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Unforgettable Memories ( Daryl Dixon x Reader )

Chapter Text

You were in the military before all of this, an army soldier to be exact and you were halfway through your second tour in Afghanistan when you got the call that your brother, Rick Grimes, had been shot and was in critical condition. You were on the first plane back to the states the following morning, only to learn that Rick was in a coma and might never wake up.

You visited Lori and Carl a few times, but you spent most your time by your brother's bedside at the Harrison Memorial Hospital. Shane visited everyday after his work shift, bringing fresh flowers that Lori had given him to place by Ricks bed. Lori and Carl had visited once while you had been back, but she didn't want Carl to see his father like that and you didn't blame her. He looked so pale, so weak, so vulnerable and you hated seeing your big brother like that.

The two of you were as close as siblings could get. You grew up always by each other's side and since Shane was Ricks best friend you grew up around him as well.

When the dead started to rise, you refused to leave your brother alone. Your Commander in the military had called you multiple times ordering you to come back to base. He said that they needed all the soldiers they could get to fight against the dead, but you couldn't leave your brother. It was selfish, but you couldn't leave Rick.

However, once the power got shut off, the dead began to overrun the hospital and the army began gunning down civilians in the hallways. You and Shane had no choice, but to leave. Shane had pressed his ear to Rick's chest once his oxygen and support machines got shut off, but he didn't hear a heartbeat. He said Rick was dead and Shane literally had to drag you out the hospital because you refused to believe that your brother was dead.

He drove you straight to Ricks house to find Lori and Carl hiding inside in terror, but they both relaxed slightly when they saw the two of you. While Shane told the mother and son about Rick, you went straight to the spare bedroom where you had dropped off your stuff when you first got back from Afghanistan and quickly grabbed all your gear.

You swapped your denim jeans for your military camo cargo pants, knowing they would be more realistic and easier to run around in than a pair of tight skinny jeans. You clipped your belt on next, containing your tactical knife, compass, rope and your silenced Glock 18 before throwing your AR-15 assault rifle over your shoulder with the gun strap. You made your way back into the main room of the house to find Shane hugging a crying Carl and Lori.

"Dad's dead." Carl whispered, looking over at you and you nodded, feeling tears rising in your eyes again.

"I'm sorry, Carl. I'm so sorry." You mumbled, as your nephew let go of his mother and ran over to you, wrapping his arms around your waist as he hugged you tightly. Neither of you moved for the next few minutes, as you glanced over at Shane who was still hugging Lori, but you didn't miss the tears falling down the man's cheeks at the loss of his best friend.

"We need to get out of the city. My boss said there's an army rescue base set up at Fort Benning. I say we grab all the supplies we can and take Shanes jeep and go." You instructed, as Carl pulled away from you and glanced over at his mother as she nodded in agreement before you all began packing up.

You guys had come across the Peletier family on the road and although you hated Ed, his wife and daughter were good people, so you guys stuck together. You had a suspicion that Ed was abusing his wife, but what could you do about it? So, you just tried to keep Carol and Sophia with you guys and not alone with Ed as much as possible.

Eventually you guys made up a makeshift camp at a quarry outside the city and within a week you had a whole group of people; Dale, Andrea, Amy, Jim, Jacqui, the Morales family, Glenn and a few others. You guys used resources in the area to continue on your daily lives like food, water and shelter. Dales RV turned into a watch post, with his deckchair and shade umbrella set up on the roof along with a scoped .22 rifle. It provided a good watch point since you could see the entire camp and would be able to spot a walker before it reached the camp, but luckily most the walkers were in the city and hadn't ventured too far from it, although you knew that wouldn't last forever.

Nobody really elected a leader of the group, but everyone followed and listened to you and Shane and when there was a problem, they all came to the two of you first. You had a few rules set in place, like how nobody was to go off on their own without telling someone or that the campfire at night could be no taller than the rocks stacked up around it so you couldn't draw in any walkers or unwanted attention.

You became close to Glenn and Dale over the first week, but you were friendly with the whole group, minus Ed. Everyone seemed to get along which was a relief, but you hated how close Lori and Shane were getting. She had only just lost her husband, Shane only just lost his best friend and the two of them were acting like Rick had been dead for years. You wanted to confront the two of them about it, but you didn't want to stir shit up and Shane was good with Carl and seeing your nephew happy was enough for you to keep your mouth shut.

"Y/N? You alright to go out there on your own?" Glenn suddenly questioned as you began making your way towards the woods to go out hunting. The group was alright for food at the time being, but you knew the canned food and fish Andrea and Amy were catching would run low eventually, so you figured bringing back a few rabbits or squirrel or hell even a deer would do the camp well.

"I always am." You replied, turning around to find Glenn looking at you from his spot on top of the RV on watch duty. You glanced around at the rest of the camp, various tents and vehicles parked and set up, but everyone was still fast asleep as the sun slowly began rise along the horizon.

"Be careful, this group would be lost without you." Glenn called back, causing you to roll your eyes, but you nodded.

"Keep the camp safe for me while I'm gone." You responded as Glenn gave you an attempted soldier solute causing you chuckle shaking your head before you disappeared into the woods. It wasn't a secret among the camp that you were in the military, not that you tried to hide it with your army cargo pants, combat boots and weapons. You didn't really like talking about it though, the shit you had seen and went through overseas... it was all apart of the job, but it still never made it any better.

By the time the sun was shining in the sky above, you had managed to get two rabbits with your silenced pistol. You weren't stupid enough to fire your rifle, noise attracted the walkers so the quieter the better.

You continued walking through the woods, holding the two rabbits in one hand by their hindlegs, your other hand resting over the holster to your handgun. A tactic you learnt in the military, so you were always ready for anything.

"You're losing ya touch brother, haven't gotten a single rabbit or squirrel today." A voice suddenly said, the mans voice loud with a distinct southern drawl to it, so you figured he was from around the area, but he was clearly talking to someone- his brother- so you didn't take any chances as you quickly pulled out your handgun.

"Doesn't help when ya don't shut up for more than five minutes." Another voice responded, his tone deeper but with a familiar southern ring to it, but at least this guy knew better than to talk loudly when the dead were walking around.

"Whatever, man." The first guy said and a few seconds later the two of them walked out from behind a cluster of trees, one holding a crossbow, the other with a bolt-action rifle slung over his shoulders. But, before you even had a chance to say anything the older man spotted you as he pulled out a handgun that was tucked in the back of his pants and raised it in your direction. "Well, would ya look at that baby brother." The man said with a grin as the younger man quickly raised his crossbow in your direction.

"Whoa, easy fellas." You said calmly, holding your hands up slightly trying to show them that you weren't a threat. You could have easily drawn your handgun or assault rifle at them, but from your experience it was easier to calm someone down when you didn't have a weapon aimed at them.

Neither of you guys said anything for a few seconds as you sized the two of them up. The older one seemed to be a little more on edge, he was wearing a plain leather biker vest along with black tank top tucked into his jeans, sporting a very obvious circular belt buckle. The younger man was a bit more relaxed, his expression guarded, but his finger wasn't hovering over the trigger as he stared at you and you knew he was trying to read you as well. He was wearing a shirt that clearly had its sleeves ripped off and his hair was a longer than his brothers, but still short. They were definitely brothers, although they seemed to be at least five years apart.

"What's a pretty little girl like you, doing out here all alone?" The older man asked with a grin as you raised your eyebrow at him, not intimidated by him at all. You had dealt with nasty people and more specifically nasty men back in Afghanistan, this redneck was nothing.

"Just trying to survive, same as you guys." You replied, keeping your tone friendly as you contemplated how to deal with this situation. They had been out hunting, which meant these guys probably knew to take care of themselves out here and if you were being honest they could probably be useful around the camp. Most of the people at camp either did laundry, cooked or took turns on watch duty, beside you, Shane and Glenn, nobody ever helped go out scavenging or hunting. But the real question was, could you trust them? "Drop the weapons and let's talk."

"Now why should we listen to you?" The same man questioned, his eyes glued to you.

"Because I asked nicely, and I only do that once." You answered, your voice sterner than before as you glanced between the two brothers as the younger one lowered his crossbow before the older one followed suit and tucked his handgun back into his belt.

"You boys got a camp?" You asked, but before either of them could answer the familiar sound of walkers growling filled the air and you glanced over your shoulder to find eight of them staggering towards you. "Shit." You hissed under your breath as you dropped the two rabbits and pulled your knife from your belt.

You quickly slammed your knife through the first walkers skull with a satisfying crunch before you stabbed the next one, focusing on the walkers when suddenly an arrow whizzed past your face and hit the walker that was sneaking up behind you. You quickly glanced in the direction of where the arrow came from to find the younger brother already reloading his crossbow. You gave him an appreciative nod before the older brother finally joined in, helping you take out the walkers with his own knife.

"Ya can fight, I'll give ya that." The younger brother commented as you pulled your knife out the last walker as it fell to the ground motionless and you sighed with relief.

"You guys aren't too bad yourself. I'm Y/N. Y/N Grimes." You introduced, turning around to face the brothers as the younger one handed you the two rabbits you had dropped earlier, and you smiled taking them.

"Merle Dixon, this is my brother Daryl." The older man said, motioning towards Daryl who was now retrieving his arrows from the walker's heads on the ground.

"You guys can back with me if you want, I got a camp an hours walk from here, we got people, food, water, shelter. Could use hunters like you." You suggested, as you tucked your knife back into the sheath connected to your belt before focusing back on the two brothers.

"Why would ya want us to join your camp?" Daryl questioned in confusion as he threw his crossbow over his shoulder and stared at you.

"You guys seem like reasonable men and helped me against the walkers, so I figured you can't be that bad. So, please don't prove me wrong because it won't end well for you." You warned and you noticed the corners of Daryl's mouth twitched up slightly into a smile as Merle shook his head with a chuckle.

"Well, I'm in. We got a truck and motorcycle on the side of the road, let's go." Merle replied as he began walking off through the woods and you nodded walking beside Daryl as you guys followed the older Dixon. You told the brothers about the camp, explaining the few rules you had and general stuff like that and they both seem to understand the rules and didn't have an issue with how the camp was being run.

It only took a few minutes to reach the road spotting an old Ford pick-up truck along with what looked to be a Triumph motorcycle parked on the side of the road. Well, this'll be quicker than walking, you thought to yourself.

Merle took the motorcycle as you climbed into the cab of the truck while Daryl started up the engine and took off down the road, Merle following behind.

Neither of you really spoke on the drive other than occasional 'turn left' or 'turn right' as you instructed him how to get to the quarry. You liked the silence though, it was nice and maybe a little bit awkward, but you didn't mind. You got the feeling the Daryl didn't really talk much and you could tell he was completely different compared to his loud mouth brother.

"M'sorry 'bout my brother. He just doesn't know when to shut up sometimes." Daryl suddenly said quietly, breaking the silence and you looked over at him as he glanced over at you. Your eyes meeting his as you took in how blue they were before he turned back towards the road.

"Yeah, I noticed that. But, you don't have to apologise for him, it's fine." You replied, still looking at him as Daryl just nodded, his eyes never leaving the road and you found yourself wanting to know more about the man next to you. Everyone had a story and you were curious to know his, although you wouldn't want someone to ask about your past, so you kept your mouth shut as you continued to instruct him where to go.

As you reached the camp you told Daryl to pull up near the other vehicles as Merle parked the motorcycle beside the truck. You climbed out the truck, grabbing the two rabbits as you motioned for Daryl and Merle to follow you as you began walking into the camp before you spotted Shane marching towards the three of you, his shotgun resting on his shoulder as he glared at the two men.

"Y/N, who the hell are these guys?" Shane questioned pointing to the two brothers who were standing behind you like you had told them too, knowing that Shane wouldn't be happy that you bought new people into the camp.

"This is Daryl and Merle Dixon, I met them in the woods when I was hunting." You explained, taking a step towards Shane, not trusting him with the shotgun. You knew he would never hurt you, he was like a brother to you, but you didn't know what he might do to the Dixons if he decided that he didn't like them. You may be silently angry with Shane for what he's doing with Lori, but you didn't let that get in the way of things, he was still the man you grew up around and that would never change.

"You can't just bring new people into camp, we can barely feed the people have here!" Shane yelled taking a step forward as you quickly put a hand on his shoulder to stop him from getting any closer to the brothers. You glanced over his shoulder spotting everyone else staring around the camp all staring at the four of you curiously, Carl, Sophia and a few other kids all watching on and the last thing you wanted was for this to turn into a fight.

"We can hunt 'n provide for the group." Daryl suddenly said from behind you, but you didn't turn around as you focused your attention on Shane, your hand still resting on his shoulder.

"We'll earn our place, shouldn't be too hard by the look of y'all." Merle added.

"Merle." You warned, glancing over your shoulder towards the older Dixon who just shrugged his shoulders before you turned back to Shane. "I came across a small herd of walkers out there and they helped me. I vouch for them, they're good."

"A herd? Shit, are you alright?" Shane questioned taking a step back as his eyes scanned your body looking for any signs of injury and you nodded as he sighed. "Alright, welcome to our camp. I'm Shane Walsh. Y/N, you bought them here, you get them set up and show them around." Shane said, glancing from the brothers back to you as you nodded before he walked off. Well that went better then you expected.

Chapter Text

The first week with the Dixon brothers at the camp went by fairly uneventful. The brothers had a tent and couple sleeping bags in the back of their truck so you showed them were they could set up their tent near the others. They both seemed to pull their weight around camp, even Merle pitched in, collecting firewood and going out hunting with his brother occasionally.

The others around camp seemed to be a bit weary of the brothers, which was fair enough, especially with half the shit Merle says. You were honestly surprised Shane hadn't snapped at him yet.

Merle was rude and loud, while Daryl was just quiet, but they were both hot headed and you seemed to be the only one who could calm the brothers down. You had earned their trust and respect early on and since then they treated you with the same trust and respect, honestly you were probably the only person the Dixons seemed to like.

You and Daryl occasionally went out hunting together, causing Merle to tease the two of you about 'getting wild together' whenever you came back from hunting, but neither of you listened to him. Your friendship with Daryl wasn't like that, although you did have to admit the man was attractive and you wouldn't be against something like that happening, but Daryl wouldn't want to be with someone like you, so you never bought it up. You guys were friends and you were starting to suspect that Daryl didn't make friends easily, so you weren't going to throw it away with your stupid crush.

"Hey, I heard you've been out here since sunrise." Lori's voice suddenly called as you swung the axe cutting another piece of wood before you dropped the axe and turned around to find your sister-in-law walking out from the trees towards you and you smiled.

"Well someone's gotta cut wood for the campfire." You replied as you glanced down at the pile of wood you had already cut, satisfied that it should last the camp for a few nights.

"Here." Lori said, handing you a cup of water and you sighed in relief taking the cup and skulled the water before handing the cup back. "You do enough for the group as it is. You don't have to collect our firewood as well."

"I like keeping busy, I hate standing around and not doing anything, gives me too much time to think." You admitted and Lori nodded in understanding. You had spoken to Rick about the things you had to do and what you went through in Afghanistan and he no doubt told Lori about it too and how you struggled keeping your mind from drifting back to those memories. Rick had told you that it was a form of PTSD and told you that if you kept having nightmares and stuff that you should go see a therapist, but you refused to do that. Instead you went back out for another tour, which made Rick angry, but it was the only thing you knew how to do and when you were out in the field it made you feel alive.

"Rick was pissed when you went back to do another tour, he was worried that something was going to happen again or you'd come back and the PTSD would be worse... I've never seen him that angry and upset at the same time." Lori suddenly said, snapping you out of your thoughts as you sent her a warning look. She knew you didn't like talking about it and why would she bring Rick up like that?

"I know you don't talk about it. But, Rick would want you to talk about it." She added as you stared at her in disbelief. Who was she to tell you what your brother would and wouldn't want? You knew him better than anyone.

"How the hell would you know what Rick would want? Would Rick want you to start fucking his best friend a month after he dies?!" You snapped, glaring at her as she visibly flinched at what you just said before she stormed off back to the camp.

"Shit." You sighed, rubbing your face with your hands in frustration. You knew you were gonna have to apologise to her later for that, but you also knew that if you talked to her right now then you would snap at her again. So, you began picking up some of the wood as you slowly made your way back to camp.

As you walked into the clearing you spotted Dale sitting in his deck chair on top of his RV as he gave you a friendly wave and you nodded back. You made your way to the campfire which wasn't lit yet since it was still early afternoon as you dropped the logs down beside it.

You saw Daryl sitting on the tailgate of his truck across the camp, cleaning his crossbow and sharpening his arrows. You weren't sure where Merle was, but you couldn't hear him so at least he wasn't starting a fight with someone.

"Aunt Y/N, do you need help?" Carl's voice questioned as you finished stacking the logs beside the campfire as you spotted Carl jogging towards you, but you caught sight of Lori talking to Shane in the distance, no doubt telling him that you knew about the two of them together.

"Hey little man. Yeah, I could use your muscles, still got a few logs to bring back." You replied, rubbing Carl's hair as he reached your side. "Last one to the pile of wood is a rotten egg!" You suddenly shouted, catching the attention of a few people in camp as they all looked over at you in confusion, but you ignored them as you and Carl began running across the camp unable to stop yourself from smiling as Carl started laughing while you chased him

"Damn you're quick, kid." You said, pretending to be out of breath as you took in a few deep breaths as Carl laughed, but took a few deep breaths too.

"Mum's still making me do school work." Carl complained as he began picking up the last few wooden logs and you chuckled. "Carol's making Sophia as well, but I don't see the point."

"As much as I hated school when I was your age, I'm gonna have to side with your mother on this one. Education is important, kiddo." You replied, picking up the rest of the wood before you grabbed the axe that you left on the ground.

"Ugh, you're meant to take my side." Carl groaned and you rolled your eyes at the boy.

"How about I teach you how to light a fire when we get back to camp? I'm sure Carol and Jacqui are just about ready to start cooking tea." You suggested as the two of you began walking back to camp once you picked up all the logs and Carl nodded.

"That would be awesome!" He exclaimed happily and you smiled at the sudden change in the boys mood as the two of you walked back into camp. You caught Daryl's eye as he watched you and Carl together before you began teaching the boy how to build and light a small fire.

After tea you helped Lori wash the dishes and apologised to her for what you said earlier. You were pretty sure things were good between the two of you, although Shane seemed to be avoiding you since his chat with Lori earlier, but you didn't care. If he wanted to be childish and ignore you because you knew what he was doing with his best friends' wife, well that's his own problem not yours.

"Hey, does anyone know where Dale went?" You questioned, glancing around the campsite trying to locate the older man. The sun had disappeared over the horizon, stars now taking its place in the sky as the small campfire that Carl light burned brightly.

Everyone had their deckchairs set up around the campfire, all of you literally sitting in a damn circle. Carl sat to your left, Daryl to your right and Merle sitting on the other side of him as everyone chatted quietly amongst themselves. Ed, Carol and Sophia were a few metres away by their own campfire that Ed had set up, refusing to socialise with the rest of you and when he tried taking the wood you had cut earlier you told him to get his own. If he wanted to isolate his family from everyone else then he could get his own damn firewood.

"I think he went to get something from the RV." Amy answered, as you glanced over towards the RV. Shane was sitting on the roof, glancing around the campsite with the scoped rifle laying across his lap.

"Alright kids, time for bed." Lori suddenly said, standing up from her deck chair as Carl and the Morales kids groan.

"She's right, it's way past your bed time." Mrs Morales agreed from across the camp site as she stood up and began walking her kids towards their tent.

"Goodnight, Aunt Y/N." Carl mumbled, clearly not happy that he was being made to go to bed as he stood up slowly from his deck chair beside you. You smiled at the young boy before leaning forward in your chair as you gave him a hug.

"Goodnight, Champ. I'll see you in the morning." You replied, kissing the top of his head before Lori lead him back to their tents. You heard Carl say goodnight to Shane in the background as you leant back in your chair, resting your head against the back of it as you stared at the fire.

"M'gonna go huntin' tomorrow, might spend the night out there 'n see if I can bring back some venison." Daryl said quietly from beside you, not wanting to disturb the others around the fire all talking away about anything and everything as he glanced over at you.

