at all.

"Melaney-"

"Turn it two clicks to the left, should be a different channel entirely." I looked back and Rick clicked away before we heard static then broken voices coming through.

"-We're headed to the break point- switch to Theta channel, same code-toggle to Alpha, listen in." Paula's broken voice came over and Rick turned it off before sticking it back on his belt.

"Break point?"

"It's not far from here,, just a safe house we used from time to time during runs, but we need to wait. Paula's smart, she's very time oriented and she knows her way in and out of everything and how long it takes." I shifted my gun back around my shoulder, "Jesus, you know where it's at too."

"An hour and a half away at the most." Jesus nodded and Glenn came forward.

"Will she hurt Maggie?"

"No, Paula's smart, not stupid and Primo was one of our back up medics, so they'll be needing him if Molls is still smoking every hour." I looked over at him and he sneered back, "We wait, then we head over and contact her again and if she doesn't budge, there's dozens of ways in and out that we can creep in quietly and take over."

"Sounds like a plan to me, let's get walking then." Rick called the others and we began to walk out, Jesus pulled me back behind everyone.

"You're getting in over your head."

"I'm not getting anything, I want to go back home and have this all behind me. I just want this over with." I replied and Jesus sighed.

"This isn't going to go as planned."

"With Negan, it never does."

When we got Maggie and Carol back, both splattered in blood and running out of the safe house themselves, I realized how truly screwed we were. Rick didn't kill Negan in there, and Primo wasn't Negan, we were all Negan and Negan was going to be pissed.

Chapter Text

I stared down at Maggie as she began to breath deeply, in pain, in the back of the RV as everyone else slowly filed in from Alexandria. She looked up at me weakly before her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she fell unconscious again. I dabbed her face with a cold, wet towel before sitting down besides her on the bed.

"You good back here with her?" Rick asked as the door closed and the engine revved up, I nodded.

"There's not much I can do until we get to Hilltop where they have medicine, but she's keeping an even heartbeat."

Rick walked away and I felt the jolt of the RV before we exited the gates and began our journey to Hilltop all over again. Something had happened over the last couple days since we raided the Sanctuary armory and barracks; Daryl, Glenn, Michonne and Rosita had gone out after Denise was killed and then back out again after Daryl took off without a word. There was a chance they were making their way back to Alexandria, but my money was on Dwight getting them first. From what Daryl had told me, a dirty blonde, ksinnt guy had shot through her head with his old crossbow.

A part of me felt guilty,; poor sweet, young Dwight who helped me escape had become a true Savior then. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing as the RV bumped along the road. Maggie's hand touched mine and I looked at her as she weakly squeezed it.

"He'll be fine."

"I'm not worried about Daryl, Maggie...I'm worried for all of you." I whispered and she looked away.

"So am I." she squeezed my hand again and took the wet cloth from me,"I'll be fine for right now."

I got up and joined the others in the front of the RV, sitting next to Sasha and staring out the window at the passing trees.

"We're gonna be fine." Sasha nudged me and I shook my head, "What?"

"Being fine is one thing, making it to Hilltop is an entirely different story." I watched Rick and Abraham talk about the road, "They're going to know by now what went on in the building, they're going to come after everyone. Even if we get to Hilltop safely, there's no telling when Negan's going to attack there."

"Jesus said they weren't expecting Negan for a while."

"We used to do surprise runs, whether five in the morning or midnight...we were unpredictable and we should still treat the Saviors that way."

"The enemy doesn't know who we are." Rick chimed in from the front, "They don't know our faces."

"Nobody else drives a Winnebago around, Rick." I smiled, "All they need is a-"

"You've gotta be shitting me." Abraham cursed up front and I looked through the front window, "What the bitch is going on."

"What?"

"Enemy's close."

Abraham stopped the RV and we looked outside to the barricade in the road, several cars and a dozen more Saviors were lined up, waiting for us. I felt cold, I knew this tactic, we used it a lot when people tried running from us. I checked the bullets in my rifle and Rick ran a hand through his hair nxniously.

"We doin' this?" Abraham asked, Rick shook his head.

"No." Rick turned and exited the RV and I jumped after him, grabbing his arm and jerking him back.

"Don't, don't go out there. Don't you dare, Rick. Simon and his gang are ruth-"

"Relax Melaney, we're not looking for a fight." He fell from my grip and walked out followed by everyone else, I stomped my foot then shoved Daryl's bandana over my face to cover me up and followed.

"We'll probably have to kill one of you." Simon was saying, I could see his face clearly and man was it as ugly as I had ever seen it. He took after Steven's ugly face, but I remember seeing Steven's body back at the armory...fucker had it coming, "That's just the way it is, but then we can start moving forward on business. All you have to do is listen."

"Rick, get back in the RV Everyone get back in the fucking RV." I urged, seeing some of the men starting to cock their weapons. I stepped in front of Carl, shielding him with my body, "Carl, go."

"Yeah...that deal's not gonna work for us. Fact is, I was about to ask you for all of your stuff, only. I'm thinking I don't have to kill any of you." Rick replied, already backing up slowly.

I grabbed Carl and dragged him back to the door as Simon and Rick continued shouting to each other, Carl protested but I gave him a shove back into his seat.

"Hey-"

"I got you guys into this mess, I'm going to get you out. If you died, I'd be the one at fault." I explained, helping Eugene inside, "I know these people, Carl. Your dad's headstrong and won't listen to me, so please, don't be like him."

I jumped as everyone hurriedly got back in the RV and Abraham pulled a U and got us the hell out of there. I ran to the back and passed Maggie on the bed, watching Simon fire three shots into the air.

"What's going on?"

"We're about to hit several roadblocks."

"They found us."

"They knew we'd run to Hilltop." I nodded, Maggie groaned in pain and I sat next to her as she clutched her stomach, "We'll get you there, Maggie don't worry."

"MELANEY!" Abraham called and I left her there and made my way to the front as Abraham came down another road and saw further down another group blocking the way.

"We're running out of options fast." Sasha input as she and Eugene poured over the map.

"Don't try it." I shook my head as another group of Saviors walked forward and began firing into the air, "Abraham we need to turn around now. Rick, we can't go through them."

"We're gonna play it our way, how we want it." Rick nodded in agreement and Abraham turned the RV around yet again.

"They're your people, Mel. What game are they playing at?" Sasha looked at the map and then back to me.

"We did this a lot...every single road going to the place we need to go is going to be blocked. We know this area, and we know it well. They're going to bully us into the route they want us to take."

"And which are is that?" Eugene was ready to circle it with a red pen, I studied the map.

"I'm not sure." I looked at Rick, "But it's not going to be pretty wherever we end up."

"How many people have survived this? From you doing this to them?"

"We left no survivors." I looked at my machete, "But that's all up to you. When we hunted them down, they gave up."

"Alright. Let's keep heading down this way, see if anyone else comes up." Rick sighed and sat back down in the passenger seat.

"Melaney, some help?" Aaron was in the back with Maggie, I left everyone and joined them, closing the door behind me for some peace.

Maggie was passed out again but her skin was still warm to the touch and her heartbeat was normal. Aaron was dabbing her pressure points with cold water, I kept ahold of her wrist, zoning out on her heartbeat.

"They're smart." Aaron was shaking, scared as he looked out the back window to the trees.

"No...Negan is. This is all his plan, when asking nicely doesn't go to plan, this is his way of throwing a tantrum. He'll make an example of someone else." I let go of her wrist as she moved to lay on her side, we propped up her back on pillows.

"He's going to kill us, isn't he."

I looked outside to the fading daylight, to the dark sky and the dead trees. Maggie hummed as she found a comfortable spot finally, her body relaxed.

"I don't know." I shook my head and got up, "Stay with her, she'll probably be awake soon to throw up."

I walked out of the room and closed the door again before I sat next to Eugene on the couch, not bothering to look over the map even when he showed it to me, explaining different shortcuts we could possibly take.

"Melaney." He shoved my shoulder and I looked to him tiredly.

"What?"

"Would they be expecting us to go by foot?"

"...we never thought about people doing that, then again we made it a lot farther than our other victims had even bothered to fight for."

"Melaney, this normal?" Rick called to me again and I got up, barely peering out the window.

A line of walkers stood in our way, chained together and leering at us.

"Yeah, you shouldn't...shouldn't..." my eyes widened as I remembered this scheme, "Oh no."

"Melaney!"

I hopped out of the RV and drew my blade as I ran up to the walkers, looking over their bodies frantically.

"Fuck!" I cried out, spotting a walker wearing Daryl's vest. Carl was right behind me as I fell to my knees in anger and slammed my fists into the ground.

"Dad! that's Michonne's." Carl pointed to the black dread that had been shoved into one of the Walker's face, "That's Daryl's."

"They got them, we need to leave now, cut them down." I got up and raised my weapon up and aimed for the Walker that was wearing Daryl's vest.

Gunfire broke out all around us suddenly, hitting the ground at our feet and ripping through the Walker's bodies.

"Get back to the RV! Go!" Rick yelled, shooting back at the Saviors who were hidden. I popped off a few rounds with my rifle, screaming and cursing in anger.

"Start it off!" Abraham yelled, "Melaney, come on!"

"Fuck. All. Ya'll!" I screamed, managing to clip a Savior in the shoulder before Abraham dragged me back to the safety of the vehicle by my jacket.

We ripped away from them, RV squealing in protest as the gunfire immediately died down and quieted. I sat up next to the passenger seat and looked out, sweat beading down my face as the RV popped and hissed.

"What is that?" Sasha looked outside.

"Undercarriage could have caught a bullet, or could be transmission." Eugene was looking at the dials behind the wheel, "It could be nothing."

"They were firing at our feet, they blocked the road but they weren't trying to stop us." Rick came back from checking on Maggie, "They want us in this direction...just like you said."

"And then we'll be in for a rough firefight." I breathed out slowly and closed my eyes.

Not even ten minutes later we rolled up on a highway overpass where the Saviors threw over a body, we watched a man struggle as his neck snapped but didn't kill him. I stayed in the back with Maggie as the Saviors yelled at us, trying to get her pain down with advil.

"They're not gonna stop." Maggie panted, "They're gonna-."

"Maggie, relax. We have this handled alright, like Rick said, just focus on you and the baby right now." I watched us roll around another corner, away from the Saviors yet again, "Try to pass out again, time will go by faster."

"-we have to come up with another plan." Eugene was saying, I sat next to Sasha again as Carl took over watching Maggie.

"We're out of road, Eugene and now we're almost out of gas." I interrupted, "The only plan is by foot, like we mentioned earlier."

"...they're waiting on this rust bucket." Eugene nodded and the RV began to slow to a stop, "And they don't know the moment-to-moment occupancy of said rust bucket."

"Aaron, get the gurney in the back and have Carl help load her on." I turned to the others as the RV halted, "We're going by foot then. Through the trees and brush, it's the only way left."
"Eugene-"

Sasha objected but one look from everyone and she quieted. This was it, we were going to make a run for it. Eugene was right, the Saviors would be looking for the RV now, not us. I reloaded my gun as everyone said their goodbyes with Eugene and Maggie was pulled out slowly from the back wrapped in blankets and cradling a pillow.

"Please be safe." I hugged Eugene as nighttime finally fell over us under the trees, "Please come back to us alive."

"I will do what I can, to the best of my abilities." he nodded and I kissed his cheek softly, "Melaney, I-"

"I wouldn't be able to live with myself if something happens to you, G." I hugged him one last time before I joined Rick outside, keeping watch as Maggie was lowered.

"Softly, quietly is the key." I whispered, we watched Eugene drive off for a moment before we made our way into the brush, twigs snapping beneath our feet.

Nobody talked for a long time, just the grunts and silent breaths filled the air between all of us as we listened for any sound of movement. I pulled the bandana further up my face as I walked alongside Rick and Aaron who were carrying Maggie.

"How is she?" Rick tried to look back but almost rolled his ankle in the process.

"Maggie, you awake?" I whispered, Maggie's pale face shone under a sliver of moonlight before her bloodshot eyes found mine. She nodded weakly, "She'll live. We're still a ways away though, Rick."

I returned to walking up front with Carl by my side, his one eye glancing around ever so often.

"There's nothing out here." He looked behind us to Abraham and Sasha bringing up the rear, "There's not even a dead Walker."

"...You're right." I stopped and let everyone amble past me, trying to listen to something, to anything. Carl was right, there was nothing dead nor living out here...and the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up as I peered through the darkness to what I thought was a shadow.

"-what happened to Denise, I'm not gonna let anybody die like that again." Rick was saying to Carl, Carl looked to his left.

"Rick..." I warned.

"Son-"

"Everybody RUN!" I screamed as there was a flash from farther back in the forest...a flashlight.

Rick looked back to me as I drew my rifle at the sound of several hundred whistles ringing through the air like a siren's melody, calling the sailors to their death. I threw one of my knives that was strapped to my back blindly and herd it makes its mark before I ran to help Maggie and the stretcher.

They came from the dark then, surrounding us as we tried to make a break for it, we didn't even get five feet in front before faces started popping up everywhere like ghosts, still whistling and whistling.

I knew the whistle, I knew the tune.

I wanted to run.

My heart was beating, beating, beating-

Why couldn't I breathe? I just wanted to-

Whistles and yells and jabs-

Breathe Melaney, breathe-

Someone was calling my name, who was calling me?

Why couldn't I move, why couldn't I fight?

Where was Rick-Rick-

I had to get them to safety-

All my fault, this was all my fault, fault, fault-

Daryl- Daryl where are you? Daryl-

I was slammed into the ground by a Savior, he knocked the breath out of me and I let him, he grabbed and jerked the weapons out of my hands and from my holsters. Someone was screaming-I was screaming, that was me, I was so loud in this forest.

I screamed again as I was pulled up by my hair and dragged past Maggie's empty gurney and over to where Rick and the others were kneeling in the dirt-

Kneeling...No, no-no- nonoononononono-

"Stay the fuck down!" the butt of a gun was smashed into the side of my head as I struggled to get to my feet, my knees buckled and I went down into the mud, crying hysterically.

"Mel-Melaney, shh." Carl urged besides me, I looked up as Eugene was brought to the line we were forming, bloodied and bruised with terror written across his face.

"No..." I couldn't even move anymore, I could barely whisper.

My entire body began to shake, like I had a disorder. The back of a van was opened up not far from us and Michonne, Glenn, Daryl and Rosita were hauled out looking worse for wear.

The RV loomed in front of us, I refused to even look at Daryl as I spotted a familiar face behind him with a crossbow. Half of Dwight's face was burned, melted. Simon stood not far away grinning like a maniac, I let my body curl in on itself and I dropped my head to the ground, hair falling in front to shield me.

The door to the RV opened and I felt my soul scream in terror.

Negan.

Chapter Text

I could feel the electricity in my veins, I could hear my blood pump in bursts throughout my body as the mud I was kneeling in began to seep through my pants. It started to dry on my hands where they were buried, grasping cracked leaves. My entire body was locked up, like I was paralyzed...and I was.

With each footfall of Negan's boots coming down the steps, I flinched and it tore my muscles apart. I could feel my teeth grinding as my hair fell over, covering the rest of my face as Negan began his speech. His voice was warm and it felt like death and I wanted to fucking kill myself.

I closed my eyes as he paced in front of all of us, joking about everyone pissing their pants and why we should. I could feel Daryl's eyes on me from the other end of the line, I knew he was watching me, watching my entire body react to Negan's presence again. Negan paused in front of Rick.

"You're Rick? Hi, I'm Negan and I do not appreciate you killin' my men." Negan sounded dangerously happy, "Also, when I sent my people to kill your people for killing my people, you killed more of my people...not cool man, not cool."

Negan laughed to himself and I felt my stomach start to turn as I opened my eyes, Negan walked up and down the line, talking about what was going to happen. I knew his speech by heart, I had to give it a couple times myself when Steven and the other idiots were to lazy to do it themselves. Rick belonged to Negan now, half of Alexandria's supplies would become Negan's...and anything else Negan wanted from Rick, he would get. Eventually, Negan would kill them when they stopped producing what he wanted. It was inevitable.

I froze as Negan's boots passed right by me, Lucille swung by his feet as he continued to talk. I chanced a look up as Negan stopped to make a remark about how shitty we all looked. Daryl caught my eye and raised an eyebrow, I shook my head back at him and he focused on Negan again. No...no I was not okay and I wasn't going to ever be okay.

"So now," Negan continued, "I'm gonna beat the holy hell out of one of you."

The Saviors began to stir at that, getting ready to see bloodshed. When Negan killed with Lucille it was a sight to see, like a car crash you just wanted to look away from but couldn't. I watched Negan through my hair, he ran a gloved hand over his beard and sighed, his red scarf stood out against his leather jacket. I looked away before he could turn to where I was. Negan walked over, pausing as he looked down at Carl next to me.

"You got one of our guns..." He commented, Carl didn't even move a muscle as Negan began making fun of him for his missing eye.

Aaron was shaking next to me as he watched Negan pick on Carl more. I spotted Dwight out of the corner of my eye suddenly as he shifted in his spot and he froze as he spotted me, mouth falling over in surprise.

Dwight...sweet, young Dwight who had helped me escape. Half of his face had been burned badly and he looked like hell had washed over him and drug him through the fire. He looked between Negan and me wildly and voiced my name, barely a whisper, but I could hear it clear as day and he broke his formation to take a step forward to me. Suddenly, Glenn shouted as Negan threatened Maggie and Dwight snapped out of it to shut Glenn up, putting him back in line.

"This isn't going to be an easy choice!" Negan boomed, I shrank back and then cried out in pain as Lucille was swung behind Negan carelessly.

The bat skimmed the side of my face on accident and I doubled over.

"Fuck! Ouch that must have hurt!" Negan withdrew Lucille immediately and my hands grasped at the dirt in pain, "Hey now sweetie, that wasn't on purpose I swear. Let me take a look at ya."

"No, no I'm fine." I ground out, shrinking away as Negan finally kneeled down next to me.

He grabbed my chin despite me trying to pull away and forced me to look at him. His eyes widened as he brushed the hair away from my face.

I was done. It was over.

Negan's dark eyes glazed over as he carefully, so fucking carefully, pulled the bandana away from my face and traced a finger over my cheek and down my neck. He stared like a madman and I felt his breath fan out around us. His hand started to shake where it was in my hair, keeping me grounded where I was kneeling. Anger, happiness and more anger flashed over his face and twisted his mouth into a sad smile. Negan's voice broke as he brushed his thumb over my bruised lip.

"Laney? Babygirl?" he was quiet, about to break as he stared at me, brushing dirt off of my clothes before taking a shaky breath, "Ho-ly. Shit."

The Saviors around us began to whisper as they peered around and recognized me. Rick and the others stared in fear, no doubt remembering what I said about Negan back at Hilltop, back before shit hit the fan. Negan slowly got up, letting his finger trail over my lips before he took got up and took a full step back, staring at me. I lowered my eyes to the ground, my skin was burning from where he touched me. I felt my tears fall down my face as Negan recomposed himself in front of his men. Carl moved next to me, fingers reaching towards me as my head began to bleed from where the wire had cut me. I shook my head at him and Negan swung Lucille up in the air to rest on his shoulder.

"Well, well, well." Negan whispered, looking between all of us now with renewed vigor, "We hit the jackpot today fellas! Dwight, haul her up here. Ladies and gentlemen this is a damn fine treat! Months and months of searching for this young girl and she's been right under our noses the entire time...with the fine men and women who killed our people."

Negan was smiling wildly now as Dwight pushed me to my feet and dragged me to where Negan was standing. Dwight let go of me and smoothed the back of my shirt before standing behind me. I felt lost, standing behind Negan as he talked, looking down at my group kneeling in the mud and dirt, scared. I felt weak, and I felt myself begin to blackout. Dwight gripped my arm as I started to teeter on m feet and forced me to stand up.

"-and when you left me, babygirl...when I found out you fucking left." Negan trailed off, turning back to me with a flourish, I immediately cringed away from him. He noticed and immediately touched my shoulders and gently tilted my head up to meet his eyes, "No, no Laney don't do that. I never wanted to hurt you like that you know that...I was so lost without you baby girl."

Negan kissed me and it felt like hell. He was rough, like he always was but there was desperation in the kiss. Months of being away from me, months of him taking his anger out on others. I heard someone yell out and I kneed Negan in the thigh, tearing away from him and falling over myself onto the ground. Negan let me fall, a grin spread across his face as he brushed off the print I made on his leg. He turned to look at Daryl who was being held down by two Saviors.

"To be fair. I did deserve that." Negan joked as Dwight pushed me to my feet again. Negan laughed before sending his fist into my stomach, making me tumble over, "And to be fair, you deserved that too."

"Fuck..." I coughed and whined in pain as Dwight held me up.

"As for you." Negan pointed Lucille at Daryl and gave him a look, "You have voiced your opinion way to many fuckin' times tonight...but I get it."

Negan nodded to Dwight who pushed me down to the ground in front of Daryl suddenly, sticking a crossbow in the middle of my back.

Daryl glared at them both, struggling for a second in protest as Negan watched the two of us.

"She's your girl, isn't she?" Negan was smiling, I could hear it in his voice and Daryl didn't even fucking blink at him, "She tell you who I am? She tell anyone who I am?"

Negan turned around to the group, arms out wide. Dwight let me sit up. I shook my head at Daryl and he looked away, jaw tensing. If Daryl kept talking, if Daryl said one more word to protect me...Negan tapped the back of my shoulder with Lucille.

"Used to fuck this girl right here. And I must say, Rick, you picked a fine piece of ass to keep around you men." Negan laughed coldly, "You know, I tried hanging onto her for awhile but man was she a pain in my ass. Then she broke out and well, we know the rest. Laney, get up."

"No. Fuck you."

"Don't start this shit again with me now. Get the hell up or you're redneck boyfriend's gonna fuckin die."

I obeyed the order, to weak too fight against him. I felt too weak to do anything for my people now. I couldn't protect them, I couldn't do anything for them. I glanced at Rick as Negan walked around me carefully, circling me like a bloodthirsty shark, Lucille trailed softly along the backs of my legs. Rick's eyes were wide with fear. I glared at Negan as he stopped in front of me, hand tracing my jaw and giving me a soft slap on the cheek.

"Don't tempt me with those bedroom eyes Laney...I could take you right here in front of your new boyfriend and friends." he turned away and paced up and down the line again, "But I won't do that to you."

I started shaking again, standing there as everyone focused on Negan sauntering up and down with Lucille waving back and forth like a banner. I could see Daryl move restlessly in front of me, eyes hard as Negan paused in front of Michonne, grinning.

"But, we have to move on unfortunately...still gotta beat one of you shit heads to death." Negan came back and wrapped an arm around my shoulder, leaning on me, "You're coming back with me, Laney, you've got a lot of shit to explain so...you wanna pick who dies? I mean after all, you had to know that when I found you...it wouldn't end well for anyone else around you."

"No."

"No?"

"Negan..." I choked out, his name felt like poison on my lips and he gave me his full attention sarcastically, "Please...please don't hurt them."

"Please? Damn, you beggin' already?" Negan looked at me in amazement, "Oh come on now, Laney I didn't mean it like that."

"Don't...don't hurt them Negan...I promise I'll come back with you. I promise, just leave them alone."

"Oh Laney..."

"They didn't do it, storming the compound. I helped, I told them who to kill and who to look for and where everything was at." I begged, turning to Negan and grabbing his jacket to get closer to him, "If you have to punish anyone, take me, leave them and let them go back to Alexandria. They're already going to owe you half their shit...Negan please. Please, I'm begging you."

I was shaking again, tears falling and hands shaking where they were curled in Negan's jacket. Negan was smiling softly, his hand covered both of mine as Lucille rested against his shoulder. Slowly, very slowly he pressed closer.

"Kiss me then."

"Please don't do this." I shook my head, "They're good people, Negan."

"Kiss me baby girl and I won't hurt them."

"Negan-"

"Come back with me, no hassle and they're free to go." He kissed my temple softly and I turned to see Rick, Michonne, Carl and the others bloodied and beaten, looking at us expectantly...not wanting to die.

"Yes."

"Melaney no!" Rick yelled, he got swatted in the back of his head by a Savior.

Daryl also protested in anger as Negan kissed me again to seal the dea. I could taste my tears but Negan seemed to enjoy it more. He pulled away, giving me a kiss on my forehead again before hugging me close to his chest.

"Well I'm happy as shit...Dwight, take Melaney and free the rest of the group."

Dwight led me away as Negan turned around, arms out wide and smiling as I was led back to the RV. I looked back to Daryl, trying to burn him into my memory.

"You know what? On second thought..." Negan looked to me and I felt my blood run cold as Dwight opened the door for me, "I don't see why I should keep any promises to you when you didn't keep any to me. You lied to me, right Melaney?"

"No...no, no, no, NO!"

I screamed as Negan slammed Lucille on Abraham's head. I ran at Negan but fell as Dwight tackled me to the ground from behind. I was screaming, voice hoarse as Negan yelled at Abraham then continued to beat his head into the ground. Everyone was crying, everyone watched as Lucille came back bloody with...with Abraham still on it.

I couldn't feel, I couldn't breath. Devastation...Sasha and Rosita...I couldn't even...Abraham. I coudn't even make a sound, squeaks...Daryl shot up and punched Negan in the face, forcing him to stumble back and nearly run over me as I laid on the ground. Dwight got up from holding me down and pointed the crossbow at Daryl's head, Negan waved him off and rubbed his chin where Daryl had gotten him. Negan started ranting again and I forced myself to sit up, chest heaving in pain as Abraham's body twitched.

"Right...where were we?" Negan laughed and Lucille was brought down again on a man.

Oh fuck. No...no not again.

"Maggie...I'll find you."

Glenn fell forward as Negan slammed his head onto the ground until he hit dirt with Lucille. Glenn was fucking dead. Glenn was dead-dead-dead-

Maggie was in pain, doubled over eyes wide in disbelief. Everyone...everyone was lost, so lost-I was so lost. Why would...Glenn, Abraham.

Breathe, just breathe.

Cold, the dirt was cold and I was cold. I couldn't feel my fingers. Their blood was seeping into the dirt, I could feel their blood on my body. I could feel their blood seeping into my skin. I could hear Maggie and Rick and Carl and Michonne and Glenn, god I could still hear Glenn calling for Maggie.

