Chapter 1: Watch Your Thoughts in the Dark
Deciding not to kill Shane last minute was possibly a regrettable decision, yet Rick couldn’t bring himself to do it. All his memories with Shane were his enemies to a very rational decision. Rick was falling into the trap of what Shane meant to him and the love he carried for him. He'd been in his life since they were both children all the way into adulthood. Now he was being faced with the choice of killing or sparing Shane's life. It was a conundrum that was clawing away at Rick while he stood there.
His heart stilled when he remembered Shane comforting him when Carl got shot. They were so close together and being so intimate that Shane moved away like a lightning bolt when Hershel saw them. It reminded Rick of all the times the nature of their relationship was questioned. Some people thought they were a little too close , which where they grew up translated into them being wrong. Rick never really bothered to give a shit about it and neither did Shane. And now he was struggling with a decision to kill that very person.
Would Rick be able to take Shane’s life and not have it haunt him for the rest of his own? He’d already been internally fearing the moment before Shane led him into the field. It was a flame that was constantly burning him. Killing someone he loved, unless they were turned, was something Rick didn’t feel ready to do. Even if it wasn’t so implausible because of the world they lived in and how it changed people. It changed Shane and that’s why they were both standing there in the first place.
Neither of them wanted to speak or move because it made the moment all that more real. In the haziness Rick could hear Carl’s voice so clearly and when he turned sideways he saw his son. The boy had his gun up like he was worried about what was going on. Rick told Carl that everything was okay, that he had nothing to worry about and that he should head back to the farm. Of course Shane scoffed at Rick’s pretending, which only made everything that much more tense. All three of them stood around awkwardly until Carl gasped at something. Rick turned to look in the same direction as Carl and his eyes widened.
There was a herd heading in their direction and there was no chance of distracting it. Rick felt himself panicking but he couldn’t afford to do that. So he told Carl and Shane to start running back to the barn. They had to warn the others about what was coming.
Abandoning the farm ended up being the end result, they had to practically force Hershel to leave behind his home or stay behind and die alongside it. The fire that Rick and Carl lit burned down the barn and left the farm in shambles. There was no going back there, not ever.
Everyone got separated in the scramble to flee and worry was fucking with him. Not to mention Shane's not-so-silent grumbling, Carl's irritation and Hershel's visible distress about being separated from the group, especially Maggie and Beth. Now they were stuck lingering around alongside the highway. It wasn't remotely safe but Rick didn't know what else to do.
Rick kept making eye contact with Shane who looked ready to strangle him. He wouldn't even be surprised if Shane finished what he wanted to in the field. Mainly because Rick didn't have any fight left in him. At least not at the moment.
They waited and waited until Rick heard a bike and saw familiar vehicles getting closer. Rick gestured for Shane, Carl and Hershel to move with him to get closer. It turned out that it was the rest of the group and it was a relief. Rick went over to Daryl and acknowledged him with a handshake. Then when Lori got out she rushed towards Carl who clung to his mother. Rick gave Lori a kiss on the cheek and a very brief hug. He noticed Shane watching from where he was and it sent chills down his spine. What was he thinking and was he going to try something?
Only time would tell.
8 months later
Shitty. That’s how Shane would sum up how their group was doing. Everybody was starving, Lori could give birth at any moment and Rick was unraveling like a ball of yarn in the hands of a drunk. Shane had played by the rules, Rick’s rules in fact after he asserted dominance and the end of the democracy he had going. Which Shane wasn’t very fond of because Rick wasn’t always right. Still, he managed to not push it to the point where they’d try to kill each other again. That shit still played in his brain at night when he couldn’t sleep and when his hunger was screaming at him. Sometimes he’d give some of his food to Lori, knowing he was feeding her and their baby. Their relationship wasn’t back on, Shane knew that, it was just him trying to keep some semblance of peace between them. Once the baby was born though, he planned to be active in taking care of the child. Even if that put him and Rick at odds even further.
After attempting to raid a house that had damn near nothing other than dog food, the group left and got in their cars. Shane was driving with Rick, Lori, Carl and Carol, all of whom were on edge around him. All for different reasons. Carl was more or so on edge because Rick and Lori weren’t on speaking terms. They weren’t even sleeping in the same area anymore. Not that Shane was paying attention to those details all the time.