"That's a good idea, I'm sure the kids have never tried venison before. I know Carl hasn't anyway. Want me to come with you?" You asked, tilting your head towards Daryl, spotting Merle fast asleep in the seat beside him. Maybe he should have went to bed when the kids did, you thought to yourself.

"Nah, ya should stay here. Make sure Merle doesn't do anythin' stupid." Daryl muttered, glancing over at his brother who was still asleep before he turned back towards you and you nodded.

"Well someone's gotta make sure you Dixon's stay in line." You responded and Daryl hummed in agreement as you sat up a bit straighter in your chair as you bought your knees up to your chest and wrapped your arms around them.

You weren't really listening to anyone's conversation in particular as you sat quietly and watched everyone talk amongst themselves. Lori had returned, sitting back down in her chair as she started up a conversation with Jacqui before Dale finally appeared carrying what looked awfully like a bottle of alcohol.

"Is that what I think it is?" Glenn suddenly questioned, stopping everyone's small conversations as they all looked towards Dale as he grinned sheepishly.

"Been saving it for a special occasion, so why not? Who wants some?" The older man asked and instantly half of you all held your plastic camping cups in the air as Dale laughed but began pouring it out to everyone.

"Never thought I'd drink good aged whiskey again." You said quietly as you sipped your drink, wanting to saver every drop as Daryl hummed in agreement beside you.

"The hell did y'all get alcohol from?" Merle's groggy voice suddenly questioned and for someone who just woke up, his voice was really loud.

"Well someone's finally awake." You commented, looking over at Merle as Jim passed him the bottle of whiskey and he poured himself a cup full. The alcohol seemed to quieten everyone down, as they stopped talking and focused on their drinks, all of you quickly realising that this might be the last time you'd drink good alcohol.

"We got a campfire, alcohol, the only thing we need is some story telling." Glenn suddenly commented as everyone looked over at him, waiting for him to start telling a story before he quickly shook his head. "Oh, no. I don't have any good stories. Surely someone else has a good story to tell?"

"I was out fishing with my dad once and a great white shark came right up beside our boat." Andrea spoke up and everyone began asking her questions about the shark as you smiled listening to her talk about how scary yet awesome it was too see.

After a while the others began pitching in with various stories, even Shane joined in from his spot on top of the RV. He told everyone about the time back in high school when he and Rick borrowed your car between exams to go down the street to get lunch. But, he ended up rolling it and if it wasn't for Rick nagging him to put on his seatbelt he would have been dead.

You smiled at the memory as you balanced your now empty cup on top of your knees as you glanced over at Shane. You remembered that day so clearly, you were so furious with the two of them, but remembered Shane begging you not to tell his parents. So you ended up taking the blame and got grounded for a month, but Rick did all your chores at home and Shane payed for the damage, so it wasn't all bad.

"Y/N, what about you?" Amy asked, bringing you out of your thoughts as you looked over at the other woman sitting across the fire from you.

"What?" You asked dumbly, having no idea what they were talking about before Dale began talking.

"You used to be in the military right? I'm sure you'd have heaps of stories." The older man suggested as you saw Daryl's head quickly turn around to face you after what Dale just said. Well, he clearly didn't know you were army before all this, although you guys never really spoke about your past together, it just never came up.

"Trust me, you don't want to hear any of my stories." You warned, looking away from Dale as you grabbed the cup from on top of your knees as you fiddled with it.

"Why not? We'd love to hear one of your stories!" Someone else added and you sighed, glancing over at Lori who was looking at you sympathetically.

"There's not much to really say. We were just deployed to wherever our superiors sent us and followed their orders to get the jobs done." You answered, shrugging your shoulders, not really knowing what else to say as you fiddled with the cup on your knees. You didn't want to talk about the actual missions, the killings, the bombings, the things you had to do and witness, none of these people needed to know about it.

"Be one hell of a career. Kill any ragheads?" Merle questioned, leaning forward in his chair so he could look at you past Daryl as you glared at him.

"When I had to." You admitted, not taking your eyes off the cup as you heard a few people around the fire gasp in shock. "What nobody tells you about the military is all the bad shit you have to see. They don't tell you how getting shot burns, or how a corpse feels in your arms. The way it shifts... one moment they're there and the next they're not. They don't tell you how following orders and fighting for what you believe in are two different things... that one simple mistake of believing the wrong thing will ruin your life... because belief never stopped a bullet." You said quietly, but you knew everyone heard you as they all stared at you in complete shock. You warned them that they didn't want to hear any stories, but if you were being honest it felt good to finally say a bit of it out loud.

"So, ya didn't like killing towel-heads?" Merle questioned after a few seconds of silence as you glanced over at him before Daryl spoke up.

"Merle, shut up." He muttered, looking over at his brother before turning back towards you as you nodded your thanks, but didn't say anything.

Nobody said anything for a while after that, no doubt trying to comprehend what you had just said. But, eventually everyone began talking about other stuff and within a few hours the campfire was put out and everyone went to bed.

You managed to sleep for a couple of hours before you woke up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath as you quickly sat up and kicked your sleeping bag off.

"Shit." You sighed, rubbing your face with your hands as you tried to forget about the nightmare you just had. It was always the same, one minute you were sitting around the kitchen table with Rick, Shane, Lori and Carl. The next minute, suicide bombers would run into the room and there was nothing you could do but watch as they detonated the explosives around your family.

Shaking your head you stood up from your sleeping bag and began getting changed into your usual army pants and tank top, knowing you wouldn't be able to go back to sleep.

Once you tied up your combat boots and slipped on your weapons belt, you made your way out the tent. It was still dark outside and you figured it was around 2am if you had to guess.

You glanced around the camp, making sure everything was in place and everyone's tents were alright before you glanced up towards the RV spotting the outline of a familiar figure sitting on top. Daryl.

Quietly you began to climb the ladder to the RV not wanting to wake up Dale, Andrea or Amy who you knew were sleeping inside.

"Why aren't ya asleep?" Daryl asked quietly, looking over at you as you climbed onto the roof and walked over to him.

"Couldn't sleep. Might as well keep you company." You replied, keeping your voice low so you didn't wake up anyone as you sat down on the edge of the roof, dangling your legs off the side.

"I can keep watch on my own." He muttered and you chuckled, knowing he didn't mean anything by that remark as you glanced over your shoulder towards him.

"You trying to get rid of me, Dixon?" You teased as Daryl shook his head. It was dark outside, but you could faintly see the outline of his body.

"Nah." He replied, in a deep southern drawl as he spoke quietly and you smiled. Neither of you spoke for a while as you both sat in silence enjoying the peace and quiet as you kept watch around the camp.

"Didn't know ya were in the military. How many tours?" Daryl asked curiously from behind you.

"Two in Afghanistan." You explained as you stared up at the stars. Man, it has been one crazy month now that you thought about it.

"M'sorry 'bout Merle askin' all those questions earlier. Could tell ya didn't wanna talk 'bout it." Daryl said as you glanced over your shoulder towards him, despite not being able to see him clearly.

"I told you, you don't need to apologise for your brother's actions. It's fine, if he gets too out of hand I'll just deck him again." You replied causing Daryl to chuckle softly as you thought back to that day nearly a week ago. Shane had told Merle that he needed step up and start helping out around camp and of course the older Dixon didn't react too well with being told what to do. Merle had punched Shane and you quickly broke it up and ended up decking Merle and told him to shut up and listen to Shane, and to your surprise he did and hadn't caused any more issues since, minus his loud mouth.

"Well since you know who I was before all this, who were you before this started?" You asked curiously, but you heard Daryl began to move from behind you as you looked over your shoulder to find him standing up.

"I was nothin' before this." Daryl muttered as you started at him in confusion watching as he began walking towards the ladder. "I gotta be up early tomorrow, can ya take watch?" He asked, but it was clear he was going to leave no matter what you said.

"Yeah, sure." You replied, watching as Daryl began climbing down the ladder before disappearing into his tent across the camp that he shared with Merle. "What the hell just happened?" You asked yourself quietly, staring at his tent in pure confusion. He had never walked away from you like that before, what did you do wrong? You had just asked who he was before all this, what was wrong with that?

Chapter Text

You spent the rest of your watch shift by yourself, sitting on Dale's deck chair with the sniper rifle laying across your lap, but you couldn't stop thinking about Daryl and why he left so quickly. You planned on speaking to him before he left on his hunting trip, but he quickly slipped away from the group before you could even make it down the ladder.

"Morning, Y/N." Carol called out, emerging from her tent followed by Sophia and you smiled at the mother and daughter as you greeted them before making your way towards the kitchen area you guys had set up. It wasn't much, just a few fold out tables filled with a portable gas stove and various plates and cups, but the women in the group made it work, so it wasn't too bad.

"Good morning everyone." You called out as glanced over at the few people who were already up and sitting on their deckchairs.

"Good morning, Y/N." They all greeted back as you smiled, filling up a small cup of water as you drank it before walking back to your tent and grabbed your assault rifle slinging it over your shoulder.

"Doing your usually perimeter check?" Glenn suddenly questioned as you stepped out your tent to find the man walking out his own tent, rubbing his tired eyes and you nodded. When you guys first set up the camp, you and Shane had used string, rope and any other long material you could find and tied empty tin cans along it, so if any walkers walked into it then you guys should hear it, but you still did daily perimeter checks.

"Sure am. You guys all set for your supply run into the city today?" You asked, walking over towards him as you adjusted the strap of your rifle. You had been helping Glenn organise another run into the city for the past couple of days. He trusted you, knowing you were probably the best person to go over details of the plan with and to help think of strategy exits if things went bad. It wasn't the first time you guys have sent a group into the city, but Glenn wanted to go further into the town this time, knowing there was a building still stacked with supplies.

"Yep, we'll leave after breakfast and hopefully be back before lunch." Glenn replied and you nodded before you wandered off to check the perimeter.

You spent majority of the day hanging out with Carl and Shane, doing various jobs around the camp together. By late afternoon the three of you were back sitting by the ashes of the campfire while Lori cut Carls hair and you and Shane cleaned your guns.

"Baby, the more you move, the longer it takes." Lori warned, as you looked over at her as she continued cutting her sons hair and you chuckled at the unhappy expression on your nephews face as he sat on the ground between Lori's legs.

"You think this is bad? Wait till you start shaving. That day comes, you'll be wishing for one of your mums haircuts." Shane commented, glancing over at Carl as he cleaned his shotgun and the boy shook his head.

"You guys are lucky, at least you don't have to shave your entire legs and underarms. Stop your complaining." You responded.

"Amen to that, sister." Lori said nodding towards you causing Shane and Carl to chuckle, but neither tried to disagree with you as you checked the chamber of your AR-15 before resting it over your lap.

"I'll tell you what, kiddo, if you get through this with some manly dignity and tomorrow I'll teach you something special. I'll teach you how to catch frogs." Shane said, glancing over at you with a grin and you rolled your eyes remembering how many weekends you, Rick and Shane had spend by the local creek trying to catch frogs for the fun of it. "Only few people know the trick when it comes to catching them and I'm willing to share my secret." Shane added as Carl looked up at his mum with a questioning look.

"Oh, I'm a girl. You talk to him." Lori said motioning back towards Shane who chuckled shaking his head.

"Girls can do it too. Hell, I reckon I caught more frogs than you and Rick combined when we were kids." You responded, glancing between the three of them and they froze, their expressions dropping at the mention of Rick and you dropped your head, silently cursing yourself for not thinking before you spoke. "I'm gonna go see if Carol needs help with the dishes." You quickly said, standing up as you slung your rifle over your shoulder before walking across the camp towards the makeshift kitchen where Carol was washing the dishes from lunch.

"Hey, everything alright?" Carol asked, as you silently picked up the tea towel and began drying the dishes she just washed.

"Yeah, I accidently bought up my brother in a conversation and kinda ruined the happy mood. So I figured I'd come over here and make myself useful." You answered as Carol gave you a sympathetic look. Lori had told her about Rick a while ago, and how he was in a coma when the dead started to rise, so she knew who he was.

"It's okay to talk about your brother. If you guys aren't talking about him then who is?" Carol asked, glancing over at you as she handed you the next plate. Her words tumbled around in your mind for a while and you knew she had a point, but before you had a chance to reply to her, a sudden siren echoed in the distance.

"Dale, talk to me!" You yelled, holding your hand up to block the sun as you looked over at the older man on top of the RV as he looked through the binoculars towards the siren.

"Stolen car would be my guess." Dale replied in a calm tone and you sighed with relief. There was only one man who'd manage to steal a car and not know how to turn off the alarm and that was Glenn.

You continued helping Carol with the dishes, watching as a cherry red Dodge Challenger pulled up, its sirens still blaring from the vehicle. You didn't bother going over there as Shane and the others rushed towards the car, so you stayed back and helped Carol with the dishes.

You spotted Glenn climbing out the car as Shane turned in your direction giving you the thumbs up to indicate that everything was fine. You spotted the familiar white van pull up behind Glenn’s new ride before you turned back Carol as she handed you another plate.

You couldn't really hear what they were all talking about on the other side of camp, so you just focused on the dishes talking quietly to Carol, knowing Shane and Glenn would fill you in on everything later.

"Y/N!" Shane's voice suddenly shouted and you looked up from the plastic cup you were cleaning to find Shane standing near the van, taking in the shocked expression on the mans face before he looked towards someone to his left.

You followed Shanes line of sight spotting Lori and Carl hugging someone and you frowned in confusion as to why the two of them would be hugging a stranger, But as the man pulled away your heart stopped for a few seconds as your eyes locked with a man you thought you'd never see again. Your brother, Rick Grimes.

"Y/N?" He asked, pulling away from Carl and Lori as he stared at you in shock. He was in his deputy uniform, his signature Colt Python holstered on his belt as he held his hat in his hand. It was really him. He was alive and he was here... how the hell was he alive?

You wanted to run to him, you wanted to call out to him, but you couldn't get your body to move as you just stood there in disbelief staring at your older brother. You could feel tears rising in your eyes, your hands shaking as you dropped the plastic cup and tea towel.

"Holy shit. Thank God, thank God." Rick mumbled as you took a few shaky steps towards him before he ran the remaining distance and grabbed your shoulders. The two of you stood a foot apart as he stared at you, tears now falling down your cheeks.

"You're here?" He whispered, tears threatening to spill from his eyes as you weakly nodded before he wrapped you up into a tight hug. His hand cupping the back of your head as he pulled your head into the crook his neck, letting you cry into him.

Neither of you moved or said anything for the next couple of minutes, Rick not loosening his hold on you for even a second almost like he was scared that if he let go then you might disappear. But eventually he did, as he pulled away slightly, but kept his hands on your shoulders, not quite ready to let go just yet.

"H-how are you here? You were in Afghanistan..." Rick trailed off, shaking his head in disbelief, but you couldn't find the words to reply as you just stared at your older brother, forcing the tears in your eyes to go away.

"I thought you were dead!" You whimpered, as you shoved your hands into his chest, pushing him away. Trying and failing to keep your voice strong as you glanced over at Lori, Carl and Shane who were all now standing a few metres away before you focused back on Rick who took a step towards you, grabbing your shoulder gently.

"I know you didn't want me to go back for another tour, but you didn't have to go out and get yourself hospitalised with a gunshot wound and put into a coma for me to come back!" You yelled, hot tears burning in your eyes again as you dropped your head. "I thought you were dead... We all thought you were dead."

"I know. When I woke up and realised what was going on, I thought you were all dead as well. I'm sorry." Rick replied, a stray tear falling down his cheek as you shook your head.

"Sorry isn't going to help when I kick your ass." You muttered causing the people around you to chuckle as you looked away from Rick to see basically the whole group standing around you, with happy smiles watching your family reunion.

"I don't doubt that." Rick chuckled and you shook your head, unable to stop yourself from smiling as he squeezed your shoulder before he walked back over to Lori and Carl, wrapping his arm around his wife's shoulders.

"It's going to get dark soon, how about we start getting tea ready and then Rick can explain everything then." Shane suggested, speaking for the first time as you glanced over at him. Man, he must feel so shitty right now, but you didn't feel bad for him, it was his own fault for screwing around with his best friends wife.

"That's a good idea. Sorry guys, we couldn't bring any supplies back. Things got complicated, we'll explain during tea." Glenn added, as everyone began getting things for tea. Carol, Amy and Andrea all starting to get the food ready as Jim began lighting the campfire to cook the beans.

Lori and Carl began walking Rick back towards their tent, obviously wanting to talk in private which was fair enough. But as you glanced around at the rest of the camp you came to a very bad realisation. Where the fuck was Merle Dixon? Your eyes quickly scanned the camp again, hoping you just missed him, but he wasn't there.

"Hey! Where the hell is Merle?" You questioned out loud, probably a little louder than you should have as you glanced around the camp. Everyone immediately stopped what they were doing in confusion as they glanced around the camp, clearly only just realising the older Dixon wasn't there.

"Back in Atlanta. We didn't have a choice, we had to leave him. He was being loud and obnoxious and was going to get us all killed, so we handcuffed on a rooftop." Morales replied with a shrug, not sounding too worried about the whole situation as you stared at him in a mixture of anger and shock.

"You did what?!" You shouted, your hands forming fists by your side in sudden anger. How could they leave Merle like that? He was Daryl's brother!

"Y/N, don't." Shane warned, quickly standing in front of you as he grabbed your shoulder. He had seen you in too many fights to count growing up and knew exactly what you were about to do to Morales.

"It wasn't his fault. Merle was putting everyone in danger, I didn't see any other option." Rick began to say as you glanced over your shoulder to find him walking back towards you, closely followed by Carl and Lori before he explained everything that happened with Merle and how they dropped the key to the cuffs.

You stood there for a few seconds, processing everything Rick just said as Shane removed his hand and took a step back to give you some space.

"What building was it? I'm gonna go get him." You finally said, turning in Glenn's direction waiting for him to answer as he stared at you like you were crazy.

"Like hell you are!" Shane responded, quickly grabbing your shoulder again as you tried to walk past him.

"You know damn well that you can't stop me, so back off." You stated sternly, pushing past Shane as you began walking towards the white van before Ricks voice filled the air.

"We'll go back for him tomorrow. It's getting dark already, we wait for sunrise and then we'll go." Rick quickly said, as you stopped walking and turned around to face him. "Y/N, you know I'm right." He added and you sighed, pinching the bridge of your nose as you nodded.

"Alright, we wait. But I'm not gonna be the one to break the news to his brother. One of you guys are gonna tell him when he gets back from hunting." You answered, glancing around the group before you walked over to your tent, needing a few minutes to yourself.

How the hell was Daryl going to react? Merle is his brother, if someone had left Rick handcuffed to a rooftop all hell would break loose with you in the centre of it and you doubted Daryl would react any different.

The Dixon brother's may have their issues and argue with each other all the time, but what siblings don't? They were blood, and Daryl is out there hunting for this group right now, the same group who left his brother in Atlanta... Yep, he's gonna be pissed, tomorrow will be interesting when he gets back.

-

"Hey, Y/N, you still awake?" Rick asked, tapping on the zip to your tent and you chuckled at his attempt to knock.

"Yeah, come in." You called back, flicking on the small battery powered lamp beside you as you sat up in your sleeping bag, watching Rick unzip the entrance to your tent and walk in. "What's up? Everything alright?"

"Yeah, was about to ask you the same thing." Rick replied, sitting down on the ground beside your sleeping bag as you gave him a questioning look. "You were quiet earlier, during tea and when we were talking about the Dixons. Shane said that you're close with Daryl Dixon, I'm sorry we left his brother-" Rick began to apologise, but you cut him off.

"Daryl's a good man, despite what some might say. He's not like this brother, but Merle is still his brother. I know you guys had no choice. It's okay. I'm just glad Glenn bought you back." You replied with a small smile as Rick nodded in agreement.

"Me too." He said, glancing over at you before he looked back down at his lap, clearly thinking about something. So you stayed quite, waiting for him to speak. "Why did you go back to Afghanistan after what happened during your first tour?"

"You know why. And we're not talking about it." You replied sternly and Rick sighed, but nodded.

