Actions

Work Header

Changes of Nature

Chapter Text

Negan’s eyes fell upon the bat that Carl had taken from the pile of supplies a few of the Alexandrians had returned with from their latest run. He was chatting with two boys around his age as he tested out the bat with a few light swings. His expression remained impassive as he watched, but internally it was a different story. Naturally it triggered thoughts of Lucille; at least the bat version of her. And along with Lucille, he was reminded of his days as an Alpha.

He had walked about Alexandria with the barbed wired bat draped over his shoulder, and his chest puffed out. His body had the perfect bulk of a powerful Alpha, creating the ideal example of an intimidating Alpha from afar. His gaze had been bold and his growl, deafening. No one had dared to fuck with him. But that had been another life; a past life. Thanks to a walker, he’d become a low level Omega incapable of intimidating a fly. Negan turned his gaze to his feet, determined not to let a bat of all things bring back memories.

He wandered close to a scene of people who were moving supplies over to a table where two Beta women marked them for inventory. Negan took notice of Aaron as he lifted a large box onto their table and made his way over to him.

“Find any pup supplies out there, or were you just using the time to jack off?”

Aaron tossed him a mild glare before answering.

“We found a few things. Mark and I are separating them before we take them to your place.”

“You might as well give ‘em to me. I ain’t got shit to do right now.”

Aaron dropped his gaze down to Negan’s bulging belly.

“You’re not supposed to have shit to do when you’re eight months pregnant.”

Negan dropped a hand across his belly and rubbed it as his brow furrowed. Pup number three was on the way, and of course that meant he should be nesting at home while everyone else did the work. Normally that wouldn’t be a complaint since chores could quickly become annoying, but for the time being he wasn't keen on doing nothing.

“I wouldn’t count moving boxes from point A to fucking point B as hard labor.”

“The boxes are heavy Negan, and if Rick catches you doing any heavy lifting, he’ll be after my ass.”

Negan shot him a grin.

“Well, better your ass than mine. But seriously, I’m free for the moment, and I feel like lending a hand.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a Beta giving him a nasty glare. It did not matter that there was a pup in the oven. For a few, his status as a past bastard and kidnapper remained. But for others, it was a case where he was simply being tolerated. After four years, he found their hold on the past a little surprising as well as a little impressive. The Alexandrian pack was a tight knit stubborn group, and once someone became their enemy or their Alpha’s enemy, said person was branded that way for life.

“There’s no need Negan,” Aaron told him. “Taking care of your pups is more than enough. You want to be sure we have strong future Alphas, or Betas, or Omegas.”

The Omega grimaced at the thought.

“Hit the goddamn brakes on that. I’m not even ready for them to turn five. I’m sure as hell not ready to imagine them moving on.”

“Well, they still have some adorable years left in them, especially the unborn pup. And like I’ve said before, Aaron’s not a bad name.” Negan chuckled. “But really. Mark and I will drop off the supplies later.”

“Fine,” Negan said while waving his hands in mock surrender. “I get it. You want my ass gone.”

He turned on his heel before Aaron could say more. Deep down he understood that the Alpha had his best interest at heart. It was in their nature to push the protection of a pup in a pregnant Omega, especially when an Omega was set to burst. This was a time where he should be resting, which he didn’t exactly want to do, but at the same time he did.

As he moved, he felt the aches of the long pregnancy rise up his back. He reached a hand around to touch his back as he came to a stop to give his already tired feet a minute to rest. The weight of his stomach had become like an anchor, creating something of a strain on most of his muscles.

“Goddamn it, when is this pup coming out,” he muttered. It hadn’t been as bad as when he’d carried twins, but the feeling was impossible to ignore.

“Need a hand?”

He looked up as Carl walked over with the bat still slung over his shoulder. Negan assumed it was the hormones making him tense at the sight of the bat drawing near.

“Normally I’d say fuck no, but in this case, why the hell not.”

Carl became his crutch as they headed for the house. Along the way, people moved back and forth as they went about another typical day. A couple of them greeted him kindly which he acknowledged with a nod or something witty. Then there were those that just preferred to take more notice of his belly than his face.

“Where the hell’s daddy?”

“In the armory,” Carl replied. “They found a few guns out there.”

“Hopefully we won’t need them,” he said flatly. There hadn’t been a problem since the Saviors attack, and he hoped it stayed that way.

“So…”

“So what?” Negan asked, quirking a brow.

Carl’s eye briefly dropped to his belly.

“Have you given my list another look?”

“Christ, I thought we were all in agreement on the name,” Negan muttered, as if annoyed. He raised himself up so the kid was no longer supporting him in a crutch like fashion.

“Dad’s not into the name Negan,” he said with a playful roll of the eyes. “He’s told you that.”

“I know I’ll be able to change his mind.” A smug smile lifted the corners of Negan’s lips.

“Lucy’s the only one that likes it besides you. Jake is with us.”

“All three of you will have to roll to my way of thinking, cause I’m the one pushing this pup out of my ass, so it should be my say-so.” As quietness settled on them, Negan glanced at the bat. “Why’d you take that?”

“Huh?” He followed Negan’s gaze. “What the bat? I don’t know. I thought maybe we could get baseball going again. Maybe after the pregnancy, you could start a league.”

Negan took notice of a few Alphas smoking on the porch of a nearby house. As soon as their eyes met, the Alphas shot him a sharp glare that encouraged Negan to drop his gaze in submission. Alexandria was a place where Alphas and Omegas were on the same footing, but for him it didn’t count.

“Yeah, I don’t think me swinging a bat around is gonna strike up a beautiful image for people. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m banned from ever touching a damn bat again.”

“Oh come on, no one would think you're bringing Lucille back. And no one thinks-”

“You’re a smart pup, but you know that’s not entirely fucking true.”

Carl fell quiet for a minute afterwards.

“I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. I mean who cares what they think anyways.”

He agreed with such a point. He shouldn’t care. The only time to care was if someone was attempting to hurt him, but the fact of the matter was that he was a member of the pack, so to a degree he was a little concerned about not having enough support. He laughed as he thought about taking a team of pups under his wing for baseball. It would allow him to return to his old job of coaching, which unfortunately ended once the world changed.

“Why the hell not. I’ll fashion a shitload of Lucilles for my team to hit that cool factor, and piss these assholes off.”

“Yeah, that’s what you want to do,” Carl said with a laugh.

Up ahead, the sight of his two pups on the porch caught Negan’s attention. Jake was messing with a robot toy while Lucy was perched on Michonne’s lap, listening as she read her a book. Just then, Jake’s robot started making noises which attracted Lucy.

“Let me see it,” she cried.

Jake pulled it out of her reach as she neared him.

“No, I haven’t had a turn,” he argued.

“You said you’d let me.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No!”

“Hey!” Negan called once he made it to the porch. “I’m gone twenty minutes and you two are already on the verge of killing each other.”

“I just wanted to see the robot,” Lucy pointed out. She pulled out her lower lip in a pout as her dark hair fell over her bright blue eyes. At four, she was still a spitting image of him with similar facial features.

“Look mommy, it’s working now,” Jake said proudly as he held it up. Unlike his sister, he favored Rick when it came to looks, but his eyes were a bright light brown instead of blue.

“Did you fix it all by yourself?” Negan asked, grinning. Jake bobbed his head rapidly. “Atta boy.”

The pup’s proud smile widened.

“Auntie Micho is teaching me to read,” Lucy announced, hoping to gain Negan’s praise as well.

“That’s my girl.” He topped it off by running his hand over her head. “But you’re not driving Michonne nuts over here, are you?”

Lucy glanced back at Michonne before turning back to shake her head.

“No.”

“That’s too bad,” Negan said as he feigned disappointment. “I would’ve been even prouder if you made her lose her damn mind.”

“Swear,” Jake said offhandedly without even bothering to look away from his robot.

“Right,” Negan muttered. Both pups were so used to hearing him drop an occasional swear word, they were barely bothered to react. At least Jake was still interested in pointing it out.

“If I’d lost my mind, there’d be no one to pupsit for you,” said Michonne.

“There’s always Carl. Rick might call him a pup, but he’s not anymore. Already on the verge of presenting.” He settled in the plastic chair next to her and released a heavy sigh of relief. After he put his feet up on the porch railing, he felt even better. “If I could have anything in the world right now, it’d be to take this blimp off my body for a little while.”

“No sign of it ending anytime soon?” Michonne asked.

He was certain a look of concern fleeted across her features. He dropped a hand over his stomach yet again, taking notice of how it easily peeked out of the bottom of his shirt.

“Other than the kicking fits? No.” He eased back into the chair suddenly feeling drained.

“You should go lay down a while. I’ll keep watching the twins,” Michonne offered.

“Now you sound like Aaron,” he complained. “He shooed me away from bringing the pup supplies over.”

“I suppose he’s taking after Rick, in a way. No lifting a finger if you can help it.”

“Oh I can lift a finger, easy,” he said cheekily as he lifted the middle finger of his left hand. Michonne rolled her eyes. “I should toss one of these up every now and then, especially when I get the stink eye from some as...A-hole.” He looked over at Jake who appeared ready to cry “Swear” if he’d said the word.

“I don’t think that’s going to help you in the end,” Michonne disagreed.

“No, but I’ll get a kick out of it.”

“Hey, I’m gonna go see if they need any more help unloading the supplies,” Carl said as he approached Negan.

“Get to it then,” he said while waving him off.

“You need any more help?”

Though it was nice to be asked, Negan felt a little offense at the question.

“What am I, grandma? I can still do some things without assistance pup scout.”

“Okay then. See you.”

He hurried off. After seeing her brother zip out, Lucy too approached Negan.

“Can I help Carl too?”

“No. You just stay put right here.” With shaky legs, he rose to his feet and stretched. “I think I will take that offer Micho, and get myself a little nap time before Rick shows up.”

Determined to show no signs of fatigue, he shuffled indoors.

 

Sleep had been quite welcomed as he laid stretched out across the couch, and it had only taken him less than an hour to fall into it. When an hour was up, the front door was opening, causing Negan to stir from the sound. The simple sound was followed by running feet and loud laughter.

“Keep it down you two. Mommy is resting, remember?”

The voice was noticeable enough to encourage Negan to open his eyes. He rose to a sitting position tiredly just in time to catch the intruder trying to walk by quietly with two giggling pups in his wake.

“Mommy was resting,” Negan corrected as he laid eyes on his Alpha.

Rick gave him an apologetic smile before shrugging.

“There’s always tomorrow right.”

Negan quirked a brow at the comment. He wasn’t so certain of that anymore, especially when two pups would soon become three.

Chapter Text

He was annoyed to find that Rick did not look as tired as he felt. Whenever he did have moments of exhaustion, Negan had been the one allowed to see just how tired a true Alpha could get. The lines on his face would be obvious, and his bright blue eyes would have circles.

“I hoped you managed to get some rest at least,” he said after brushing a hand over his neatly trimmed beard.

Negan just grimaced.

“I wasn’t interested in resting until Michonne suggested it,” he said as he stretched and rose to his feet. “I preferred checking out our latest packages.”

Rick settled down in a chair across from him. Lucy and Jake whizzed past as they engaged in a game of indoor chase.

“We got a good haul,” said Rick. “Good timing on it too.”

For a minute Negan was bewildered by the comment, then he dropped his head as it dawned on him.

“Oh right, the fair. How the hell could I forget?”

There had been a point in the last four years where it was decided that the aligned packs could use a formal get-together of sort for the simple sake of relieving stress and having something more entertaining to do than slaughtering walkers. This would only be the second one to take place, and there was hope that it would be grander than the first go around.

“I hope you don’t. I intend for you to come this year,” Rick said in a slightly stern tone.

“Unless you turn that fair into a carnival with shit-your-pants rides, I’m not invested. Besides that, I heard ticket prices have gone up, and I’m fucking broke.”

“We’re not having the fair at Hilltop, so if it’s Maggie you’re worried about-”

Negan huffed and squared his shoulders.

“Please. I’m past that obstacle.”

“Then what’s the problem?” Rick pressed. “You know Lucy and Jake will be disappointed if you don’t come along.”

Negan inwardly cursed Rick for using the pups to guilt him. Of course they would be eager about their first fair since they had been too young to really remember attending the first one. He met his Alpha’s eyes and suddenly wished he could just sense the problem without him having to try and explain it. The last thing he felt like doing, especially now, was discuss his deeper feelings on the matter.

“I don’t know,” he grumbled. He glanced down and decided to follow Rick’s lead in using a pup. “I’m fucking bursting here, and you really expect me to walk around and play games? I’ll draw too much attention anyways and that won’t give me a moment’s peace.” He was pleased to see that Rick appeared to be accepting his words. “I’m getting more tired now so unless the fair’s date is changed after this pup pops out, I’m not up for going.”

Rick nodded in understanding. He was about to respond but became distracted by the sound of something breaking upstairs.

“JAKE! LUCY!” Rick called.

“Better go make sure one didn’t kill the other,” Negan suggested. With a sigh, Rick rose and left to investigate.

Negan hunched over and rested his fingers against his temples. In all honesty he did like the sound of attending the fair at last. Skipping out on the first had been an easy decision. Walking amongst Alexandrians who were still emotional after the events of the Savior attack did not sound like a pleasant experience. Now however, enough time had passed for them to sort themselves out, and despite a few sour apples, he would have been willing to go. The thing was, the fair would include packs from both the Hilltop and the Kingdom. There had been no bread breaking between him and them, so he was certain they would still be sore from what the Saviors had put them through in the past.

“Fuck.” He didn’t want to stay behind when the fair offered the best way of getting out of the house. And the idea of being alone while everyone else was gone, bugged him.

 

“Mommy when are you gonna cook again?” Lucy asked after taking a bite of mashed potatoes.

“When your daddy starts paying me.”

Rick tossed him a look of annoyance before eating. Negan turned back to their meal for the night which consisted of mashed potatoes, veggies from Alexandria’s large garden, and slices of ham from the Kingdom’s pigs.

“I wanna make cookies.”

“Cookies?” he questioned. “I think the last thing you need is more sugar after you guys knocked over that lamp.”

“It was Jake,” she accused while pointed a finger across the table at her brother.

“Nu-uh, it was her,” he accused back.

“Guys,” Rick warned. He gave a soft growl that was suitable for pups. “That’s why we don’t run around like that in the house.”

Both pups dropped their heads.

“Don’t take it too hard,” Carl piped up. “I broke a lot worse when I was your age.”

This perked the twins up; Lucy more so than Jake.

“Like what?” she asked, putting him on the spot.

“Oh, just random things,” he replied while giving Rick a sheepish look.

“We might have to pup proof this house better,” said Negan. “That, or have Michonne stand guard over you two on occasion.”

Neither pups took him seriously and so giggled at the idea.

“Carl tells me you’re thinking of starting a baseball league.”

The question from his Alpha caught Negan off guard. He turned to him slowly with his brows raised.

“I ain’t decided on nothing yet. When will I have time for it anyways?”

“I think it’d be a good way to give you more to do.”

“Another chore on my list?” Negan countered.

“But you said you coached before,” Carl reminded him.

“That was a long time ago.”

He didn’t know why, but suddenly the idea of coaching a team of pups wasn’t sitting well with him. He supposed it had something to do with already having the task of taking care of his own.

“Surely you still remember how to coach,” said Rick.

Negan leaned back and pulled up a grin.

“Of course I do, but I think the real issue is finding enough bats. Maybe you can whittle a few when you’re not busy leading.”

“Can’t say I’ve ever whittled.”

Negan just shrugged.

“It’s not too late to learn.”

 

Later that night, Negan was leaning against the wall on Lucy’s bed with a book in his hands. Lucy was leaning against him, looking at the pictures from the book as he read.

“Then I’ll huff…and I’ll puff…and I’ll blow that beauty of a house down to the ground.”

“I want you to read me a comic,” Lucy informed him as he turned the page.

“Maybe tomorrow. Rick wants to make sure you’re educated on the classics.”

“Comics are classic.”

“I agree, but according to daddy, some aren’t. At least not the ones with blood splattering the pages. And why would you need another book read to you huh? You should be sleeping you little night owl.”

He dropped the book as he quickly launched a tickle attack on her belly, making her laugh wildly. From the bed across the room, Jake came running up to Negan’s side and tugged at his arm in an attempt to save his sister.

“Oh you want some of this too little man?” Negan turned from the worn, giggling girl to the boy who’d made himself an easy target. “Both of you should be sleeping already. Instead you’re getting me all riled up.”

The twins just laughed which was music to his ears. Negan laughed along with them, and once he successfully brought them down from the tickle attack, he got to his feet.

“Seriously you two. Bedtime. The warden will pass by and if your sorry little butts aren’t in bed, it’ll be no treats, or no…anything for a week, so come on now.”

Jake hopped up and ran back to his own bed, then dutifully laid down under the covers.

“Tuck me mommy,” he cried.

Negan walked over to do just that, and once he’d finished, he planted a kiss on his forehead. When he turned around, Lucy was ready to be tucked in as well.

“Sleep tight you two,” he said before kissing her forehead.

He set the book back on the shelf, then headed toward the door. He took a moment to watch both pups snuggle down under the covers. Despite Lucy’s shut eyes, he knew she was faking. By the time he shut the door, he imagined she’d be sneaking around. He shut the door anyways with no intention of popping back in to shout at her. Her rebellious nature was something he cherished. When it came to Jacob, he respected his more quiet nature.

He dropped a hand over his protrusion, wondering who the upcoming pup would take after most. He really liked the idea of another pup borrowing his own behavior and looks, but he imagined Rick felt differently. As if sensing his thoughts, the pup inside issued a few kicks against the walls of his current habitat.

“Don’t go breaking down the walls kid. I’m just as eager to have you outta there myself.”

He headed to his Alpha’s room, ready to get a real day’s rest.

He paused in the doorway, eyeing his bed which had become more than a mattress on the floor over time and couldn’t have looked more inviting. All the little aches and pains made themselves known as he wandered toward it. As he settled under the covers, Rick entered the room, yawning.

“If you’re hoping for a bedtime story, you’re too late,” Negan teased.

“Right now all I’m hoping for is a good night’s sleep. I gotta date with Hilltop tomorrow.”

“What the hell for?”

“Just trading.”

“Sounds boring as shit. And here I was thinking of actually coming,” came the sarcastic response.

Rick looked over at him as he climbed into his own bed. His eyes dropped down to his belly which was becoming a common habit.

“I think you’re more suited to hanging back and taking it easy.”

A weak version of a growl escaped his Omega throat.

“Don’t you and Carl ever get sick of treating me like some fragile old man? This sure as hell ain’t my first pregnancy, and I’m not so fragile that I couldn’t handle a trip,” he argued.

At that, Rick raised a brow.

“You said you were too tired for the fair, and now you want to go to the Hilltop?”

“I meant I could handle a ride. I didn’t say anything about getting out of the car.”

“I’d consider letting you, if I thought you were serious about that,” Rick said as he settled down under the covers.

“You know me too well,” Negan muttered with a light chuckle. He dropped his head and ran his fingers over his belly in a methodical fashion. As the Hilltop lingered in his mind, he also thought about the Kingdom. The idea of roaming both pack’s territories made him a little tense. He hadn’t made many trips to the Kingdom when he’d been an Alpha, and he couldn’t imagine going as an Omega. And though he’d gone to the Hilltop several times after his change, he had only ever visited Dr. Carson. He had no reason to visit the doctor anymore since Alexandria now had their own. “Is four years enough?”

“What?”

“Four years,” Negan repeated. “Is it enough time for them to, get over what I’ve done?”

Rick processed the question quietly.

“I don’t know,” he said truthfully. “It depends on them. But, it would help if you apologized for what you did to their packs.”

Negan gave a flat huff. In all this time, he hadn’t really given an apologetic statement to the Alexandrians. In a way he’d passed off the birth of the twins as something of an apology since his pregnancy was enlarging the pack and giving their Alpha something he desired.

“Maybe I’ll send them a note,” he said as he settled down under the covers. He could practically hear the eye roll from Rick.

Chapter Text

Rick walked up to the RV with the last crate of canned goods. He handed it off to a Beta that had been inside organizing all the supplies next to one another.

“That should be good,” Rick said as he took note of the amount of supplies ready for delivery. Ten crates of canned and boxed foods, and freshly grown tomatoes were chosen for Hilltop on this particular trade.

Scott, who’d been helping the Beta, stepped out and eyed the supplies.

“Is this too much?”

“No,” said Rick. “We can afford it, especially with help from the Kingdom.”

“And the end of the Saviors.”

Rick twitched at the mention of their past enslavers. He never liked to think of them again if he could help it, but Scott had been right. Without the Saviors demanding half, they had enough to keep and share.

“Yeah,” he agreed bitterly. “We better get a move on.”

“Hey dad.” He turned to see Carl coming forward with Negan carrying Lucy behind him. “Can I come too? I thought I’d visit Hershel.”

“Sure.” Rick patted his shoulder.

“I wanna come too daddy,” Lucy announced.

“My whole family’s trying to leave me behind,” Negan said in whining tone. “Maybe I should go after all.”

“Scared to stay home alone?” asked Rick. “Jake can keep you company.”

“Jake’s off at Aaron’s, so I’ll have the house to myself. That is, if Lucy’s allowed to leave.”

“Please daddy! I want to play with Hershel.” She batted her puppy eyes and pouted her lip. Rick did his best to hold back a smile, but in the end he couldn’t.

“Alright. You can come too.”

She beamed. Negan let her down and she happily joined Carl in entering the RV.

“I suppose you want me to hold things down,” Negan assumed as Rick turned to him.

“I want you to take it easy,” Rick answered seriously. He moved closer as his eyes dropped downward. Then he lifted his hand and placed it gently on his bump. A slow rubbing movement stirred a whine out of his Omega. “If you need anything, Michonne and Daryl can help.”

Negan fidgeted from his Alpha’s touch on his belly. He even felt a little heat in his cheeks from the fact that this was a public display. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Scott looking awkwardly away from them.

“Michonne sure, Daryl, no fucking way.”

Rick wanted to argue in defense of the Beta. Daryl hadn’t been as hostile toward Negan as he had in the past, but he hadn’t exactly developed a friendship with him either.

“Well, I’ll be back soon.” He squeezed his shoulder before turning to his ride to the Hilltop.

“What? No kiss goodbye?” he teased. Rick simply waved a hand back at him. Negan gritted his teeth as he thought of who would be waiting to see his Alpha. “Tell Maggie, I said hi.”

Rick looked back at him, pleased at his willingness to take a small step forward when it came to her. After her attack on him long ago, Negan had barely acknowledged her.

“I will,” he promised.

He jumped into the driver’s seat. Once the gate was opened, Rick headed out. Negan watched him as bitterness filled him from his past interaction with Maggie. He dropped his eyes to his bump and rubbed a hand over it.

“Guess it’s just you and me for the day.”

 

In the back, Carl entertained Lucy with a game of paddy cake. Rick glanced up in the rear-view mirror at them.

“Worried?”

“About what?” he asked Scott who occupied the passenger’s seat.

“Your upcoming pup.”

“Every father worries about his pup.” With that, he glanced into the mirror again to look at Carl and Lucy. “And fathers get particularly anxious when a new pup’s about to come into the world. But I think I’m handling it alright. Do I look worried?”

Scott smiled jokingly.

“Not exactly. I just, figured you could be worried underneath that mask of calm.”

Rick chuckled softly.

“I’ve gone through this enough times to avoid becoming a nervous wreck. Carl, Judith…” he paused on her name as a twinge of sadness struck him. “Lucy and Jacob. This is the fourth time I’m dealing with a pregnant Omega. You should’ve seen me when I was a first time father with Carl.”

“Maybe I should try it sometime,” said Scott. “I’d have to find an Omega first.”

Rick gave a nod of understanding. The population of Omegas had decreased greatly after the fall of the world. He found himself imagining an Alpha falling into the same scenario as Negan, where said Alpha ended up getting bitten and turned into an Omega. So far, he hadn’t heard another incident of such a thing happening to anyone else.

“You’ll find one,” said Rick confidently. “It’s not impossible not to.”

 

In no time a large field of crops came into view with several pack members working in them. Just behind that was the great gates of the Hilltop. Rick popped his head out and waved at Kal who, as usual, was posted on top as guard.

“Open up the gates! It’s Rick!” he called out.

The gates were opened, allowing him to drive inside. Much like Alexandria, the Hilltop had expanded nicely within with several new homes, larger pens for the increased livestock, an area for horse breaking, and a water tower. The pack members had been thriving much better now with the network of trade as well as a major change in leadership. The new leader made her way forward with Enid in toe. Rick smiled at her as he exited the RV.

“Hi Maggie.” He greeted her with a warm hug.

“Rick. I figured you’d skip out on this trade with a new pup close to arriving.”

“You know I wouldn’t want to skip out on seeing you.”

“Hey Maggie,” Carl greeted as he walked over to hug her.

“Carl, it’s good to see you.”

“Hey you,” Enid greeted Carl as she moved in to hug him.

“Auntie Maggie!” Lucy cried as she eagerly ran forward with her arms spread. Maggie’s delighted smile widened.

“Lucy!” She happily scooped her into her arms. “This is a nice surprise.”

“I missed you,” Lucy said as she hugged her. Maggie returned the warm hug.

“I’ve missed you too. Look at you. You’ve gotten so big since I last saw you.”

“Where’s Hershel?”

“Right over there sweetheart.”

They all looked over at a small pup with dark hair who was playing in a sandbox and being watched by a pupsitter. He was clearly a spitting image of his father, Glenn. Maggie released Lucy and she ran over to the sandbox giggling.

“Did Jake come too?”

“No, he’s back home, and so is Negan.” Rick noticed her smile falter slightly at the mention of his Omega’s name. Four years had definitely not been enough time for her to be okay with him, and he didn’t expect that to ever change.

“Oh,” came her simply reply. “How, how is he?”

Rick could tell it was forced politeness.

“He’s okay. He’s ready for that pup to come out. He wanted me to tell you hi.”

She nodded then turned her attention to Jesus as he made his way to them.

“Rick, looks like you’ve got a nice load here.”

“I do.”

Jesus jumped in to help Scott remove the crates. Both Carl and Enid got into position to lend a hand as well, leaving Rick and Maggie to walkabout alone. Rick turned his attention to Hershel. He was in the middle of building a sand castle with Lucy’s help.

“Hershel is looking more like his dad every time I see him.”

“I’m glad for that,” she said, pleased as she glanced over at him as well. “How are things in Alexandria?”

“Good. No trouble, and definitely no assholes causing us problems. How about here? Gregory’s not giving you trouble is he?”

“He’s been okay actually. He didn’t handle the reelection well, but so far he’s been on good behavior. As for the people, I think they’re more invested in the fair. I sent some of them to head to the Kingdom to help. I get the feeling they’re a little miffed at me for not allowing Hilltop to host it a second time.”

“Would it have really been so bad to host it here?”

“The Kingdom’s bigger. There’s more space there, and the same can be said for Alexandria,” she replied in defense.

“I preferred it not to be in Alexandria. I didn’t want my Omega to become more stressed. He already wants no part of it.”

“That’s probably for the best,” said Maggie in a tone sharper than she intended. Rick was at least pleased she looked a little ashamed at her tone. “I mean with the pregnancy, it might be harder on him.”

“That’s what he told me. I agree with that, but, maybe there’s a way around it.”

Maggie raised a brow as she looked at him.

“What way?”

“I’m not sure. I’ll talk it over with Ezekiel, and while I’m there, I'll check on your people. I’ll head there tomorrow.”

“I appreciate that Rick.”

They paused in their walk to watch as the supplies from Hilltop were being loaded into the RV.

“And I really appreciate that,” he said with a nod at the items.

“Happy to help.”

As they made their way toward it, Rick considered their discussion on the fair. He looked over at the sandbox and noticed Carl had joined Lucy and Hershel in their construction.

“Maggie.” He waited until he had her full attention. “If I’m able to convince Negan to go to the fair, I hope it won’t prevent you from having a good time.”

It was clear that Maggie didn’t want to go into the topic of Negan if she could help it.

“It wouldn’t Rick. The Kingdom’s community is big enough for us to avoid one another. And I think the real question is, will his attendance prevent everyone else from having a good time.” Rick sighed, but she continued. “Rick the Saviors, and Negan, have hurt them longer than they hurt us. I can’t imagine they’ll be very welcoming toward him. They haven’t forgotten, just like I haven’t.”

“Okay, okay, I get it.” He relented and waved a hand. “I just hope one day it won’t be like that. I told Negan the best way for him to get off on the right foot with the communities, was to apologize.”

Maggie seemed to consider the idea.

“That could be a start.”

Rick nodded then looked over at his pups.

“Carl! Lucy! Time to go!”

Carl dusted Lucy off as she stood, then she hugged Hershel goodbye.

“You should drop by Alexandria sometime,” Rick said as he patted Maggie’s shoulder. She became momentarily distracted as Hershel came running up.

“Momma, come see my castle!” he cried.

“Did you build a castle?” she asked as she lifted him up. Hershel nodded proudly.

“Hey Hershel,” Rick greeted. “How are you?”

“Good.”

“That’s good.”

“Daddy,” Lucy said as she ran up to him, “Hershel and me made castles.”

“Yes, I can see them,” he said as he took notice of them in the sandbox. “But it’s time to go now. And Maggie, I’m serious about you coming to Alexandria. We all miss you there.”

“Maybe. If I don’t get too busy running this pack.”

“Gates are always open,” Rick finished off before making his way to the driver’s seat.

Carl and Lucy entered and took their seats, then Jesus closed the door.

“Have a safe trip back,” Maggie wished him as he started the car.

Rick nodded in thanks before pulling out of the now opened gates. As he drove, he thought about his talk with Maggie. It did seem unlikely that the other packs would ever be accepting of Negan. The man had just been a bastard that hurt people for too long.

Chapter Text

Negan rocked gently in the rocker as he watched pack members travel back and forth from his front porch. Barely anyone looked his way which he was perfectly fine with. He preferred to spend time with his pups anyway, or at least the one that was still inside him since Lucy was with his Alpha and Jake was with Aaron.

“I bet you’d like me to tell you about the pack you’re going to meet soon,” he told said pup as he rubbed his belly. “Well, you’re not missing much. They can be stubborn assholes, but they’re a loyal bunch. You’re daddy likes them well enough, and I…they’re okay.”

He dropped his eyes as the past yet again invaded his thoughts.

“They were mine once,” he admitted softly. He let his eyes follow random people walking about. “I made them mine, when I was an Alpha. I put my foot down on your daddy’s neck and had him and his people working for me and my pack. But, that was a long time ago. Your brother and sister don’t know about that, so I’d appreciate it if you keep it just between us, okay?”

He looked down at his belly as he rubbed it a few more times. He wasn’t sure why but he was suddenly feeling a little depressed. He had gone through postpartum depression when the twins had been born and assumed it was happening again.

“They’re going to have a fair soon,” he told the pup suddenly. “Do you think I should go?”

The sound of Alexandria’s gate opening stole his attention.

“Daddy’s home.”

He watched a couple of people walking up to unload the items he had received from Maggie. It was clear he had been successful in gaining a good amount from the trade. Negan watched Rick chat with Daryl before heading his way with Lucy skipping ahead of him. Quickly he wiped any signs of sadness from his face and straightened up as they neared.

“Mommy! Mommy!” Lucy cried as she ran up to him. “I built sandcastles with Hershel.”

“Did you? Maybe I should’ve come along cause I would’ve built a hell of a castle.”

Lucy giggled and headed inside.

“Jake still with Aaron?” Rick asked.

“Do you see him here?” he asked in a smart tone which triggered Rick to give him a warning growl. “Something wrong?”

In response, Rick moved in close and pushed him forward just a little so he could access his neck. Negan gasped as his Alpha clamped his teeth on his gland. He hadn’t done such a thing often since Negan barely ever did anything to displease him nowadays.

“Alpha?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Rick said before nipping at the gland again.

A shiver traveled down Negan’s spine.

“Rick, Jesus, it’s the middle of the day.” He found himself involuntarily raising his neck to give his Alpha more access. His inner Omega was getting a little excited.

After a sharp nip and a growl, Rick pulled away and touched his belly.

“I’m heading to the Kingdom tomorrow.”

“And you want me to come or something?” he asked with a raised brow.

Rick’s attention was solely focused on the unborn pup.

“No. I think you should rest up.”

“Great,” said Negan flatly. “I guess I’ll be here, waiting for the future to pop out of my ass.”

Rick snapped his attention on him.

“Did you want to come?”

“Fuck no,” he said bitterly.

“What’s wrong?” he questioned, sounding concerned.

“Nothing. I’m just…ready for this damn pregnancy to be over.” His gaze drifted to the passerby again. “But never mind that. How’d you make out with Maggie? You didn’t screw up the trade, did you?”

“We got a good deal as always,” he said as his attention drifted to his members transporting the supplies. “Corn, potatoes, bags of beans, bread. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Think you’ll have better luck at the Kingdom huh? I wouldn’t be surprised if the king was giving out golden apples now.”

“That’s not why I’m going there. I wanted to check up on the fair.”

Negan’s face fell in annoyance at the mention of it.

“I’m still not going, unless they have rides.”

Rick ignored the cheeky grin in favor of patting his shoulder and heading inside. Negan rocked a minute longer before rising to his feet. He leaned against the railing as he thought about the fair. He was starting to wonder if he was making too big of a deal out of it. The other communities were well aware of his status, but there was the fact that he hadn’t had any interaction with them since then. For the most part the king had come when Rick was ready to reveal his claim on him to the Saviors, but nothing else had come of that. Perhaps the king and the rest of the Kingdomers thought he was still a prisoner. Then he thought it was unlikely that Rick wouldn’t have explained that he’d become a member of Alexandria and birthed his pups. Surely they, as well as the Hilltop, had moved on just as Alexandria had.

He chuckled quietly as he realized such thoughts had never come to his mind until this event.

 

Once the day came to an end, Negan was ready for comfort in the form of a nice hot shower. He shut his eyes and sighed with satisfaction as the water rained over his face. He next pressed his forehead against the wall, letting the water cascade down and soothe the minor aches in his joints.

As the water thundered over him, he failed to hear the bathroom door opening. With the curtains closed, he didn’t see the figure shedding his shirt and unbuckling his pants. It was only when the curtain rings rattled when the curtain was quickly pushed aside did Negan take notice. When he made to turn around, fingers gripped his gland.

“Relax,” his Alpha ordered.

“What? A guy can’t take a shower in…” He trailed off as Rick sunk his teeth into his neck, hitting the gland just perfectly so that he would give in and relax.

Negan’s shoulders sunk as he whined. A soft possessive growl issued from Rick’s throat as he stepped into the shower behind him and snaked his hand across his bulging belly. The fingers moved in a circular fashion, giving him a nice massage in addition to the warm water. Rick growled again, but held his grip on the gland with his teeth as the other hand moved downward. Negan’s leg twitched as he felt the fingers hover between his legs.

“R-rick,” he stuttered. He wasn’t sure what had set his Alpha into doing this. Since becoming pregnant he hadn’t gone into heat, and it certainly wasn’t time for Rick’s rut. When that time had come, he had taken a few suppressants to keep it down. Since they were now cycling together, there wasn’t much of a fear of Rick losing his mind to a powerful rut. “What, brought this on?”

Rick just growled and pulled his fingers away but kept his other hand on the belly.

“You seemed stressed,” he answered before returning his teeth to his neck.

Negan shifted as he felt the wetness streaming down his leg. He knew automatically it wasn’t water. And once the scent of a ready Omega hit Rick, he entered, slowly.

Negan did his best to suppress a gasp, but failed. Rick's great cock had always elicited a reaction from him. As Rick penetrated deeper, Negan felt his body start to imitate jelly and he had to support himself against the wall.

“Jesus Rick…I’m, I’m already pregnant, in case you haven’t noticed.”

The growl that stemmed from his Alpha’s throat sent a strong shiver through his Omega core.

“I know,” he said in a low, commanding voice. Once Rick turned to suckling at his gland, Negan became putty in his hands.