Negan was laughing, bouncing around the line as my stomach turned into knots, my heart crumpled into pieces. Blood splattered over my face as Negan swung Lucille around. Rosita was covered in Glenn's blood, Daryl was crying...everyone was...they were...oh god. I looked up as Negan stopped dancing around.

"I'm going to kill you." Rick spoke, dangerous and breaking and Negan stopped to crouch in front of him, "Not today, not tomorrow but I'm going to kill you."

Flesh dripped off of Lucille as Negan bent closer to Rick, talking low and smiling to himself. He got up and looked over everyone, coming back over to me.

"Stay right here, baby girl. I'll be back for you later." He winked, and shoved me backwards into the mud and left back to Rick.

Negan hauled Rick away by the hair to the RV; I dropped my head to the ground, screaming into the dirt as light began to break through the trees.

I did this. I killed my friends...all because I was afraid.

It was all my fault.

Chapter Text

The ground had seeped through my clothes and stained my skin when they came back. the RV screeched and hissed to a stop in the mud and the squelch of the ground beneath the tires made me cringe as Glenn and Abraham's deaths played over in my mind.

In front of me, everyone was broken and in the sunlight coming through we looked like ghosts. But Maggie...oh Maggie, she looked like she couldn't breath anymore, she kept staring at Glenn's body. Rosita and Sasha were staring at the ground, breathing shakily and trying not to move as the Saviors around us talked to each other.

When Negan came back out with Rick trailing behind I knew we were gone. None of us had a chance of standing back up to fight against hi., Daryl was on his side crying as Glenn's blood continued to trail towards him. Rick was devastated, his eyes were so wide; he looked dead inside. I looked up as Negan came to a stop in front of us all again, grinning from ear to ear and resting on Lucille and just...looking at us. Negan turned to Rick again as Rick zoned out of listening to him talk.

"-get some guns to the back of their heads."

I was jerked back into line with the others, and a gun was pressed to the back of my head as Negan and Rick stood before us. Simon was smiling down at me as he pressed the rifle I had harder into the back of my skull.

"Kid!" Negan turned to Carl, "Right here...kid...now."

"Negan, no!" I called out, my throat seemed to rip in half and Simon pulled my head back by my hair, Negan waved me off as Carl was brought out to the middle of the area, "Negan, please he's just a kid-"

"Shut up!" Simon tugged harder on my hair and I whimpered in pathetic pain.

"-get down on the ground kid, next to daddy. Spread those wings." Negan grinned as he grabbed an axe and called Simon over for a pen, "Sorry kid, this is gonna be as cold as a warlock's ballsack, just like he was hanging his ballsack above you and dragging it right across your forearm."

Negan laughed as a thick black line was drawn across Carl's skin. Simon returned next to me and knelt down as Negan told Rick to chop off Carl's arm.

"This is all your fault, girlie, you shouldn't have run away. I hope you enjoyed watching the asian and the redheaded dick heads die." Simon whispered in my ear, I started to hyperventilate as Carl and Rick and Michonne began begging Negan to not do this to them, "I wanna see you watch more of your friends die."

I struggled against Simon and he laughed, tightening his hold in my hair and sticking the rifle in my ribs.

"Not making a decision is a big decision, Rick!" Negan yelled at him, "You really want to see all these people die? You will, you will see every. Ugly. Thing."

"Negan!" I tried calling out again as Negan began counting down, Carl was laying on the ground trying to calm Rick down as the sherriff cried and began to slowly raise the axe, "NO!"

I jabbed my elbow into Simon's side and tried to get up but Dwight stepped in and bashed me in my knee and I fell to the ground again. I looked up to see Rick drop the axe to the ground and Carl pulled his arm back into himself as Negan took the axe away and grinned in Rick's face.

"You answer to me, you provide for me, you belong to me. Right?" Negan was so close to Rick's face, Rick didn't even blink, "Speak when you're spoken to!"

"Right." Rick nodded shakily and Negan pulled away and looked to everyone in the clearing.

"Today has been a productive damn day! Now, I hope for all your sake, that you get it now...that you understand how things work!"

I picked myself up off the ground and forced myself to kneel again, my clothes were so dirty...and bloody.

"Whatever you had going for you...that is over now." Negan continued laughing before zeroing in on Daryl who was glaring murder at him, "You know what...he's got guts-not a little bitch like someone I know. I like him. he's mine now."

"No..." Rick protested silently but Negan didn't hear him as Dwight grabbed Daryl off the ground.

"And I'll be taking my girl back too, she's been gone too too long I think." Negan snapped his fingers at me and Rick stepped forward to block him and Negan raised an eyebrow, "No, Rick. You don't get to protest for her. The way I look at it, you sorry shits took her from me. Now I know I said I'd bring Daryl to you and chop him up but her? If you defy me I'll make sure she's the one slaughtering you all. How's that sound?"

Rick kept silent.

"And that's what I thought." Negan grinned and Simon hauled me up and over to Negan.

"Rick, I'm so sorry-" I tried to get closer but Negan put Lucille up between us and tsked.

"No, no. No goodbyes. Load her up, Simon." Negan turned to Rick and tossed him keys to a truck.

I stumbled after Simon to another truck and he shoved me in the back seat between him and Dwight. I didn't know which truck Daryl had been loaded into, I tried to look at everyone in the clearing as Negan waved to them and departed from the circle. The Saviors around us began to whistle mockingly as they bled back into the trees and disappeared. Negan got into the truck and we pulled out, I twisted my body to watch Rick collapse next to Maggie as she tried to get closer to Glenn.

We hit a bump in the clearing and I was jolted to turn back around, I looked up and saw Negan looking at me through the rearview mirror as we got onto the road again.

"You look as beautiful as the day you left, Laney." he was all soft smiles and love now, with blood splattered across his face, "But you know, for a bunch of shitheads that ransacked the armory and killed my people ya'll are just a bunch of damn pussies underneath."

Simon laughed out loud at that, Dwight kept silent next to me but I could see the smirk growing on the side of his face,

"Should have seen the look on that short haired girl's face when you bashed that Chinese kids' head in." Simon laughed again and I just...reacted.

I slammed my foot into his knee and elbowed Simon as hard as I could into his collarbone. He yelled out in pain as I elbowed Dwight away from me as well and attacked Simon in the car. I managed to get ontop of him in the seat, ignoring Negan's yelling at us. Simon's fists beat into my side as I grabbed and tore and bit him as hard as I could, screaming at the top of my lungs with Dwight behind me, clawing at my back trying to get me off of the asshole.

"KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF!" Negan slammed on the brakes and I went flying forward through the space between the two front seats.

My head hit the gear shift and Dwight grabbed my legs as Simon struggled to get up from between the back seats. Negan grabbed me by my throat as I started to sit up and held me down against the gears. My nose was bleeding but Simon looked worse.

"You good?" Negan watched Simon sit up and wipe at the scratches over his face and body before nodding.

"Little bitch-"

I kicked out at Simon and cuffed him across the cheek again before Dwight held my legs down tighter.

"He's Korean, asshole."

"Laney!" Negan was struggling not to crack a smile when Simon's head snapped to the side and then hissed in pain, "Melaney, fuckin' stop it."

"That little-"

"Shut the fuck up, Simon." Negan growled low and Simon fell back against the seat, looking tense, "Matter of fact, Simon, bind her hands. Dwight, go and blind her and gag her and both of you get the fuck out and ride behind."

My hands were tied tight with a zip tie, cutting into my flesh with a knowing grin from Simon. Dwight wrapped Daryl's bandana around my eyes and shoved a cloth into my mouth before Negan wrestled me into passenger seat. He clipped the seat belt down carefully as I heard the men get out and walk away from the car. I was hyperaware of everything now, I could tell Negan was looking at me by listening to the shift in his leather jacket and the scratch of his beard along his red scarf.

"All right, off we go." Negan sat back in his seat and turned on an old CD in the car before I felt the car lurch forward again before heading steadily down the road.

Negan quietly hummed next to me, shifting every few moments as time dragged on. The road beneath us was surprisingly smooth, but it really shouldn't have surprised me to be honest; the Saviors always cleared the road every few weeks so nothing happened out on runs.

"Tell me something." Negan began and I jumped in my seat at how close he was, "How much longer do you think you could have gone without running into me. I mean, I know the world's big Babygirl, but we're drawn to each other."

He took the gag out of my mouth and I heard it drop somewhere in the backseat. He put his arm around my seat, resting just behind my head, I felt him take a strand of my dirty hair in between his finger...my skin began to itch everywhere.

"I was hoping we'd avoid each other forever."

"You see, I told them I thought you were avoiding me." Negan laughed darkly, no humor to it anymore, "I know you won't give up the names of the people in Sanctuary that helped you, but I hope you know they won't be helping you again."

"...you've become more violent." I heard him sigh and felt the car begin to slow down at a turn.

"We're in a new world order these days, Babygirl, lots of things have changed. I myself, feel as though I have not. You, on the other hand, I believe we'll see how much you've changed when I bring you back home."

Home...home was back in Alexandria for me. Home was walking outside everyday with Daryl and heading over to Rick's house to check up on Judith and Carl. Home was Sanctuary...home was with Daryl in bed not wanting to wake up and go to our next shift in the beating sun. But Negan had taken that away, he had taken Glenn and Abraham away too. Glenn was home, Glenn was talking about how much he couldn't wait for the baby to be here and how much he loved Maggie. Abraham was watching him unload and reload a weapon quicker than I could finish a sentence.

"You took that away from me." I whispered under the music, Negan didn't hear me, "You aren't my home."

"Let us in!" Negan yelled out of the truck as we began winding down the Sanctuary path

He rolled both of our windows down and I could hear the faint noise of the gates scraping against the ground ahead of us, I could hear the rumble of vehicles behind us as well.

The car pulled in through the gates and I was instantly greeted with smells all too familiar to me. I could hear people gathering around as well as the Saviors poured in. Negan stopped the truck and took a minute to calm himself down next to me.

"Alright. Let's get this show on the road."

I was taken out of the car and stumbled into several pairs of arms before Dwight finally caught me and held me up with a whispered threat. I couldn't tell which way I was facing, all I knew was that Negan had walked up and placed a hand on the back of my neck softly, like he was trying to reassure me.

"Take them both down to the jail cells, I'll deal with her later. Break the redneck." He pulled my blindfold up a bit so he could whisper in my ear, I was able to look down and see a dozen shadows around me, "Don't do anything stupid, Laney."

Negan left and I was dragged away, I could hear chatter begin to rise up all around us as Dwight led us through several doors and around a doxen more turns.

"You fucked up." Dwight said next to me as we entered down a stale hallway.

"Not as fucked as your face though, Sherry leave you again?"

"Fuck off."

"I should have told him you helped me on the drive over here." I threatened and Dwight's hold loosened in fear, "He was asking too, but I didn't say shit."

"You'd sell out Amber too."

"No, he wouldn't hurt his Wives...I bet that's where Sherry went." I laughed and suddenly I was shoved forward into an open area where I hit the ground hard, "Damnit!"

"Take his shit off." I heard Dwight talking to someone outside the cell as I struggled to take the bandana off by scraping my face against the ground.

I heard someone else enter the room before the door was slammed shut with a lock and a click.

"Here."

Daryl's voice seemed to boom out around me in the space we were in, the bandana was removed from my face and I blinked in confusion as total blackness continued to surround me. Daryl's breathing was labored in front of me as he went to work trying to loosen the zip ties around my wrist. He ripped them off after a good minute and I hissed as the ties cut into my skin even more.

"Sorry."

"Don't be...I'm not blind, am I?"

"In a jail cell." he responded, taking my wrists in his hands and carefully touching them where they were sore.

I tried to peer through the darkness surrounding us, my eyes were very slowly adjusting to the light. I stood up slowly, Daryl stayed sitting on the ground as I backed up until I hit a wall and continued counting my steps, seventeen steps later and I hit another wall.

"Melaney."

"I've been in here." I responded, blindly reaching out beneath me searching for an old bed, "They've taken out a few things though...Negan beat me half to death in here."

I walked over to the corner, five steps away and felt the cold ground underneath my fingertips, "I was in this corner before I blacked out when Negan hit me with the butt of Lucille."

Daryl didn't respond as I made my way clumsily over to him and sat down next to him against a wall. I reached out for him and made contact with bare skin, I frowned and traced a finger over the side of his body and sighed as I was met with nothing but skin.

"Are you cold?"

"'M fine." he shrugged but I felt the goosebumps spread over his skin.

We stayed silent for a while, listening to each other breath and shifting on the concrete underneath us as our eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see Daryl's cuts and bruises all over his body. I could see the blood stains on my clothes, I could feel the burn where Negan had touched me on my face. I looked down to where I was grasping Daryl's hand, and felt the tears begin to slide down my face as I was alone in my thoughts.

It was still all my fault, I had caused all of this. If I had just stayed in Sanctuary we would have never come across Alexandria, we would have never cared to look that far for another community. Now...now Rick owed Negan everything they owned, everything. I could have kept Negan at bay, I could have sucked it up and stayed and everything would be alright. Glenn would be alive with Abraham, he would be able to see his baby grow up and still be in love with Maggie. Abraham would still be fighting over whether or not he loved Sasha...I could have prevented this if I just stayed.

"Daryl..."

"Yeah."

"...I have to stay here from now on. I can't let Negan kill any more of you."

"What...what are you talking about?" Daryl turned his head toward me, I could picture the confusion and panic on his face, "You ain't stayin' here Melaney, you're comin' with me when we get the hell out of here."

"I'm the only one Negan will never hurt." I looked at him, and brushed the hair out of his eyes, kneeling in between his legs carefully, "I can keep Negan from killing everyone, he's still in love with me, he'll listen to anything I say to him."

The more I kept talking, the more reasonable the plan began to play out in my head. It was true, Negan wouldn't hurt me again, he knows I can escape now and I can run from him for awhile. If I could keep him from hurting the others for however long it took for Rick and everyone to jump back onto their feet then I can destroy Negan and the Saviors from the inside.

Daryl grabbed my hands on his face and pulled me closer, mumblinfg and shaking his head.

"You're not fuckin' stayin' here. You're not."

"Daryl, I can do this. I can destroy these people from the inside. If I just play along with Negan, get on his good side again then we can take them down-"

"You're not staying here!" He snapped and grabbed m shoulder, "I'm not gonna let you stay here when we leave, that's not an option. You're comin' home with me, we're gonna go back home together."

"Daryl." I cried silently a little bit more as we bumped heads and closed our eyes, Daryl was crying as well, "Daryl, please listen to me."

"I'm not letting you go, you're all I've got. Glenn's gone, man...Carol..."

"I know, I know. but because you're all I have left as well, I'm not going to let him hurt you. I won't let him hurt Rick or Carl or Michonne or Maggie and her baby."

"Melaney, I can't leave without you-"

"I love you Daryl." I kissed him softly and he kissed back, running a hand through my tangled muddy hair and trying to pull me closer to him as humanly possible.

"I won't let you leave me." he breathed, my hair fell in front of my face, blocking everything else around us as we tried to get even closer, "You're all I have left."

"I won't let anyone ever hurt you, Daryl. I won't stand by and watch you suffer." I shook my head and felt salt on my lips as he kissed me again, wrapping his arms around my waist.

His bare skin rubbed against my pants, but he didn't care as he just pulled me close and buried his face in my shoulder. I felt like I was suffocating as I held him, and cried above him, kneeling as he refused to let me go.

Nobody was going to hurt us again, I wouldn't stand by and watch Negan kill those who I loved. My parents and Leo's death was hard enough...but if Daryl died...

I laid down, letting Daryl pull me close to him as we curled up against the wall and kept a tight hold on each other.

Sanctuary pressed down on us.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

I t's our moment in the sun, And it's only just begun, It's time to have a little fun, We're inviting you to come and see why you should be, On easy street-

I sat up in an instant as music blared around us, Daryl put his hands over his ears as the music continued to boom annoyingly, the happy tune screeched in our ears.

"DARYL!?" I tried to yell over the noise but he didn't even hear me as he looked around in the dark for the boom box playing the song.

The noise cut out abruptly, and silence washed over us again, I didn't even realize the both of us were breathing heavily. I looked at him as he rubbed his eyes tiredly.

I looked at the door as noises and laughter began to grow louder coming towards the door. Daryl got up and shielded me but I stood in front of him instead, I heard the jangle of keys before the door was pulled open and bright sunlight hit us in the face. I cringed against Daryl's chest and closed my eyes as two silhouettes appeared and waited for us to adjust to the sudden onslaught of light.

"Hope you got some good sleep, gonna be the last time you close your eyes for awhile." I heard Simon walk into the cell, I stumbled back against Daryl, squinting as he held out some dirty clothes towards Daryl.

Daryl reached out for it around me, but Simon dropped the sweats and jacket to the ground with a smile.

"Oops." He stepped forward and I grabbed the clothes and handed them to Daryl before going back to shielding him from Simon's view, "Oh relax cupcake, I ain't here for the redneck. I'm here for you."

"Daryl-" I tried to step back but Simon grabbed me and dragged me out of the cell, I kicked at the doors as he tossed me outside of the cell where I landed at the feet of a heavy set guy holding a boom box.

"Sit your ass down, naked man. You ain't got no hold here." Simon hissed at Daryl as he tried to come after me.

My last glance at Daryl was him enclosed in darkness, eyes promising to murder Simon as the door was closed and locked once again.

"Turn it up, twenty-four seven man." he nodded to the heavier set guy and then picked me up off the ground effortlessly.

"Daryl!" I yelled out once more before I was drowned out by music once again.

I fought back against Simon for a second before giving up and allowing him to lead me through the jail cell halls and outside into the baking heat.

"Before I take you to Negan," Simon let go of my arm and allowed me to walk myself, "he ordered I give you a proper tour of the facility, we've upgraded a few things since you've left."

"That facelift count?" I smirked, he rolled his eyes and rubbed his black eye as we walked around the corner to the back lot where I was immediately met with a dozen security guards with rifles.

I followed Simon as he led me to the back lot fence and he stopped in front of it and turned to me expectantly. I raised an eyebrow.

"Recognize it? We've put those who ended up being no use to us, out here." he tapped the gate and I noticed several dozen walkers ambling about, "We updated security to these fucks, no one gets out or comes in without them making a racket."

Simon grinned as one walker zeroed in on him and began growling as he stumbled to the fence. I walked closer to the fence, looking at all of the ripped, torn and damaged faces. I could recognize a few faces I had seen in passing but never gave much thought of. Simon fired a shot into the Walker's knee and made it collapse before he got any closer.

"Come on."

He led me away and I looked back as I saw a walker on the ground in a black dress struggling against its broken legs and arms to get up.

I followed Simon down another hall, silent as I felt my very soul begin to get shaken to the core. Simon began whistling the Savior song and I noticed how dirty I really was as we entered a building from the back.

Jesus was right, Negan was more violent now, more reckless and more confident...something that never mixed well. The idea of a walker security fence would have never existed when I was here, he would have told us it would be a threat to their very lives if something happened and they got out.

"In here." Simon opened up the flap to the back f the greenhouse tent and I immediately began to sweat.

More saviors were milling about tending to the vegetables and plants, they did double takes at me before looking back at their jobs and watching me out of the corner of their eye as I followed Simon to where a woman in a black dress was speaking to another guard.

"Sherry."

The girl turned around and I did a double take myself. Dwight's wife, well ex-wife now. I was right, she had become a wife yet again, this time to the wrong man. She stared at me, eyes wide as we looked each other over. Memories of me helping her and Dwight and their diabetic friend hit me and I felt my legs try to give out. I steadied myself on a nearby table and she looked to Simon as the other armed Savior walked away.

"Negan up yet?" Simon poked a growing tomato in the soil next to him, she nodded.

"He is. He's in-"

"Don't care, tell him his girl is up and gettin' the grand tour." He waved her off and she looked at me again before backing out of the tent and disappearing again, "So, what do you think?"

"I think you'll all be well off for a couple months, shouldn't even bother with Hiltop anymore."

"And your shit hole." He chimed in , I glared at him, "Oh we found it a while back actually, but Negan didn't think that place was alive. But now, half your shit is ours."

"I know, I was there dumbass." I rolled my eyes and Simon grimaced before shoving me out of the hot tent and into the cooler air.

We passed by a few cows and a horse as well as a chicken coop several people were cleaning out before coming out of another flap and into the Savior courtyard.

There were a couple dozen people milling around, guards on their off shifts and people enjoying being outside in the sun. As soon as I stepped out into the lot all eyes were on me, the whispers started and the looks that were thrown my way...if it weren't for Simon next to me, I would have been killed. When we started walking towards Sanctuary doors, silence followed after our footsteps and people turned away.

"Home sweet home." Simon opened the doors and locked them behind us.

Nobody was in Sanctuary, it was dead inside. There were small booths set up in the back, everything was cluttered about and the windows were stained dark so no light could get in. Simon forced me into an empty bench telling me to sit and stay before he walked behind a set of booths and through another door that I knew led to the kitchen. I looked around me, Sanctuary was so dark now, just looming everywhere and so...dirty.

I got up anyways, shedding my jacket on the seat before making my way slowl to where the booths were set up. Trinkets, metal gears, scraps of clothing, gun parts and other useless things were spread out all along the tables like a flea market.

I grabbed a small hunting knife off of one of the tables, letting my finger cut against the rust for a moment before slipping it into my back pocket and reached out to pick up some bullet casings...but my hands were stained red. I looked down at myself again, stepping away from the booth.

I couldn't tell what was mud and what was blood, I was so dirty. I walked over to a pot of lukewarm water and shoved my hands in it, scrubbing the dirt and mud off until my skin turned red. The amount of dirt on me turned the water a murky brown and I saw flakes of blood rise up and float on the surface of the water. I wiped my hands on my shirt and looked around for soap, for anything to take the stain off of my hands when I heard heavy boots fall across the catwalk.

"Melaney."

I came out from the booths and watched Negan walk across the catwalk, staring down at me with dark eyes as a clean Lucille rested on his shoulder. Simon followed behind him obediently, my gun now strapped across his back. Negan walked with a confidence I had never seen in him before, his jacket was open and his scarf was gone and he was looking at me like I was the biggest present on Christmas.

I mirrored him as he came down the steps, walking forward until both of us were standing several feet apart from each other, he continued to look over me and I tried to remain calm as he stood there as lazy as ever. He handed Lucille to Simon who put it on the table before exiting and going outside, leaving us alone.

"I'm happy to see you're alive, Babygirl. I've missed you." He smiled finally, the smile I had grown used to when we were alone in bed.

"I'm not your babygirl."

"Yes you are, but I won't argue with you right now. You've had a rough couple of days...and a night, of killin' my men and then seeing your people die...not to mention that dirty redneck sittin' in my cell."

He stepped forward and I stepped back, he raised an eyebrow and we did it again. He sighed after I continued to back up several steps.

"You're gonna run out of floor, Laney."

"My name is Melaney."

"You can't hide your past." Negan stalked forward and I put my hand on the rusty knife in my back pocket and continued to back up throughout the empty warehouse floors, "And you sure as hell can't hide who you used to be here."

I stumbled backwards as he continued to come closer, I could see every detail on his face. I could smell him and I could remember how he made me fell back then...back when I loved him.

"Laney, Babygirl...don't back out on me now. I know you're in there."

"Back the fuck up." I flipped open the knife and stepped towards him, he backed up and put his hands up in defense, "What makes you think I ever wanted to see you again?! You beat me bloody with that fucking pathetic bat and you killed my friends with it! You've got blood dripping down your hands, Negan. You've always had blood on you but this time. Right now I'll make sure it's gonna be yours."

I attacked him, swiping as close to his face as I could get. I knew I'd be overpowered by him, Negan knew every inch of me. He taught me how to fight when I first came here, every swipe and jab I threw at him, he had already mastered.

Negan sidestepped me as I threw an elbow to his gut, he smashed my hand on his knee and the knife bounced and broke away from us. He grabbed me by the throat and threw me down onto the ground where he pressed a knee into my ribcage. I clawed at his arms but he just closed his hand tighter around my throat, not enough to kill me, just enough to make me gasp for air.

Simon and a few other guards came in when I started yelling at him hoarsely as he continued to slowly suffocate me. He waved them off as they aimed at me, never taking his eyes off me. He used his free hand to brush the hair out of my face as my eyes started to roll into the back of my head and my arms grew weaker.

"Stay down, Babygirl." He whispered and released me.

I gasped for breath, inhaling like a madwoman as I turned onto my stomach. Simon came and put his foot on my outstretched hand as Negan turned to the few men and women standing around.

"This is the exact type of shit that I will not tolerate from you and your people." Negan looked to me and then waved his men out of the building, "Your people stained my bat too, you see Melaney, we're in a new world now. None of this shit is going to fly."

Negan grabbed Lucille and walked towards me again, he swung the bat over my head as I tried to sit up. I stared down at the floor and breathed through my nose, muscles straining as Negan leaned on the bat.

"Your man Rick is too weak to do shit to us so I suggest you knock that shit off." Negan sighed, "Get up, you're getting dirty."

I remained on the floor for a moment before getting to my knees and rubbing my throat.

"Come on, I won't ask you again."

I got up, watching him walk away from me and sit down at one of the empty tables, waiting for me. I followed him and sat opposite of him, watching him closely.

"You're wrong, Negan."

Negan raised an eyebrow and sat back.

"Rick's gonna kill you, they're going to rise up again and you're going to be slaughtered like the pig you are."

Negan rolled his eyes and sighed before we were interrupted by a Savior woman walking out with a bowl of food and setting it down between us. He worldlessly filled a plate for the both of us and pushed one over to me. I didn't touch it as the woman disappeared again.

He was the same as he was when I met him, patient and nice to me when he shouldn't be. He looked naked without his scarf wrapped around his neck, almost vulnerable and too open for me to see. He was busy staring at me as well, looking over the scars on my face left by him. They were barely there, but under low light they stood out like monsters across my skin.

"There's no need to be so hostile towards me, I went through hell trying to find you..."

"I know. I saw you out there, looking for me." I nodded and picked up the spoon, stirring the food in front of me for a second, "You gave me no choice after what you did to me and my family."

"Melaney...Laney, your parents' death was a necessity, I had to do it." he looked distraught, "But I do admit i went a bit crazy trying to put you back in your place, harming you...I didn't want you to leave me."

"Just like it was a necessity to kill Glenn."

"Glenn?"

"The last death."