They all stopped to figure out their next move, which resulted in him, Rick and Daryl finding a prison. Of course the rest of the group was excited about the prospect of a possibly permanent home. Shane sure as hell was hopeful he’d finally have a comfortable place to sleep and more food to eat.
Once they got through one set of gates a plan was formed on how to get inside the prison itself. Waiting around wasn’t an option because of the walkers that were roaming around. So Shane was down to do whatever it took to get all of them inside the prison. Rick barely acknowledged him when he made suggestions and spoke over anything he managed to get out. Everyone was visibly uncomfortable by how Rick was behaving but brushed it off themselves.
“I should run for the gate, Rick. You know I’m faster than you and - “ Shane spoke lowly to avoid the others from hearing.
Rick shook his head sternly and gave Shane a look. “No. I’m gonna run for the gate and you stay here with Lori. Got it?”
With much reluctance Shane just gave Rick a nod, even though he wanted to protest then let Rick enact his plan.
Them clearing up the area so they could camp in the open field ended up being successful. Shane knew it would be. It was just the constant orders and treatment from Rick that set him off internally. Some days he questioned why Rick bothered to keep him alive if he hated him so damn much. Other days he knew it was because of sentimental reasons and Rick not wanting to lose himself. Rather than Rick thinking with his damn head for once.
As everyone made their way through the one gate, Lori stood there beside Shane and held tight to her stomach. Shane resisted the urge to ask Lori if he could touch it. He knew she’d likely tell him no and it made his stomach curl. They all knew it was biologically his child, so him showing interest wouldn’t hurt anything now. But of course Rick would get his fucking way and Shane wouldn’t be able to show he cared. At least not in the way he was wanting to.
The fire warmed up Shane’s hands as he sat close it alongside Maggie and Glenn. Everyone was nibbling on the food they had in their bags. Which was mostly the owl that Daryl shot for them. It was beyond hillbilly but Shane would take damn near anything if it meant not having hunger pains. Shane made eye contact with Lori across the fire, her face was illuminated and there was no smile on it. All that was showing was her concern pertaining to Rick’s scrambled behavior. Shane kept looking back to see Rick pacing the fence for the millionth time.
“Tomorrow we’ll put all the bodies together. Want to keep them away from that water. Now, if we can dig a canal under the fence, we’ll have plenty of fresh water.” T-Dog stated in a low voice.
Hershel seemed to agree and mentioned something about the soil and how they could plant some seeds to grow some vegetables. “That’s his third time around. If there was any part of it compromised, he’d have found it by now.”
No one else was bothering to comment on Hershel’s accurate statement. Instead Beth told Lori it was a good and safe place to have the baby. And for once in the longest while Shane saw Lori genuinely smile about something. For some reason Hershel made a suggestion for Beth to sing and she seemed hesitant but went on with it anyways. At some point everyone had heard Beth singing, so it wasn’t a new occurrence but it made for distraction from the world surrounding them. Shane got comfortable where he was seated and listened to the young girl croon.
Somehow Beth’s singing brought Carol, Daryl and Rick back to their small campfire. Rick glanced in his direction then sat down next to Carl. Soon as Beth and Maggie, who had joined in on the singing, were finished with their song, everything went quiet again.
“Better all turn in. I’ll take watch over there, got a big day tomorrow.” Rick addressed the group.
“What do you mean?” Carl questioned.
“Look, I know we’re all exhausted. This was a great win. But we’ve gotta push just a little bit more. Most of the walkers are dressed as guards and prisoners. Looks like this place fell pretty early. It could mean the supplies may be intact. They’d have an infirmary , a commissary.”
“An armory?” Daryl piped into the conversation.
“That would outside the prison itself, but not too far away. Warden’s offices would have info on the location. Weapons, food , medicine. This place could be a gold mine.” Rick spoke confidently like nothing could possibly go wrong in the scenario.
Shane listened to what everyone was saying but he was still off in his own world. Anything he said wouldn’t be taken into consideration, so keeping quiet was his best course of action now. They were running low on ammo and everything else for that matter. That much he agreed with. But there were a number of things that could go wrong with storming into the prison. There were likely a shit load of walkers inside and maybe even people who were alive. Would the place be inhabitable? And would they have enough ammo to defend themselves in there? Probably not.