He whined and lifted his neck back for his Alpha. As he alternated between sucking and nipping, goosebumps traveled down Negan’s bare wet skin. The whines shifted to moans when Rick started rolling his hips. Negan was certain he could easily be heard over the still running water.

“R…Rr…Rick.”

Negan wasn’t sure what he wanted to tell him. Nothing had set him up to be in the mood for this, but the excitement from earlier returned with a force as Rick thrusted at the proper speed. He dropped his forehead against the wall and rolled his hips back to meet his thrusts. If his Alpha wanted him now, he would submit and give him his body.

Rick quickened his speed only slightly, and not once did he thrust rough enough to cause Negan’s belly to bash the wall. He was gentle and wholly aware of the pup bulge.

“Mine,” Rick growled possessively.

Negan arched when Rick hit especially deep and started panting. Rick let his hands wander upward to cup his breasts. The fingers kneaded them gently, then squeezed.

“Fuck.” He jolted and issued needy whines as his boobs were alternately kneaded.

Rick issued a lengthy growl as he then let his hands travel to Negan’s popping waist. They were perfectly synced in their motions as a mating Alpha and Omega should be. His Omega gave a loud cry and threw back his head as Rick hit deep again. The water rained over his shut eyes, and continued soaking their joined bodies, adding more heat and pleasure to both.

Rick went as deep as he could go while his hands moved up and down Negan’s waist. And when he felt the telltale hint of a forming knot, he paused in his thrusting. Negan felt an air of disappointment and moved his hips in an effort to encourage his Alpha to keep going.

“Christ Rick,” he started breathlessly, “don’t start something you don’t intend to finish.”

Rick gave a soft laugh and pulled out.

“It’s like you said, you’re already pregnant.”

The Omega whined at the sudden emptiness. He hated when his Omega side made him feel that way. It was even encouraging him to grind against his Alpha.

“Making me feel dirty Rick?” he teased. “Good timing since I’m already in the shower.”

He turned to face Rick at last who was already drying himself off. Even as he watched, he couldn’t get a read on what had triggered him, but when Rick’s eyes traveled to his belly, he had an idea.

“I forgot. I’m pretty damn hot with a pup in the oven,” Negan said, smirking.

“It wasn’t so much about that,” Rick said as he pulled his shirt back on.

“Then…what the hell?”

Rick gave a soft growl before turning to pull up his boxers.

“Do I need a reason?”

It was true. No Alpha needed a reason for when they felt like fucking their Omegas. It was a combination of instincts and the nature of Alphas who were meant to dominate their Omegas every now and then. Having been an Alpha once, Negan understood perfectly.

“Right,” Negan muttered. He was at least pleased he hadn’t knotted him. Though by now, he reasoned the knotting wasn’t too bad since he really had become accustomed to the experience.

“Finish your shower. I’ll take care of the pups' bedtime story tonight.” Now fully dressed, Rick headed toward the door.

“Yes Alpha,” Negan found himself saying before he closed the door. The tingly sensation from being screwed under the shower and feeling Rick’s fingers on his breasts remained as he ran soap across his body.

 

Rick hadn’t yet made it to bed when Negan entered the room. He eyed Rick’s bed a moment before slipping into his own. When Rick did appear, Negan felt a rise of submissiveness, as well as neediness which annoyed him. He watched his Alpha change for the night quietly. When he finally slipped into bed, he spoke.

“I wasn’t that stressed you know,” he said in reference to his shower fuck.

Rick gave a small shrug. His back was facing him so Negan couldn’t see his expression.

“Could’ve fooled me,” he replied. “But some of it was for me too.”

“Who the fuck are you kidding. It’s always for an Alpha,” Negan argued. “I remember I did the same.”

“Are you complaining?”

Negan felt something of a blush hitting his cheeks.

“No. It was the hottest damn shower I’ve ever had.” He chuckled at his own minor joke.

Rick rolled over to face him, and right away, Negan noticed lines of concern in his face.

“I think we both deserved a stress breaker,” he informed him, which confused Negan a little.

“What the hell do you have to be stressed about? I’m the one carrying the pup.”

“And I’m the one running the pack,” Rick countered.

“And you’re doing a hell of a job,” Negan complimented. “Hardly any mistakes. Other than the damn fair, nothing’s been happening for you to lose sleep over.”

Rick dropped his eyes, then smiled.

“As the head of the pack, and an upcoming father for the fourth time, I tend to worry. I worry about the pup’s health, and his or her future here. Things have been running smoothly so far and I don’t want that to change.”

“What makes you think it will?” Negan pressed.

Rick just shrugged.

“I don’t know. Maybe because things have been going so smoothly so far. If there’s any bump in the road, it’s you.”

“Me?” Negan said with an air of hostility.

“Yes you,” Rick said as he raised his head. “Maggie agreed with me that it would be good for you to make amends to the other communities.” At that, Negan soured, but Rick continued. “It’s not a bad thing Negan, and it doesn’t have to happen right this minute. I’d just, like it if we could all truly move on from the past.”

“What the hell does it matter what the Hilltop and Kingdom think of me? They’re their own packs. Just because we trade a bag of sugar with them doesn’t mean we’re one big happy family.”

“You’re wrong,” Rick countered softly. “They’re not just packs to trade with. In the past that was true. Packs didn’t join together. They were solitary. They stayed in their own lanes. But I don’t see it that way now that the world’s changed. I see the Kingdom and the Hilltop members as part of my family as well, even if they’re in their own packs. And whenever we’re able to get another pack on board, it’ll be the same for them. I don’t want to draw lines. I want the world to change where a number of packs can become a tight-knit community. Where there’s no strife over territory. Where we can just be…one.”

Negan gawked. It wasn’t a totally fresh idea. In the past, there had been a small number of people who thought along such lines, and they were considered nuts. It was a foreign idea. Packs didn’t work like that. Packs may be friends with another pack, but no one went as far as forming a community out of packs. Staying separate was the way of things.

“That’s a hell of a dream Rick. Maybe I’m just old fashioned. People in certain packs, stay in their packs. They make brief alliances with other packs or members jump into another pack, but that’s about it.”

“Well, I want to change that. Which is why it’d be nice if we could all get along.”

Negan grimaced and rolled over, letting his back face Rick.

“I think you’re asking too goddamn much.”

A minute later, Rick replied with a soft “Okay”. Negan couldn’t tell if it was a sign of Rick agreeing with him, but such an idea made him feel odd. He was an Alpha, a true Alpha, and he wasn’t meant to submit so easily. If Rick wanted to believe in fantasies, then it was his right. Negan couldn’t buy it, not when there were still some in his own pack that were still so strongly affected by the past. Forgiveness was a hard thing to ask for, especially when he had moments where he missed being an Alpha.

Negan sighed and shut his eyes. He wouldn’t worry about such things. For now, he was just happy that he wasn’t alone. He had his pups, and an Alpha that would make him feel good every now and then.

Chapter Text

Once the two pieces of toasts popped up, Negan dropped them on separate plates, then put in two more slices of the bread that had come from the Hilltop. He used strawberry preserves that was a gift from Carol to spread across the toasts. He grabbed a pan of recently scrambled eggs and divided them into small portions on the plates just as the sound of running footsteps hit his ears.

“I want muffins!” Lucy announced as she pulled up a chair at the table.

“I want chocolate ones,” said Jake.

“You’re both getting breakfast food in the form of toast and eggs,” Negan told them as he fetched two more plates from the cabinet. He gasped as he felt a kick in his belly and paused to lay a hand on it. “You’re up too huh?”

Lucy turned to face him, intrigued.

“Is the pup dancing?”

There was another couple of kicks against Negan’s hand.

“Yeah,” he said with a nod, “the pup’s dancing again.”

Lucy climbed down from her seat and raced over. Her hands were immediately out and pressing against his stomach. She looked up at him with delight when she felt a thump against her hands.

“Morning,” said Rick as he came around the corner. He planted a kiss on Jake’s head when he neared him.

“Daddy the pup’s dancing,” Lucy announced.

“Is it?” Rick crossed into the kitchen and took Lucy’s place to feel for the moving pup. It took a moment before he felt a small thump. “It sure is. Must be really happy this morning.”

“Or it’s got a song going on in there,” Negan joked. “Carl still sleep?”

He gathered the two plates and walked them over to his children.

“Yeah.”

“Then you can have his toast. It’ll get cold by the time he gets his lazy ass up.”

“Swear,” Jake announced before picking up his toast.

“Christ, I’ll get a swear jar.”

Rick chuckled and took down a mug.

“I think I’ll just take some coffee.”

“After I slaved over scrambling eggs and slicing bread?” Negan asked incredulously. “Sit down and let me serve you up a plate. You’re gonna get hungry on your way to the Kingdom, and you know the king’s food ain’t as good as my cooking.”

“If it’ll make you stop whining, then fine,” Rick teased. He walked over to the table with his steaming mug of coffee. Negan came behind him and set a plate down in front of him.

“Daddy I wanna come too,” said Jake.

“Me too!” Lucy added.

Rick took a sip before answering.

“Why don’t you two keep mommy company instead? I won’t be there long anyways.”

“But I wanna see the tiger,” Jake whined.

“When we go to the fair, you’ll have all the time in the world to look at the tiger.”

“And risk getting eaten,” Negan added as he joined them. Both Jake and Lucy looked horrified. “Kidding, kidding, Jesus.”

“Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t leave them alone with you,” said Rick.

Negan shot him a look of annoyance, causing the twins to giggle.

 

Once Rick had finished eating he headed toward the stables with Negan following behind him. He noticed a few blank looks directed at him, but since he was in the company of his Alpha, no one dared shoot him a dirty glance. He shot such members a challenging look, daring them to comment while Rick was right there.

“Something wrong with a car?” Negan questioned as a Beta pulled out a chestnut colored horse.

“We’re at a point where it’s best to preserve what we have,” Rick explained. “There’s going to be a time when all we have to rely on are the horses.”

“You might as well send Daryl. Aren’t horses his thing too? We know dogs are since he’s been spending time training the one he found.”

“Daryl’s not the pack leader,” Rick explained. He pulled himself into the saddle. The horse padded about momentarily before he was able to steady him. “Is there any particular reason why you don’t want me to go?”

Negan frowned as his smug expression.

“No. Go. I don’t give a shit, and I still don’t give a shit about the fair.”

“Alright. I’ll be back soon.”

“I’m not waiting up for you if that’s what you’re about to say.”

“I wouldn’t expect you too,” he said, his eyes danced with humor.

In that moment, for some reason, Negan felt compelled to bring up their conversation about forming a community out of the network of packs. But once Rick nudged the horse forward, he didn’t bother. He stepped aside and watched as Rick rode off through the gates. He felt the pup give a small kick and placed a hand over it.

“Your daddy’s one stubborn Alpha.”

 

Lucy giggled as she lifted her blue colored hand from the papers before her. Both she and her brother were spending time hand painting, and had several sheets of papers scattered around them with hand prints of various colors on them.

“Try making animals,” Jake suggested.

“I am.” She rotated the paper with the blue hand print, then dipped a finger in the green paint to make an eye near the bottom of a finger on the print. “It’s gonna be an elophant.”

Negan marched down the stairs and paused at the sight before him.

“Christ, I knew I shouldn’t have left you guys alone too long.”

Neither pup had become concerned by the drops of color that had gotten on their clothes, the carpet, and the legs of the furniture. He shook his head at his failure to put down plastic or put the twins in play clothes.

“Rick’s gonna have my ass,” he muttered.

“Mommy look, it’s an elephant!” Lucy held up her picture.

“I’m doing a turkey,” said Jake.

“Come play mommy.”

Negan gave a shrug.

“Why the hell not.” He raised a finger at Jake before he could say anything. “I know. Swear. That jar’s coming, trust me.”

 

Sometime later, Negan was doing his best to scrub the carpet clean while sitting at an angle on the floor. The color was coming out to a good degree, but it would be clear to anyone that something blue, green, and red had gone down in the area.

“Goddamn it,” he griped. He dipped the scrub brush in the pail of soapy water, then pushed down harder against the colors.

Then the front door opened, drawing his attention. It turned out to be Carl who had returned from afternoon schooling.

“I’m back,” Carl called.

“Great, you can take over,” Negan told him. He started to get to his feet, but soon found the difficulty in maneuvering himself back up. “Or better yet get over here and get my ass up.”

Carl put his book bag down then grabbed Negan’s arms to guide him to his feet.

“Dad not back yet?”

“No. He’s probably goofing off over there so I have to do all the work.” Then he shot a toothy grin at Carl. “But like I said, you’re here now to help out.”

“Yeah, sorry, I got homework,” he told him as he picked up his bag. Negan groaned.

“Christ, homework during the apocalypse still doesn’t sound right.”

“Feel free to talk to my teacher about it.”

“Maybe I will. Beats the hell out of cleaning.”

“Why don’t you get Lucy and Jake to clean? It’s their mess,” Carl suggested.

“They’re with Michonne in the garden, and besides that, Rick’s told me off for attempted child labor. Something about them not being able to do it right.”

Carl hid a possible laugh as he turned and headed upstairs.

“Sucks for you then.”

Negan sighed in agreement, then headed for the bathroom to find a stronger stain remover.

 

When lunchtime rolled around, Negan prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Michonne arrived just in time with the twins. Lucy came running in with a large tomato in her hands.

“Looky mommy! Looky what I picked!”

“I see.”

“Mine’s bigger!” said Jake as he proudly showed his.

In reality neither tomato was impressively big, but Negan let them have their arguments.

“Give them here and I’ll slice ‘em up and put them on your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”

Both pups scrunched up their noses in disgust.

“Eeww,” Lucy whined. “That’s nasty.”

“Don’t cut mine!” Jake demanded.

“Fine, fine you bunch of party poopers. Go wash up then come down for lunch.”

After they handed him their tomatoes, they hurried away. Michonne laughed and pulled up a seat.

“It’s good to have pups that have an interest in gardening,” she told him. “We won’t have to worry about no one taking over. Jake is really interested in it.”

“It’s a hell of a lot better than turning scout and running outside these walls,” Negan said as his face turned grave. He didn’t exactly like the idea of the twins scavenging for supplies for the pack. It was such a risky job even for the most skilled person. “Rick pop up yet?”

“No. I’m sure he’s on his way back now.”

“Unless the king is putting on a theatrical play,” Negan said with a grin. “He still thinks he’s performing in a Shakespeare play doesn’t he?”

“Last I heard from Carol, he hasn’t been so bad,” said Michonne.

“Yeah. Well since Rick isn’t here, how about you stay for lunch.”

“Sure. Just as long as you don’t put tomatoes on my sandwich either.”

 

As evening approached, Negan was standing on the porch with his arms folded and his eyes on the closed entrance gates. There had yet to be a sign of Rick’s horse and he had no idea why he was taking so long. All he could assume was that they were in a long conversation, or Rick had decided to stick around for a royal meal.

He wanted to believe those simple reasons, but he couldn’t help feeling a little concerned. He supposed it was just the worrying Omega side of himself.

“Dad still not back?” Carl asked as he stepped outside.

“No. He’s probably fooling around over there, or his majesty is talking his ear off.”

“I guess dad just wants to make sure the fair’s really big this year.”

Negan just shrugged and continued watching the gates.

 

Soon dinnertime had rolled around, and the true Alpha leader still hadn’t returned.

“Where’s daddy?” Jake asked when he walked up to Negan in the kitchen.

“He’s taking care of business little man. It’s just taking a little longer than usual.” Jake stared at him, unconvinced. Negan forced a smiled and ruffled his hair. “Come on short stop, don’t start worrying now. He’ll be here.”

With a small nod, Jake headed back to the table. Negan turned back to the soup he was preparing as a knot started forming in the pit of his stomach. There was no reason why his Alpha would be so late, particularly after promising not to be gone long. The kingdom wasn’t that far.

Then he cursed inwardly for worrying. Nothing bad could have happened. Rick was a capable man, so he decided to believe he’d gotten lost in a long conversation and a hot meal. The reason for his lateness was simply due to Rick not wanting to travel back at night.

That was definitely all it was, so there was no point in worrying over nothing.

“Alright guys. You better be hungry,” he said to the pups at the table as he brought them their bowls of soup.

Carl came down the stairs and quickly took interest in the nice smell of the soup.

“Smells good,” he commented.

“Tastes good too,” said Jake.

“I bet, but I’m heading over to Mike’s for dinner.”

Negan turned with his brows raised.

“What? Why am I just now hearing about this?”

Carl just shrugged.

“I didn’t think you’d mine.”

In truth Negan really didn’t, but being he was the only parent present he figured he had to put his foot down in Rick’s absence.

“I think Rick would’ve wanted you to ask first,” he paused as he considered the idea, “but what the hell. Go.”

“Thanks. Tell dad I’ll be back later.”

And with that he was out the door. Jake looked around, ready to tell Negan off for swearing, but he held up a hand since he noticed the pup had a mouthful of soup.

“I know, I know. I’m working on it alright.”

“Stop that Jake,” Lucy said in a sharp tone. “Mommy says bad words. It’s not your damn business.”

“Lucy!” Negan admonished. She shrunk, looking ashamed. “You know what your daddy would say if he caught you talking like that?”

Lucy blinked and looked intrigued.

“No. What?”

The question caught Negan off guard. Parenting still felt like trial and error to him, so he wasn’t sure what the proper punishment would be for a young pup that cursed. He was sure Rick would know.

“I don’t know specifically. Just, don’t copy mommy’s bad words.”

“Yes mommy.”

Negan turned away to pour some soup for himself.

“He’d have my ass if you took after me that much,” he muttered so neither pup could hear. “Damn it Rick. Come home already.”

Chapter Text

Going to bed without Rick across from him had felt odd, but what felt odder was waking up to seeing no clear sign of him having been there in the night. Negan stared at the still made up bed. It was possible he had snuck in to sleep and had just gotten up before he had. It was a bit of a stretch, but it made sense, and it was an idea he was willing to roll with.

He sat up and ran a hand down his face. He didn’t feel like he had the energy to even fix breakfast. If anything he hoped Rick was already taking over those duties. With minor effort, he threw his legs over the side and pushed himself to his feet.

Negan peeked in at the twins. They were still both sound asleep. Jake was cuddling a stuffed bunny to his chest while Lucy preferred a ragdoll that was lying behind her. Negan shut the door quietly and continued on.

“I hope you have a good explanation for being so…”

He paused when he turned the corner into the kitchen and saw that Rick wasn’t there as he’d theorized. There was no sign of him having been there either.

“Great. Leave all the work to me why don’t you,” he griped as he made to prepare something to eat. Not wanting much, he settled for a bowl of cereal and some fruit.

He heard Carl coming down the stairs just as he set up bowls of cereal at the table.

“Dad still not back?”

“Apparently not.”

Carl hesitated before taking a seat.

“Why do you think he’s taking so long?”

Negan had no idea, but he could do without the little nagging sense of worry.

“How the fuck should I know. He probably went back to Maggie’s, or the king’s talking his ear off for a really long time. Have a seat. He’ll be back today for sure.”

Carl followed the suggestion and took a seat. When Jake and Lucy came down, Negan offered a similar explanation to Rick’s absence once they started questioning it. The last thing he wanted was for them to worry, as he feared it would only trigger him to worry more.

 

After breakfast, the day continued as it normally did. Carl went off to school and Negan settled down to play with the pups. Today it wasn’t finger-painting, but construction. Jake had gotten out his Legos and roped Negan into helping him construct a fort. Lucy helped to a degree, but wasn’t as interested in building as her brother so she settled for looking at the pictures in a comic on the couch.

“It’s gonna be a good fort,” said Jake.

Negan gave a nod as he placed a block on a corner of it.

“Yeah,” he replied distractedly. The knot that had started developing from his Alpha’s lateness was increasing.

“Will daddy like it?” Jake looked to him for confirmation.

Negan forced a smile and rubbed his shoulder.

“Are you kidding me? Of course he will.”

Jake started to place another block, but leaned away looking concerned.

“When’s he coming home?” he asked. Lucy looked up from her comic looking interested.

“You guys are tired of me already? Geez.”

“I am!” Lucy cried, then she fell into a fit of mischievous giggling.

“Oh are you now?” Negan moved in with his fingers ready to tickle her into a happy defeat. “Teach you to be tired of your mommy.”

Lucy just kept laughing.

He settled into the couch once it was clear she’d had her fill. It had been a good way to not only distract them, but himself from the concern over Rick.

“What do you guys say we head over to Michonne’s for a little while?”

“Yeah!” Jake agreed.

“Okay,” said Lucy. “Can I bring Whinny?”

“Sure thing.”

Lucy beamed and hurried upstairs to get her ragdoll, while Jake got up to fetch his shoes. And when both were ready, Negan grabbed both by the hand and started them on their way to Michonne’s.

 

During the journey, eyes were turned to him right away. In this case Negan knew it was in response to Rick being gone and he supposed they were looking for an answer on his face. Well there was no answer to give so he flat out ignored them as best he could.

Negan and his little troop hopped onto Michonne’s porch, then Lucy moved forward to knock. When there was no response for a minute, Negan took over in knocking.

“You won’t find Michonne.” They all turned to see that Eugene had come around from the side of the house. “She’s out scouting for supplies.”

“Oh. I was hoping for a pupsitter.”

“But mommy, I thought you would stay and play,” Lucy whined.

“Sorry hon. I just realized I’ve got business.”

Eugene shuffled awkwardly on his feet. Ever since Eugene disbanded from the Saviors, their interaction had mostly been awkward considering how far things had changed. Negan could no longer order him around, so there was that odd lingering ex-boss situation between them. Like himself, Eugene hadn’t exactly had a warm welcome when he returned to live in Alexandria, but they had of course accepted him quicker.

“Perhaps I could be of service,” Eugene offered. Negan raised his brow. “We could run some science experiments. Pup friendly ones of course.”

It hadn’t been the first time Eugene had interacted with the pups, but Negan had never left them alone with him. There was always Aaron, but Negan thought it would be better to accept the offer than not. It would be a start in a fresh direction for their relationship. He glance down to see how Lucy and Jake felt about it. Jake looked interested while Lucy shared his concern.

“Alright, sure. Just don’t blow them up or Rick will be all over me.”

“You have my word,” Eugene promised. “I will not blow up your children.”

“Very reassuring smarty-pants.”

Negan released their hands and both pups moved over to latch onto Eugene’s hands.

“You two know about rockets?” Eugene asked as he led them away. “I’m not an expert by any means, but we can still make do.”

Negan watched them go then stepped off of Michonne’s porch. He wasn’t exactly sure what to do now. Mihconne was really the only other person he chatted with if there was something on his mind.

“Goddamn it.”

He settled for settling down at one of the picnic tables. He would wait for her, or Rick, to show up.

It only took a few minutes for restlessness to hit him. He sighed and tapped absentmindedly on the table. A few people passed by and glanced at him but did nothing more. There was even a Beta woman who quickened her pace as she walked by. He let his eyes wander off and caught sight of the church. He had never been much of a religious man, but something about the sight of it gave him pause. He let his hand drop across his belly as he stood.

“How about we see if Sunday school started.”

The knot that was resting in the pit of his stomach, slowly began to rise the closer he got to the church. It was as if there was something foreboding about it.

He lingered at the opened door, hesitant to go in. The last time he’d gone in, it was when Rick was announcing his pregnancy to the pack. After that, he hadn’t had a reason to go inside. He grimaced as the trip to the church only reminded him of his missing Alpha.

“Jesus he’s fine,” he told himself. “He’s just taking his sweet ass time.”

He turned away from the church and noticed Gabriel coming his way. The smile on his face wasn’t creepy he thought.

“I’m sorry, were you looking for me?” Gabe asked him.

“Just because I’m standing in front of a church doesn’t mean I’m looking for a priest. I’m just wandering, and waiting for Ricky boy.”

Gabriel nodded.

“I’m sure he’s fine.” Negan latched onto the simple generic phrase. Without realizing it, the concern he’d hidden showed on his face, which Gabriel picked up on. “If you’re worried, I don’t think it hurts to pray for his safe return.”

Negan put on a look of confidence.

“No need. It’s like you said. He’s fine. It hasn’t been that long anyway.”

“That’s true.” He clapped him on the shoulder. “Well, if you need to talk, the door’s always open.”

Gabriel started to move on, but Negan decided to speak.

“You ever, get a weird feeling in your gut?” He didn’t meet the Beta’s eyes. He was starting to feel a little embarrassed for voicing his concern out loud.

“What kind of weird feeling?”

Negan shuffled on the spot.

“I don’t fucking know. A feeling like, you’re not sure if everything’s alright.”

“Is that how you’re feeling about Rick?”

Negan frowned, hating how he was feeling even more.

“Rick’s capable. It’s the goddamn Omega in me that’s fucking me up, nothing more.”

Gabriel bowed his head in thought.

“You know there’s no shame in worrying. He is your Alpha, so it’s only natural.”

Negan gave a smirk as he thought about where he’d started in this new world to where he’d ended up.

“Sometimes I wish it wasn’t,” he grumbled. “The damn Omega side of things is so damn needy and weak. Makes me…shit.” He dropped his eyes. He didn’t want to say it. It would have been bad if he’d said it.

“Go on,” Gabriel prodded gently as he rested a hand on his shoulder. “Makes you what?”

“Makes me, miss the days when that wasn’t a thing.” He hated that he felt compelled to duck his head in something of shame. Gabriel wasn’t an Alpha, but of course a Beta was still higher on the hierarchy than he was. And when Gabriel frowned, Negan found he felt a little worse about confessing that much.

“You mean, you miss being an Alpha,” Gabe clarified.

Negan wasn’t sure that was really the case. His Alpha days felt like ancient history now, and he had already become quite adjusted to being an Omega despite the drawbacks of it. On top of that, he had gotten two wonderful pups out of his transformation; He had never been able to accomplish that much as an Alpha since he’d always been shooting blanks.

“Not exactly, but, Jesus. I just, don’t want to be so fucking needy for Rick.”

Gabe smiled softly in response.

“Well you are carrying,” he said as he indicated his belly, “and that usually makes the needy side of an Omega worse.”

“Yeah,” Negan muttered as a small wave of embarrassment took him for admitting to neediness.

“How about I guide you through some relaxation exercises? Help settle that Omega side of yourself,” he offered.

Before Negan could respond, the gate opened. There was a jolt of interest within him as the knot in his stomach diminished.

“Maybe next time,” he said as he moved toward the gates, “and don’t forget the holy water.”

He put on his big shit-eating grin as he marched, feeling ready to tell his Alpha off for his lateness. At last the near concern he’d felt would be gone. But just as he opened his mouth to greet Rick, disappointment began to fill him as a car drove inside. He could easily see that it was a party of three within, and when the doors opened, Rick was not one of the members. He did however see Michonne exiting from the driver’s side, but overall it wasn’t Rick.

“Goddamn it,” he muttered. He made his way to her anyways as a few Betas stepped forward to help unload some of the supplies they had picked up.

“You know, Rick’s all about using horses now,” Negan told her with a sly smile.

“I’m all for it, but with a supply run, we’re going to need a wagon.”

Negan moved closer and the smile dropped.

“While you were out there, did you see Rick heading back?”

She frowned and shook her head.

“No. He’s still not back?” There was some concern present in her voice.

“No. He didn’t come back last night.” He certainly didn’t want to give her the impression that this was a major problem. He wasn’t some frazzled pup, and Rick was a capable Alpha.

“Did you ask around?”

“No,” Negan said with the lightest growl. “And no one’s come up to me asking where he is.”

“Maybe he went back to the Hilltop,” Michonne suggested. “You haven’t experienced this but in this pack it’s normal for members to be late.”

“But Rick’s the goddamn Alpha, and this was supposed to be a quick run to the Kingdom and back, not a scavenging mission.”

This caught Michonne’s attention more.

“Alright. We’ll give it a little longer, then we’ll discuss sending someone to the Kingdom.”

Negan nodded. That felt like a step in the right direction, yet he told himself that he really hadn’t been gone long enough for that. Then again, a pack leader’s absence was something to look into early.

 

The rest of the day played out like any typical day, and it wasn’t until Negan brought up Rick’s lateness did people take notice that the Alpha wasn’t wandering around. Apparently it had been assumed that he’d stayed the night at the Kingdom or had either returned early and had decided to spend the day indoors with the kids. They were reasonable conclusions to jump to and Negan willed himself to believe them, but now Rick’s words of things having run smoothly so far were staring to ring in his ears. Rick had worked hard to make sure the pack would always be ready and prepared for anything to befall them, but what if it had befallen Rick himself and not the rest of the pack? What if he had fallen from his horse and gotten badly injured? What if he had fallen in a ditch somewhere and fallen unconscious?

Negan put down the plate he was currently washing and shut his eyes as he sighed. He had to stop worrying. Rick could take care of himself. He’d been told the stories of Rick running off to do some heroic thing and always managing to come back. This was no different.

But, he was only supposed to go the Kingdom.

He picked up the plate and went back to drying it. When he turned and took notice of the darkening sky out the window, he moved around the corner and faced the door like an expectant dog awaiting his owner. A minute passed before frustration gripped him.

“Shit.”

He set the plate down and stormed outside. They’d waited long enough.

Up ahead he noticed Michonne talking to Daryl and Scott. He assumed they’d felt the same way as he did since they were huddled together speaking in low voices. She stopped talking when she saw him coming. Daryl and Scott also took notice of him.

“I hope you three are talking about what I think you’re talking about.” He came to a stop and looked them all in the eyes. “It’s time to send someone to the goddamn Kingdom.”

Chapter Text

None of the three gave him looks of surprise at his demand, which gave Negan satisfaction. It was a clear sign that they were on the same page.

“Well? Who the hell’s going?” he prodded impatiently.

After a moment of considering him, Daryl responded.

“I’m going.”

Daryl looked away when Negan turned to him. He could feel the friction between them easily because it had always been there. It was lucky if they ever traded more than a few words with one another, but Negan had never been concerned about that, especially now. What mattered was that the Beta desired to fetch his brother.

“Then get a move on,” Negan ordered with a little more force than he intended.

“That’s what we were just discussing,” said Scott. “Late night travel, especially on a bike, is risky.”

“What, are you afraid of the dark?” Negan asked Daryl. The tone was patronizing and served to trigger a scowl out of the man.

“I ain’t afraid of nothing,” he spat before turning to the others. “Makes no difference, night or day. We gotta make sure Rick’s good.”

“No,” Michonne disagreed. “We don’t make long journeys during the night. Rick doesn’t approve of it.”

“Rick’s not here goddamn it,” Negan pointed out, mildly aggressive. “Rules are meant to be goddamn bent when the Alpha’s in trouble.”

“We don’t know that he is,” Scott reasoned. “And we can’t risk people getting hurt. It’s better to go during the day. It’ll be safer.”

Daryl was already shaking his head.

“No. As much as I hate it, I agree with Negan. I’m going.”

He stalked away to grab his bike before any more arguments could be made about it. Negan found he felt pretty relieved, so much so he flashed a cheeky grin at the two.

“Once again that damn, dusty, dirty Beta’s got more balls than most people around here.”

His thoughts had slipped back to the moment Daryl had stood and popped him across the jaw when he had tried to get Rosita to look at the blood and grey matter of Abraham which was coating his bat. Oddly enough, the thought inspired him to imagine Rick in a similar position where he was laid out somewhere with a bashed in head. It sent a nasty shiver down his spine and wiped the smile from his face.

“I’ll go too,” Scott decided. “He shouldn’t go alone.”

The man made for the horses, leaving Michonne looking displeased.

“We don’t want to risk waiting,” he told her. She grit her teeth, then relaxed. “I can see it on your face. You don’t want to fucking wait either.”

“I just don’t want to lose any more people,” she whispered.

Negan balled his fists and frowned, determined.

“We’re not losing anybody.”

He stayed put until Daryl rode up to the opening gate on his bike with Scott behind him on horseback. The sight of the Beta taking the lead gave Negan promise. If there was anyone that could uncover what was keeping Rick, it was him.

“Let me know when they drag him back. I got an earful for him.”

He patted her shoulder then headed back home.

Waiting for him on the porch was Jake who was holding his bunny close and meeting his gaze with wide eyes.

“Where’s daddy?” he asked as soon as Negan got close enough. The pup seemed on the verge of tears.

“Your Uncle Daryl’s gone to bring him back, and when he gets here we can tell daddy off for goofing around with the tiger.”

“He, didn’t get eaten?”

At first Negan was confused as to where that idea even came from, then an irrational image of Rick getting eaten by walkers briefly played in his head. Quickly enough he realized he was talking about the tiger and referring to the joke he’d told when they’d discussed the fair.

“Oh you mean the tiger.” The pups didn’t quite have a grasps on walkers yet. “No little prince, Rick’s too fast and clever for a tiger to take him down. He’s just wasting time playing with it. That’s all.”

“Oh.”

With a bit of effort, he lifted Jake into his arms. The extra weight had him toddling on the spot, as it normally did now whenever he picked up a pup while pregnant.

“Jesus, either you’re gaining weight, or I am.”

“You’re fat mommy,” Jake said with a giggle.

Negan emitted a soft growl and feigned looking pissed.

“Remind me to get back at you tonight for that.”

 

Negan drummed his fingers against the frame of the doorway as he looked down at the empty bed next to his own.

“What a pain in the ass,” he grumbled. “You better be goofing around with that tiger.”

“Hey, Negan.”

He stepped back as Carl wandered up to him from his room.

“Planning to sneak out to see that Omega Enid? Cause if you are, you’re going about it the wrong way.” He added a whistle at the end for effect which had Carl looking quite annoyed.

“You really expect me to go all the way to the Hilltop at this time a night?”

“Why not?” Negan said, shrugging, “You’re old enough to do that kind of thing. Besides, being that she’s presented already, I figured you’d want to hit a claim before someone else did.”

Carl refused to look at Negan then.

“Enid and I are just friends. And, it doesn’t matter because…well, I haven’t presented yet.”

Negan took the boy in and reflected back to the moment Carl had traveled all the way to his Sanctuary. Even before such a bold move, he could already see a strong Alpha on the rise. He had never admitted it aloud, but back then there had been a few times where he fantasized about taking the kid to raise up among his kind. Being that he’d been able to break Rick down to Omega level, he couldn’t view Rick as a fitting Alpha parent. That had changed of course.

“It’ll be here soon,” he said softly. He almost hated the idea of Carl becoming a man. Having him as a nearly grown pup under his watch was something he didn’t like letting go of. “I just know you’ll go Alpha, and Rick’s gonna be proud as fuck.”

It was clear concern expressed upon the pup’s face with the mention of his dad.

“What do you think happened to him?”

Negan leaned away as if mildly surprised.

“I know you of all people aren’t worried,” he practically asked.

“I’m not. I know he’s fine. I’m just curious.”

“Yeah,” he agreed quietly, “me too.”

“Well, night.”

Negan nodded and watched Carl make his way back to his room. He wished he had they boy’s fearlessness at the moment, but he just couldn’t muster it. Suddenly he found himself smiling, then chuckling at the thought of Carl being able to keep it together better than him. He was sure the pup was right. Rick was fine, so he should stop worrying like his own pups. He entered the room, ready for a better night’s sleep.

 

When morning came, Negan wasn’t sure he was quite ready for it, but he got up nonetheless. He yawned and stretched out the aches that had been hiding under the muscles. Sleep had been, for the most part, tolerable. In fact, he felt pretty stress free. He glanced over at the bed. There was still no sign of Rick having come in, but he didn’t panic. Daryl and Scott had been on the case, so that would mean positive results.
He threw his feet over the side of the bed. A few kicks in his belly had him groaning.

“Really? This early kid?”

The pup within went at it again. Negan huffed in amusement.

“Either you’re really fucking hungry this morning, or you’re trying out for soccer in there.” His stomach settled as if the pup had stopped to contemplate the answer. “Let’s assume it’s hunger, cause I’m fucking starved.”

He lifted the extra weight and readied himself for the day. After that, he stopped by the twins’ room and peeked in at them. They were still sleeping soundly. He moved on downstairs to start another typical morning. Negan decided bowls of hot cereal would do nicely, so he reached in a cabinet for a pot.