"The Chinese kid with the girlfriend, right. Well no, that was brought on by your redneck boyfriend." Negan rubbed his beard for a second and looked at Lucille next to him.

"But killing Leo...was that a necessity? You sent him into a trap that day, even I nearly died."

"Exactly. You nearly died, and Leo was right next to you...but Leo was a long, long time ago Babygirl." He shook his head and I stared at my hands on top the table, feeling my throat close up, "I can't have you going anywhere for a while, not to Rick and not to Daryl. You're staying here at Sanctuary where you belong."

"I'm not a Wife, you can't keep me here."

"I think you'll do anything you have to do to keep your boyfriend and your other group safe and sound, tucked into Alexandria." Negan grinned and leaned forward, "You forget I know you inside and out. I bet you already have a plan to get back on my good side to escape again, huh?"

My body ran cold, he was right I already had a plan; to fake being a Savior again and destroy from the inside.

"Rules have changed Laney, and I know loyalty to me when I see it. And you...you're going to break eventually, but it's going to be a very long time before that happens here."

He whistled and Dwight poked his head in through the doors, Negan waved him over and watched me with a sly grin and got up, clapping Dwight on the back and grabbing Lucille.

"You know how he got those scars?" Negan tapped Dwight's face, "Tried to run away with a shit ton of medicine. Found him with his wife and a motorcycle. How'd it make you feel, D? Gettin' those scars"

"Hurt." Dwight answered through clenched teeth as Negan laughed at him mockingly.

"Damn right it hurt! Burnt it with an old iron, the smell was in here for days! So Laney, don't make me make an example out of Daryl, don't you lie to me."

Negan locked eyes with me before handing Dwight a key and swinging Lucille menacingly over his shoulder.

"Take her up, make sure she fuckin' showers and changes too." he bent and kissed my temple before I could pull away, "See you tonight."

I watched Negan strut away before following Dwight up the stairs to where the loft was, there was no point in even trying to run out of this building anymore.

"I see he's made a bitchy example out of you." I commented, looking below me as we started across the catwalk, "Never thought I'd see the day you kissed his ass."

"He's the only way of surviving these days. He's our-"

"I swear to god if you say Savior I'm going to scream. None of you are actually saviors Dwight, especially not him." I stopped walking as he turned to me, expressionless, "We used to be close friends, you used to hate him as much as I did...what happened?"

"...you guys aren't the good guys, Melaney. You're the bad guys, we make sure everyone's happy."

"That just sounds rehearsed." I rolled my eyes and he stepped forward with the rifle raised but I batted it away and put my hands up, "I'm not running or fighting right now. But if it wasn't for me or Dayl you would be dead along with Shelly and your diabetic friend too. Daryl told me he found a guy with a wife and a sick diabetic girl when he went out and he tried to help you and instead you stole his bike and his weapon and you killed our friend. Does that sound like something a good person would do? Does a good man lock people up and beat them with a bat?"

"She died."

"What?"

"Tina died and Sherry's been made a wife because of it. Instead of earning points like me."

"I know she died, Daryl told me...Dwight, you're smarter than this-"

"Shut the fuck up." Dwight raised the gun at me again and directed me towards the loft, "Just get the fuck in the room."

"You're going to have to face it one day." I muttered as he opened the loft door and shoved me inside.

My foot caught the doorstep and I fell to my knees as Dwight slammed and locked the door.

I got up, rubbing the carpet burn on my palms and walked down the hallway to the living room. The loft was still lavish although a lot of the chairs were gone...probably had to give things out to account for more Saviors coming in. I walked to the bar, tapping on the empty whiskey and malt liquor jars splayed everywhere. It was the same as always, just a few things moved and rearranged but it felt...darker, almost.

"Melaney?"

I turned around and felt butterflies begin to fly in my stomach.

I ran towards the blonde woman and embraced her in a tight hug, letting myself cry as she grabbed me back and started crying as well. Amber's natural blonde hair bounced around us as we muttered stupid things into each other's shoulders and squeezed the other as tight as we possibly could. I closed my eyes and breathed her in for a second as I smiled, the one good thing about this place had always been her.

We let go of each other but kept a grip on our intertwined hands as we wiped tears away and smiled.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy to see you."

"Me too, bad circumstances though." I laughed and she smiled again through tears, we looked up as three other women came walking in from the spare room, "there's less Wives now?"

"Around ten, the others are somewhere else." Amber nodded and motioned for the women to come forward while still holding my hand.

The women were watching closely, confused. They were all older than Amber and I by a few years and looked like they'd rather be dead than be dressed in a tight black dress and heels.

"How long have you been a wife this time?" I turned to Amber as they all sat down, Amber sighed.

"Since you left, he doesn't allow us any breaks anymore. I used to be able to see Mark all the time, now I cant even be in the same room as him anymore. Free, but not really free."

"Who are you?" the woman who looked around thirty spoke up, glaring at me and squaring up.

"This is Veronica, our newest addition. The redhead is Emily, she had barely became a wife after you left and that's Katie, you should remember her...oh, and Sherry is a wife now too."

"I know about Sherry, I saw her earlier. I remember you two for sure and I'm sorry you're here, it's nice to meet you Veronica."

"And you are?" Veronica flipped her hair I looked to Amber for help.

"She's currently Negan's favorite." she whispered and I nodded as I sat at the bar next to Amber facing the others.

"I'm Melaney...I used to reside here, obviously."

"You're the one everyone's calling a traitor." Veronica folded her arms and I swore in my head the next attitude she gives me I was going to punch her.

"Yeah, I am a traitor." I folded my arms back, "and I don't know what the fuck kind of problem you have with me but let me assure you your spot as Negan's bitch is just a spot."

She looked taken back by that but quickly regained her attitude with an eyeroll.

"I know about Sherry, I saw her earlier. I remember you two for sure and I'm sorry you're here, it's nice to meet you Veronica."

"Sorry we're here?" Veronica looked at the other girls, "You mean sorry for betraying us?"

"What?"

"You're the one that made him go crazy, you're the one that made him kill everyone here because you decided to go and join a bunch of murderers!"

"Veronica!" Amber stepped forward to shut her up but the other woman just flicked her hands away.

"You aren't special Veronica. None of you are in his eyes." I paused as the girls looked at me, "The minute you think you're above everyone here, the moment that you believe he truly loves you he'll flip. he'll lock you in a cell and he'll come down and he'll beat you within an inch of your life all the while saying he's sorry. He'll kill anyone you love, anyone he thinks might have a leverage over you. He'll kill Mark if Amber even goes near him, he knows they love each other so he'll use that against them to keep them here. He took my best friend and my parents away, and now he has my boyfriend locked up in a cell listening to the same song over and over again trying to break him."

"What happened after you left?" the redhead, Emily, asked.

"I found another group who resided in Alexandria. I've been with them ever since, they let me into their homes and their family...but then they ran aground with Hilltop and Jesus which led us to fighting the Saviors."

"You wiped out the whole armory." Amber interjected.

"We did. Got rid of Primo, Paula, and Molls as well so there's some relief for you. Daryl blew up Steven's group a while back but Negan replaced him with Simon, I see."

"Even more of a brute than Steven was." Amber nodded her head and Veronica seemed to relax the tiniest bit as she listened to me.

"...Negan killed your parents?" she folded her arms, hugging herself and I nodded.

"My mom and dad were going to Alexandria when the Saviors grabbed them, they were going to leave after a couple of days and wanted me to come with them...Negan wanted me to stay, so he took them in a field and made me watch them die."

"And your friend?"

"He was bitten...Negan didn't try to warn him, just let it happen and it almost killed me in the process as well. Negan is a monster, just because he lets you stay here and warm his bed doesn't mean he won't turn on you at the very last second."

"When are you going to leave again?" Amber asked, I sighed.

"I'm not going to, if I try to run with Daryl, Negan will know where to look. I'm going go be a Savior again, get back o his good side and then try and take him out myself."

"It's risky, he doesn't trust you. Last night he was going on about you, we thought he was just missing you and angry, we didn't know you were actually here...but he was going on about how he'll never trust anything you say to him." Emily spoke up and the girls nodded, looking away from each other.

"I know...which is why I'm going to have to become a Savior again, I'm going to have to brainwash myself somehow." I laughed and Amber smiled at that, "I'm going to have to though, to follow every order he gives me to make him believe that I'm backing him one hundred percent."

"You're going to have to prove you're not Wife material again though, and rise past Dwight and Simon." Amber laughed and I nodded.

"Yeah, not really looking forward to the dress and heels." I looked down at my dirty clothes and sighed.

There was a loud knock, making everyone jump before we heard the door open. I smelt him before he even entered the room, Negan smiled charmingly at all of us as he leaned against the loft wall, just admiring all of us. He gestured between Amber and me.

"Good to see you two still know each other, I love a happy reunion." he shed his leather jacket and walked to the bar I was leaning against, I stayed put and barely moved to pay attention to him as he poured each of us drinks, "So ladies, what's the scoop? Fill me in."

"No." I scoffed and faced him, Negan sighed patiently before downing his whiskey and nodding to the door.

"Ladies, give me a minute with Laney, here."

"But Negan-" Veronica seemed put off as Amber led the girls away, Negan gave her a look and she frowned before exiting out the door with the others.

He waited for the sound of the door clicking closed before he groaned.

"Should have never made her a wife, always ridin' my ass every single day, Negan this, Negan that. Fuckin' bitch makes me want a divorce, throw her back out to the rats."

"And here I thought you were accepting of everyone." I moved to sit on the couch and Negan shook his head with a smile.

"You know, I never really said how happy I was to see you again Babygirl, seeing you here in the loft makes it seem like everything's come full circle."

"Excpet your still using extortion for your own gain." I watched him shrug and pour another glass of whiskey, "And killing my people."

"We used to be your people...I used to be your people." Negan downed the glass and slammed it on the counter before motioning to the bedorrom, "There's clothes for you in there, take a shower and change."

" ..No."

"Laney...Melaney, I'm trying to treat you with respect. I'm trying to welcome you in again."

I wanted to scream and hit him in the face.

"But you've attacked me twice since I've brought you here. Gave Simon a shiner and Dwight a bruised ego. Now I know we've got your dirty redneck boyfriend locked up in a cell right now but what I need to know is if that's going to be a problem in the future."

"You ask a lot of stupid questions, of course it's a problem." I responded and Negan nodded.

"And I thought that would be your response...But...you're not leaving Sanctuary unless you're in a body bag Melaney. This is far beyond leavin' me high and dry all those months ago...this is about killin' my men, people you used to fuckin' call family."

"They tried to kill my men and women as well. People I called family. You bashed my head in when I left that night."

"…I apologize deeply for what I did to you that night, but it had to be done…now please Laney, go shower and change." Negan walked out from behind the bar and went into his office, leaving me alone.

I shook my head and walked back to the bedroom, closing the door behind me. The bedroom looked the same except for the black dress on the bed accompanied by a pair of heels. It felt like an old chore, turning the water on in the shower and slipping out of my clothes. The water burnt the dirt and dried blood off me; it turned the ground a murky brown as it slid down the drain, my matted hair turned to silk as the shampoo ran through my fingers.

I turned the water off and hesitated as I reached for the towel, I felt like I didn't deserve this. Rick and Maggie were broken and dirty and probably still bloodied from Glenn and Abraham. The dress on the bed seemed like a black hole as I stood over it with my hair dripping onto the carpet.

I had to do this, I had to save Alexandria.

I walked out of the room to find Negan back behind the bar engrossed in a booklet. The minute the hells clicked onto the stone his eyes shot up to me and for a moment I felt embarrassed, I felt shy. His eyes roamed over me and I saw the way the book fell from his fingers ad hit the bar. The sound jolted him from looking over me, he ripped hie eyes back up to mine and cleared his throat before smiling sweetly.

"I always knew that would look sexy as fuck on you."

I moved to the side as he came around, I paused as my foot connecting with the barbed wire of Lucille which was resting against the couch now. I stared down at it and Negan froze, I felt the adrenaline rush through me and before I knew it my hand wrapped around the handle. There were times back when I was here that Negan would let me hold Lucille but holding it now, knowing that a couple days ago this very bat took my friends' life…I felt powerful.

"Put her down, please Laney. Let's save the fighting for tomorrow."

Lucille seemed to rise on its own in my hand, barbed wire facing Negan as he put his hands up in defense slowly. It scraped against his palms but he didn't even flinch.

"I could-"

"But you wont. Put. Her. Down." He ordered and suddenly I was back in the forest kneeling in the mud watching him bash Abraham's head in.

Lucille slipped from my fingers and Negan took it away gently before sighing in disappointment.

"Thank you." Negan shouldered Lucille and then held out a hand to me, "Come on. It's time you saw the Saviors again."

This was it, my chance. Negan waited patiently as my hand twitched by my side. Daryl was still locked up in his cell listening to that music, naked and freezing. Alexandria was in mourning and there were walkers on the gate not even a hundred feet away, put there by the man in front of me.

"Yeah, okay Negan."

 

 

ONE WEEK LATER

The sun beat down on the asphalt as I walked across the courtyard and to the jail cells, heels clicking away on the ground as two armed men followed me lazily several feet away. I could feel eyes on me as I made my way into the building where the music was still blaring, I could feel the way they roamed over my body before I slammed the door shut behind me on purpose before the guards could slip through.

I took out the sandwich from my bag and grabbed the keys from the guard and made ym way to Daryl's cell. Negan didn't really allow this, trying to break Daryl was becoming a problem for him and he was getting frustrated as the hours dragged on. I glared at the guards as they finally sauntered in before opening the cell door.

Daryl looked up at me as light broke in, ragged sweats and jacket hanging off of him before he sat up straighter on the wall.

"Melaney."

"Hey. Snuck some food in for you." I smiled and sat in front of him as he took the samdich, "How're the dog food ones?"

"Not that bad." He replied before digging into the mayonnaise and meat and cheese with hunger.

"I'll try to get some squirrel for you next time." I laughed and kicked off my heels before sitting back on my hands and watching him eat silently. I frowned as a bruise appeared to be healing in the light of the door, "I heard what they did to you, after you tried to break out."

"Yeah well I had to try something."

"Negan says you'll make a good soldier if you'd break. Most people cracked by the third day of this song and dog food to eat. It's been like a week and a half I think, you're doing great."

"How often did you do this to people?" Daryl finished and licked the remains off his fingers as he looked at me through sweaty bangs.

"Often enough. The ones who flinch whenever we come around are the ones who tied to survive longer but eventually they cracked." I sighed and looked over my shoulder as the men walked past slowly, guarding finally, "Daryl, I can't protect you. I've got people watching me all the time now, I can't get out of Negan's line of view when he's here on grounds or he'll do shit to you."

"That pod of bikes-"

"Don't try it yet. Just…chill out with the prison break alright?" I whispered, "Let me get closer to Negan and everyone here and then I'll break you out myself and take the fall."

Daryl was silent before shrugging and clenching his jaw.

"So that's it? You're just going to let Negan take you back? Wearing a dress and fuck ass heels."

"I'm not letting him do anything to me. I haven't even seen him in two days. Simon just locks me up in the room and sends the Wives to another room." I got up and dsusted myself off before a picture on the wall caught my eye, "Glenn…"

"Dwight put it up there the other night…it was my fault-"

"No. No Daryl, no. IT wasn't any of our faults Daryl." I dropped back to my knees and held his hands as Daryl began to shake softly in pain, "Shh, Daryl, Glenn's death wasn't your fault. It was Negan's."

"Someone's coming." Daryl wiped his face and we stood up as Dwight came around the corner smirking and twirling a knife.

"Negan wants you. Greenhouse." He stepped back and I squeezed Daryl's hand before grabbing my heels.

"Don't do anything." I whispered as I walked to the door, Daryl didn't move, just glared at the me through his hair as the door was closed on him.

"So, want to tell me what you're doing here?"

"Fuck off, Dwight."

"Don't you talk to me like that." He spat and I continued to walk fast across the courtyard, heels burning in my hand as I tried to resist sticking them in his eyes, "Slow the fuck down, Melaney."

I ignored him as we got into the building and took Simon's shortcut to the greenhouse, I could hear them pick up their speed behind me and I couldn't help but smile to myself a little at that. We came into the greenhouse a little bit later, my feet were covered in dirt and burning from the hot ground but the blisters the heels had given me were enough incentive to not put them back on.

He was impossible to miss on the other side of the greenhouse talking to one of the older people inspecting some tomatoes. Dark, tall and holding onto that bat like it was his lifeline and smiling politely as they all talked. Simon was lounging next to him against the table looking bored as hell but he lit up as he spotted Dwight leading me to them. Negan turned to face us as we came closer and his smile got even bigger.

"Laney, Dwight found you in record timing. You're free to go, men." Negan ordered and the guards along with Dwight seemed to disappear, "How are you today? Simon said you skipped breakfast today."

"Didn't necessarily have much of an appetite today." I answered and he frowned, reaching out to run a hand over my cheek softly.

"Laney, baby you need to eat. I can't have you fainting again like you did Thursday because you don't eat or drink."

He put Lucille down and accidentally squished a tomato that had rolled onto the floor and my mind pictured Abraham and Glenn there instead, bleeding all over the floor. Negan made a face and shook the guts off his bat before noticing the shoes in my hand and my dirty feet.

"I'm…sorry about all the security around you, Laney. I am, I know it's pretty annoying so that's why Simon's going to be watching over you from now on. I can't trust you, even though you haven't tried anything in the days you've been here but that doesn't mean you won't." Negan began walking towards the livestock area and I followed with Simon a little behind us.

Negan stopped to pet the one horse we had here, the animal snorted on his hand before throeing its head up in the air and closing its eyes.

"I haven't been able to think straight since you've been here, it's torture not having you by my side anymore." Negan whispered as the horse began to fall asleep standing up, he looked to me and it was like all other noises cancelled out around us, "I want you back out there with me, by my side. I can't stand to see you hate me so much. Let me trust you Babygirl, you know I love you and you know I make some damn good mistakes."

"Then let me go." I scratched the horses forehead and Negan leand forward to me, getting in my space.

I had to do this, I just had to no matter how much he disgusted me right now. I leaned forward, mimicking him…and something in me warmed up. It was the same Negan, just a little bit rougher around the edges.

"Let Daryl and I go. Every wife is free to leave so let me leave and get him back to Alexandria and I'll come back."

"You're not like the others," he whispered as the horse stepped away from us, "You've never been like the other women here, you were mine from the start. They belonged to someone else that they wanted to keep safe…and you were still mine. But right fucking now…right fucking now all you want is to keep that dirty redneck fucking safe."

Negan pulled away from me angrily and the moment was gone, I breathed out slowly as Negan ordered Simon to get people ready to move out.

"Melaney, don't fucking go anywhere. I'll be back." Negan waved me off and Simon followed him as they exited the farm housing.

The Saviors kneeled to the ground quickly as he angrily walked past, they glanced to me before getting up and moving about their business again. The horse nudged me with a mouth full of hay and I shook my head, tossing my heels to the ground and sitting on the fence as best as I could in my dress. They were going out on another run, the trucks were being loaded up and people were scurrying about with guns.

I spotted Daryl being led out of the main building, eyes moving around wildly beneath his hair and I got off the fence and walked out, forgetting about staying in one place. He spotted me as Dwight came up to stand next to him and I stopped, bare feet burning in the sand as they shoved him into one of the civilian army trucks.

"He told you to stay by the horse." Simon walked up, tossing a pair of boots to me to put on, he spit on the ground as I continued to watch Daryl's dirty clothes as they loaded more people into the truck, "Melaney."

"You're going to Alexandria."

"We are. Put the shoes on." He replied and I glared before he sighed and cocked his gun, pointing it at my feet, "Do it or I'll blow the fuckers off."

"Simon!"

Simon jumped as Negan came out of nowhere in a truck. Simon holstered his weapon quickly as I put on the boots, Negan barked orders at other Saviors before coming up to us.

"Point your gun at her again and I'll blow you up myself. Laney…I was just informed you've been sneaking off to Daryl."

"I have."

"…You're coming along to Alexandria then, you're not going to leave my fucking sight with that redneck out now." He seemed frustrated as Simon went to another car and left me with the giant man.

I could see Lucille resting in the passenger seat of the truck as Negan looked at everyone next to me, watching them rev their engines. Negan was dark and angry, rubbing his bearded face in concentration as the gears in his head worked over every angle this could go. I adjusted my dress as one of the Saviors stared at me through dark sunglasses.

"Get in." Negan finally led me to the truck and handed me Lucille to rest in my lap, "Don't try anything."

For once, I didn't want to. Daryl was surrounded by men with guns, one wrong move on my end and he would be dead. The gate to Sanctuary opened and we were off, clouds of dust flying around the tires as we sped past dead and alive Walkers before peeling onto the gravel road. Negan was silent, one hand on the wheel and the other running a gloved hand over his face again with his eyebrows furrowed in deep concentration. It was silent between us, everything was awkward and I felt out of place.

"I'm trying to get your trust back, after all the shit that's gone down." Negan finally spoke, looking at me softly, "I don't blame you for killing my men, but I do blame you for giving them the goddamn map to the armory to kill them.. I just want you back in my arms like how we used to be Babygirl. That's all I want from you. I want to be able to trust you, have free reign of Sanctuary again, I don't want fucking Simon following you around all the time."

"I don't trust you."

"I know you don't Baby, and I'm sorry for that. And I know you can't let go of what happened between us, but I was trying to-"

"You were forcing me to stay in a place where everyone I had ever loved died. Owning us, making me wear a dress to prove a point…it doesn't bring you anything but dishonesty."

"You know about dishonesty pretty well." He jabbed back, making me silent.

I wanted to talk about Dwight but I kept my mouth shut, looking out the window at the forest and dead things scattered about instead. Negan was still Negan, on the outside he was just more violent than I had remembered him to be. He used to be fair, used to treat everyone equally and he used to be a lot more reasonable. Could it have really been me that had caused his downfall into the bloodthirsty man next to me?

"It was good between us though, what we had." He smiled at that as we turned the corner, thirty minutes from Alexandria now, "I remember you wearing that skirt…"

"I remember you bashing my parent's bodies into the ground. I remember Leo's dead body in the basement floor, blood everywhere." I replied, gripping Lucille in my hand, "I remember a lot of things Negan."

"I never want to hurt you again, Babygirl. That's never been my intention and I wish you could see it from my perspective,"

"You're asking me to see the justification in what you did to me. There is none, there's no loophole to peak through Negan. You beat me half to death and I barely escaped here with my life." I turned to him and found him staring at me intently, not even bothering to look at the road.

"You overthink too much."

"I protect myself from men like you." I stared right back and he sighed and put up a hand in defeat.

"We can talk about this later then. I just want you to know how things are going to be from now on. You don't belong to these people, you don't belong anywhere near them. You were a Savior and you'll be one again…half their shit is ours now too, that includes you. How you deal with this information is up to you, and that redneck boyfriend of yours will become a problem I can tell. So I'll make you a deal."

"Don't you dare hurt him."

"I won't if you listen to me, fuck Melaney always interrupting." Negan slowed down as we spotted the remaining guard tower around the corner, "You follow everything I say, work your way up and let me have enough shit to trust you with again, Daryl gets to wander back to his little family."

My body went cold and I leaned back in my seat…it was exactly what I wanted from him wasn't it. If I got on his good side then Alexandria would be safe. Negan pulled papers out of his jacket pocket and handed them to me. I stilled as I took them away from him, noticing my handwriting. I had left these in my jacket the day I came here to Sanctuary after he took me away from everyone.

"I never knew what a good writer you were Babygirl, you made me feel all sorts of things reading these," Negan smiled and I felt the acid drip off his tongue, "I like the last one."

He reached over and plucked the last one from my hands, opening it up with a flick of his wrist. He began reciting.

"'Negan'...I like it, to the point. Anyways, 'If you ever find these it means the Saviors are dead and I probably am too. Alexandria is my home, we live peacefully and we fight for what we believe is right. We don't take and we don't steal from other who try to survive and fight just like us. If anything, we bind ourselves closer to each to survive when we run dry. We're raiding the armory tomorrow and I can't explain how fucked up I am having feelings about going back. For one, that was my home and two, those people had been my family'."

Negan pulled up outside the gate and waited for everyone else to catch up. He looked at me and continued reading as I let the papers fall from my hands and onto the floorboards, tears coming down my face as I remembered writing those words.

"Negan, stop."

"Well I mean you did end up killing your family, so I hope you're happy about that. Anyways, let's skip down to the bottom which is my favorite part and always brings a tear to my eye. 'I can't stop thinking about the time when I'm going to see you again, nobody knows what my past is really and I know Daryl suspects the very worst because I've told him a little bit but…I know some part of me is fucked up and is still in love with you despite what you did to me and another part of me wants to see your brains on the end of Lucille before I snap in half and light her on fire'."

Negan turned the car off and tucked the paper into his jacket pocket as the rest of the Saviors rolled up and crowded the street, everyone began pouring out.

"Laney, I told you once before I don't buy that 'tough girl' shit. You and I both know it doesn't suit you, you're too beautiful to do anything to anyone." He ran a finger over my cheek and wiped the tears away, "Babygirl, nothing's going to happen to you when I'm around anymore. Now hop out."

We slid out of the truck and I came face to face with Daryl as he was led to the front, we stopped and Negan came between us, bat jabbing Daryl in the shoulder.

"Don't fuck up anything, or I'll bash her head in." he grinned and pulled me away, arm heavy over my shoulders as we came up to the gates.

Alexandria looked dark, like it was in mourning still. It felt like I had been away from here for years. Negan whistled loud, banging Lucille on the gates, calling the little pigs to let him in. He winked at me as silhouettes appeared behind the gate. Eugene pulled the sheet away and stared dumbly at us before Rick came into view and pulled him away and opened Alexandria up for us.

Rick looked like he hadn't slept for days, his eyes were wide and sunken in, everyone else came out of their houses and watched as we slowly began to filter in.

"I missed you." Negan smiled at Rick and whipped Lucille around.

I stayed back, not wanting to move as Negan smashed a Walker who stumbled in through the side. I wanted to grab Rick and scream how sorry I was. That this was all my fault and that they needed to just fight back already. Negan motioned me forward and Simon shoved me when I refused. Rick watched me stumble to him pathetically.