When you got back from your first tour, Rick wouldn't let you out of his sights, but he respected your privacy and never pushed for details about what happened. All he knew was that something bad had happened, he had tried asking you about it a few times, but eventually gave up. But, after one particular bad nightmare he had woken you up and stayed with you for the rest of the night, and you told him what happened. But a few months later you told him that you were gonna go back for another tour and he was furious to say the least. The last conversation you had with him was practically a screaming match, but you knew it was only because he cared.

"I'm sorry for everything I said the day you left... I wasn't angry at you, I was just worried and scared, I didn't know if you would come back home and... God, Y/N I'm so sorry." He whispered, but you didn't miss the tear falling down his cheek as he quickly wiped it away.

"I know... I was scared too and I guess it was just easier to get angry at you, instead of showing you how I was actually feeling." You admitted with a small shrug as you stared at your sleeping bag not ready to look at Rick as you sighed. "We both said stuff we didn't mean. I'm sorry too."

"Well, we're both still alive, that's gotta count for something." Rick replied with a small smile and you chuckled but nodded in agreement.

"You have a wife and son in the tent next to mine, go be with them. I gotta get some sleep before I take over watch duty from Shane in a few hours anyway." You said and Rick nodded, standing up from the ground as he began walking towards the door to your tent. "Goodnight, bro. Just remember these tent walls are thin, so if you and Lori plan on-"

"Okay, okay. Hint received. Goodnight, sis." Rick replied with a chuckle as he zipped your tent door back up.

-

"Yo! Rhee, stop pouting over your car and come help me figure out this rescue mission for Merle." You called out, looking over at Glenn who was watching Jim and Dale strip his Dodge Challenger that he stole yesterday for spare parts and fuel.

"They're vultures." Glenn mumbled and you chuckled as he began walking over to where you were sitting by one of the fold out tables with a map laying over the top.

"I doubt that'll be the last car you steal. Now tell me everything you can remember about the building, how many walkers were inside, outside, how good were the stairs? How far into the city was this building? Give me everything." You said, clicking the blue pen in your hand anxiously as you studied the map, marking down points and notes as Glenn began to tell you everything you needed to know.

"Rick also dropped a duffle bag of guns here, right next to the tank." Glenn added as your eyes quickly shot up towards him in shock.

"How many guns?" You questioned. Between everyone in the group there was only a shotgun, a few handguns, your assault rifle and Dales .22 scoped rifle, you really needed that bag.

"Not sure on the exact number, but the bag was pretty full." Glenn answered as you glanced over at Rick about to ask him, but he seemed to be in a deep conversation with Lori so you decided not to as you turned back to the map and began planning around the bag. You were going to get Merle back because if it was Rick out there you’d do everything you could to get him back, no hesitation.

Chapter Text

It didn't take long, but you and Glenn eventually had a makeshift plan in place to get Merle. You had about four backup plans in case of emergencies, but you were pretty confident your first plan would work.

"Is this kind of stuff you used to do in the military? Strategize plans and stuff?" Glenn asked after you finished explaining everything to him as he stared at you impressively and you shrugged.

"Sometimes." You replied, placing the rocks back on the corners of the map so the wind wouldn't blow it away. You stood up from your chair and turned around to find Shane driving back into camp after filling the buckets in the back of his jeep with water.

"Water's here, y'all. Just a reminder to boil before use." Shane shouted, parking the jeep by the other vehicles as he shut the engine off and climbed out.

"Wish I would have thought of driving down to the lake with the buckets instead of walking and having to do multiple trips yesterday." You commented, walking over to the jeep as you grabbed one of the buckets, Glenn, Amy and Andrea grabbing the others.

"I always told you when we kids that I was the smart one." Shane replied with a grin and you rolled your eyes unable to stop yourself from laughing.

"Is that right? I do recall you paying me to do your homework and keep in mind I was in two grades below you. So, who was the smart one?" You asked, raising your eyebrow at Shane as he shook his head with a chuckle, but that chuckle quickly disappeared as Carl's voice cried out for help across the other side of camp.

"Mom! Dad! Help. Aunty Y/N!" Carl screamed, your eyes locking with Shanes for a split second before you slung your rifle off your shoulder and into your hands as you took off sprinting.

"Carl!" You yelled, jumping over the string of tins you had set up along the perimeter as you saw Carl run into Lori's arms and you sighed with relief, but kept running. Carl was safe with Lori and the others, but whatever he saw was clearly enough to spook him, so you kept running with Shane and Rick, a few others from the group close behind.

You reached a small clearing between the trees and bushes to find a walker bent over a deer eating it's flesh. You quickly scanned your surroundings, making sure there weren't any others before you slung your rifle back over your shoulder and pulled out your knife. But, before you could stab it, Rick, Shane, Glenn, Dale and Morales all began to beat it with baseball bats, crowbars and pitch forks.

You had to stop yourself from laughing at their attempts to kill it. You were pretty sure they all knew how to properly kill one, but wanted to take their frustration of this new world out on something, so you stood back and let them do what they needed to do. But, as Dale finally cut the head off with his axe you gasped in shock when you spotted two of Daryl's bolts sticking out the deer.

A million scenarios began flooding your mind, did he shoot at the deer and then lose it? Was he still tracking the deer and the walker bet him too it? Did something happen to him and he never got to finish the deer off? No, Daryl was smart. He was careful. He was fine. He had to be.

"It's the first one we've had up here. They never come this far up the mountain." Dale commented as you, Rick, Shane, Jim, Glenn and Morales stared at the now headless walker on the ground. He's right, this was the first walker you've seen at camp and Carl was the one to find it for God's sake. Soon this quarry won't be safe anymore, you're too close to the city. You told Shane that when you started setting up camp here, but nobody would listen to you.

"Well, they're running out of food in the city, I told you guys this would happen." You muttered glaring over at Shane before you heard a branch snap behind you in the woods. You quickly spun around, raising your rifle in the direction of the footsteps as Daryl suddenly walked out. He froze for a second when he saw all the guns on him before you lowered your weapon with a sigh of relief. His eyes glanced over at you for a moment before he spotted the deer on the ground.

"Son of a bitch. That's my deer! Look at it. All gnawed on by this... filthy, disease-bearing, motherless poxy bastard!" Daryl yelled kicking the walker and you threw the rifle over your shoulder as you watched Daryl in amusement.

"Calm down, son. That's not helping." Dale suddenly said and you sighed, that probably wasn't the right thing to say.

"What do you know about it, old man? Why don't you take that stupid hat 'n go back to 'on golden pond'." Daryl shouted taking a few steps towards Dale before turning back to the half-eaten deer on the ground. "I've been tracking this deer for miles. Gonna drag it back to camp, cook us up some venison. What do ya think? Do ya think we can cut around this chewed up part right here?"

"I probably wouldn't risk that." Shane commented watching as Daryl pointed to the bite marks over the deer's body and Daryl sighed.

"That's a damn shame. I got some squirrel... 'bout a dozen or so. That'll have to do." He replied motioning towards the squirrel he had tied over his shoulder with rope.

Suddenly, the head of the walker Dale had decapitation began to move, it's jaw snapping as it groaned. "Come on, people. What the hell?" Daryl questioned as he raised his crossbow shooting one of his bolts through the walker's eye. "Stomp it's brain. Don't y'all know nothing?"

"I'll help you skin those squirrels, it'll be quicker with more hands." You suddenly said looking over at Daryl who stared at you for a few seconds before giving you a small nod as the two of you began walking back to camp.

"Merle! Get your ass out here! I got us some squirrel! Let's stew 'em up." Daryl shouted as you walked into camp and you sighed. Shit, he was not gonna take this well.

"Daryl, just slow up a bit. I need to talk to you." Shane called from behind you as you both turned around to find him and Rick walking towards the two of you.

"About what?" Daryl asked in annoyance as you took a small step closer to him, in case he decided to try anything on Shane.

"About Merle. There was a... There was a problem in Atlanta." Shane began explaining before Daryl cut him off.

"He dead?"

"We're not sure." Shane admitted and you rolled your eyes. Yep, that was probably the worse answer he could have possibly given.

"He either is or he ain't!" Daryl growled his anger starting to rise, but you knew it was just a shield for his sudden worry about his brother. Daryl seemed to get angry quickly, but you saw the real him. You saw how he would put up this protective aggressive shield to block people out, but you saw right through it.

"No easy way to say this, so I'll just say it." Rick suddenly said walking past Shane towards you and Daryl as you shared a quick glance with your brother warning him with a stern stare to take it easy.

"Who are you?"

"Rick Grimes." Your brother simply answered causing Daryl's head to quickly snap around to you beside him with a questioning look. He clearly remembered that your last name was Grimes from when you introduced yourself that day you met him and Merle.

'Brother.' You mouthed not saying it out loud as you nodded towards Rick before Daryl looked back at your brother.

"Rick grimes, ya got somethin' ya want to tell me?" Daryl questioned, his tone backing down slightly after realising he was your brother, but you knew things were about to turn ugly once he heard what happened to his own brother.

"Your brother was a danger to us all, so I handcuffed him on a roof, hooked him to a piece of metal. He's still there." Rick explained and you could see Daryl replaying those words over in his head trying to make sense of what he just got told.

"Hold on. Let me process this. You're saying ya handcuffed my brother to a roof 'n ya left him there?!" Daryl yelled and you didn't miss how his hands turned to fists by his side. Shit.

"Yeah." Rick nodded, not bothering to justify his response as Daryl threw the rope of squirrels towards your brother as he tried attacking Rick before Shane pushed him out the way. There was no point you trying to stop him, you could easily stop Daryl if you wanted to. All your training from the military came in handy sometimes, but you knew he might not forgive you if you decided to deck him in front of everyone given the circumstances.

"Hey! Watch the knife!" T-Dog suddenly shouted from somewhere behind you as you watched in panic as Daryl pulled his knife out. But before you could step in, Shane quickly grabbed Daryl from behind, stopping him from attacking Rick as he held him in a chokehold.

"You'd best let me go!" Daryl yelled, thrashing in Shane's grip, but he couldn't get free.

"Nah, I think it's better if I don't." Shane responded and if you weren't mistaken you thought you could hear a hint of amusement in Shane's voice. Why the hell would he be amused by this? Daryl just found out his brother was left on damn rooftop to die, how is that even remotely amusing?

"Choke hold's illegal." Daryl muttered under his grip as you took a few steps towards the three men.

"I'd like to have a calm discussion on this topic. Do you think we can manage that? Do you think we can manage that?" Rick questioned crouching down in front of Daryl, but Shane wouldn't loosen his grip.

"Shane, let him go." You ordered, but he didn't loosen his grip. It was clear Daryl was done fighting, for the love of God just leave man alone. "I said let him go!" You repeated a little bit louder as you crossed your arms over your chest and Shane finally released his old on Daryl.

"You don't tell me what to do!" Shane hissed as he stormed passed you and you rolled your eyes. You may be like brother and sister, but he still got on your nerves.

"What I did was not on a whim. Your brother does not work and play well with others." Rick began to say, not hearing what Shane had said to you as he spoke to Daryl.

"It's not Rick's fault. I had the key. I dropped it." T-Dog admitted causing Daryl to glance up at him from his position on the ground.

"Ya couldn't pick it up?"

"Well, I dropped it in a drain." T-Dog replied as Daryl slowly stood himself up, throwing a handful of dirt at the ground.

"If it's supposed to make me feel better, it don't." Daryl mumbled trying to keep his voice stern, but you could hear the slight break in his tone.

"Well, maybe this will. Look, I chained the door to the roof... So, the geeks couldn't get at him... With a padlock. It's gotta count for something." T-Dog added.

"Hell with all y'all! Just tell me where he is so that I can go get him." Daryl said as he began to walk past you before you grabbed his arm causing him to suddenly tense, instinctively balling his hand into a fist to hit whoever just grabbed him before he realised it was you.

"Easy tiger. I'm going with you. Glenn and I already have a whole plan set up, we'll get Merle back." You said releasing his arm and catching him by surprise as he stared at you, not knowing what to say.

"You aren't serious about-" Shane began to say, but you shook your head knowing exactly what he was going to say.

"This ain't up for discussion. If someone had left Rick up there on that rooftop, they'd be lucky if they were still breathing. So I'm going to help Daryl get his brother back." You stated glancing over at Daryl who gave you an appreciative nod, but you didn't miss the slight glimmer of tears in his eyes before everyone began walking off, half of you getting ready for lunch the other half getting ready go back into the city.

You sat beside Daryl, sharpening your knife while he cleaned his arrows when you heard Shane and Rick walking across the camp. "So, that's it huh? You guys are just gonna walk off?" You heard Shane question as you looked over at them. "Could you throw me a bone here, man? Could you just tell me why? Why would you risk your lives for a douche bag like Merle Dixon?"

"Hey, choose your words more carefully." Daryl called out, glaring at Shane.

"No, I did. Douche bag's what I meant." Shane replied, glancing over at you and Daryl before turning back to Rick. "Merle Dixon. The guy wouldn't give you a glass of water if you were dying of thirst."

"Shane." You muttered, sending him a warning look and he sighed shaking his head.

"What he would or wouldn't do doesn't interest me. I can't let a man die of thirst and exposure. We left him like an animal caught in a trap. That's no way for anything to die, let alone a human being." Rick stated as he began to walk away before Lori spoke up from her chair around the putout campfire.

"So, you, Y/N and Daryl, that's your big plan?" Lori questioned as you stood up and walked over to the group of them.

"Actually, I'm going to. Y/N and I have already made a plan. We'll be in and out and back before nightfall." Glenn explained, glancing over at you as you nodded.

"That's just great. Now you're gonna risk four people? Huh?" Shane asked, looking directly at Rick.

"Five." T-Dog added, stepping forward as Daryl scoffed.

"My day just gets better 'n better, don't it?" He muttered.

"It's not just five. You're putting every single one of us at risk. Just know that, Rick. Come on, you saw that walker. It was here. It was in camp. They're moving out the cities. They come back, we need every able body we've got. We need them here. We need them to protect camp." Shane rambled, but before you could respond and tell him about the bag of guys you were also going to grab, Rick beat you to it.

"It seems to me what you really need most here are more guns." Rick replied, looking over at you before turning back to Shane.

"Rick had a bag of guns, it's still in the city." You commented as Shane stared at Rick in disbelief.

"Six shotguns, two high-powered rifles, over a dozen handguns. I cleaned out the cage back at the station before I left. I dropped the bag in Atlanta when I got swarmed. It's just sitting there on the street, waiting to be picked up." Rick explained and for a second you thought that Rick had managed to convince Shane that this run into the city was worth it, but of course, Lori had to open her mouth.

"You went through hell to find us. You just got here and you're gonna turn around and leave?" She questioned and you sighed, pinching the bridge of your nose in frustration. It wasn't up for discussion. Merle was out there and you guys needed the guns, what more was there to discuss?

"Dad, Aunty Y/N, I don't want you guys to go." Carl suddenly said from beside Lori, looking over at the two of you with worried eyes.

"To hell with the guns. Shane is right. Merle Dixon? He's not worth one of your lives, even with guns thrown in." Lori added and that was it. You couldn't keep your mouth shut for any longer.

"If it was Rick or Shane or Carl or me, handcuffed on that roof, you would want a group to go back and get us. Why the hell is Merle any different? He might be a pain in the ass sometimes, but he's apart of our group and we don't leave anyone behind! You never leave a man behind!" You snapped, staring at Lori before Shane spoke up again.

"This isn't Afghanistan anymore, Y/N! What if something goes wrong at camp? You guys are taking all but two of our guns and most of our best fighters? Do you want to leave us defenceless and-" Shane began to shout before Rick stepped forward.

"Then Y/N will stay." Rick said, instantly stopping Shane in his tracks as he stared at Rick in confusion, the same way you were right now.

"Wait, what?" You questioned.

"Y/N is probably the best fighter in the group. If something goes wrong at camp I am almost certain that she'll be able to handle it, especially with you here to back her up." Rick explained, staring at Shane who seemed to stop and consider what his best friend was saying before he nodded, but you shook your head. They needed you in Atlanta, you had to help Daryl get his brother back.

Rick took a few steps towards you as he grabbed your shoulder gently. "You told Glenn the plan, he has the map you marked. We will be fine, I need you to stay back and watch the group. I need you to look after Carl and Lori. Can you do that for me?" Rick asked quietly and you sighed, glancing over at Daryl who seemed to have stopped cleaning his arrows and was now staring at you, but you didn't miss the small nod he gave you.

"Fine. I'll stay." You sighed, not happy at all with the sudden change in plans, but you had to admit, Shane was right and if you staying meant Rick and the others were still going to go and get Merle, then it was worth it.

While Rick and T-Dog tried persuading Dale to lend them his bolt-cutter, you made your way over to the white delivery truck where Glenn was sitting in the drivers seat and Daryl standing in the back waiting impatiently for the others.

"Hey." You called out, catching Daryl's attention as he walked to the end of the truck as he crouched down so he wasn't talking down to you and you smiled softly at his action before you pulled your assault rifle off your shoulder and held it up to him. "Take it. If you come across a herd or something, you're gonna need it. Do you know how to use it?"

Daryl nodded, slinging his crossbow over his shoulder as he inspected the rifle. "Ya sure ya don't need it?" He asked, looking away from the gun as glanced over at you.

"I have my handgun. You'll need it more than me, just be careful, alright?" You said and Daryl nodded again as you gave him a small smile before you turned around to find Rick walking away from Shane, reloading his pistol with bullets that he must have gotten from Shane.

"Get Merle and the bag and you guys get the hell out of Atlanta, okay?" You asked, walking over to Rick as he holstered his gun before looking over at you with a small nod.

"We'll be back soon. Take care of them for me." Rick replied, pulling you into a quick hug as you wrapped your arms around his shoulders.

"Always, bro. Stay safe." You whispered as pulled away with a nod before he walked over to the truck and climbed in. They better come back in one piece, you thought to yourself before you turned around and figured you might as well do something useful for the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

After lunch you opted to help Carol, Jacqui, Amy and Andrea down at the quarry with washing the clothes. It was better than cleaning the lunch dishes with the Lori who seemed to be annoyed with you about the whole Atlanta situation, but that was her problem.

You could see Shane and Carl trying to catch frogs across the small lake of water and you smiled watching them together, glad that Shane was distracting Carl about thinking of his father too much.

"I'm beginning to question the division of labour here." Jacqui commented, walking over to you, Amy and Carol with handfuls of clothing they retrieved from Ed's truck which was parked a few metres away while the three of you sat on a couple of crates already washing some clothes in the water.

"I do miss my maytag." Carol commented after nearly five minutes of washing peoples clothes and you chuckled.

"I miss my Benz, my sat nav." Andrea added.

"I miss my coffeemaker. With that dual-drip filter and built-in grinder, honey." Jacqui joined in and your mouth practically watered at the thought of homemade coffee right now.

"My computer. And texting." Amy sighed and you smiled at the girl as you continued to scrub one of Carls shirts.

"I miss my vibrator." Andrea suddenly said a few seconds later and you stopped what you were doing at her unexpected comment as Amy looked at her older sister in shock.

"Me too." Carol mumbled and the rest of you all lost it laughing. If you were honest this was the first time you had genuinely laughed this much for a long time, but of course nothing good ever lasted.

"What's so funny?" Ed's voice suddenly questioned and you glanced over your shoulder to find him walking towards the group of you, a cigarette dangling from his fingers as he stared at you guys, but you didn't miss the side glance he gave Carol.

"Just swapping war stories, Ed." Andrea tried to shrug off as you all glanced at each other before you continued washing the clothes. You knew what Ed does to Carol and probably Sophia behind closed doors, you were pretty sure most of the camp knew, but there wasn't anything you guys could do about it. Shane had tried and it just made things worse, so you tried to bite your tongue around Ed, not wanting to make things worse for Carol and Sophia.

"Problem, Ed?" Andrea questioned and you glanced over your shoulder again to find Ed literally standing a few metres behind the five of you, watching you all carefully.

"Nothin' that concerns you. And you ought to focus on your work. This ain't no comedy club." Ed responded and you felt your hands tighten around the shirt you were washing as you tried to keep your temper under control, despite every muscle in your body telling you to knock the man on his ass.

