There was a Springsteen song he'd known every goddamn line of back in high school, when life was all about girls and cars and sports and being Shane Walsh, the Cool Guy. It'd been the unofficial soundtrack of Shane's senior year, the song he'd put on every time he took a girl out parking or upstairs to his room when his mom and dad weren't home to cramp his style. He'd gotten laid to that song more times than he could count, and he'd considered it his lucky song.
To this day, anytime he heard the damn thing on the radio he ended up half-hard and didn't really know why. He was pretty sure it was when, if not why, he fell in love with her.
It wasn't like he intended to. For God's sake, he didn't even like her. Not really. Sure, when he'd noticed she was hot when he pulled her over. Any man said she wasn't, Shane would have automatically started looking to make sure the bastard still had a pulse, and Shane Walsh was a red-blooded American male in his prime, thank you very much. Even with his best friend in a coma, his best friend's wife holding it together for Carl by a goddamn thread, and all the shit he'd been hearing coming out of Atlanta, he'd noticed she was gorgeous.
Of course, he'd also noticed right away that she was hell on wheels, and further association certainly hadn't proven that assessment wrong. Not that Shane had ever objected to strong, trouble-making women- which is how he'd ended up screwing his 30 year old PE teacher senior year, even if the only person besides him and Mrs. Kelly who knew about that was Rick, and he didn't believe Shane was telling the goddamn truth. Almost made him want to find out if Mrs. Kelly had survived the outbreak, just to prove it once and for all. 'Course, she probably wouldn't want it getting around that she'd been sleeping with a student, which was fine.
Shane wasn't exactly the bring-him-home-to-meet-the-parents type. He was used to being some girl's dirty little secret, and most of the time he liked it that way.
The Nameless patch on her back didn't bother him any, aside from professional reasons, and her being trouble walking- or riding- definitely wasn't a problem. When she pulled off that helmet and ran her fingers through her hair, he considered letting her flirt her way out of the arrest he knew he'd end up making. He considered giving her a warning for the speeding and slipping her his number, telling her to look him up when his shift was over. They'd spend a few hours getting into some of that trouble together, then go their separate ways and Shane would never see her again.
But there was Rick in the coma, and all the other shit going on. Shane had had enough trouble on his plate right then, and he made a snap decision to not add any more to it.
He couldn't help but wonder if that had been the right choice or the wrong one. Maybe if they'd spent those hours in his apartment back home, he wouldn't be in as deep as he was now.
He'd booked her, and then the world had gone to fucking hell and to be honest, he hadn't spared her another thought. He'd run to the hospital and tried his damnedest to get Rick out of there, but Rick was dead. He was dead; Shane knew it. The only thing he could do for his brother then was get Lori and Carl out.
And he did. He got them out and got them safe, and other people with them. They made it out of Atlanta by the skin of their teeth and set up in the quarry, and they took in anyone else they found. When that Dixon asshole with his Nameless colors came, Shane still didn't think about her, because Merle kept him too goddamn busy to think about anyone else. He certainly didn't put her together with the little sister Daryl and Merle argued about all the fucking time.
He didn't think about her again until Glenn drove that screaming red thing up and she was smirking out at him from the front seat. Shane jerked when he saw her and remembered he'd left her in a holding cell in King County, and with an ease that had already started to gnaw at his soul, he'd shoved aside the guilt he'd felt.
The world ended, and she'd survived, didn't she?
Course, then she was swinging those damn hips as she walked up to him and socked him in the face. Looking back at it now, maybe that was the beginning of it all, though he didn't like to think so. He hoped it wasn't that fuckin' easy to get to him.
He thought that was the most shocking part of the day he'd have, but then he'd watched her walk away toward the van and the one person he knew with absolute certainty he'd never see again.
He couldn't fucking believe it when it turned out that not only was his best friend alive, but he'd come to Atlanta with the Nameless chick Shane had thought about fucking instead of booking, and that Nameless chick knew Daryl and Merle Dixon intimately.
When she got up the next morning and found him on watch trying to figure out just what the hell to do about the fact that he had been sleeping with his best friend's wife, he may have taken his bad mood out on her. Then she called him on sleeping with Lori, and he'd panicked. How the hell had she known that?
But she'd said she'd keep her mouth shut, and something in her eyes made him think she would. Her laugh when he'd said she was a loose cannon had sent every last drop of blood in his body to a place somewhere south of his brain, so maybe it'd been the laugh that did him in.