By the time he was stirring the cereal to completion, he heard Lucy and Jake coming down.

“Daddy, daddy,” Jake called out before making it to the kitchen. Negan watched his happiness die down a little.

“Daddy’s not in yet honey.”

“Is unco Daryl?” Lucy asked as she pulled up a seat and climbed into it.

“I haven’t checked, but I will in a moment. For now, it’s time to eat up.”

He divided up the cereal, then approached them with the bowls. As he started preparing his own, he began to feel anxious. He was quite interested in hearing about where Rick had been.

Carl turned the corner, yawning and looking pretty tired.

“Well well well, looks like you snuck out to see Enid after all,” Negan joked.

“Shut-up, I did not,” he said with a whine in his tone.

Negan only laughed then set his own bowl down. He turned to the door with a look of longing.

“Say, why don’t you chill out here with Luce and Jake. I’m gonna go update myself on the Rick situation.”

Jake looked up immediately and started to get out of the chair.

“Me too!”

“No, stay put little man and fill up that gut. I’m not having puny pups in my house.”

He turned and stepped out onto the porch.

“Alright Ricky. This time I get to take a little vacation getaway.”

He expected to see the normal goings on of the community, but at the moment many of the members were migrating to a group up ahead. Negan frowned in annoyance at the crowd Rick was drawing for his return. He had never received such a treatment when he’d been the Alpha of his own pack. The little pup inside gave a kick, prompting Negan to rest a hand over it.

“Come on. Let’s go hear the story your pop has for us.”

He followed the crowd. A few of the Alexandrians took notice of him, but for the most part their attention was on the growing noisy crowd.

“What the hell are we going to do?” Negan heard someone shout as he got closer.

“We’re going to be fine.” It was Michonne.

Negan moved closer. The people closest to him took notice and started to part. At the center of the crowd, there was no Rick Grimes. Everyone had been surrounding Michonne, Daryl, and Scott. Various questions and comments were thrown out so quickly and loudly that Negan couldn’t really make out what anyone was going on about.

The sinking feeling returned to his gut. There was a chill that was hitting him the wrong way. Rick was not standing among his closest members like he should be. Scott wasn’t looking at the crowd and Daryl was doing an awful impression of someone trying not to look worried. Negan moved a little closer and wet his lips.

“Where’s Rick!”

It didn’t seem possible that he could be heard over everyone, but the noise was already quieting down as if he had bellowed the question. All eyes were on him including Scott’s. Negan felt like an intruder with the way people were staring, but he forced himself to stand his ground. He had a right to a heads up when something concerned his Alpha.

“Where’s Rick?” he repeated.

No one answered right away. Daryl impersonated a statue before he finally made eye contact with him.

“Couldn’t find him,” he muttered.

Negan was sure he hadn’t heard right.

“What do you mean you didn’t find him? You’re a goddamn tracker!”

“We met with the king,” Scott spoke up. “Rick made it to him. Ezekiel said he only stayed for about an hour then left to come back here. We looked for tracks and found his, horse.”

“And?” Negan pressed, impatient.

“The horse was dead. It was being eaten, by walkers.” Scott looked ready to give up his lunch. Negan just stared at him, dumbfounded. He was unaware that he was shaking his head, slowly.

It wasn’t possible. A group of walkers couldn’t have easily bested the stubborn asshole.

“No. No, that’s bullshit.” They were playing some stupid little prank on him. He himself had a sense of humor most people couldn’t handle, and now they were giving it back to him, but it wasn’t funny. He balled his fists and hardened his eyes. “Where…the hell…is Rick?”

Again Daryl seemed the only one capable of meeting his eyes. And in those eyes, Negan saw fear.

“We don’t know.”

Negan stared. He wasn’t sure if he was breathing.

Chapter Text

He was barely aware of the commotion starting up again with various questions and comments thrown at the three before them. Negan didn’t feel he was a part of it. He was standing there alone in his own space, thinking about what Daryl had just said. He and Scott didn’t know where Rick was. They had found his horse dead, but they didn’t know what had happened to his Alpha.

There was no sense of panic or sorrow. There was just blankness. The world was tuned out but aside from that, Negan couldn’t really feel the right things at the moment. All he could do was just stare at a point on the ground as everything seemed to go fuzzy around him.

“What the hell are we gonna do?” A perturbed Beta demanded.

“Were there any signs of Rick at all?” Aaron asked.

“Maybe he went to see Maggie,” a female Omega offered.

“No! I bet he’s been taken!” growled a large Beta.

“If he’s been taken-”

“It was the Saviors!”

Several eyes looked at the Alpha that had interrupted Rosita. The accusation had been enough to stir Negan back into reality. He turned to the Alpha, who was currently giving him the sharp glare he was quite familiar with, only this time it was a lot darker.

“We don’t know that,” said Tara.

“But what if it is them?” another Alpha questioned. “We can’t take another fight. Not without Rick.”

Negan looked away from the one Alpha that had suggested that the Saviors had something to do with this while the crowd’s fears ramped up with the new theory. His heart hadn’t been pounding, until now. Surely that wasn’t the case. No one had come across any members of his old pack in four years.

“We’re going to be alright!” Michonne cried. The crowd quieted as she turned on the spot to look at them all. Negan’s eyes were glued to her, begging for words that would knock away the threat of terror he was beginning to feel. At such a close range, Negan could sense her strength, an Alpha’s strength. “This doesn’t mean Rick’s in trouble. We’ll send a search party out.”

“But what about the walkers attacking his horse!” someone cried from the back.

“They got to Rick!” another shouted.

“Say it Daryl! The Saviors didn’t get him, it was walkers!” cried a panicked Beta.

“No! We have to trust that Rick’s okay!” Michonne tried. “He could be hiding from a herd!”

“Michonne’s right!” Gabe yelled. “We have to be calm!”

“There’s nothing to be calm about!”

“Rick’s dead and they aren’t telling us!”

“Just tell us!”

“What do we do!”

It was falling apart rapidly with all the possibilities being thrown out. Negan wasn’t too surprised by it. The pack leader was essential. He or she was the one everyone revolved around, and the minute there was word of something happening to the leader, members were ready to come to the leader’s aide. Negan tensed as the Alphas started growling and flexing their fingers into fists. Their protective and territorial instincts were at a high. In a way it was a sign of how loyal they were to their leader as opposed to it being people overreacting and losing their minds early. With the world the way it was now, one couldn’t underestimate the dangers of traveling. But this was Rick Grimes. Negan had learned how he managed to survive so far, which is why it was still hard for him to believe that he was just gone.

“We’ll send people!”

Michonne’s words were drowned out as people began conversing with one another. There were more theories thrown as well as plans, but what was worse was hearing someone question who would be the new true Alpha.

Negan emitted a soft growl of annoyance as he stepped into the center.

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

It was like someone had hit the mute button afterwards. Negan looked around and saw their startled expressions. Naturally there were those that were pissed that he had the nerve to demand such a thing, and of course it was hitting his Omega side in an uncomfortable way. He had an urge to duck and drop his eyes, yet he held it at bay.

“You people,” he started. He shook his head at them. “You people, are making me goddamn sick right now.” Several Alphas growled loudly at this Omega who dared talk this way. Michonne held a hand up to keep them at bay. She appeared just as surprised by his outburst as everyone else, but he had her attention as well as Daryl’s and Scott’s. “This is Rick Grimes we’re talking about. MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMN RICK GRIMES! The same goddamn Grimes that’s survived a shitload of herds and assholes to get to the point of becoming your true Alpha. Do you motherfuckers know Rick or don’t you! You really think he’d go out as dessert to some shitty ass walker? Or get taken by some lowlife Savior? Use your fucking brains for a goddamn second and keep your instincts in check! The Rick Grimes I know ain’t gone. He’s fucking out there, and we’re bringing his sorry ass back! I goddamn guarantee it!”

No one was cheering or clapping in agreement. No one appeared inspired by his speech. They were just stunned as if he had been some walker that had suddenly started talking. For Negan it had been like an adrenaline rush, and now that he was coming down from it he was done. He moved forward in the direction of his house. People were eager to part for him. He could hear a few quiet growls from the riled Alphas before others started conversing quietly. Negan tuned them out quickly as he struggled to come up with a way to explain it to the pups.

Were they really going to bring Rick back?

The frustrating moment of the breaking pack had hit a button and encouraged him to speak. It had been how he’d kept his pack together in the past. Stomping out the rising fear immediately with strong words, or threats, had always worked when he’d been an Alpha. Michonne had tried and the pack had expected comforting words from her, but they hadn’t expected anything from him.

As he stared ahead, Carl came out onto the porch looking curious. Negan gritted his teeth, but found he felt a little better about breaking the news to him first. Carl, being older, would be able to handle the news better. He would believe his dad was okay.

“What’s going on over there?” Carl asked as he gestured toward the crowd.

Negan ran a hand through his hair and sighed.

“It’s about Rick,” he started bitterly. A flash of fear shown in his eyes which twisted Negan’s stomach. “Daryl and Scott found his horse as walker chow, but they didn’t find Rick.”

“That’s good then,” Carl declared. “I mean he probably had to hide from walkers.”

“That’s an idea going around, among other thoughts.”

“Like what?” He frowned as he understood. “They think he’s dead.”

“That, or someone’s taken him,” Negan added.

He climbed the porch and settled in the chair. Now that he was away from the others, a wall that was holding back a sense of alarm was starting to crack within him.

“But, they’re sending people to find him right?”

“That’s probably what they’re talking about now.” He wasn’t looking at Carl. He had suddenly taken an interest in looking at the church in the distance.

“Well I’m going too.”

Negan swerved around, pissed.

“The hell you will,” he warned. If he had still been an Alpha, the growl coming from his throat would have made an impression.

“I’m not some little pup,” he argued. “I’m almost an Alpha!”

“Almost being the keyword,” Negan argued back. “You’re staying here.”

“He’s my dad!”

“Your dad wouldn’t want you looking for him and you damn well know it! And as his Omega, he’d be fucking pissed at me if I let you.” Carl started to argue again, but he didn’t get a chance. “Look, I know you’re capable. I’ve always been willing to let you run your own shit especially when Rick thinks you shouldn’t. But I can’t on this one. Rick wouldn’t want me to. I, don’t want to.”

Carl backed down to take it in, but Negan could tell he still looked ready to run out there.

“Okay,” he said finally. “He can take care of himself anyways.”

Negan flashed a smile.

“Just the same goddamn thing I was telling those assholes. Rick can take care of himself.” He would hold onto that idea; grab it by the balls if he had to. “Now I gotta figure out how to explain it to the little Alphas inside.”

“You want me to talk to them?”

“No. It’s my job.” He wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Then he reasoned there was no real news to break to them. For the moment their dad wasn’t declared dead. He was just a little late. “Just, play with them for a while. Keep them busy til I chat with them.”

“I will.”

Once Carl headed back in, Negan hunched over as much as his large belly would allow. As of now, his mind was looping the fact that the tracker Daryl had not been able to find anything.

The sound of footsteps coming his way alerted him to Michonne. He couldn’t help noticing that she looked a little impressed.

“Well that was…something.”

Negan huffed and leaned back in the chair.

“Let me guess, they want my head for opening my damn mouth like that.” Surely his outburst had reminded them of the days when he’d had the pack by the balls as a fearful Alpha. He had managed to sum up the same powerful tone he’d used whenever he spoke to a crowd.

“Actually no,” she admitted. “I mean, a few are, but I think you managed to hit the right nerve.”

Negan raised a brow, not anticipating such a reaction.

“You’re shitting me.”

“No. Right now the panic’s died down. They believe Rick’s okay thanks to you.”

He turned away from her as his stomach flip-flopped.

“What if it was all bullshit? What I said.”

“I know you don’t believe that.” She even growled for emphasis. “You know Rick just as well as they do. Better even.”

A sad smile graced his face then.

“Even the best get bested sometimes. Hell, look at me. I was on top of shit, and then I dropped below it.”

“But you’re alive,” came her firm reply.

Negan couldn’t deny that. He had gotten what was officially a death sentence by getting bitten, and though it made him drop a level, he had survived. It was something to be grateful for in the end.

“Rick’s alive too. He has to be,” she added. Negan held onto that idea too. “We’re organizing a search party.”

“And you want me to come?” He preferred joining a party to confronting the sad faces of Lucy and Jake.

“No,” she said, incredulously. “I’m giving you an update on the situation.”

“Right.” He deflated in his seat.

Michonne moved closer.

“And, for the time being, I’m looking over the pack.”

“I would expect you to. I sure as hell wouldn’t be allowed,” he griped as he fidgeted in place.

“You know this pack has no problem with Omegas taking charge.”

“No. They just have a problem with me.”

He didn’t blame them. After what he’d done to them, he wouldn’t have been surprised to see them all march out the gates if he’d been bold enough to take the position of substitute pack leader. That wasn’t his place anymore.

“Negan.”

He waved it off.

“I ain’t offended darling. They can feel however the fuck they want. All I care about is knowing what happened to Rick.”

She dropped her eyes and nodded.

“We all do. If you need anything, let me know.”

He was compelled to ask her to break the news to the twins, but decided to let her leave. He dropped his head back and shut his eyes.

“Fuck.”

He really hoped the search party found him soon.

 

Jake sought Negan out on the couch when Carl could no longer keep him distracted with a game. Lucy on the other hand was having too much of a good time with the quirky board game they had found.

“Where’s daddy?” He looked quite worried.

“I’m sorry sweetheart. Daddy’s still not back yet.”

“Uncle Daryl got daddy?” he asked hopefully.

Negan took a minute to figure out how to best explain without making him worry. He thought back to the speech he’d given and put faith in his own words.

“Daddy had a little trouble out there, but he’ll be back okay. Daryl and a bunch of other people are gonna go help him.”

Jake nodded but didn’t look wholly convinced. With a bowed head, he wandered back to his siblings. Negan hated it, and he could only imagine how much worse he’d feel if the pack failed to find Rick. To keep from worrying himself, he just concentrated on the fact that his Alpha was a capable man. It just looked bad because of the dead horse.

Not wanting to think on it further, he decided to join his pups in the board game.

“Who’s ready to get their asses beat?”

 

At bedtime, Negan stood in the doorway string at Rick’s empty bed. He had forgotten to feel hopeful and instead dread was threatening to fill him up.

“Mommy?”

He turned as Lucy padded up to him clutching her doll.

“What is it princess? Is it about daddy?” She nodded quietly. “Well you don’t have to worry your pretty little head, because daddy’s gonna be just fine. He’s just late.”

“Oh…okay.”

“Do you want me to tuck you in again?”

She shook her head.

“Carl’s doing it. He’s reading us stories.”

“Alright then. Goodnight.” Negan bent down and kissed her forehead.

“Night mommy.” She turned and ran back to her room.

Negan crossed into his own room and hovered over his bed. He couldn’t help wondering how many nights he might have to spend alone in the room, so with such a thought in mind he moved to Rick’s bed.
He gently pulled the covers aside and climbed inside. Immediately the scent of his Alpha traveled up his nose and struck that side of him that would submit as if Rick had bit into his gland. The tension left his body as he ground himself into the mattress and whined. It wasn’t much, but it was a small bit of comfort that would do until the real Alpha showed up.

Chapter Text

“Just breathe in…slowly. Empty your mind…clear away any thoughts that might surface. Everything is alright. Good…very good. Now, breathe out…slowly.”

Negan followed Gabriel’s instructions as he exhaled. His closed eyes fluttered slightly with the need to just pop them open.

“Keep your eyes closed,” Gabriel said as he could sense Negan’s restlessness. “Just let yourself slip. You are floating. Your mind is clear. Just keep breathing deeply…in…and out…in…and out. Let your shoulders drop. More…more…”

Negan frowned and shifted in his chair. His momentarily cleared mind was starting to fill, and a twinge of tension was seeping back into his muscles.

“Fuck,” he muttered.

“You’re alright…everything’s alright. Just let go as you breathe…in…and out…in…and…out.”

He couldn’t let go any longer. Instead he tensed up and finally opened his eyes.

“Screw it, it’s not working.”

“Meditation can take a little time for some people. If you keep trying you’ll get the hang of it.”

“No.” He turned his attention back to Lucy who was currently sitting on a stool before him as he’d been doing her hair before Gabriel’s session. He peeked around at her face and noticed her eyes were shut, and she was sitting quite still. “I think Lucy got more out of that shit than me.”

“I can do it mommy,” she said, delighted as she looked up at him.

“Great, I’ll schedule your next appointment with Gabey.” He fell into a process of separating her hair into sections and brushing it out. He glanced at the priest and noticed the look of minor disappointment. On the couch across from him, Michonne also appeared to share the same expression. “Don’t take offense by it. Some people are made for it, and others, like me, barely heard of it.”

“He may have a point,” Michonne pointed out. “His form of relieving stress was swinging around a bat.”

Negan froze, affronted, with the brush hovering in mid-air. Michonne’s face fell upon realizing her tease had struck a nerve the wrong way.

“Sorry,” she apologized.

He went back to brushing Lucy’s hair as he tried to flush away thoughts of his old bloody bat, as well as thoughts of Rick which had his stomach knotting up.

“Don’t be,” he replied in a hushed tone. “It’s true. Lucille was a stress reliever, especially when I…well, you know.”

Michonne and Gabriel traded a look as they were both reminded of the past. They did know. Negan didn’t have to mention it aloud with his pup within earshot. But then Lucy turned back looking confused.

“Who’s Loos-ill?”

“Never you mind sweetheart.” He gently turned her head forward again so he could continue.

As he moved the brush again, it suddenly felt harder to do. The simple chores of caring for the pups and attempting relaxation methods had been good distractions, but they never kept away the anxiety that churned in his chest. Rick had been gone close to a week now and so far the search attempts were failing. Negan stopped entertaining the idea that Rick was capable of caring for himself. He had clearly landed in a situation that either had him severely hurt, captured…or dead.

Holding back the worry had not been easy at all, but for the sake of his pups he had forced it back for as long as he could. He couldn’t have them sharing everyone’s sorrow. They needed to believe that their father would be found, alive and well. He still needed to believe it.

He shifted uncomfortably and hung his head lower to prevent Gabriel and Michonne from seeing his face. Thoughts of his Alpha was casting a shadow over his eyes and the last thing he wanted to do was show it off. It was bad enough that his Omega side was willing him to breakdown just because his Alpha wasn’t around to stick his dick up his ass.

At such a thought, shame followed. It wasn’t just about mating; he was claimed to Rick. They were bonded, so naturally not having him near caused emotional problems. But, it went further than that when he really thought about it. It was supposed to be all about the claim and that was it, but after four years they had gone from enemies, to friends. This, of course, was not something he’d ever admit aloud.

He wrapped up his daughter’s hair by pulling it up into a ponytail. Then he set the brush aside, rubbed at his brow, and forced a smile on his face.

“There you go princess. You’re all prettied up for the day.”

She turned bright blue eyes on him which seemed wetter than usual. Negan had read once how easy it was for pups to sense their parent’s emotions, especially when the parent was an Omega. He ran his fingers over her brow to put a stray hair in place.

“Don’t be sad mommy. I miss daddy too.”

Negan could feel his own eyes getting a little moist. He didn’t want to constantly tell her Rick was alright and that he was coming home. It was starting to seem like a lie. So he settled for planting a kiss on her forehead.

“Don’t worry about me sweetheart. Go…go check on your brother. He’s being far too quiet in his room, and you know I don’t trust him.”

She smiled slightly at the joke, then scurried away. Negan leaned back in his chair and exhaled sharply. He welcomed the stress and allowed it to bring him back to that place of terrible uncertainty.

“Daryl discussed an area they haven’t searched.” Negan zoned in on Michonne but expressed nothing. “It’s several miles from the Kingdom.”

“What’s so special about it?” Negan asked in a flat voice.

“It’s, an old Satellite station.”

Something contorted in Negan at the mention of it, and what followed were images of several of his men who had been killed, by his Alpha. That in turn reminded him of the moment where he watched Simon bring Rick and his people to their knees before he made his great entrance.

“So what are you implying?” he asked slowly. He already knew. “Are you really implying that, my old pack had something to do with Rick?”

Michonne hunched over as her eyes dropped to her feet.

“I don’t know. We haven’t heard from them since the attack, and it would be odd for them to suddenly strike after all this time. But it’s something. Maybe there are others living in that station now.”

Negan wanted to latch onto that string of hope. Anything was better than thinking Rick had truly become walker chow that day along with his horse. However for the time being, his mind didn’t want to follow the hopeful route.

“And what happens when they go there and find nothing? What then?” His voice was rising and his fingers were starting to dig into the arms of the chair. He unconsciously ground into the seat. “What the fuck am I supposed to tell my children? What the hell am I supposed to tell Carl!”

“Negan, you need to calm down,” said Gabriel.

“And you need to shut up and listen to me. In case you two haven’t noticed, I’m fucking eight months pregnant!” He pointed to his bulging belly as something akin to fire crackled inside of him. “I have a third pup on the way, and my goddamn Alpha’s not here! What happens if he misses it?”

“He won’t,” Michonne assured him with much confidence in her expression and voice.

“You don’t know that,” Negan growled through gritted teeth. “He could miss it. He could never come back! And if he doesn’t…what the fuck am I gonna do? Three pups, and one going into Alpha-hood, and I’m gonna have to be the one to take care of it all. I’m...I’m gonna have to be the one, to do this alone.” He was shaking his head. His body was starting to tremble. “I need him…I need Rick.”

He realized he was begging them, but he was getting desperate.

“We know,” Michonne stated.

“No.” He raised himself to his feet. “No. No, you’re an Alpha.” He looked from Michonne to Gabriel. “And you’re a fucking Beta. You don’t have any idea how this feels from an Omega’s perspective.”

“Maybe not,” she agreed, “But I do know what it’s like to lose my bonded Omega.”

Negan huffed and turned away. They were trying. He could see that much, but right now it wasn’t enough. In his opinion he had every right to be pissed about the situation, and all he wanted to do was pummel something or someone for causing him this grief.

“Do me a favor and watch the pups. I need some damn air.”

 

Negan shuttered as he stepped onto the porch and released a deep sigh. Now that he had spilled one of his woes, it was nagging at him on a more intense level. He laid his hands over his belly and rubbed. He couldn’t handle raising the pup alone. It had been a nightmare when he’d first given birth considering his depression, and though he had adapted to parenting well enough it was still hard. Without Rick it would be impossible.

“Can’t do this,” he muttered. “I can’t do this alone.”

While barely realizing it, he stepped off the porch and just picked a direction to walk in. People passing by took notice and instead of the few glares he’d receive, he saw only looks of sympathy which he didn’t want. But despite treating him like a widow, no one outside of a few dared to ask him how he was doing. Apparently Negan without Rick standing over him was something to fear. He shot them a nasty look. They weren’t doing their part in trying to find his Alpha. In his opinion the whole pack should be out there searching.

A little growl slipped from his mouth when he noticed Daryl, Rosita, and Aaron gathered together over a map on a picnic table. Nearby under a tree was Daryl’s dog, panting as he relaxed in the shade.

The sight of it didn’t inspire faith in the search, but rather the opposite. Both Rosita and Daryl were leading the two search parties that were sent out for Rick, chosen for their skills. So far it didn’t appear that their skills were doing much good. Suddenly he didn’t feel like some pining Omega. He flexed his fingers, wishing he had Lucille in his hand as he marched straight toward them.

“Has the day finally come where you assholes finally make use of yourselves?” He had asked it as hard and bold as his Omega side would allow.

All three looked around. Daryl looked like he was internally seething, while Aaron just looked baffled. With a growl, Rosita addressed him with flashing eyes.

“You think we aren’t?” she challenged.

“You haven’t produced any damn results. Now what does that tell you?”

Rosita raised the volume on her growls and Negan fought against the need to back down before the Alpha.

“Negan, this isn’t easy for them,” Aaron said in defense. “Rick could be anywhere, and anything could have happened.”

“Don’t give me that shit. They’re just not trying hard enough! If it was my goddamn pack, they’d have found him already!”

Daryl was on his feet, throwing the map aside.

“You think you can do better?” he questioned as soon as he got close to him.

Negan rose himself up against the Beta. He remembered that Daryl didn’t break easily. He had captured the man and worked him to the point where he expected him to become one of his own, but it had never happened.

“I sure as hell can do goddamn better than your sorry ass. You’re a fucking tracker and you can’t even track one man down. I thought Rick was supposed to be like a best friend to you. That should’ve been more than enough to motivate your ass.” He could see Daryl was barely containing his rage. “So since you can’t do shit, why don’t you let that damn dog of yours take your place cause you sure as fuck ain’t good for shit.”

Daryl made to lunge, but Aaron was quick enough to grab him before he could lay a finger on him.

“Daryl don’t!” Aaron cried. “He’s pregnant remember!”

Daryl glanced down looking startled as if he had forgotten that fact. Negan too reacted to the reminder. At that moment he had felt like he was back in his old element of being a forceful Alpha coming down on the Beta.

“STAY THE FUCK OUT OF THIS!” Negan roared. His heart was hammering and his body was shaking. “Makes no fucking difference how pregnant I am! WHAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU FUCKS CAN’T FIND RICK!”

Daryl’s pet was on his feet, giving a few barks upon sensing the strong tension. People in the area came to a stop to watch. If Negan had taken notice, he would have seen the same expressions that had greeted him when he first burst into Alexandria to steal.

“We’re doing the best we can damn it!” Rosita shouted back.

“You think we don’t want to find him?” Daryl growled as he threw Aaron off of him. “He’s my brother!”

“Then why can’t you find him!” Negan prodded. All the emotions that he’d developed ever since Rick had disappeared was at their highest. “Why can’t you find my Alpha?”

The anger seemed to deflate out of Daryl as his eyes misted and his lower lip trembled just a little. He flexed his fingers into fists a few times as if revving himself up to keep going with the fight. In the end, he dropped his head and wandered away. He whistled to signal for the dog to follow, which he happily did.

“Damn it,” Rosita muttered as she watched him.

“Let him go. What the hell is he contributing?” Negan argued. He took in the watching crowd at last and let his eyes roam over all of the faces. “WHAT THE HELL ARE ANY OF YOU FUCKS CONTRIBUTING? You’re supposed to be the pack Rick is so goddamn proud of. The pack he bends his back over for, and yet none of you motherfuckers can repay him by helping him! I’m sorry I didn’t take more of you fuckers out when I had Lucille!”

It was a slap he thought was well deserved. More than ever he felt the need to have Lucille by his side. He figured if he had it now, the sense of urgency would be greater. But then the hostility was dying. The impression he’d given them of the Alpha from long ago was disappearing, and in its place was a frightened Omega, unable to believe he had shed himself before them all in such a way. Rarely had he ever given the impression that he deeply cared about Rick. It was something he had never wanted the Alexandrians to see. He didn’t want them to think he’d gone too soft when he’d become an Omega.

It was clear to them now. It was too late to hide the extra moisture in his eyes. He was shaking and actually found himself choking back a whine of sorrow.

“Negan,” Aaron began slowly, catching his attention. “We’re all trying our hardest. Believe me. I’m sorry it’s taking so long, but you can’t lose it like this. You can’t lose faith. We will find him. We will.”

Negan stared at him as he tried to get the shaking under control.

“The fuck you are,” he growled, before turning on his heels. Growls and whispers followed in his wake.

Chapter Text

“I simply cannot decide.”

Negan blinked as the words echoed in his head. As he became more aware, he realized he was on his knees on the ground, in the woods under a dark night sky, but he wasn’t alone. To his left was Glenn, followed by Rosita, Daryl, Michonne, Abraham, Maggie, Sasha, Aaron, Carl, and finally Eugene. With the exception of Carl and Abraham, they all looked rather terrified. He frowned, not understanding what was going on. How was he here, back in this moment from so long ago?

He looked behind them and gasped as he took in the faces of his old pack members who were surrounding them. Some gave no expression, but others appeared eager, and they had guns or knives as their weapons of choice. He shivered at the sight. His old pack, his people, were all looking at him. It was enough to make him want to flee, yet he couldn’t move.

“What the fuck-”

“I simply cannot decide.”

He spun forward in the direction of the familiar voice; his voice, which was coming from himself as he paced before them in his black leather jacket and red scarf. In his hands was his beloved Lucille, and on his face there was a shit-eating grin.

Negan stared, dumbfounded, as a cold kind of horror traveled down his spine and spread, chilling him to the bone. He watched himself walk closer to him, and when their eyes connected he flinched. The other Negan didn’t react. It was as if he wasn’t truly there. But Negan was sure he was.

“I’ve got an idea.”

“No,” Negan muttered. He wasn’t that Alpha anymore. He wasn’t that person. But this ghostly form of himself fell right into the pattern of what he’d done as if to prove him otherwise.

“Eeny…meeny…miny…moe”

“No. No.” Negan was shaking his head as he watched himself pick out certain people with his bat. He tried urging himself to move but his body refused.

Like before, no one was passed over from Lucille. Not even himself. At one point during the rhyme, he saw himself looking down the length of the barbed wired bat. The barbs were inches from his nose and not yet coated in blood. His breath caught in his throat, and his ghostly self merely smiled before moving to the next person. Negan turned to the people next to him. They were his pack now, not the Saviors.

“I’m not him,” he said, but none of them paid him any mind. “Did you hear what I said? I’m not fucking him. And this…this fucking situation’s not my fault!”

Rick had hurt him then. He had killed members of his pack, so he needed him to pay. He had to stay in control of every pack in the area. As a true Alpha, that’s just how it was supposed to be. But that had changed. He hadn’t believed that. He had come to wish he hadn’t done this.

“It’s...”

Negan stared at the space where his ghostly self pointed the bat. He gasped as Rick suddenly occupied the space between Sasha and Maggie. Rick looked whiter than a sheet if that was even possible, and he didn’t seem to be breathing as he stared up at the psychopath. A need to protect enveloped Negan. He made to rise and run to his Alpha. He had to stop himself.

He didn’t want to hurt Rick. He didn’t want him dead.

“No,” he gasped.

He watched himself, grinning as he raised the bat.

“NO!”

He lurched to try and cover the distance; to try and save Rick, but it was useless. Lucille came down, and he was forced to watch in horror as it collided with the top of Rick’s head. Blood burst from the wound as he laughed, as Rick fell forward, crying and twitching.

Negan was speechless. There was nothing he could do. There was nothing anyone could do. And then he raised the bat again and brought it down over his Alpha’s head.

“NOOOO!”

Negan jumped up in a cold sweat breathing hard. When he realized there were no woods or Saviors around him, he shut his eyes, relieved. It had all been a nightmare, or rather some bizarre combination of a real memory and a dream.

“Jesus fucking Christ.”

He dropped his face in his hands and took a minute to try and calm down. He had no idea why he’d had such a nightmare. There was the unspoken scare of Rick being dead, but it hadn’t explained why he had to be reminded of what he had done to the Alexandrians.

“Fuck.”

He decided not to think about it and instead threw his feet over the side of his Alpha’s bed. He looked across at his own bed and wondered if it was better to return to it. Being engulfed in his Alpha’s scent was comforting, but that would end if it only encouraged nightmares.

He stumbled to his feet, not at all interested in starting another anxiety ridden day. A thump in his belly reminded him why he had to get up.

“Yeah,” he muttered tiredly, “I know.”

 

When he was dressed he headed downstairs, moving as if barely aware of the steps. He didn’t bother to check in on the pups. He just went straight to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. It was harder now, just like every new day was, but in this case it was especially hard as he had Rick being bashed by Lucille playing in his mind. He recalled taking great joy and satisfaction in seeing Rick petrified and trembling. It had fueled him, empowered him. Now, it just left him hollow. There was no joy on his face. There was only a sickened grimace.

“Hey, Negan. Are you alright?”

He didn’t bother to look over at Carl who was standing in the entrance.

“Don’t I look alright?” came his gruff voice.

Carl moved forward carefully.

“We can talk if you want. I’m sure dad’s-”

“There’s nothing to fucking talk about,” he stated bluntly. “Just sit down. Food’s almost done.”

He didn’t press harder. He simply did as Negan asked and settled at the table.

 

Negan expected nothing short of the cold shoulder when he took a moment out of his day to take in some air, this time with Lucy by his side. The people he passed were decent enough to greet his daughter, but for the most part they said nothing to him. There was no doubt in his mind that he had become the old Negan from the past when he had torn them a new one with his yells. To a degree they were scared of him again, yet not fully since he was still an Omega. There were flashes of hate in their eyes, and warning growls rising from their throats. None of it made him feel worse or better about the situation. He just felt empty.

“Mommy, why’s that man growling at you?”

He followed her gaze to a couple of Alphas nearby who were clearly directing their disapproval at him. Negan attempted to match their glares as he bit down his submissive side.

“You fellows got a problem?” he asked.

“No,” one said in a voice that clearly expressed that he did.

“Well in case you haven’t noticed I’m with my pup. Rick’s pup.”

They softened just a little as they acknowledged Lucy, then moved along. Lucy looked at Negan, clearly confused, but he shook his head to tell her he didn’t want to address it.

“Just ignore them,” He said as he tightened his grip on her hand. He was compelled to just turn back. At least hidden away in his house he could pretend that nothing had changed. He could avoid seeing the scared faces of the pack who were showing signs of being lost without their Alpha.

Then again, home was an even stronger reminder that Rick was not there. When it came down to it, Alexandria was just not Alexandria without Rick Grimes.

Suddenly Lucy squealed and released his hand as she ran ahead. It became clear quickly what had stolen her attention. Daryl’s dog was lounging on the steps of his house.

“Lucy, don’t go running off like that, especially for some damn dog.”

The pup had already crouched over to pet his head.

“But Dog’s a friend,” she informed him. Dog gave a little whine and started wagging his tail while a smile graced Lucy’s face. To Negan, it lifted his heart a little to see his daughter express happiness which was much needed in her life at the moment.

Negan turned his attention to said dog. He appeared to be a mix of a German Sheppard and something else he couldn’t identify.

“Mommy come pet too.”

He did as she asked and walked over to pet the dog. Part of him expected him to bite considering he have never interacted with it. As far as he remembered, that’s how dogs worked.

“Almost reminds me of the dogs I used to bring home,” Negan voiced as the simple action of petting the pet made him smile as well. “But hell, who names a dog, Dog?”

Just as he’d asked it, Daryl had stepped out of the house. The smile dropped a little from Negan’s face and he straitened up. Lucy looked up, still smiling.

“Can I play with Dog?” she asked Daryl sweetly.

Daryl softened, then tossed a ball he had in his hand at her.

“Sure, he’d like that.”

“Thanks uncle.” She threw the ball which triggered Dog to go running after it. Lucy followed, yelling excitedly.

“Stay in sight Lucy!” Negan called to her before facing Daryl. This time the smile on his face was more of embarrassment. “Appreciate you not taking shit out on her because of me.”

“Lucy’s just a pup. She’s got nothing to do with what happened between us.”

Negan shifted uncomfortably on the spot, feeling edgy.

“Yeah, look, tensions are goddamn high right now. I said shit, you said shit, we all say shit from time to time that don’t mean shit at all.”

“But you meant it,” Daryl countered. Negan couldn’t deny that. He had meant in the moment, he had just chosen to say it out loud. He made to explain but Daryl continued. “You were right.”

Negan raised a brow, not expecting the man to agree with him.

“I couldn’t find Rick as fast as I wanted, but I ain’t giving up.” He cast his gaze at Dog as he ran around with the ball in his mouth with Lucy running behind him cheering. “I’m trying to train him to find missing people, but he’s not there yet. He’s trying. We all are.”

Negan looked away as something squeezed in his gut. He wanted to believe more than anything that he could trust the search parties, but he just didn’t know anymore. It didn’t matter how broken Daryl sounded just then.

“Yeah,” he muttered. He glanced at the dog. “What the fuck kind of a name is Dog anyways?”

Daryl smirked as he too watched his pet.

“It suits him, and it’s simple.”

A small laugh escaped Negan’s throat. Negan felt like it had been ages when he last laughed.