The Saviors around us scattered at Negan's order to rip the place apart. He hooked an arm over my shoulder as he marveled at how magnificent Alexandria was, Rick held Lucille for him and I could see him shaking, Rick's eyes roamed over me, doing a double take before he settled on my face; he barely recognized me. I was clean, in a fancy dress…I would probably not recognize me.

"Rick…" I whispered as Negan let go of me.

"Melaney, I…" Rick was distracted as Daryl came into view behind us, "Daryl, hey- "

"No. Nope. He's the help, you don't look at him, you don't talk to him and I don't make you chop anything off him." Negan came between all of us, "Same goes for Laney, I said I was taking half your shit and that includes them. This little piece of ass isn't going anywhere anymore, so you can kiss her goodbye from this point on."

Rick looked like he wanted to cry as Negan kissed me roughly on the cheek to prove his point.

"Negan, stop." I pushed him away and he just smiled.

"Alright let's get this show on the road, see what kinds of goodies you got in the cupboard.

"We put aside half the supplies- " Rick began to explain as we began walking to the food house but Negan waved him off.

I watched the Saviors bring mattresses out and rip them up on the street, smiling and laughing. Every resident remaining could only watch with a hopeless look. As we walked up a porch, I spotted Carl shaking his head over at us before taking off down the street. I sat on the outside chair as Negan was given a cold beer.

"You see this? This is the kind of thing that just tickles me balls. A little cooperation and everything is as pleasant as punch." He smiled brightly, "I can see why you were so damn adamant about calling this place home, Baby girl."

Rick looked at me for an explanation but I just shook my head instead as Negan continued to talk to anyone that wanted to listen.

"So, where'd you live Laney? Maybe we can give your bedroom a visit." He winked at me as a Savior came running up to him with a camcorder.

"Negan! Something you might wanna see."

"Well, well, well. What do we have here? I got my fingers crossed for a little freaky deaky."

The camera beeped and began to play in front of him, I watched Rick's face besides me as his voice came over the tiny speaker.

" -I've killed people. I don't even know how many by now."

"Jesus! Is that you, Rick? Underneath all that man bush? Laney get over here." He held the video out to me to watch, "That man recognizable to you?"

It was Rick before I knew him, way before I knew him. His beard had surpassed any one I had ever seen on the road, he looked crazy; restless. This was the Rick I had missed out on, the only Rick I had known was the strong leader who made choices for the good of the group. The man that stood next to me, holding Lucille…he wasn't Rick. He looked every bit the opposite from the dangerous man on the screen in my hands.

He was missing his will to survive, he was broken.

Negan tossed the camcorder back and we followed him to the street, still talking to no one in particular, Rick slowly trudged behind lost in his own head all over again. I wanted to touch him, take Lucille away and shake him until he was focused enough to see what was going on before him.

I looked up as Father Gabriel came up silently, he smiled politely at me as Negan focused in on Rick again as he berated Maggie.

"Ho-oly crap! You are creepy as shit, sneakin' up on me like that with that freaky ass smile." Negan jumped.

I stifled a laugh as Father Gabriel just looked him dead on, no expression on his face.

"My apologies, I'm Father Gabriel."

I turned back to look at the Saviors snapping chairs in half in front of Rick's house, it was smart to say Maggie was dead. Negan and pregnant women didn't mix very well, the last baby had come out involuntarily…by Lucille.

We all jumped as shots rang out through the air suddenly, Negan yelled and forced me to the ground. I hit hard as he shielded me with his arms, shouting to find the shooter. I looked towards where Carl had gone before Rick and I caught each other's eye in fear.

I shoved Negan away from me and took off down the street, he yelled at me before they gave chase but I had already turned the corner by the time they even started jogging.

I came up to the pantry to see Carl with a semi-auto aiming at a Savior's face who was standing over a bottle of broken penicillin.

"Carl! Stop!" I put out a pathetic hand, as if that would stop him from blowing Davey's face off, "Don't fucking do it."

"So, you're on their side now?" he glared at me.

"Carl, if you kill Davey everyone here dies too." I hissed as I heard Negan and Rick run up, "Be smart about this decision."

"Kid!" Negan huffed and laughed as he came up on the sight of all of us, "What do you think happens next?"

"You die." Carl spat and stepped back as the other Saviors drew on him.

"Carl…Carl put it down." Rick inched closer to his son, trying to calm him down weakly.

"No! He's taking all our medicine. They said only half our stuff."

"Carl!" I tried to interject again but Negan waved my objection away, amused by Carl as he threatened him.

Carl lowered his weapon solely as Negan began to mercilessly berate him, the bravery in the teen's eyes began to fade quickly.

"Negan! He gets it. Carl, please lower the gun." I snapped at Negan and stepped in between them, Negan raised an eyebrow.

"Laney…you do not give the order- "

"you can threaten adults all you fucking want, don't you dare lay a hand on him or any of the other kids. You don't get to decide that." I shielded Carl away from Negan.

They were still my family, I had caused Negan's wrath on everyone but I could still protect them. Everyone around us stared, waiting for a reaction from Negan who just stared at me as well for a few very long seconds before shrugging and turning back to Rick. As he talked to Rick again about the weapons I grabbed the gun away from Carl myself.

"Don't try that shit again, I'm serious. You guys need to watch yourselves around them right now."

Carl didn't' say anything for a second as I put the safety on the gun.

"At least u didn't give into him." He gestured to my dress, "At least I'm not giving up on fighting back."

I looked at the Saviors and Daryl as he stood outside watching everything as well. He was staring at me through his bangs, wearing the same expression as Carl.

"I'm not giving up Carl…I'm just trying to figure out a plan."

"Laney! Gun please." Negan broke my focus away from Carl and I handed the gun over to Simon reluctantly, "Good. Obviously, you know Olivia, so tell me Laney…is it worth taking your people's guns?"

Olivia stared at me as Negan held one hand up, waiting for a response.

"…Yes."

"You heard her boys! Take Olivia out and show 'em the goods, girl."

We stepped to the side as Negan perused the food, Olivia stood next to me, physically shaking and trying to not cry. Her clipboard was a mess of boxes and scribbles and drawings…it gave me an idea.

"I need your board." I whispered, pretending to inspect a can of beans, I watched Negan walk into the armory and Olivia handed it over carefully.

"We're running low on food, Melaney. If he takes half…it probably won't even feed us for a week." She kept an eye on Simon as I wrote on the paper, "We're going to run out even sooner if Negan- "

"I know." I finished my note and swiftly handed it back to her, heart pounding from nerves, "I have a solution, I wrote it down. Show it to Rick when we're gone."

"-so, Olivia sucks at her job is that what you're saying?" Negan and Rick came back out and immediately Olivia flinched, covering up the note.

"What's going on?"

"Olivia, my dear this was your responsibility." Negan smiled and walked to her, not allowing me to block her from him. I watched Rick run out of the house in a hurry.

"Negan, what's going on?"

"Your fat ass food keeper seems to have a few missing guns. Poor, old Rick went out to see if he could magically conjure them up."

"Which ones?" I pressed and Negan finally stopped hovering over Olivia to turn to me.

"Glock 9 and .22."

"If they were taken then Rick will find them. Guns used to go missing a lot here," I lied, "Let him find them and go inside."

"Laney- "

"Let them look for it." I pleaded and stepped closer to him, "you remember the first time Walkers entered the cells? We lost half our guns because people scattered and misplaced the. Stupid people in emergencies make dumb mistakes."

Negan licked his lips in thought before brushing my hair off my shoulder lovingly.

"That…is too fucking true. We did lose half our shit there, didn't we? Simon, take the girls outside to the front while I go check on Ricky."

"Come on." I grabbed Olivia's hand and followed Simon to the front gate as Negan departed.

As we stood there waiting, watching Rick and the other scramble to recover the misplaced guns, Simon began to talk aimlessly about Olivia and how much of a fuckup she was and how she's pretty much just killed her own self. She began to cry next to me and I turned to Simon slowly, he smiled as he caught my attention.

"what? Did I offend you and your friend?

"I wouldn't get to comfortable at Negan's side. One lie from me and you'll find yourself at the wrong end of Lucille."

He shut up at that, eyes narrowing as he unfolded his arms, clearly pissed. He went to raise his hand up to slap me but was quickly whacked in the head by Negan as he came up.

"Sorry I was gone so long, Baby girl. Your people keep just, fucking up." He wrapped his arms around me and rested his body weight on me.

The instinct to push him away came but I gave in to him instead. It was all about faking it now, getting on his good side. If I kept resisting him it would just take longer for him to trust me. Carl's words came back to me though s Negan and Simon chatted.

What if I had already given up? What if me wanting to resist was just a ruse I was making myself believe? What…what if inside I wanted to be a Savior again?

"Baby girl…Rick ain't all that tough like you wanted me to believe." He lowered his voice to me, "Did you know that man on the tape?"

"No. I wasn't here when they first came…I wasn't here long anyways."

"Hmm."

We were interrupted by Rick coming back with two guns in hand…and a deer. Michonne was here, I frowned as Negan became excited and essentially bounced over to Rick. I didn't even realize Michonne had been gone.

"Looks at this! This is something to build a relationship on." Negan inspected the rifle Rick offered up.

"I told you he'd find them." I smiled and Olivia let out a sigh of relief.

"I'd like to ask you if Daryl and Melaney could stay," Rick spoke to Negan as I walked up to them.

I felt my heart skip a beat as he glanced at me but I already knew the answer.

"Not happenin'." Negan shook his head then paused, "You know what? I don't know. Maybe Daryl can plead his case, maybe Daryl can sway me. Daryl?"

They turned to Daryl who just said nothing, Negan grinned.

"Well you tried."

"Melaney- "Rick began again but Negan cut him off with a glare.

"No. Laney is off fucking limits forever. Daryl was a maybe, she's a hell no."

I looked away and felt my own tears try to some out of my eyes, I knew Negan wouldn't let me go. Never again.

"Laney, let's go now." Negan held his arm out to me politely with a smile. I reluctantly wrapped my hand through his as we turned towards the gate. Negan continued to taunt Rick as another Walker came up and got through a hole in the gate. Negan grinned and let go of me as he smashed its head in. rick stood next to me, looking as numb as I felt. Negan smiled and came up to Rick again, whispering before pulling away.

"In case you haven't caught on, I just slipped my dick down your throat and you thanked me for it."

I followed Negan back to the truck and hopped in silently as Alexandria clanged shut. It was an odd moment, I had raided places before, more than a dozen times as a Savior and left without looking back at the damage we had caused…it just felt too weird, like my world was off balance too much.

"Well that went fine and dandy I do believe." Negan smiled at me as we flew down the road back to Sanctuary, "How do you think it went today?"

"It went well."

"Just well?"

"It went fine, Negan."

"I like hearing my name come out of your mouth again." He placed Lucille between us and I looked out the window to avoid him.

The Saviors burned mattresses from Alexandria in the rearview mirror and tossed gasoline on them until the flames reached the tops of the trees.

They were going to burn slowly.


 

Chapter Text

I sat across from Simon, food settling in the bowl in front of me as it turned cold. I sniffled as blood began to well up inside of my noise in a nose bleed again, it was quickly wiped away as Simon paused to watch me. His own bruised face seemed to shine through the boarded and cracked windows of Sanctuary. The bleeding had stopped from the gunshot in his shoulder but I could tell he was still in immense pain from it

The Warehouse had been cleared out for the last twenty minutes, we had walked in and the crowd parted like water as we all awaited Negan's return from Alexandria.

"Why didn't you just leave me?" Simon asked as he put down his fork.

I stared down at my hands, dried blood still staining them.

"Stop asking that. Negan would kill me if I let you die, Simon."

"Melaney- "

"Please stop asking me questions." I sighed and placed my hand over the bite mark on my arm as he nodded in response.

 


 

3 DAYS EARLIER

 

"What is this?"

I was standing in Negan's bedroom as he lounged on the bed with Lucille next to his hip, he looked at me blankly before smiling at the garments on the bed.

"Clothes? What's it look like?"

"Why?"

"Why am I giving you clothes?"

"Yeah."

"Because you've fuckin' ruined the two dresses I gave you."

I looked down at the said ruined dress and scuffed up heels, he noticed the expression on my face and sat up on his elbows.

"Visiting Daryl every day in that dirty ass cell has taken a toll on your wardrobe and damn it to hell if my main girl is walking around with scuffed up shit."

"What, so I'm being demoted? Then just steal another dress."

"You say that like you wanna be my wife."

I shut up at that. Negan sighed and got up, taking my hands in his and leaving Lucille to roll down into his dip in that bed.

"Laney, I know this is hard for you Baby girl, I know. But you've been proving to be respectful and resourceful since our trip to your hometown. You've gone on three runs and haven't fucked them up. This is a promotion Baby girl."

"So?"

"So, I think you're remembering what it was like to be here. You helped Davey out from that shit show of a run last Saturday too, you could've just left him out there and bleed out on the watch. You didn't have to bring him in yourself."

"He would have died."

"Exactly. He could've died." He kissed my forehead and handed me the clothes and grabbed Lucille, "Change and meet me in the courtyard.

He left swiftly and I waited until the door closed until I threw the clothes back onto the bed and began pacing.

This was significant, far more significant than anything I could have anticipated when I came here, he had always been adamant about me wearing the dresses, I had even asked about clothes the other day and he had refused to give them back to me. 'For people, I can trust' he had said; he was trusting me again.

I stopped pacing and touched the several shirts and leggings he had laid out, they were the old clothes I had come here in…even my wetsuit that I had gotten to protect me from the sun, even my ragged button up was here. For a moment, I felt my throat tighten, he had saved my clothes after all my time. They even smelt like a mixture of me and him I realized as I held them up to my face.

He was right, I had saved Davey from death. I could have let the Savior die, there had been no reason to jump the fence and drag him back in while fighting off Walkers with my stilettos, for some reason it had been like cried blurred. Nobody had been willing to grab him, they had just stared through the fence as he cried out for help, leg broken but he was still walking on it to get back in. The line between wanting to destroy the Saviors from the inside and bringing them down wasn't even looking like a line anymore.

I shed my dress and put on my old clothes, sighing in relief when I traded the heels for my boots. I paused as I threw the dirty dress on top of the pillow, it landed right next to Lucille…Negan had left Lucille.

I grabbed the bat without thinking and exited the loft, she felt heavy in my hands as I jumped down the steps of the warehouse and went out into the courtyard where the Saviors were milling about doing their duties. I spotted Negan next to one of the older cars we had found and fixed up, both were lounging lazily against the trunk grinning and laughing.

"You forgot it." I held Lucille out to him and he smiled before taking it from me, giving me a wink.

"I know." He nodded to Simon who popped the trunk and began shuffling through it, "I've got something for you to do for me."

"Oh yeah? What?"

Simon handed me my holster of machetes and guns, I just stared at him as he held them out to me. Negan laughed as he looked between us.

"Fuckin' hell you'd think we just handed you a dead puppy from your face, Baby girl! I need you and Simon to go visit a potential trade house, scout it out for me." He took the weapons and shoved them into my arms, "I need you both armed though, don't know who the fuck runs the place."

"You want me to go out with Simon?" I looked down at my weapons and began strapping it onto me, "On a run?"

"You made me happy with Davey the other day, I think it's time you have a little wiggle room. Don't fuck this up or Daryl will pay for it."

I stared at Negan, waiting for him to laugh and take my holster away again but he didn't, I even looked to Simon to see if he was joking but Simon didn't do anything. The holster weighed down around my waist comfortably, it was a weight I had missed for a very long time. It was like being whole again.

"Good, all set. Simon, don't let anything happen to her, in four days we visit Alexandria. I want you guys back here in three."

"Got it, boss." Simon nodded and went to get in, Negan blocked me from walking to the passenger side.

He pulled me in for a tight hug and kissed me, his brown eyes seemed to soften as he smiled down at me.

"Be safe, Baby girl. I need you by my side."

"O..kay."

He walked me to my side and shut the door then waved us off. As we exited Sanctuary with Negan at the gates watching us drove away…I felt more like a failure than I had ever felt in my life.

I woke up to the sun barely setting with Simon driving us through more woods while humming to herself. I yawned and stretched, making sure he hadn't tied some part of me down to the seat.

"How long have I been out?"

"Not long, but don't fall asleep again I don't wanna wake your ass up."

"And where is Negan making us run too?"

"We're almost there." He swerved around a couple of Walkers in the road smoothly, I watched them try and shuffle after us but ended up tripping over themselves and falling onto their broken faces, "He trusts you again, we think it's a dumb idea."

"Well you're all smarter than him then."

"He thinks you're ready for some strange fucking reason- "

"Fuck off Simon."

"Fake bravado, I can appreciate that. Better keep more of it where we're going."

"And that is where fucking exactly?" I watched him shrug and it made me uneasy, "Negan didn't come for a reason."

Simon just remained silent for a moment before looking at me and smiling politely.

"What was it like in Alexandria?"

"It was good…I liked it until you guys came and fucked everything up." I rolled my eyes and he pulled off the road and into some dirt.

"Get the guns out of the trunk, we've got a couple mile walk to go through there." He hid the keys under the tire as I got out and grabbed the rifles, "Grab the bag of food!"

I watched Simon go off a little way to pee and for a second I let my hand wander to my machete; I could steal the car and kill him and drive back to Alexandria. I could not be a total failure, I could-

Simon handed me a bottle of water as he traded the rifle I had for the shotgun before shouldering it and sticking another pistol in the back of his pants. I followed him into the forest and left my thoughts behind me.

After ten minutes of walking through brush and woods behind Simon I stepped up next to him.

"What's with this group?"

"What?"

"What are we scouting for exactly? Usually Negan does this, takes in a whole army."

"Scouting, who the hell…fuck, I forget you used to be with us." Simon stopped for a second then laughed, "Rumored survivors, it's what Davey was coming back from before he got attacked on the highway."

"He's still knocked out cold…we're the second wave team?"

"Poor choice sending an idiot like that out, we're here to finish what he started. Negan has better things to do than this shit, you know that." He gave me a look, "You know more than I do about this crap though, you've been with Negan longer, you know the plans."

We began to track downhill, mud and leaves slipping under us. Simon held out a hand as we jumped across a stream and back onto level ground.

"It's not a big place, simple shit. Negan said it's a possible enemy too."

"Head count, buildings…we're sneaking in, aren't we?"

"Yep. Shit girl, you sure you're with that pansy ass group back there? You act more like us the longer you're around."

"I'm here to make sure Daryl stays alive. That's it."

Simon huffed and we continued in silence, stopping every hundred feet to drink and rest. We were taking a break on a rock, eating some fruit he had packed along when Simon looked at me up and down.

"Steven told me that you had run away when Negan beat the hell out of you."

I stopped eating and stared. He didn't' look like he was mocking me, he looked genuinely curious. I sighed.

"Yeah. He killed my parents, it was my breaking point."

"What's it like? Lucille?"

"It hurt, he hit me with the handle but it still hurt like hell. Split my face, made my eye swell up and did a number to my body I can't even remember." I touched the scar on my face, "He changed after that, I can see it now that I'm back again."

Simon whistled low.

"Damn sorry to see that."

"Behind you!" I shot up and drew my machete, Simon immediately dropped to a crouch and drew his gun.

Four Walkers came stumbling out of the trees, oblivious to us. Simon nodded to me and took his knife out, we cut through them together easily. The last one I got creative with and used both of my machetes to slice off its head. I was rusty, I hadn't fought like this in a long time.

"Damn, two handed samurai. Good thing we took those away when we did."

"He taught me."

"Who?"

"Negan. He taught me everything, showed me how to use them and taught me how to kill."

"Fuckin' sucks. Can't win in a fight against him then, like punchin' a mirror." Simon laughed and we wiped off our weapons in the dirt and continued our walk.

We finally came to the hill overlooking the rundown buildings Negan had directed Simon to. We were hiding underneath a bush, Simon had his binoculars out while I was keeping watch, listening to him mutter under his breath was annoying though.

"No movement outside for the past fifteen minutes." He put the binoculars down and stayed quiet, "Not even one fucking guard."

"It's almost nighttime."

"So?"

"Dinner time? Sanctuary eats at like what, nine or ten? There's no more bedtimes for us anymore, Simon."

"Could be right." He looked through again as I turned back to watch the trees. I paused as I saw a shadow move behind a cluster of branches.

"Simon. Movement." I whispered as I raised my gun and nudged him.

"How far away?" he replied, not moving from his position.

"I don't fucking know, almost of out my line of sight." I looked through my scope and still saw nothing, Simon got up and began loading his pistol up, "What- "

"Stay here. I shoot three times, you run back to the car."

"No."

"Yes, you will. Negan put me in charge of your ass." He whispered and cocked his gun, "Three times non-stop, you go and get help."

"…Okay."

He handed me the food bag and I put it on as he got up and disappeared towards where I saw the movement from, he took care to duck into the shadows as the sun continued to go down. I had the strange moment again, I could run back to the car anyways right now and go back to Alexandria and leave Simon stranded out here.

But I wouldn't do that, I was too tense hiding in this bush, I could hear crickets and everything else in the dead silence. I scanned in front of me, trying to listen for Simon some more. My heart jumped in my throat as I heard a frog belt out somewhere to my left. Fuck, I hated being alone.

"Don't move."

There was a sudden cold pressure in the middle of my back. I stilled and felt the air around me grow cold as I was beckoned up with the gun pressing into my back. The man behind me struggled to get through the bush to where I was. He must have scaled the hill with invisible feet somehow for us not to hear him.

"Lower your weapon."

I set the rifle down slowly, feeling the gun leave my back for a second as he managed to get one leg over the bush.

In one motion, I twirled the machete out of the holster and sliced his hand open, immediately he cried out and dropped the gun. I kicked him in the ribs and slammed the hilt of the sword into him blindly. He fell back and disappeared back down the hill, screaming bloody murder.

"SIMON! AMBUSH!" I screamed towards him, my voice sounded like a demon as I screamed again to run, where ever he was.

There was a shot in the air followed by a second almost immediately. I took off towards the sound, he did say to run at three and since there was no third then I was going in.

I ran up on Simon fighting bare knuckled with two other men, his weapons were kicked all over the place as they teased him with tasers and stun guns, moving in a slow circle smiling. I swung out with the machete, attempting to cut his hand off but a third man stepped into my line of vision and hit me in the knee, throwing me to the ground and nearly landing on my weapon myself. He shoved a stun gun into my neck and I screamed before my body convulsed in agony.

I couldn't describe it, it was just white, hot-cold searing pain. When the man stood over me, taser I hand, I watched Simon take one to the chest as he tried to punch one guy in the face. He struggled to stay standing and turn around to take off but a jab to his back sent him to the ground like me. The man over me threw me over his shoulder as he jolted me for a second time, making me see stars. My muscles felt like jelly and I was pretty sure I was drooling, I was too far gone to even say Fuck You. Before I passed out on the brute's shoulder, I saw Simon being dragged after us by the foot.

Negan wasn't going to be happy.

 

The Next Afternoon

I woke up groggy, like I had drunk too much the day before but even worse. My body was sore and I was freezing. I stayed laying on the tile floor as my vision began to focus again very slowly.

Simon was sitting next to me, passed out leaning up against a wall. I stayed on the ground as my senses came to me, there was a weight on my ankle and- oh fuck I felt like I had been drugged or took too much fucking drugs, some shit like that. I felt like shit, fuck.

I rolled to my back in agony, hearing chains rattle at my feet as I focused on breathing. In a cell again, anyone could figure that out. It smelt like sweat, blood and dirt all around me, like the floor was stained with it. I numbly threw my hand toward Simon, hitting him in his side which jolted him out of his drugged sleep too.

"Si…Simon." I whispered, my mouth was so dry I could barely say his name.

He didn't make any response so I let my head rest back on the ground, hair covered my face as my body strained to keep up with me moving around. I allowed myself to pass out again.

A few minutes later I was woken up by a slap to my forehead. My world vibrated for what felt like hours before I looked up to see Simon awake and alert as he had ever been, he jabbed my shoulder this time as a resounding 'Chop' was heard outside the cell we were in. We couldn't see anything through the bars, just a blank wall. He immediately went limp and closed his eyes as we heard someone begin to drag something our way; I watched through my hair as the figure dragged a bag past us and continue down the hall. It had left a red stain.

"Shh." Simon shook his head as I tried to get up. I stayed on the ground, turning towards him with my back to the bars

"Simon, what- "

"Be quiet Laney."

I obeyed and we sat there listening, hearts racing as we heard doors open and close and things move around once more as the person came back in and past our cell. I gagged as the smell of blood and sweat hit me once more as another door opened next to our cell.

"The pets are awake!" a voice boomed out and echoed around us.

Simon opened his eyes finally as I felt people come up to the cell, I flinched and got up as well, my body was finally responding right. A man around twenty-eight, incredibly good looking and resembling Morrissey like no other was smiling at us through the bars.

"Well, well little lady look who's up." he watched me slide up next to Simon's side before he cleared his throat and looked to someone out of sight," You mind grabbing the yellow one, Anthony?"

He was attractive and the gun strapped to his hip wasn't his, it was mine.

"So, caught you two snoopin' on our property, not very happy about that honestly. I don't even know who you are." He shrugged as a massive guy with a dead expression on his face came into view and dropped a mutilated body at the guy's feet, "So…you probably know what happens to intruders now. This."

"Meat." Anthony the butcher voiced, giving a toothy grin.

"I don't like lying to people, doesn't really build up a sense of trust so I'm going to be honest with you. You're gonna be killed, used for meat, there's no use hunting anymore and we already went through your food bag so, I'm sorry."

"You're cannibals." Simon voiced and the guy wiped blood off his shoe as Anthony dragged the blonde woman's carcass away.

"Hot dog day is in a couple days and she had tainted skin, all those tattoos you know, and I'm pretty sure there was some funky disease going on down there but you two are actually pretty dang fine looking. Just a hot lady and a hunk." He winked at us, "I'm Lenoi. First though, I'm going to need to know who you guys are and why you were spying on us."

"We weren't-"

"You had binoculars and guns. I'm not stupid girl, I graduated college on the dean's list so I know my way around tricks." Lenoi snapped at me before sighing and taking out a walkie from his pocket, "I'll be back in a minute and I'm not going to be nice about asking questions anymore."

He left quickly, Simon and I let out a sigh of relief before I began to freak out next to him, body shaking in anxiety as my mind raced.

"What the fuck are we going to do?!" I barely kept it at a whisper as I jerked the chain around my leg, "We need to get out of these fucking things!"

