You had just turned 17 when the outbreak began. You can still see the faces of your family members when you close your eyes. The way your dad looked when he fought to protect you. He tried so hard to protect everyone, but in the end he just wasn't strong enough- between the dogs and your baby brother and your older sister and your step mother who was always afraid- there was just too much for him to look after.
Anyways, you're alone now. Well, you feel alone... You do have somewhat of a friend in Matthew. Matt's helped save you more than a few times on your travels, but lately he's been getting pretty pushy on what he wants from your relationship and it's starting to scare you.
"We're just friends," you remind him once again.
Matt sighs in frustration, "I know that (y/n), I'm just saying you should give me a chance. We're in the middle of a zombie apocalypse for Christ sake and you're being choosy on who you want for a boy friend!"
You kick a few large rocks as you walk. It's not like you haven't thought about having a boyfriend, or at least someone to date. But Matt has always just been a friend. You kick another stone. You and Matt have been following the railroad tracks for a few hours now, hoping to find some kind of shelter before nightfall. The last thing you want is to be sleeping up in a tree for another night!
"Have you ever considered that maybe I don't want a boy friend?"
"Seriously, you're 19 years old and you still want to be single?" He asks, stopping in the middle of the track to look at you. You look back at him.
He's not an ugly guy- about 24 years old, you think. He's got light skin that's slightly burnt by the Georgia sun, and dark brown hair that falls messily over his eyes. In fact, you think before the apocalypse you might've given a guy like him a chance. But now all you can think about is how his whiny and pushy behavior is a liability. You can practically hear your dad's voice calling him a 'little bitch'. You can't help but giggle at the voice in your head.
"So now you're laughing at me," he growls.
"No, I wasn't laughing at you," you try to tell him but Matt just shakes his head and starts walking away.
"C'mon, let's go before it gets too late," he says over his shoulder.
About twenty minutes later the two of you wind up at a railway station. Matt looks back at you and gives a hand signal- it means he sees walkers, two of them. You crouch down low, pulling your axe handle from the sling on your back. You feel a wave of adrenalin rush through your body, making your fingertips go cold. No matter how many times you face them, the dead always give you a little bit of fear. But if you can clear out the walkers then maybe you won't have to sleep outside tonight, and that's reason enough to run up to them and take a swing.
The first walker turns to you with a growl, it's jaw is hanging loose and you wonder how it can even see you with it's eyes shriveled in their sockets. It doesn't matter- you swing your axe handle as hard as you can and sigh in relief as it's skull caves in around the temple. You turn to Matt with a smile as you see him drop the second walker by stabbing it's forehead.
"Alright, good job-" you start to say, but suddenly cold dirty fingers are digging into your shoulder. You turn and a third walker is pushing you down, trying to bite your face. You feel it's overgrown fingernails cutting into your flesh and your heart starts pounding in panic. You try to push it away, but it's a freshly turned walker and so it's much stronger than the already rotting ones.
"Matt!" You yell, tripping over the first walker you killed and landing hard on your back. It feels like the air's been knocked out of you, and you struggle to take a breath. You look up, but Matt's just standing there, staring at you. The walker on top of you so close you can smell it's breath- like roadkill and the worst morning breath you've ever smelled. It nearly makes you gag, and tears sting the corner of your eyes from it.
"Matt, help," you ask again.
Finally Matt starts to move. "You know, (y/n)" he says, "if it weren't for me, you'd probably be dead by now. In fact, with all the times I've saved your ass, I know you'd be dead by now."
You try to push the walker back or roll over but your arms are shaking with the effort of just keeping it off of you. "Matt!" You yell in desperation. The walker is so close now you have to turn your face just to keep from being bit. "Please!" You beg.
"I'm just saying," he continues, walking over to you and kneeling so that he can talk to your face, "a little appreciation would be nice." In a swift movement he plunges his blade into the walkers head, causing it's blood to spill over your face and chest. It's thick and black like tar and smells ten times worse then the walker breath did.
"What the fuck, Matt!" You yell, rolling the dead body off of you. "Are you serious!? Why didn't you tell me there was a third walker?" You're yelling loudly and a part of you is worried there may be more undead lurking in the station, but you're just so frustrated. "I could've died!" Tears are starting to stream down your cheeks and you quickly rub your face to wipe them away.
"I'm sorry," Matt replies, "I swear I didn't see that one. I just feel like you don't appreciate me is all..."
You wipe the blood and tears from your face as Matt steps closer to you. He grabs your shoulders and looks you in the eyes. His sadness almost looks believable.
"I'm sorry," he says again, this time pulling you into a hug. He almost smells as bad as the walkers. "I wasn't gonna let it hurt you, I promise. I would never let anything hurt you. I care about you, (y/n), more than you know."
You really don't want to be hugging him, but the adrenalin and the fear from almost being bitten has you seeking comfort- and so you hug Matt back, holding on to him as you cry. It's so frustrating to feel this way but at least you're not completely alone in this fucked up world.
"See, baby, I'll take care of you." You feel a wave of nausea creep up as he says those words.
"Let's go," you say finally, shrugging him off of you. You grab your axe handle from the ground and hold it tightly in your grip, ready for whatever's in the station.
Unfortunately, the inside of the station is a complete bust. Luckily, there aren't any more walkers but the entire back wall is completely busted open which makes it less than ideal to spend the night. You sigh in frustration, glass crunching under your boots as you explore what little is left of the crumbling building. You discover a small pushed over concession stand. From the looks of what's left someone else had already took anything that was worth anything.