“I gotta admit that makes a hell of a lot of sense. If it was me, I’d give him a more badass name.”

“I bet you would.”

Negan sighed as the lighthearted feeling started to fade as Rick surfaced again to his mind. He couldn’t look at Daryl any longer and instead, chose to stare at the dog.

“Maybe he’ll find him,” Negan tried.

“Yeah…maybe.”

 

Dinner that evening was another quiet affair. Words were said every now and then, but then all fell silent quickly. The gloom just hung too heavy over their heads. The pups poked and prodded at their food with little enthusiasm. Neagn hated it, but he just didn’t have the energy to crack any jokes or words of comfort. It was also made worse when he let his eyes wander to Rick’s empty spot at the table.

“So, I was thinking you should reconsider letting me join a search party.”

“No,” came Negan’s flat yet bold response.

“They need the help,” Carl pushed. “Did you, hear what happened today? They lost two people to walkers.”

This caught the attention of Jake and Lucy. Jake actually shivered at the mention of walkers, knowing they were supposed to be something bad.

“All the more reason for you to stay the fuck here.”

Jake looked ready to remind him that he had swore, but shut his mouth and dropped his head.

“But I can help, and Aaron and Daryl’s there to watch me.”

“This conversation is over.” His eyes bore into the table as he felt the fuse threatening to go off.

“But I-”

Negan’s fist landed sharply on the table, creating an expressively loud thump.

“THIS CONVERSATION’S OVER!”

A tiny sob alerted Negan of Jake’s continued presence. A second later he was bursting into tears, and Negan’s heart twisted with shame. Lucy’s eyes were brimming with tears, but so far she was holding it together, yet she looked startled.

“Oh no, no Jake…” He sighed as he got to his feet to approach him. The pup was rubbing at his eyes and didn’t notice Negan. He tensed as he felt his hand on his shoulder and pulled away. “I didn’t mean to scare you prince.”

“Daddy,” he managed to cry in-between sobs.

As he cried, Negan stared into the face that so strongly resembled his Alpha. Jake had always favored Rick with his softer nature, and he could easily see him mimicking him as an adult. But Rick wouldn’t be there to see it. He wouldn’t even be there to welcome his fifth pup into the world.

He was trembling again, and his need to keep face was starting to crack. The Omega side screamed at him to attend to his child, which he did, by pulling Jack into his arms.

“I know sweetheart,” he said softly in a shaky voice. “I, miss him too. I miss him too.”

All he could do was rub his back as he cried into his shoulder.

 

He knew the minute he laid his head on the pillow that sleep wouldn’t come to him. Despite that, he laid there and stared at the wall. He couldn’t imagine getting out of bed the next day and trying to maintain a normal life. That time seemed over. Forcing down the sadness and anxiety was impossible now as he could feel it increasing day by day. Omegas without their bonded Alphas didn’t do well for long. They just weren’t strong enough to hold it together alone.

“I can’t do this,” he whispered. His Omega side was crying out all the time for his dominate partner. The bond had tied him with Rick, and the loss was like suddenly losing half of himself.

He sat up and gazed down at his belly. He would be due for a check-up soon with Alexandria’s new doctor Siddiq. He shut his eyes and gripped the edge of the bed as if in pain. Rick wasn’t coming home on his own, that much was clear. And while it was true that people were doing their best to bring him in, he couldn’t muster any trust in them gaining success. As his Omega, Negan couldn’t help feeling that he would be able to pinpoint his Alpha out, as if the bond would literally steer him in the right direction.

After ten full minutes of contemplating the craziest idea, he pushed himself to his feet.

“Fuck it.”

He wandered to the closet to grab some clothes. After getting dressed, he snatched up a piece of paper and a pen, then began scribbling a quick note. When he finished that, he folded it, grabbed a specific set of keys, and headed out of the room.

The note threatened to slip from his fingers as he wandered up to Carl’s door. The pup was willing to run out there to find his dad. He knew he was capable, but now as his step-parent he couldn’t afford to have him risk his life. That was for a parent to do.

He crouched down and slipped the note under the door.

“Sorry Carl,” he muttered. “You’re a bad-ass and all, but if anyone in this family’s going after Rick, it’s gonna be me.”

He hoped he would understand and look after his siblings until he returned. Satisfied, he went to the twins’ room. He cracked the door open just enough to see their sleeping forms. His heart was twisting as he watched. How he wanted to kiss them goodbye, but he didn’t since he didn’t want to wake them.

“You two take care of Carl,” he said in a low voice. “I’m gonna get your daddy back. I promise.”

He lingered a little longer as if to memorize the scene, then shut the door to finish preparing.

Negan headed into the spare room and used a set of keys to unlock a hidden gun. The keys were then switched out for car keys as he had no intention of taking a horse. He filled a few bottles of water, stuffed some granola bars and fruit into a bag, snatched up a map, and then picked up a spare flashlight. Feeling he was as prepared as he needed to be, he headed for the front door.

There was hesitation, and he froze as he looked back and took in what he was leaving behind. It was a dangerous idea. He was eight months pregnant afterall, yet he refused to see it as a hindrance. Omegas in this pack were encouraged to go beyond what their status dictated, so why should he let a little thing like pregnancy hold him back? Sure Rick would be pissed about it, but he was sure that would fade and make way for gratitude for being found.

He took in the empty space of the house before taking a deep breath, and shutting the door behind him.

Chapter Text

The night was quiet with no one wandering around. Despite that fact, he moved quietly as he knew Alexandria kept a night guard on the gate. Negan squinted to see who was serving the night watch. As he got closer he saw that it was a Beta named Toby. The man had never been too fond of him, so Negan had hope that he’d let him pass.

Ignoring him for the moment, he walked over to the gates. As soon as he unlatched it, Toby was alerted.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” Negan looked up, and the Beta’s displeasure of him showed. “Oh, it’s you. What are you up too?”

“Just thought I’d head to the store right quick. Want anything? Milk, eggs?”

Toby didn’t find the humor in his words.

“What are you up too? Last chance before I get Michonne.”

“Fine.” Annoyed, the Omega faced him full on. “I’m going to figure out what happened to Rick.”

The Beta clearly didn’t expect such an answer.

“Are you crazy or something? We have search parties for that, and they haven’t found shit.”

“That’s why I’m going.”

“How?” the Beta challenged.

“I’ll start easy. See if that king knew anything more than he’s told, so I’d appreciate it if you-”

“Rick’s dead.”

The certainty with which he’d said such words froze Negan where he stood. It was as if he’d stated a truth he was just trying hard not to believe.

“He’s not,” Negan insisted coldly. He hated the minor doubt in his tone.

“He is,” Toby argued. “Those walkers got him when they got his horse. Daryl and Scott are just too chicken shit to tell us.”

Negan struggled to bite back the panic that threatened to overwhelm him before speaking.

“Then you won’t mind if I head out there and see for myself, will you?” Toby seemed hesitate, but mostly hateful. “Come on, just let me pass.”

“You can’t go out there, it’s too dangerous.”

“Don’t bullshit me. You and I both know you don’t give a damn about me. So let me pass.”

Realization appeared to hit Toby that letting him through would be a good way to get rid of Alexandria’s old terror. He smirked and gestured out into the woods.

“Go ahead. You get into trouble out there, don’t expect me to come after your ass.”

“I wouldn’t want you too,” Negan replied with a sneer.

He slid the gate open then headed to one of the cars. When he slipped inside, his body tensed up, and underneath the fear that was breaking through, there was a sense of shame. He was an Omega, a pregnant one at that, and he had no business performing such a task even if his instincts cried out for his Alpha. His place was at home with the pups. He was too weak for such a thing. But the minute he saw Rick, all bloodied and still in a ditch somewhere in his head, it fueled him to turn the ignition.

Face set, he hit the gas and drove through the gate.

 

Being that the Kingdom was only about a half an hour’s drive from Alexandria, Negan rolled up to the king’s territory in no time. The night sky still hung overhead, however, he preferred to approach the pack during the day. So he carefully parked near a little fenced off house until morning.

The drive had been smooth so far with no walkers roaming heavily in the area. That much made him feel secure enough to sleep in the car. If walkers did show up, he was still protected with the windows rolled up. The only real threat would be people, but since he was so close to the Kingdom, it was unlikely that any random person would be so close to another pack.

Negan dropped his head against the headrest and shut his eyes. He didn’t expect to get much sleep, especially being that he was already so uneasy about the whole thing.

“Get a goddamn grip,” he ordered himself. “This shit’s nothing.”

He reminded himself that he was an Alpha once, and even though that wouldn’t really help him now, he felt he could at least lean on some inspiration from it in order to bite back the side of him that just wanted to go home to his pups and forget about doing something so daring. He whimpered as he thought of them. If anything went wrong, he’d never be able to see them again and he wasn’t sure he could take that. He really hoped Ezekiel had something that would put him on a path the search parties hadn’t thought of before. Negan held onto the positive thought as he finally drifted to sleep in his seat.

 

Morning came, and Negan opened his eyes with a groan and a deep yawn. The first thing he did was take notice of his surroundings. No walkers had come during the night to claw and gnash their teeth at the windows. He turned to the housed he’d parked in front of and didn’t see any obvious sign of a stranger coming through for shelter.

He smiled at his luck and started up the car. As he placed his hand on the wheel, he couldn’t help wondering if Rick would have made it back if he’d taken a car rather than a horse.

“Goddamn it Rick,” he muttered. “You just had to do things the hard way.”

He pushed it from his thoughts as he proceeded onward. It was easy not to think about such a thing as the drive to the Kingdom now made him think of Gavin. He had always sent that lieutenant to check up on the king, but Negan still remembered the way. His face turned grim as he remembered Ezekiel’s face when he smashed in the head of one of his members. The Alpha hadn’t crumbled as bad as Rick had, but he had managed to break him just like he had every pack leader. He had begged just like Rick for the safety of his people, and Negan had taken pleasure in it, just like he always did.

He knew the king still had to resent him, but he was safe because he couldn’t be touched, being that he was Rick’s Omega. The only question was if the king would bother to help him. Surely he would as it involved Rick, but there was the chance Ezekiel would offer nothing more to him.

Negan came to a stop as two men on horses came galloping up. They were armored up and had spears at the ready.

“Who goes there?” shouted a red-headed Beta. He looked like he was expecting a battle.

Negan just smirked and turned off the engine. It had been a long time since he’d seen Kingdom soldiers and their version of armor and, greetings.

He briefly held up his hands, then slowly exited the car. The soldiers’ faces expressed surprise and a little bit of fear once they recognized him.

“I think you boys know who I am,” he said with an air of smugness. The other soldier, a dark-haired Beta, dropped his eyes down to his bulging belly before staring hard at his face.

“What do you want?” the red head demanded. “If you’ve come to take-”

“Are you fucks serious? Don’t tell me you don’t know the story of what happened to the great true Alpha after all these years.” Their expressions softened which told Negan they had some idea. Negan’s own smile fell a little. “He became the bitch of Rick Grimes. And as the bitch of Rick Grimes, I’m requesting a talk with the king.”

The Betas exchanged expressions of uncertainty, then the red head moved closer on the horse.

“You will walk ahead of us. Try anything, and we won’t…we won’t…” His eyes fluttered down to his belly. It was clear he didn’t want to threaten death since Negan was carrying an innocent.

“You won’t skewer me like a damn shish kabob? I get it.”

He raised his hands up and moved ahead of them. The Betas quickly got into place behind him with their spears pointed at his back. Negan glanced back at them and chuckled at their lack of knowing how to handle a potentially dangerous pregnant Omega. He was at least glad that his pregnancy also had a way of keeping him protected.

As the great gate of the Kingdom came into view, Negan felt a stronger reminder of the previous affect he’d had on the members behind it; or rather the few who knew about it. He wondered if Ezekiel ever bothered to tell them about him and the Saviors.

The gate opened and several soldiers came charging out with spears or rifles. They all seemed to freeze when their eyes saw Negan.

“Look at that,” Negan said, grinning, “didn’t even have to shout little pigs little pigs let me in! That’s service.”

A couple of heads turned in confusion as well as offense, then a familiar sandy haired Alpha stepped forward, growling.

“What’s the meaning of this?”

“Richard,” Negan greeted. “Is that anyway to treat an old friend?”

“You’re no friend,” he spat with a growl.

Negan gave a bit of a nod.

“I see you haven’t forgotten me,” he said grimly. “But I’m sure you realize I’m not that same person anymore.”

Not once did Richard’s eyes drop down on Negan’s body.

“I haven’t forgotten, and I know what you are now. What do you want?” Richard intensified his growling which had the power to make Negan bow his head in submission.

“He’s requesting an audience with the king,” the red head answered for him.

“Is that so?” Richard asked. He stopped his growling and looked away. “Denied.”

“I’m here to talk about Rick,” Negan piped up. It got Richard’s attention again. “The king must have told you what happened. How he disappeared? Well, I’ve got a few more questions for him.”

“King Ezekiel’s already been interrogated by members of Alexandria. You want to know what was said, ask them.”

“I want to hear from the damn king himself,” Negan declared with a rise of anger in his tone. That, combined with the use of ‘damn’, got the soldiers growling fiercely.

Richard moved right up to his face with a chilling growl.

“Do not, talk about the king that way,” he warned in a way that sent a shiver down Negan’s spine. He was hitting his Omega side so strongly, he had no choice but to submit.

“Yes,” he apologized. Richard turned away.

“Go back home.”

“I can’t. Not until I hear from Ezekiel.” Richard started to argue, but Negan cut him off. “Please. He’s…he’s not just Alexandria’s Alpha, he’s my Alpha too.”

“Like I said. Talk to the ones that came here. Daryl and Scott will tell you.”

Negan tensed up, fingers curling into fists.

“That’s not enough damn it!”

“What’s going on out here?”

A new person stepped out of the gates to join the crowd. Negan had a vague recollection of who she was as she had seldom visited Alexandria. The sharp eyes and the gray hair told him as much. When she looked at him, he realized from her reaction that she clearly recalled who he was.

“Negan?”

“Yeah, and you’re…what Kate? Carrie?”

“Carol,” she corrected sternly.

“Right, right. Well Carol, I don’t know if you’re still the king’s mate or not, but your boys have put up a damn barrier here. Trying to keep me from asking your mate a few questions.”

Suspicion was clear on her face.

“What kind of questions?”

“About Rick,” Richard answered for him. “Wants to do his own interrogation apparently.”

Negan softened his facial features as much as possible since Carol at least seemed to be considering his wish.

“Let him through.”

“But my lady.” It was clear Richard opposed the idea. “This is Negan we’re talking about. The asshole that forced the Kingdom under his feet.”

“And now he’s under Rick’s feet,” Carol countered. “Besides that, he’s pregnant, so how much harm can he possibly do?”

Richard gritted his teeth, but bowed his head in respect.

“As you wish. I’ll inform the king.”

Richard moved on ahead with most of the soldiers following behind him. Only the soldiers that had greeted Negan stayed by his side.

“Well, come on,” Carol said in a no nonsense kind of manner before moving onward.

Negan smiled and followed behind her.

“No wonder Rick admires you,” he told her.

Chapter Text

The Kingdom opened up to Negan in a way that it hadn’t before. It had a very rustic feel when it came to the various crops that were set up in patches across the community, and the many pens the held livestock. There were a good number of trees that dotted the grounds and groups of school houses that even had a few old school buses parked next to them.

Because of the deal, he had only really viewed the place from afar, but now that he was finally within the walls, he was able to see how impressively huge the place was especially when it came to the large population. The Kingdom was teeming with activity as people moved about gardening, sparring in a gazebo, practicing archery of all things, or playing board games. The place was alive and he couldn’t help smiling about it. But of course, as with any new body that appeared among a pack, heads were starting to turn his way. He was sure by now they knew who he was, but at the same time he wasn’t so certain. The pack had been kept in the dark about the Saviors, so they had never had the honor of seeing the great Savior leader until now.

“This why you never came back to Alexandria?” Negan asked Carol.

“I suppose Ezekiel’s claim on me has nothing to do with it,” she pointed out.

Negan just shrugged.

“Maybe that has something to do with it,” he admitted. “How is old King Cole anyway?”

“He’s, fine.” He understood why her brow was furrowed by the question. From her point of view it was odd for him to ask about anyone. “He’s concerned about Rick, like I am. And you.”

His face fell at the cold reminder. He really hoped the king would be able to tell him something that would breathe new life into the investigation.

“Yeah,” he muttered.

Carol waved off his following guards as she led him toward one of the schools. He already had a preconceived notion of what to expect from word of mouth, but his eyes still took notice of the quotes on the walls that he passed.

When they reached the auditorium Carol continued down the aisle, but Negan remained in the doorway as he stared back at King Ezekiel. The stage and the tall wooden throne he sat upon truly set him up as a regal figure, especially with his guards in place beside him. There was a large man at the end he knew as Jerry, then a boy who appeared just a couple of years older than Carl, and following him was Richard who still looked irritated. But the thing that caught Negan’s attention more than any of them, was the beautiful tiger that was pacing around Ezekiel. The only thing that prevented her from being free roaming was the chain that Ezekiel held. He really hoped he held onto the tiger tightly enough.

“Goddamn tiger,” he muttered in awe. As if the tiger had heard, she gave a little roar, causing Negan to tense up.

“Negan of Alexandria!” Ezekiel began in a straightforward tone, “Previous Alpha of the Saviors, and current Omega to Rick Grimes. Step forward so I may hear your woes!”

Negan ran a hand over his belly as if to settle rising nervousness before stepping forward.

“Since Richard’s up there, I’m sure you already know all about my damn woes.”

“I’d like to hear them from you,” he said once Negan made it to the front.

Up close, Negan couldn’t help but take note of his steely eyes. There was no doubt in his mind that Ezekiel was thinking about all the pain he’d caused him when he’d been a true Alpha. There was no warmth in the lines of his face, just as there was none in the men standing beside him. Negan glanced down at the tiger again as she zoned in on him. She was definitely one of the reasons the hairs on the back of his neck were standing up.

“I’d gladly tell you my woes, so long as I know you got a good hold on your pussy.”

Ezekiel glanced down at his pet who was settling down on the floor by his feet.

“Shiva will do you no harm, as long as you intend not to do any harm to me and my pack.” It was a clear warning; one that had him trembling a little.

“I’m past that now,” he stated.

“Are you?” Richard questioned.

Negan glared, but the Alpha matched it as he began to growl fiercely.

“Richard,” Ezekiel warned with a wave of the hand and a growl. He stopped immediately. “I’m sure Rick Grimes tamed what was once a beast.”

“He sure as fuck did,” Negan said, smiling as if it was a joke. “I’m as gentle as a kitten now.”

“What brings you here? I warn you, it had better be important.”

Negan shifted his eyes at Carol who was standing before the first row of seats watching him with sharp eyes. He got the sense that she was looking straight through him, and he didn’t like it at all.

“It’s about Rick.” He was greeted with the terrible hollowness that the absence of his Alpha caused. The last thing he wanted was to appear weak before the audience of another pack, but his strength was fading. “You already heard he disappeared. He came here to have a chat with you, then he fucking vanished without a trace. Didn’t leave shit behind except a half-eaten horse.”

“Are you accusing the king?” Richard growled.

“Abso-fucking-lutely not.” Then he paused and shot him a grin. “Well, maybe just a little.”

All the men were growling at him now except for Ezekiel.

“Enough,” he ordered softly. His face was scrunched up as if he had tasted something disgusting. “You dare to accuse me of harming your Alpha? Is that the kind of man you think I am?”

Negan raised his hands in surrender and took a step back. At this point any normal Omega would have dropped their eyes, but he forced himself not to break eye contact.

“I don’t think that’s the kind of man you are. My Alpha likes you, but with investigations these kinds of things come up. I lost my Alpha, my pups don’t have their father right now, and I’m pretty sure you noticed I’m not exactly fat here.” Negan looked down at his yet to be born pup and rubbed it. “I need someone to blame.”

“Well I am not that someone,” Ezekiel stated clearly.

“Apologize to the king,” said Jerry. Negan looked from him, to Richard, to the kid, and finally back to Ezekiel before lowering his eyes.

“Sorry,” he apologized in a low voice. “I just know this was the last place he was seen, and now he’s gone. I wanna know what he was here for. What happened between you two? If I know that much, I might have something to go on.”

Ezekiel was frowning, staring at Negan as though he had suddenly become a ghost. He leaned forward in his throne as if to see him better.

“Do you mean to tell me you intend to search for you Alpha, all on your own?”

Negan was ready to reply, but paused as he thought carefully about his answer. He had a feeling he would prevent him from doing such a thing.

“I intend to get something our pack can go on, because so far our goddamn search parties have been fucking useless.”

Ezekiel studied him a moment longer before sitting back in his seat.

“I have already informed your members all that I know, so I suggest you seek your answers from them.”

“You don’t think I haven’t already?” he growled. “Those assholes didn’t give us much, or maybe they just did a lousy job interrogating your ass because we’re no closer to finding Rick than your pack is to making you a crown. Every king needs one, even a fake.”

“Hey! Do not disrespect the king!” Jerry suddenly growled. Negan eyed the Omega with humor dancing in his eyes.

“Apologize!” the boy demanded.

Richard sighed and turned to Ezekiel as the others growled fiercely.

“Your majesty this is a waste of time. Negan doesn’t deserve your audience. He’s-”

Ezekiel raised a hand as he continued to watch Negan closely.

“Your Alpha made no announcement that he was going elsewhere after our meeting. I assumed he made it safely back to Alexandria. My guards watched his departure but failed to see any threat in his wake before he moved out of their sight.”

“You’re telling me they really saw nothing.”

“I am,” Ezekiel agreed with a nod.

Negan just stared back at him with a frown. He hadn’t wanted to believe it was that simple. It wasn’t anything to go on. If Rick and Ezekiel hadn’t become good friends over the years, he would have decided that Ezekiel had done something to Rick. There was also Carol to vouch for the king, which meant the man really had nothing more to offer than what he’d told Daryl and Scott.

“Damn it,” he whispered, frustrated. He felt a tingling sensation as his anxiety started to rise. It was as if he’d lost Rick all over again. “At least tell me why the fuck Rick came to see you.”

“That is between us.”

“Please,” Negan begged with a bowed head. “It’s…it’s all I have to hold onto right now, until we find him.”

Silence coated the room as all eyes were on Negan’s figure.

“Dude, he’s hurting,” Jerry pointed out, which drew both Richard’s and Ezekiel’s attention.

“He’s faking,” Richard decided. “A man like Negan doesn’t give a shit about anyone.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Carol piped up suddenly. Her eyes were glued to the man, watching as he trembled slightly. “He wouldn’t have risked coming up here in his condition if he was faking.”

Negan stared back at the king as he considered the request, but by now he’d had enough. Opinions were set. He was the Kingdom’s enemy and that would always ring true.

“Fine, don’t tell me.” He turned on his heels and headed back up the aisle. “I guess we’re done.”

“He came here for you.” Negan turned back as Ezekiel rose to his feet. Shiva rose along with him. “He came here to discuss changing the date of the fair.”

“Why?”

“Because Rick did not wish for you to miss it since you are with child.”

It prompted Negan to look down at his belly and place a protective hand over it. His stomach twisted when he recalled using the pregnancy excuse for not attending the fair, and Rick had believed it was so tough for him that he had tried to find a solution. He had tried to help him, and in return he had gotten fucked in some unknown way. He was gone, and Negan couldn’t help pointing the finger at himself.

“Goddamn it,” he whispered again. Feeling pissed, not only at himself but at everyone, he glared at the king. “And what did you say? Were you gonna change it, or did Rick come here for nothing?”

Ezekiel’s face softened, giving Negan the impression that he was feeling the pain of the loss greatly at the moment.

“I agreed to change the date, so you could join us.”

Everyone seemed to be holding their breaths, waiting for Negan to make the next move. Negan wasn’t feeling too good about his honesty. He knew that his little family wanted him to come, but to hear that the king was willing to allow him to join in hit him in an odd way.

“Rick really had to twist your fucking arm to get you to say yes didn’t he?”

“No. It wasn’t a hard decision to make,” he answered easily, surprising Negan. “I know some of my members would oppose.” He shot a glance at Richard who bowed his head. “But, I believed it was the right path to take. If Rick was willing to give you a chance by forming a family with you, then I believed you had changed to the point where I could invite you into my kingdom without fear.”

Negan shut his eyes and looked away as Rick surfaced hard to the front of his mind, making his heart ache.

“Well now you don’t have to worry about changing the date, because he’s gone.”

“You must have hope your pack can find him.”

There it was again. Someone encouraging him to have hope. It was getting a little tiring to hear, but he didn’t say as much.

“Yeah, I’m sure he’ll be coming home soon,” he said politely.

“Well, if there is nothing more you wish to discuss, I will bid you farewell.” He looked over at Jerry and Richard. “And I shall send two as escorts for you on your way to Alexandria.”

“I’m not a pup. I can find my way home just fine.”

“I insist you take the guards. The world is-”

“I know what the damn world is like out there, so, with all due respect, your majesty.” He bowed as much as he could and put on his shit-eating grin. “I can take care of my damn self. I didn’t need help coming here, and I sure as fuck don’t need it going back.”

Ezekiel seemed a little conflicted about granting him the chance to return home alone, but in the end he gave a nod.

“Very well. I wish for your safe journey home, and I pray for the safe return of your Alpha.”

“Noted,” Negan grumbled as he made his way up the aisle. Then he stopped when he thought back on their conversation. “Thanks by the way.”

“For what?”

“For wanting to welcome me in.” His thoughts suddenly shifted to Rick again and a particular conversation they had had before he vanished. He turned to face the king, standing tall and staring him straight in the eyes. “I know it probably won’t mean shit after all this time, but, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what I did to your pack and for the members I killed.”

Richard started to growl, but Ezekiel signaled for him to stop. He leaned forward to really take in his sincerity.

“You truly believed enslaving my pack was the right way to survive?”

“I did. I was the Alpha of my pack. I thought it was the best way we could all survive. My pack, and everyone that worked under me. I wasn’t the true Alpha Rick is by a long shot. I got lost being a leader, he didn’t. Maybe that’s why I’m not an Alpha anymore.”

Ezekiel considered him a moment longer before continuing.

“I accept your apology,” he said quietly. “But I do wonder what brought you to feel remorse for what you have done.”

“Everything that happened to me after I got bit. I was alone in Rick’s pack, then I got to know who those people were up close, who Rick was as a person and as an Alpha. And when it came to my pups…I realized I didn’t want them following my lead.”

“I trust you will steer them on the proper path.”

“I sure as fuck hope I do.”

Negan turned away from everyone’s eyes as he headed back up the aisle. The trip hadn’t felt like a total waste. If anything he felt even more determined about his new mission.

Chapter Text

Carl shifted at the sound of knocking on his bedroom door. He groaned and rolled over in his bed, not ready to get up just yet, but the knocking was getting louder.

“Carl!”

He opened his eyes at the sound of his little sister’s voice. Normally she wasn’t his version of a wake-up call.

“Carl!” she called again. “Where’s mommy?”

Carl sat up and rubbed his eyes before tiredly walking over to the door.

“What do you mean where’s mommy?”

As he was reaching for the knob, his eyes just happened to drop down. It was then that he noticed the folded note that had been slipped under the door. Confused, he unfolded it. All it took was reading the first few sentences for the dread to start rising in the pit of his stomach.

“Goddamn it Negan,” he whispered.

“Carl?”

He swallowed as he tried to figure out what exactly he was going to say to explain the situation to his siblings, but according to the note, Negan had wanted him to keep quiet.

 

Negan sat in the driver’s seat, glaring at the vastness of the woods and the open road that lied ahead of him. Rick was out there somewhere, and he had no clue where to start looking. He glanced over at the map that was opened on the passenger’s seat. It had been marked to show the places that had already been searched by the search parties, and they included areas that were closer to home and to the Kingdom. Since Rick hadn’t been found nearby, it was left open as to just how far Rick had gone, or how far he had been taken.

“Make this easier on me Rick. Where the hell are you?” he muttered. He rubbed his fingers against his temples as he suddenly craved a strong beer. Part of him was preferring the king’s idea to just return home, but his interest in doing so wasn’t strong enough.

He turned to the map and ran his fingers across it as he tried to pick out a destination. The little pup kicked in his womb, making him freeze as he thought about his other pups back in Alexandria. It was dangerous out here. He could easily not make it back, and they would be without their mother. The pup kicked again.

“If that’s your way of telling me to head back to your siblings, it’s not working. We gotta get your daddy remember?”

It was all about his Alpha’s life of course, but if he managed to pull this off and bring him back, there was the strong chance that things would change nicely for him. They wouldn’t be able to sneer at him because he had brought their leader back. Just imagining that much brought a small smile to his face, but then it dropped again. Even if that didn’t end up happening, it didn’t matter. Rick had to come home no matter what.

“Alright, let’s get started.”

He hit the gas with the first destination in mind.

 

The first unsearched area he tried was a gas station. He thought it looked easy enough to search. It was in range of the Kingdom, but he supposed it wasn’t considered since the search parties went in the opposite direction.

He stepped out of the car with the gun at his side, listening intently for sounds of walkers or other people. The windows were broken and the door was missing, which made it a poor living spot for people. Upon entering he saw right away that the place was nearly picked clean. Some of the shelves were turned over, there was broken glass and empty food containers scattered on the floor, and spots of blood on the floor and walls. He readied his gun as though he was a cop as he carefully scanned his surroundings. When he moved along the front counter, a growl suddenly sounded off, making him spin around. He approached the counter slowly and found the source of the growl coming from a chubby legless walker that was slumped on the floor. It growled sadly and reached out his arms upon seeing Negan. He assumed him to have been the clerk of the station.

“Don’t think you’ll be getting much business anymore,” he informed him. Since he couldn’t move, he saw no reason to waste a bullet, but the sight of a still moving walking gave him hope that there was no people living here. He suspected they would have put him out of his misery.

Negan moved up and down the empty aisles. He checked the restrooms and even dipped into the back room which was for employees only. In the end, all he walked out with was a small bag of chips and a stale candy bar.

He slipped back into the car and marked the place off on the map.

“Wasn’t in door number one,” he told his pup. “Let’s find door number two.”

 

The next spot was a little house nearly hidden by trees. The only thing he found there was a dead man who had been shot in the head to keep from turning and his pet dog lying beside him. Negan found himself staring at the scene a little longer than he intended before he had walked off to search the rest of the house.

The third spot was an area he didn’t feel great about searching. It was comprised of several little stores. Being they were smaller buildings, he felt it would be easy to get cornered or surprised if walkers were hidden about inside them. But there was the possibility that an injured Rick was hiding in one of them. He would have to find out. He patted his stomach as he readied his gun.

“Let’s go kid. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find some groceries.”

He took it slow when he approached the first store which was very open with its shattered windows and missing door. Similar to the gas station, it had been picked clean of supplies, but there were still some items that were savable. Negan didn’t focus on such things as he concentrated on searching the place carefully. There were a few dead walkers here and there, but for the most part nothing was moving. Negan spent at least an hour searching through it and even dared to call out for Rick. After finding nothing, he moved on to the next building.

After he’d gone through the buildings on one side of the street, he paused by leaning against the car. There was frustration brewing within him, and when it boiled over he smashed a fist down on the hood of his car and yelled.

He wasn’t sure why he thought this would be somewhat doable. Daryl’s search parties hadn’t been able to find a sign of Rick, and so far neither had he. He glared at the unsearched buildings across from him. It was starting to feel pointless to search through them. The ones that he searched had provided good hiding spots, and they would be ideal if a person needed shelter after being terribly injured. Even Rick would have hid in one of them. But then he had second thoughts about that.

His Alpha was a stubborn man, and his pack and pups meant more to him than anything. So with a man like that, Negan could see Rick traveling his injured self all the way back to Alexandria.
“Maybe he’s not here,” he muttered as he rubbed his bulge. “But then where the hell else could he be.”

As if to answer its mother, the pup kicked, making him smile.

“Alright. Let’s get back to it.”

Negan walked forward to start the next part of his search. He briefly gazed up at the sky. There was still plenty of daylight left, but now it had him thinking about what he would do at night. He couldn’t go home without Rick and try the next day. Michonne and a few others would definitely prevent him from attempting another solo search. He was sure Carl had honored his request of not telling the others about his trip, but there was the chance they might have found out anyway if they came by the house. His only choice would be to hunker down in one of the buildings for the night, and he was not looking forward to that.

 

Negan carefully walked over turned aisles, and slowly opened doors. Every now and then he froze because he thought he had heard something. When he slipped into the restroom, he headed to the sinks. The water was still working, and so with a sigh of relief, he laid his gun down and splashed his face. He could feel his stress level rising and it didn’t help when the stall door behind him suddenly burst open.
By the time he reached for the gun, the walker was already on him, pushing him back against the sink.

“Goddamn it!”

His arms threatened to buckle as it cried and snapped its jaws, determined to bite into his neck. Negan groaned loudly as he used all of his energy to push it back. Before it could stumble forward again Negan fired, sending a bullet into its brain and making it plop to the floor.

He was barely aware of how hard he was panting as he turned and gripped the sink for support. Defeating walkers had been nothing when he was an able Alpha, but it was different now that he was a weak Omega; a pregnant one at that. His instincts yelled at him to hide like a coward rather than face them. There was sense in the warning. If anything that sudden attack reminded him just how vulnerable he was this way. He had walked out of Alexandria’s gates with a near Alpha like mentality, and here, he had just been given a dose of the reality outside.

Negan splashed more water on his face, then wiped the excess off as he looked into the dirty mirror. What he saw was a scared man that wasn’t all that certain he could pull off his new mission.

“Fuck.” He turned away, hating the fear and doubt that was swirling within him now. He glared at the walker he had just killed. It had just been one walker, and already he felt the threat of falling apart.

He shook his head and marched out of the restroom once he was able to reignite his confidence. But right outside the door, a chorus of guttural growls echoed from the many walkers that were suddenly occupying the building. And of course their clouded eyes found him.

“FUCK!”

He fired as they slogged toward him. He almost preferred Lucille to the gun simply for the sake of using it to draw strength from. All he could feel was fear. A walker lunged for him on his left, making him stumble and crash to the floor on his back.

“Shit…shit.”

The gun had gone flying off behind him. Wide-eyed, he gazed at the four walkers that were left. He might have been imagining it, but they appeared extra hungry and he figured it was because they noticed the pup in his belly.

He worked his body backward while keeping his eyes on them.

“You want your damn dinner!” he shouted at them. They growled loudly, eager to snatch him up. Negan turned and struggled to get to his feet as soon as he grabbed ahold of the gun again. “Come fucking get it.”

He shot down two before turning to the exit.

Outside, there were more guttural growls as several walkers began roaming down the street. A herd had manifested quicker than he could have thought possible, and he was the only source of food available to them. He glanced down the other side of the street. There were only a few walkers milling around, but that didn’t matter. Things went wrong easily even when there were a few of the bastards near, and he certainly couldn’t risk sticking around any longer.

As fast as he could he made for his car. He could barely think as the growls got louder; as two walkers seemed to near the car in an attempt to close him in.

“Nooooo!” he howled.

He would not end up like Rick’s horse, screaming as flesh was devoured right off his bones. He blew the brains out of one that had turned from the car in favor of getting him. The door was ripped open and Negan quickly dropped inside. After a minor fumble with the keys, he turned the ignition and reversed away from the oncoming herd.

“I think it’s safe to say that Rick’s not here,” he informed his unborn pup. Though he hadn’t gone through all the buildings, he decided his Alpha couldn’t be here, that way he wouldn’t have to worry about trying to come back and maneuver around a herd.

 

Evening was making itself known as the sky darkened, and rather than finding himself before the gate of Alexandria, he found himself stationed across from an old satellite station. It wasn’t just any satellite station. It had once been a post for a good number of his men. Men that had been slaughtered in their sleep, and by the orders of his own Alpha.

Negan just stared at the abandoned place now as bitterness twisted in his chest like a tornado.

“Damn it Rick,” he muttered.