Simon's hands were bound together in his lap and he watched me shake some more in anxiety before slapping my own hands.

"Shut up! We have at least two days before they kill us, you heard him. We fuck him up the last day."

"What kind of fucking plan- "

I was interrupted by the door opening with Lenoi lazily walking back in with water and two plates of food and pills.

"We don't know what the last thing you guys ate and I don't really want to know so these pills are just cleansing pills, got some food and water for you." He gave the trays to two armed guards out of sight, "First, you need to tell me what you were doing on my hunting grounds before you can eat."

"Hunting." I spoke up and Simon nodded in agreement, "You have deer in these woods, right?"

"When the Corpses aren't milling about we do." Lenoi seemed to buy the answer.

"We tracked one to here but lost sight of it since it was dark. You guys ambushed us…with tasers."

"We don't like tainting potential meat with buck-shots or bullets." Lenoi explained then unlocked the cell doors, "We'll be transferring you guys to our other lockers to eat and sleep, keep you cool."

He came and unlocked our chains, letting us rub circulation back into our arms and legs before carefully standing up.

"Watch your step." Simon whispered as Lenoi beckoned us to follow him.

I stepped over the blood trail as we followed into a meat locker. Bodies of people, kids and animals were hung up like cows in a slaughter house all around us. I covered my mouth and nose as we went up a stair well and through another door. Lenoi grabbed a clipboard off a door and smiled at us before opening it up.

"Home sweet home. So, for the hunk over here we'll be using your fattier parts on your body so you don't have to worry about working out to look good for us. As for you girl, your body is pretty much perfect. Breasts, thighs, ass…looks all good to us. Anything you guys have that we should know about?"

"Herpes."

"AIDS."

Lenoi looked at us before laughing and writing it down on the clipboard.

"Good ones. Usually I get like 'cancer' or 'shingles' but those were better. More believable. Alright, my guys here will see to you shedding your stuff so we can monitor you better."

"Shed our stuff?" I looked to Simon.

"Strip. Now." Lenoi sighed and had the guard motion with his gun and I froze. Simon shielded me from them as they stepped closer.

"What for? What do you mean by fuckin' monitoring us?"

"Make sure you're not trying to hide shit on you to kill yourself or us. Strip now." One guard rolled his eyes and pushed Simon away and reached for me.

"N-no!" I tried to side step him but he just grabbed my arm and twisted it behind my back and slammed me on the bed, spreading my legs apart and holding me down, I screamed again.

"Hey! Hey what the fuck do you think you're doing!?" Simon fought against the other guard as I began to cry as the guard on top of me wrestled with my shirt, "Melaney, Laney calm down it's okay!"

"Hold her down harder, she's just a chick." Lenoi seemed annoyed as he moved to help hold Simon back.

"Simon!" I cried out as the guy gave up on my shirt and reached around to my belt.

"FUCKING STOP!" Simon screamed as the guy ripped my pants down to my boots and decided to tear my shirt in half with his knife swiftly, "You mother fuckers!"

Simon punched the guard in the mouth, Lenoi ducked out of the way and backed up to the door, watching us with fascination. Simon jumped to me and ripped the other off me. I slid down to the ground crying, pants around my ankles with my ripped shirt hanging open, exposing my back. I sobbed into the scratchy blanket as Simon stood over me. The guards were pissed and aimed to fire.

"I go first, let me give you my shit first. You don't just go around ripping women's close off, fucking monsters." He spit at them and took off his shirt as they lowered their weapons, "See? She'll do it after."

Simon stripped down to his boxers, chucking his boots at their heads on purpose but they just brushed it off.

"Melaney, take it off sweetheart, I'm right here." Simon touched my head softly and I refused to budge, "Melaney, please."

He helped me stand up, blocking me from them as he carefully ripped the shirt to take it off easier. He bent down and undid my laces and slid the boots off, letting me take my own pants off before hiding behind him in my own underwear.

"There, you have our shit. Now fuck off."

"Not yet. Need a medical evaluation." Lenoi opened the door and whistled, a minute later Anthony the butcher came through with a small metal rod.

I began to shake and even Simon was wary.

"Do the guy first, chick will flip out." The guard tossed our stuff into the hallway and Simon stepped forward bravely.

The butcher poked and prodded Simon, muttering things to himself before highlighting things on the clipboard Lenoi had earlier. He turned Simon's face to the side and peered into his eyes before opening his mouth and grabbing his tongue. Simon gagged but the butcher seemed content.

"Her." The butcher shoved Simon away and Simon put his hand on my shoulder.

"Just close your eyes, I'm right behind you okay? I'll be right here."

I screwed my eyes shut and held my breath as the butcher began to prod me too. The metal was cold on my thighs, when he pinched my sides, commenting on 'meat' or 'no meat here' I felt like I wanted to vomit. I began to shake again as the butcher hands followed the metal rod over my back and across my chests.

It ended swiftly after the rod pressed against my ass, the butcher seemed excited there. Simon pulled me back behind him roughly, guarding me again.

"Stay behind me."

Lenoi took the clipboard from the butcher, he looked pleased at what he saw.

"Thighs, chest and your ass are the main qualities about you. No use for hands or back though," he winked at me, "You, on the other hand, make fine lean meat though, could probably stretch you out for days."

Simon didn't say anything to that, he didn't even move.

"Leave us." Lenoi handed the clipboard to the butcher and they closed the door behind them, "Please take a seat."

We sat on the single bed and Simon pulled the covers over me, Lenoi waited patiently.

"You two seem like strong people, which is why I'm sorry to do this to you two. But from the weapons we got off you and the amount of fresh food we found in your bag…I know you two come from someplace big. I know you weren't hunting in my area, no deer come through here anymore." Lenoi adjusted his collared shirt, "So, I'm going to ask you. Who are you and where do you come from?"

"We-" Simon started but Lenoi waved him off.

"I want to hear it from her."

Lenoi got up and walked to me, crouching in front of me and putting a hand over my exposed knee, Simon made a move to push him away but I stayed still. Lenoi had blue eyes, it looked like his irises were lined with gold. I leaned forward very slowly, almost nose to nose. Lenoi inched back.

"I am Negan…we are all Negan."

I smashed my forehead against his nose, Lenoi yelped and fell back on his ass. I laughed as the guards rushed in and aimed at us. Lenoi got up, holding his bleeding nose, staring at Simon and I wide eyed.

"You'll pay for that." Lenoi left, flipping us off and the guards closed the doors, locking us in.

The sun filtered in though a half-boarded skylight, Simon got up and let out a deep, slow breath.

"That was fucking awesome…but we need to do something." He took the trays from the floor and began eating, I stared at him, "What? They're going to be killed in a day or two, might as well eat their food and shit everywhere."

"So, you're saying to sit and wait pretty much until Negan comes?"

"No offense Laney but sitting like a bitch every once in a while, has its rewards."

"I'm not waiting for Negan to come and save me, he won't even come looking until we're missing in three days. He gave us two days, Simon. We're going to be killed in two." I got up and paced around the room.

"Melaney."

"What?"

"As much as I like a woman's ass in my face, I would appreciate it if you sit down." He rolled his eyes and I sat next to him again, he handed me my food as he drank from the jug of water, "I can see why he's so fond of you still."

"Negan?"

"You're his life, Melaney. Sure, the twisted bastard has Wives but I've never heard or seen him fuck one of them before. He doesn't even touch them."

"He says he does all the time." I mumbled and honestly, why should I care if Negan did or not…but I did care.

"What he says ain't always true. It's just part of his charm. But you're strong too, you cry for a bit and then you're ready for action, revenge. Almost just like him."

We both looked up as somebody screamed in the hallway, I dropped the tray of food and the ceramic broke. The scream was followed by the crackle of tasers and stun guns before it went dead silent. I grabbed one of the sharper pieces off the floor as Simon shoved more food in his mouth.

"Grab whatever you can, we take them out tomorrow."

"Tomorrow."

"Simon, you can bitch and moan all you want but I refuse to be made into hot dogs. There can't be more than fifty people here, this place is small. We've taken out more than one hundred in safe camps on half assed runs."

"We?"

"You. The Saviors." I corrected myself but Simon just smiled anyways and shrugged.

"Whatever you say girl, but you got it."

He broke off some of the tongs on the fork and held up his new knife. Now we had to wait.

 

MORNING

The guard dropped to the floor holding his neck together as blood poured out like a river. Simon stood over him cursing about the broken weapon jammed in the guards…well, what was left of his mangled neck.

"Next time pull him off me before you slit a dude's throat." I hissed, wiping the arterial spray off me as I got up from the bed.

"Then maybe you should've went with my plan. Didn't have to get him in here with you half naked and ready." Simon shot back as we stripped the guard of our stolen weapons.

I cocked my pistol and grabbed the taser off his belt as Simon lovingly gripped his rifle. He kicked the dead man in the arm before he opened the door and peeked out.

"I hear the butcher down there singing." He whispered as we began to slowly move out.

"The gun will be too loud, we'll have to surprise attack him too." I muttered, trying to wipe the blood off me more and testing the taser, "Watch your step."

Simon looked down right as he stepped in a blood smear, he made a face but we continued down. So far, the plan was going good, Simon had pretended to kill me and the guard had rushed in and bam, here we were.

We stopped at the bottom and peered around, the butcher had his back to us and was skinning an upside-down corpse. The blood at his feet had to be an inch-thick Simon squatted and ducked under the table closest to us and gestured to the taser in my hand before jerking back at the butcher who was still oblivious to us. I gripped the taser in my hand until it was hot.

"HEY!"

The butcher jumped in surprise and dropped the skin he was holding and the meat slicer. I jumped at him and blindly threw the taser into him. The heavy apron absorbed the shock into his thigh and he slipped on the blood, going down to the floor. I yelled to Simon as we splashed around in the blood, trying to find our footing and not gag at the stench.

Simon came over and slammed a meat pounder into the side of the butcher's head as I dove for my taser in the blood, the butcher went down and I jabbed him in his throat. He opened his mouth to scream but nothing came out, he grabbed my arm as he began to convulse from the electricity, I felt a jolt go through my arm and I slammed myself back away from him. Simon finally stuck a knife into the butcher's skull before helping me up off the floor. The butcher laid there on the floor bleeding out into the other pool of blood, looking at us with wide eyes.

"God you're slimy." Simon grabbed a dry cloth and tried to wipe off the fried blood all over my body but gave up, "We need to get out of here, no more surprise attacks from you though."

"Yeah, I've probably got some disease now." I agreed quietly.

We left the room of death quickly and entered bright sunlight outside. I attempted to wipe the blood off my skin and my underwear but it was useless. Simon was only slightly bloody but he looked just as ridiculous in his boxers as I did.

"We're in the furthest building, there's three more buildings until we get to the hill we got nabbed at." Simon explained as he peeked around the corner, "Two to the right, I'm guessing one is the food hall from the smell and the other must be some living shit."

"Which one do we approach first.?"

"Mess hall. Be easier to take them all out there since it's looking to be feedin' time." Simon sniffed the air and cringed, "Human meat doesn't smell nice at all. Shit."

"What?"

"Guard just went into the mess hall, almost saw me." He laughed and winked at me, "Lucky day."

"You're going to kill me."

"Move out."

We sprinted to the side of the mess hall and hid behind the trash cans as Simon peered through his scope to view the other building across the way.

"Curtains closed, no movement. I say now or never."

I clicked the taser on and cocked my pistol in the other hand as Simon checked his bullet, Simon winked and we got up and walked to the entrance, leaving bloody footprints behind. Simon flung open the doors and I came up behind him to see about fifty people sitting at tables eating a human corpse.

"Chow time ladies and gentlemen!" Simon smiled.

"Intruder!" The one and only guard in the entire cafeteria got up and ran towards us with his own gun raised, "Weapons own!"

Simon and I shared a look as he charged us, he shot him in the head without looking at him and the guards' weapons slid across the ground towards us as he fell like a rock.

The people began to scream.

I grabbed the assault weapon from the ground and we sprayed the entire hall with bullets. We moved around as adults, and only adults, ran around the room trying to escape. They fell in groups and even tried to charge us but it didn't work. It felt better than anything I had been through, to be able to see these pathetic beings run around fearing for their lives while the flayed open body of a young teenager bled out over their tables.

I ran to block the kitchen door and tackled an older man wearing Simon's holster. I smashed the butt of the gun into his nose and was immediately pulled off by other cannibals. Simon aimed and they're heads popped open and fell besides me. I grabbed Simon's belt off the man and turned around just in time to see an injured cannibal run out the front door as Simon engaged in a fist fight with more people.

"Simon! Hurry up!" I screamed at him and he sliced them in the stomach before taking off after the escapee.

I took care of the rest of the people, I didn't care anymore about the blood, new and old, surrounding my feet as I slaughtered the cannibals. I felt nothing. There was a shout outside and I ran out, tossing my used pistol to the side along with the taser.

Lenoi was holding Simon against his chest, gun to his head as my holster of machetes was wrapped around the lead cannibal's waist. I felt anger begin to bubble inside of me as they backed up each time I came forward. I aimed at his head but he quickly moved behind Simon.

"Melaney, we can talk about this like rational human beings. Honestly, I think you over reacted the way you two did."

I shot at his feet and Lenoi yelped in surprise.

"That was a warning. Release him and I'll let you go run off into the woods." I kicked the shell casing at my feet away and aimed again.

"You'd sacrifice- "

"He's not one of my men." I cut him off and Simon looked at me, "Whether he dies or not I don't really care at this point, but he did help get me out so…"

"You mother fucker!" Simon spit at me and I shrugged.

"I'm thankful you got me out Simon, but if you thought I was going back to Sanctuary after this, when there's a car not to far from here…then you're dumber than your dead brother."

"Then we- "

"Shut up Lenoi, I still want you dead. I have cover to the left of me, let's think rationally. You have nothing, all you have is Simon and even then, that's not much cover. Let Simon go, or I will end your life."

"That's not how- "

"I warned you." I whispered as Lenoi continued to talk.

I pulled the trigger and they both went down, Lenoi fell backwards with a thump and Simon fell on his face. I walked to Lenoi as Simon rolled onto his back and groaned in pain, holding his shoulder as it bled out. I kicked Lenoi's gun away from him as he gasped for breath, trying to hold his shoulder together from the bullet hole.

I kneeled on his chest and took my machete from his waist, holding it to his throat.

"Bitch." He glared at me.

"I don't give more than two warnings."

Lenoi punched me in the side and elbowed my head back until he rotated himself on top of me. I shoved my fingers in the hole in his shoulder and he screamed before he bit into my forearm and tore skin. I shoved my knife into his side and pulled it to the left. Lenoi screamed, blood poured out of his mouth and onto my face.

"Cover your eyes." Simon came up and I closed them as he blew Lenoi's head off.

The fearless cannibal leader fell next to me, Simon held his hand out to me and pulled me up as Walkers began to descend from the hills around us, attracted by the gunfire and screams.

"We gotta get out of here." He held his shoulder as I grabbed my weapons from Lenoi's corpse and fit them around me again.

I nodded and winced as I tried to stop my arm from bleeding, he had bit deep and hard, fuck it hurt. I followed Simon weakly back to the woods, both of us were so exhausted and in pain. We paused to see Walkers enter the buildings and a few screams could be heard from the mess hall but they were silenced quickly.

We collapsed in the car seats what seemed like years later, half naked and heaving until the pain hurt us too much. Simon looked at me as he started the car.

"You could have just left me there, shot me in the head and killed him instantly instead."

"I wasn't going to leave you there, I didn't mean any of it." I sighed and rested my head against the glass as he pulled out and we started off down the road in silence.


 

 

An hour later, we were certainly a sight to see as we sped into Sanctuary and got out, naked and covered in bruises, dirt, and blood that was a mix of god knows who.

The Saviors gasped at us as we walked towards the Warehouse, holding our injuries as tight as we could.

"Where's Negan?" Simon asked as Saviors opened the Warehouse for us.

"He'll be back in an hour, he went to Hilltop."

"Let him know we're here, get the Doctor and some food for us, everyone else CLEAR OUT!" Simon nodded and the Saviors in the warehouse milling about obeyed immediately.

We sat at a clean table and I looked up as Amber rushed in with a couple of the cooks.

"Melaney! Oh my god are you alright?" She tried to reach out and touch me but I pulled away.

"I'm fine, Simon said to clear out though…don't want you in trouble." I turned away and rested my head on the table as the Doctor was brought in.

I felt Amber stay for a second before walking out, her heels were the loudest thing in my head as I closed my eyes and let the Doctor grab my arm.

I woke up from my pained sleep in time to hear Negan yell outside. Simon was still spooning soup into his mouth looking like he wanted to kill himself. He pointed to my bloody body with his spoon as I yawned.

"He's not going to be happy."

"At least you're not stained with blood, I don't even think any of its mine." I took a bite of my half-eaten sandwich again and stood up.

"You're the one that kept fucking slipping." Simon hissed back.

"MELANEY!" Negan crashed through the doors looking wild, his jacket was open and his scarf wasn't even on right. He ran to us and went to grab me and pull me in but stopped at the sight of the blood, "What the fuck happened?!"

He touched my skin softly and looked at our soiled underwear in bewilderment.

"Group ended up being disposable. Nothing we would have wanted." Simon shrugged and picked up his soup bowl, "Lost our clothes on the way."

"And all this fucking blood?!"

"Simon saved me, Negan. The run wasn't his fault, it was the group we ran into." I spoke up and Negan ran a hand through his hair, looking like he wanted to murder someone as he took me in again with his fiery eyes.

"Disposable you said?"

"Yes, Negan." Simon nodded.

"What the fuck does that fucking mean?"

"Cannibals. Laney…she killed the leader. They're done with now." Simon winked at me and I couldn't help but smile back, "Should be proud of her."

"Your arm…" Negan held my bitten arm in his, going to undo the bandage but I stopped him, "Laney…oh fuck Baby girl please don't tell me…please don't fucking…Baby…"

"I'm not. Lenoi- the leader- he bit me. I'm not infected." I shook my head and Negan let out a sigh of relief and finally pulled me into his chest in a tight hug.

I could feel him shake in relief as I wrapped my arms around him too and buried my face in his chest and inhaled.

"Simon?" Negan stifled a sniff as he turned to the half-naked man eating a bowl of soup like he wasn't in immense pain.

"Yeah?"

"…Put some fucking pants on, take a few days to rest and get that shot checked out again in the morning." Negan lowered his voice and Simon nodded.

"Thank you." I whispered to Simon as he exited with his bowl of soup, he gave a small wave before Negan looked down at me.

"They hurt you." He was rough and soft at the same time as he began to lead me back to the loft, "Gotta get you in the shower, I'll help scrub this shit off."

"I'm sorry." I felt my throat tighten and he shook his head as he led us into the bedroom and to the bathroom.

"Don't be sorry Baby girl, I was the one at fault. I sent you out on that shit mission. I should've known something was wrong with Davey coming back all fucked up." He stripped himself of his clothes before coming over to me and helping me out of my dirty underwear.

There weren't any sexual feelings as he held my face in his hands and brushed my tears away. He kissed me but it wasn't going to lead to anything more. It was just him. Just Negan. The man I had been with and the man that wanted to keep me safe…this man…

We stepped into the hot shower and the water burned away the blood and my tears as I finally began to cry from what happened. He held me close and I felt like…like I was home.

I had failed, I wouldn't be able to kill them, I was never going to be able to kill this man. Here in Negan's arms felt right, it felt like my world. But the worst part wasn't realizing that as he gently scrubbed my back and whispered how much he loved me.

No, the worst part was that I was forgetting what Alexandria felt like and who the people were there.

And I wasn't sure if I wanted to remember it at all.

Chapter Text

"Knock, knock."

I looked up as Negan came into the room I was in, smiling as he spotted me on the bed going through one of Sanctuary's blueprints. He set Lucille down carefully on the loveseat and shed his jacket before setting it over the seat as well.

"Hi Negan."

"You holding up okay?" He asked, eyeing me carefully before he spotted the shirt I was wearing, one of his old ones, "Damn, that thing's old."

"Do you need something?" I went back to looking at the vent airways and he kicked the bed with his foot as he relaxed on his jacket.

"Don't be snippy with me girl, I was just checking on you." He sighed and I put the prints away again, mockingly giving him my attention, "You look good, it's nice seeing you all cleaned up and beautiful."

I felt my stomach twist at his words and make butterflies race in my heart, it was insane how quickly he was able to make me feel so high at his words. This side of Negan nobody's ever seen, just me, and it was like everything was okay between us again.

The need to pull away from him every time he was close to me had faded after a while, now I leaned into his touch or craved to be next to him even when he was already next to me. Even now, relaxed on the love seat with his white shirt pulling on his muscles and his long lean legs stretched out before him like a cat, god it was impossible sometimes to focus on anything but him.

Negan smiled as if he was reading my thoughts and made a motion with his head to come closer, his gloved hand beckoning me after a second. I slid easily onto his lap, he kept me centered with an arm around my waist and another on my jaw, pulling me down for a kiss.

"You smell so fuckin' good baby girl." He grinned, lips brushing mine before kissing me softly.

He let me wrap my arms around his neck and give into the kiss, I had been craving this all day long since he left the bed this morning.

He moaned as I pressed against him, the hand not wrapped in my hair grabbed my ass and forced me even closer until both our zippers on our pants scraped against each other. His tongue was warm and heavy as he seduced me into giving in and letting him fuck my mouth with his own. Kissing Negan was a drug all on its own, lightheaded and high I could barely hear myself think over the need for more-more-more-need to get closer now-

The door to the room creaked open and a figure stepped in. Negan didn't stop tonguing me and my entire soul until I pulled away as a kid covered his mouth in surprise. I pulled away from Negan, hair wild from being grabbed and pupils blown from arousal.

"Carl?"

"Melaney…" Carl nodded and looked away as I struggled to get off Negan's lap.

Negan just laughed and held me against him without even bothering to look at the teenager, instead only keeping his eyes on me and playing with a hole in my-his-shirt.

"Little shit hopped in one of our cargo vans and popped a few men. I was on my way to take him back when I thought of you, thought you might want to get out of here now you're all healed up."

"You got hurt?" Carl interrupted and Negan rolled his eyes.

"A group of cannibals not far from here, we were ambushed. You shot people?" I pulled myself together but Carl shrugged at the question and Negan slid his jacket back on and grabbed Lucille.

"C'mon, we're wastin' daylight." Negan kissed my lips smoothly as he brushed past, pushing Carl out in front of him, "Laney, you missed it by the way, gave the kid the grand tour!"

I looked below us as saviors were crowded on the factory floor, Negan grinned as we walked down the steps and then stopped.

A man was clutching his face as Amber held a towel to it, crying. I frowned and looked closer as the man was pulled up by Dr. Carson and onto the nearest table. Oh no, Mark had been burned.

"No." Negan put a hand out to stop me from going closer.

"What happned?"

"He burnt off his face with an iron." Carl filled me in and I looked to Negan in surprise.

"What did Mark do?"

"Disobeyed, done some shit I don't like." Negan looked dark as he watched Amber tend to her ex-boyfriend before she got up and let Carson take him away.

Amber began walking towards us, to the Wives room when she spotted us blocking the stairs, she wiped her eyes and turned around, going the long way. Negan smirked as I jogged after her, dodging Mark's body on the gurney.

"Amber!"

"Stay away Melaney." She bit at me, stopping in the hallway but not facing me, still clutching the soiled rag in her hands, "I don't want anything to do with you anymore."

"Amber if I had known-"

"No! No…you're not-we're not- friends anymore Melaney. You came back, you're one of them now…I should have left you to die after he beat you." She turned to the side so I could see the sad fire in her eyes, "I think its best if you stay away from us."

She continued down the hall, heels clicking on the cement. I felt small, standing in the hall watching her go into the room and shut it behind her loudly.

"Melaney."

Negan's deep voice was like honey around me as he pulled me away and out into the courtyard where Carl was waiting inside the truck already. Negan felt the change in me and sighed before he pressed a kiss into my hair.

"I had to do it to Mark, you understand that. Amber…I've been having issues with her and Mark recently. Baby girl I think it's best you avoid that bitch too." He opened the door for me and I hopped in as he grabbed Simon and a few others to join us on the trip to Alexandria.

I looked out the window as we pulled out and shot down the road. The smell of burning flesh had still been in the air, it was on the rag Amber had…

I should have left you to die after he beat you.

She was right though, I was a Savior…or at least still pretending to be one. I hadn't said a word to her since the Cannibals in the valley, I had snubbed her off when she had been concerned about me and that had been it. Most of my company revolved around Simon, Negan and a few other Saviors that I had been close to before I left. Amber had been the only girl though that I genuinely liked, there was Arat of course but she was a little too keen on kissing Negan's ass nowadays.

Negan looked at me and tucked some hair behind my ear and stroked the outline of my jaw softly before returning both hands to the wheel, it made me feel better…until I saw the glare Carl was giving me in the mirror. He was looking at me the way Amber had.

We were greeted by the usual glares as we pulled into Alexandria. I got out first and pulled Carl out and the glares quickly turned into shock. Simon set a hand on my shoulder as Negan greeted everyone and asked for Rick.

"Eyes up, I'm not getting a good feeling about this." Simon whispered low and I nodded, moving my pistol to the front of my pants.

"Simon and Laney, go and take perimeter real quick. Find something you like if you want." Negan grinned and walked off with Carl.

"Puta."

I backed up as Rosita walked past and spit at our feet, Simon chuckled but I felt a fire suddenly go off in my head.

"Fuck off Rosita."

"Screw you, traitor." Rosita squared up, getting close to me.

I had never really been a fan of the Latina, the way she treated Eugene always made me sick. We were about the same height, I was an inch taller and in this moment, almost nose to nose I was grateful for that inch.

"We should have never trusted you, fucking back stabbing son of a bitch. Your sugar daddy's gonna meet his death soon."

I reeled back to punch her but Simon grabbed my arm at the last second and Sasha stepped between us.

"HEY!" She shouted and shoved Rosita away from us, "We don't need this, not now you two."

"It's alright Sasha, the little Mexican whore's just mad she hasn't gotten laid in few days right Spencer?" I jabbed out and Rosita sputtered.

"Calm down Doll. No need to get pissed." Simon let go of my arm and I glared at the Latina as she walked off with Spencer on her heels, "Let's cool off, girl."

We departed from the group and they went the way Negan had ventured off to. As soon as we were out of sight I yelled and kicked a garbage can over, Simon just watched me and laughed.