You were so focused on trying to keep yourself uncontrol that you didn't notice Andrea standing up and marching over to him until she started speaking. 

"Ed, tell you what. You don't like how your laundry is done, you are welcome to pitch in and do it yourself. Here." She said, throwing him one the shirts as he easily caught it and threw it back at her harshly.

"Ain't my job, Missy." Ed muttered, glaring at her as you quickly stood up and walked over to them. Andrea might be trying to act tough in front of Ed and you had to give her credit for that, but you knew she was silently scared of the man, all the women were, but not you.

"What is your job, Ed? Sitting on your ass smoking cigarettes?" Andrea questioned.

"Well, it sure as hell ain't listening to some uppity smart-mouthed bitch. Come on. Lets go." Ed called out, looking over at Carol as you glanced over at her before you shook your head.

"I don't think she needs to go anywhere with you, Ed." You spoke up, taking a step forward so you were the closest person in front of him as he turned his attention towards you in amusement.

"And I say it's none of your business. Come on now, you heard me." Ed responded, motioning for Carol to come over to him as you heard Andrea try telling her not to.

"Hey, don't think I won't knock you on your ass just 'cause you're some college-educated cooze, alright?" Ed threated, staring at Andrea before he looked back at Carol. "Now you come on now or you gonna regret it later."

"So she can show up with fresh bruises later, Ed? Yeah, we've seen them." Jacqui spoke up as everyone turned around to look at her, but you didn't dare take your eyes off Ed as he chuckled.

"Stay out of this. This ain't none of y'alls business. You don't want to keep prodding the bull here, okay? Now I am done talking. Come on." Ed instructed, grabbing Carols arm and forcefully pulling her towards him as the others quickly grabbed her other arm to stop him from taking her.

"Carol, you don't have to." One of the women said, but you were barely listening to them as you watched Ed, his expression turning from impatient to pissed off in a split second and you had been around enough angry men in your time overseas to know what was about to happen next.

"Get your hand off her." You ordered, taking a step forward as you grabbed Ed's wrist and yanked it off Carols arm as the rest of the women quickly pull Carol a few steps away, clearly knowing what you were planning to do. "Touch Carol or any other woman in this group again and I won't hold back. Now-" You began to yell, but didn't get to finish your sentence before Ed tried to throw a punch at you.

It wasn't hard to easily dodge his fist, even if you didn't have military training you probably could have dodge his sloppy attempt at a punch. You quickly ducked your head, as he stumbled forward missing you entirely before you grabbed the collar of his shirt and threw him backwards. You didn't particularly want to start a fist fight in front of Carol, but if he didn't back off you then you wouldn't have a choice.

You watched in amusement as Ed tripped over backwards, landing on his ass after your forceful push and Carol gasped behind you. Stupidly, you glanced over your shoulder at her, relieved that Amy and Andrea were holding her back, but as you turned around to see if Ed had gotten his fat ass off the ground you came face to face with his fist as he slammed it into the side of your face and you stumbled backwards.

"Y/N!" The women behind you screamed, but you couldn't really hear them over the sudden ringing in your ears from the force of his punch as you somehow managed to keep your feet. Shit, he could punch harder than you thought.

"Wrong fucking move." You muttered through gritted teeth as you kicked him in the balls before slamming your own fist into the side of his face and watched in satisfaction as he landed back onto the ground, groaning in pain.

"Bitch!" Ed yelled, struggling to get to his feet from the kick to the nuts as he took a step towards you, but before he could do anything else, Shane suddenly appeared and threw him to the ground and began to punch him repeatively in the face. As much as you could stand back and watch Ed get his head punched in, you could hear Carol crying and the others yelling at him to stop.

"Walsh, I think he learnt his lesson." You called out as Shane glanced over at you before he turned back to Ed.

"You put your hands on your wife, your little girl, Y/N or anybody else in this camp one more time, I will not stop next time. Do you hear me? I'll beat you to death, Ed." Shane yelled, punching the man one more time before he angrily stood up as Carol quickly rushed to her husbands side.

"Y/N-" Shane began to ask, taking a step towards you and you nodded.

"I'm good. Head back to camp, we still gotta finish these clothes." You replied as Shane stared at you for a few seconds before he nodded and began walking off.

You didn't bother trying to talk to Carol, who was currently crying over her husbands unconscious body on the ground, so you walked back over to the washing boards as you sat back down on the crate and began washing the clothes.

"Hey, we can finish the clothes. You should go rest." Jacqui suddenly said, sitting down on the crate beside you as you looked up to find her and Amy staring at you worriedly, while Andrea kept an eye on Carol.

"I'm fine, it was just a punch." You replied, shrugging off their worries. You have had worse than a single punch. You have had way worse, but they didn't need to know that.

"It's already starting to bruise, are you sure?" Amy asked and you smiled at her kindness, but nodded. You could feel it already bruising along your left cheek bone, but what could you do about it? It wasn't like you could grab some ice out the freezer and hold it against your face.

"Yeah, let's get these clothes done and head back to camp." You replied and with that Jacqui and Amy sat back down and helped you finish off the last of the clothes. It didn't take very long to finish and by the time you loaded the back of the truck up, Ed had managed to get himself into the passenger side, his face swollen with fierce bruises and dried blood.

When you got back to camp, Carol helped Ed get into their tent and you were almost positive he wouldn't come back out for the rest of the night and that was perfectly fine with you. Andrea, Amy, Jacqui and yourself unloaded the clothes from the truck and hung them up on the makeshift clothes line that Lori had made with rope between two trees.

"Y/N, are you okay? Shane told us what happened down by the lake." Lori's voice suddenly called as you glanced over your shoulder to find her and Carl walking over to you from the RV as you nodded and continued hanging up the clothes.

"I'm fine, it wasn't that bad." You replied as you finished hanging up the last pair of jeans before you turned around towards the two of them properly and you could almost pinpoint the exact moment they saw the bruise on the side of your face as their eyes went wide in shock. You caught a glimpse of the bruise through the revision mirror in the truck earlier, it was already a deep blue and purple colour and would only get worse.

"I'd hate to see what you'd call bad then." Lori commented and you nodded, yeah she would hate to see what injury you considered bad, a simple bruise from a punch was nothing. "We're about to start getting tea ready, come sit down and rest. Dale's going to make tea, said it's gonna be a surprise, apparently he found some stuff in the RV."

"Oh God, it better not be stale oatmeal like he made that time for breakfast." Amy muttered, grabbing the now empty boxes as the group of you began making your way towards the deckchairs around the putout campfire.

"It could be worse, Shane could be cooking and that would end in a disaster. He burns everything." You commented, taking a seat on your deckchair as Carl sat down on his usual one beside you, the others all taking their seats as well after a long deserved rest.

"Hey, I don't burn everything." Shane called out and you turned around in your chair towards the direction of his voice to find him still pulling Glenns Dodge Challenger apart for spare parts.

"Shut up, Walsh. You could burn water, don't even try disagree." You teased causing Shane to roll his eyes with a laugh as you turned back around in your chair, but you didn't miss the uneasy expression on Lori's face after your little joke with Shane. If she wanted to give Shane the silent treatment and shut him out, then that was her decision, but he hadn't done anything wrong to you, despite sleeping with your brothers wife, but that was their issue not yours.

You, Carl, Lori, Andrea, Amy and Jacqui all sat around on the chairs for the next hour, just talking quietly amongst yourself. It was nice just listening to the others talk about old memories, friends, family, careers, it was just good to see everyone smiling and laughing as they shared happy moments from before. 

An hour later Jim had gotten heatstroke while he was out digging, nobody knew why he was out in the sun digging for hours and once he gotten over the worst of the heatstroke he didn't know why either. It wasn't a big deal and Shane took the shovel off him easily enough, but had to tie the man up against the tree when he tried fighting back. You couldn't risk him lashing out on the others at camp especially the kids and luckily Jim understood it and didn't seem to hold a grudge against Shane, so that was a win.

Andrea and Amy had bagged out on fish earlier this afternoon with Dales boat and fishing gear so he didn't have to cook tea tonight which was why right now you were all sitting around the campfire with plates full of fish and left-over squirrel thanks to Daryl. But, speaking of Daryl, they weren't back yet and you were starting to get worried, but you'd never say that out loud. Lori, Carl and Shane seemed worried enough as it was, so you just kept saying that they were fine and probably got held up with something.

You couldn't help but smile as you watched the group devour the fish fillets, everyone commenting about how good it was and how much they missed fresh food like this. The kids all passed around the left-over fillets while Dale talked about his wrist watch or something, but you weren't really listening, you were more focused on how happy and relaxed everyone was, despite the others still not back yet. Jim seemed to be back to normal as he sat between Shane and Morales eating his own fish, while Ed still hadn't came out from his tent since Shane had taught him a lesson and nobody was complaining.

"Where are you going?" Andrea suddenly questioned, snapping you out of your thoughts as you looked up to find Amy standing up from her chair beside her sister.

"I have to pee. Jeez, you try to be discreet around here." Amy responded causing everyone to laugh as the younger sister walked off to the RV.

"Should we save some fish for dad and the others?" Carl suddenly asked as you glanced over at Lori who gave you a questioning look. You honestly hadn't even thought of that, you probably should save some for them... but they should have been back by now. It's been 12 hours and it only took 20 minutes by car to get into the city, where the hell where they?

"We're out of toilet paper-" Amy called out from the RV, but her voice quickly turned into a scream as you spun around in your chair just in time to see a walker biting into her arm. 

The minutes after that happened so quickly. You were vaguely aware of the others in camp screaming and shouting in panic as walkers began stumbling into camp from all directions before your body clicked into survival mode.

You quickly pulled out your Glock 18 and began firing at the walkers, taking down the one on top of Amy first even though you knew she was done for before you continued firing at the other walkers. You could hear Shane's shotgun firing from somewhere behind you, along with Dales scoped rifle, but you were too busy firing at the walkers to see where the two of them were. Out the corner of your eye you spotted Jim taking down a few walkers with some baseball bat that you didn't even knew he had, but glad he did.

The walkers seemed to be coming in from everywhere as you quickly fired at the walker about to reach Morales as he gave you a quick appreciative nod before you turned away and fired at the other walkers. Why the hell did you give Daryl your assault rifle? It would really come in handy right now.

You were so focused on the walkers in front of you, you didn't even hear Lori yelling at you until she grabbed your shoulder causing you to jump back, nearly aiming your gun right at her before you realised she wasn't a walker and you sighed with relief.

"Y/N, what do we do? I don't know what to do." Lori stuttered, panic evident in her voice and facial expression as he pulled Carl closer to her body. You quickly glanced around the camp, taking a mental note as to where everyone was and where most the walkers seemed to be coming from as you tried to think of a plan.

"Shane! We gotta work our way towards the RV! Get the kids and women inside to safety and then we take down the rest of the walkers!" You shouted, glancing over at Shane who continued firing his shotgun, but nodded in agreement as you grabbed Lori's hand and placed it over your shoulder. "Hold onto my shoulder and Carl's hand and don't let go! Take this." You yelled, over the screams and gunshots as you quickly pulled out your tactical knife and handing it to the woman before you began making your way towards the RV on the other side of camp, Shane quickly joining your side as the two of you guarded Lori and Carl while taking down the walkers.

Within seconds Carol and Sophia were behind you guys as well while Shane shouted out to the others to make their way towards the RV. There was safety in numbers, you guys needed to be together if you wanted to make it out of this, but at the moment everyone was scattered around the camp with the walkers.

"In front of you!" Lori screamed, but you were in the middle of reloading your handgun to do anything about the walker, but just before you would slam your gun against the side of it's face, Shane fired, killing it instantly.

"Morales, work up here! Everyone, work your way up here!" Shane shouted as you guys reached the RV, spotting Amy lying on the ground bleeding out from various bite wounds as Andrea sat beside her sister in pure panic not knowing what to do, but there was nothing you could do other than cover Andrea and make sure she didn't get bit too.

"Get inside! Don't come out until it's over!" You yelled as Shane quickly opened the door to the RV pushing Lori, Carl, Carol and Sophia inside before slamming the door shut as he joined you standing in front of the RV.

It didn't take long for Morales to get his family to the RV, along with Jacqui and a few other women from the group as he got them inside the RV, but you were more focused on the walkers that were beginning to circle in on Dale in the middle of the camp. 

You frantically fired at the walkers around him before the dreadful sound of your gun clicking filled the air, indicating that the chamber was empty. You were out of bullets and didn't have any more spare magazines. Shit. 

Chapter Text




"Y/N!" You heard Shane's voice shout from somewhere behind you, but ignored him as you began sprinting towards the walkers near Dale. You didn't bother responding to Shane, but you were starting to wish you never gave Lori your knife as you grabbed the walker behind, Dale, by it's shoulders. It's rotten flesh breaking apart between your fingers as you threw the walker to the ground and slammed your boot against it's skull.

"Get to the RV!" You yelled, slamming your handgun against the side of a another walkers face as you glanced over at Dale to find him already making his way in the Winnebago's direction before a very distinct gunshot filled the air causing you to freeze. That wasn't Shane's shotgun and definitely wasn't the noise from Dale's sniper, what the hell?

You quickly glanced around in confusion before you spotted Rick running out from behind a truck on the other side of camp, firing off rounds with his Colt Python, but you didn't have time to be relieved about it as the walkers continued coming.

Suddenly an arrow flew past your face landing on the walker to your left and you mentally cursed yourself for not seeing the walker earlier. "Y/N!" Daryl's voice yelled and you quickly spun around to the direction of the voice as he threw you your assault rifle.

You caught the weapon with one hand, holstering your handgun before you opened fire on the walkers around you, being mindful of where the others were so no stray bullets hit anyone. You glanced back towards the RV, happy that Shane, Morales and Jim were standing by it, taking down any walkers that got too close. 

T-Dog, Glenn and Daryl now sporting shotguns as well which you figured must have came from Rick's bag of guns, but you didn't have much time to think about it as you continued firing at the walkers around you before the last one finally dropped.

"Carl! Baby! Carl!" Rick's voice yelled, once the gunfire ceased as your eyes frantically scanned the camp, making sure there weren't any more walkers before you turned towards Rick who was jogging towards you, but you quickly pointed to the RV.

"In the RV, everyone is in the RV!" You yelled, watching as Rick quickly stopped in his tracks as he turned towards the RV just in time to find Shane opening the door as Carl, Lori and the others slowly walk out before you turned back around and continued looking for walkers.

Once you were sure that the camp was safe for the time being you began walking back towards the RV where everyone was currently standing, all hugging and crying, but you didn't miss Andrea crying over Amy and your heart broke for the other woman.

You quickly did a head count of the surviving group members. Rick, Carl, Lori, Daryl, Shane, Glenn, Dale, Andrea, T-Dog, Carol, Sophia, Jacqui, Jim, Morales and his family, but that was it. The others clearly didn't make it.

"Y/N, are you alright?" Rick questioned, snapping you out of your thoughts as you found him looking over at you worriedly, his eyes staring at the bruise along your cheek. His arms were still wrapped around his wife and son as you nodded and he visibly relaxed, clearly relieved that his family was okay.

You couldn't stand watching Andrea crying over Amy so you turned away, taking a few steps away from everyone by the RV and continued scanning the camp and surrounding woods. It was pitch black, but the full moon provided enough light, lighting up all the dead corpses over the ground, most walkers, but some of your group members who hadn't been so lucky.

"Ya good?" Daryl's voice suddenly asked as you glanced over your shoulder to find him walking over to you and you nodded, slinging your rifle over your shoulder as you turned back towards the woods, just waiting for more walkers to come through the trees, but they never did. "Who did that to ya?"

"What?" You asked in confusion, turning back towards the archer to find him staring at the bruise along your cheek bone which you had completely forgotten about as you rubbed your hand over it gently. "Ed, but he's dead now anyway. Not by me. The walkers." You quickly corrected yourself and Daryl just nodded as realisation suddenly hit you.

"Daryl, where's Merle?" You quickly questioned, your eyes flashing over the group by the RV, but Merle was no where to be found. Where was he? Did they find him? Was he still alive? Was he still on the roof? "Daryl?" You asked again when the man didn't respond and you looked back towards the archer as he shook his head and walked off back towards the others, leaving you standing by yourself as you tried to figure out what that meant.

-

It was safe to say that nobody got a goodnights sleep. You got maybe two hours tops before you woke up in an all too familiar cold sweat from nightmares and ended up sitting on your deckchair by the red coals of the campfire for the rest of the night.

You hadn't spoken to Daryl since he walked away from you, but you knew he was in his tent, although it was debatable whether he was actually sleeping or not.

Andrea hadn't moved from beside her sister and nobody was gonna try make her, but that didn't stop you from keeping an eye on her. Sooner or later her sister was going to turn and you didn't think Andrea could put her sister down, if you were being honest you probably wouldn't be able to put Rick down if you were in her position.

Some time during the night, Shane had joined you by the red embers of the fire. Neither of you really spoke, but you didn't need to as the realisation of just how unsafe you guys actually were started to hit you. Nobody saw the walkers until it was too late and you knew the walkers would begin moving out the city sooner or later, you just never thought it would be this soon.

"You guys couldn't sleep either?" Rick's voice whispered as you glanced over your shoulder to find him walking towards the two of you, his handgun still holstered to his side, but had swapped his sheriffs uniform for a plain white t-shirt and jeans as he took a seat beside you.

"Don't reckon anyone is." Shane replied quietly and you nodded in agreement as glanced up towards the RV where Morales was sitting keeping watch before you looked back towards the glowing embers of the campfire.

None of you spoke for a while before you asked what happened in Atlanta and Rick told you everything. He told you about Merle cutting his own hand off, Glenn being taken by a group, but the group was just trying to protect the elderly and Rick ended up giving them a few guns to protect themselves. He told you how their vehicle had been stolen and how they thought it was Merle and feared he was going to bring hell down on the group for leaving him, so they had to run back to the camp and that's when they heard the gunshots.

"Thank you guys for getting Lori and Carl to safety... if something had happened to them or either of you..." Rick trailed off shaking his head as he glanced over at Shane who was sitting on the other side of you, but Shane shook his head too.

"Wasn't me, man. That was all, Y/N. Her quick idea to get everyone in the RV, if it wasn't for that we'd have lost more people." Shane stated as Rick's eyes flicked over to you giving you a small smile.

"We shouldn't have lost anyone to begin with. I shouldn't have let my guard down." You muttered, looking away from Rick as you focused on the dying campfire.

"This wasn't on you, Y/N. Nobody saw this coming." Shane replied, but you didn't bother responding. It was on you. You were meant to keep the group safe, you promised Rick you would.  That was the whole reason you stayed back when they went to Atlanta and you couldn't do it.

"Here, your Glock takes 9mm rounds right?" Rick asked and you nodded as he began pulling something out his pocket before giving you a handful of bullets as you stared at him in surprise. "The bag of guns had bullets too, figured you used all your rounds earlier." Rick explained as you dropped the bullets in your lap and pulled out your handgun from your holster as you began loading the ammunition into the magazine.

"Sun's gonna be up in a few hours, what's the plan?" Shane asked after a few minutes of silence as he looked over at you and Rick, because of course even Shane looked towards you for a plan, how the hell did you get into this position?

"Bury the dead and get rid of the walkers bodies somehow, they're already starting to stink the camp out." Rick replied quietly, glancing around the camp, making sure nobody else was awake yet before he looked back towards you and Shane.

"We could burn the walkers, drag them away from camp and just burn the bodies. But, we gotta figure out a long-term plan because I've been saying this for weeks, the walkers will eventually make their way out the city. We can't stay here." You whispered and they both nodded in agreement. "But, we can figure all that out later. Right now we need to focus on the bodies and try keep the camp calm."

"Then that's what we do." Rick replied.

-

It took a few hours, but as the sun began to rise everyone was started making their way out their tents and it was clear by the tiredness in everyone's eyes that nobody got a goodnights sleep. How could anyone sleep after what happened?