He understood perfectly why Rick had done such a thing, but of course that had not mattered at the time. That post had been a part of his territory, and another pack had intruded upon it. And worse than that, said pack had killed members of his pack; people he was supposed to keep safe. He later found out that all of it had been done to save the Hilltop hostages and to keep the worthless Beta leader Gregory alive.

That hadn’t mattered to Negan at the time either. That Hilltop man was his to do with what he pleased, but Rick had shown up to say that wasn’t so, and had risked his own people to save a stranger. Negan couldn’t wrap his mind around worrying about strangers in the world they had now. Unless a man was part of his pack, it was every other man for himself. He sighed and bowed his head. Rick wasn’t like that. Rick was the kind of Alpha that needed to help the other man even if he didn’t know more than said man’s name. It almost made him wonder if that was the reason he was gone now.

Did Rick try and help the wrong person? Did helping someone else get him killed?

If so he was stupid for it, yet Negan looked at it with a bit of admiration. He whined as he started to worry for him all over again. When he looked at the station again, he couldn’t help wondering if one of his old pack members was actually responsible for Rick’s absence. An Alpha back in Alexandria had accused the Saviors of having something to do with Rick. What if he was right?

There shouldn’t be anyone in the station now. As far as he knew, there were only corpses because Negan hadn’t bothered to order his men to bury them. He glanced at the map and saw that the place had gone unchecked by the search parties. No one, aside from that one Alpha, had believed that the Saviors had whisked their leader away. So there was no reason to believe he was in there now, unless another pack had moved in. Either way, he didn’t feel good about searching it, let alone going in. That place was like a stain from the past, and he was afraid of what would happen if he entered.

Not sure whether it was a mistake to just leave or not, he turned the key. The engine made like it was going to start, but then it died. A sudden shock of panic hit him, but not at full force since he focused on trying again.

There was nothing.

“No…no don’t do this to me,” he begged. “Don’t do this to me!”

He tried again, and again, and again.

“No…no…no…FFUUUCKKK!”

He slammed his fist into the horn and crashed his head against it. Being stranded out here was no different than being trapped in a herd. With that in mind, he imagined the herd he had previously escaped from coming for him, and if he was still stuck here on the side of the road, he might actually become a carcass just like his Alpha’s horse.

Chapter Text

Carl could barely look at his siblings as they ate their dinner at the table. He really didn’t feel good about claiming that Negan just went out for a little bit and implying that he’d be back. At the same time he didn’t feel right about honestly telling them he went to look for their dad. The tears would start all over again as they’d instantly believe that it would mean they’d never see their mommy again either.

It was why Carl felt their peace of mind was more important than the full truth. Besides that, Negan had promised he’d kill him if he said anything about his solo search. He hoped there was no need to really say much, and so far he had kept his promise. Negan was a capable man. He couldn’t believe that he’d endanger himself or end up dead. But then he had to remind himself that he wasn’t exactly the same Negan from long ago. This version of the man was a pregnant Omega. There would only be so much that he could do out there alone, especially since he was among the weaker set.

When he looked at Lucy and Jake again, he imagined they might have already guessed what happened since they hadn’t asked to know more about their mommy’s disappearance. He glanced down at his plate again, fearing another night of having to prepare the meal.

 

Sleep hadn’t come easy at all to Negan considering he had decided it was safer to bunk in the satellite station despite how much he dreaded it. With the car at a standstill, he’d be an easy sitting duck if a herd of walkers or people came along. At least in the post he could move and hide, but that didn’t make him feel better about it.

He sat up on a cot and rubbed at his brow.

“Goddamn it,” he muttered.

When his eyes traveled across the room, he saw the decomposed body of an old member from his pack from the past. All he could do was stare at him. He couldn’t even recognize him enough to place the name. Instead he saw Rick entering the room with a knife, and slipping it quickly and quietly into the back of the man’s skull. Such an image made him feel sick enough to want to throw up. The man had been asleep, and had woken dead. Then again he couldn’t be sure if it had been Rick that had done him in specifically. It could have been someone else, but considering Negan had wound up back at this place, he couldn’t help believing that fate was that cruel, and that he was facing an old member that had been murdered by his Alpha.

“We had it coming,” he suddenly said, though not quite certain why. “We pissed Rick off enough for him to do that to you and the rest of my people in here. But goddamn Rick.”

He wondered why he never ordered a burial. And then the answer seemed to come, which had him twisting with shame. He simply hadn’t seen the need since in his eyes, the men had been weak enough to allow themselves to be killed. It wasn’t a fair way to look at it, but as an Alpha, he had fully believed in and respected strength. If his members were weak enough to get killed, then they didn’t deserve a fancy funeral.
His stomach twisted more with such old thoughts and he had to run his hand over his face to try and calm down.

“Fuck. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” His men had just been following his orders. They were told to hold one over on the Hilltop pack, and it came back to bite them in their sleep.

He stood and stumbled toward the door, nauseous. Before leaving, he turned back to the body.

“I’m paying for it,” he promised. “I’m paying for my shit.”

The halls seemed to sway as he moved onward. He paused at one of the doors as he caught sight of something on the wall. He knew what it was even before he approached it. Over a dozen pictures clustered together like an art piece, all featuring the grisly handiwork of Lucille. The bashed in heads of unrecognizable victims were strung up as trophies, and he was looking at them as though he’d never seen it before.
His stomach lurched and he couldn’t hold back. The small lunch that he’d had the previous day came gushing out of his mouth. He swayed and had to reach out to the wall for support.

He didn’t believe he had become soft enough to find the sight that sickening. It had all been the fault of the hormonal changes thanks to the pregnancy. But not only did he feel ill looking at them, he also felt fear. It was like they were ghost that were suddenly deciding to haunt him.

“You too,” he said once he managed to get the bile out of his mouth. “Shit. I know I’m paying for it.”

Then he paused as he wondered if he really was. He was no longer a true Alpha, and he had become Rick’s against his will, yet now he had cared greatly for the life he once thought of as a universal punishment. He had pups he loved and a pack where he was able to actually befriend members. When it came to the Saviors, all he really had was Simon which was great, but with Rick’s pack he had a few more people. He stared hard into the images as he wondered if he was truly paying for his past.

Frustrated and strongly conflicted, he yelled as he began tearing the pictures off the wall. There was no point for them to be there anymore. The man that had caused those gruesome deaths in the photos was no longer present, and this station was no longer a post for his pack.

The pictures littered the floor, but Negan didn’t bother to pick them up and dispose of them. He just turned and left the room.

To his relief, no walkers had neared the area. It was just him and a useless care. Negan figured the best and safest thing for him to do now, would be to try and make it to the Hilltop. It was the only community that was closest to the post, even though it wasn’t in walking distance. He walked over to the car and leaned against it. He looked down the road as he tried to gage how long it would take him to make it. There was no denying the long distance.

“Shit.” His stomach twisted with nerves at the thought of walking unprotected. He looked down at his belly and dropped his hands upon it. He had to keep pushing for its survival. Waiting for help that might never come would be a potential death sentence. “Ok. We’re going.”

Hilltop was the decided destination. He gritted his teeth and tried not to think of Maggie’s reaction when he wandered up to the gates. He assumed she would help him due to his attachment to Rick; that and the pup he carried would surely keep him from dying at her hand. He hoped even more that she would find it in her heart to provide him with another car so he could continue his search, but being that she was a mother herself, he felt it was unlikely. She would most likely contact his pack so they could fetch him, which would put an end to his mission. In fact the more he thought about it, the more he believed it would truly be over if he went there.

“Goddamn it,” he muttered. He had no idea if he was any closer to finding Rick or not, and he would definitely never know once Maggie stopped him.

“I’m sorry kid.” He rubbed at his belly, then slipped his gun in his back pocket. “I tried to find daddy for us, but I fucking failed.”

He gathered a small amount of supplies together in his bag before turning back to the road ahead with a sigh. Already his feet seemed to ache with the idea of traveling on foot.

“Ok, here we fucking go.”

 

Carl clutched the note in his hand hard as he took notice of Michonne talking to Daryl and Eugene. He assumed they were discussing another possible spot to search with Eugene providing a little extra help. He headed toward them, deciding to break the news at last since it had been a whole day without Negan. It hadn’t drawn attention as people had assumed Negan was in need of alone time, but another day would have.

“Some people are asking, when you’ll call off the search,” Carl heard Eugene ask as he neared them.

“When we find Rick,” Daryl stated firmly. He looked around and took notice of Carl.

“What’s up?” Michonne asked.

Carl supposed the conflict he was having was showing easily on his face. Negan had told him not to say a word to anyone about his departure. It was important to keep promises, but this was so risky. If something happened to Negan and he hadn’t told anyone…

“Something wrong?” Daryl asked when Carl said nothing.

“It’s Negan. He’s gone.”

“What do you mean gone?” asked Michonne.

“He left to find dad.”

“What?” Daryl cried.

“When?” The concern on her face was clear.

“The night before last,” he answered weakly. He offered up the note as if that would make his delay of informing them any better.

Michonne took it and started reading while Daryl appeared to be doing his best to hold back his anger.

“Why the hell didn’t you say anything before? The last thing we need is that son of a bitch getting in trouble when Rick’s gone.”

“He didn’t want me to tell, because he knew someone would go after him,” Carl explained.

“But he doesn’t know where to look,” said Michonne.

“Did he procure a map? It’s possible he’s using the process of elimination.” When all eyes were on Eugene, he elaborated. “Searching areas the search teams haven’t yet covered.”

“How’s he supposed to find him when we can’t?” Daryl growled.

He stalked away from them, giving them no indication that he was about to do something about Negan. Michonne turned to glare at the fence where a new guard was posted to keep watch. She made her way toward him. Wanting to know what she had in mind, Carl followed, along with Eugene.

“Hey! Where’s Toby?” she shouted at him.

The guard scanned the area before pointing over at a group of picnic tables. Toby was seated on one, eating an apple. She wasn’t sure if it was right to feel any kind of rage toward the man. For all she knew, Negan had managed to slip out without Toby even noticing.

Toby looked up as Michonne made a beeline for him.

“The night before last, you were on watch,” she stated once she closed the distance between them.

Toby appeared a little concerned by her arrival, and slowly swallowed the bit of apple in his mouth.

“Yeah,” he said slowly.

“Negan left that night. He ran off to find Rick. Did you see him?” Before he could reply, Michonne started up a warning growl. “Don’t lie to me. I’ll know if you are.”

“Fine,” he said after a sigh. “I saw, and I let him go.”

Michonne’s growl intensified. Suddenly she was grabbing the front of his shirt and yanking him close.

“Why the hell would you do that? He’s pregnant! You let our Alpha’s pregnant Omega run off on his own?”

The Beta attempted to match her glare, but was having trouble doing so.

“Because…Because I don’t give a shit about Negan. If he wants to run off, why the hell should I care?”

She threw him down to the ground, disgusted.

“You are going to tell me where he went, and after that, you’re going to join us in searching for him.”

 

Negan didn’t keep track of time, and he barely had any interesting thoughts to entertain himself with. He kept his eyes sharp as well as his ears, but so far he heard no form of a threat. All he saw was a plain dirt road and lots of trees. Every once in a while he felt a bit edgy about being out in the open like this, without anyone. He had never been a nature enthusiast, especially now, and back when he was an Alpha, he only traveled outdoors when he was in the company of a few members with Lucille by his side.

“What do you think your daddy would say if he saw me now?” he asked his unborn pup as he rubbed a hand over it. “He’d probably clamp down on my neck and never let go again.”

The thought made him laugh just a little, but then the laughter died at the idea of not being forgiven. A shiver ran down his spine at the thought of displeasing his Alpha greatly, and he almost wanted to drop to his knees right then.

“I’m gonna have to do some intense groveling when he gets back.” He felt a kick in response. “I will get him back. Don’t you worry.”

He hated the squeeze tackling his heart. Doubt was starting to sink in again, and it would only become stronger the closer he got to the Hilltop. Maggie wouldn’t let him continue on with the search. And if his search came to an end, then it was possible that Rick wouldn’t come home.

“Damn it.” He cursed such a thought. Now wasn’t the time to think that way.

The sound of growls hit his ears, making him freeze in place. Up ahead, a couple of walkers sauntered out of the thicket of trees. There was a moment of panic before Negan actually found some interest in the sight.

“Hello beauties. Come to escort me to Maggie’s?” In response, they simply growled. Their dead eyes were set on him as they headed his way. “No? Well then, I guess I’ll just have to put you out of your miseries.”

He reached for his gun and aimed. It was almost like the old days. Aside from bashing in people’s skulls, he had enjoyed taking out a walker every now and then. Just as he took aim, several more walkers joined the few. His eyes widened and he took a step back. A herd was forming right before his eyes and he definitely didn’t have enough bullets for all of them.

“Fuck.”

He turned to his right and ducked into the woods. He would just have to go around them or at least hide out for a while.

“Fuck…fuck…don’t fucking do this to me again,” he growled.

With one hand clutching his belly, he desperately searched for a hide out. The closest thing he was able to find was a large, muddy ditch. He really didn’t want to jump down there, particularly when it seemed easy to become stuck.

The sound of the walkers were getting closer, so it was either lie low in the hole or attempt to run when his bulging belly prevented that much.

“Fuck it.”

Carefully he lowered himself down on his rear and just slid down the rest of the way. He scrambled to use some of the mud for cover to better camouflage himself. Then he pressed himself against the wall of earth and waited.

The crunching sound of moving feet hit him before the guttural noises. He held his breath as the volume increased. They sounded too close. In a matter of seconds, they were moving right above him. Negan shut his eyes, praying they couldn’t detect him. It didn’t feel possible that they wouldn’t. They would see him clearly. The whole idea had been pointless because he was about to die in the worst way. He braced for it, but it was hard to hold back his rising anxiety. It was coming, and he’d have to accept it.

“Where is he?”

Negan’s eyes snapped open at the sudden sound of the guttural whisper. It was only walkers in the herd above him and nothing else, yet he had heard a voice seemingly coming from within the mob of the walking dead.

“Find him…” came another voice, just as whispery and guttural, “Find the Omega.”

Chapter Text

He had not heard that. It was his mind playing tricks on him. Naturally it was stressful when it came to dealing with walkers, and naturally the pregnancy added to the stress, so together it fucked with his head a little. He had cracked just enough to hear the walkers talking.

“Fuck,” he muttered once he was in the clear. The herd had moved on, but Negan stayed put in the ditch, straining to hear the smallest gurgle or rasp. He even strained to hear the voices, but cursed himself for doing so.

He rested a hand on his belly and exhaled.

“Time to go,” he told his unborn pup before turning to the edge of the ditch.

He climbed out as carefully as possible and once he was back on the surface, he took a moment to just breathe while positioned on his hands and knees. It felt like it had been too close. Walkers were slow moving and always gave one the feeling that it was easy to overpower them, but the tables could turn in an instant. He was aware that he could have tripped or run into another walker that would suddenly pop up before him. What made it worse, or rather more horrifying, was the fact that he was alone. There hadn’t been a choice in the matter. No one would have allowed him to run off of course, but as he got to his feet he started to wonder if Carl would have been okay with it. He could almost see Carl agreeing to accompany him so he too could help in finding Rick. Negan smiled at the thought, liking that version of events. Then the parental Omega side of him warned that it would have been reckless to allow the pup to tag along. If he had gotten killed…

Negan refused to finish the thought. He had enough to worry about.

“Let’s get back on track, and maybe this time I won’t hear shit.” He really hoped he wasn’t going crazy.

 

After about ten minutes of walking, Negan had to come to a stop to take a breather. The Hilltop was still far off since he had to double back and jump in a muddy hole.

“What I wouldn’t give…for a drink, right now,” he said tiredly. His feet were already cursing him out, and he heard the aches in his muscles loud and clear.

Suddenly a guttural rasping sound on his right caught his attention.

“You have got to be shitting me.”

Two walkers were staggering toward him past the trees. Gritting his teeth, he looked around the area. Being in the open was killing him right now.

His eyes quickly landed on some rundown looking house. It didn’t look particularly secure, but it was the best form of cover for the moment. He looked back at the pair of tattered looking dead men that staggered his way. He took particular interest in their lips and listened hard for noises that sounded like actual words. He stayed his ground even as they got closer, urging them to say something, anything. They kept getting closer and all they did was growl.

“Shit.”

He turned and made for the rundown house as quickly as he could. Up ahead, he saw more walkers coming out of the woodwork. Negan paled at the idea that the herd had managed to catch up to him already. He hurried onto the porch and made to open the door, but it was stuck.

“Come on damn it!”

He rammed against it with his shoulder as the walkers closed in. He took a brief moment to shoot one that had gotten uncomfortably close before ramming into the door again.

“Come the fuck on!”

It gave and he barreled inside. A walker lunged, but Negan was able to smash his face repeatedly with the door before it became nothing but a sloppy bloody mess against the door frame. He pressed hard into the door and locked it just as the rest of the group arrived in time to claw at the wood.

Negan dropped his forehead against it as his heart pounded and his breathing became rapid. That had really been too close. He ran a hand over his face and shut his eyes.

“Goddamn it,” he panted. Doubt was starting to set in about whether or not he would be able to make it back home, let alone make it to the Hilltop.

“Hey, who are you!”

He jerked around at the sudden voice. There was a sense of relief seeing it hadn’t come from a walker. Instead it had come from a thin, shaggy haired brunette Beta who was gawking at him as though he’d never seen another human being before.

Before Negan could reply, the young Beta called out to someone out of his sight.

“Ralph! Get in here. We got company!”

An Alpha in a blue plaid shirt came hurrying in with his gun raised. With his long dirty blonde hair, which was pulled into a ponytail, and mustache, Negan felt he could be a relative of Dwight’s. He didn’t appear to have the large and imposing figure of most Alphas. Instead he had a build similar to Rick’s. Unlike the Beta, Ralph’s eyes fell to Negan’s noticeable bulge which turned out to be enough to convince him to lower his gun.

“Shit Jimmy. I thought a real threat came in,” said Ralph.

“What’s going on?” A sandy haired, generic looking Beta stepped into the room. Unlike the Alpha, he had noticeable muscles on his figure. “Oh shit. It’s an Omega.”

“And one that’s about to burst,” said Ralph. A glare was immediately present on his face as he took a step forward. Due to the strong Alpha pheromones as well as Ralph’s sudden growls, Negan was shrinking submissively just a little against the door. “You lead more damn cold hearts to us, huh! SPEAK!”

“No, fuck no. I came here to fucking get away from them. I didn’t know I was intruding,” he explained.

“What’s a pregnant Omega doing out here? And where the hell’s your Alpha?”

The last thing Negan wanted to do was be truthful about it. He couldn’t afford to look weaker than he already did.

“Got separated.” He straightened up against the door. “Please, I just needed somewhere to hide.”

Ralph’s face softened, then he looked at his companions.

“We sure as shit wouldn’t toss a pregnant Omega out there to get eaten,” said the sandy haired Beta.

“Glad to hear it,” said Negan gratefully. “I promise not to eat you out of house and home.”

“This ain’t our home,” said Ralph. “We did the same as you. Saw this place and made a beeline for it when the cold hearts started crowding together.”

He crossed the room and slummed down into a dusty old chair. His companions did the same.

“Take a load off,” Ralph insisted. “We may be here a while.” He gestured to a couch near the window that no one occupied.

Negan glanced uneasily at the window which was boarded up nicely and so far didn’t allow the walkers scratching against it to break in. He settled for the seat since his feet were screaming now. Then he looked across at his three housemates who were all looking back at him curiously.

“So, you got separated from your Alpha you say?” asked Ralph.

“Yeah,” he lied. “We were looking for food. He risked going deeper in the woods and I stayed behind to rest.”

Negan didn’t feel comfortable with a thorough interrogation, but prepared himself for it nonetheless.

“Staying behind can get you killed nowadays, but you lucked out. Well, I think you heard my name’s Ralph. You met Jimmy.” He gestured at the first Beta he met who smiled and nodded. “This other one’s Chris. How about you?”

“Negan,” he said as he gazed at Chris who seemed to be giving him a hard look now.

“Negan huh?” he questioned as if he didn’t quite believe it was his name. “Kind of messed up for your Alpha to bring you out to work. A pregnant Omega belongs at home.”

“My Alpha can be a hard-ass,” Negan said with a smirk. He didn’t believe that was far from the truth. “But it’s not so bad. It was just the two of us looking for a place of our own, so I had nowhere to stay behind at.”

“No pack?” Ralph asked, surprised.

Negan shook his head.

“No, but we’re starting a pack of our own.” He smiled softly as he rubbed his hand over his belly.

“Well I wish you luck on that,” said Ralph. “Nothing harder to do now than trying to rear up a pup.”

“Well I guess I’ll find out.”

“You won’t find out unless you get out of here, and us too,” Jimmy pointed out. A minute later he was on his feet pacing. “This place isn’t gonna last man. They’ll get in, or we’ll get stuck here, probably til my next birthday.”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Ralph growled. “We just wait it out.”

“It’s a damn herd out there!” Chris argued.

“I’m well aware.”

“Then you’re aware that we’re cornered.” Chris suddenly turned a glare at Negan. “And this asshole brings more of em to the bunch.”

Negan’s grip on the armrest of the couch hardened at the accusation. He would have liked nothing more than to wave Lucille over his head and show him how much of an asshole he was, or rather used to be. He glanced behind himself at the window as he heard a particularly loud growl. He didn’t know how many were out there now or how long the house would hold against them. What he was sure of was that waiting around wouldn’t do them much good.

He took in the men across from him. So far he wasn’t sure what to make of them. He felt confident that they had bought his story and that they were the sort to respect the fact that he was claimed otherwise they would have snatched him up eagerly. Still, he didn’t want to stay among them any longer than he had to.

“Asshole, they were already in the area,” Negan shot back. “Don’t tell me you’re the smart one in your pack.”

“Among the Betas, he’s the hothead,” Ralph said after chuckling at Negan’s comment. “He’s lucky I’m over our little run.”

“Well our run went to shit,” Chris growled before turning his back on both men.

“Was it just the three of you, on your run?” Negan pressed.

Chris cursed under his breath while Jimmy slouched against a wall with his head hanging.

“There was Patrick,” Jimmy muttered. “Cold ones swarmed him.”

Ralph rubbed at his brow before shaking his head then dropping it. Negan leaned forward and dropped his head out of respect.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” Ralph whispered. “I tried to save him. It was just too damn many.”

“We should’ve taken more guns,” Chris said with clear aggression in his tone.

“That’s not our system,” Ralph said with a warning growl rising from his throat. “Our system’s kept us going nicely. It works for everybody.”

“Didn’t work for Patrick,” Jimmy announced. When he caught the Alpha’s eyes, he looked away as if shamed.

Ralph was on his feet running his hand through his hair. A flicker of tension made its way down Negan’s spine at the simple action.

“It doesn’t always go right out here damn it. But to be honest…” He trailed off as he walked up to the door. The clawing and guttural groans and cries never ceased from the other side of it. “I’m not so sure it’ll work for us.”

It was getting serious now. Negan could feel that much easily. They had to get out and soon. He bowed his head as he thought about the best way out. Unfortunately the only solution that came to him was one that would require the strangers’ help; that and a lot of guts.

“I got something that might work,” Negan said quietly. All three looked at him, but he only met Ralph’s eyes. “But you sure as fuck won’t like it.”

Chapter Text

Negan wasn’t exactly sure how to go about explaining his plan, particularly since it was the kind of plan that would turn any normal person’s stomach. But all three men were staring and waiting for his great idea. If he had it his way, he would find a way to put the idea into play without their help, but his pregnant state along with his weaker state as an Omega didn’t allow it. He needed extra hands.

“Well?” Chris pressed. “What’s your great idea? How’re we supposed to get out?”

He was emitting a soft growl that was joined by Jimmy. It was a clear sign that they were warning against a silly idea from an Omega. However, Ralph didn’t join in on warning him. Negan looked at the window where the dead still gathered. Nervously he balled his fingers before sighing and answering.

“We act like we’re one of them, that’s how.” Their expressions of skepticism shifted to natural confusion. “We’re gonna snag one of those fuckers and cut them open. Now here’s the part you won’t like. We’re covering ourselves in all that inside shit. They’ll think we’re one of them, especially if we go out there slow and calm. We do this right, we can walk away, un-bit.”

Naturally they looked at him as though he had lost his mind.

“The fuck?” Chris cried. “You hear that nonsense Ralph?”

“We’re gonna die in here,” Jimmy muttered as he shook his head and started to pace again.

Ralph, however, maintained eye contact with Negan. He didn’t appear to have fully rejected his plan.

“Trust me, it’ll work,” Negan begged.

“How can you be sure? Where the hell you get such a crazy idea?” Ralph questioned.

“My Alpha did it when he and an old member had to make it past walkers. It worked for them. They didn’t smell like the living.”

“You’re not actually considering this?” Jimmy asked. Ralph raised a hand to settle him.

“I know it’s goddamn gross, but the trick keeps people alive. It’ll keep us alive,” Negan promised.

He forced himself to keep from fidgeting before the Alpha since he needed him to have faith. The guttural growls only seemed to get louder, which told Negan more were possibly piling up outside.

“Ralph, come on,” Chris pleaded. “It’s ridiculous. I mean what do you expect from an Omega? They’re not made for planning. They’re for fucking only.”

“Do you have a better idea?” Ralph challenged as he faced him. He emitted low growls that had both men dropping their eyes respectfully. Also effected, Negan dropped his eyes as well.

“I don’t,” Chris admitted.

“The place is surrounded, and we’re not getting out fighting. We’ll end up like Patrick if we do, so we’re gonna try something else. Something new.”

As he moved toward him, Negan took a step back. The intensity of the Alpha’s power caused a shiver to run down his spine. Ralph bared his teeth and glared at him with a hard, cold look. Negan knew to take him quite seriously.

“I hope I can trust you with this. I can’t lose anymore members.”

Negan straightened himself up and met his eyes dead on.

“You won’t. As long as you guys stick to the plan.”

Ralph took another minute to think it over before nodding.

“Alright. Let’s go for it.”

Both Chris and Jimmy looked beside themselves.

“This is bullshit,” Chris muttered.

“Well since you think it’s such bullshit, you can be the one to snag us a cold one.”

The Alpha’s tone left no room for argument even though Chris appeared ready to trade words. He wisely shut his mouth and sought out a weapon on the floor that turned out to be a crowbar. He stood before Ralph once more, but tossed a scowl a Negan.

“I might need your gun too.”

Ralph ended up handing his gun to Jimmy who paled.

“Help him,” he ordered.

Jimmy curled his fingers around the gun slowly before giving the Alpha a wide-eyed look.

“How exactly are we supposed to do this?”

“Let one in carefully,” Negan suggested.

“The ones at the backdoor,” Ralph said as he nodded to indicate the door behind them. “There’s a crowd out there too, but not as much as what I’m seeing in the front. Should be easier.”

“None of this is easier,” Chris griped, but he made his way toward the backdoor nonetheless. Jimmy followed him with the gun held high. “That Omega should be helping us.”

“He’s pregnant idiot,” Ralph growled. “The least he was able to do was come up with an idea.”

“Yeah, one that might fuck us all.”

As annoyed as he was at the shot, Negan did feel he needed to do a little more to participate. People didn’t appreciate dead weight, but he did have a good excuse for keeping back. Still, the last thing he wanted was to end up screwed over by both Chris and Jimmy. He wouldn’t stand a chance in a large herd if he only had Ralph to rely on for protection.

He glanced around and noticed a short hallway around the corner to his right.

“Where you going?” Ralph questioned when Negan made for it.

“Going to see if the rooms have sheets we can use. Could help keep our clothes less shitty.”

It wasn’t much, but it was something.

The first room he turned into was a small bedroom. There was one available sheet on the rickety looking bed. Negan snatched it up and checked it for holes and tears. It was thin and light, but it would do, so he folded it up and searched a dresser for three more.

After a while, he heard Ralph call out to him.

“You need a hand?”

By this point, Negan was in the bathroom filtering through the cabinets. He smiled when he found a nice pile of folded sheets up for the taking.

“I got it covered!” Negan shouted back as he piled three of them into his arms. “I just need scissors or a knife!” After checking the new sheets carefully, he headed back into the living room.

He came to a stop when he saw Chris and Jimmy struggling to drag in a fairly large walker. Ralph was yelling “Hurry up!” as he pushed against the door to keep the crowd outdoors where they belonged. Jimmy jumped up and added his weight which gave Ralph the chance to lock it.

“This better…bet worth it man,” Jimmy gasped as both he and Ralph leaned against the wood after becoming momentarily winded.

“I almost got bit,” Chris accused Negan as he gave him a particularly nasty glare.

“You want to get eaten?” Negan challenged as he returned the look back to him. “Cause that’s what’s gonna happen if we don’t do this.”

They all gathered around the motionless walker on the floor. Some of the skin on his face had deteriorated enough for them to see the bones and facial muscles easily. It made Negan a little queasy just looking at it.

“Alright,” Jimmy started, “we just, cut him open right? Go on Chris.”

“Why me?”

“Because you’ve got the knife and, I might get sick.” Jimmy stumbled back with a hand to his mouth. Negan could see a shade of green turning his fair complexion.

“For fuck’s sakes,” Chris grumbled.

He got down on his knees, then in one quick motion stabbed the knife into the walker’s chest and ran it downward. He dipped his fingers inside and proceeded with the nasty step of opening it up. The queasy feeling in Negan’s gut intensified and he had to turn away as the smell hit him. Back in the day, he wouldn’t have blinked an eye at such a sight, but it was different being that his pregnancy rendered him more delicate.

“Here.” Ralph handed him a pair of scissors while his expression showed worry. “You sure you can do this?”

“I’ll be fine,” Negan assured him sharply. He took the scissors and began to turn the sheets into makeshift ponchos.

“Goddamn! These fuckers smell just as bad on the inside.”

“Well what the hell do you expect?” said Ralph. “Just hurry up.”

“It’s done,” Chris growled. “Unless there’s a step I’m missing.”

“Nope. We’re on the shitty part of it,” Negan told them. He started handing out the sheets he’d already cut. “Put them on, and cover it with as much blood and guts as possible.”

There was hesitation from all three men, particularly Ralph who appeared to be having second thoughts about his idea.

“You sure they won’t know it’s us?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely,” Negan confirmed after he pulled on his own sheet. He started to crouch down next to the body, but Ralph dropped a hand on his arm to stop him.

“Don’t, I’ll help you. I can imagine it’s troubling for you to get back up in your condition.” He indicated his obvious belly bulge.

“Appreciate it.”

Chris seemed pretty peeved that Negan wasn’t going to get his own hands dirty, but chose to keep his mouth shut about it. With slightly trembling hands, Ralph turned to the opened body. Slowly he crouched down and his hands hovered over the messy interior.

“Shit…okay, here goes.”

He gasped in disgust as he finally reached inside. Jimmy made a noise like he was going to vomit while Chris was just offended. Negan stepped forward, emotionless, to show that he wasn’t bothered by this. They couldn’t let this part of the trick get to them before they even went out the door. And without making a fuss, he allowed Ralph to rub a gob of guts and blood on the sheet he wore.

“Jesus!” Jimmy cried. He fell into a fit of coughs.

“Well, don’t be such damn pups! Get to it already!” Ralph ordered.

Jimmy and Chris looked at each other before following their Alpha’s example. They decided it was easier to paint the other rather than themselves since Ralph was doing so with Negan.

“Damn-est idea I ever heard of,” Ralph muttered.

“Sure as fuck is,” Negan agreed.

After five minutes of being coated, Negan deemed himself covered enough.

“Alright, you’re turn.”

Ralph gathered blood and started covering himself as he scrunched up his nose from the foul odor. Jimmy and Chris lent a hand once they were done, leaving Negan to stay back and watch. He prayed that nothing went wrong. He couldn’t see them allowing him to walk if something happened to any of the men, especially the Alpha.

Soon all three were looking at him expectantly. All looked miserable and disgusting, but they appeared ready to continue.

“I don’t know about this anymore,” Chris confessed. “What if this damn Omega’s just trying to get us killed somehow?”

“Hush up!” Ralph ordered. “You’re gonna do as he says. Something goes wrong, I’m putting it on you two, got it?”

Jimmy nodded while Chris did so reluctantly.

“Remember, just move slow,” Negan informed them. “Don’t say shit and don’t react to shit. From this point on, consider yourselves one of the dead. Let’s go.”

They shuffled slowly to the back door. Jimmy eased up to the door and with a trembling hand, reached for the knob. Under the cover of the sheet, Negan rubbed his belly as he felt a small kick. Mentally he thought up soothing words as he didn’t want to say them out loud in front of the men.

Jimmy let the door ease open, then fell quite still. Negan ceased rubbing his unborn pup and imitated a husk without a soul. He watched as the walkers entered and rolled their eyes to the four un-moving figures before them. He also noticed Jimmy swallowing sharply a few times and shaking ever so slightly. In his mind he pleaded with him to stay quiet. If he freaked out, he was doomed.

Stealing his attention was Ralph who slightly swayed and looked straight ahead. Chris was just as firm as ever even when a walker bumped into him on his way in. It was nerve-wracking when four walkers turned into eight as they started wandering into the house. Their raspy growling was so loud, Negan couldn’t even get a handle on his own thoughts. Jimmy’s breath hitched and worsened as a skeletal looking woman pressed her face close to him. When she caught a whiff of his bloody getup, she decided he couldn’t be living food.

Once the crowd outside thinned, Ralph shuffled toward the door with a crooked pace. Jimmy followed afterwards. Negan made to shuffle up after him, but Chris quickly maneuvered in his way. He risked turning back to give him a warning glare before shuffling onward. Negan clenched his teeth and focused on not catching anyone’s attention as he picked up the rear.

The need to just panic and run was tearing at him the whole time, but he ground down hard and kept going. The walkers were moving about them, not catching anything strange. Both Jimmy and Chris were well composed, walking slowly and staying calm just like Ralph and himself. A small sense of excitement of knowing it was working helped to fight off the nagging fear. It was working, and they were going to make it out alive! He was going to be okay and so was his pup.

The herd was definitely thinner at the back of the house which made it much easier to move. The walkers were spreading out or entering the house to try and find the ones that had drawn them there in the first place. The further Ralph moved them away, the less attention the dead paid them. They were simply four bodies wandering off to do their own thing and the others could care less.

Once the sound of growls were nonexistent, Negan looked back to see that they were far enough out of reach.

“I think we’re clear,” Negan announced. Ralph had led them to an area of thinning trees.

“Sshh!” Chris shushed. His eyes bounced around for any sign of movement. Ralph too gazed around before lifting his sheet off himself.

“Yeah, we’re good.”

Relieved, Jimmy quickly shed his own sheet, along with Chris.

“This didn’t do much good,” Chris griped. They all saw what he meant as his shirt was nicely damp with blood that had seeped through the sheets.

“One of them might have snagged on you and torn it,” Ralph guessed.

Negan began pulling his own sheet off, then wrinkled his nose in disgust when he saw that his shirt was also dampened with blood, more so than Chris’s. To his dismay, he noticed a tear in the sheet that had allowed some of the gunk to slip through. He shivered as he felt it sliding on his skin.

“Goddamn it,” he muttered. “Guess I’d better find a river and jump in.”

“Don’t do it before I thank you,” said Ralph. He went as far as extending a hand which Negan took. “We would’ve been screwed without you. That was the cleverest idea I ever heard of. Damn.”

Chris started laughing and shook his head.

“Don’t forget it was his Alpha that came up with it.”

“But still, it worked,” said Jimmy. “Who the hell cares who came up with it? We freakin’ made it man!”

Jimmy had become an eager pup that was bouncing up and down on the spot in celebration. The unsatisfied Chris was eventually moved enough to clap him around the back as he joined in the excitement. Ralph just laughed as he watched the two while Negan smiled proudly. They had done it, all of them together. Ralph and his buddies didn’t have to worry about losing another man. They were all going to go home because of him. He wished Rick had somehow been present to see him help a band of strangers survive. Rick, along with Carl, had been all about helping others when possible. As an Alpha, Negan had always believed his way was helping others, but this felt different. It felt better.