"That make you feel better?"

"…No, obviously." I rolled my eyes and Spencer rocked back on his heels for a second, enjoying watching me come down from being pissed.

We hung around outside for thirty more minutes, idly chatting about nothing. I heard a commotion a street or so over but didn't think much of it as I picked up the garbage can I knocked over and shoved the trash back inside.

"Need to get you a punching bag, Doll." He smiled, we perked up at the sound of a whistle a street away, "Boss is calling."

We came up to an odd scene, Negan playing pool with Spencer in the middle of the street. I stopped next to Eugene and Arat wandered over to me.

"They found a note when we arrived, some guy named Aaron had a shit ton of guns for us, no ammo." She whispered, I watched over the group of Alexandrians carefully, "That sound like them?"

"A bit yeah, what's going on here?"

"Spencer wants to talk."

"Where's Rick?" I asked, Arat shrugged and we turned back to Negan who looked like he was having the time of his life, "When the fuck did he shave?"

Negan's beard was gone, like it was gone completely. For a second he was almost unrecognizable, I had seen him with stubble and a beard but this? Negan was…so much more attractive. I could see how sharp his jawline was, he was even more handsome underneath everything. Arat just laughed quietly next to me. Carl and Olivia were on the porch watching us, Rosita, Sasha, and Father Gabriel were around along with a mix of Saviors and Alexandrians. I adjusted the gun in my belt, feling uneasy.

"I am my mother's son." Spencer spoke up as I slowly rounded the pool table, trying to gte closer to Negan, "I can be the leader she was, that's what this place needs. That's what you need."

"So I should put you in charge, that what you're saying?" Negan's eyes narrowed slightly, his entire body changed as he sipped his whiskey and eyed Spencer.

I stopped next to the pool table on the oppsite side of them, watching carefully. Spencer was on thin ice, Negan was looking at him like he couldn't believe a word this man was saying. Negan chuckled as Spencer confirmed it, walking around to me and running a hand on my back before he relaxd and slung an arm over my shoulder.

"You're all right, you're all right." Negan ran a hand over his clean face, the arm around my shoulder was tense, flinching under the leather jacket.

Negan shrugged and went back to pool for a few seconds, slowly making his way to Spencer, Simon and I shared a look.

"You know what I'm thinking Spencer? I'm thinking how Rick threatened to kill me, how he cleary hates my guts but he is out there right now, gathering shit for me to make sure I don't hurt any of his fine people tha live here." Negan se the pool stick down gently, "He is swallowing his hate and getting shit done!"

I moved back, stepping to Simon as Negan continued talking to wasn't right, Spencer was an asshole sure, I was never a fan of him when I was here but this was new. The sudden request in change of leadership wasn't all his idea, it couldn't have been. Rosita was standing stoic, watching her boyfriend get belittle by Negan, eyes narrowed. If anything Spencer was more trying o be a Savior than a leader.

"It's because you got no guts." Negan smiled, face to face with Spencer.

He pulled out a knife and in a second, slashing Spencer's stomach open before tugging and letting blood pour out.

Oh.

Oh fuck.

What the fucking hell?

I reeled back, the shock of surprise overtaking my body as Spencer doubled over and fell to the ground, holding his stomach as the organs fell out of it. Negan laughed darkly and swung Lucille up in surprise.

"Oh, how embarrassing! There they are, they were inside you the whole time. You did have guts, I've never been so wrong in my entire life!" Negan smiled and turned in a circle to us and to the othe ralexandrian's standing around in horrified shock a sSpence bled out, "Now someone oughta get up here and clean this mess up."

Nobody moved, Simon was the only one next to me who didn't seemed fazed by it, instead he just sighed and looked around as well as Negan asked about finishing the game. He walked to me and raised my eyes to look at him, trying to clam me down.

"Our time is up, let's go." He gave a softer smile to me before nodding to Simon behind me.

I looked at Spencer, his body was still twitching but he was obviously so damn dead, Rosita..fuck, Rosita-

CRACK.

I ducked at the sound of a gun going off, immediately I looked to Negan who was still standing. Rosita was in front of him, holding the gun. Lucille had saved Negan.

"What the shit! Shit! You just-you tried to kill me?!" He bellowed, all I saw was red.

Arat got to Rosita first, punching her face and bringing her to the ground, I shoved Arat to the side as I laid into Rosita myself, screaming. I got three punches into her sides and face before simon dragged me off of her.

"Arat, Melaney- fuckin' somebody put a knife to her fucking throat." Negan ordered as he picked up the shell casing and inspected it.

I happly obliged and drew my machete out, letting it graze her throat before settling it down on her skin, she looked scared for a split second. Arat stood over us as the Saviors dutifully positioned their guns on those around us, fuck. I was…too pissed beyind words to even say anything to her below me. She had shot at Negan, she could have killed him, could have…he would have been gone. Negan was hyped, too much anger and surpise in him to even think straight for a few seconds.

Rosita claimed the bullet was hers and my eyes immediately went o Eugene, who was hodling himself crying. Eugene had made bullets before, Abraham had told me. Rosita would go to him, there was no doubt Eugene had made more for her.

"Oh! You are such a badass!" Negan slapped his knee, "Have it your way, Arat, kill somebody." Negan ordered and Arat blindly shot behind her.

I heard Carl scream and looked up in time to see Olivia drop to the ground. For a split second I felt remorse, I had once promised to keep these people safe from this bloodshed, from Negan…

I looked up as Rick walked up finally to us, had he really been absent all this time?

"Doll, get up." Simon tugged on my arm gently as Negan sauntered over to Rick, furious, "Doll-"

I got up, letting the edge of my knife cut itno Rosita's neck anyway. Arat nodded to me and trained her gun on Rosita who remained on the ground.

"-and I fed him spaghetti." Negam jabbed Lucille at Carl who crouched behind the porch when Rick turned to look at him,

"We need to leave." I looked at Simon and he nodded, "Negan can't be here any longer."

"Move out." He ordered to the Saviors in the back who obeyed quickly, some stayed behind, waiting on Negan and keeping an eye on the other Alexandrians.

"-Sure thing Rick, right after I find the guy or gal that made this bullet. Arat?" Negan turned to his officer who trained her gun on someone else immediately.

Rick was looking at me, betrayal in his eyes as he recognized me next to Arat.

"It was me!" 

Rosita looked scared, but she stood tall.

"No, it wasn't…it was me."

We turned to Eugene, softly crying and holding his hands close to his mouth and shaking like a leaf. Negan seemed to take pity on him for a second, gently walking up to him and questioning him again. Rosita looked defeated as she got up, regret in her eyes as Eugene stammered out he stpes he made to make the bullet. Eugene, he was so sensitive. He had been a good friend here, always supportive and swet and kind to everyone even when they weren't to him.

Rosita began pleading as Negan ordered the remaining Saviors to load up Eugene. I stopped in front of Rick, eyeing him evenly.

"…You…you helping them then?" his voice broke, his eyes were red around the edges and he looked lost all over again, "You…him…"

"I'm sorry." I shook my head as Negan drove his knife into Spencer as his corpse reanimated for a second.

"Let's go Baby." Negan called out to me as everyone began to walk away, the only ones remaining at the table were me and the Alexandirans. People who were no longer my family.

"Goodbye, Sheriff."

I walked past him and into the group of Saviors, knowing he was eyeing me the whole way back to the gate. Broken.

Chapter Text

 

I stared at the gate of walkers silently, trying not to breath or move even though they had seen me already. my finger was on the trigger around my rifle, but they didn't pose any harm from behind the gate to me...most of them were saviors at one point but now they were as equally unrecognizable as the ones in the wood’s miles away from sanctuary. I should go back inside, I'd been out here staring for twenty minutes when I should be meeting Simon in the cell block. Not yet though, I just couldn’t stop staring at them.

I closed my eyes and let myself think about what happened, seeing Sasha in my head and hearing her moan and-

I sucked in a breath and opened my eyes, vision clearing to the bright blue skies and grey gravel beneath me. I still couldn’t believe I let that happen, I could’ve done something to save her from dying in that coffin. I could’ve at least said something before she decided to turn herself. I spotted a young black woman walker, struggling to move across the lot and twitching in hunger. It wasn’t Sasha, but they were alike enough to make my stomach churn.

“Doll!” I turned and saw Simon walk out of the cell block doors, smiling wide with his arms out as he made his way to me. I nodded and smiled back, shifting my weapon to my back as he came and stood next to me, “You hungry?”

“No.” I shrugged but Simon wasn’t listening, his attention was on the walkers in front of us too.

“I forget about these damn things out here all the time.”

“We spend all our lives trying to be unique and different, from hair color to clothes and we end up all the same.” I spoke.

“Dead and decaying.”

“Before this happened, how come nobody turned into them? When we died, we just died and were buried and soon people forgot about us a time grew on and generations passed by.”

“That’s mighty philosophical and depressing.” Simon muttered, I smiled at that and he grinned back, “Hell Doll, it could’ve been something in the air, something we drank like a bio-weapon chemical.”

“Well all my friends are dead so.” I let Simon lead me away from the fence and to the mess hall steps.

“Still consider them your friends? I remember you firing at them and t hem trying to kill you only a couple weeks ago. Hell, you helped Negan and me in the heat of battle.”

“Yeah, I know Simon. I was there.”

“You close to the one that bit the bullet?”

“Kind of. Sasha and I never had problems with each other. I watched Negan shove her into the cell with the others and never lifted a finger to help them. I never did a thing, I just stood there and watched.”

“You seem to forget you used to be a savior before you decided to run away. Never whined about the shit Negan had you doing back then…you better start getting it into your head that you belong here doll, and nothing’s going to change that.”

Simon gave my hand a gentle squeeze as we walked in and headed for the empty cafeteria line. It was a nice day outside so mostly everyone was taking advantage of it and eating in the sun before it turned blistering hot again. I got my food and sat down, poking around at the sandwich I got before Simon sat down and dug in like an animal. He was right though, I used to do worse things for Negan when I first came here with Leo…god, Leo. I set my sandwich down as he flashed across my mind. I hadn’t thought about him in so long, same with that young kid, Michael. That was like another lifetime ago, almost like it was a dream.

 I looked up as Simon was called for outside and he nodded to me and left quickly. His spot was immediately taken by Eugene and I stilled for a moment, mouth full of food as the stern looking man stared at me blankly.

“Uh, hi?”

“Hello Melaney.”

I coughed and struggled to swallow my food as Eugene looked around us warily even though the mess hall was virtually empty save for the cooks. When he came here after Spencer’s death he had been treated royally, much to my surprise. Negan had taken an instant liking to Eugene which was a relief to me, he was treated like trash in Alexandria and had taken to his new roles here like he was made for them. He was almost as high ranking as I was with his undying devotion to Negan, which even Simon said was a little creepy, but I was happy Eugene was okay here.

“Alright, what’s going on? You look like Negan’s about to come around the corner and bust your- “

“We need to discuss something in private, it’s very important.” He cut me off and I looked around the empty hall pointedly.

“We can always just whisper you know.” I offered, and he just blinked, “Oh for fuck’s sake Eugene, come on.”

I led him up to my-Negan’s-room and shut all the doors and locked them for his sake. I sat down on the bed and he remained standing for a moment as we listened to the workers outside for a moment.

“Well? Nobody’s coming up here, Negan’s been too busy to come up here nowadays with Rick and everyone on our ass.”

“We have a mole in sanctuary. I’m fairly certain this mole has been feeding information to Rick’s group about us. That’s how they know where we are and how they’re always ready.”

“A traitor? Who?” I stood up, already reaching for my walkie but Eugene stopped me.

“You can’t tell him.”

“Why the hell not? If someone is posing a threat- “

“Because I’m not one hundred percent sure who it is.” He lowered his eyes and I frowned, feeling like a jerk.

“Alright, I won’t tell him. Who do you think it is then?”

“I can’t- “

“Don’t make me pull rank on you, Eugene.”

“I have my suspicions it’s Dwight.” He said, and I felt my heart sink a little bit at that. I had so much hope for Dwight to redeem himself.

“What makes you suspect Dwight?”

“He’s in places he shouldn’t be, and he disappears on runs and evades my questions.”

“Eugene, you’re not the best interrogator in the world here.” I muttered, and he agreed, “alright, well let’s just keep n eye on him. If you see him doing shady shit come, get me. We’ll tell Negan together when we have enough evidence on him okay?”

Laney, where the hell are you you’re needed in the mess hall.” Simon’s voice crackled over the radio and I motioned for Eugene to unlock the door.

“I’m coming, hold on.”

We made out way back to the mess hall where Eugene just gave me a look before turning and going to the garden doors, I spotted Simon talking to a couple other saviors and made my way to him and plopped down on a seat. It was troubling for sure, but it would explain a lot; why Rick and everyone seemed to know where we were before we got there. Dwight was a good mole too, nobody really paid attention to him anymore, so it would be easy for him to sneak around.

“Well, well. What was up with you and creep-o?” Simon taunted as he turned back towards me.

“Nothing, if it gets to be trouble I’ll let you know. Until then, shove off.”

“No need to be snippy.” Simon laughed, and I glared.

“Why am I here, again.”

Simon was interrupted by Negan walking in the mess hall swinging his bat and clanging it on a trashcan as he spotted us. I propped my foot up on the bench and rested my head on my knee as he shouted at us in hello. Simon and he exchanged details about the day as I played with my laces and eyed Lucille next to Negan’s leg. The bat was spotless, which meant Negan killed something recently and had probably spent the last five hours cleaning the inanimate object. He pulled me from my thoughts with a hand on my head, carding through my hair.

“Being a pain in the ass for Simon, I hear.”

“He’s the ass.” I replied, and they smirked as Negan took a seat next to me, stretching his arms out.

“Bunch of fucking kids you two are, I swear.” He yawned, “Simon, mind grabbing the men for me? Have an announcement.”

“Sure thing, boss.”

Simon left quickly, and Negan relaxed against the table, closing his eyes as I watched him silently, resting my head back on my knee again. He cracked one eye open at me.

“Still no word on how Daryl got out.”

“I didn’t let him out Negan, and I didn’t let him out the other fifty times you’ve asked me about it.”

“Funny how none of the wives like you anymore.”

“I may have threatened them a couple of times.” I bit back, anger rising in me at his nonchalant sounding questions, “Tame your sluts, Negan and maybe I won’t have to yell at them to stay the hell out of my way.”

“Watch your tone” he looked at me fully now, voice sharp and warning.

“Oh, shut up, you’re acting like some glorified pimp. Nobody needs that many women for anything.” I hissed, straightening up and Negan sighed.

“We’ve already talked about this Laney.”

“And I’m standing my ground on it! You’re so worried about keeping appearances to the men you forget that everyone is a human being, and nobody wants to be treated like a slave locked up in a room wearing thigh highs and dresses. And I don’t like the way you say I’m different than them either, of course I fucking am, I’m not your damn wife.”

I stood up angrily, towering over his sitting form. I was aware of my rifle slung across my back and how Lucille was resting in between his legs. I could pop off a round into his face before he could swing the bat up to hit me.

“You are, Laney. Different.”

“In what way? We’d be better off without you having other women to fuck.”

“You’re in my bed every single fucking night, Laney. Who else is there for me to fuck besides you?” he spit back, I could tell he was getting agitated.

“When I’m not there then?” I crossed my arms, “You’re not exactly Mr. Faithful.”

“Enough.” He got up, towering over me with Lucille in his hand and I lowered my eyes instantly as I felt him stare down at me, “Stop this bullshit, Baby girl. You know me better than anyone else here…Look, I’ve got a job for you alright?”

“What job? Why?”

“Simon and several others have told me about the bitching you make so I’m sending you out. plus, you’ve proven yourself to the point where I know you won’t run back to Alexandria or Hilltop.”

“I burnt my bridges with them because of you, you mean.” I whispered and Negan grinned wide at that.

I could never go back there, to a place I thought I’d call home forever. But he was right, I couldn’t go back even if I wanted to…and Daryl, the only reason I’d go back is for him. But he hated me, I turned my back on him and the people I had called family for Negan. Always for Negan.

“There’s a new community I want you to check out. I have word it won’t be anything like last time with the cannibals.”

“Where?”

“Three hours North.”

“That’s a stretch even for us.” I sat back down as Negan rubbed his stubble and nodded in agreement.

We were distracted as Saviors poured into the mess hall, led by Simon who had his usual dumb grin on his face. Negan waited until everyone was inside before hopping up on the table next to where I was sitting, spreading his arms out in welcome like he always did.

“Howdy folks, listen up, there’s going to be a change around here now that Alexandria is ours and shit’s been taken care of. I need to address some shit in my own house.” Negan dramatically inspected Lucille, “Jameson, get over here.”

One of Negan’s lieutenants walked forward through the crowd, he had been here for a while now, I knew him back when I first came here. He was tall as Negan eyed him up and down before jumping off the table and striding over to him.

“So, Jameson, I was made aware recently that you were the one on watch over Daryl…you were the one that fucked off for some reason and let him escape.” He eyed his lieutenant as he circled him slow like a shark.

“Sir- “

“I didn’t tell you to speak.” Negan snarled at him, “Now, I can feed you to the gate but that means I’m down one guard so I’m gonna spare you. This time.”

The relief on Jameson’s face was evident but wasted as Negan kicked out both his legs, forcing him to fall to the floor hard, landing on his hands and knees. Negan walked away from him and turned to me, beckoning me over with a nod of his head. I made my way as he addressed the rest of the men and women. Nobody smiled or laughed, nobody moved.

“Melaney, I think your actions in Alexandria and the other day when those fuckers fired on us not only proved your loyalty to me, but to everyone else as well.  Does anyone else agree?”

I looked out to everyone and saw Simon beam in happiness and nod, most of the other saviors nodded as well. For a second, I felt flooded with emotion I hadn’t felt before.

“She’s shown us she’s not with those assholes anymore.” Arat spoke up behind Simon, “She was always a savior and those fucks mean nothing to her now.”

“She’s changed my mind about her.” Simon agreed, and Negan winked at me.

“Good. We’re all in agreement. So, I’m promoting you to Lieutenant, that prick’s job.” Negan motioned to Jameson who was still on the floor, “Congratulations, Laney you’re in my top three.”

There was murmurs then, saviors looking at me and smiling and nodding to me in respect. I was still, this couldn’t be happening. Negan was looking at me waiting for a reply but all I could do was stay rooted to the spot.

“For fucks sake Laney, this isn’t a joke you can move.”

“I don’t get it.” I turned to him and he shrugged.

“You earned your place back here. You deserve something for it don’t you?”

“She shouldn’t even be here!”

We all turned to look at who shouted as the man made his way through the crowd. I felt my heart sink when I saw his face; Mark, Amber’s ex. Negan’s expression turned from happiness to ‘oh you’re fucking kidding me right now’.

“And why the fuck not, Krueger?”

“After all the shit she made you- all of us- go through, she’s just automatically back in?”

“Yep.” Negan said through clenched teeth.

“She’s a fucking child!” Jameson chimed in, getting up, both were red in the face with anger.

Negan stayed next to my side, busying himself with my rifle strap on my shoulder, picking at it absently as the men exploded in anger.

“Just because she’s your fuck- “

Jameson wasn’t able to finish, Simon had stepped forward and sucker punched him straight in the back, sending him down to the floor in pain. Mark respectfully stepped back into the crowd and lowered his eyes as Negan walked forward slowly, Lucille drug on the floor threateningly, barbwire screeching on the ground.

“I still didn’t say you could speak. I’m being fucking generous with my punishment for losing our best fucking hostage! Arat, take him outside. Mark, learn your fucking place before I burn off the other side of your face.” Negan warned, I looked away as Jameson was tugged outside, “Anyone else wanna question my judgement?”

Nobody said a word and Negan waved them away. They rushed out of there quickly, I caught Mark’s eye before he slipped through the door and I felt the hatred from him and Amber in the look he gave me. The door slammed shut and I was left with Simon and Negan, as usual.

“So, Lieutenant, first order of business is the new community.”


 

 

            Later that evening found me packing my duffel bag with Simon in my room sipping whiskey and reading a book. To say I was excited was an understatement, this was my first solo mission, although the last one with Simon went haywire, I was more confident I would pull this off. I looked through my bag a second time before sitting on the bed and pouring myself a drink too. There was the feeling that I could screw up too though.

            “Never understood Hamlet much in school.” Simon responded, flipping the page and I shook my head, “It’s a tragedy and everyone dies at the end.”

 “Do you think anything bad will happen?” I felt the liquor travel down my throat and tried to remember the burn,

            “I just said that everyone dies so yeah; tragedy.”

            “At the community asshole, what if they don’t want to trade with us? What if they kill me right then and there? I’ve never done this before, even when the apocalypse started I was always with someone.”

            “You’ll only be gone for two weeks, Laney at the most. From the info we got they’re not a big group, he won’t care if you kill them or being them back if they’re not useful.” Simon offered, setting the book down and propping his feet up on another chair, “If it goes smoothly then they can armor up with us and take out Alexandria.”

            “Simon. I’ve never been by myself.” I looked to him and he smirked.

            “You were when you ran away.”

            “That was barely like…like a week!”

            “But you survived.”

            “I always had someone to go to; Rick in Alexandria, you and Negan here…I just, I really don’t want to let him down again.” I looked down at my drink and Simon frowned before getting up and giving me a gentle hug.

            “Hey, hey doll it’s alright. Negan wouldn’t fucking put you on his side for no reason. You kicked ass at Alexandria, tore those fucks to pieces when they started blaming you for everything. You need some breathing room; doll and he’s giving you the opportunity to work on yourself even more.” He gave me a gentle kiss in my hair, “You don’t leave until tomorrow afternoon, so relax.”

            The door opened in the main foyer and Simon jerked away from me like I was fire, I sat back down on the bed just in time as Negan came through the doors. He saw the two of us me and his eyes narrowed immediately looking between us suspiciously. Simon whistled low and finished his drink quickly as Negan took off his leather jacket and placed it on the chair carefully.

            “What’s going on?”

            “Complaining to Simon about tomorrow. He lent me his good whiskey.” I smiled before Simon could speak, and Negan relaxed instantly.

            “Better you than me, talks my ear off for no reason sometimes.”           

            “Right boss. See you in the morning.”  Simon nodded and walked out quickly, shutting the door softly.

Negan continued his nightly annoyances, bitching about some of the saviors and of course Rick. There were more moments between us now, behind closed doors Negan focused everything on me. He was busy still, but he’d catch me in the hallway when I was walking around with Simon or Arat and take me off for a ride or get me drunk in the pool room and carry me upstairs himself.

Negan shed his shirt slowly, still complaining about Rick, but I wasn’t listening anymore, too focused on the small scars on his back and chest. His tattoos on his chest were bold against his tanned skin and I felt the glass slipping from my fingers before I got ahold of myself.  I blushed and investigated the glass as he caught me staring and gave me a smirk over his shoulder.

“Laney.”

“Yeah?” my voice cracked, and I tried to cover it up with a cough.

Negan chuckled low, sitting on the bed behind me and pulling me against his chest. I closed my eyes as he took my drink and relaxed in his arms. The evening light shone through the cracked windows as he laid me down in the bed, covering my neck with kisses and soft bites as I traced over his skin with my fingers. Negan ran a thumb over my lip.

“I wanted to fuck you so bad on the way back from Alexandria, god you were so hot and angry at Rosita. Fucking took over everything, fuck, baby girl.”

He slid my belt off easily, holding my hands above my head with one of his even as I struggled. I felt high as Negan undressed me slowly, taking his time in kissing and biting every inch of me he could reach. I could barely think as he whispered low in my ear, fingers sliding down my thighs.

“I want to bend you over and make you scream around my cock. I want you to fucking beg me.” He ordered.

It was just like how it used to be, Negan grabbing and fucking me with his tongue as I tried not to cum from him between my legs. Anytime I tried to get him to stop he’d slap the outside of my thigh in warning, before closing his eyes and diving back in like he hadn’t eaten in months. And fuck, did it feel good.

“Negan.” I whined, feeling my orgasm build up in my stomach, he looked up at me between my legs and smirked, giving me one last lick before getting up and crawling over me.

“Speak only when I tell you to fucking answer.” He grabbed my chin, giving me a sloppy kiss as he unzipped his pants, slowly, “Who do you belong to?”

“you.”

“No. Who do you belong to?” He growled, giving my ass a slap as he pumped his cock in his hand, letting it rest on my clit as I wiggled in hopes to get him in myself.

“Negan.”

“That’s fucking right, baby girl.” He smiled, kissing me and grabbing a handful of my hair and jerking me back. I stuttered out a response, but he had his fingers in my pussy before I could even comprehend what I was trying to say, “Dirty fucking girl.”

“Negan, please.”

“No, no…you haven’t earned that yet.” Negan smiled in my ear as he kept grinding his cock in between my slick lips and pumping me as my eyes rolled into the back of my head. I could tell this wasn’t any easier for him by the way his brows were furrowed together in concentration, “You think you can get away with trying to fuck Simon in our bed?”

Wait. What?

I opened my eyes in confusion as Negan shifted us, pulling me off the bed and into the seat Simon had been occupying. He wrapped a large hand around my throat and squeezed gently in warning as I resisted for a second. I slid onto his lap, skin burning beneath my hands as he settled in, cock still hard against my ass.

“He wants you, he’s always watching you since that fucking run you two almost died doing. Following you everywhere like a lost puppy. A lot of the men watch you here now…Lieutenant, fuck that. I need them to know you’re mine and only mine.”

Negan leaned forward, eyes dark and burning as he inhaled deeply, never taking his eyes off me as he traced a finger down my neck and over my collarbone before stopping at my thigh and gently massaging while the other hand was still wrapped around my throat.

“On you knees, Savior.” He ordered, letting me go as I slid off and rested in between his open legs, “Show me how much you fucking love this.”

He tasted exactly how he looked. Fucking amazing. He let out a low groan, letting the noise vibrate through his body as he filled my mouth. He was hot under my tongue as I stroked what I couldn’t fit, and fuck if my mouth watered just at the feeling of his velvet skin sliding in and out of my lips. After a few minutes of him fucking my mouth, one hand fisted in my hair, he pulled me off and tossed me on the bed wordlessly. His belt was wrapped around my waist and his scarf blindfolded me as he raised me up on my hands and knees, giving me a hard spank before lining himself up.