A few of the woman served up a light breakfast, making everyone eat, despite nobody actually wanting to after last night. Once satisfied that everyone had at least something to eat -despite Andrea who still hadn't moved from Amy's side- you and Rick told everyone the plan and they got to work.

Everyone split off into groups, some were loading up the walkers bodies into the back of a truck getting ready to drop them off away from camp to burn them. Others were loading the bodies of your dead campmates into another truck to bury while the others were busy stabbing the brains of everyone who was dead and the walkers themselves to make sure they all stayed dead.

Daryl seemed to be going out of his way to avoid you, not even sitting in his usual chair beside you around the campfire during breakfast and you had no idea what to do about it. He was clearly worried about his brother, but Merle was alive out there somewhere, that son of a bitch was too stubborn to die from blood loss, but that didn't make it any less painful for Daryl.

You were busy helping Glenn throw one of the last walkers bodies into the pile on the far side of camp. The pile was already burning and the stench was so strong you could feel it singeing the hairs in your nose, but it wasn't like you could palm this job off to anyone else. You had to practically dragged Glenn with you to help since nobody wanted to do it, but it had to be done.

"Y'all can't be serious! Let that girl hamstring us? The dead girl's a time bomb." Daryl's voice called out from the other side of camp as you looked up to find him standing by Rick, Lori and Shane, all of them staring at Andrea and Amy.

"What do you suggest?" Rick asked, as you listened while pulling the gloves off your hands, tucking them in the back pockets of your cargo pants before wiping the sweat from your face with your hands.

"Take the shot. Clean, in the brain from here. Hell, I can hit a turkey between the eyes from this distance." Daryl responded and you frowned, why the hell would be so rude? Andrea's little sister had just died, could he not show a little bit of respect towards them?

"No. For God's sake, let her be." Lori muttered and for once you actually agreed with your sister-in-law as you glanced towards them, watching as Daryl scoffed and began walking towards Jim, T-Dog and Morales who were starting to load the bodies of your dead friends into a truck, getting ready to bury them. At least the holes Jim dug will come in handy, you thought to yourself.

You and Glenn began walking towards them, getting ready to help load up the other bodies. "What are you guys doing? That pile is for the geeks. Our people go in the back of the truck." Glenn suddenly said, realising that Daryl and Morales were moving the body towards the wrong pile.

"What's the difference? They're all infected."

"Our people go over there." Glenn repeated, causing Daryl and Morales to stop dragging the body as they looked over at Glenn. "We don't burn them! We bury them! Understand? Our people go over there." Glenn yelled, emotion thick in his voice as Daryl glanced over at you before focusing back on Glenn and sighed.

You watched as Daryl and Morales grabbed the body and dragged it towards the truck. "Ya reap what ya sow!" Daryl shouted, glancing towards Glenn as they hefted the body into the bed of the truck.

"You know what? Shut up, man." Morales muttered, glaring at Daryl beside him.

"Y'all left my brother for dead! Ya had this coming." He yelled throwing his pickaxe over his shoulder as he pointed towards all the dead bodies angrily before walking off and you quickly jogged over to him. "The hell do ya want?" He snapped, stopping in his tracks as he turned around to face you.

"I get that you're pissed, alright? I get it, I would be too. But, you do not get to say that the group had this coming. We just lost half our people last night. Half of them, Dixon!" You shouted in a hushed voice so the others didn't hear, but Daryl definitely did as his expression soften slightly, but before you could speak again, Jacqui suddenly started shouting.

"A walker got him. A walker bit Jim!"

Shit.

Everyone stopped what they were doing the instant they heard it and within a split second they were all crowded around Jim who was standing in the middle of camp, clearly panicked as his eyes flicked over everyone.

"Show it to us." Daryl shouted as the two of you quickly walked over to the group. "Grab him." Daryl muttered and you quickly grabbed Jim's shoulders, stopping him from doing anything as Daryl lifted his shirt up exposing the bite mark over his stomach and everyone gasped in shock.

You glanced over at Rick and Shane, but neither of them seemed to know what to do about this situation as you looked over at Daryl who had picked up his pickaxe again, but was standing a few metres away.

"C'mon. Sit down over here." You said calmly as you began walking him over to the RV, but he began shaking his head, continuously mumbling 'I'm okay' as you sat him down on top of a crate. "We'll work this out, just sit tight." You instructed and Jim nodded slightly before you walked back towards the others, all of them standing in a circle arguing about what to do.

"I say we put a pickaxe in his head 'n the dead girl's 'n be done with it." You heard Daryl state as you reached the group, sending him a warning glance, but he just shrugged.

"Is that what you'd want if it were you?" Shane questioned.

"Yeah, 'n I'd thank ya while ya did it." Daryl responded, which was clearly not the answer Shane was looking for, by the expression on his face.

"I hate to say it, I never thought I would but maybe Daryl's right." Dale began to say, but you quickly shook your head.

"No. Jim's not a monster, Dale. Or some rabid dog." You responded, looking over at the older man.

"We start down that road, where do we draw the line?" Rick questioned, backing you up without hesitation as he looked around at the group who all seemed to be at a loss with what to say before Daryl spoke up again.

"The line's pretty clear. Zero tolerance for walkers, or 'em to be." He stated and you sighed pinching the bridge of your nose. You were stuck on a fence here. On one hand, you agreed with Daryl, there was no tolerance for walkers, but on the other hand, Jim was still human. He was still alive and breathing and you couldn't just shoot him.

"What if we can get him help? I heard the CDC was working on a cure." Rick added, catching your attention as you looked across at him.

"I heard that too. Heard a lot of things before the world went to hell." Shane responded, obviously not set on the idea of the CDC still up and running.

"If there's any government left, any structure at all, they'd protect the CDC at all costs, wouldn't they? I think it's our best shot. Shelter, protection." Rick stated, a few others nodding in agreement.

But Shane shook his head. "Okay, Rick, you want those things, alright? I do too, okay? Now if they exist, they're at the army base. Fort Benning."

"Shane's right, if Fort Benning is still operational, they'll be heavily armed and we'd be safe. That was where the army commissioner wanted to send me when this shit show started, but I refused to leave Rick's hospital-" You began to explain before Shane cut you off.

"Then it's settled, we go to Fort Benning."

"Let me finish. You're right about that base, if it's still running. But, that's 100 miles in the opposite direction. Now, the army sent a unit to the CDC when everything started turning south. A few of my friends from my earlier tours were sent there, they set up a base to protect the CDC. It's our best choice and Jim's only chance." You explained, glancing around at everyone and to your relief they all seemed to agree.

"You go lookin' for aspirin, do what ya need to do." Daryl started saying before he took the pickaxe from his shoulder, holding it in his hands as he turned around and started walking towards Jim. "Someone needs to have the balls to take care of this damn problem!" He yelled, raising the pickaxe.

You, Rick and Shane sprinted over to him as Rick pulled his pistol out, aiming it at Daryl's head as you and Shane stood between Daryl and Jim.

"Hey, hey, hey! We don't kill the living." Rick shouted, cocking his gun as you sent him a look which he knew meant 'don't do anything stupid'.

"That's funny, comin' from a man who just put a gun to my head." Daryl muttered, lowering his pickaxe as you held your hand out and he gave it to you before turning back to Rick who had lowered his gun. "You're lucky you're her brother." Daryl growled, glaring at Rick before he stormed off, no doubt going over to his truck and Merle's motorcycle to be away from everyone and cool down as you sighed with relief. That could have went down a lot worse.

"You seem to be the only person Dixon actually likes." Shane muttered from beside you.

"Because I'm the only one who talks to him like a normal human being. Daryl isn't as bad as what you guys think. He just lost his brother and isn't thinking straight right now, remember that." You replied, glancing between Rick and Shane which seemed to shut the two of them up as you walked off.

The rest of the day went by slowly. Amy turned and to Andrea's credit she managed to put her little sister down and you guys eventually buried your dead. Jim was put inside the RV to rest and it was decided that you guys would head to the CDC at first light tomorrow. You really hoped it was the right choice.

Chapter Text

Once again you woke up with barely any sleep, but you were used to it by now. After what had happened during your first tour in Afghanistan sleep was like a foreign concept to you. But luckily your body still seemed to function properly when running on only a few hours sleep otherwise you would have been screwed.

Nobody was in a chatty mood this morning, everyone sticking to themselves and packing up their gear into the vehicle's. You weren't really a morning person, so you were glad that everyone else was keeping to themselves.

You glanced around watching the others struggling with their large complex tents and you were suddenly relieved that you had your military backpack which contained a small tent and sleeping bag. They easily fitted inside the backpack and you still had enough room for your other gear, it was perfect for the apocalypse.

"Hey." Rick called out, walking over to you as you finished rolling your sleeping bag up and began pulling your tent down. You glanced over your shoulder, spotting him walking over towards you in his usual sheriffs uniform. You would have thought it'd be weird seeing him still in his uniform, but for some reason it just seemed quite fitting. "Need a hand?"

You looked over at your tent that was already half dismantled before you glanced back at Rick raising your eyebrows at him. "I can take down my own tent." You replied, turning back around as you continued taking down your tent. You knew Rick was only trying to be nice, but you were just exhausted and the vivid nightmares you had been having about the incident in Afghanistan for the past few nights weren't helping.

"I know you can. But I also know when my sister is struggling." He replied from behind you as he grabbed your shoulder. You flinched at the gentle touch and Rick quickly removed his hand. "It's just me." He whispered, carefully placing his hand back on your shoulder.

"I know." You sighed, closing your eyes for a few seconds. It's been over a year since you got back from that first tour, it shouldn't affect you like this still, but it did. You had nightmares more often than not and still struggled with human contact. Outside of the army, only Rick knew about what had happened during your first tour, although you suspected that Lori and Shane might know a bit of it from Rick.

"Hey, look at me." Rick said softly as you opened your eyes and lifted your head to find him now standing in front of you, his hand still on your shoulder as he looked at you worriedly. "If things get too bad come and talk to me, alright?"

"I will." You replied with a slight nod as Rick pulled you into a hug.

"Now, I know you can do it yourself, but I want to help. So, lets get your tent packed up." Rick said after a few seconds as he pulled away and you gave him a small smile before the two of you began pulling your tent down. You glanced over your shoulder towards Lori and Carl who were busy loading up one of the cars, but you didn't miss Daryl standing by his truck glancing towards you and Rick before he went back to strapping Merle's motorcycle securely in the bed of his truck.

Daryl hadn't spoken to you since the incident with Jim yesterday and seemed to go back to avoiding you again, but there was nothing you could do about it and frankly right now you didn't really care. You just wanted to get to the CDC and crash for a week, if you were being honest.

"Aunt Y/N, are you riding with us?" Carl asked as you followed Rick over to him and Lori by their car, your backpack slung over your back and assault rifle over your left shoulder. You glanced over at your nephew with a smile, but before you could respond Carol walked up towards you guys.

"Would it be okay if Sophia and I carpooled with you guys? I don't really want to take Ed's car by myself and you could siphon the fuel out of it and put in your vehicle if you'd like?" Carol asked, now standing beside Lori, holding Sophia close as she glanced between Rick and Lori.

"Of course, let me help you with your bags." Lori replied as she walked around to the back of their car and began packing the Peletier families belongings in the back.

You looked over at Rick who seemed about to apologise, but you quickly shook your head. "It's cool, I'll be fine on my own. Carol and Sophia shouldn't be alone. There's a spare car anyway, I'll take that."

"I could go with you." Carl spoke up and you smiled softly at him but shook your head.

"I would love that, but I need you to stay here. Sophia just lost her father yesterday, she could use a friend. Can you do that for me?" You asked quietly as you knelt down in front of Carl who quickly nodded and you smiled before pulling the young boy into a hug.

You glanced around camp, making sure nobody had left anything that might be useful before you began walking towards the small red hatchback by the other vehicles. You weren't entirely sure who's car it was, it might be Jim's but he was definitely in no condition to drive, so you might as well use it.

"Sorry Y/N, we've already siphoned the fuel out of that car, didn't think anyone was gonna use it." Glenn suddenly called out, just as you were about to open the boot of the car to put your backpack in. Just your luck.

"You can come in the RV with us, it's a bit crowded but there's enough room for you." Dale added as you glanced over at the two of them as they stood by the RV and you sighed. The last thing you wanted was to be stuck in the RV surrounded by everyone, no offence to them or anything, but you just weren't in a very sociable mood at the moment. Maybe you could go with Shane, he was taking his Jeep.

"She can come with me." Daryl's voice suddenly called out as you spun around to find him leaning against the side of his truck now wearing a flannel shirt which he had obviously ripped the sleeves off, but it suited him. "I got room, if ya want." He shrugged and you nodded, giving Glenn and Dale an appreciative smile before you walked over to Daryl's truck.

"Thanks, I didn't really wanna be stuck in the RV all day." You replied, pulling your backpack off your shoulders as you threw it in the back of his truck, beside Merle's motorcycle.

"Figured that." Daryl muttered as he double checked the tiedowns on the motorcycle before you all hit the road. The Morales family decided to head to Birmingham instead of the CDC, they had family there apparently, but you still didn't like the idea of the family being out there on their own, but what could you do?

You sat in the passenger side of Daryl's truck, your assault rifle facing down at the ground leaning against your seat beside Daryl's crossbow. Neither of you spoke as he drove and you were glad for that.

You were only driving for two hours before the radiator in the RV died, but between Dale and Glenn they eventually got it working again with a shit load of duct tape. Although Jim had taken a turn for the worst and wanted to be left on the side of the road and again you didn't like that idea, but what could you do about it? It was his choice in the end, even if you didn't like it.

"M'sorry 'bout earlier." Daryl suddenly said as you looked over at him in surprise, not expecting him to actually start a conversation with you. He was biting his thumb nail, his other hand on the steering wheel as he focused on the road. "How I was actin'... I shouldn't have said what I did."

"No, you shouldn't have." You replied, catching Daryl's eye as he glanced over at you for a second before he turned back on the road. "But I get it. And for what it's worth, I'm sorry about your brother." You said quietly and Daryl grunted in response as you leant back in your seat, resting your head against the window.

"Get some sleep. Ya look like ya haven't slept in days." Daryl muttered, as you felt him glance towards you as you stared out the passenger side window and chuckled.

"That your way of saying I look like shit?"

"Nah, my way of sayin' ya look tired. Still got a few hours of drivin', get some sleep." Daryl replied as you looked over at him to find him already looking at you and sighed.

"Wake me up if anything happens or if you need a break." You said and Daryl nodded, but didn't say anything further as you leant back in your seat and closed your eyes.

-

Daryl knew he shouldn't have been acting how he was yesterday. They had just lost half their group and if it wasn't for Y/N then they would have lost a whole lot more, but it was just easier to be angry instead of letting himself feel sad about Merle. He knew his brother probably got himself in that situation and that it wasn't anyone's fault but his own, but it was just easier to get angry at the group for what happened than to face the fact that his brother was an asshole sometimes and that was all it boiled down to.

He shouldn't have been avoiding Y/N either, she was the only one in the group who seemed to actually want him around and for some screwed up reason she still did, even after how he was acting.

When Y/N had found him and Merle in the woods he never would have thought he'd end up caring so much about her. He shouldn't care this much about her, but as he glanced over towards her sleeping form in the truck beside him, he knew he did and it scared the hell out of him.

She was in the military before all this and that alone said a lot about her. She wasn't like the other women around camp. She was strong, brave and didn't take anyone's shit. She even went up against Ed for crying out loud and had never once complained about the large bruise along her cheek bone which was still highly visible and looked painful to touch.

There was something about her that Daryl couldn't quite put his finger on. There was something hidden beneath her. She walked around like she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and he had a sneaking suspicion that something had happened in her past to make her that way, but he had no idea what it was. He saw the way she flinched when Rick grabbed her shoulder this morning, the sudden panic spreading across her face before she realised who it was and how she had to take a second to compose herself afterwards. He wasn't too fond of human contact either, but he doubted it was for the same reasons.

He glanced over her sleeping body for a second hearing her mumble something in your her sleep and he found himself smiling slightly at how relaxed she was when sleeping, he got the feeling that she didn't sleep much.

Whenever he was on watch duty she was always awake, her lamp was either on in her tent indicating that she wasn't asleep or she would be sitting by the campfire by herself in the middle of the night or sometimes joining him on watch. He didn't understand how she could function without much sleep, but he understood how bad nightmares could get. The amount of times he'd wake up with images of his father beating him, images of his childhood house burning with his mother inside and now images of walkers flashing through his mind whenever he closed his eyes. He knew how bad nightmares could get, he was no stranger to them and he had a feeling that Y/N wasn't either.

"No. No, no, no, don't. Not again. Please." Y/N mumbled, stirring in her sleep as he looked over at her in confusion before he realised that she was dreaming. Her once relaxed expression now painted with terror and pain as she squirmed in her seat. "Leave me alone. No. Don't touch me. No. No." She whispered, her voice so faint that he almost missed what she said, but he heard it and he a sinking feeling in his stomach at what her nightmare might be about.

"Hey." Daryl called out, glancing over at her beside him, but it was clear she couldn't hear him as she continued mumbling and stirring in her sleep. "Hey, Y/N. Ya gotta wake up." He said a bit louder, his eyes flashing back to the road for a second before he looked back towards her.

"Y/N!" He shouted, grabbing your shoulder gently as he shook you slightly when suddenly your eyes flew open as you quickly sat up right. Your breathing coming out short and fast as you tried to calm yourself down.

You could hear someone talking from beside you and it took you a few solid moments to realise that it belonged to Daryl. It took you a few more seconds to actually put his words into context and to realise that the hand gripping your shoulder was his and not someone trying to hurt you.

You knew Daryl was asking if you were okay, but you didn't trust your voice in the slightest at that moment as you turned towards the passenger window and quickly wiped your eyes, not even realising that they were laced with tears.

You took a few deep breaths, eventually calming yourself down as the realisation of what just happened connected in your mind. "Shit." You sighed, realising that Daryl had just witnessed the whole thing and you were stuck between feeling embarrassed and feeling grateful that he was there to pull you out of it.

"Ya good?" Daryl asked removing his hand as he glanced over at you for a moment before looking back towards the road, clearly trying to give you some privacy.

"I'm fine." You replied quietly, pulling your knees up to your chest as you wrapped your arms around them, trying to make yourself as small as possible. You knew that you were safe -well not safe, nobody was safe in this new world- but you were safe from the horrors that happened in Afghanistan, but deep down that fear never disappeared.

"Mmm." Daryl hummed, clearly not believing you in the slightest as he glanced over at you with a slightly worried expression before he turned back to the road. "We're nearly there." He commented and to your relief he didn't ask any questions about what just happened as you rested your head on top of your knees and stared out the window.

It only took another 10 minutes before Daryl began slowing the truck down, indicating that you had probably arrived, but when you heard the quiet curse leaving Daryl's lips your head quickly shot up from your knees as you tried to figure out what was wrong and that's when you saw the CDC.

The building seemed to be fine, but that wasn't what you were focused on. What you were focused on was what used to be the army blockade. There military vehicles, trucks, tanks and sandbag barricades scattered around the CDC that were there to protect the building, but by the look of all dead corpses in army uniform on the ground, they died trying. Not a single soldier was left standing and you could feel tears stinging your eyes, but you quickly wiped them away as you stared at the area in pure shock. Your friends, your teammates, they had been deployed to the base outside the CDC and it was gone.

You glanced over at Daryl as he parked his truck behind the other vehicles before turning to look at you with an almost sympathetic expression as gave him a small nod before you both climbed out the truck, grabbing your assault rifle as he grabbed his crossbow.

You slung the rifle over your shoulder and pulled out your knife that Lori had given back to you earlier, knowing that if you fired one shot this close to the city you might as well shoot yourself too because it was a death sentence. The others all quickly climbed out their cars, staring at the CDC and dead bodies in shock.

"Y/N-" Rick began to say as he walked towards you, but you quickly nodded and cut him off.

"I'm fine. Let's go. Stay behind us and stay together." You ordered, glancing around the group while taking a mental note of who had weapons and who actually knew how to use said weapons before you began leading everyone towards the large building.