“Well I’m glad I could help you fellas see another day. Just keep that method in mind if you ever get into trouble.” He turned on his heels to walk away.

“Wait, where are you going?” Jimmy asked.

“I’m off gentlemen. I got an Alpha out there that needs finding. And don’t worry, I can take care of this myself. By the way, thanks for not killing me.”

“You kidding me,” Ralph said, chuckling. “We’d never kill a pregnant Omega.”

“Well it’s been a shit-ton of fucked up fun. Take care.”

He turned on his heels again and right after he made a first step, he heard the unmistakable click of a gun. Negan could sense the gun pointed at the back of his head easily enough. He smirked and shook his head at the betrayal he should have sensed was coming.

“I thought you said you’d never kill a pregnant Omega,” Negan reminded them. He turned slowly and faced Ralph who was holding the gun on him.

“We don’t. But a shot in the arm or leg isn’t killing you is it?” Both Chris and Jimmy smiled at their Alpha’s reply.

The friendliness that Ralph exhibited in his eyes had vanished. Now he had transformed into a cold, hard enemy.

“What the fuck is this?” Negan asked slowly.

Chris stormed up and delivered a strong slap to his face that sent him stumbling back.

“Quiet! You’re not in charge anymore Omega.”

“Easy Chris,” Ralph warned. “It’s best to get him back in one good piece for Terry.”

Negan forced down the pleas of his Omega side which was willing him to submit to those higher on the totem pole, but the sting in his cheek was making that hard.

“Hold the fuck on,” he said as boldly as he could. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Yes you are,” Ralph said quietly and dangerously. “It’s dangerous out here. You’re an Omega, and you need an Alpha’s protection.”

“I have an Alpha!” He didn’t care if his shout brought on another onslaught of the dead. He wasn’t going to let this happen.

“You sure do, and his name is Terry.” Ralph leaned in closer as a wicked smile lifted the corners of his lips. “You’re gonna like Terry. Now move!”

He grabbed his shoulder and roughly pushed him forward. With a groan, Negan started walking. His head was spinning in disbelief. This couldn’t be happening. He had escaped a herd in a deserted area downtown, got trapped at a satellite post, then escaped another herd just to end up a captive; a captive to people he himself had saved. His stomach plummeted further with every step he took. Rick was supposed to be out here somewhere and now it was possible he was getting farther away from him.

“Hey Omega.” Negan didn’t bother to scowl as he met Chris’s eyes. The bastard was giving him quite the shit-eating grin that was much like his own. “Thanks for saving us. It was a good plan.”

Negan let his head drop as Chris chuckled.

Chapter Text

He needed it to be a nightmare. It would make sense if it was a nightmare, but considering the fact that he was really starting to feel the aching in his feet, he realized it wasn’t so. He was really following Chris to god knows where. He could still sense the gun on the back of his head as Ralph held it with Jimmy walking beside him.

“Terry’s still gonna be pissed about losing Patrick,” Jimmy suddenly announced.

“Well we got something to make up for that don’t we,” said Ralph. “Besides, Patrick was a dumbass that got himself killed.”

“You don’t have to do this shit,” Negan suddenly added. It was weak to say such a thing to men that had clearly made up their minds about what they wanted to do, but he wanted to try anyways in case there was a chance to escape.

“We do,” Ralph countered calmly. “Omegas are precious, and my pack has a mission to look out for them, and save them.”

Negan felt a nasty twinge of shock running down his spine. It was like his own words coming back at him from the past somehow.

“Is your pack so hard up for Omegas that you’d fucking take me just like that? I’m fucking claimed!”

“That don’t mean shit to us,” Chris said. Then he started to laugh.

Negan balled his fists and came to a stop. Ralph growled and shoved his shoulder harshly, causing him to stumble forward.

“Get moving!”

Chris turned around with his lip pulled back, snarling as though he was an Alpha. Jimmy followed his companions’ lead and started growling hard too. It triggered the need to curl up into a ball with his head bowed. Negan refused to go that far, but he did duck his head and drop his eyes.

“Please...please, I helped you. I helped you escape those dead fucks! How the hell can you turn around and do this shit to me!”

He shifted nervously and forced himself to meet their eyes despite their dominant growls.

“We appreciate you helping us,” said Ralph. He gave him a friendly smile as if a kidnapping wasn’t taking place right then. “And this is our way of returning the favor. You’ll see. We’ve got a great place with good food and good folks. It’s nice and safe enough to where you won’t have to worry about cold ones. And Terry’s just the best you’ll ever meet.”

“I already have the best,” Negan dared to growl back. “And his name is Rick.”

“If Rick was so great, he wouldn’t be so reckless with you,” said Jimmy with a laugh. “What kind of responsible Alpha allows his pregnant Omega to stay behind? He should’ve stuck you in a cave or kept you close.”
“Exactly,” said Ralph. Negan shivered as he moved in just a little bit closer to stare hard into his eyes. “You’re lucky to be away from such a man.”

“No. I don’t want to…all I want to do is go back to him.”

“You don’t even know where the hell he is. He’s probably dead,” said Chris offhandedly.

The simple theory was enough to shake him momentarily. Being that he hadn’t found Rick yet, it wasn’t impossible that the man might be dead. His eyes suddenly felt moist and he quickly blinked them to avoid another issue.

“He’s not. I know he’s not. I can find him, on my own. I don’t need your pack, or Terry.”

He started to walk off, but Ralph’s fingers closed tightly around his shoulder and pulled him back.

“I beg to differ,” he said as he pointed the gun into his back. “You do need our pack, and you need Terry. And I don’t want to hear any more fussing about it.”

He pushed him forward again.

“Please, my pup needs its father.”

He only received a sharp growl from Ralph as they all started moving again. Warning bells were going off hard in Negan’s mind, shouting at him to flee for his life. But he couldn’t risk it. If Ralph wanted to shoot him somewhere that wasn’t fatal, he could be caught again anyways. There was no running with a bulging pup in his belly, and he was outnumbered one to three.

“My Alpha can get you more food,” he tried desperately. “He can find weapons for you. Any fucking thing you want!”

Ralph leaned in close to his ear and gripped his shoulder again.

“We want you,” he whispered in his ear.

Negan gulped hard and stared straight ahead. Slowly he let his fingers slide over his back pants’ pocket where he still carried the gun. He hadn’t made use of it as he feared what the Alpha and Betas would do if they saw he, an Omega, had a gun. Some didn’t believe in Omegas carrying weapons, and such situations could trigger a problem. He certainly hadn’t wanted his only source of protection confiscated at the time, but now there was a need to take a risk.

Just as his fingers started to curl around it, he felt another set of fingers on top of them.

“Be still,” Ralph said softly. The next thing he knew, the Alpha was pulling it out of his pocket. Defeated, Negan shut his eyes. “That’s a little too dangerous for your kind. It’s the Alpha’s job to protect the Omegas. Here Jimmy.”

Chris looked back to see what the sudden commotion was and his eyes widened at the gun that was being passed to the other Beta.

“The fuck! He had a piece on him? Crazy.”

“My Alpha trusts me to defend myself,” Negan grumbled. He knew there was really no point in arguing, but he couldn’t seem to help saying something.

“Well you won’t have to worry about that nonsense where you’re going,” said Ralph.

A little further along, past the trees, a four door gray truck came into view. Negan came to a stop again. If he got in that truck there was no telling where he’d end up or how far it would be from Alexandria. But once more Ralph nudged him forward. Chris opened the back door and gestured for Negan to take a seat inside. Rather than take that first step, he looked around desperately.

“Look, you fucks take me, my Alpha will kill you, slowly.”

For that he received a sharp slap across the face that had him yelping. This time it had been from Ralph’s hand.

“Enough of that sass,” he warned. “If your ex-Alpha’s dumb enough to try and claim you, we got plenty of bullets for him. Now get in, or would you rather I knock you out first?”

Negan bowed his head and stepped forward. He knew when he was beat. Quietly he guided himself into the backseat of the truck. Ralph sidled in after him with the gun still on him while the other two took the front seats. The pounding of his already fast beating heart picked up the moment Chris started the ignition.

“And away we go,” he said with a chuckle.

With a shaky sigh, Negan slumped back and shut his eyes. He almost wished he had Lucille to bash his head against because right now he felt like the dumbest person alive. Running after Rick had seemed like such a good idea, but in the end it had gotten him absolutely nowhere.

“So, how far along are you?”

Negan slowly turned to look at Ralph, giving him a raised eyebrow.

“Are you fucking serious?”

“Yeah I am. You look like you’re close.”

“You know if it’s a boy or a girl?” Jimmy questioned as he looked around.

It was crazy how they were talking; like what they’d done was totally normal and fine. They were just talking to him like he was already a member of the pack, but he wasn’t going to go along with it. With a glare he turned his attention to the window.

“Come on Jimmy,” Chris said, “how’s he supposed to know the sex? I imagine most of those machines are non-working now.”

“Well, what do you want, boy or girl?”

Negan just ignored Jimmy’s second question. He didn’t even care if he got slapped for it.

“Leave him be Jims. This is still new to him, but he’ll come around.”

Negan wanted to argue that he never would, but didn’t feel the energy to do so. When he felt a small kick within his belly, he moved his hand over the area. Mentally he assured the pup that everything would be alright. It was his duty to protect his child, so no matter what this pack did to him he would make sure it didn’t get hurt, somehow.

 

It felt like hours before they reached some form of a settlement. There was a tall iron gate surrounding an old two story, cheap looking motel that was in fairly good shape except for the missing sign, graffiti, and a few smashed windows. Keeping a lookout along the brick part of the gate were several serious looking guards who were padded in armor similar to the Kingdom’s members.

As their vehicle got closer the gates were opened, and Negan was able to see more of the pack’s private world. The wide parking lot was home to a couple of mobile homes and a couple of small tents. The place was quite active with people going about their daily duties. Some were chatting or playing games while others were doing things like hanging out the laundry, eating at long tables, or tending to a garden.

“Welcome home,” Ralph told him, smiling.

Negan simply stared. People were pausing and looking up as Chris drove them inside and parked next to another car.

“Just what I fucking need.”

Negan turned away from the curious members to see what had gotten Chris’s attention as he could sense him getting a little excited. He was looking at the car he’d just parked next to which was rocking noticeably thanks to two people within. Chris got out and started banging on the window. Next he grabbed the handle and opened the door. Right away, the naked female Omega was revealed, on all fours on the backseat, obviously knotted to the greasy looking Alpha behind her. She gave a shaky cry and bowed her head as Chris hovered near, grinning. Wordlessly he reached out and grabbed one of her boobs for a squeeze.

“I’m next,” Chris declared with a growl.

The Alpha just laughed as he continued to pump into his Omega who was doing her best to stifle her whimpers.

“You’re third. Ben wants a taste after me.”

She gave a loud cry when the Alpha suddenly thrusted into her hard, and her eyes rose to meet Negan’s gaze. It was a familiar scene to him, but now as an Omega, the sight made him uncomfortable. He quickly averted his eyes while the pair continued to mate.

Chris didn’t bother to shut the door again as he turned away. Jimmy followed as he moved to the building itself and Negan was forced to follow behind as Ralph gave a push to his back.

“I’m assuming that wasn’t my new Alpha Terry,” Negan said with a groan.

“Hey, you’re sharp,” Chris joked.

“That was Bud,” said Ralph. “He might get a taste of you sometime.”

The tension Negan felt was immediate. From that he gathered that most of the members probably didn’t care that he was already claimed, and it was possible that they weren’t picky about the gender of an Omega. He cast his attention on the members. The members that were putting in their time on chores were the Omegas, most of which he saw were women. Dotting the area seemingly acting as attentive guards were a mix of gun toting Betas and Alphas. Unlike the Omegas who were watching him with sad dirty faces, the Betas and Alphas were smiling and appeared more put together than those below them. Negan picked up on their interest quick enough as the scents of excited Alphas and Betas engulfed his nose and sent the hairs on the back of his neck standing straight up. There was a good number of them too, which meant that an escape attempt would be quite the challenge.

He turned back when he heard Chris knock on one of the room’s doors. A heavyset, black Beta answered the door looking none too pleased. Ralph handed the gun to Jimmy while he took the lead.

“We’re back. We need to speak to Terry. Got a gift for him.” He nodded back at Negan who stiffened and dropped his eyes.

“I’m fucking claimed,” he dared to say. The remark earned him a slap to the face from Chris.

The large Beta gruffed before moving aside to allow them entry.

Negan took in the wide room, double beds, and kitchenette before taking notice of a group of men playing cards in the corner. Out of the six, four were Betas but the others were Alphas.

“Whoever the hell is interrupting my game, better have a damn good reason.”

It had been a clean looking blonde haired Alpha that had said the threatening words. From the boldness of his dark eyes as well as from the way he held himself, Negan got the impression that he was the Alpha of the pack. And when the Alpha raised his eyes, Negan instinctively took a step back. In a matter of seconds the Alpha was issuing possessive growls as he stared at him. Just the sound alone carried enough power to rattle his core.

“Well hello…you,” he greeted in a predatory tone of voice.

A toothy grin appeared on his clean-shaven face. He dropped the cards he was holding and slowly rose to his feet. Negan desired to take another step back, but forced himself to hold it together. This man was well-built and just as tall as himself. From appearance alone he didn’t seem all that intimidating, yet there was an aura about him that said otherwise. Something he was sure he had carried when he was an Alpha.
“Look at you. You’re something pretty aren’t you.” His eyes dropped to the obvious bulging belly, and his grin widened. “And you’re not alone.”

The air was becoming thinner as he moved closer in a manner that suggested he was stalking his prey for lunch. How he wished the man would find a male Omega, and a pregnant one at that, repulsive. But no, the man was attracted to his natural handsomeness. Had it been an Alexandrian giving him such a look, he would have boasted about it since he had always liked his looks, but he didn’t dare try it here. He just maintained eye contact while inwardly cringing. He prayed the man wouldn’t touch him.

“Jesus, where’d you find him?” one of the Betas at the table asked. “Looks like shit covered in shit.”

“He came across us when we got in trouble,” Jimmy answered.

“He’s not bit is he?” the blonde Alpha asked as he took note of the blood and dried fluids here and there on Negan’s person.

“No. It was part of his plan to get us out…of trouble.”

The other Alpha at the table whistled while two other Betas exchanged words quietly as they scanned Negan’s body. The heavyset Beta just watched the scene unfold from the wall.

“Looks like he’s about to bust.”

“Why’d you bring a pregnant one? What, you couldn’t find a fucking female?”

“Damn that body. I wanna hear him scream when I knot him.”

“I’m first.”

Negan could already feel himself sweating. The other men’s words did very little to distract him from the still staring blonde. As he got closer, his Omega side screamed. It wasn’t safe to be here! He had to get away now! A tremor went down his back and started his whole body trembling slightly.

“What’s your name?” the Alpha asked silkily.

Negan took a breath and summoned what courage he had.

“I’m fucking claimed,” he replied.

The other Alpha as well as two of the Betas started growling hard. The blonde waved at them for silence, then chuckled.

“That’s a funny name, especially for an Omega.”

“Terry,” Ralph broke in. “Something else happened while we were out there.”

Terry didn’t acknowledge him by looking in his direction. Unable to take the dark eyes boring into his, Negan dropped his eyes to the floor.

“Later,” Terry hissed.

“It’s important, it’s about Patrick,” Ralph tried.

Terry turned to him at last, snarling.

“Can’t you fucking see that I’m trying to get acquainted with my new Omega?” The tone was calm, yet quite dangerous. No one spoke or moved a muscle.

Just then there was a knock on the door.

“Who is it?” Terry demanded.

“Your lunch!” came a female’s voice from the other side.

Terry nodded at the black Beta who crossed over to open the door. Since Negan’s back was to the door, he couldn’t see who had come, but he didn’t care. His mind couldn’t focus on anything else.

“Put it on the table.”

Negan listened as the newcomer padded into the room upon Terry’s orders. It was definitely an Omega and she was carrying a try of delicious smelling food.

“You know, I’m being rude,” said the Alpha. “I should have started with introductions, but I think you already caught that my name’s Terry. And what about you? Don’t be fucking rude and say you’re claimed again, cause that’s not what I wanna hear.”

Negan swallowed hard and forced himself to meet the man’s eyes. He rationalized that it was probably best to be somewhat honest for the moment until he could manage to slip away.

“I’m…”

His own name got caught in his throat the minute he let his eyes catch sight of the woman when she turned around. She too froze in her tracks when she met his eyes, and her mouth parted in shock. Negan didn’t want to believe what he was seeing, but he knew it had to be true. Standing there, in a skimpy little flowery dress, brunette hair reaching down to her shoulders, was none other than Sherry. His Sherry from when he had been an Alpha.

“Jesus,” he gasped.

Chapter Text

He couldn’t stop staring at her; this ghost from the past. For a few seconds he almost thought he was back there at the Sanctuary with her, but as an Alpha. As stunned as she appeared at the sight of him, she did manage to drop her gaze, but Negan just couldn’t.

“Hey, what’s the matter sweet thing? You stopped working?”

Negan turned his attention back to Terry. The man seemed to be leaning into his face at a closer range now.

“I uh…fuck,” Negan said unintelligibly.

“I asked what your name is. I’m pretty sure it’s not Jesus.”

Somehow with Sherry present, his uneasiness increased. She shouldn’t have to see him like this. He dropped his head as shame tickled his insides.

“Negan,” he answered with an air of defeat.

“What’s that, like Megan?” one of the Betas at the table joked. It caused the others to start laughing up a storm. Terry, on the other hand, was eyeing him curiously.

“I kind of like it. It’s different.”

He moved even closer. Negan took a step back, but the Alpha issued a growl to keep him in place.

“I haven’t had a good male Omega in ages,” Terry continued. He proceeded to look him up and down. “Especially not a tall beauty like you. You’re gonna stay close to me aren’t you.”

Negan knew there was only one answer to the statement, particularly when he looked up and saw the other men growling at him. Sherry still kept her head down, but he could see her tensing up in response to the men. After a hard swallow, he nodded.

Terry’s smile widened and he patted his cheek.

“Good boy. No more of this nonsense about being claimed. Sherry!”

Negan stared at her once more as she came forward instantly.

“Yes Alpha.”

“Show my new Omega to his room. Room 115 ought’a do it. He is carrying afterall.”

Sherry nodded then caught Negan’s eyes before heading for the door. Negan took the cue to follow. Then following behind him was Chris which caused Negan to come to a stop and face him.

“I don’t need a damn babysitter.”

“Think of it as watching over our Omega.”

Negan looked to Terry for help. The Alpha waved a hand to order Chris to back down.

“I think my new Omega is safe around Sherry here. And he’s pregnant in case you didn’t notice Chris. I can’t imagine a pregnant Omega would be able to do shit.”

Negan nodded in thanks and proceeded to follow Sherry. He could feel himself ready to burst with questions. Still he felt a wave of embarrassment for the predicament he’d landed in. That embarrassment increased when he glanced down at his belly. Sherry knew him as an Alpha; a penetrating force that sought out Omegas and sneered at male Omegas. And now he had become the thing he was known to hate. Even though they had conversed after his change into an Omega, he hadn’t had to face her with it dead on, especially in a state of pregnancy.

“All the Omegas are kept in the center rooms on the first floor,” Sherry began in a forced businesslike manner. “The Alphas occupy the office and the second floors along with the Betas.”

“Sherry, what are you doing here?”

“As you can see, we do all the work here. I’m not sure if Terry will assign you a chore or not, given your condition.”

He definitely detected that she was miffed with him, but at the same time she was treating him like a complete stranger. He glanced around at the pack they were walking by. They were still giving him curious looks. It was enough to quiet him for the moment. The last thing he wanted to do was draw more attention. He listened halfheartedly as Sherry continued explaining how things were done.

He wasn’t surprised by anything she was telling him because so far it seemed similar to the way he had run his pack at the Sanctuary. Omegas were at the bottom handling the workload that didn’t involve going outside the gates. Unlike his system, there wasn’t a case of Betas and Alphas working for points. It was up to Terry’s appointed council to decide on what was fair when it came to supply division. And whenever an Alpha or Beta wanted to fuck an Omega, they were free to do so, anywhere and at any time. The only exception was if an Omega happened to be Terry’s personal favorite. Negan prayed he wasn’t becoming it.

“So basically, Terry’s the old me,” Negan stated once Sherry had stopped in front of the Omega rooms.

“Basically,” came her cold reply. She turned and opened the door then stepped aside, waiting for him to enter. “Never lock the doors. Omegas are forbidden to do so. It’s so a Beta or Alpha can come in whenever they desire.”

There was nothing different about the room except there was only one bed and no kitchenette. Negan took it in before sinking slowly down at the foot of the bed.

“This is one of the better rooms for newbies,” Sherry explained. “You might be in here for at least a week before Terry allows you to share with the…others.”

He could tell she didn’t take to the idea of him being mixed with the rest.

“Sherry, please. What the hell are you doing here?” The door was shut and they were out of earshot of the pack as far as he could tell.

She refused to look at him and even trembled just a little.

“Don’t…don’t ask about that.”

“Sherry.” He got to his feet, making her jolt noticeably. The shame he felt increased. When she finally managed to look at him, he found himself feeling quite embarrassed to be in the same room as her. “I’m…I’m not going to hurt you.”

“I know that,” she spat. “You’re an Omega. And, Terry doesn’t tolerate fighting of any kind. You’ll spend a night in the shack if you start something.”

“I don’t give a damn about shacks,” he cried, his voice raising. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“What the hell are you doing here?” she challenged back. “I thought you escaped the Sanctuary.”

Negan gave a sad smile and sank back onto the bed. It was odd taking his mind all the way back to the start of his new life. It was something he had packed away long ago since becoming quite accustomed to life as Rick Grimes’s Omega. But even before now, he had received little reminders of his past life, and seeing Sherry again brought it all into focus.

“Seems like ages ago,” he started slowly. His stomach turned and he swallowed thickly. He really didn’t feel like going over it, but Sherry appeared determined to hear the story. “Simon set me free, and I tried making it on my own. But Rick Grimes, you remember him? The last asshole I had working for me before shit went down. He heard about me and hunted me down. I went through a lot of shit, but in short, I became Rick’s Omega.”

She looked both confused and surprised at the same time.

“He heard you turned into an Omega?”

“No, he heard I got out,” Negan corrected. “He found out when he found me. He was out to kill me, but he turned me into his bitch instead.”

“And he…” she trailed off as her eyes landed on his obvious bulge. He could practically see her mind working furiously to make sense of seeing him that way.

“Yeah,” he said quietly. “He fucked me good. Got me pregnant with twins before this one.”

He rubbed his belly fondly as he gazed at it. So far Terry didn’t appear to show any signs of disgust or aggression at seeing another’s pup within him. Often an Alpha wouldn’t stand for it, so he wasn’t quite sure how to read that.

“I can’t believe it,” she muttered.

“You can’t believe it,” Negan said incredulously. “Sometimes I wake up not believing it myself. As much as it pissed me off to be Rick’s Omega, I’ve come to appreciate it, and I’ve come to love my pups.”

“Well, you’re Terry’s Omega now.”

“I’m not,” Negan said with a growl. “I was looking for Rick when Terry’s men got me. But how about you? How’d you get caught?”

She averted her eyes as she leaned back against a table behind her and rubbed at her arm.

“I left the Sanctuary with another girl, Anne. After you changed and Lenny took over, I couldn’t stay.”

Negan nodded in agreement as his stomach turned from the memory of the man.

“You sure as fuck couldn’t. Go on.”

“Well, Anne and I made it on our own for a little while, then we met up with a small pack that took us in. Just a few Betas and Omegas. They were kind. We lived with them for a good couple of years. But then one of Terry’s pack members found us and pretended to need help.” Her face started to become quite gray. “They killed the Betas. Anne tried to run but ended up getting killed by the dead. I tried to run too, but I got knocked out. The next thing I know, I’m waking up in this place.”

“And the, other Omegas in your pack?” he asked cautiously.

“They’re here too. We don’t talk anymore.”

“I’m sorry,” Negan said softly as he dropped his head.

Sherry pinched at her arm before pushing away from the table, suddenly agitated.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past. You should take a shower. You’re so, bloody and disgusting.”

At that he offered up a sheepish grin while gazing down at his still semi-gut coated self. He had almost forgotten he wasn’t exactly fresh and clean.

“Damn. Thanks for the reminder. Shit feels like it’s seeping into my pores.”

“Well, I’ll leave you to clean up.”

She turned on her heels and approached the door. Negan jumped to his feet.

“Wait, I gotta know.” She paused at the door but didn’t look back at him. “Why didn’t you run from here? If you escaped from the Sanctuary, then this place oughta be a piece of cake.”

“Shut up!” He tensed upon hearing the obvious fear in her tone. “You don’t know what it’s like here. You think I wanted to stay?” She turned to him, and this time there were tears in her eyes. “This place is worse than the Sanctuary. And Terry…he’s worse than you.”

The latter sent an actual chill through Negan’s bones. It was almost something he couldn’t comprehend, yet he understood perfectly. He hadn’t gotten good vibes from Terry, but the one thing he had gotten was that Terry had a thing for him. He felt sick just at the thought of those dark eyes looking at him with intense desire. He didn’t want to believe Sherry, yet it was clear in her eyes.

“Sher…” He trailed off. He wanted to know about this Terry person, but was afraid of the answer.

Sherry turned and opened the door. When she did, she ended up surprising a thin, female Omega with long blonde hair.

“Hi Sherry doll. You had the same idea I did. Checking on the newbie.”

She made her way inside and zoned in on Negan instantly. Right away Negan got the impression that the woman didn’t get much sleep. Being that she was currently smoking, he assumed much of her days were spent with a cigarette between her fingers. She looked worn, but was putting on the mannerisms of someone trying to hold it together.

“Well aren’t you something. A manly Omega. Christ.” Negan kept himself from frowning at the unpleasant tone. It was a clear sign she wasn’t welcoming him. She stood directly in front of him and let her eyes drink him up. When she saw his pup bulging belly, she cooed excitedly. “Oh shit…you’re carrying! Shit, can I feel?”

Without giving him a chance to consent, the strange woman pressed her hand against his belly. He gasped at the not-so gentle touch.

“Sherry did you fucking feel? Fuck! A real pup. Shit, I can’t remember the last time…I saw a pup.”

Pure delight was shining through her eyes, but Negan didn’t view it as a heartwarming moment. Without expressing his distrust, he removed her hand as nicely as he could and wrapped his arm around his belly protectively.

“Technically you’re not seeing a pup since it’s still in me. And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t smoke around it.”

He refrained from saying she would never get a chance to see it since he planned to be long gone before then.

She smirked at him in something of a nasty way and stepped back.

“Witty huh?” She backed away and took in his face, now appearing unimpressed with him. “Terry sure got a winner here. What’s his name?”

“Negan,” Sherry replied.

“Ha…that’s memorable,” she said with a roll of her eyes. “Well, Negie…welcome to the family. We sure as shit are gonna take good care of you precious.”

Her eyes lingered on his unborn pup for a minute before she waltzed to the door and made her exit. Sherry gave a relieved sigh before dropping her head.

“Who the fuck was that?”

She faced him, face quite serious.

“Emma, Terry’s Omega. She has a tendency to be jealous of new Omegas. I’d be careful around her if I was you.” She made to follow Emma’s example by leaving him alone.

“Sherry.” She paused, waiting for him to say more, but he wasn’t exactly sure what to say. He still had questions and concerns to address, but right now he just felt super overwhelmed, and filthy.
She gave a sigh and turned away from him.

“Welcome home Negan,” she said emotionlessly before closing the door behind her.

Chapter Text

He couldn’t remember the last time he felt so dirty as he made his way into the bathroom. Negan shut the door behind him and locked it with a sigh of relief. He suspected this would be his one chance at having a moment of peace, and he was going to relish it for as long as he could with a nice long shower. He rinsed off the stains on his hands before peeling off the gut covered blanket.

“Shit,” he muttered in disgust as he felt the coldness of the walker guts even more on his bare skin. After stripping down to nothing, he searched the cabinets for a towel and soap. He dropped a hand across his belly and rubbed. “Alright sweetheart, let’s see if their showers are as good as Alexandria’s.”

 

Negan stepped out of the bathroom with the towel wrapped around his waist. He wasn’t sure how long he’d stayed under the hot water, but it was long enough to wipe away some of the stress and all of the blood.
He turned his attention to the closet and found some hanging clothes. There was no guarantee that they’d fit, particularly in his current state. Regardless he fingered through the shirts and eventually found a gray shirt that was clearly large enough for a big person. He rustled through the pants and quickly saw something with elastic.

“Now all we need to figure out, is how to get the hell out of here,” he muttered as he pulled the clothes out. Upon arriving, he hadn’t paid much attention to the lay of the land, but if Sherry had failed to get out, he assumed security had to be much tighter than Alexandria’s and the old Sanctuary’s combined.

Just then, a sudden noise started up from the front door startling him. He quickly saw it was the doorknob turning as someone was attempting to get in. Being that Negan decided to lock it, the person on the other side began to pound on the wood.

“Open up sweetheart,” came Terry’s voice in a sickening singsong manner.

“Fuck,” Negan grumbled before taking a deep breath. He quickly slipped on the pair of pants to complete his outfit before opening the door.

It wasn’t just Terry on the other side, but Chris as well. The smile on his face made Negan want to punch him hard.

“Looks like Sherry didn’t explain the rules about locked doors,” Chris noted as both men walked in. Negan backed away and averted his eyes from the staring Terry.

“Maybe I’ll have to remind her, the hard way,” he mused thoughtfully.

“No, she told me,” Negan said quickly. “I just, forgot. This is all new to me still.”

With a look of adoration, Terry shortened the distance between them and placed his hands on either side of his face, making Negan tense up more.

“Of course it is precious. This is a lot to wrap your head around on the first day, but you’ll get there.” His fingers pressed into his cheeks, and Negan was unable to suppress a groan from the slight pain and the jolt in response to the touch. “But, one thing you must wrap your head around now, is that you’re my Omega. And if I want to touch you…” Negan felt his eyes water and a whimper slipped out of his mouth after one of Terry’s hands ran down the side of his waist, threatening to slip between his legs. He didn’t miss the nearly quiet moan of want in the Alpha’s throat. “You won’t refuse. Got it?”

He didn’t want to fear the man of course, but he was far too vulnerable. Courage refused to come as the Alpha bore down on him demanding his subservience without having to say much. He couldn’t risk the trouble, not in his pregnant state.

“Y-yes…Alpha.”

“Good.” He delivered a light slap to his cheek before stepping away. “Glad to see you’re all cleaned up by the way. I could’ve helped you with that.”

“I had it,” he stated as firmly as he could. “That why you’re here? Thought I was too weak to clean my own ass? Like a damn pup.”

“Oh, you’re anything but a damn pup,” he replied as he plopped down at the end of his bed.

Negan got something of a chill as he stared at the smiling man. For a second he was reminded of his old self. He shook out of it and glanced at Chris who seemed to be acting as a delighted guard.

“Then what the hell are you here for?”

“Ooww, you don’t normally like them mouthy do you Terry?” Chris asked before making a tsking sound.

“I wouldn’t mind so much, since it’s his mouth.”

His grin widened while Negan’s stomach plummeted. It was something he would have said if the situation was reversed and he was speaking with a female Omega. Unnerved, Negan just did his best to avoid looking at him for too long.

“We’re here, or rather I’m here to show you your new job,” Chris explained. “Being an Omega, you already know your place, so it shouldn’t fucking surprise you that you’ve got a job.”

Negan felt tired at the idea of doing chores. Mentally it brought him back to the days when Rick placed him on a steady routine of chores. Of course over the years it hadn’t become such torture, but he imagined it would be a different story here.

“But I’m, pregnant. Eight fucking months which means I can’t do fucking much,” he bit back. He felt pumped up enough to hit him with some confidence. It was a good excuse, and one that he should understand.

“There’s still some things you can do. Wash dishes, sweep floors. We promise to make you stop if that pup’s head starts slipping out of your ass.”

He laughed, but Terry didn’t join in. Instead he let his eyes hover on Negan’s belly, which Negan covered protectively.

“Got a name for it?” Terry decided to ask.

“No,” he said bitterly while looking away.

“Well I’ve got a good one.”

“I bet you do,” he muttered.

Terry chuckled as he shook his head.

“Well, I better let you get to work.” He clapped his hands on his knees and rose to his feet. “Can’t waste the whole day getting nothing done.”

“So, even on my first day here I can’t catch a break,” Negan lightly growled.

“Now you’re getting it,” Terry complimented as though he’d been a pup that had solved some difficult math equation. “I don’t know how it was with your ex-Alpha, but I don’t believe in lazy, weak Omegas. Your purpose is to serve your pack and your Alpha, so yeah, you don’t get to catch a break. Now go out there and make your Alpha proud. I know you can do it.”

The Alpha moved in to give him a side embrace like they were close buddies. His pheromones were on full force, and Negan could tell without inhaling that this Alpha was just a little too excited right now. When Terry’s smile started to fade, it heightened Negan’s fear. His nose scrunched up as if he smelled something unpleasant.

“What a shitty smell that old Alpha of yours left on you. But don’t worry. I’ll get rid of that in no time. This is your family now….rrrriiiighttt?”

Fingers grabbed the gland, his sacred gland that only Rick was meant to bite or squeeze. And these fingers squeezed much harder on it, causing Negan to yelp and slump. To make it worse, Terry just had to go breathing heavily in his ear.

“Right,” Negan agreed as quickly as he could. “Right. Family…you’re my family.”

“That’s right.”

Negan didn’t think the moment could worsen, but it did when Terry pressed a hand on his bulging belly. His brain screamed for him to run, but since Terry still had him by the gland, his other instincts were informing him to submit.

Terry chuckled then released him, but Negan didn’t relax until he walked out of the room.

“Fuck,” he whispered shakily.

Chris clapped his hands together and gave him a slight push on his back to get him moving toward the door.

“I think you’re really gonna like it here.”

“Not fucking likely.”

 

Michonne stared at Alexandria’s gate, but she was not really seeing it. In fact, she didn’t even feel like she was sitting on the steps of Rick’s house in Alexandria. She was in a bad dream where their leader had vanished, and later the same had happened to his Omega who happened to be carrying an innocent pup. She shook her head in anger whenever she thought about him just running off and disregarding the dangers.

She didn’t react as she heard the door behind her open, nor did she turn as Carl sank down next to her.

“Hey,” he greeted.

“Hey,” she greeted back quietly.

“Are you okay?”

Michonne turned to him, but didn’t bother to put on a smile.

“I should be asking you that, and Lucy, and Jake.”

Carl turned away as a clear expression of sorrow showed on his face.

“They’re getting more worried about Negan. I still haven’t told them the truth.” He paused before looking back at her again. “Do you think I should? I hate lying to them.”

Michonne stared forward as she thought about it. They were only four years old, and the last thing she wanted was to see them living day to day broken and worried. It was bad enough they had Rick to worry about, but hearing about their mother’s disappearance would potentially make it worse.

“I think we might have to eventually, if we can’t find Negan soon,” Michonne whispered. She ran a hand over her brow and shook her head. “Damn it. Why the hell did he have to pull that shit off? Idiot.”

“He was really worried about dad.”

“I know. I get it. But it’s not just that. He’s an Omega, and his instincts helped drive him to go after Rick. I should’ve stayed with him. An Omega can go crazy without their mate and I just didn’t think about that. I thought he was handling it alright.”

“Michonne, you couldn’t have known he’d go that far,” Carl reasoned. “I didn’t either and I live with him.”

“What if he got himself killed?” she asked shakily.

She didn’t even want to imagine it. Despite the type of man he’d been in the past, she had come to known the changed version of him. He was no longer a man that they needed protection from. It was now the other way around, where he needed to be protected. She had talked with him and shared things. Whenever Negan needed an ear that wasn’t Rick, he would come to her, like they were friends. Michonne had never put a label on what they had, but it was as if she suddenly realized that’s what they had become.