He slid in slow, pausing as I gasped and whined at the feeling of him inside of me. He hadn’t fucked since I got back from the cannibals. He set up a fast pace immediately, not bothering to stop as I cried out behind my blindfold at the powerful pace. He grabbed the belt around my waist, using that for leverage as his cock penetrated me from a new angle.

I couldn’t think as he leaned over my body, pressing me down into the mattress and bit and sucked at my neck, whispering hot in my ear about how much he fucking loved this, loved watching me bow down to him and submit everything.

I came at that, moaning loudly as my orgasm rushed through me, warming up my own body and feeling like I was vibrating white sparks out of my body. Negan thrust into me three more times before gripping my hips, undoubtedly aiming to leave bruises for me to remember him by and came himself with a low groan.

He pulled out and I let myself go on the bed, curling around myself as the nice burn of sex flowed and ached through my bones. Negan smiled at me, tossing the blindfold on the couch and taking the belt off. He kissed me slowly, allowing me to taste him as much as I wanted before pulling back and rubbing my sore hips softly.

“You’ll do good tomorrow, I have faith in you I never had before.”

“Maybe…I’d be more confident if someone went with me like Arat or Simon I’d- “

“Fuck Simon.”

“Huh?”

Negan got up angrily as I pulled the covers over my body, he was fuming as he grabbed his pants from the floor and slid them back on.

“Negan- “

“No! Every single fucking day I see you two in each other’s personal fucking space, laughing and touching each other like no one can see you. All he does is fucking talk about you like I don’t know you exist.” He grabbed his white shirt and bent down to put on his boots.

I felt dread erase my happy mood as he continued to redress himself and slide a hand through his messed-up hair. I felt the tears well up behind my eyes as my throat tightened. I couldn’t…Simon wasn’t like that to me. I loved him but not in the way Negan though.

“Negan, please. I didn’t know…Simon and I just bonded after- “

“You’re fucking mine, Laney.” He growled as he retrieved Lucille from the wall, “yet you parade around with him like you fucking belong to him. Apparently, I can’t even fuck you without you thinking of him.”

He slammed a hand against the bed post and I shrunk back as it shook the bed. He sighed and zipped his jacket up and I wiped the tears from my eyes, letting my hair fall in my face and cut off my sight from him.

“You can leave in the morning. No use sitting around all day taking up space.”

The door slammed for the second time that night, but I couldn’t bother to react as I cried into the pillow and wished for a thousand meaningless things to happen to me.


 

I had barely slept at all, and I looked like hell had run over me. I was dressed for a funeral to match what I was feeling as I double checked everything in my bag for the journey. I grabbed my weapons and strapped them around myself as someone knocked on the door and came in.

“You okay?” Simon greeted as I packed extra ammo, “heard you were taking off earlier than planned.”

“I’m fine.”

I brushed past him coldly, not looking at him as I walked out of the room and into the hall. Simon followed, attempting to talk as I continued. I tuned him out, instead picturing Negan’s face in my mind repeatedly, seeing how angry he was. God, it wasn’t like that at all. Simon and Negan…for fuck’s sake. Finally, as we were about to go onto the catwalk Simon grabbed my shoulder and forced me to look at him, confusion written all over his face.

“What the hell, Laney?”

“Look, I’m sorry but it’s best if we don’t talk right now alright?” I evaded his stare and turned around again; Simon just huffed in annoyance but followed anyway.

“Okay, but I don’t understand what the hell’s wrong.”

“Whatever.”

We came onto the mess hall and I skipped the line for breakfast, feeling to sick to care as I walked outside and felt the cool sun hit my face. It pained me to treat him like this, to feel like I was betraying him in some way, he was my closest friend here, but Negan’s words were ringing in my head. The fight was fresh in my mind still and it just…burned.

Negan was already waiting by the truck smoking a cigarette, talking to Jameson as they waited. I didn’t say a word to either of them as I threw my bags in the back seat, Negan finally pushed off the car and flicked the stoge away and held the door open behind me, preventing me from closing it.

“You have food in the chest, should last you the two weeks.” He offered but I didn’t turn around, “Also, I’m sending Jameson with you.”

“What?!”

I spun around at that, seeing Jameson looking like he didn’t want this either. Negan had an evil smile on his face as he got a reaction out of me.

“No, no fucking way.”

“This isn’t up for debate. Jameson knows that area pretty well actually, used to be apart of a group way back when around there.”

I bit my tongue as anger bubbled up inside of me, I snatched the keys from Negan’s hand and hopped up into the truck, revving it to life.

“I’m driving, get the fuck in already.” I hissed, and Jameson nodded, walking around as Negan leaned against the door, again, preventing me from slamming it in his face.

“Alright, establish a community and decide whether they’re trade worthy or savior worthy. I don’t want another fucking Jadis on my hands. Get some shit going if you can build up something there and we’ll meet in two weeks if we don’t hear from you.”

I said nothing, keeping my eyes on the savior gates as Negan waited for an answer. He touched my shoulder and I finally looked at him. He looked tired, like me. But I didn’t fucking care.

“I heard you. Now close the fucking door, I have to leave.”

He stared at me a second before stepping away and shutting the door for me.

“Laney, you need to be-”

“I got it Negan. Run the fucking community before you get there. See you in two.” I interrupted, and Negan barely had time to step back before I floored it and shot through the gates, barely skimming the sides of the truck as we hit the road.

“What the fuck, Melaney!” Jameson yelled, grabbing the dash as I watched sanctuary disappear behind clouds of dust. I relaxed in my seat finally.

“It’ll give him something to think about. You got the map?”

Jameson shook his head and mumbled but got the map out anyways. Two weeks away from her seemed horrible last night. Now?

A fucking vacation.

Chapter Text

 

            The green chalkboard seemed to be laughing at me, mocking my every swipe of the chalk across it. Frustrated, I began scratching my nail against the chalk as I looked at the scribbled-on board. The plans on the board weren’t sitting well with me at all, I had to think of something quick or else all the protection would fail.

            I looked up as a young blonde girl came walking in the room, two beers in hand as she smiled at me in greeting.

            “Any change?”

            “Some, along the back wall, but I don’t see a point anywhere if you don’t think it’s worth it.” I took the beer from her and popped it open on my holster, “The front is too damaged to really build anything solid.

            “We never got much action from the dead anyways. We’re a long way from civilization.” She shrugged. “Luckily the fence was up when we got here in the beginning seven years ago.”

            “Fuck, it’s already been seven years?” I stared at her and she laughed.

            “Time flies when you’re having fun, sister.” She toasted in celebration and looked to the board again with me.

            Four of the seven days had gone by, day five was looking more and more hopeful for my first solo run though. Jameson and I didn’t have any trouble getting into the run-down school, we had been met at the gate by the blonde, Carolina and her guard Derek who welcomed us in with open arms. Only a group of four, hardly enough to keep supplies coming in for the Saviors. I had decided from the first hour they’d be better off at the Sanctuary but this place was a good checkpoint that Negan could use when going on long missions. The place just needed to be revamped for protection against well, everything.

            Carolina had held this place together, a spitfire of a blonde…she almost reminded me of myself when I first came to Sanctuary, no doubt Negan would be pleased at the loyalty they’d provide.

            Jameson had pointed out that there really was no one for miles around, already he had gone on several recon missions out to scavenge himself. The school would hold up, now I only hoped it would please Negan.

            I put my beer down as Jameson crackled over the radio, interrupting my thoughts.

“Go ahead, Jameson.”

“Walkers spotted near the east fence, couple of stragglers I was gonna take them out.”

“Need backup?”

“I’ll help him.” Carolina got off her seat and went out of the school building, keeping my rifle close to her body.

“Carolina’s going out to you, stand by.” I sighed and set the chalk carefully down, shaking my head at the plan I had drawn. I needed to start over again in the morning.

I walked outside to the doors of the gym, nodding hello to Derek as he stood guard. Inside I walked to my cot and began unlacing my boots for the night. I looked up as an older woman came in carrying towels and walked towards the far corner where another girl sat. I followed silently, my feet making no noise on the ground.

“Macy how are you doing?” I spoke softly, crouching down to the ill girl as Meghan wiped her face from the sweat.

“Sickness is kicking my ass for sure, I’m pretty sure I’ve sweated through the ground.” She smiled, her teenage face crumpling in pain as she held her stomach.

Meghan helped lay her back on her cot, shushing her and trying to get her as comfortable as possible. She was young, younger than Carl…and had a forced abortion a week ago and the infection from the poor tools was spreading throughout her body. Negan had packed small boxes of first aid and some morphine but that hadn’t stopped the girl from slowly dying in front of us. I worried Macy would be too gone by the time pickup was supposed to come.

I got up, leaving them to it and shoved my boots back on and walked outside, needing air. Derek joined me quietly, offering me a cigarette as we walked to where Carolina was shining her flashlight.

“Gets to you too, huh?” he smiled as he lit the paper up for me, “I hate being inside, so much pain for one little girl.”

“I’ve seen everything from walker bites to heads getting bashed in but watching a girl slowly die? That’s different.” I agreed, and Derek’s dark chocolate hand gripped mine for a moment, “You ready to head out in a couple days?”

“More than you know, sweetheart.”

“He went over by the time I got here, I can’t hear him anymore.” Carolina rolled her eyes as we came up, I blew the smoke in the air and looked to where the light was shining, “Does he always do this shit?”

“He’s an asshole, always was.” I sighed and turned my walkie back on, “Jameson, do you copy?”

No response, frustrated, I tried again but there was only static.

“He couldn’t have gone far, for fuck’s sake this isn’t what we needed.” I handed the stoge to Derek and laced up my boots, “He couldn’t have gone far, I’ll head in. fire three times if there’s trouble, I’ll fire three if I’m in trouble, deal?”

“Aye, aye captain.” Carolina nodded and helped hoist me over the fence, I ducked into the woods quietly.

 


 

CAROLINA

Carolina looked at her shoes as they waited for Melaney’s return with her asshole sidekick. Derek was looking at her funny as he finished the cigarette, grinning like he knew something. She stared right back, raising an eyebrow and he shook his head in amusement.

“So, what do you think her story is then? I can’t pinpoint the girl down.” He tossed the cigarette on the ground, “I haven’t met someone as brave as that to just go running into the woods.”

“She said she came from a place called Sanctuary, some big ass base and she came with a shit ton of guns and food, so I know they’re not struggling.”

“No, I mean before that. Who do you think she was?”

“You think too much, not everyone needs a tragic backstory.” Carolina rolled her eyes.

“But, I mean, if we go back with them and they’re like crazy killers or something then what?”

“Like I said, you think too much and focus on the negative.” She shook her head, shining the flashlight around the woods in front of the gate, “I don’t know, Derek. Jameson is probably some asshole at the sanctuary like he is here and Melaney probably oversees stuff, you see the way she holds herself and talks to Jameson, she’s gotta be important there too.”

“Maybe she’s the leader, she has the right aura for it.”

“Aura?”

“Shut up.” He laughed, and Carolina sat down on the ground to wait.

“Look Derek, no matter who they were before this and who they are at Sanctuary they have at least a hundred other people there and there’s food, shelter and god knows what other good things. It’s more than we’ll ever have here for sure and I’d rather deal with Jameson everyday than spend the rest of my little life here at this school.”

Derek nodded his head at that, agreeing wholeheartedly with that statement. Carolina knew she was right, they had tried to grow crops and things here, but it just wasn’t working. They had to take the chance, Melaney even said there were two other communities the Sanctuary ran so if Sanctuary wasn’t for them they could be transferred. Carolina jumped as Melaney came on over the walkie.

“Hey, you two, found Jameson knocked the fuck out, no walkers though and I don’t hear anything. If I could have some help dragging his sorry ass back that’d be great.” She was breathing hard, probably attempting to drag Jameson herself.

“Knocked out how?” Carolina stood up, eyes wide as Derek jumped the fence and ran in as they saw Melaney’s light flashing in the distance.

“Don’t know, I’ll have to ask when he wakes up.”

“Derek’s on his way.” Carolina muttered, feeling her heart race and palms get sweaty at the news.

This wasn’t good at all, Carolina turned as Meghan came walking outside with a walkie in hand as well…looking as pale as Carolina felt.

“They’re coming in now, they attacked Jameson.” Meghan stood next to her and Carolina gripped the rifle tighter.

“We have a week and a half left before they come for us, hopefully they won’t come any closer until we’re long gone in a couple days.” She whispered as they heard Melaney and Derek coming closer.

“I hope you’re right.” Meghan shook her head before the two women helped cut a hole in the fence to drag Jameson through to safety.


 

MELANEY

I found myself staring down at a dazed Jameson an hour later when he woke up, we were outside guarding against the dead and crickets as he sat on the stairs and held a lukewarm bottle of water to his split lip. Carolina had mentioned nothing was out here for miles but that obviously wasn’t the case anymore, and now I had a threat to protect my new people from. Whoever attacked was obviously human or else Jameson would be a walker by now but who attacks someone and just runs away without killing them or taking their weapons off them?

“Tell me again.”

“Sounded like a couple dudes.” Jameson looked up at me before staring back at his boots, “I turned around and bam, lights out.”

“They didn’t even take your shit off of you.”

“Maybe they thought I was a walker, I don’t know Melaney they knocked me the fuck out I couldn’t exactly ask what they wanted from me.” He was annoyed, and I sighed bitterly.

They could have been the men Carolina had traded with several months earlier for supplies, but she had said they stopped sending stuff over, so she figured they died or picked up and moved on. Something wasn’t right, if being with the Saviors taught me anything it’s that if you knock someone out, take their shit and move on. Only a few more days though, I could keep them safe here I just had to convince everyone to wait it out. there was no way in hell I was radioing into Negan to pick us up earlier because we were scared. I faced off against Alexandria in a gun battle, I could handle a few men roughing up Jameson.

“We should go on a hunt tomorrow, see where these guys are at and stake them out if they’re still around.”

“Calm the fuck down Melaney, the people are long gone by now probably.” Jameson tapped his gun pointedly, “We’re armed remember? What are they gonna do when they see a tiny bitch strolling up to them thinking she’s got a dick bigger than theirs?”

“Don’t talk to me like that.”

“Just because Negan-”

I kicked the water bottle out of his hand easily, sending it flying across the lot and Jameson just sighed and stared at his empty hand for a moment before dropping it.

“Know your place, I’m in charge and you’ll fucking listen to what I have to say. After all, I wasn’t stupid enough o let myself get knocked out.” I turned around and went back inside, leaving him to go and find his water bottle in the dark.

I sat myself back in the same classroom from earlier, erasing all the mess with my hand before picking up the chalk and drawing a new plan. If there was a threat what would Negan do? He would kill it, maybe confront it first and then squash it? Rick was more about giving second chances and talking it out, but Negan was way more hardcore than that. The question was, which method would work best and have no one get killed? Both sides get people killed because people were assholes these days but still…there had to be a middle ground for me to walk on and decide. I stepped away and looked at the new drawing thoughtfully, we had the firepower to take on a couple dudes, but if there were more hiding out then they’d be screwed. I set the chalk down right as I heard a loud slam come from inside the school building.

I unhooked my machete from my belt and peeked outside the room, spotting a dim light coming from another classroom, everyone was supposed to be in the gym by now for the rest of the night. I moved out quietly, keeping my back to the wall and crouched as I came on the open door and closed my eyes to focus and listen. I could hear Carolina, Derek and Meghan all conversing quietly.

“-that shouldn’t matter.” Carolina was saying heatedly, “The quicker we get out of here the sooner we don’t have to deal with them.”

“It’s been almost nine months, they’re going to get antsy Carol.”

“They already have with that happened today! If it wasn’t for Jameson they’d be in the gym right now!” Carolina replied, and I heard movement as Derek cleared his throat.

“She promised us safety with the Saviors.” Meghan chimed in softly, “But how do we know they’re not like them? How can we trust the entirety of the base based off her and Jameson?”

“Well they don’t look like they’re dying or in trouble do they? She said she came to scout us out for a reason, either help or go back and I’m way past the point of staying here.” Carolina answered, “They’ve got guns and food, that’s enough for me to go by on.”

“I say we take the chance, maybe get her to leave a day or two early, I doubt they’re a bunch of pussies there, we could get them to help us get some payback on those assholes.” Derek seemed convicted, I could picture him smiling, “Besides, Melaney looks like she doesn’t take shit from anyone, she could help us kill the men that took our other girls away from us.”

I felt sick, they were talking about the group they used to trade with, I know it…and it didn’t seem like it was anything good. I stood up, straightening myself as the others whispered more. A part of me was mad, furious they were whispering in the dark about this.

“Why are you guys awake?”

I came around the corner quickly, scaring them all and making them jump. Derek raised a bat in retaliation but once they recognized me they let out nervous laughter. I eyed the bat for a moment, not smiling back…the bat needed some barbed wire around it in my opinion. I looked over them and sheathed my machete but kept a hand on it as they relaxed.

“We were talking about Macy, we didn’t want her to hear us.” Meghan smiled, I nodded through the lie.

“And, how is she?” I walked around the room slowly, tracing a hand over upturned and broken desks.

“Fluctuating. Listen we were thinking- “Carolina started but I looked up interrupting.

“So was I. she needs more antibiotics, something I don’t have on me and something that’ll take a while to get here from Sanctuary.” I circled them, coming around to the chalkboard, “Which makes it harder on me to figure out what to do.”

They all looked scared, probably trying to continue the lie between them somehow. Now I knew what it felt like when Negan caught others in a straight up lie.

“That group you used to exchange with, you said they would supply medical aid sometimes.” I looked to Carolina who nodded but opened her mouth to protest, I raised a hand to silence her, “I have things I’d be willing to part with, some pistols to be exact, to help Macy until Negan arrives.

Keep going, you have them right where you want them, baby girl. I could hear Negan in my head as I watched Carolina’s face drain of color, I was feeling giddy as they shifted uncomfortably, eyes wide.

“They’re gone by now. I’ve told you.” Carolina’s voice cracked.

“Not really, who would’ve attacked Jameson then? Look, Macy’s life is on the line from infection, soon she’ll be a walker and one of us is going to have to kill her. I’ve only been here a handful of days, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Why are you opposed to this?”

Carolina clenched her jaw and Derek looked away, defeated. Even Meghan looked done with the conversation, Carolina was the only one meeting my eyes.

“The men don’t know you.”

“I’m good at making friends. Besides they shouldn’t see me as a threat at all,” I walked over and clasped Carolina’s small shoulder, “If your going to be a Savior then you need to understand that we look out for each other. We head out in two days, make it a close call with the Saviors coming to grab us. You guys should get some sleep though, no use wandering around at night.”

They left instantly, muttering goodnight and taking their candle of light with them. I watched them in the hall, waiting until they opened and closed the doors before leaving me in darkness. I went back to my chalkboard room, writing things down again as the anger coursed through me. Jameson had an hour left before I was to take over, secrets covered in secrets.

I was about to find out what the fuck was going on here, and I was ready.

Negan’s eyes wandered over my body as I sat comfortably in his lap, sipping a beer as Simon and the others played pool. He ran a hand over my neck and dipped into my shirt, his eyes were glassy from the drinking, but his breathing was even.

“do you know how fucking good it feels when I touch you and I can see you don’t hate me for it?” he asked, kissing my collarbone, “For you to look at me and not want to kill me? You make me so fucking happy baby girl.”

“I can’t promise I’ll be a Savior forever Negan,” I sighed and set the beer down, “But my place is with you, I know that now. In Alexandria I didn’t fit in but here? You have me, and I promise I’ll try my best to protect you from everything like you have for me.”

Negan smiled and kissed me in the meeting room and I closed my eyes, happy.


 

I threw my bag into the backseat of the truck as Carolina hugged Derek and Meghan goodbye up at the school doors. Jameson was next to me, watching the exchange as well as I double checked my bullets.

“Negan’s going to be pissed you gave up guns.” He looked at the pistols and I shrugged.

“That’s the thing, I plan to negotiate then kill them anyways so it’s a good thing he ain’t here.” I looked up to find him making an impressed face, “What?”

“Maybe I misjudged you.” He offered a smile and I frowned.

Okay, weird. I waved to Derek and Meghan to come over as Carolina sulked to the passenger door with some food in hand.

“We shouldn’t be gone long, Jameson’s in charge but I really want you guys in the gym until we get back. I’m going to build a relationship first and then see where that goes,” I shared a look with Jameson quickly, “Just stay safe, stay on the walkie but don’t contact me unless it’s an extreme emergency. Or the Saviors get here before we get back, so like two options.”

“Good luck, we’ll be waiting for you.” Derek held up my old shotgun.

I nodded and hopped in the truck, not paying attention to Carolina’s attitude as I started up the truck and waited for Meghan to open the gates. I would have preferred to take Jameson, but I needed bait and Carolina was perfect for it, especially if she had dealt with them before. We hit the dirt and went north, about a ten-minute drive.

“Have any pointers in dealing with them?”

“I can talk to them.” She offered quietly, staring out the window but I shook my head.

“I’ll talk, make up a story of the community and have them think I’m in charge now. Besides, if they believe us I can pitch the Saviors to them, we could use the extra muscle.”

“I don’t…seems like a far-fetched plan.” She sighed in defeat and I raised an eyebrow at her, “Look we never even met them face to face, they don’t know what I look like or anything please, can’t we just wait out for your group?”

“That’s great, it works to my advantage then if they’ve never seen your faces before, all they know is that they’ve been trading with you guys, they might as well have been trading with me.” I watched her shift nervously, eyes darting back and forth on the road.

“Just leave them alone Melaney, Macy’s feeling better anyways her fever broke, and she drank water today.”

“Really.”

That was another lie, I had seen Macy this morning covered in her own vomit before Meghan had gotten to her to help clean up. Macy was going to be a walker soon, shallow breaths and tinted yellow skin, I saw it in her eyes that even she knew she was going to die quickly.

“Even so, it’d be helpful to have some extra medicine around for us in the end.” I shrugged and pulled onto a dirt road as Carolina pointed.

We pulled up to a run-down house a few minutes later, surrounded by a couple trucks with White Power flags sticking out the trunks. Carolina gave me a knowing look as I took it all in, I laughed uneasily as I laid into the horn, making my grand appearance.

“Different from what I expected for sure.” I grabbed a pistol and tucked it into my pants as I saw movement in the house, “Just follow my lead.”

Three men came out of the house wearing wifebeaters and holding axes. For a moment I wished for Lucille, but in a way my machete was my Lucille. I hopped out of the truck carefully, hands up and away from me as Carolina sunk into her seat.

“Who are you?” One of them asked, for a moment I was reminded of Abraham’s gruff exterior as I looked between them.

“My names Negan, I’m from the community down the road.” I smiled, hoping Negan would be proud of me, “I’ve come to talk about a trade and introduce each other. I understand we haven’t traded in a while and well, things are hard.”

“You’re the leader of that shit hole?” One asked skeptically, and I looked back to Carolina who was peeking over the dashboard carefully, “What about that girl in there?”

“I’m the leader, she doesn’t have anything to do with this. Hey, grab the bag.” I hit the side of the truck, making Carolina jump, “I’m sorry I haven’t come sooner to introduce myself before.

Carolina got out, slinging the bag over her shoulder before coming next to me, keeping her wide eyes on the ground. I watched the expressions on the men and found no surprise, I found anger on their features. They knew each other, another white lie right at my face. This was going to be more difficult than I thought. The men played along though, acting like they didn’t recognize the small blonde behind me.

“hand over your weapons.”

“With all due respect, you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, so I say we keep our weapons to ourselves, safer that way.” I let my hands drop and they seemed to agree.

“Come inside then. Hands off weapons.” He nodded, the other two men dropped the axes to their belts.

Carolina gripped my hand as I followed them inside the house, trying not to notice the amount of hate scrawled across the walls. It smelt like dirt and sweat as soon as we stepped inside, and we were surrounded by another four men and a man was standing at the top of the stairs looking down at us. Carolina stayed close as the men eyed us up and down, I stood taller and tried to remember how many knives I had on me and how I’d be able to throw them without hurting the smaller blonde.

We followed the first man to the kitchen where a bearded, bald man was sitting, eating soup. He barely looked up as the man spoke in his ear. He flicked two fingers in the air and we came forward into his line of sight, I grabbed the bag from Carolina as the door was shut, trapping us in the kitchen with the older man.

“Negan and Carolina, what can I do for you? My name’s Clay.” He leaned back in his seat and I stiffened at the names, “What can I do for you?”

“Nazi?” I nodded to the flag above the fridge and he shrugged.

“That a problem? We stick to what we know in this shit world.”

“Just don’t wan to overstep my boundaries, sir. As long as all of us walk out of this unharmed I’ve got no problem with your beliefs.”

Fuck yeah, I had a problem with it, Negan killed skinheads even if they were helpful.

“Smart lady.” Clay responded and pushed his bowl away, “So what the fuck do you want then?”

“See if we can trade some weapons for some medicine like we used to.” I dropped the bag on the table and he seemed impressed, “Some pistols, knives and ammo. Ransacked a bigger base three hours away for them because we need medicine. There’s more shit there too if we can get this trade up and running.”

I eyed the shadows dancing behind the closed door as Carolina refused to move away from behind my back, Clay was staring hard at me, looking like he wanted to eat me. His eyes flickered to Carolina, but I unzipped the bag as a distraction as I felt my nerves getting the best of me.

“How far you been for these you say?”

“Three hours.”

“and this place, just let you in?”

“I know a few people there from before I branched out on my own.”

“Big place you said. Any women?” he smiled lewdly, and I felt disgusted.

“Gender doesn’t matter there as long as everyone pulls their weight, we have about a hundred people there. We trade with others, hence why I was at the school.” I tried to keep my answers short, not liking the way this man’s eyes travelled over me.

“We don’t like strangers.” He looked right through me where Carolina was silently standing, “Messes up what we have going for us. We’re pretty fucking quiet and like to keep it that way, we don’t need guns and we don’t need help.”

“Well- “I stepped forward, but Clay stood up, all six feet of him.

“We need something that we’ve acquired a certain taste for to get by in this world.” He zipped the bag and shoved it to me, eyes tracing down my shirt and Carolina gripped my belt where my gun was.

I thought of Lenoi as Clay stared down at me, I remembered the horrors I went through and Clay was wearing the same exact grin, but his eyes promised more than pain.