You tried not to look at the corpses on the ground, afraid that you might recognise some of them so you kept your eyes up and scanned the area making sure there weren't any walkers. You continued walking towards the building while trying your best to breath out your mouth because damn those bodies stink!

You could hear the others coughing and gaging at the smell as you glanced over your shoulder to find most of them covering their noses, but they all seemed to be listening and followed behind you and Rick closely as you reached the building.

Rick and Shane quickly tried to open the roller shutter doors, but it was clear they weren't going to budge. "Nothing?" You questioned, glancing at the two of them as Shane shook his head and banged on the door.

No, this couldn't be it. You and Rick bought the group here, it was the God damn CDC, it would still be running. It had to still be running.

"There's nobody here." T-Dog said from somewhere behind you, but you weren't really listening as you scanned the building trying to find a way inside. The doors were down and that meant they were protecting whatever was inside, there had to be people inside!

"Walkers!" Daryl shouted, catching your attention as you quickly looked around to find a few stray walkers stumbling your way as Daryl fired his crossbow. Trusting that Daryl and the others could handle a few walkers, you turned back towards the building and that's when your eyes landed on the security camera on the wall above you.

"You led us into a graveyard!" Daryl's voice yelled and you had no idea if he was yelling at you or Rick or someone else, but that was the furthest thing from your mind right now as you focused on the camera.

"They made a call." Shane responded.

"It was the wrong damn call!" Daryl argued, his voice much closer now and you knew he was standing somewhere close behind you, but you were too busy looking at the camera to check or even care. Something was off about the camera and you couldn't pinpoint what.

"Shut up! Rick, Y/N, this is a dead end. Where are we gonna go? Fort Benning is still an option" Shane stated.

"On what? No food, no fuel. We can't being this close to the city after dark." Lori responded, fear evident in her voice and that's when it clicked. The camera. There was a little red dot shinning above it which meant the CDC still had power. Hell, that building had enough backup generators to last for months, which meant there were still people inside. If there wasn't anyone inside to switch the generators over when they'd run out and this place wouldn't have power and that red dot on the camera would not be on!

"We'll think of something." Rick tried to reassure, but it was clear he was starting to panic.

"Come on, let's go. Let's get out of here. Back to the cars." Shane suddenly yelled as he began ushering everyone back towards the vehicles when suddenly the camera moved, following their movement.

"The camera!" You called out, speaking up for the first time as you glanced back at the others who were staring to head back to the cars, but stopped hearing your voice. "It moved."

"You imagined it." Dale responded, but you shook your head.

"It moved, I saw it too." Rick stated and you glanced over at him to find his eyes glued to the little white camera on the wall, obviously having come to the same conclusion as you did.

"It's an automated device. It's gears, okay? They're just winding down. Now come on." Shane said, but you shook your head.

"I know you're in there! Open up the doors!" You yelled, staring up at the camera as Shane quickly stood in front of you and Rick as he grabbed your shoulders and began pushing you guys backwards. "Y/N. Rick. Guys, just listen to me. Look around this place. It's dead, okay? It's dead. You need to let it go, Rick. Y/N, there's nobody here!" He hissed, but you shook your head and shrugged his hand off your shoulder, which was easier than you thought since he was trying to hold Rick back as well.

"I know you can hear me! Help us! Those soldiers sacrificed their lives to protect this place, I know you're in there!" You yelled as you kicked the shutter door, not taking your eyes off the camera. You could hear the others shouting in panic, yelling that there was nobody there, that you had to get back to the cars, but you weren't listening. There were people inside, there had to be, it didn't make any sense.

Suddenly, Rick was by your side, having broke free from Shane's grip as he banged on the shutter door. "We have women, children, no food, hardly any gas left. Please, we're desperate. If you don't let us in, you're killing us!" Rick yelled, before Shane quickly grabbed him again as you felt a set of hands wrap around your stomach and began pulling you back as well.

"Y/N, c'mon. We gotta go." Daryl's deep southern drawl muttered in your ear, but you shook your head as you fought against his grip. Rick doing the same with Shane to your left as he shouted 'you're killing us' at the camera.

"There's someone in there! I know there is!" You argued, staring at the small camera. "Open the door! God damnit! We have nowhere else to go! Open the door!" You yelled, as Daryl and Shane continued to try pull you and Rick away when suddenly the shutters rattled slightly before the sound of gas hissing filled the air and the shutter door began to open. Well shit, it worked.

Chapter Text

 

Bright white light seeped out from the door causing you squinted before the light faded and you sighed with relief staring at the now open shutter door. Daryl's arms around your body slowly releasing you as he stared at the door in shock before you pulled your assault rifle out, pressing the butt of the gun firmly against your shoulder as you began walking through the door. Rick and Shane right behind you as Daryl covered the back.

"Hello? Hello?" Rick called out, as you glanced back at the group making sure everyone was safely inside before you turned back around and scanned the large empty area. Quickly taking note of all the doors and exits you could find, however, it was the CDC which meant most of those doors and exits were probably locked and bullet proof.

"Hello?" A male voice suddenly called out and you quickly spun around towards the voice, aiming your gun towards the stair case as a man appeared out from the shadows. You noticed he was holding a semi-automatic rifle and you quickly took a step forward, trying to block the mans view from the kids behind you. "Anybody infected?"

"One of our group was. He didn't make it." Rick replied from beside you, his gun still aimed at the man as you eyed him suspiciously.

"Why are you here? What do you want?" The man questioned, his eyes trained on Rick when he spoke.

"A chance." Rick simply replied.

"That's asking an awful lot these days." The man said, his eyes glancing around the group and you knew he was contemplating what to do. But, you also knew if he fired one burst of the rifle, he'd be dead before he hit the ground, whether it would be from you, Rick, Shane, Daryl, Glenn, T-Dog or Dale, because all of you had a gun and they were all aimed at the man.

"You all submit to a blood test. That's the price of admission." The man finally said after a few seconds as Rick glanced over at you with a questioning look, but you nodded. He was clearly a scientist and you knew how to take a blood test from your time in the military, so if he started doing anything sketchy you'd be able to pick it.

"We can do that." You answered as the man nodded and with that you guys quickly grabbed your gear out the cars. Within a few minutes the man called out to someone named Vi, telling her to seal the main entrance as you guys followed the man into an elevator.

Nobody said anything for a few seconds as you all stood around in awkward silence, reminding you of what it was like to ride in a crowded elevator before the world ended. You and Rick stood beside the man, your hand resting over your handgun, not trusting the stranger especially while you were all in such close quarters and not to mention he was still holding an assault rifle.

"Rick Grimes." Your brother suddenly introduced, holding his hand out towards the man as he shook it.

"Dr Edwin Jenner." The man -Dr Jenner- replied, his eyes glancing over at the rest of you before he turned back towards the front of the elevator.

"Doctors always go around packin' heat like that?" Daryl questioned from the back of the elevator as you glanced over at him to find him leaning against the wall with his shotgun resting against his shoulder as he eyed the doctor cautiously, clearly not trusting him yet either.

"There were plenty left lying around. I familiarized myself. But you look harmless enough. Except you." The doctor said, glancing down at Carl who was standing beside you as your hand instantly rested on your nephews shoulder. "I'll have to keep my eye on you." He joked causing Carl to smile.

It wasn't long before the elevator stopped and the doctor lead you down a hallway into the main room called Zone 5. There were desks and computers set up inside the large area along with a huge screen on the far wall, but there wasn't anyone else inside.

The doctor eventually explained that he was the only one still in the CDC, making you wonder why the others would leave this place, but before you had a chance to ask any questions the man took you to a different room and took everyone's blood tests to make sure none of you were infected.

Once he was satisficed that nobody was infected he showed you guys to the kitchen. Before you even knew what was happening you were all sitting around the large kitchen table eating food and drinking and honestly just having a good time.

"You know in Italy, children have a little bit of wine with dinner. And in France." Dale commented as he began pouring everyone glasses of wine while the others all continued stuffing their faces full of food. You had already eaten a bowl of pasta and knew you should probably stop eating otherwise you'd make yourself sick, but you didn't know when the next time you'd get a feast like this would be. So you sat back in your chair with a glass of red wine and watched the others talk and eat.

You were sitting between Rick and Glenn while Daryl sat up on a bench on the other side of the table since there wasn't enough room on the table, but he didn't seem to mind as he drunk his own glass and you really didn't mind the view either. He was directly opposite you and had his handgun tucked in the front of his pants which was extremely hot with the little bit of skin you could see where his flannel was tucked up from the handgun. Oh God why were you checking him out? Had the alcohol already started to quick in?

"Well, when Carl is in Italy or France he can have some then." Lori said, snapping you out of your daydream as you glanced over at her to find her holding her hand over the top of Carls cup on the table as Dale stood behind her with the bottle of wine.

"What's it gonna hurt? Come on." Rick encouraged, reaching over Carl as he bumped Lori's shoulder playfully and you chuckled as you watched the woman remove her hand from Carls up with a shrug.

Dale grabbed Carl's cup and poured a bit of wine inside as he placed it back down in front of him, "there you are, young lad." He said as he sat back down in his chair beside T-Dog while Carl took a sip of the wine and immediately screwed his face up in disgust.

"Eww." He responded, poking his tongue out as he shook his head causing all of you to crack up laughing as Rick rubbed Carl's hair, unable to himself from laughing either.

"That's my boy." Lori chuckled, pouring his wine into her glass as you leant past Rick and handed Carl a can of soda that was sitting in the middle of the table.

"Stick to his, kiddo." You said as Carl's eyes lit up seeing the drink and he grabbed it.

"Not you Glenn." Daryl spoke up, as he stood up and walked around the table with his now empty wine glass, no doubt about to refill it. "Keep drinking, little man. I want to see how red your face can get." Daryl said, causing everyone to laugh again as Glenn sunk down in his chair beside you, his cheeks reddening in embarrassment, but at least he was laughing as well.

"It seems to me we haven't thanked our host properly." Rick called out, tapping the side of his glass with a knife as he stood up, glancing over at Doctor who was sitting on a chair a few metres away.

"He is more than just our host." T-Dog called out and you nodded in agreement.

"Hear hear!" Everyone called out, raising their glasses and nodding towards the doctor.

"Booyah!" Daryl shouted, holding up the bottle of wine as a few others mimicked his cheer and everyone went back to laughing and chatting amongst themselves.

You watched as Daryl began refilling his glass of wine, filling it higher than most people usually would before he glanced over at you catching you watching him. He gave you a small smile and titled the bottle towards you as he raised his eyebrows in questioned and you nodded.

"We're so gonna regret this in the morning." You commented as Daryl walked around the table towards you as he refilled your glass with a chuckle.

"Nah, ain't no lightweight." He muttered as you glanced up at him, his body millimetres away from yours as he leant over you to reach your glass and you had to quickly look away, not trusting your slightly intoxicated self in the slightest.

"And you think I am?" You questioned, a hint of amusement in your tone as Daryl finished filling you glass and took a step back.

"Dunno." He replied, looking down at you with an unreadable expression before he walked back around to the bench across the table and sat back down.

You watched as Daryl took a gulp from his new glass of wine before Glenn suddenly tapped you on the shoulder and you flinched, but quickly recovered as you looked over at him to find him looking at you with a sheepish grin. Oh God, he totally caught you eyeing Daryl.

"You have a crush on him." Glenn whispered, nodding in Daryl's direction and you felt your cheeks turning a shade of pink.

"I do not." You murmured, not wanting anyone else to hear this conversation as you took another sip from your glass.

"Well, he clearly has a crush on you. You see him refiling any other girls drinks or offering them a ride in his truck?" Glenn asked, his voice hushed as he spoke and as much as you didn't want to admit it, Glenn was right. But you and Daryl were just friends right? He wouldn't like you more than that, especially not after your little episode in the truck.

Glancing over at Daryl you found him already looking in your direction as he quickly looked away, taking another sip of his drink and your heart fluttered. Maybe he does... God, this was stupid, it was like high school crushes all over again. The world was ending, he didn't want to waste his time with someone like you, right?

"Nasty bruise you got there." The doctor suddenly spoke up, bringing you away from your thoughts and conversation with Glenn as you looked over at the doctor in confusion before you realised he was looking at you. Oh, he was talking to you. "I'd hate to see the other guy."

"Yeah, you would." Shane responded, glancing over at you before looking at the doctor who frowned slightly, his eyes flashing around the table before focusing on you.

"I'm guessing you two are related? Brother and sister?" The doctor asked, motioning between you and Shane as you both laughed.

"Not by blood. But, he's like a brother to me. However, this guy-" You said, wrapping your arm around Rick's shoulders as he chuckled at your actions. "Is my pain in the ass older brother."

"Yeah, but deep down you secretly love me." Rick teased and you rolled your eyes, punching his shoulder gently as you sat back down in your chair properly.

"Very deep down." You responded causing everyone to laugh as Dale began telling one of his many stories while everyone continued to eat and drink, but you didn't miss Daryl watching you out of the corner of your eye.

Everyone was enjoying themselves and celebrating, but of course it all ended when Shane asked what happened to all the other doctors and staff that would have been in the building. The doctor told you about most of them leaving to be with their families and how the others basically committed suicide once the army base got overrun outside and with that being said the mood instantly died around the table.

Although the mood quickly lifted again when the doctor showed you guys the bedrooms where you could sleep and the showers that had hot water. Hot fucking water! It was like a dream come true.

You tried not to spend too long in the shower, remembering that the doctor had told you guys go to easy on the hot water, but you couldn't help it. It literally felt like heaven as you stood under the shower heat as warm water sprayed over your body.

You washed your body and your hair with the bottles of shampoo and body wash you found on the ground in the shower. You didn't want to leave the warm water, but you knew others still might need a shower so you reluctantly turned the taps off and you climbed out. You dried yourself with the towel before getting changed back into your usual army pants and tank top as you tied your army jacket around your waist.

You walked out into the hallway about to make your way to your bedroom for the night when you practically walk straight into your brother. "Whoa, you good?" You asked, grabbing his shoulders to keep him up right, noticing the bottle of alcohol in his hand and you chuckled realising that your brother was drunk.

"Yeah, just gonna go talk to Jenner." Rick replied and you knew he was trying his best to keep his tone straight, but you knew your brother and you knew he was far from sober right now.

"You want help walking over there?" You asked, your hand still on his shoulder as he shook his head.

"I'll be fine. Lori, Carol and the kids are in the rec room if you're looking for them. Goodnight, Y/N." Rick said, pulling you into a hug and you chuckled as he nearly tripped over trying to hug you. "I'm not drunk, I just tripped." Rick quickly covered up as he pulled away and you nodded.

"I'm sure. Goodnight, bro." You replied, trying to keep a straight face as you watched your brother walk off down the hallway in a line probably as straight as a fruit loop.

Shaking your head, you turned around and began heading towards the rec room that was located at the far end door of the hallway, wanting to say goodnight to Carl and Sophia before turning in for the night.

As you walked further down the hallway you saw the door to the rec room shut, but you could hear faint voices from inside. You figured the kids must have gone to bed and Lori and Carol were still up talking over a few glasses of wine.

You contemplated whether you should just go to bed, but you weren't tired and figured it would be good to hang out with the two woman for a while. But, as you opened the door you quickly realised that it wasn't Carol talking with Lori, it was Shane.

"Shane! Just stop. Get your hands off me." Lori's frighten voice ordered and your blood ran cold when you heard the tone in her voice and you knew something was seriously wrong.

You quickly shut the door quietly behind yourself as you walked further into the room and that's when you saw them. Shane had her pinned up against the wall, one hand holding the side of her face, the other hand making it's way down her pants. For a second you froze where you stood as you took in the scene, images from Afghanistan suddenly filled your mind, but you quickly shook your head. Now was not the time for that shit.

You could hear Shane whispering something to her, but you couldn't hear anything over the blood rushing in your ears as you quickly ran over to them. You didn't bother trying to tell him to stop as you grabbed the back of Shane's shirt and pulled him away from Lori.

Not expecting the man to actually fight back was a stupid mistake because the next thing you knew he had thrown you off him as you back hit the carpet floor, knocking the wind out of you as you gasped for breath.

You barely had a chance to even process what was happening before he grabbed the front of your tank top and yanked you back up to your feet. But you didn't give him a chance to do anything further as you grabbed his face, your nails digging into his skin and he quickly let you go, ripping the collar of your tank top in the process. You glanced down at your tank top the front of it ripped exposing your bra and skin, but that was the least of your worries.

"What the fuck are you doing?!" You shouted in a whisper, not wanting anyone else in the building to hear as you pushed Shane into the wall, your hand over his chest to keep him there. It was as if your voice had somehow gotten through to him because he quickly stopped fighting as he looked up at you in complete shock, like he only just realised who he had been fighting.

You glanced over at Lori behind you, making sure she was okay. Her eyes were filled with tears and you wanted nothing more than to just go over to her and hug her right now, but not until you ripped into Shane for what he just did.

"I got this, go to your bedroom. Everything will be fine." You said calmly looking over at your sister-in-law as she nodded and quickly rushed out the room.

"I-I... It wasn't what it looked like." Shane stuttered, as your head spun back around to him and he instantly shut up.

"Then tell me what it was, because it looked like you were sexually assaulting my sister-in-law or am I wrong? Because it sure as hell didn't seem like she had given you consent." You hissed, taking a step back as you took a deep breath trying to calm yourself down. Sexual assault was something you did not tolerate at all, you would have rather seen him punch Lori in the face than what he just did. If it was anyone other than the man you call a brother then you would have fucking decked him already.

Shane lowered his head guilty unable to look you in the eye, he had a couple scratches along his neck from your finger nails and you sighed.

"You're better than this, Walsh. You and I both know that. Whatever happened between you and Lori when you thought Rick was dead, that's between you guys. But, you have to stop this shit. I know you care about Lori, but she's married to your best friend! You have to get over it." You said, trying your best to keep your tone calm, but on the inside you were fuming. Fuck, you should have just punched him to knock some sense into his thick head.

"I know. I know. Shit, I fucked up. I really fucked up and I hurt you." Shane mumbled, looking down at your ripped tank tip before he quickly looked up at your face, realising that your bra and skin was now exposed. His face full of guilt and sorrow, but that didn't excuse him from his actions. Yes, he was drunk and yes, he was upset, but he should have never touched Lori like that, no woman or man should ever have to go through something like that.

"I'm fine, it's Lori you hurt. Now, if I catch you touching her or any woman like that again, it won't be a friendly conversation next time, Walsh." You threated, not giving him a chance to responded as you began walking away.

You could feel your hands starting to tremble at your side as memories from Afghanistan began to fill your find. You could feel your breathing coming out short and fast as you hurriedly made your way towards the door, just wanting to lock yourself in your room before you had a panic attack in public.

You untied your jacket from around your waist, walking out the room and into the hallway as you pulled the jacket. But before you could even attempt to do up the zip of your jacket you walked straight into a solid body and if it wasn't for a pair of strong hands around your shoulders you would have fallen backwards.

"Shit, sorry." You quickly apologised, looking up to find Daryl standing in front of you and you mentally sighed, grateful that it wasn't Rick.

Daryl shook his head about to say something, but he stopped when he noticed your tank top ripped. You quickly wrapped your jacket around your body not bothering to do up the zip as you covered your tank top and before you could even try make up some excuse Shane suddenly walked out the room you were just in.

He froze seeing you and Daryl standing out in the hallway. Daryl quickly looked over at you in confusion before glancing back towards Shane, the fresh fingernail cuts along his neck highly visible as he lowered his head and walked past the two of you. But, you could pinpoint the exact moment Daryl figured out what happened as his hand balled into a fist by his side. Oh this was not going to end well.

Chapter Text

Daryl turned around about to walk after Shane before you quickly grabbed his arm. "Don't." You whispered as Daryl glanced back at you, clearly torn with what to do as he looked back down the hallway, but Shane was nowhere to be seen.

"He do that to ya?" Daryl questioned anger evident in his tone as he motioned towards your jacket that you were using to cover your ripped tank top. You sighed rubbing your face with your hands that you didn't even realise were shaking.