“Maybe he found dad,” Carl suggested hopefully.

She looked at him as if hoping to see the truth of those words in his eyes. If only she could get some kind of a sign that he was alright, along with Rick.

“Maybe.”

“You’re one of the few people that cares about Negan,” Carl continued. He dropped his head, but Michonne caught the look of disappointment on his face.

“He’s made it hard to care about him. You know what an asshole he can be.” She laughed lightly at the thought and in turn made Carl laugh. “But he’s changed. Eventually everyone else will see it too, I hope. I hope he’s okay.”

“We’ll find him, and dad too.”

She smiled and patted his back in a way of saying she believed him. The search parties wouldn’t give up on Rick, and they sure as hell wouldn’t give up on finding Negan.

Chapter Text

The easiest thing for Negan to do at the moment, was to imagine that he was doing the laundry of his own Alpha and pups. It was the only way he was getting through having to wash a basket full of strangers’ clothing. Every now and then he looked at some random Beta or Alpha walking around and glared at them, imagining that one of the shirts or boxers belonged to someone he laid eyes on.

“How’s this anyway to treat the newbie?” he asked aloud.

“All Omegas work,” said an older female Omega who resided near him doing her share of the pack’s laundry. “Would you rather be handling the food station?”

Negan gazed over to an area of the parking lot where they’d basically set up a cooking space outdoors with a few grills and large pots of foods. Three Omegas were manning the station and spooning a certain amount of food into the bowls of people passing the table. From their expressions, they looked quite tired and barely aware. He feared the same thing might eventually happen to him. Then he smirked as an idea tickled his brain.

“I might, if I can get ahold of the right ingredients,” he replied, catching her attention.

She moved closer and lowered her voice.

“Don’t even think about it. Attempting poisoning won’t work.”

“How do you know?”

“You think you’re the first to come up with it. The first to think of it became a bloodstain on that wall over there.” She nodded to a portion of a metal wall that was set up across the grounds. From a distance, Negan could see the obvious stains of past blood splatters. “Terry has eyes everywhere, and in your condition, you can’t afford trouble.”

She moved back to her spot, leaving Negan a little shaky. After carrying a soaking shirt out to dry on the nearby clothesline, he caught sight of Emma. She was leaning against the wall near one of the rooms smoking her cigarette, and she just happened to be watching him. She didn’t smile or wave. All she did was give him a subtle stink eye before turning away.

“They tell you how it is around here?” the old Omega asked him.

“Sherry gave me the rundown.” He decided to scan the area for any sign of the brunette, but didn’t see a sign of her. “She mentioned Terry has favorites. Is she, one of them?”

He wished he hadn’t asked it, but at the same time he had to know. Sherry had been his Omega, and he of course had never cared for any other Alpha or Beta putting their hands on her. It was different now, yet such a feeling lingered in him.

“She was, once,” came the reply, which made his heart sink in a sickening way. “Terry’s not known for sticking with a favorite too long. Or maybe, they just haven’t been good enough.”

Negan didn’t meet her eyes as she gazed at him. She knew what she was saying and he just couldn’t take that right now. Swallowing hard, he moved away to hang out a pair of socks.

“I’m pregnant,” he stated flatly. “That should be a turn off to him.”

“I’m guessing you haven’t encountered many Alpha’s like Terry,” she said with a sad little laugh.

With a bowed head, Negan sighed.

“Not like Terry, but close. He didn’t let his pack fuck Omegas whenever they wanted, and he sure as hell didn’t decide their share of things. They worked for points and that system kept people alive. They may have hated him for it, but…” He paused as he caught sight of Sherry in the distance, unhappily moving with a box of cleaning supplies in her arms. Negan willed her to look over at him, but she never did. Instead she turned and entered one of the rooms. “It kept people alive. He may have had to bash in a few skulls, but it was always for a good reason.”

“Hmph, sounds like another asshole Alpha to me.”

Negan didn’t argue it. He was suddenly feeling even worse, so much so that his stomach seemed to be churning with discomfort. Now wasn’t the time to think of the past, but for a moment he couldn’t help comparing his old Alpha self to Terry. He wasn’t at all sure why he was doing it, particularly since it wasn’t bringing him any form of comfort.

The pup gave a few kicks, prompting Negan to place a hand on it. It scared him to imagine not getting out before it was born.

 

After the laundry, Negan was tasked with sweeping the sidewalk in front of the rooms. The looks stemming from curious Omegas continued, but none other than the one Omega he worked with dared to come over to chat. In fact, there seemed to be very little conversations going on between the Omegas. They worked rather quietly while it was the Betas and Alphas making up for the loud chatting and laughter. Even the more silent and serious looking guards broke their demeanor to talk or share a laugh with someone. If an Omega happened to be loud, it was because they were crying out or moaning as they were publicly fucked. No one seemed to care if a Beta or Alpha just grabbed one, stripped him or her, and just had their way with said Omega right on the spot.

Negan hated that he couldn’t look away from such a scene. His Sanctuary had never run in such a horrible manner. He wanted people of all standings to enjoy themselves, so long as they earned it through hard work. This place was looking like a prison compared to his old home. But then he saw the faces of his harem of female Omegas. He couldn’t recall any of them looking truly happy.

He swallowed down the bile that threatened to come up his throat. Suddenly he wasn’t feeling too well.

“You eat yet?”

Negan spun around and groaned at the sight of Ralph grinning at him.

“This place made me lose my appetite,” he grumbled back.

“You can’t afford to do that. Not with a bun in the over and all.” Negan just proceeded to ignore him by turning his back on him. Undeterred, Ralph reached around and grabbed the broom to stop him. “I mean it. Go eat. You’re going to need your strength for tonight.”

With a quirked brow, Negan turned to him. He didn’t like the sound of whatever Ralph was implying.

“What’s tonight?” He wished he hadn’t sounded so worried when he asked.

Ralph just waved a finger at him and shook his head.

“Can’t go spoiling the surprise now can I. Now go, take a break.”

He hesitated before dropping the broom while his eyes lingered on Ralph for any sign of a trick. The only thing he saw was a genuine, friendly smile.

“We’re not monsters here Negan. I know you’re fucking pissed about what me and my boys did to you, but it was for your own safety. We’re helping you here.”

“More like helping Terry,” Negan dared to add.

Ralph shrugged and gave something of a slight nod.

“Can’t run a strong pack without a strong Alpha at the front.” He let his eyes drop down to his belly before continuing. “I’ve no doubt that in time, you’ll be thanking us for what we did.”

“Sure,” he muttered before wandering toward the cooking space.

He wouldn’t argue against what Ralph was telling him, because it had been his own viewpoint back in the day. To a degree he still felt that way, yet considering all the years he watched Rick run the Alexandrians, he’d come to realize there were some things he could have done differently.

 

The food from the pots was wafting strongly through the air as Negan neared the station. He picked up a bowl from the table just as his stomach started growling. Ahead of him in line were two Betas. One was laughing rather loudly and seemed to be drunk. As a thin looking Omega spooned some food into his bowl, the Beta growled possessively and reached out to squeeze her breast, making her yelp in surprise.

“You’ll be seeing me later tonight, won’t you sweetheart?”

His throat drummed up intense growling that left the woman no choice but to bow her head and nod.

“You’re gonna share her right?” his Beta friend asked as he clapped him on the back.

As they walked away, Negan found that he was shaking slightly. For once he didn’t believe it was due to fear.

“Try not to worry about it Casey,” said an older looking blonde Omega to the one that had just gotten groped.

Negan couldn’t help noticing how red Casey’s face had become, and her breathing had definitely picked up.

“She should worry about it,” Negan spoke up aggressively, causing both women to take notice of their next customer. “Fucking assholes can’t treat you like that.”

“What world are you living in?” the blonde asked.

“The one where I have a better group of people surrounding me,” he muttered. He offered up his bowl as images of Alexandria shadowed his mind. Along with such thoughts, Lucy and Jake’s little faces came up. His heart twisted just thinking about them.

He was brought back to the present as the blonde poured a chunky beef stew into his bowl that didn’t look all that appealing.

“Really? No burgers, not even a pizza on the menu today? What kind of restaurant are you running here?”

“The only restaurant we got. I’d take it if I were you, especially given your, condition.”

Negan smiled sadly and dropped his eyes to his bump.

“Well I guess I’ll just have to get to work on building you guys a Pizza Hut. Maybe I’ll have it by tomorrow.”

He was pleased to hear a small giggle from Casey. As he met her eyes, he could see they were shining with gratitude for the simple joke.

Once he settled at one of the tables off to the side to enjoy his meal, his pleasure at having cheered the Omega up died down. The thunk of the bowl hitting the surface brought him back to the reality of his situation. There was little to joke about. He curled his fingers into fists and tried to blink back the wetness that threatened to take over his eyes. There was a chance he might not see Lucy and Jake again. He could see them crying, Lucy curled up on her bed while being held by her brother. Carl wouldn’t be enough for them, nor would any other member. Their parents were gone as far as they were concerned.

A little kick made him choke up, and he quickly wiped a tear that started to fall. The hair on the back of his neck was on end since he could feel so many eyes upon him. He couldn’t afford to shed a tear for his pups. He would appear too vulnerable.

“What are you hoping for?” Negan looked up as Casey sat down next to him with her own bowl of stew. “Boy or girl?”

“I bet he wants a boy.” It was the blonde Omega who settled down in front of him. “Name’s Kat.”

She offered her hand which Negan shook.

“Negan.”

She smiled at him then beckoned to someone behind him. He turned to see two other Omegas making their way to his table. One was an olive skinned female with big eyes while the other was a nervous looking brunette male.

“That’s Angel and Ned,” she stated as they sat down.

Negan nodded at them as they seemed to form a circle around him.

“I didn’t think this kind of thing would be allowed,” Negan said after looking around at them all.

“We’re allowed friends,” said Angel.

“And it looks like you could use one,” said Kat.

“Thought you had an army to feed in your elaborate kitchen over there.”

“Our shift’s over,” Casey explained.

“So you get to chug down what you served up. Lucky you.” He lifted up a spoonful of stew then let it plop back down into the bowl after making a face. It was flat and didn’t exactly taste fresh.

“Hey, this is good cooking if I do say so myself,” said Kat. “But right now we’re on the subject of you. Like Casey asked, what’re you hoping for?”

Negan shrugged as a small smile played across his lips. To be honest, he liked the idea of it being a boy simply so it could be named after him. But he’d be just as happy to have a girl like Lucy as well.

“Doesn’t matter. Just as long as it’s as pretty as me.” He twitched as he felt his pup kick, as if reacting to his comment.

Ned chuckled then twiddled his fingers.

“I always hoped to have a pup,” he said softly without meeting his eyes. “I think I would’ve liked a son.”

“Can I feel?” Angel asked.

He tensed up, but then relaxed when he saw the look of hope on her face. The Omegas clearly had few joys in their lives, and this was a small thing to ask for. He turned sideways in his seat and left his belly accessible. Angel gave a little cry of glee before hurrying over and lowering her hand down gently. Silence fell as they all waited for the inevitable thump. When it happened, she squealed with delight. The others laughed softly in response. Negan couldn’t help smiling at their delight, and for the first time since he arrived, he felt a small sense of relief.

 

That evening, Negan gave into his tiredness by snoozing away in the room he’d been given. Just before he could fall into a somewhat comforting deep sleep, the door was thrown open. He stirred and opened his eyes slowly. He could make out Chris’s leering face.

“It’s time,” he announced jovially.

Coming up behind him was Jimmy who also looked quite pleased about something. Negan rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he tried to make sense of what was happening.

“Time for fucking what?” he grumbled. He gasped as he was suddenly yanked up and put onto his feet by Chris.

“Time for you to really become a part of this pack,” Jimmy explained.

Negan shifted his gaze between the two as his brain slowly worked out what he could be talking about. His eyes widened as Chris tightly gripped his shoulders and forcibly guided him toward the door.

“No…no, you don’t have to fucking do this!”

“How else can you call yourself Terry’s Omega?” Chris questioned.

“I don’t call myself his Omega!”

Of course they didn’t care. He put up a struggle anyway, pulling against the Beta’s grip.

“Give it a rest. You’ll just tire yourself out,” said Jimmy.

That didn’t stop Negan from fighting. What did end up stopping him was the sight that greeted him once he was forced over the threshold.

The whole pack was present, forming a standing audience that was parted. Chris pulled Negan to the path centered between the people, and waiting at the other end was Terry. Even at a distance Negan was able to see the lust expressed on his face. He couldn’t help feeling the need to hunch down as the dark eyes bore into his own.

“Please,” he begged as he dropped his eyes to the ground. “Don’t do this.”

Chris ignored him as he just maneuvered him down the path. Negan dug his heels in, but the Beta wasn’t bothered at all. From the watching crowd, the Betas and Alphas laughed softly or made growls of interest.

“Don’t do this…don’t do this!”

He struggled harder, clawing at Chris’s arm and doing his best to buck his head back into him. Such actions only earned more laughter from the crowd. However, there was a group that wasn’t finding any joy in the upcoming ritual. Grouped at the end of the crowd closest to Terry were all the Omegas. Negan fell limp against Chris as he caught their faces, particularly of the ones he’d had lunch with hours earlier. They were pitying him. Not one, not even Kat, was able to give him a look of any kind of confidence. It was nothing but sorrow in their eyes. There were some Omegas that couldn’t even look at him. He caught sight of Sherry, and to his surprise, she appeared to be genuinely sorry for his predicament. Negan struggled hard to stay in place just so he could try and signal for her to help him. If there was anyone he trusted to save him now it was her. But soon her eyes fell and Chris was giving him a hard push forward.

“There’s my sweetheart.”

Negan snapped his head around at the sound of Terry’s voice. Without really realizing it, he was being held before the pack’s Alpha. Negan let his eyes drift behind the man where a couple of men he assumed were his lieutenants stood, and just to the left of them was Emma, standing with her arms folded and featuring a strong scowl.

“Ready to truly become mine sweet thing?” Terry asked saucily.

Negan was shaking his head slowly.

“I’m…I’m already yours. I agreed to be your Omega and live in your pack. There’s no reason to go this far.”

Terry was smirking as if he’d told a joke.

“You are a funny one.” He took a step toward him. Negan attempted to jump back, but couldn’t since Chris was acting as a wall behind him. “Just because the world changed doesn’t mean I’m adopting a new way to claim an Omega. Besides that I did say I would be getting rid of your old Alpha’s stench on you, and there’s only one way to do it.”

“No, no…no.”

The quiet pleading did nothing. Chris pushed him forward and stepped back once Terry was in reach. Negan made an attempt to maneuver away, but was easily grabbed by the neck. He groaned as he pushed hard at the Alpha’s arm. He choked up, not from pain, but from the intense emotions that had him wavering unsteadily on the spot.

This wasn’t happening. He had not risked traveling out into the dark world just for another Alpha to officially claim him. The venture had been about Rick Grimes. Rick, the prick who had come to be someone important to him. A man who went out of his way to keep him alive, and give him the opportunity to experience motherhood. Terry was about to take him away. He would bite him and undo something Rick had worked so hard to establish between them.

Rick would be gone, and he would belong…to Terry.

“NNOOOOO! NO! FUCKING…”

Terry yanked his head down. Negan was better restrained in place with Chris and the heavyset black Beta holding his arms and pressing into his body. His weak motions did nothing to deter Terry from hovering so close to his gland. His breath was tickling it, making him squirm. Terry was exhibiting a strong aura of excitement that he himself had possessed as an Alpha eager to claim…and fuck.

“STOP THIS…stop…you…you don’t have to…” The tears were starting to stream in anticipation as his whole body began to shake hard.

“Shush now pretty thing,” Terry said gently, as if he were comforting a pup. “It’ll all be over before you know it, and I promise to be one hell of an Alpha to you, so long as you promise to be, a hell of a fuck.”

“NO!....NO!...I’m Rick’s…I’m-”

In a flash Terry sunk his teeth into the gland, and in an instant Negan was screaming as if his life was literally ending. His whole body seized up soon enough, putting an end to his cry. There was pain, but more than that there was the overwhelming pheromones of the Alpha seeping in. He tried to move enough to dislodge him, but he was only able to do so for a few seconds. After that his body froze up, as all Omega’s bodies did whenever an Alpha claimed them. The world dipped and swirled sickeningly in Negan’s eyes as his Omega core fell into the process of accepting a new Alpha to rule over him.

Chapter Text

Negan was barely aware of the way his body dragged across the ground as two strong arms moved him from the spot of that horrible pain. The world kept fading in and out. There was an annoying throb on his gland and a terrible numbness clouding over him. He whined miserably as he forced himself to focus on where Chris and Jimmy were taking him. From what he could make out, they were taking him to a set of stairs.

“Pick your feet up, damn Omega,” Chris cursed as he hauled him up roughly.

Negan groaned in response and paid better attention to where he was climbing. He briefly recalled Sherry mentioning what members were on the top floor of the motel. He tensed and tried to pull back, but he was much too weak.

“No…no,” he moaned. He understood they were taking him to Terry’s room; his new Alpha’s room. “No! He’s not…not…”

Neither Chris nor Jimmy cared about his mutterings. They continued onto their leader’s room. Once opened, he was tossed unceremoniously upon the bed.

“You’re the luckiest Omega in this place,” said Jimmy. “As Terry’s Omega, you’ll only get the best, in everything.”

With trembling hands, Negan adjusted himself across the bed. His legs wobbled like jelly as he used them to turn around to face the men.

“Please,” he begged softly. With a hand on his belly, he hoped to convey the message without words. Often times newly claimed Omegas were fucked on the same day. He couldn’t let that happen in his state.

But Chris just chuckled.

“What Terry does to you tonight is up to him. Stay put now.”

When he and Jimmy exited the room, Negan released a strangled cry. The silence that followed forced him to truly take in everything that had just happened. He had been claimed…claimed! It didn’t even matter that Rick had taken him first. This new bastard had come along and overwritten the mark. Rick Grimes was out and Terry was in.

Negan choked as he sat up and slowly reached back to feel the now tender gland. His nose wrinkled with disgust at the new scent wafting from it. Rick Grimes wasn’t there now; he was a memory to his mind, and no longer one with his body. The latter would be especially true once Terry knotted him, and the thought alone had him shuttering. He shut his eyes and dropped his hand slowly. If he ever managed to escape, he couldn’t imagine what he’d say to Rick. There was no way to explain without destroying him as well as his family.

“I’m sorry Rick,” he sobbed quietly. “I’m sorry…I…I fucked up.”

He fell onto the bed as his stomach seemed to twist violently. A few kicks alerted him to the fact that his unborn pup had sensed a change, but aside from that he was feeling oddly nauseous.

“Fuck.”

He clutched his stomach and curled up as best he could on his side. Everything was wrong. Everything was turning. Darkness was spreading from the inside out and Negan felt it was only a matter of time before he disappeared within it.

The door opened slowly. Negan was very much aware of Terry’s presence as he could catch his scent much easier now.

“Fuck.”

“I see you’ve made yourself comfy,” Terry said in a silky voice that made him cringe.

Since Negan’s back was facing the door, he didn’t bother to turn and face Terry. He just remained how he was, staring at the wall ahead and clutching himself. When he heard the door close, his breathing picked up.

“You and I, are completely legal now, which means-”

“Please,” Negan suddenly begged, “please don’t…I’m pregnant. I can’t…can’t take…”

He didn’t want to say the word aloud, nor any words that referred to the obvious act. Terry didn’t say anything right away, and it only served to raise Negan’s anxiousness.

“You should be able to take it, even if you’re carrying. It’s not like your hole is fucking plugged. Then again, it might be uncomfortable for you, and the last thing I want is for you to be in distress.” He paused and hummed thoughtfully. “That pup is just in the way right now isn’t it.”

As fast as he was able to, Negan rose to a sitting position and faced him with wide, frightened eyes as an alarm blared in his head from Terry’s last words.

“No please…please don’t Terry. Don’t hurt my pup. Don’t kill…it doesn’t matter that it’s…it’ll be yours now.”

Terry was walking toward him now, appearing to be an Alpha with no ill intentions. The smile was soft and his eyes shined with love. He cupped the sides of Negan’s face and massaged his cheeks gently.

“Oh don’t be so silly sweetheart. You really think I would kill your pup?” Negan opened his mouth to respond, but closed it again. “We need pups to make it. I’d be doing a disservice to this pack if I got rid of it. Besides, what kind of monster would?”

Negan refrained from answering so as to avoid possibly giving him second thoughts. There were Alphas out there that wouldn’t stand for their newly claimed Omegas carrying another Alpha’s pup. Said Alpha wouldn’t want his Omega to have any trace of the old Alpha, and such a pup would be a huge trace and a constant reminder to the Omega of his or her old partner. He wanted to breathe a sigh of relief at his pup being spared, but he wasn’t yet ready to believe that the pup was out of danger.

“T-thank you, Alpha.”

His massaging fingers came to a stop, then pulled his face forward. Terry’s eyes closed as he pressed his lips against Negan’s. The Omega went rigid and squeaked in shock. Terry didn’t seem to mind. He just moaned in pleasure and kept their lips locked. Negan’s stomach rolled at the feeling of passion flowing through the man’s lips.

“No. Thank you precious.” He grinned and ran a single finger down the side of the whimpering Omega’s face. “I can just imagine how good the rest of you tastes if that was any indication.”

“Please, you agreed it’d be too uncomfortable for me and it fucking would. I don’t want to…you claimed me. Isn’t that enough right now, Alpha?”

Terry cocked his head like a curious puppy as he observed him.

“I think knotting would be too uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean anything else would.”

A second later, Terry was ghosting his fingers through his hair.

“You’re all mine now,” he said as he gave him what Negan could only describe as a wicked grin. “No one else is gonna put their paws all over you. And of course, as my personal property, you’ll receive only the best. Anything you want, you’ll have.”

Negan was very tempted to tell him that what he wanted most was freedom, but he didn’t want to push it with the Alpha. Instead, he held as still as possible while Terry petted him.

“What I’d like now is, is sleep. The claiming tired me out, and…”

He jumped as he felt fingers sliding into the band of his pants. Instinctively he didn’t pull away as Terry had every right to touch him now, but Negan was able to go against the bond rules and jerk away. Terry gave a warning growl and pulled him close.

“S-sorry Alpha.” Negan dropped his head in submission, hoping it would be enough. “I’m…I’m yours now. I know I’m yours.”

“Ssshh.” The fingers that were running gently in his hair shifted to run gently along his cheek. “I understand precious. It hasn’t quite sunken into that beautiful head of yours that you have a new lover now. But tomorrow, you will know who I am, won’t you.”

He wasn’t asking, he was stating it as his only choice. Negan swallowed and nodded.

“Yes Alpha.”

The fingers explored his hidden crotch, sending horrible goosebumps across his thighs. It didn’t feel good since it wasn’t Rick’s doing. Terry took it to the next step by nuzzling into his gland. His lips clamped on to suckle and nip. Negan was compelled to pretend it was Rick just so he could make it through this moment without completely falling apart, but it was just too sickening. His stomach was lurching and if Terry didn’t stop soon, he was sure he’d vomit, which would be a great offense to his new Alpha.

“Please Alpha…I’d like to sleep. I think that will help me.”

Terry moaned softly after rubbing his cheeks against his gland. Once he covered it nicely with his scent, he went back for another kiss on his lips and further fingering. Suddenly he jolted and stopped.

“The hell?” Terry muttered as he removed his fingers. “Either I’m missing my mark, or you’re missing two important things that makes you a man.”

Negan stopped breathing and froze up.

“Stand up.” Terry offered a hand, which Negan took, and got to his feet. He knew what was coming next before he even asked. “Drop them baby.”

Instead of making the move to do so, Negan gripped his pants protectively.

“Alpha, please I-”

“I’m going to see your ass at some point love, so there’s no point in being shy now. Do as I ask. I really hate repeating myself.”

With a heavy swallow, Negan followed the command. Down went his pants, followed by his underwear. His cheeks couldn’t have been hotter. Negan watched a curious grin stretch across his face before dropping his eyes. If Terry ordered him to meet his eyes, he wouldn’t be able to do it; not when he was naked from the waist down. He would just have to take whatever punishment that would be in store for him. There was nothing more humiliating at this point. His face burned at the shattering of his privacy and the cold intrusion into something so personal. Only Rick had the right to see him this way, particularly after what had been done to him down below.

When Terry got to his feet, Negan jolted so badly he ran into the dresser behind him.

“Careful darling. I don’t want you damaging that beautiful body. Just stand still. All I wanna do is see.”

It took everything Negan had left of his sanity to stay in place for his new Alpha’s inspection. There was no controlling the trembling, and it only worsened when his new Alpha began to weave his fingers between his legs. He braced himself as best he could for the reaction, but there was no bracing for it. Terry might laugh or call him names. It was something he shouldn’t care about, yet the idea of it felt just as worse as his touches.

“Jesus lord,” he whispered. Terry rose his eyes to catch Negan’s gaze, but he refused to look down. All Negan could do was shut his own eyes. “You don’t have any balls. What the fuck happened?”

He didn’t sound as if he was mocking him. All he sounded was curious.

“My Alpha,” Negan answered simply.

“Why?”

Negan looked at him then as he quickly fabricated an answer. He didn’t want to admit that Rick had done it as a form of punishment and to ease down his aggressiveness least it give Terry any ideas or fears of what he’d be like as a bonded Omega.

“Thought I’d look better without them. My, Alpha liked male Omegas, but not their damn balls.”

Terry slowly rose to his feet all while keeping his eyes on Negan. He had no idea what to expect, or what the Alpha leader was thinking. Then to his surprise, Terry pulled him into a tight hug.

“Shit…shit…goddamn it. You poor sweetheart. I can’t imagine anyone doing that kind of shit to someone as beautiful as you. Real fucked up thing for your ex to do, not to mention it was a dumbass move. How could he think you’d look better?”

Negan just allowed the hug while his brain reeled. He was baffled by how sorry the man sounded. Terry pulled away and ran a finger down his cheek lovingly.

“What was his name?”

The Omega trembled just a little harder as the warning growls erupted from the Alpha’s throat; as the eyes flashed dangerously. He’d kill Rick if he got a whiff of who and where he was.

“Doesn’t…matter. You’re my Alpha now. You Terry.” The man continued to growl, yet he seemed to be contemplating moving away from the subject. Negan added more to push him into letting it go. “Unless you don’t want me anymore. Maybe I’m not beautiful to you anymore.”

“Oh no no no Negan. You are still beautiful to me.” Terry grabbed his cheeks and gave him a loving kiss. “Don’t ever think that you’re not.” With a bowed head, Negan nodded. “And you know, you’re right. It don’t matter about the name, because you’re mine, and I’m gonna see to it that nothing like that shit ever happens again.”

“T-thank you Alpha.”

Terry smiled and glanced down at his body.

“But you know, it is a little funny. A ball-less Omega. Never had that shit before.”

The soft laughter that followed the previous growls had Negan squirming. He really didn’t have to laugh about it, especially since he was standing right there. It was a struggle for Negan not to sink to the floor in shame.

“Well, we’ve had a night. Why don’t you go ahead and get that rest. I’ll be back later.”

All Negan could do was nod with his mouth tightly shut. Terry leaned in to give one last kiss to his forehead. After that, he chuckled again before leaving the room.

Almost violently, Negan exhaled a painful breath that knocked the last of his strength out of him. His body gave out and sunk to the floor, no longer able to hold back the horror he’d experienced moments ago. He wanted to cry. He was in the right mindset to do so, but he willed the need aside. He ran his hands over his face as his instincts repeatedly asked him what to do next.

 

Sometime later the door slowly opened. Negan didn’t even flinch. He simply sat in the same hunched over position on the floor against the wall. He wasn’t sure he could feel anything anymore. He’d been stripped and pieces of him were taken away, leaving nothing but a nasty pain that wasn’t really there, but at the same time was.

“Negan?” called a soft voice.

He couldn’t respond. His head just hung as whoever had entered padded over to him. He barely registered a soft warm hand grabbing his arm, but he allowed it to inspire him to rise shakily to his feet. Wordlessly the stranger walked him over to the bed. He didn’t protest when the person gently laid him upon it.

The person walked away, and it was then that Negan managed enough strength and interest to look up to see the visitor. He wasn’t surprised to see that it was Sherry. She was walking back toward him with a bottle in her hand. Because of the darkness of the room, he couldn’t quite read her face.

“Drink,” she requested gently.

“Not thirsty,” he groaned.

Sherry accepted the answer and set the bottle aside while Negan just stared at her. It was like she was some kind of light that had edged its way into the darkness clouding him.

“Then rest. It’s the only other way you’ll make it.”

As she turned away, Negan snatched onto her arm.

“I can’t,” he admitted in a broken voice. The eyes were watering, but he could care less. “I can’t make it. Not after this.”

Sherry held his eyes as she leaned in close. With great hesitation, she laid a hand atop his head.

“You have to. For your pup’s sake.”

Slowly she released his hand from her arm, then silently left the room. Negan just stared as the horrible hollowness and darkness overtook him from the vanishing light.

Chapter Text

He awoke to the kind of pain he hoped he wouldn’t be feeling. Any other form of pain would be better than the uncomfortable twists in his belly. Negan groaned and dropped a hand over it.

“Don’t do this to me,” he begged quietly. If there was one thing he didn’t need right now, it was an issue with his unborn pup.

He opened his eyes and saw the wall of the familiar room. A wave of depression hit him then because he hoped it had just been a nightmare. How could such a horrible thing have been real? It didn’t seem possible, but his senses told him otherwise. He wasn’t Rick’s anymore and that’s just how it was now. And the pup, he or she would be…

He didn’t even want to put the name in his mind. He couldn’t imagine that a new father would watch over it.

“Aahh.”

He hissed as the pain increased for a few minutes before ceasing. It hadn’t been a contraction. He was sure of that much. He was just so consumed by sorrow that it was literally affecting the child. People could make themselves sick easily with horrible thoughts, so that’s all it was.

“Sorry sweetheart. I really need to get my shit together for your sake.”

He raised himself up gently on the bed, then looked to his side. He was relieved to see that Terry wasn’t there, but he could tell the man had slept next to him during the night. The only thing good about that was that Terry hadn’t tried anything. So long as the pup remained within him, he imagined he was safe from penetration. The only question was if his pup was really safe. With that thought in mind, his instincts screamed at him to escape, but then it slipped away as his instincts next told him his duty was to remain by his new Alpha’s side. It told him Terry would not hurt it, just like he promised. It had always been natural to sink into his instincts, but in this case he questioned them hard.

The door opened, making Negan jump and look around. He felt a little relief to see that it wasn’t Terry, but he wasn’t exactly pleased to see it was his main Omega.

Emma stood in the doorway and just stared at him with an expression that wasn’t exactly good. Her eyes dropped from his face to his belly, and then she pulled up a smile.

“So, looks like I’m out. You’re Terry’s new bitch.”

She didn’t appear bothered by it, but Negan could tell she was miffed.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I’m not trying to, take your place. Terry wanted-”

“I know what Terry wants,” she hissed dangerously. “Terry wants all the time. He’s not into sticking with the original.”

She tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder and waltzed into the room. Though she was an Omega, Negan tensed up and moved back fearfully.

“You don’t have to worry darling.” Her smile grew and Negan didn’t like it at all. “I’m not gonna hurt you. I can’t, since your Terry’s. Goddamn if I don’t hate that sentence. I don’t know what the fuck he sees in you.”

She plopped right on the bed next to him. Negan resisted the urge to move further away.

“If you want him so bad, why don’t you just talk to him?”

At that she laughed, and there was something about it that made her look deranged.

“Talk? Yeah sure. Terry’s always into a newer model. I’m supposed to be his true Omega. That’s what he always says. I’ll always be his true Omega no matter how many new asses take my place in his bed.” It was then that Negan became familiar with her long fingernails as she grabbed his chin sharply and forced him to maintain eye contact with her. “Sooner or later, your ass is getting replaced when the next model strolls in. Or maybe after you shed that pup.”

A tingle of fear shot down his spine with her even saying the word pup.

“Terry said he wouldn’t, kill it.”

“And he won’t.” She paused as her eyes dropped to his belly, and again Negan didn’t like the look on her face. “Once that pup’s out of you, you’ll be his, fully. And the pup, well, there’s many Omegas that’ll be happy to look after it for you.”

Negan paled and stared back at her, wide-eyed. Without really realizing it, he was shaking his head.

“No…no, this pup is mine. I have to look after it. I’m its mother. I-”

“Oh relax,” she said with a chuckle. “I meant we’d be happy to pupsit for you. Or rather I would. As I’m Terry’s true Omega, I’m practically second in command, so it would fall to me to take up the majority of pupsitting. Trust me, you’d prefer me to the damn chatters. If Terry was heartless about it, that’s where it would end up.”

Negan quirked a curious brow at the word ‘chatters’, but his thoughts shifted to disgust as her fingers left his chin and ran over his belly. Negan Twitched sharply as another shot of pain struck the area and he couldn’t help gasping.

“Oh Jesus I barely touched you, crybaby.”

Emma pulled away and got to her feet. She crossed over to the door, but stopped to glance back at him.

“Take good care of yourself honey. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to that, precious bundle.”

Once she left, Negan gave into the mounting pain by panting and groaning loudly. He encircled his arms around his throbbing belly with his eyes shut from the feeling of it.

“What’s happening? What the hell’s…happening?”

 

The pain settled eventually; at least enough for him to join Sherry in washing a load of dishes for the cooking staff. They were currently hovered over the kitchenette sink in one of the rooms that was specifically used for housing all the dishes, items, and food. Since there were so many to wash, Terry had instructed Negan to help. Negan saw it as a good distraction, while at the same time it did nothing to completely quiet his belly. He tried to keep a groan or two of pain from escaping his lips as the last thing he wanted to do was draw attention. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Sherry glancing at him curiously every now and then. He wiped an arm across his brow and just focused on rinsing and stacking.

“Are you alright?” Sherry finally decided to ask.

He looked at her and saw the lack of concern on her face.

“Fine,” he growled. When he went to grab a soapy cup out of her hand, she tensed as their skin made contact. Negan wished he hadn’t felt hurt by her reaction. Sherry was the only familiar face in a sea of terror, and he truly hoped he could lean on her as things became more difficult. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine.”

It couldn’t have been more awkward now. Negan glanced at her and was sorry to see a clear cold shoulder from the stiffness of her body.

“It’s not fine. I’m not.” When she said nothing in response, he decided to shift the subject from himself. “That Emma chick’s something. You were right to tell me to be careful around her, but I think I have to be careful for another reason entirely. She seems pretty damn interested in my pup.”

“Of course she would be,” she said flatly. “She can’t have pups of her own, so a pregnant Omega’s a delight to her.”

“No shit? Guess telling her paws off is a bad idea.” He turned to her, but she continued to ignore him. The humor fell from his face as he continued. “She says she’s still tight with Terry. Is it true?”

Sherry set a plate aside and turned to him at last.

“It’s hard to tell, but don’t try anything with her. If you do it’ll get back to Terry.”

“I have no doubt.”

Awkward silence settled over them and would have stayed had Negan not remembered another point in Emma’s visit.

“Hey Sher, what the hell are chatters? Emma was telling me I should be glad my pup won’t end up with them.”

A look of unease crossed her features before it dropped back to her flat expression.

“She meant the dead.”

“Oh? Never heard that label before.”

“Actually, there’s more to it than that.” She appeared to be trying to decide whether or not to explain further. “The pack members here, for the most part, are fairly sane, but not when it comes to what they call chatters. They think there’s a group of dead out there that talk.”

“Talk?”

“Yeah, in whispers.” She gave a light laugh, showing just how ridiculous she thought it was. “They’re supposed to live nearby. I’ve never seen, nor heard them, but it’s common knowledge that Terry’s made some kind of deal with them so they don’t attack us. If someone gets exiled, they say they’re taken to the chatters to become one of them. Such bullshit, but I wouldn’t worry about it, so long as you keep your head down.”

She handed him a dish, but Negan was currently frozen in place.