“Do you really it’s smart to just go in there half cocked like we own the place already?” Shane tried to keep his voice neutral and not confrontational. Nowadays it wouldn’t take much to push Rick over the edge. And he wasn’t much into being blamed for Rick blowing up like a damn balloon.
“Listen, that’s why we have to go in there, hand to hand. After all we’ve been through, we can handle it, I know it. These assholes don’t stand a chance.” Rick got up to take watch, which made Lori follow him momentarily.
Watching their relationship fall even further apart wasn’t enjoyable like it would have been before. Back at the farm all he wanted was Lori to come back to him. Now he was fully invested in being a good father once the baby was born. Shane could see how Lori was trying to reason with Rick but he wasn’t willing to listen. That’s how the past 8 months had been between them. Lori would make attempts to talk and Rick would avoid doing so. Shane knew his presence didn’t help matters either.
When Lori came back to the campfire, Shane pulled her aside to speak to her about things. She didn’t resist or tell him to leave her alone so that felt like progress to him. Thankfully Rick wasn’t paying attention to them and had his back turned.
“It ain’t fair for Rick to treat you this way and I’ve tried to talk to him ‘bout things. He’s just not hearing anythin’ I have to say anymore.” Shane leaned in close, as usual, to keep the others from hearing. “I’m just sorry.”
Lori blinked a few times and nodded. “We’ve been avoiding things and I can just tell for him there’s nothin’ left to say. This baby’s coming soon and we have to be able to talk.”
“I wanna help take care of this baby when it’s born. You do that know that right? I’ve got just as much of a right.”
“You can’t keep me from helpin’ you raise this child ‘cause it is my child too. We both know it and so does Rick. “
“Right now I can’t talk about this. My husband hates me and this baby is - this baby is apart of the reason we’ve fallen apart.”
Shane closed his eyes tight to keep himself from getting frustrated. “Please just don’t shut me out anymore than you have.”
The conversation ended right there and Lori went back to sit near the fire with the group. Meanwhile Rick was back to pacing the fence back and forth. Shane’s mind wandered off a bit too far and it went back to that night. He’d been prepared to take Rick’s life and have things go back to how they were before he got back. But now he understood why that wouldn’t work. Rick was who everyone trusted to follow, even when they were hesitant to do so, not him. Even when Shane’s thoughts were scrambled or abruptly violent - he remembered that much.
Ultimately he and Rick would have to get back on speaking terms. And Shane didn’t know how but he’d make sure that happened.
Chapter 2: The Birth and Death of the Day
well, here i am finally updating this & yes i got right into lori's death. i didn't want to have several filler chapters & then have her death just pop up. plus this is the main catalyst to rick's mental spiral, which will be a huge part of this fic.
Clearing out the prison wasn’t an easy job, not the way Rick kept trying to convince everyone it would be, Shane was just the only one who was willing to call him out. Or at least wanted to vocalize as such. Just like he tried telling Rick that they only needed the fully capable. Which meant Hershel wasn’t a necessary fucking person to join. Of course Rick didn’t listen to him or heed his goddamn warnings.
That mistake resulted in Hershel getting his leg bitten by a walker.
That whole debacle of cutting off Hershel’s leg resulted in them realizing they weren’t alone. That some people were still alive in the prison and they happened to be prisoners. Some of them ended up being pieces of shit, go figure, which Rick shockingly put one of them down without hesistation.
From there lead a multitude of idiotic decision making and now Shane was once again having to keep Lori and Carl safe. Maggie was alongside them, panicked and undoubtedly afraid given Lori was shaky. Both him and Carl stood there with the knowledge that they couldn’t do anything. Though in Shane’s eyes it was like Lori could survive anything. She would survive giving birth, the baby would be okay and nothing else would go wrong.
Shane paced around the boiler room as he watched Maggie guide Lori to the ground to deliver the baby. “She’s gonna be okay, right? Right?!”
“If you keep yellin’ like that you’ll attract the walkers. I need to be able to focus and Lori doesn’t need this right now.” Maggie spoke sternly before focusing on Lori once more. “I’ll do an exam. Let me see if you’re dilated.”