Why were your hands shaking? You were perfectly fine, you weren't the one nearly sexually assaulted and you knew Shane would never touch you like that. Shane wasn't like the Taliban in Afghanistan. He wasn't like that group you were stuck with for three months, no not 'stuck with' that made it sound like you had a choice, more like held hostage by and Shane was not like those men.

You stared down at your hands, trying to get them to stop shaking, but you couldn't as the memories from Afghanistan began filling your mind.

It was a simple mission. Just a simple search mission that your unit had done a thousand times before. You guys flew out to a small farming village where the Taliban had 'supposably' been storing explosives, but after searching high and low none of you could find the explosives or any trace of the Taliban ever being there, so your Commander had ordered you to come back to base.

You were the co-piolet in your unit. It was your job to be on the lookout for any suspicious actively while the pilot focused on flying, but you didn't even see the RPG coming until it was too late and your helicopter crashed in unknown territory.

The first few days after the crash were still blurry, but you remembered being dragged out the helicopter wreckage along with your teammates. You remembered the pain in your stomach from where a piece of metal had impaled you during the crash. Blood. There was so much blood. You could hear your teammates screaming and crying as the Taliban threw you all into vehicles, gagging your mouths and throwing bags over your head.

You were taken to some Taliban base in the middle of nowhere. The men in your unit all lined up and shot in the head, while you and two other women -Amber and Tracy- in your team were chained to chairs and kept alive. They treated your wound from the piece of metal and any other injuries you girls had from the crash and for the first few days nothing happened. But, you knew how bad the Taliban were, you knew what they did to US soldiers and prisoners and knew it was only a matter of time before they either killed you or made you wish you were dead.

It was on day four that it finally started. They wanted locations of every military base along with the locations of safehouses you guys had set up around the country and of course the three of you refused. If you gave away that information a shit load of people would die, innocent people, soldiers, medics, support staff, hundreds of people would die, so the three of you stayed silent. You had been trained for this. You had been trained to withstand physical and psychological torture, it was part of your basic training as a cadet.

You guys could handle the physical torture, the punches, the stabs, the electrocution, the broken bones, even being shot, because you knew that no matter how bad the pain was they couldn't kill you, they needed you alive for the information, so that is what you focused on.

But you were the only women they had around as far as the three of you could tell and they took advantage of that, they took advantage of that every single day. You girls were chained, handcuffs around your wrists and chains around your legs and there was nothing you could do to stop it.

After the first week, Amber, one of your teammates gave in and gave away a fake location to a base, thinking that they might set you guys free, but they didn't. They sent a group out to the location and when they came back declaring that the information was fake they killed her and after that neither you or Tracy spoke. When it was just the two of you, you'd talk to each other, tell each other stories to keep yourselves sane, but when the men came into the room the two of you wouldn't say a word.

You two were held hostage for nearly three months before one of the men -well he wasn't a man he was barely 18 years old- had slipped you the key to your chains one night and helped you get free. Despite not knowing where you were the two of you managed to escape the building without being detected and stole two of their horses that they had tied up by the back of the building. Neither of your were in good enough condition to run, with the severe injuries you both had. Broken bones, cuts, burns, brands, you name it. You needed the horses if you wanted a chance to make it out of there alive, but as soon as you mounted the horses you were spotted.

The two of you took off on horseback, but not before a bullet pieced through your stomach and Tracy got a matching one through her chest as well, but those last few days were the blurriest and you still weren't entirely sure how you got back home.

You weren't sure how but you managed to get the two of you to a safehouse, but that was all you remembered. Apparently you had used a satellite phone to contact the main base and within 24 hours a rescue team was there and bought you back. Or so that's what they told you, you had lost a lot of blood by that point for all you knew a flying unicorn had swooped in and saved the two of you.

When you woke up in the hospital Rick was sitting right by your bedside and cried when you finally opened your eyes. Apparently, they had told him that you had died in Afghanistan when your team never made it home all those months ago and then they told him that you were actually alive in hospital, but the chances of you surviving were close to zero. But like hell you had gone through all of that only to die when you were in safe hands at a hospital.

You had a bullet wound to you stomach, a broken wrist, multiple broken and fractured ribs, an infection from where you had been impaled by metal during the crash since the Taliban stitched the wound up in the most dodgy way possible. You also had major concussion, bruising covering 80% of your body, burns, brands and stab wounds all over your stomach, back and a few on your arms, a fractured ankle and four broken fingers. You didn't even know how many stitches and staples the doctors had put into you, but it had to be some kind of record.

They told you that Tracy had died before getting the two of you to the hospital and to make matters even worse your Commander wanted you to give him a full statement about the past three months and that was the last thing you wanted to do. You didn't even want to think about what you had gone through, let alone sit there and talk about it. But, luckily Rick seemed to realise this and told your Commander to leave and made sure either him and or Shane were with at all times so nobody could try pressure you into giving a statement about it this after only just waking up.

But, of course you eventually had to and after nearly a month in hospital you were finally able to go home, well by 'go home' it meant stay at Rick and Lori's in their spare room because he didn't want you by yourself. You barely talked for the first few months, barely did anything really. Shane visited nearly everyday and Carl always sat with you and talked about his day and what he did at school, he was the first person to actually get you to laugh and after that things slowly started to get better.

You never told them about what happened in Afghanistan, they just knew that you were held hostage for three months and presumed dead. However, after one particular bad night where you woke up screaming and crying, Rick rushed into your room and held you until you calmed down. It wasn't the first time he'd woken you up from nightmares, but it was definitely the worst one you've had and you didn't even bother trying to go back to sleep and Rick didn't make you.

The two of you ended up in the lounge room watching reruns of 'Friends' on television for most the night and that's when you told Rick what happened. You didn't tell him every detail, he didn't need to know all of it. But you told him most of it and he sat there quietly listening and crying while you spoke.

Some days were better than others, some days you were proud of how you survived everything, but other days you just wished you were killed in that helicopter crash. Those were the real bad days.

"Y/N?"

"Hey, ya with me, girl?"

"Y/N?!" Someone suddenly shouted, snapping you out of your thoughts as you blinked a few times to find yourself staring at your shaking hands. You quickly looked up to find Daryl standing in front of you with a worried expression and you didn't even realise you had tears in your eyes until you felt one fall down your cheek.

"M'gonna kill him." Daryl muttered, his worry turning into anger in a split second as he turned around to go after Shane and you wanted to grab his arm to stop him, but you just couldn't get your body to move.

"Don't go." You tried to call out, your voice coming out a mere whisper, but he must have heard you because he stopped and turned back towards you. "Please."

Daryl stared at you for a few seconds, clearly not knowing what to do as he took in your teary eyes before he nodded. "Do ya want me to get Rick?" He asked, but you quickly shook his head and he sighed.

"C'mon." He muttered, lifting his hand up to grab your shoulder, but you flinched away on instinct without even realising it and Daryl quickly lowered his hand before he motioned for you to follow him.

You followed the archer down the hallway as he opened the door to his bedroom and walked in, taking a seat on the end of his bed and you did the same. Neither of you said anything for a while, Daryl letting you calm down as he sat beside you fiddling with a loose thread on your jeans and once again you were grateful that Daryl didn't talk much and seemed to know when you needed a moment.

"Shane didn't do anything to me." You finally said after a few minutes of silence as Daryl looked over at you with a doubtful look. "He was drunk and annoying Lori, I tried to get him to stop and he just snapped. He didn't realise it was me and when he did it was too late, hence my ripped tank top. He didn't hurt me or do anything, it just brought back memories of... it just bought back bad memories. Shane would never hurt me."

Daryl didn't say anything for a few seconds and you could see him biting his thumb nail out the corner of your eye, clearly processing what you had just said.

"Ya sure he wouldn't hurt ya?" He asked, glancing over at you as you continued to fiddle with the thread on your jeans and nodded.

"Shane's been Rick's best friend since school, he's always been around and like a brother to me. I know Shane wouldn't hurt me... it just..." You trailed off not really knowing how to word it. You knew he would never do anything to hurt you, but that didn't stop your mind from flashing back to Afghanistan.

"It just bought back bad memories." Daryl finished for you as you lifted your head and looked over at him for the first time since sitting down and you nodded. But to your surprise he wasn't looking at you any different. He wasn't looking at you like you were weak or stupid, he wasn't looking at you in pity or sorrow, he just looked at you the same way he always did, almost a bit curiously and you knew he wanted to know more.

"If ya don't wanna go back out there ya can stay here tonight. I'll take the couch." He said nodding towards the single seater couch by the far wall.

"I can't take your bed. It's the first real mattress and beds we've had since before, you should take it." You replied, but Daryl shook his head.

"Ain't ever had a nice bed, why start now." Daryl muttered and you frowned in confusion, has he never had a real bed? Did he have a real bed when he was a child? You never had a real bed in the army, but you always came home to one.

"Well, it's the end of the world, might as well try new things." You responded, standing up from the bed as you glanced over at Daryl who was still sitting on the end of the bed looking up at you.

"I ain't lettin' ya sleep on the couch." Daryl said, glancing over at the couch on the other side of the room before bringing his attention back to you.

"Well it's a large bed, we could have half the mattress each?" You suggested and you could feel your cheeks blushing slightly, but you didn't want to be alone tonight and if he said no then you'd just sleep on the couch, it wasn't a big deal.

Daryl scoffed, shaking his head as he stared at you. "Wait, ya serious?" He questioned, raising his eyebrow at you.

"Two friends can share a bed without making it weird, right?" You asked as you began walking around the side of the bed and pulled the blankets back. It was a king sized bed, so there was easily enough room for the two of you.

"Guess so." He muttered, glancing over his shoulder watching as you began to climb into the bed, pulling the covers up over your body before Daryl sighed and climbed into the bed too. "Ya start snornin' then we're gonna have a problem." He muttered, as you felt him roll over on his side so his back was facing you and you chuckled.

"Goodnight, Dixon." You whispered, rolling away from him as you heard him mumble something like 'night' before he turned the bedside lamp off.

-

The next morning you woke up to an empty bed, Daryl already up and in the kitchen with the others. You all ate together, some kind of powdered eggs that T-Dog cooked up. Shane refused to even look in your direction and Lori gave you a hug when you walked into the room, thanking you quietly for stepping in last night.

Daryl didn't say anything to you, but gave you a nod when you pulled away from Lori, so at least he wasn't avoiding you. When you woke up alone you thought you might have stepped over the line last night, that you might have pushed him away when you shared the bed, but to your relief he didn't seem fazed by it.

Breakfast was cut short when Dr Jenner took you all into the main room and he began to explain what the infection does, showing you guys playback footage of a test subjects brain after they were bitten and turned. It was interesting to watch, but you quickly realised that he had no idea what the infection even was, let alone how to fix it and everyone's hope for some kind of cure or good news was completely shattered.

"There's nothing left anywhere? Nothing?" Andrea questioned in disbelief, clearly refusing to believe that there was nothing anybody could do to fix it, but by the expression on Jenner's face you knew he wasn't lying.

"Man, M'gonna get shit-faced drunk, again." Daryl muttered rubbing his face with his hands as he walked across the room and leant against one of the computers.

You glanced around the room, everyone's faces dropping as they slowly processed what the doctor had just told you and that's when your eyes landed on the large clock on the wall. You noticed it yesterday when you first arrived and didn't think much of it, but now you quickly realised that it was a countdown as you watched the seconds tick down. What the hell was it counting down for?

"Dr Jenner, I know this has been taxing for you and I hate to ask one more question, but that clock... it's counting down. What happens at zero?" Dale suddenly questioned, beating you to it as you looked over at Jenner, waiting for an answer.

"The basement generators, they run out of fuel." He answered, glancing around at all of you, but when his eyes landed on you he quickly looked away and you knew there was something he wasn't telling you. Why would he have a countdown for the generators anyway?

"What happens next? What aren't you telling us?" You questioned, watching as he began walking off out the room. "Hey!" You shouted, but he didn't stop as he closed the door behind him.

"Vi, what happens what happens when the power runs out?" Rick asked out loud, looking over at you before the robotic voice responded.

"When the power runs out, facility-wide decontamination will occur." Vi responded and you quickly glanced over at Rick and Shane who both had the same confused but worried expressions. What the hell does that even mean? Why did Jenner just walk off like that?

"Somethings not right. You guys stay here, I'm gonna go find the generators in the basement and see what's going on." You said, already making your way towards the exit of the room before Rick spoke up.

"You're not going alone. Shane, T-Dog, Glenn, come with us, the rest of you head back to the rooms. We'll come get you once we finish." Rick instructed and with that you guys disappeared out the door.

It didn't take long to locate the basement and once you did, all you could see were empty fuel drums. The five of you split up and scanned the room to see if you could find any more fuel drums or generators, but there wasn't.

You jogged over to the main generator where Rick and Shane were to find the fuel gage hovering over empty just as the main lights suddenly turned off and you knew something was seriously wrong.

The five of you quickly ran back into Zone 5 to find Jenner walking back in followed by the others and you could see Daryl shouting something at the doctor who seemed to be ignoring him.

"Rick? Y/N?" Lori questioned, hoping for any form of good news as you shook your head slightly and Rick questioned Jenner on what the hell was happening.

"The system is dropping all the nonessential uses of power. It's designed to keep the computers running to the last possible second. That started as we approached the half-hour mark. Right on schedule." Jenner replied, pointing towards the countdown on the wall before he handed the bottle of alcohol -which you didn't even realise he was holding – to Daryl as he snatched it out the doctors hands aggressively. "It was the French."

"What?" Andrea questioned as you all walked further into the main room, your eyes glancing over at the clock not liking how there was less than 30 minutes on it.

"They were the last ones to hold out as far as I know. While our people were bolting out the doors and committing suicide in the hallways, they stayed in the labs till the end. They thought they were close to a solution, but with no power grid, they ran out of juice. The world runs on fossil fuel. I mean, how stupid it is-" Jenner began rambling on, but you shook your head about to say something before Shane bet you too it.

"Let me tell you something-" Shane snapped taking a few steps towards the doctor before Rick quickly pulled him back.

"Shane, no. Lori, grab our things. Everybody, get your stuff. We're getting out of here now!" Rick shouted, looking over at the others in the group as they quickly nodded and began running off when suddenly alarm sirens began going off.

"30 minutes to decontamination." A robotic voice declared over the speakers before metal barricades suddenly came down in front of every single door, trapping all of you inside the main room. Okay what the hell? Did he just trap you inside?

Chapter Text

"Did you just lock us in?" You heard Glenn question from somewhere and you quickly spun around and sighed with relief when you spotted Carl, realising that everyone was still together and nobody had left the room yet.

"You son of a bitch. You let us out of here!" Daryl yelled and you turned back around just in time to see him throwing the bottle of alcohol before he ran towards the doctor. Jenner was now sitting on a chair by the computer, but Shane quickly grabbed Daryl before he could do anything.

"Jenner, open that door now." Rick ordered, marching over to him as you adjusted the strap of your assault rifle over your shoulder, your eyes scanning the room for any other exits.

"There's no point. Everything topside is locked down. The emergency exits are sealed. I can't open them, the computers do. I told you once that front door closed, it wouldn't open again. You heard me say that. It's better this way." Jenner replied and you quickly turned back towards the doctor, not liking what he just said or the tone of his voice at all.

"What is? What happens in 28 minutes?" Rick questioned, a few metres away from Jenner as the doctor turned away from him and began typing on the key board and that was it.

You jogged the few metres between you and doctor as you grabbed his shoulder, spinning him around on his chair until he was facing you. "Cut the bullshit. What happens in 28 minutes?!" You shouted and Jenner suddenly stood up from his chair, pushing you back causing you to stumble backwards, but you quickly steadied yourself as Jenner stood directly in front of you.

You saw Daryl take a step forward out the corner of your eye and you quickly held your hand out to tell him to stay where he was as you focused on Jenner and you knew he the man was going to snap soon. "What happens?" You questioned, sternly and that was all it took.

"Come on! You know what this place is?!" He yelled, staring at you before he began pacing and looking around at the others. "We protected the public from very nasty stuff! Weaponized smallpox! Ebola strains that could wipe out half the country! Stuff you don't want getting out! Ever!" He shouted and none of you said anything as you stared at him before he sighed and sat back down on his chair.

"In the event of a catastrophic power failure in a terrorist attack, for example, H.I.T.s are deployed to prevent any organisms from getting out." Jenner explained and your eyes went wide with shock. He was going to blow the place?

"HIT's?" Rick questioned in confusion, clearly having no idea what it was, but all your years in the military, you knew exactly what it was.

"You son of a bitch!" You yelled, taking a step towards the man as you balled your hand into a fist and punched him, sending him falling backwards out of his chair with a thud. "You open those doors, right now!" You instructed sternly, walking around the chair to where the doctor was lying on his back as you pressed your boot against his chest.

"I can't." He gasped, trying to get air into his lungs as you pressed your foot down harder until Rick spoke up.

"Y/N, what are HIT's?" He asked worriedly. You glanced over your shoulder towards him before looking back down at the doctor and you sighed, removing your foot from his chest and taking a step back.

"High-impulse thermobaric fuel-air explosives. You guys know what nuclear explosives are? Consider HIT's it's younger brother. They have a blast wave of power and duration greater than any other explosive except nuclear, they basically set the air on fire. The whole CDC is gonna blow." You explained receiving a collection of gasps and panicked expressions and you sighed watching Sophia cry into Carol as Rick pulled Lori and Carl into a tight hug.

"Nah, there's gotta be a way out." Daryl muttered, shaking his head in disbelief as he looked over at you and you shrugged your shoulders. All the doors were sealed and you doubted you'd be able to break through them, but like hell you weren't going to try.

"Rick, Shane, the bags! Grab the axes." You instructed, pointing towards the weapons bag on the other side of the room.

You guys spent the next 10 minutes swinging the axes and anything else you could find against the door, trying to find somewhere to open it or break through, but after all that work you had barely made a dent. The others were all sitting down against the desks in the middle of the room, while Rick paced around the area, not knowing what to do.

"Those doors are made to withstand a rocket launcher." Jenner commented, watching you, Daryl and Shane before Daryl suddenly turned around and began storming towards Jenner with his axe raised.

"Well your head ain't!" He yelled as Rick, T-Dog and Glenn quickly stood in front of him and began pulling him away from the doctor.

"Whoa! Whoa! Daryl, just back up!" Rick shouted, holding Daryl back until he calmed down enough before Rick turned back to Jenner.

"You do want this. Last night you said you knew it was just a matter of time before everybody you loved was dead." Jenner said, looking over at Rick and you sighed dropping your axe against the door as you walked back over to the group. You could see Rick looking over at Lori guiltily as Shane shook his head.

"You really said that? After all your big talk?" Shane asked, raising his eyebrows at his best friend as you walked over to Shane, kicking his shoe gently to catch his attention.

"Shut up. You know Rick is doing the best he can." You whispered as Shane glanced over at you with a sigh and nodded. The two of them might to not be seeing eye to eye right now, but they're childhood best friends and you knew Shane trusted Rick, everyone was just panicking right now.

"This is what takes us down. This is our extinction event." Jenner said, as you looked over at him and by the expression on his face you knew the man had given up, he had given up all hope.

You sighed, dropping down beside Lori and Carl who were sitting on the floor, their backs leaning against one of the desks. You held your hand out towards Carl as he looked up at you with red teary eyes and you gave him a sad smile as he grabbed your hand.

You watched as Jenner continued talking, saying how there wasn't any hope left, that there never was, but you were barely listening to his bullshit until Shane started yelling and you looked up to find him holding a shotgun to Jenner's head. Shit, that escalated quickly.

"Open that door or I'm gonna blow your head off!" Shane yelled, pumping the shotgun as he pressed the barrel against the side of Jenner's head. Rick was beside him, trying to pull him back while Daryl, T-Dog and Glenn stood back not knowing what to do. You quickly stood up, ushering Lori, Carl, Sophia and Carol behind the desk to safety before you jogged over to Rick and Shane.

"Brother, brother, this is not the way you do this. Shane, listen to me." Rick said, grabbing Shane's shoulder. You knew Shane had never killed a person before, he never had to do it in the police force, but you have. It was part of being in the military, and you knew the look in someone’s eye when they were going to pull the trigger and Shane had that look.