Then again, maybe it had started when she came back from Atlanta the second time and they were cleaning up from that awful, brutal attack. Shane's hands had still been shaking with the sick fear and adrenaline from coming way too close to losing Lori and Carl in that shitstorm, and he'd been fighting with Rick over it already as they worked to clean up the camp. If Rick hadn't taken more than half their manpower to Atlanta, they wouldn't have been in danger to begin with. When Dixon started smarting off about it being what they deserved for leaving his trash asshole brother on a rooftop- which ok, even Shane knew that was a rough way to go; chained out and exposed to the elements, but it was Merle Dixon. Had Rick even met the man? Anyway, he'd glanced at her to see if she agreed with Daryl, because she'd been close with Merle too, apparently.
She'd been stripping out of her work gloves and had shucked her jacket with a look in her eyes that should not have turned him on the way it did as she called Daryl an asshole. She swung at Dixon the younger before he knew what was coming, and Shane had stood back to watch the fight with appreciation he knew he was probably going to hell for feeling.
He already knew the two of them were exes, but if he hadn't, that fight would have proven it. Only people who'd loved each other with everything they'd had could fight like that.
In his Jeep on the way to the C.D.C., she'd gotten him to open up. How the hell she had, he didn't know, but it was something about the lack of the judgement he'd expected. Shit, he judged him. His best friend hadn't been dead for two months when Shane'd started sleeping with his wife. Then it turned out Rick wasn't fucking dead at all, and Shane had not only abandoned him in the goddamn hospital to run off with Rick's family, but he'd tried to make that family his own.
It didn't matter that Shane loved Lori and Carl with every fiber of his being, and would have done the same even if he and Lori had never once looked at each other that way. It didn't matter that they had never once looked at each other like that before they both believed Rick was dead. Shane was still scum of the earth, and he knew it. Hell, Lori knew it too, and had told him as much.
He still remembered what she said when he'd told her that.
She'd offered a careless shrug, glancing at him with her hair blowing in the wind and one foot up on the seat she was curled in like a leather-clad cat. She'd waved one hand as she spoke, a gesture he didn't even think she was aware she made. "The way I see it? You're a victim of circumstances. She's made her choice. It sucks ass- believe me- and being around an ex you care about is more hell than this zombie apocalypse shit. But you aren't a bad guy. You tried your best to get him out- I believe that, Shane. You wouldn't have just left him. And you took care of his family. Bad guys don't do shit like that."
Bad guys don't do shit like that.
It wasn't long after that when it happened. They'd had themselves a little heart to heart looking for something to fix the damn RV- that thing was the thorn in Shane's side and the apple of Dale's eye- and she'd managed, somehow, to make him feel like he might not be a bad guy after all. She'd teased him, asking if he liked her now, and he'd had to shoot her down on that one. Truth was, he'd liked her style, her spunk, from the minute he'd laid eyes on her.
Wouldn't do to tell her that, though.
They were in the Jeep, getting close to the C.D.C, and they'd been riding in silence for awhile- the comfortable rather than the awkward kind. She had sunglasses over her eyes and both feet on his dashboard, and he'd thought about telling her to get those damn nasty combat boots off his Jeep. But what the hell was the point? There'd been dead and twice-dead bodies in his backseat at this point; the thing would never be the same again and he knew it.
He'd thought she was asleep until she turned to look at something as they passed it and he caught her sudden grin.
"The hell you smiling at, Nameless?" he asked, craning his neck to see what was back there.
She waved vaguely behind them. "Somebody'd tagged that billboard back there," she said with a grin. "Added a pretty great version of Springsteen's red bandanna to the back pocket of the jeans. Classic."
He'd laughed, sad that he'd missed it, and she'd laughed too. Then she'd thrown her hands up into the wind like they were on a roller coaster and started singing.
"Oh, baby, this town rips the bones from your back. It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap- we gotta get out while we're young!"
She'd looked over at him and he'd been staring at her, and she'd actually blushed a little. "What? Don't tell me you don't know 'Born to Run'!"
He'd shaken his head, knowing damn well he was well and truly fucked now, and she'd crowed delightedly when he'd faced the road and started singing. "'Cause tramps like us-"
"Baby we were born to run!" She'd sung the last line with him, leaning toward him over the seat with a million-watt smile that didn't help the quicksand feeling one damn bit.