“This is something not everyone still has, something we can work with.” Clay’s eyes shifted to the fridge and Carolina began backing up to the stairs, dragging me with her, “Sweet little virgins like you two, could make a good fucking collection.”

I kicked the fridge door open and covered my mouth in shock as two heads rolled out and smacked on the ground like a wet bag. Carolina finally cried out in fear and shock, falling up the stairs as the doors opened and other men came in at the noises.

“What the fuck!” I pulled the pistil from my pants and aimed it at Clay who was still grinning, “I never told you her name.”

I pulled Carolina up and shoved her up the stairs as the men slowly advance, some palming themselves through the front of their pants as Clay grabbed a hammer from under the seat. I felt heat and rage flare up in my body and spread through my limbs as Carolina waited for me at the top with the bag of guns.

Two women’s heads laid at Clay’s feet and he kicked them aside nonchalantly.

“You women, always so slow to pick up on shit, you’ve been a naughty girl, Carolina! Fucking up our arrangement and seeing us before the baby is due!”

“Baby…Macy’s baby?” I questioned, and Clay seemed pleased he had an audience of me now.

“We fuck the virgins one by one, take the baby and eat it then fuck up the virgin because hey, who wants easy seconds?” Clay smiled, and I stood up, face blank as I stared at him, “We keep the important parts around.”

Carolina was crying hysterically upstairs and the men in front of me looked like they were getting turned on because of it. I looked up as another man entered the room and I almost dropped my gun in surprise.

“Jameson? What the fuck are you doing here?!”

Jameson smiled as Clay turned and then clapped him on the shoulder, looking ecstatic. Jameson didn’t turn from me, eyes hard and angry.

“Her name’s Melaney, she’s Negan’s bitch.” He informed them, “Man I was so fucking sick of you bossing me around so when Negan said I was going by my old house? With my old group? I couldn’t suck up to him faster.”

“Your old group?” I couldn’t fucking believe it, everything was such a mess in my mind, but it did make sense.

Jameson was attacked, they let him walk. Everyone was scared these men were coming closer. Macy had to be a virgin and they raped her and her abortion…her abortion, oh no. If these men found out Macy wasn’t going to make it, nonetheless without a baby for their fucked-up needs…

“I’d happily slaughter you and the others to get the fuck away from Negan, and he replaced me with his whore?! You?!” he shook his head, “Clay, the chick’s dead. She had an abortion a while ago.”

Clay grew silent at that before he slowly looked to me, face twitching in anger.

“My meat’s dead?”

“Stop fucking walking or I’ll blow your head off.” I raised my gun, slowly backing up the stairs as Clay silently fumed.

He flipped the kitchen table in rage, sending the bowl and remnants of his food everywhere on the floor. I couldn’t let these men go, I had to do something. If they made it back to Sanctuary somehow…oh god, if they got ahold of the wives. I tried not to picture them using them just as brood women and meat fucks.

I fired at Clay without warning, hitting him in the chest before I fled upstairs. Jameson shot after me as I dived into an open room with Carolina. We shoved a dresser against the door and then ducked as Jameson yelled and shot through the door. I returned fire blindly, splintering the wooden door as Carolina crawled away from the line of fire.

“Why did you lie to me!?” I shouted over the fire, reloading and Carolina shook her head crying, “You could have mentioned they ate fucking children you know! I heard the fucking conversation the other night, maybe should have let me in on that!”

“How could you still bring me here if you knew anyways!” she cried back, and I stopped for a second, point taken.

I unloaded rounds into the splintered door before diving across the room and kicking out the window. Jameson was outside now, trying to get a good shot as he hid behind a truck. I hid behind the safety of the house as the men joined Jameson, shooting BB guns at us. I slung the bag on and Carolina grabbed the canisters of gasoline and matches from it as I managed to get two in the head.

“We jump out, I cover you.” I pressed an extra gun as well as the keys into her hands, “Run to the truck and get back. Load everyone up. The map to Sanctuary is in the truck, we’re going on short notice.”

WE ducked as Jameson yelled at us, trying to climb up on the side of the house.

“But- “

“Or we can stay here and die and everyone else dies at the school.” I grabbed her by the shoulders as I heard Jameson make his way up on the roof slowly, “Get there before me, that’s all that matters. I’ll hold them off and pick them apart I the woods. Don’t worry about me alright? Go straight up the road to Sanctuary, tell them I sent you and ask for Simon or Negan.”

Carolina’s tears streamed down her cheeks as she gripped my hands.

“I won’t leave you Laney.”

I pulled the smaller girl in for a hug as someone pounded on the door with an axe, screaming at us. I closed my eyes for a second, if I didn’t make it out of here I prayed Negan treated her and Derek and Meghan right.

“Go. I’ll cover you.”

We hopped out of the window and landed on the second story roof, I ran over and kicked Jameson square in the chest as he finally got up, he fell back on the ground with his gun flinging away from him. Carolina hopped down to the ground and killed three others as they chased her. I ripped a piece of my shirt and stuck it in the gas can, lighting it on fire and throwing it into the open window.

 


 

CAROLINA

“Derek! Meghan!”

Carolina ran up to the school, not even bothering to park the truck as she raced to the gym and kicked the gym doors open. They shot up from sitting on the floor as Carolina heard gunfire in the distance. She grabbed her bag and Melaney’s rifle as Derek ran to her.

“What happened?”

“We need to leave, they’re coming! Jameson, he was a part of them!” Carolina spotted Macy’s body in the corner and felt her legs crumble.

Derek helped her up as Meghan raced around, grabbing their things, Carolina couldn’t tell where the blood stopped and ended on the young girl’s body. Derek was shouting at her, but she could barely hear him as he dragged her across the gym and away from the teenager.

“DEREK!”

Carolina and Derek raced through the gym and into the hall of classrooms when an explosion rocketed through the whole building. They ducked as gunfire broke over their heads.

Melaney stumbled through the front doors of the school, bloodied and beat the hell up. She limped backwards as a bloodied brute of a man came thundering after her. With one swift swipe, her machete sliced through his head and he dropped like bricks on the ground.

“Melaney!” Carolina ran to her, Melaney limped into her arms for a brief hug smiling despite the pain.

“Managed to jack a car, crashed it though.” Melaney looked at Derek and Meghan, a cut on her eyebrow forcing her to keep one eye closed, “Get to Sanctuary, get out of here. I’m going to end this.”

Carolina handed her the rest of the automatic weapons and nodded, handing her a box of matches as she hugged the strong brunette. Carolina had never met anyone like her before, so much fire and fight in this girl’s eyes, she wondered who Negan was for a moment and why she was so loyal to that group of Saviors.

They left Melaney there, running the other direction to the back door. Carolina opened the door and then everything went white as they were blown backwards off their feet. Carolina landed hard on her leg, and she faded out for a second as another explosion of fire went off behind her.

Derek was out next to her, face hidden in rubble. Carolina looked up through the smoke on her back, coughing as Clay walked in, clutching his gaping hole in his side.

An axe helped him limp up to her and stand over her body.

“You ain’t going anywhere pretty little thing.”

Carolina let out a breath and closed her eyes.

Chapter Text

I came to myself slowly, aware of clean air and a comfortable hum around me. I opened my eyes as bright light shone into them, a stained window blurred my view of the outside as the rest of my body woke up as well. God, it hurt to move.

I smelt smoke as I turned into my hair, shifting to seek comfort from the pain in my hip.

The school.

The fire.

I sat up, crying out in pain as the movement pulled my skin and sent white hot sparks up my veins. I looked around me wildly, I was in a room and had a white gown covering my body. I got up and stood, instantly collapsing and sending a tray nearby to the bed scattering across the floor…but I didn’t hear it scatter, I saw it scatter.

The door swung open to reveal a man running to me, helping me up as I cried.

“Where am I?!” I shouted, ripping the needles out of my arms as the man back ed up to give me space.

At least I think that’s what I shouted. I could barely hear, it was like someone was covering my ears with their hands. I recognized the man as Dr. Carson as he gently touched me and helped me sit back on the bed again. He spoke, and I watched his lips, but it came out as a low mumble. He wrapped a cord around me and I saw my heartbeat pick up on the monitor, but I couldn’t hear the beep.

“I can’t hear anything.” I couldn’t tell if I was whispering or not, Carson hesitated as I looked at him, seeking an explanation, “Why can’t I hear anything!? Why can’t I hear you!?”

I stood up again and pushed him away, freaking out as I clawed at my head and screamed as loud as I could until my throat ripped from pain. Carson ran out as I threw the IV’s against glass, but I didn’t hear them shatter.

Simon ran into the room and grabbed me from behind as I went to crash the monitor on the ground, his arms secured me to his chest as I thrashed around, trying to hear something! Anything! I must have looked insane to Carson as Simon held me to his chest, soothing me as he ran a hand over my hair. Eventually he managed to wrestle me back on the bed, keeping a firm grip on me as I cried.

“Simon, Simon I can’t hear anything. Why can’t I hear anything?” I cried, and Simon let go slowly, retrieving a clipboard that Carson had scribbled on before fleeing again out of the room.

I could feel my throat vibrate but just a small murmur reached my ears. Simon handed me the board and smoothed my hair away from my face.

Ear damage due to the explosion at the school. Only temporary, hearing should recover in three to four days. A week to be safe.

I sniffled as Simon nodded at me when I looked to him confused, I looked back rereading the words as I began to calm down.

The door opened again as I sunk into Simon’s side before I smelt the leather and dirt filling the room.

Negan.

I stood up from the bed on wobbly legs, pain in my waist warning me to sit back down but I refused to listen. I was so relieved to see him, so relieved to have him close to me again all I could think about what being wrapped in his arms again, safe.

Wait.

Why wasn’t he looking at me?

Negan didn’t even glance at me as he conversed with Simon, low mumbles reached me as I watched them converse. Negan’s lips barely moved as he nodded my way but still didn’t look at me.

“I’m deaf! Not fucking blind!” I said, Simon jumped next to me. Maybe I hadn’t spoken soft enough like I thought I did.

Negan finally rolled his eyes and glanced at me before he grabbed Carson’s clipboard and began writing on it. Simon sat me back down, but I could only look at Negan. He was annoyed with me, he was ignoring me. Whatever happened at Community X…what did happen at that community? I couldn’t remember anything, just…pain.

Simon took the clipboard from Negan and handed it to me wordlessly before he turned back to the leader.

Simon found you in the rubble at the school, bleeding everywhere that your body could let you. Jameson dead with your machete in his dick. By the time you got back, Carson checked you over and confirmed that you had been-

I stopped reading for a second as I read the last word repeatedly in my head. I looked up, hands shaking as I felt every ounce of bravado and confidence seep out of me. The two men were staring at me expectantly, faces calm.

“I was raped? I-I-I don’t even remember that, how did that…I remember running out of the school, it was on fire- I set it on fire and then…nothing.” I felt the tears build up and the lump in my throat start to form as Simon scribbled on the board quickly.

You had to have a blood transfusion, out cold for four days. The number of cuts and scars on your body Melaney, we didn’t think you’d make it.

I got up, tossing the clipboard on the bed and walked to the bathroom, Negan made a move to follow but stopped as I slammed the door behind me. I didn’t even hear a slam, but I hoped it had been loud.

I looked in the mirror, holding onto the sink until my knuckles turned white. I looked like I had died, pale skin and sunken in eyes. I ran a finger over a scratch on my lip and down my neck where there was an obvious hand shaped bruise.

I slipped the hospital gown down my body, watching as the cotton slipped away to reveal bruises and angry red marks. Someone had given me the decency of underwear but…it didn’t stop the blood from coming through. Fingernail scratches across my hip and I ran my own nails over them. I pulled down my underwear to reveal the word on my hip, carved in deep and angry. My waist hurt from this word, from the gutted skin. Pain seemed to pulse from it as I barely touched the carved letters on my skin, I couldn’t tell if I was crying or not or even how loud. I couldn’t look away from the word. I started to shake as I pulled my hand away, some scabbed blood clung to me and I hurriedly ran the water to wash it away.

I slid my gown back on and curled up on the floor, tucking my head into my knees as I cried. I could feel it now, there was a dull ache inside of me and it hurt.

The bathroom door opened, and I was saddened to see Simon, not Negan, enter. Simon wrapped me in a blanket and held me, legs closing me into his chest as he let me cry, keeping a soothing hand in my hair as the pain engulfed me.

I sat there with Simon comforting me for what felt like hours, he got up to get water when I had all but passed out on him from the crying. He helped me into the bed again, changing my stained sheets even as he helped put the IVs back into my veins to help me.

            When Carson releases you, you’ll stay with me in the extra room I have. Shouldn’t be more than a couple days now that you’re awake.

            I sighed as I read his scrawl on the clipboard before writing a response of my own, Simon visibly shook his head and kissed my forehead before clicking the pen away.

            Negan has a lot on his plate right now, Doll. He feels like shit, he put you out and you got hurt, badly. This has never happened to anyone of us before, everyone’s in shock because of it. You just need to heal and rest and then you can deal with Negan.

            Simon turned the lamps off for me in the room and I felt like a little kid again, having to be comforted after a bad dream.

            “Simon? Were there any survivors?”

Simon stopped at my question, if I could hear I’d probably hear the way his boots skidded on the ground at the question. He turned around and his lips read no, before he walked out and closed the door behind him.

I laid back down on the bed, feeling empty. Negan didn’t want anything to do with me now and nobody had survived…Carolina…God, nobody had survived but me. I should have never pressured them into meeting those men, I would never be able to be a leader like Negan was…I was pathetic. I couldn’t even keep three people alive.

I swallowed the pills on the table besides me and curled up in the warm blankets, I felt so numb right now. I closed my eyes and tried not to remember the past week.

 


 

NEGAN

He stood at the door silently, barely breathing as he watched her sleep. He wanted to breathe, he wanted to move, and he knew she wouldn’t hear him, but he didn’t want to risk it. Not now, not when she was so fragile and broken now.

Lucille tapped against his calf as he stared at her in the bed, she looked so small on it as her body tried to heal itself from within. He wanted to walk in, climb in next to her and run his fingers through her tangled brown hair and kiss her scars and bruises away until all that was left was her beautiful tanned skin.

But he wouldn’t. not ever again would he touch her and cause her more pain than she was already going through. Never again would he risk her life just to prove a pint to himself and the others.

Negan didn’t move as Simon walked up the hallway, extra blanket tucked under his arm as he came and stood next to him, both watching her sleep. She kicked her leg out of the blanket and sighed as the moon shone over her mangled hip. Negan looked away before he could read the word there.

“What’s the next plan, Boss?”

“Get the men ready, Lucille is thirsty. Dwight said they found the remaining men from the school.” Negan gripped Lucille, trying to crack the wood in his anger.

“About her, Negan. What about her?”

Negan finally looked away from her on the bed and looked to his right-hand man. He felt weak, like a fucking pussy as he tried to hold back the angry tears in his eyes. Simon’s own eyes were red, mirroring how Negan felt since she had been brought back here in Simon’s arms.

“Negan!”

Negan groaned as Dwight screamed up at him from the mess hall, god he did not need this shit right now. The pounding on his door started and he yelled as he got up to open it but stopped short as he noticed Dwight was covered in ashes and his white shirt had blood staining the bottom hem.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“Melaney.”

Negan raced out to the yard as Simon hopped out of the back of the truck he had gone in to pick up the new community stragglers and his girl. He stopped short, dust kicking up around him as Simon cradled someone to his chest, wrapped in a loose sheet as he ran to Negan. Negan couldn’t move as he recognized the arm dangling from the body.

“Boss, we need to get her to Carson she’s in bad shape!” Simon yelled as he ran past but all he could do was stare after them, slowly turning in his spot in Sanctuary.

“-died for three minutes before Simon brought her back in the back of the truck. Out there for at least a day in the rubble, fire had died down completely.” Arat was saying next to him, pushing him towards the medical wing, “She has a name carved into her hip.”

Negan snapped out of the memory as Simon cleared his throat.

“Figure it out, she’s not my problem anymore.” He growled out and Simon took a step back as Negan walked past.

He wanted blood for her pain. He wanted it now.

 


 

 

SIX DAYS LATER

It had been six days, six days since I woke up and six days since I last saw my crumbled community. I got my hearing back finally, but everything still sounded muted anyways since I had cut myself off from anything. My cuts and bruises were taking longer to heal than necessary and the carving on my hip prevented me from being useful to Sanctuary, Carson had put me on bed rest for at least two weeks, so I wouldn’t get it infected again.

I still didn’t have any memory from Community X, all I really remembered was Jameson pinning me to the ground and fire raged all around us but that was it, afterwards it was just blank and empty in my head.

Negan was gone, I hadn’t seen him since I woke up that first day. Simon refused to tell me anything that had to do with him, claimed that I’d be better off not knowing. I stopped asking for him by day three, too hurt to care if Negan wanted to see me anymore. Simon was a comfort though, moving into his room was peaceful, I could see why he liked being away from everything at the end of the day. He had a bar stocked with whiskey which made me raise an eyebrow but being Simon had its perks, of course. He was…different. I had never noticed Simon before really, he was always just Negan’s go-to guy, but he was actually very sweet; he always made sure I woke up to take my pills and always brought me food, so I wouldn’t have to go outside and chance seeing Negan…or anybody else really.

It was weird, anytime I thought about the…the rape, I didn’t feel anything. A part of me thought Simon was lying to me about it but every time I crossed my legs the cuts pulled on my skin and my stomach would drop in unease…it frustrated not being able to remember anything, I didn’t like being left in the dark.

But I was literally in the dark now, sitting on my bed in Simon’s room playing with an empty bottle of pain meds as I came down from my high on them. I had the windows covered, enjoying the coolness of the night air outside. I needed more pills, I needed something to mask the pain of everything I was feeling and hearing. The pain in my body was nothing compared to the pain in my thoughts when I was alone, and Negan floated into my head. I knew he was avoiding me, I had caught word that the Wives had regrouped up in that loft as well, that they were staying the night more often.

It made me sick, but I always had another pill to make me better.

I opened my eyes slowly as I heard a faint knock on the door, Simon was out he shouldn’t be back yet, it was too early. Another knock sounded out, louder this time and I tossed the bottle at the door.

“Come in.”

“Hello.” Eugene walked in, holding a small box and I smiled, “How are you this evening?”

“Good. Tired.”

“Carson sent a gift,” Eugene set the box down next to me on the bed, “Since you’re up and moving, I think it’s safe to say you’re almost healed up. There’s extra bandages and two more bottles of pills, courtesy of Carson. He said to wait until Monday, so your system can flush out the other ones, and to take one pill every other day since they were stronger.”

That’s actually pretty fucking great, I thought as I pulled the box closer to me, I needed something stronger anyways.

“Thanks, G.” I smiled up at him as he tucked Carson’s note he was reading from, away, “How’re you?”

“Good. Considering we are at war.” Eugene was standing still in the room, I was reminded of the timid man with a jar of pickles when he first came here.

He seemed…he had an air of authority around him now. It was good to see him standing up for himself.

“Catch Dwight yet?” I asked as I shoved the box under the bed, Eugene nodded.

“He is the mole, he admitted it, now it’s only a matter of time before I can prove it.”

“Great, Negan would be pleased. You should bring it up to him at the next meeting they have, whenever that is.” I paused, heart racing as Eugene nodded.

“They’re in a meeting right now discussing Alex…Melaney, no.” Eugene caught the trap I had set him in and I smiled, “You are not going to interrupt them.”

“I’m owed an explanation, don’t you think?”

“You’re high as a kite, Laney.” Eugene folded his arms as I slipped my boots on, “I shouldn’t have told you where he was.”

“Right. I forgot everyone knows we aren’t fuckbuddies anymore with his wives hanging around. Everyone’s to scared to talk to me still because of the shit I went through, Negan probably told them to cut me off from everyone I knew.” I rolled my eyes, bitterness gracing my tongue, “Where do your loyalties lie, Eugene? With Rick or Negan?”

“I reckon it’s the strongest leader.”

“Rick and Negan are similar in many ways, G.” I stood up, gripping the bar as my head swam at the sudden movement, “Better watch what you wish for…get out, I have to get ready to meet the big, bad wolf.”

Eugene opened his mouth to say something but closed it, he shook his head and walked out as I pretended to look for a brush. Once the door was closed I toed the box out from under the bed and popped a pill in, fuck Carson’s rules, he wasn’t even a certified doctor…maybe, who fucking knew who anyone was anymore. I grabbed the bandages and redressed some of my open cuts, I saved the carving on my hip for last.

Who knew a five-letter word could hurt so much.

I walked out and was surprised to find Eugene waiting for me, a sad expression on his face. He didn’t say a word as he led me down to the meeting room, just kept silent like he usually did.

We didn’t pass any Saviors on the way there, it seemed like Sanctuary was dead.

I had thought about it a lot, confronting Negan about whatever the fuck was going on between us, I feel like I knew the answer I was going to get anyways. Simon warned me against seeking him out and asking, but I was done waiting in the dark. I knew where he was now, and if I was cast out because I didn’t want to wait any longer then so be it.

We came to a stop in front of the meeting doors, I could hear faint talking inside but not much else. Eugene grabbed my shoulder as I moved to open the door.

“Melaney, I’ve known you for quite some time. Please don’t do this to yourself.”

“Eugene- “

“Don’t go in there. Please.”

I shrugged his hand off and opened the door anyways, Eugene cursed and walked in behind me.

Dwight, Arat, Simon and Regina were sitting around the table with Negan at the head holding that fucking bat on the table, tearing up the wood. They all looked to me in surprise and Eugene tried to form sentences as Negan raised an eyebrow at him, completely ignoring me.

“Doll.” Simon stood up, the only one who had a reaction to seeing me, “You okay?”

“Well now I know where the rat’s been hiding.” I folded my arms as Negan dismissed Eugene back outside. He barely glanced my way still, “Is it alright if I get a word with our mighty fucking leader?”

The anger was bubbling inside me as Negan picked at the wires on his bat, everyone looked to Negan for an order, even Regina looked anxious to get away.

“I’ve got shit to do- “Negan started as I passed Simon.

I kicked the table, hard. The papers and cards went flying off the side. Everyone backed away from the table, Simon went to grab me, but I turned away. Negan just sighed and flicked a paper off his lap.

“You’ve got time now.”

“Laney stop this shit- “Simon whispered in my ear, but I ignored him again, the pill and the adrenaline in my system was making me cocky and Negan’s lack of reaction was just fuel to the fire for me.

“No.” Negan finally looked at me, expressionless.

“That’s not an answer. You fucking owe me!” I yelled and for a split second his expression changed, but I couldn’t place it.

“ENOUGH!”

Negan slammed Lucille on the table, close to where my fingers were, and I felt my body twitch in response, but I held my fucking ground.

“Boss, do you need us…” Arat asked softly, the three of them had backed up to the other end of the room but Negan ignored them.

“You haven’t fucking looked at me since I’ve been back, Simon says you were there when I woke up but then you fucked off like some deadbeat. Every time I asked for you, you’re somehow never around yet here you are, fucking your hand around the table.” I hissed, Negan and I were face to face over the table, pissed.

“Didn’t realize it was my job to always give a shit.”

“That’s funny coming from the guy who killed my parents because you were afraid they’d take me away.” I sneered, Negan’s jaw tensed, “But it’s good to see you’re hiding behind that fucking persona you’ve created for us.”

“Us? Baby girl there never was an us.” Negan stood up and laughed, throwing me off, “I got you to turn against little fucking Ricky, I got you back on my team and knocked that prick off his pedestal for a moment. Got your redneck boyfriend to break…I got what I wanted, just didn’t expect you to survive this long.”

“Negan!” Simon butted in, but the damage was done.

I stood up numbly, whether it was from the pill or the words he had said I couldn’t differentiate. Arat, Regina and even Dwight looked shell shocked at Negan’s outburst.

“You don’t want me anymore because I was raped, do you?” I asked softly, and Negan’s eyes darted to the sliver of skin that was showing above my waist, “What? You don’t like the fact that Jameson carved your name into my hip?”

I lifted my shirt and he looked away immediately, I scoffed and let it back down.

“I killed for you, I would have died happily for you…but tainted meat isn’t worth anything is it? Unless it’s being tainted by you…sorry about the papers.”

I walked out of the room, passing the others and shoving past Eugene as he called out to me when I slammed the door shut behind me.


 

 

SIMON

After an hour of looking he found her with the help of Arat and Dwight. Dwight had been outside when he looked up at Sanctuary to find a figure sitting at the very top. Arat had radioed him and he had left Negan to climb up the walls.

She was sitting on the edge with her feet dangling over, kicking them back and forth as she stared out into the night sky. She and that one kid, Leo, used to come out here all the time when Negan had started pursuing her. He could understand why, it was nice and quiet up here. Hell, maybe he’d move his shit up here to get away from everyone’s bullshit.

She looked up as he sat down, didn’t even say a word but her eyes looked dull, faded and red. Simon stayed quiet as he replayed Negan’s conversation with him and the others in his head.

“You know, you were out there for a full day and night before I came. Knocked out cold, didn’t look like you had moved at all. I brought you back and Carson said after an hour you died for a minute while Negan was in there with you.”

Melaney looked up at him at that and Simon nodded.

“It’s true. He didn’t go back into your room until you woke up again. Everyone thought you were dead, hell, even Arat shed a few damn tears when Negan told us. Beaten, carved, raped…it was a miracle you decided to pull through.”

“I shouldn’t have pulled through at all. I’d rather be dead.” She shook her head and kicked her foot again, Simon sighed.

“No, you don’t…but you’ll be working for points and shit now if you want, or I can just take you under my wing for shit too.”

“So, it’s done, that’s basically him saying I can do whatever the fuck I want now, and he won’t give a shit.” She shook her head and he heard the tears come out from the way her voice shook, “Kneeling when I see him, pretending that I never loved him…”

“It might be better that way, Doll.” Simon out an arm around her shoulders and pulled her in for a hug.

She held onto him, crying above Sanctuary as he calmed her aching heart down. She fit like a puzzle into his side, for a second, he wondered if this is what Negan felt whenever he had her in his arms. He felt miserable seeing her sad, but he had never felt so much panic and pain when he had shifted through the remains of the school and found her body.

He knew what it was like to be discarded like broken glass, hell his last marriage ended because she had found someone younger and better looking. Melaney dug her face into his side and Simon held on, content with being her anchor from now on.

Such a strong woman…he just hoped Sanctuary didn’t lose her too soon.