“Hey, you alright?”

“Huh...Oh yeah, yeah. I’m fine.”

He grabbed the dish, but his thoughts were still on these so called chatters. He couldn’t help thinking back to the moment where he thought he had heard voices, actual understandable voices that weren’t growls, coming from the walkers before finding Ralph’s hideaway house. It was supposed to be a sign of fatigue; his mind playing tricks on him. But now it seemed there were others who were supposedly hearing the same thing. He wanted to believe it was all bullshit, but his gut was telling him otherwise.

He hissed sharply, nearly dropping a plate from his hand as he doubled over.

“What’s wrong?” Sherry asked as she set some silverware aside and turned to him.

“I don’t…I don’t…fuck…”

The pain in his belly was starting to increase in a sickening way. His body trembled ever so slightly, but there was something about it that unsettled him.

 

“Can I come too?”

Michonne, who was heading out the door of the Grimes’s house, looked back at Carl. At the moment she was heading to a meeting in a church which consisted of the community leaders and a small few to discuss the next step in the matter of the disappearance of Rick Grimes. Search parties had come to a standstill for not only him, but Negan as well.

“I’m afraid it’ll be pretty boring,” she replied, hoping to play it off in a light manner. Carl, however, wasn’t falling for it.

“Boring or not, I need to be there. What if they talk about stopping the search completely?”

“No one’s going to request a stop to the search. They want to find Rick and Negan just as much as you do.”

“You mean they’ll want to find my dad more,” Carl grumbled. He folded his arms and challenged her to deny this.

All Michonne could do was sigh. She wasn’t exactly sure how to argue it. She had organized groups to find the pregnant Omega, but she sensed their frustration in dealing with Negan. Rick, the Alpha leader, had become more of a priority in their minds, or so she believed.

“I don’t want that to be true, but regardless, I’m going to remind them why finding Negan is just as important as finding Rick.”

Carl fidgeted from one foot to the other and dropped his eyes.

“This isn’t just about trying to find my dad is it? You’re going to talk about what to do if he never comes back.”

She placed a hand on his shoulder and forced herself to meet his eyes. The last thing she wanted to do was lie, especially when he was sharp enough to see through it.

“It’s not a reality I want to face, and it doesn’t matter how long he’s gone. I’m not giving up on him or Negan. But, the allied packs need to know what happens if he’s gone too long.”

The teen didn’t appear satisfied, but nodded nonetheless. She gave him a smile before turning away. The smile fell as she made her way to the church. She barely noticed Aaron jogging up beside her.

“How do you think it’s gonna go?” he asked.

“I don’t know. It feels too soon to have a meeting like this. Why not wait?”

“Maybe it’s not what we think. Maybe something new has come up to help us.”

Michonne held onto that idea. Anything would be better than having nothing to go on, and for too long they’ve had nothing to go on.

 

Negan couldn’t hold back a pained cry as he grabbed his bulge and fell against the counter of the sink. Sherry was barely able to get a hold of him before he slipped to the floor.

“What’s happening? Is it the pup?” she cried.

He shut his eyes tight as another wave of pain hit him and shook his head.

“No…it can’t be.”

He refused to believe that his due date had been on the horizon even though he had left Alexandria knowing how close he was. After having gone through so much since then, he hadn’t given it much thought. He had always counted on being far away from Terry’s tribe and back in Alexandria with Rick before the big event took place.

“Are you sure?”

He couldn’t respond as he was too busy breathing deeply.

“These aren’t contractions…these aren’t contractions,” he told himself sternly. He tried to distract himself with the feel of Sherry’s hands supporting him. It was much better then falling apart at what could not be happening right now. “Just…help me to a…aahhh…chair. I’ll be…”

He trailed off as he felt a familiar wetness pool below before running down the sides of his legs. Negan stopped breathing then. The room was silent as his body shook and his face went white. Beside him Sherry had an intake of air. Negan dropped his head to look down at the watery mess and was able to force out one word.

“No.”

Chapter Text

The nightmare had started the minute Negan had been brought into Terry’s territory. Ever since the Alpha had given him a lustful look, he had been given a taste of his own medicine from the past. He put up with chores until the worse day of his life came about in the form of being claimed by Terry. Nothing had topped it. Nothing had been as petrifying, until now.

“No.”

He shook his head, refusing to believe his luck would get this bad. He was supposed to have escaped from Terry and get back to Rick before such a thing would happen, which was why it was impossible that his water had broken signaling the pup’s arrival.

“Negan, you need to…you need to sit down on the bed.”

Her hand wrapped around his arms so as to guide him, but he pushed one away. There was no need for it because he would be fine. If he laid down, the pup would no doubt come right along.

“No…I’ll be fine in a minute. Just need to, catch my damn breath.”

“No you’re not fine, you’re having your pup!”

“NO!”

He gave her the hardest glare he could muster, but he wasn’t sure she could comprehend it as she looked so frazzled. The Sherry he’d known, or thought he’d known, had always seemed so calm and cool. He needed her to be calm and cool now.

“Negan,” she sighed as she looked around frantically for any sudden form of help. “Please. Let me get you to the bed. You need it.” It didn’t take long for him to allow her to lead him over to the bed which was just a mattress on the floor since no one slept in the room. “Maybe I can grab Kat or Sue.”

“No, you need to help me,” he pleaded.

“I am. I’m trying.”

“No! You need to…help me get the fuck out of here. Help me escape.”

Sherry stopped, and in turn made Negan stop in their trek to the bed.

“Escape?” She looked stunned and he didn’t blame her one bit.

“I’m not supposed to have it here…I can’t,” he choked. “I can’t so we have to fucking go now!”

He folded over and clutched his belly as a wail slipped from his throat. He barely noticed how badly he was shaking as his body seemed to heat up in addition to the horrible pain.

“Are you crazy? You can’t make it out there like this!”

“I gotta fucking try!” he growled. “Terry can’t…can’t know…shit!”

His legs threatened to collapse, but with Sherry’s help he managed to right himself. It didn’t last as his knees shook. The room spun badly for an instant, and with a cry he was falling onto the mattress. Sherry had done her best to cushion his fall. He rolled into a seated position as tears streamed from his eyes. His first experience with contractions had been bad, but he didn’t recall it being this horrible. His fingers were clutching hard at his chest as he panted heavily. His skin just felt so hot. If he could climb out of it for a second, he wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

“Negan.”

It was almost a struggle for him to just raise his head and look at her. He knew he must be bad off considering how alarmed she looked. She really looked like she was concerned about him, but he’d learned the hard way that she never cared for him. She had been his property when he was an Alpha and nothing more. Negan had always favored her; hell, even loved her, but it was never reciprocated on her part. He hadn’t cared. He had lied to himself to see it the way he wanted without ever considering her feelings. The same had been done with his other Omegas.

His face crumbled and a few more tears rolled down his cheeks. He could just imagine how pathetic he looked in her eyes when he had always been a strong symbol of power.

“I’m sorry.” He wasn’t quite sure if he was apologizing for her having to see him like this, or for the way he treated her in the past. As her expression softened and his chest tightened, he understood it was the latter.

“Negan, don’t do this now.”

“No, I have to. I’m fucking sorry for what I did to you. I didn’t…” he stopped and hissed sharply in preparation for another wave of pain. “I didn’t see it, as a damn Alpha. I see it as a fucking Omega.”

Sherry dropped her head.

“And because of Terry,” she whispered.

There was a fair point in her words, and he couldn’t help nodding.

“Yeah, but not just him…goddamn this fucking pain.” He shut his eyes and just focused on breathing carefully. He tensed as warm fingers closed around his right hand.

“Negan I have to grab help. Kat. She’ll know what to do.”

“No…don’t leave me,” he begged in a small voice. He latched onto her arm desperately. The simple notion of her walking away just for an instant was terrifying to him.

“I have to. I can’t do this alone.”

She pried his fingers away and got to her feet. Negan made an attempt to grab her, but his pup decided to send him through a whirlwind of agony in that moment. He favored clutching his gut instead of reaching for her.

“I’ll be back.”

“Sherry.”

The world spun again before his eyes, and by the time things settled, she was already gone. A wail of despair echoed around the room as he dropped to his side. The sweat poured and dripped into an eye. His body was shaking, making him feel like he had acquired an intense fever which he could believe considering how hot he felt. However he was sure something else was going on; something he couldn’t quite pinpoint.

He shut his eyes and just tried to breathe slowly. Now wasn’t the time to give into the fear, so he summoned another thought to his head, which happened to be his ex-Alpha.

“Rick,” he pleaded quietly. He could almost see the man hovering over him with his face furrowed with worry as well as excitement. “Rrrriiiiccckkk.”

The tears that were falling now weren’t for the physical pain. He choked as he let himself linger on the man. Rick was supposed to be here for this moment. It was one of the biggest reasons why he’d gone out to find him in the first place. The birth of another pup was very important to him, and he didn’t deserve to miss it.

But where was he? He had never found him. Instead he had failed and given the opportunity to another man. He shivered and sobbed in fear at the idea of Terry arriving to see what wasn’t his.

“Rick…I’m fucking sorry.”

He started to wonder if it was better that he’d never become Rick’s Omega. He’d screwed up so bad. He was a great disappointment; not a true Omega at all.

“Fuck.”

Maybe he deserved the bad things that happened to him, but Rick didn’t deserve to be absence from the birth of his new son or daughter.

“Here! Hurry!”

He jolted at the sound of Sherry’s shouts. The next thing he heard were several feet hurrying into the room. He almost couldn’t see his visitors clearly as everything was swimming before his eyes in a blurry fashion.

“Oh shit…this is it!” cried Terry.

Negan gave another cry, and he wasn’t sure if it was from another wave of pain that had rolled through, or because the person he dreaded coming had made it in time.

“Get him to our room. Hurry.”

Negan could barely hold onto consciousness, but he was aware of a strong pair of hands grabbing him under the shoulders and lifting him up. He fought back the blackness and turned to see Chris on his right, and Terry’s black Beta heavyset guard he’d come to know as Bode.

“I don’t think it’s safe Terry.”

“I know what’s best for my damn Omega! I’M HIS ALPHA!”

Negan turned his attention straight ahead and saw Kat looking pale as she talked to Terry. Terry himself didn’t look particularly excited or nervous. If anything he just looked frustrated. Tiredly he turned away from the arguing pair and saw Sherry. She was standing against the wall just behind Terry and Kat. Her eyes were wide and wet as she mouthed the word “sorry” for Terry and the others getting wrapped up in his private affair. He could only assume she had caught Terry’s attention somehow when grabbing Kat. He shifted his eyes to the doorway and found Emma leaning against it with her eyes glued eagerly to his belly. There was no concern about the distress he was in which wasn’t surprising, and he was sure if she could, she would hurry over and rip the pup out of him before he had a chance to squeeze it out himself.

“Terry, look at him!” Kat argued. “He doesn’t look right. I don’t know if-”

“The pup’s going to make it!” Emma said with much conviction.

“It damn well is,” Terry agreed.

He marched forward. Negan wasn’t prepared for the sloppy kiss he placed on his mouth after he grabbed his cheeks. All it served to do was threaten vomit to rise and worsen the sickening pain.

“Don’t worry baby. Our pup’s gonna make it. It’s gonna make it, and so are you.” He turned to Chris and Bode. “HURRY!”

He was barely able to get his feet under him as Bode and Chris moved with fast steps toward the door.

“Nnooo,” Negan moaned, but his voice barely carried. He tried to ground his feet. He didn’t want to leave this room.

“It’s okay sweetheart,” Terry said in a soothing voice. Negan tensed up as he felt his fingers brush across his back.

“No,” he whispered as blackness almost took him again. It wasn’t okay. None of it was. Terry was about to see something that wasn’t meant for him. It wasn’t meant for any of his people.

He winced sharply as the sunlight blinded him as he was taken outside. It didn’t take long before various voices reached his ears. He blinked back the wetness of his eyes and through the blur he saw many pairs of eyes looking back at him. The community had come to a standstill as they watched and chatted with interest as he was moved past them.

“Oh god, is he having the pup?”

“Look at him. He doesn’t look good.”

“Terry looks happy.”

“Is it a boy or girl?”

Negan felt his breathing pick up as some of the members moved closed and tried to follow. In a moment of panic he struggled against his captors.

“Take it easy honey,” Terry soothed from behind him. “You can’t lose it now. People, back up! Give my Omega space!”

“Is he alright Terry?”

“Can I help?”

Negan managed one last pull against Bode before letting his body fall limp between him and Chris. He was just too weak and in too much pain to try and get away. It was futile anyway as he knew it was impossible to escape when his legs just wanted to crumble. Another wave of pain had him moaning sharply.

“The pup’s gonna be fine,” Terry assured him. “Everything’s gonna be fine.”

In response Negan screamed wildly, alarming the people who were nearest. He didn’t care. In fact, he tried hard not to see them as they were, and instead imagined them as the people of Alexandria. His mind relaxed a little with a simple imagining. Yes, he was supposed to be surrounded by people like Michonne, and Gabriel, and Aaron. Carl was supposed to be by his side, not Chris, and Lucy and Jake would be bouncing on the heels of their feet before him.

He smiled softly at the simple image, then turned to his left as the Alpha moved closer. That Alpha was supposed to be Rick Grimes. He was supposed to be smiling at him and assuring him that everything was going to be alright. He was going to have this pup and their family would grow wonderfully to four. The intense fever like pain would be gone, and there would be pure relief.

“Get him inside now!”

Negan blinked sluggishly and looked ahead to see his and Terry’s room coming up fast. Before he was even fully aware of what was happening, he was being maneuvered onto the large bed.

“Okay, now fucking get out!”

“Terry Sherry called me to deliver-”

“OUT!”

Negan watched blankly as Terry grabbed Kat by the shoulders and practically threw her from the room. When he turned back around, Negan was amazed to see the sweat that was streaming down his face.

“Chris, Bode, you too. Out. This is between me and my baby.”

Bode seemed eager to leave, yet Chris appeared uncertain and uncomfortable as he gave Negan a second look. In the end he followed the guard out. Terry paced erratically a few times as he breathed heavily. A few low growls escaped his lips.

“Okay Sherry you too,” he demanded. “Get out.”

It was just the thing to pop Negan up into alertness.

“No,” he cried. He knew Sherry hated him, but he couldn’t have the one familiar face leave his side.

“Terry, someone has to deliver the pup.”

She looked willing to at least stay and try something.

“I’m delivering it,” Emma spoke up.

She moved into view while dusting off her pants and focusing her attention on his belly. Negan shook his head wildly at this idea. There was no way she was getting anywhere near him or his pup.

“No…fuck no.”

“Calm down sweetheart, you’re getting too upset. Sherry I said leave. NOW!”

“Sherry don’t…don’t go…please don’t fucking go,” Negan begged.

The tears were rolling hard. He couldn’t take anything that was happening to him right now, but he especially couldn’t take her leaving him alone with Terry and Emma of all people.

Sherry managed a step forward, her watery eyes locked onto Negan. Terry practically roared when another growl left his throat, which made the hairs on the back of both Sherry’s and his neck stand on end. She yelped as he harshly tightened a hand around her shoulder and closed in on her face.

“I said fucking leave.”

The tone was dangerously low and left no room for argument. Sherry looked ready to cry as she shook fearfully in his hold. Once he released her, she quickly stepped away, but her eyes shifted to Negan again.

“I’m sorry.”

“Sherry.”

She quickly turned, and Negan’s world turned into full-blown crisis mode.

“SHERRY!” He threw his head back as the hot white burn rolled down his spine and set fire to his belly. “FFFUUUUCCCKKKK!”

“Alright Terry. We gotta do this now,” said Emma.

“Y-yeah.”

He moved to the door and locked it before moving back to his original position.

“No…no…not supposed to…be like this…” Negan moaned. He couldn’t stop another onslaught of tears as he flat out cried before the two pack leaders. He cried before strangers that he should never have had the misfortune to meet. He squirmed in a bed that wasn’t his own, in a room that shouldn’t have anything to do with him. “MICHONNE…CARL…RICK…” His heart broke as did the power in his voice. “Where the fuck are you Rick?”

“He’s delusional,” Emma said.

“He’s having my goddamn pup! Get the fuck in there Em.”

Emma positioned herself between Negan’s legs and grabbed the ends of his pants. He jerked as best he could, but he was too weak to move his legs from her grip.

“No…no, don’t, please.”

“You can’t give birth with your pants on silly. Terry hold him down.”

With a cry, Negan attempted to slip off the bed before his Alpha could do any such thing, but the pain made him sluggish and beyond dazed. Terry was easily able to hold his arms down over his head. Once he was secured, Emma began pulling down his pants. With shaky gasps, Negan raised his eyes to Terry who hovered over him with a passionate smile. The Alpha dropped a long kiss down on his forehead then nuzzled his cheek.

“It’s gonna be alright baby. You’re gonna have this pup, and everything will be square between us. We’ll be able to get onto having several of our own.”

Negan jolted and shook his head.

“No, you promised you wouldn’t hurt it!”

“And I won’t, believe me I won’t,” Terry promised. “But I do want pups that share my blood. That’s only fair.”

He whimpered and tried raising his head as he felt Emma grip his ankles. There had been a sense of confidence about her, but now she looked a little flustered.

“Okay…okay. I think this is the part where you start pushing,” she said as she stared in awe at the spot where the pup would make its appearance.

“YOU THINK!” Terry growled.

“OF COURSE I THINK! I’ve never done this shit before!”

“IT CAN’T BE THAT FUCKING HARD!”

Then get Kat back in here if that’s what you think!

Their nostrils flared as they stared each other down. Terry turned away from her stare with a growl of frustration.

“Just do it already!”

Negan hissed as Emma’s fingers landed near his hole.

“Shit, your Omega doesn’t even have any balls,” she bothered stating.

“Don’t worry about that! Is the pup coming now or not?!”

“I need him to push!” she growled.

Everything was swimming in his eyes once more, but he was able to see Terry’s dark eyes gazing at him with a look of great concern.

“Alright baby. You heard her. You’re gonna have to push.”

Negan was already shaking his head. He didn’t care that the pain was building to the point where he was sure the pup would burst from his belly as the flaming agony increased. He wasn’t supposed to give birth here. It was too dangerous for the pup. Once these people got their hands on it, he wasn’t sure he’d see it again.

“Yes sweetheart, you have to.”

Negan just shook his head and gasped for more air.

“I see the head!” Emma cried. “Oh god…oh god, oh god, OH GOD! PUSH!”

“PUSH!”

His body demanded the action as well. Even though everything was so hot, and by this point he was barely aware of his own body, he could tell the pup was in need of his help. The tears poured harder as Negan tried holding back just a little longer. Maybe if he held out, Rick would somehow show up. He wouldn’t have to miss this, and he would be with the Alpha that had become more of a friend to him than Terry.

“PUSH!” Emma screamed.

Negan screamed as well as he could no longer hold out. Black dots flashed before his eyes as his lower body was engulfed by invisible flames.

“That’s it! That’s it!” he heard Emma cry, which was amazing considering how loud his screams were.

His throat burned raw as his screams rose higher. He was so drenched he thought he might be drowning.

“Why’s he sweating so much?” Terry asked as he wiped away on Negan’s forehead with a rag. “Is that normal?”

“I don’t know. There’s…blood down here Terry. I don’t know if that’s normal.”

Negan momentarily fell silent simply after becoming too tired. He noticed how badly he was shaking, and he couldn’t quite remember that happening the first time. Something just wasn’t right about this feverish agony and he was too scared to think about it for too long. His lower lip trembled as he gazed up at the ceiling pleadingly.

“I don’t wanna die,” he whispered.

“You’re not gonna die,” Terry assured him. He added a few more kisses to his forehead.

Negan almost wanted to. He was reaching his breaking point fast and couldn’t take the suffering any longer.

“PUSH! COME THE FUCK ON NEGAN!” Emma ordered.

Negan took a deep breath and ground down as he pushed again. Something twisted violently inside him and caused him to holler like never before.

“We should have given him something!” Terry yelled over the screams.

“Like what? I don’t know what to give in this situation, and we probably don’t have shit!”

There were nasty wet noises, and aches tingling his nerves that were indescribable.

“I’ve got the shoulders! One last push! COME ON NEGAN!”

“PUSH! FUCKING PUSH!” Terry added.

Negan gave his all and used the very last of his energy to release the pup from his womb completely. Emma gave a rather loud gasp once Negan fell quiet and shut his eyes. He was sure he was breathing too hard, but he didn’t feel compelled to mention it right then.

“Emma,” Terry began slowly. He rose and released his hold on his Omega’s arms. “Is it alright? Is it…”

Negan wanted to raise himself up and ask as well, but he had not an ounce of strength left. He swallowed thickly and prepared to hear that his child was dead. It would make sense after what he’d gone through. The trauma and the intensity of the heat would surely keep a pup from making it out of his inferno like body alive. But a minute later, loud cries were heard from the newborn. The tears that fell from Negan’s eyes now were of joy.

“Thank god…thank fucking god.”

He raised his head up just enough to see Emma cradling it in her arms. Emma seemed stunned as if she couldn’t believe what had just happened.

“What is it?” Terry questioned as he walked over to her.

Negan tried to see, but she was turned in a way that made it impossible for him to see it clearly. The tears also kept him from having a clear vision. Emma moved away and began to rock his pup while making shushing sounds. Terry moved up behind her and rested a hand on her shoulder as he peeked down at the bundle. Negan tried to speak, but his throat was too raw to form words. All he could do was silently plead for Emma to bring his pup over to him.

“What is it?” Terry asked again.

With a huge smile, Emma turned to Terry.

“It’s ours,” she said with pure delight.

Chapter Text

He had the feeling of not really being there in the room; like he was just some outsider trying to get a peek inside something that had nothing to do with him. Negan struggled to raise himself up, but his energy was lacking severely.

“My pup!” he managed to gasp. He reached out as the room spun terribly. A second later he felt something wet tapping his forehead a few times.

“You did fucking amazing babe! Just fucking amazing!”

Negan blinked back the tears as he zoned in on his proud looking Alpha. He dropped a kiss on his lips as he ran his fingers vigorously through his hair.

“You might not have balls, but that took some serious balls!”

“I wan…want my…pup.”

He made to get up again, but Terry pressed a hand down on his chest, keeping him in place.

“You need to rest. You’re barely holding it together,” he insisted.

Negan barely managed to shake his head in protest.

“No…my, pup…I have to…”

“Rest,” Terry stated with a hint of a growl. Negan wanted to move away from the hand that was now rubbing across his shoulders, but it was sickeningly comforting after the pain he’d just gone through.

He allowed himself to fall back against the bed and just breathe for a minute. He would need to sum up some energy to hold his child anyways. Though he couldn’t see it from his position, he felt soothed by the continued cries.

Tiredly he turned to Terry.

“Do I have a son, or daughter?”

There was no smile on his face that implied he thought himself a proud father. In fact, Negan couldn’t read the look very well. If anything, he looked contemplative. Terry looked away and looked at his other Omega.

“Emma, take it out of here. I don’t want my Omega any more upset than he already is.”

“Of course. I want some time alone with this sweet little bundle,” she cooed.

“Wait! No!”

The sudden panic fueled him with just enough power to rise as quickly as he could. Wide-eyed, he watched as Emma made for the door, with his pup still shielded from view in her arms.

“No! NO! Gimme back my…!”

He barely managed to touch the floor with his foot before everything went dizzyingly out of control in his eyes.

“Careful now, careful sweetheart.”

He tensed as Terry wrapped his arms around him and eased him back onto the bed. Negan tried to put up a fight. He tried to kick and claw and scream, but everything was fading fast.

“Nnooo…my…pup…”

“Sleep sweetheart. You deserve it.”

Negan felt a tender kiss on his lips before everything went dark. The sheer terror encompassing his heart barely faded with his fall into unconsciousness.

 

The sickening, pounding headache roused him into wakefulness. The exhaustion was there immediately, along with that intense feverish feeling coating his entire body. He took a few heavy breaths before coughing harshly and blinking back the wetness of his eyes. The plain ceiling greeted his vision which told him he was lying flat on his back. As he became more aware he realized he was still on Terry’s bed, but not in the same way he’d been earlier.

Upon wanting to wipe his face of a wetness coating his brow, he realized it was bound to the corner of the bed post. The same had happened to the other arm. Negan’s breathing hitched when he raised his head and saw the same treatment was given to his legs. He still made an attempt to pull them free of the wrapping that acted as cuffs, but it was too tight.

“Fu…fuck…fuck…no, no, no…god…”

He struggled his limbs against the bindings as hard as he could, yelling and maneuvering his body wildly against the bed. He stopped quickly enough out of total fatigue, along with a nauseous feeling that made him fear he might actually vomit. He barely registered that his current situation was similar to the time Simon had tied him down in preparation for his transformation into a walker. That had never come, and he certainly wasn’t expecting it to come again, yet he felt almost as sick as he had when he’d gotten bit. He wracked his mind to try and remember if he’d gone through such a scenario again, and somewhere in the fogginess of his tired mind, he heard crying. It was the crying of a newborn pup. Memories were flooding back as fast as his heart was beating. He jolted violently as he strained harder than ever against the bindings. He yelled mindlessly, unable to coherently scream out the actual demand to see his pup.

The crying was getting louder and louder in his head. His pup was here! He could hear it, crying for him! Needing its mother! It was probably hungry, and that made his screaming all the more intense.

“Hey, hey, HEY!”

Negan came to a stop at the sudden appearance of Terry at the door. He looked almost as scared as he felt.

“Where’s my pup!” he immediately asked. “Where is it?”

Terry raised his hands in something of surrender.

“Your pup’s fine,” Terry assured him. “Emma’s looking after it.”

“I wanna see it! I wanna see!”

The Alpha took a moment to brush aside the wet hair strands that were plastering his forehead.

“Not now. You’re far too weak and worked up. It wouldn’t be good for the pup,” he replied easily. He grinned in what Negan imagined was his version of a comforting smile, yet it was anything but. “Emma’s doing a good job.”

Negan wanted to pounce and rage at him, but he feared getting overcome with emotion would just send him back into unconsciousness. The room wasn’t exactly stable in his eyes and his skin felt quite hot.

“It’s hungry,” he tried desperately. “I need to feed it. Please, just let me…”

He trailed off as Terry pressed a finger to his lips.

“It’s fed. Emma got a tit pumper and pumped a few bottles out of yah.” The so-called comforting grin now turned lecherous as his eyes fell to his obvious mounds. He even dared to brush his fingers across them, making Negan tense in discomfort. “I watched. It was beautiful watching her pump you. I think I found a new kink for us.”

Negan’s stomach flipped in disgust. He turned away and breathed slowly to settle it.

“Please, just let me see it. It’s my child. It’s my fucking child, and I haven’t even seen it yet.”

Terry’s momentary silence scared him. The man wasn’t even looking at him as his eyes had traveled down from his breasts to the rest of his body.

“You’re gonna bounce back quick. I just know it.”

“Alpha,” Negan begged. It was enough to make his eyes snap upward. “Please.”

“I’m sorry honey,” he said gently as he leaned down to kiss his forehead. “Right now you’re running a bit of a fever, and it would be wrong of me to expose our little one to you when it’s so vulnerable.”

“That why you tied me up? I’m not sick!” Negan growled. “This…I don’t need this! I’m not turning! Untie me! Fucking untie me…please…please Alpha.”

But Terry was shaking his head and patting his cheek.

“It’s not about you turning dead baby. It’s for your own safety. New Omega mothers like you are just a little too emotional and excited. On top of that, you are sick, so I suggest you just relax and enjoy it while you can, because when you’re better, I’m gonna put another pup in that gorgeous body.”

He dropped another kiss on his forehead before stepping away.

“NO! NO! GET BACK HERE!” Negan tugged against the binds with all his might. “Give me my pup! Give me my pup!”

After Terry slammed the door shut, Negan fell into instant sobs. His body shook both from his hard crying and the slight fever. The whole thing was so surreal. His newborn wasn’t in his arms where it belonged. The crying his mind had dreamed up was fading into nothing. He wanted to scream for Emma; asking her if she was really taking care of the pup. For all he knew it had died and Terry was just skirting around the issue. He hadn’t even bothered to tell him the sex or what it even looked like. All Terry seemed concerned about was screwing him once he was well.

His sobs diminished once he became too tired to cry any longer. He looked at the drawn curtains of the window, mentally calling out for Sherry. She had attempted to help, but it had backfired once Terry became involved. He growled and pulled at his cuffs at the thought of it, then reasoned this wasn’t on her. There was no hiding the birth anyway. He was caught because he hadn’t made any real attempt in leaving before then. The idea of a failed escape made him think of his two little ones back in Alexandria. Teary-eyed, he brought Lucy and Jake’s faces to the forefront of his mind. He prayed Carl was still looking after them well enough.

“You have a new little brother or sister,” he whispered. He felt ashamed that he didn’t know which.

Following his mental image of the twins came Rick, which got him choked up.

“Damn it Rick…I’m sorry.”

If Rick had been there, he would’ve gotten to hold his pup. It would’ve been safe and comforted. His shoulders shook hard as the cries started all over again.

 

He wasn’t sure how much time had passed by the time he found himself reawakening to his crappy situation. He didn’t even remember falling asleep. He groaned as he didn’t really feel any better. The sweat was still rolling off his face, and the nausea wouldn’t stop. He didn’t recall feeling this lousy after the birth of the twins. Nevertheless, he put what energy he had obtained into shouting as loud as his lungs would allow. He shouted for Emma, then Sherry, but most of all he shouted for his pup.

He picked a fight with his cloth cuffs again regardless of how useless it was. Something so simple shouldn’t be able to stop him. He had a pup out there and he was getting it back damn it!

When he couldn’t scream any longer or free himself, he slumped into the bed, breathing heavily. There really didn’t seem to be any real air in the stale room.

The door opened, and with a rush of hope he raised his head to see his visitor. To his dismay, it wasn’t Emma with the pup. Instead Chris was standing in the doorway with a bottle of water in his hand, and a stupid smile on his face.

“Damn that pup took a lot out of you. You should see how pathetic you look.”

“Where’s my pup?” Negan asked, ignoring the laughing.

Chris just shrugged as he came inside.

“Hell if I know.” The response twisted at his heart harshly. “You gotta pee or something? Take a shit?”

“You’re on toilet duty now?”

“Brought you water too,” Chris said as he shook the bottle. “I can get you food too, but only if you’re nice to me.”

“Fuck off.”

Chris chuckled and turned away.

“O-kay. Crap in your Alpha’s bed for all I care. He’ll beat you within an inch of your life.”

“Wait!” he cried before he could leave. “When the hell is Terry getting me outta here?”

Chris met his eyes once he reached the door.

“Soon. He’s gonna give you just what you need.”

Negan watched him leave, feeling unsure of how to take his reply. He decided it was better to take it as a positive sign that Terry would present his pup to him. The Alpha was clearly paranoid about him getting enough rest. He wasn’t sure if Chris would report that he was well rested, so to be on the safe side he decided it was best to just stay quiet and calm. The reward would be what he sorely needed.

 

Hours passed with Negan doing nothing more than lying on the bed, doing his best not to lose it mentally. His throat was awfully parched and his stomach rumbled with hunger. On the good side he was certain his fever died down a little, but it was hard to tell.

Once again when the door opened, he felt a rush of hope. Surely his ‘rest time’ was over. Terry would be able to see that much. He hadn’t screamed for hours. He’d been good; a perfect, quiet Omega. So of course that meant he could at last be reunited with his child.

However, to his great dismay, he didn’t see his child. Instead he saw Terry, Chris, and Ralph. He nearly blurted out his demand again, but was stopped by the sight of the needle in Terry’s hand. He stopped at the foot of the bed and smiled proudly down at him.

“Now you see what a little rest can do for you honey?”

“Still looks like shit to me,” Chris said with a laugh as he too scrutinized Negan.

Terry gave a warning growl under his breath, making Chris fall quiet. Negan fidgeted uncomfortably and wet his cracked lips.

“What’s that?”

Terry followed his line of sight to the needle. He gave a low whistle then sauntered up to the side of the bed. Negan tried to inch away from him as much as possible.

“Well honey, it’s the only way we can do this without you putting up a fuss,” Terry answered as he ran his hand through his blonde hair.

Negan frowned at him. He wouldn’t put up a fuss to see his kid. It was what he’d been wanting the whole time.

“No, no Alpha, please. I wouldn’t! I’m not gonna, no no no no. No…no!”

His cries meant nothing as he pieced the skin of his arm with the needle. His mind went haywire after that. For a second he thought the drug was meant to kill him, then he all out panicked when he felt himself growing tired. His useless struggling ceased as he went limp; as he felt himself becoming detached.

Terry made shushing noises while brushing the side of his cheek in a tender manner.

“You’re gonna be alright darling,” he promised.

Negan didn’t buy it. He stared into his dark eyes, almost wishing he had the courage to spit into them. He wouldn’t have gotten his chance anyhow as he was once again greeted with unconsciousness.

 

There was no feeling of ties on his wrists when he woke up. That offered some relief, and encouraged him to fully open his eyes. This time he was lying on his side, on some padding that wasn’t as soft as the bed had been. It was also a little dark. He groaned and raised himself up. The headache was almost gone, but the ill feeling remained.

Ignoring it for the moment, he set his attention on his surroundings. The relief washed away and made room for fear. He was in some small room that appeared shed-like and he was lying on a wide thin pad on a dusty floor. There was only one window which had bars over it, as did the window in the door. In a corner there were two bottles of water and a large white bucket with a few rolls of tissue next to it. He grimaced at his new toilet before attempting to stand.

His legs shook badly, and there was a bad emptiness in him that caused him to crash onto the padding again. The dizziness was strong enough to make him vomit up phlegm. He grounded himself on his hands and knees and just tried to breathe steady.

“Look at you, already well rested.”

Negan turned sharply to the voice and saw Terry peeking at him through the window. With a pained cry, Negan hurriedly rose to his feet and shuffled over to it. Standing off to the side behind him was Bode and Chris, who seemed a little too happy to see him.

“What is this place?”

Terry gave him a look as if he was confused by the question.

“This,” he said while gesturing at it with his arms raised, “is the recovery room. Mainly used for fine Omegas like yourself when you’re in big need of a break. But also, it counts as a source of punishment for those getting out of hand.”

“You’re…punishing me?” Negan questioned with uncertainty, to which Terry laughed.

“Punishing you? Oh sweetheart, how could I ever punish that sweet face of yours?” He reached a hand through the bars and rubbed his fingers lovingly along his cheek. Negan allowed it as he gazed at him intently.

“Alpha…I don’t fucking understand. I thought…my pup…I…”

“It’s simple baby. You see I need my bed back, and you need more time to get your shit together. As much as I need you by my side, you wouldn’t be able to settle down. This place’ll make it so. You won’t have to be tied down, and I won’t have to worry about you running off in a fit or disturbing the peace. You’ll have a nice quiet place to yourself.”

His body was trembling hard, and there was little air left in his lungs.

“I, I don’t need this Alpha. Please don’t do this! Please.”

“Negan, as your Alpha, I know what’s best for you. I know how to properly take care of your ass, which is why you’re staying here.”

He almost slipped to the floor as his legs wobbled violently. His eyes misted over with tears, and in a matter of seconds they were pouring down his cheeks again. He glared as hard as his crumbling demeanor would allow.

“I’ll stay, I promise I’ll stay and be good if you just let me see my pup.”

Terry smiled softly and touched his cheek one last time before pulling his hand back though.

“No,” came his quiet response.

Negan practically lost it then. He raged against the window, eyes rolling.

“FUCKING GIMME MY PUP!! FFFUUUUUCCKKK!!! Let me see him!...I need to...to…”

He couldn’t finish as he slid from the window and collapsed onto the floor in a sobbing, choking heap. The world was falling away rapidly and he just couldn’t hold on.

“Now that right there is why you need this room,” came Terry’s voice. It was followed by his and Chris’s laughter.

Negan heard no more after that. He let his body slip sideways and sink into a new form of misery. One where his heart was torn out of him.