Carl stared on at his mother and broke Shane’s heart to see the kid this distressed. “Do you know how?”
The response they got was bleak at best, showing how grim the situation was and the reality that Lori could easily lose the baby. Lori tried a different approach by standing up and bracing herself against the wall as she pushed. All that resulted in was her crying out in agonizing pain and Maggie urged her to stop because she was bleeding between her legs.
Staying calm wasn’t a strong suit of Shane’s and it didn’t take a genius to figure that out. He was good at a lot of things but staying calm in crisis just wasn’t one of them. Not unless it involved walkers then he was good to go.
All of the pain that Lori’s body was putting her through caused her to briefly pass out. Her skin was paler, she was sweaty and nothing about it screamed safe. Shane knelt by her side with Carl and took a shaky breath as Lori spoke aloud that she wasn’t going to make it. That they wouldn’t be able to get back to Hershel to deliver the baby.
“Lori, with all this blood, I don’t even think you’re fully dilated yet.” Maggie pressed both hands on either side of Lori’s legs. “No amount of pushing is gonna help.”
“I know what it means, and I’m not losing my baby. You’ve got to cut me open.”
Shane shook his head vigorously and was almost bordering hysterical. “You’re gonna be okay an’ you’ll deliver this baby. I know you will, just hold on a little bit more and we’ll get you to Hershel. He’ll -”
“There’s no time. You have to do it, Maggie.” Lori’s voice was weak and frail like she was already on the cusp of death.
“No. I can’t.”
”You don’t have a choice.”
Carl got up as fast as he possibly could and stated that he’d go get help for her. But Lori wasn’t having it, she just wasn’t.
“Carol’s the one that practiced that. Dad only taught me the steps, Lori. If I - “ Maggie paused momentarily. “I have no anesthetic, no equipment - “
“Carl has a knife.”
“You won’t survive.”
Keeping it together wasn’t even possible anymore, Shane’s eyes were filling with tears and he was trying to keep himself from sobbing. He tried to look at Lori but she refused to let him attempt to sway her otherwise. From the look on her face - she was set on sacrificing herself to bring the baby into the world. Their baby. The sheer thought of losing Lori was something that had Shane feeling like his guts were being ripped out. What the hell was Carl going to do without his mother? What would the baby do without its mother?
“My baby has to survive. Please. My baby…for all of us. Please, Maggie! Please! Please.” Lori pleaded with a distraught Maggie. The younger brunette lifted up Lori’s shirt to look at her old scars to guide her through it. “ You see my old C-section scar?”
“I can’t.” Maggie choked out, her lip quivering and her eyes becoming wet.
“No, Lori, listen you don’t have to do this.” Shane scrambled and pressed his hand against her shoulder. “We can’t lose you.”
”This baby can’t die, Shane. Please, don’t fight with Rick anymore. You have to promise me that you won’t shut each other out over this. Promise me?”
One nod was the only answer that Shane could offer her. Whatever they had before gave him just enough strength to give her that much. Even though it was killing him inside to do so. Beside him was a frightened Carl who couldn’t keep his eyes off his mother. These would likely be his final moments with her and Shane had no idea what that felt like.
“Baby, I don’t want you to be scared, okay? This is what I want. This is right. Now you - you take care of your daddy for me, all right? And your little brother or sister, you take care -”
“You don’t have to do this.”
“You’re gonna be fine.” Lori spoke with confidence and a sense of pride knowing who her son was. “You are gonna beat this world. I know you will. You are smart and you are strong and you are so brave, and I love you.”
“I love you too.” Carl responded with a shaky voice.
“You gotta do what’s right, baby. You promise me, you’ll always do what’s right. It’s so easy to do the wrong thing in this world. So don’t - so if it feels wrong, don’t do it, all right? If it’s easy, don’t do it. Don’t let the world spoil you.” Lori wiped away Carl’s tears that were streaming down his face. “ You’re so good. You’re my sweet boy. You’re the best thing I ever did. And I love you. I love you. You’re my sweet , sweet boy. I love you.”
Shane sobbed into his hands and waited for the worst of it to come. He waited with such anger in his body and mind. What Lori deserved was to live. Though what people deserved didn’t always get dished out for them. In the world they now lived in - the best people usually died.