You sigh in frustration, "looks like someone's already been through here, took anything we might need." You turn to Matt, who's standing behind a counter.
"Not everything," he says, smiling wildly. He holds up small box, and it takes a moment for your brain to register that it's a box of condoms.
You feel your stomach drop like a ball of ice. "Seriously, those are probably expired," you tell him, trying to keep your cool.
"Hmm," he turns the box over and scans the expiration date. "They got a few more years before they expire, actually," he tells you. "(Y/n), when are you gonna stop playing hard to get?"
You feel another trickle of fear radiate through your body, and tighten your grip on your axe handle. "I'm not playing hard to get. Matt, I told you we're just friends."
"Well I don't want to be just friends. I saved your life!"
"It's your fault that thing even got to me!" You yell back.
"No! Not then," Matt yells, shaking his head, "I saved your life back when your father died!"
You feel a rush of anger, and your hand tightens on the handle once again.
"Can't you just be a little bit grateful to me? It's not like you've got tons of options out here. When your dad died, I was there to pick up the pieces, remember?"
"Shut up, Matt," you warn through clenched teeth.
"No," he says, stepping closer to you. "I won't shut up. I'm the shoulder you cried on when you had no one. I'm the one who took you in and kept you safe."
You feel hot tears start prick the corners of your eyes. "Shut up, Matt! I already said no!"
"I'm the one who kept you safe when your dad couldn't! And this is how you repay me? By being an unappreciative bitch?! I should've just left you to- "
You don't even remember swinging your axe handle. The only thing you feel is the satisfaction of shutting him up. He falls to the ground clenching him stomach where you hit him.
"Are you serious! You fucking bitch!" He clenches his fist and you instinctively step back, ready to defend yourself.
*CLANK* *CLANK* *CLANK*
You both turn towards the sound, your heart pounding fiercely as you see a figure step out from behind a crumbled piece of back wall. The first thought that crosses your mind is, "oh, shit." This guys tall, and muscular, and carrying a barbed wire covered bat. And if this guy's here to rob you or kill you, there's no way you'll defeat him without Matt's help. You grit your teeth at the idea of asking Matt for help. *'I'd rather take my chances,'* you think you yourself.
"Well, well, well... what do we have here?" The man asks, practically yelling. "Here I am, just passing through the area when I stumble upon a quaint little rail station. I think to myself this is as good a place as any to drop a load, but lo and behold, there's already a pile shit here! Ain't that right, Matt?"
You don't know what to think, and hold your breath as the man steps closer to you. He turns to face Matt, adjusting his grip on the bat.
"Matt? More like shat! Ain't that right doll face?"
You realize suddenly that this man is here to protect you and you feel your chest swell in relief.
"Yea, fuck you!" Matt shouts at the man, throwing the box of condoms at you in retaliation. You can't help but shake your head at his immaturity.
"See, now that wasn't very nice Shat. You really are a real piece of shit. And you know what I do to pieces of shit?" The man looks back at you for a moment, giving you a handsome smirk that makes your heart pound just a little bit faster. "Well, actually, I don't do anything to pieces of shit. But Lucille here, well-" he clangs his bat, Lucille, against the floor three more times- "she likes to take pieces of shit and bash 'em up until they become piles of shit."
Matt doesn't say anything, instead he looks back up at you, pulling the same sad face he tried earlier. "I'm sorry, (y/n). Listen man-" he looks back to the stranger, this time Lucille is inches from his face- "we don't want any trouble. You can stay here tonight and (y/n) and I will leave. We were just leaving anyways."
"I'm not going anywhere with you!" You practically growl the words to Matt.
"Looks like the little lady has spoken," he points Lucille at Matt again, this time making sure to press the barbs against Matt's face. "Seems like you'll be staying here, and (y/n) will be leaving with me."
You feel a wave of butterflies in your belly at the thought of leaving with this man. Even knowing him for less than a minute he feels like the better choice.
"What do you say, doll face?" He asks you.
You nod yes, making sure to stare Matt in the eyes. "I never owed you anything... goodbye Matt."
You grab the one bag you and Matt shared and pull it over your shoulder, turning to walk away. As you exit the rail station you hear the stranger laugh. "Oh, she's savage. You should never fuck over someone who's savage..." Anything else he says is lost as you step outside into the late afternoon sun.
A few moments later, the stranger joins you, stretching out his long limbs before starting his treck on the railway track. It's hard keeping up with his long stride, but even so, you find yourself starting at him from behind. His dark leather jacket is stained with dried blood, and after that little show in the train station you don't know if it's come from the living or the dead. Not that it really matters. He's resting Lucille on his shoulder, and his other shoulder carries a small brown rucksack. You're trying to figure out what kind of man he might've been before the outbreak- a soldier? No, soldiers don't wear black boots. A cop maybe? Or-
You crash abruptly against the strangers chest as he stops to face you. "Listen, doll face, you don't actually have to follow me. You don't owe me anything either."
You look up at him, suddenly aware of just how gross you must look and smell with walker blood on your shirt. But for some reason you don't step back, and neither does he. "I, um, I was going this way before the rail station," you say weakly.
"Is that so," he asks with a small smile. Good God, maybe it's because you've not seen another living human since Matt, but this stranger is devilishly good looking and your entire body heats up just from looking at him. He smiles down at you, and let's his gaze roam down your body. "Well, in that case, the name's Negan."