“Maggie, when this is over, you’re gonna have to - You have to do it. It can’t be Rick. All right… all right. It’s all right. It’s all right.”
As Carl handed Maggie the knife, the reality of what was about to happen began to set in. Shane didn’t know if he could watch Lori bleed to death like that. He didn’t know what seeing that would do to him. On the inside he was already wrestling with a darkness that wanted to come out at any moment. Knowing what he was about to witness could destroy that barrier he’d been trying to maintain for months and months.
“Whew. Good night, love.” Lori breathed out as she stared up at the ceiling, waiting for her fate.
Maggie was managing to keep it together better than anyone else. “I’m sorry.” The young brunette cut along Lori’s old scars and Lori let out a scream that made Shane’s heart stop.
“You’re killing her!” Carl cried out at Maggie who had no intentions of stopping.
Shane felt empty as he watched on as Lori shuddered and her head flopped to the side. All that blood loss, the trauma of being open like that, there was no way Lori was even still there with them. Maggie’s hands were still inside trying to pull the baby out, she was having a bit of difficulty and needed Carl to help her along.
Once the baby was out and in Maggie’s arms, Shane felt a sense of joy but the pain was rattling inside him still. All that he wanted now was for the baby to be alive. Otherwise all of that would have been for nothing and Lori was gone for nothing. And just as Shane was thinking they lost everything - he heard the cry of his baby for the first time.
Whether it was parental instincts or something else entirely - Shane just wanted to hold the baby. He reached out for the child and softly asked Maggie if he could hold it. In this circumstance it seemed Maggie had some sympathy to lend him. The younger brunette gently handed the child over to Shane and watched him carefully. Shane got up and told both Maggie and Carl that they needed to go.
Just as expected Carl didn't want to let his mother laying there like that. But carrying her body out wasn't an option because of the walkers. They'd take her away so fast and she'd get eaten in front of them. That wasn't something that Carl needed to see, not after what he was already being forced to witness. That type of trauma would ruin him and he needed to be good, just as Lori wanted him to be. It was her dying wish.
Though what Shane hadn't realized until Carl mentioned it was that he didn't want her to turn. Not that he was wanting them to take her body out of there with them. Shane was willing to be the one to do it. Instead Carl insisted that he do it because Lori is...or was his mother.
Shane couldn't watch it so both he and Maggie made their way to the door to see if the coast was clear. Once made quietly looked out into the hallway, she turned around and was going to get Carl. That was until they heard the gunshot and Carl was heading towards them with no expression on his face.
Not knowing who was alive or where Lori was had Rick more than distressed. He could barely describe the feeling that was going through his body . Something wasn't right and he was more than ready to head back inside. At least that was until he saw Shane walking out with a baby in his arms and Maggie as well as Carl towing behind him. Nobody looked well, in fact, all three of them looked distraught.
The way that Shane was shaking didn't sit right with Rick. Nor did the way Maggie was damn near on the brink of tears or Carl's lack of expression altogether. Nobody was saying anything and that made Rick uneasy. Maybe Lori was too tired to have gone with them, maybe she was okay and they had to go inside to get her. All of those were possibilities.
Until he looked right at Maggie's face and her lip was quivering as she stood there. Rick tried to approach Shane but he was barely coherent and kept swaying with the baby in his arms.
No. No. No. No. No.
She's alive, she has to be alive. This is just some nightmare.
Rick staggered towards Maggie. "Where - where is she? Where is she?"
"No...Rick, no!" Maggie tried to hold his shirt to keep him from going to see for himself.
His son didn't even spare him a glance, he simply kept staring at the ground as Rick put his hands to his face. "Oh, no. No! No!"
Everyone was too broken to move and Rick fell to the concrete in sheer anguish. This couldn't be happening. None of this was happening. Rick sobbed so hard that he couldn't breathe and clawed at the concrete like an animal.
Nobody was approaching him, which was wise, he didn't know what he'd do if anyone touched him. Momentarily the anguish subsided and was replaced with a rage that didn't understand logic. All that Rick wanted to do was kill until all he saw was blood. Seeming as there were tons of walkers to still take care of - he knew where he was going to start.