"Walsh!" You yelled, walking towards him and Rick as Shane threw Rick's arm from his shoulder and fired off four rounds from the shotgun into the computers near Jenner before Rick managed to get Shane on the ground and the gun out of his hands.

Nobody said anything after that as Rick stared down at Shane who was now lying on the ground on his back by your brothers feet, both of them breathing heavily, but you new Shane wouldn't try go for the shotgun again. He needed to unleash his anger and he knew Jenner was the only key to getting out of here, if he died then you all died.

"I think you're lying." Rick suddenly said, taking his attention away from Shane as he looked over at Jenner who was still sitting in his chair.

"What?" The doctor asked in confusion, his eyes glancing between you and Rick, but you weren't sure where your brother was going with this so you stood back with your arms crossed as you watched.

"You're lying about no hope. If that were true, you'd have bolted with the rest or taken the easy way out. You didn't, you chose the hard path. Why?" Rick questioned, taking a step towards the other man.

"It doesn't matter."

"It does matter. It always matters. You stayed while the others ran. Why?" You asked, walking over to them as you reached Rick's side.

"Not because I wanted to. I made a promise to her. My wife." Jenner replied, standing and pointing towards the large screen and it took you a few seconds to realise why he was pointing at the screen before it hit you.

"Test subject 19 was your wife?" Lori asked, beating you to it and Jenner nodded before continuing.

"She begged me to keep going as long as I could. How could I say no? She was dying. It should've been me on that table. I wouldn't have mattered to anybody. She was a loss to the world. Hell, she ran this place, I just worked here. In our field, she was an Einstein. Me? I'm just Edwin Jenner. She could've done something about this. Not me." He explained, shaking his head, the sound of Daryl swinging his axe against the metal door echoing through the air as he spoke.

"Your wife didn't have a choice. You do. That's... that's all we want a choice, a chance." Rick replied, his tone now softer as he stared at Jenner with pleading eyes.

"I told you topside's locked down. I can't open those." Jenner replied, walking away from you and Rick as you froze. No, he had to be able to open them. You guys weren't going to die in here, not like this. It couldn't end like this.

Sudden anger washed over you as you took a step towards Jenner before Rick grabbed your shoulder stopping you in your tracks. You were about to tell him to let go, but as you met Rick's gaze, you stopped. You knew that look. Rick was relieved. Why the hell would he be relieved? You were all going to die? There's nothing relievable about it.

"Wait." He whispered, nodding towards something to your left and you turned around to find Jenner scanning his ID badge on one of the computers as he began typing on the keyboard before all the doors suddenly opened. Holy shit.

"C'mon!" Daryl yelled, snapping your attention way from Jenner to find the archer standing in the now open doorway, the axe in his hand as he shouted.

"Let's go! Come on!" The others began shouting as they all grabbed your bags and began running to the exit. You sighed with relief, walking over to where your army bag was sitting against one of the desk that Lori had grabbed for you.

"Hey, we've got four minutes left! Come on!" Glenn yelled from the doorway as you threw your bag over your shoulders, holding your rifle in your hands as you looked over to find Jenner whispering something to Rick. You couldn't hear what the doctor had said, but by the shocked and slightly worried expression that broke out on your brothers face you knew it wasn't good. But, that was a question for later.

"Rick, lets go." You called out, slinging the strap of your rifle over your left shoulder as you began heading towards the door, but you quickly stopped when you saw Andrea still standing near Jenner, showing no intention of moving.

"No, I'm staying. I'm staying, sweetie." Jacqui's voice said, causing your head to snap away from Andrea to find the other woman pulling away from T-Dog as she took a few steps away from the door.

"But that's insane!" T-Dog shouted in panic, but Jacqui shook her head.

"No, it's completely sane. For the first time in a long time. I'm not ending up like Jim and Amy. There's no time to argue and no point, not if you want to get out. Just get out. Get out." She yelled, pushing T-Dog back as she began walking back into the room towards Andrea, her teary eyes glancing over at you as she walked passed.

"T-Dog. Come on, man." You heard Shane say, no doubt pulling the man through the door, but your eyes were focused on Andrea and Jacqui. They weren't seriously just giving up right now? After everything you guys had done to get this far they were just gonna sit down and quit? No, they couldn't do that. They can't just do that.

"I'm staying too." Andrea declared, her eyes flashing between you and another person standing behind you somewhere who you assumed was Dale.

"No. You're both coming with us. You can't just give up like this. You don't quit. It's that fucking simple, you don't quit. Now get up and let's go!" You shouted, but they both just shook their heads with sad smiles, sitting down on the desks as they looked away.

"Andrea, no." Dale spoke up and you could feel tears rising in your eyes as you stared at the two women. "Just go! Go!" He shouted and you turned around to find the older man looking towards the door where the others were all standing and watching.

"Come on, Y/N, we gotta go." Rick called out as your eyes met his and you nodded, jogging over to them as the group of you began running down the hallway.

You stayed at the back of the group letting Rick, Daryl and Shane lead them so you could make sure nobody got left behind, but when you reached the front door, they were all sealed. T-Dog and Daryl tried breaking the glass windows with the axes, but they didn't even make a scratch before Shane fired off a round of his shotgun against the glass at point blank, but it still wouldn't break.

"Rick, I have something that might help." Carol suddenly spoke up and you looked over at the other woman watching as she dug into her bag to grab something, ignoring Shane's comment about how a nailfile won't help before she continued talking. "Your first morning at camp when I washed your uniform. I found this in your pocket." She explained pulling out a hand grenade as she handed it Rick. Where the hell did Rick even get a grenade from? How the hell has she been carrying it around all this time? Holy shit.

"Give it to me. Everyone get down." You instructed, jogging over to Rick as you held your hand out, but Rick shook his head.

"No, you're not using a grenade. I'll do it." Rick argued, but you weren't going to take no as an answer.

"Rick you were cop, you've never used one before and will probably kill yourself if you tried. Now, that there is an M67 grenade, I've used dozens of them. Now, give it to me and take cover." You argued and Rick reluctantly nodded, knowing you guys only had a few minutes left as he handed you the grenade before everyone quickly sprinted towards the stairs and hid behind them for cover.

You jogged over to the window, pulling the pin out as you held the grenade in your hands. You knew once you released the striker lever you'd only have five seconds to get to cover before it exploded. "Please work." You whispered to yourself as you crouched down and placed the grenade right up against the window as you released the striker lever.

The next few seconds happened so quickly as you sprinted for cover, nearly tripping over in the process as you forced your legs to run faster, but you weren't quick enough. The force of the grenade throwing you across the room as your head slammed against the rails of the stairs and you weren't sure if you had passed out for a few seconds or not, but when you opened your eyes Daryl and Rick were hovering over you in panic.

"Hey, hey, we gotta go. Y/N, can you hear me?" Rick questioned, crouching down beside you as you groaned grabbing your forehead to find it wet as you pulled your hand away to find blood on the tips of your fingers. But that was the least of your problems right now as your brain clicked into gear realising that the CDC could explode any second.

"L-let's go." You stuttered, your head still spinning as you forced yourself to stand up, Rick and Daryl both hovering over you like they were worried you were going to fall over any second. Hell, maybe they were right because you could feel your legs were trembling and head thumping as you stood up, but now was not the time to pass out.

"We need to go!" Someone shouted in the distance and you looked up to find the others already climbing through the now broken window and you sighed with relief realising that the grenade had broken the glass.

You, Rick and Daryl quickly followed the others as you ran out the building towards the vehicles that were parked on the other side of the old army base. Your head was spinning and thumping in pain, but you tried to ignore it as you focused on shooting the walkers stumbling around the area with your assault rifle.

Daryl trailed behind the group beside you as he took down the closer walkers with his axe, decapitating most of them as you sprinted towards the vehicles. You watched as Rick, Lori, Carl and Glenn climbed into the RV, Carol and Sophia taking cover in their car, T-Dog doing the same in his while Shane jumped clean over the door to his jeep and ducked down on top of his seat.

You glanced over your shoulder towards the building, spotting Dale and Andrea climbing through the broken window. But, you didn't have time to be relieved that they made it out as Daryl grabbed your hand and pulled you towards his truck.

"Get in!" He yelled, his voice laced with panic as you both quickly opened the doors to his truck and scrambled inside, watching as Dale and Andrea ran towards the cars before the horn from the RV started honking and you knew it was Rick. Dale and Andrea quickly ducked down behind a sandbag barricade and you knew what was going to happen next.

You and Daryl quickly ducked down behind the dashboard of his truck as the ground started to rumble, shaking the vehicle. The building exploded sending a wave of heat crashing into the side the truck as Daryl leant over your body, his hands on your shoulders as he kept you down and you closed your eyes listening to the explosion.

It wasn't the first time you've been near an explosion, hell, it wasn't even your second time. But this was different, this wasn't ducking for cover from a rocket launcher or hand grenade, this was an entire building getting demolished by HIT explosives.

It only took a few seconds for the building to get destroyed and once the heat from the explosion disappeared Daryl slowly moved away, lifting his hands from your shoulders as he gave you some space to move. Lifting your head, you spotted Daryl staring at where the CDC used to be which was now just a mass of debris and fire.

You heard Daryl exhale in pure shock and you felt tears rising in your eyes again as you thought of Jacqui's body lying under all that rubble... no her body would've been disintegrated, there wouldn't be anything left, but that didn't make you feel any better.

You glanced over your shoulder through the back window of the truck to where Shane was sitting in his jeep staring at the CDC. His expression matching yours and Daryl's, but you didn't have much time to dwell on it before Daryl started up the engine of the truck.

You turned back around in your chair to find that the RV and other vehicles had started to drive off in the other direction as Daryl put the truck into gear following closely behind T-Dog's car as you all took off down the highway. Neither of you spoke as you leant back in your seat, your head resting against the headrest as you watched the burning flames of the CDC disappear in the distance through the side mirror.

Chapter Text

You weren't really sure where Rick was leading the group, but you knew he was just putting as much distance from the CDC as possible. The explosion would've attracted every walker for miles and you needed to get far away.

You sat silently trying ignore the throbbing pain in your head as stared out the front windscreen trying to distract yourself from it. Daryl remained silent as he followed the others and you knew he was just as shaken up by this whole thing as you were, even though he'd never admit it.

"How's your head? Ya okay?" Daryl asked breaking the silence once you guys had gotten away from the city, now just following the empty highway to wherever Rick had in mind, probably Fort Benning.

"It's fine, just a scratch." You replied, not bothering to look over at him as you kept your eyes on the road, but by the soft grunt Daryl made it was clear he didn't believe you.

"Don't look fine, can see the blood from here." Daryl muttered, glancing over at you as you turned towards him, his eyes flashing up to the cut on your forehead which you knew had stopped bleeding. You could feel the blood that had ran from the corner of your forehead and down the side of your face starting to dry on your skin, but you knew the wound had stopped bleeding, so it was fine.

Before you even had a chance to respond, the world suddenly began to spin around you and you quickly grabbed the door handle beside you to try stabilize yourself. The pain in your head skyrocketing as your ears started to ring. "Pull over." You whispered, nausea taking over your body.

You saw Daryl turn towards you out the corner of your eye about to ask why, but the second he laid eyes on you his foot instantly hit the breaks and you knew you looked about as good as you felt at the moment.

Once Daryl had stopped the truck you immediately opened your car door, practically falling out the vehicle. You only managed to stumble a few meters before you threw up, all the food you had eaten last night and this morning in the CDC now coming back up.

"Shit, girl." Daryl's voice muttered, but you didn't have chance to look in his direction as another wave of nausea took over and you threw up again. Daryl's hands suddenly grabbed your hair and held it away from your face, but you didn't get a second to be relived and appreciate the small gesture as you threw up again even though you were almost positive that there was nothing left in your stomach.

"What happened?" Shane's voice suddenly questioned from a distance and you knew he would have stopped when he saw you and Daryl pull over since his car was the only one behind you guys. You weren't sure if the others had noticed you had stopped, but you weren't about to look up to find out.

"Dunno. She was fine a minute ago." Daryl muttered, still standing beside you and you closed your eyes as the nausea slowly began to disappear.

You didn't move for a few seconds, wanting to make sure the nausea had passed before you slowly stood yourself back up, wiping your mouth with the back of your hand as Daryl kept his hand on your back not sure what else to do.

"Don't even try say that 'you're fine' because you're not." Shane said, walking the remaining few feet towards you as he grabbed your shoulder gently and you simply nodded, too exhausted to say anything as you let the two men slowly lead you back to Daryl's truck.

"You got her? I'm gonna go get her some water." Shane said, looking over at Daryl who nodded and Shane jogged off towards his jeep while Daryl helped you back to the truck. You sat down on the passenger seat, your legs resting on the side step of the truck as Daryl stood in front of you with worried eyes.

Once the world stopping spinning, you slowly looked around spotting the other vehicles all pulling up in front of Daryl's truck, finally noticing you guys had stopped before you bought your attention back to the man in front of you. His crystal blue eyes watching you cautiously as Shane came back and handed you a bottle of water which you took with shaky hands and took a few sips of the cool liquid.

"What's going on? Why'd you guys sto- Shit, Y/N are you okay? What happened?" Rick's voice suddenly questioned, and you lifted your head to find him jogging towards you. The others were trailing behind him, but you didn't miss Dale standing back with his rifle in his hands keeping watch.

"She hit her head pretty hard and just threw up. She might have a concussion." Shane spoke up as Daryl took a few steps back, letting Rick stand in front of you and his eyes went wide in shock as he took in just how much dry blood was down the side of your face.

"It's stopped bleeding, it's fine and I've had a concussion before, I'm fine. Let's keep going." You replied, hating how weak your voice sounded as you handed the water bottle back to Shane, who was leaning against the back of the truck next to where you were sitting as he took it.

"The sun is starting to set, here is a good enough place as any to stay the night. We sleep in the vehicles, no walkers can get us and we have one person on guard at all times. We'll make it work." Rick stated after a few seconds, glancing around at the others who were all standing a few meters away and everyone nodded in agreement.

Over the next few hours everyone began setting up their beds inside the vehicles, a few of the guys syphoning fuel out of Shane's Jeep and Daryl's truck into jerrycans, as much to their disgust and poured the fuel into the RV and other car. Apparently all of you could fit inside the two vehicles minus Daryl who opted to taking Merle's motorcycle which was now parked beside his truck.

Lori had helped clean the wound on your forehead and cleaned the dry blood from your face while Carl and Sophia sat beside you to keep you company, the two of them talking about anything and everything, but you didn't mind. It was nice to just sit and listen to them talk, even though you wanted to be up and helping the others get stuff organised for tomorrow morning when you set off to Fort Benning, but Rick, Shane and even Daryl kept telling you to sit back down if you tried to help.

Andrea had refused to talk to anyone during those few hours, locking herself away in the RV, but you were too tired to give a shit about what she was doing at the moment.

That night you ended up sleeping inside Daryl's truck. You had pillows set up against the window of your passenger door as you rested your feet up on the dash causing Daryl to grumble, but didn't make you lower your feet as he climbed into the drivers side with two blankets, giving one to you as he made himself comfortable on the other side of the cab.

The two of you ended up sleeping as far away from each other as possible, but it wasn't awkward or weird to be sleeping in the same car. You trusted him and he seemed to trust you enough to let his guard down and fall asleep. Hell, you shared a bed last night in the CDC, so sharing his truck for the night was nothing.

-

Daryl wasn't exactly sure what had woken him up as he opened his eyes. His first instinct was to reach for his crossbow, but as he tried to lean forward to grab the weapon from the dash of his truck he felt a heavy weight against his side and he looked down to find Y/N's sleeping form beside him.

They both must have moved in their sleep because they were currently sitting in the middle of the front seat, her body leaning against his as her head rested on his shoulder. He forgot how peaceful she looked when asleep, how relaxed she seemed. He could see the cut on her forehead clearly, it wasn't a deep cut, but she had refused to use any of the medical supplies other than alcohol wipes to clean it.

He knew Y/N was a tough chick, kinda had to be sine she was in the military before all this and she had earned his respect weeks ago when she took a chance on him and Merle when they first met. But, seeing her fight against Dr Jenner, how she knew what HIT's were and how she used the grenade to save them, it had made him respect her even more.

He sat there looking down at her for a few minutes before the sound of hushed voices and car doors began filling the air and he looked up to find the others all slowly starting to wake up and he knew he should probably wake Y/N up. But he knew the second he did she would be up and running around trying to get stuff organised because the damn woman couldn't sit still and rest for five minutes.

"Hey, Y/N? Gotta wake up." Daryl said quietly, nudging her shoulder gently and within a second she bolted up right, her body turning tense as her eyes snapped open in panic. "S'just me, it's okay." He quickly said, removing his hand from her shoulder.

"Sorry." She whispered, moving away from him once she realised how close she was as she rubbed her tired eyes with a yawn.

"Nothin' to apologise for." He replied, watching her for a few seconds before she looked over at him and he looked away, grabbing his crossbow from the dash. "Should probably get ready." He muttered, glancing back over at the woman who nodded in agreement before they both climbed out the truck.

-

It didn't take long before they were all on the road again leaving Shane's Jeep, Daryl's truck and T-Dog's car behind. Rick, Lori, Carl, Carol and Sophia climbed into one car while everyone else piled into the RV, minus Daryl who took the lead on his motorcycle.

Dale drove the RV with Glenn sitting shotgun while you sat on the ground beside T-Dog, your backs resting against the cupboard of the RV while Andrea and Shane sat at the small table and you smiled watching the two of them interact as Shane showed her how to clean a handgun. The woman had been through a lot during these past couple of days and Shane could use someone like Andrea. You could see the two of them together and you knew it would help him get over Lori and he needed to get over her.

Shane had barely said a word to you since yesterday. He's barely said a word to you since the incident in the CDC and you knew he felt guilty and awful for what he did to Lori and for nearly hurting you and so he should. But you had forgiven him, he was your best friend and you knew he'd never hurt you on purpose.

You felt a lot better today, although you still had a dull headache and you figured that would last for a few more days if past experiences with concussion had taught you anything, but it was only a headache, you could deal with that easily enough.

You weren't entirely sure how long you had been driving for. A few hours at least before Dale mumbled something like 'oh no' as he slowed the RV down. You stood up in confusion and walked towards the front of the vehicle, holding onto the back of Glenn's chair to find the highway blocked with abandon and broken-down cars.

You watched as Daryl turned his motorcycle around and rode back towards the RV, pulling up beside Dale's rolled down window. "See a way through?" The older man asked and Daryl nodded, indicating for you guys to follow him as he took off on his bike through the mass of vehicles.

He was wearing some kind of leather vest with angel wings sewn onto the back. You saw him pull it out of his saddlebag on the back of his motorcycle and put it on earlier this morning and you had a feeling the vest used to be Merle's, but you weren't going to bring that topic up.

You were quickly taken away from your thoughts when the RV suddenly jerked forward as steam began spraying out from the front of the vehicle as the RV came to a stop and you knew by the expression on Dale's face that it was bad.

"I said it. Didn't I say it? A thousand times. Dead in the water." Dale responded as you all climbed out the RV joined by Rick and the others who had parked behind the RV and Daryl who was already starting to go through the nearest car looking for anything useful. "Stuck in the middle of nowhere with no hope of-"

"It's the radiator hose right? Surely we an find one here that fits amongst all these cars." You spoke up, pulling your assault rifle from your shoulder as you turned away from the group and began scanning the area for walkers.

"There's a whole bunch of stuff we can find. Siphon more fuel from the cars for a start." Daryl added and you nodded in agreement, but didn't look over at him as you focused on your surroundings not wanting to risk a walker stumbling into the group when they weren't prepared.

"Maybe some water or food." Carol said.

"This is a graveyard. I don't know how I feel about this." Lori commented as you turned around to face the ground.

"Lori's right, there could be walkers trapped inside cars or coming out from the woods. We're out in the open here, but we need to get the RV fixed and we can't miss an opportunity like this to collect supplies. We split up and scavenge what we can, go in groups or pairs, but nobody goes off alone." You instructed looking around everyone and they all nod in agreement.

Everyone set off, searching for supplies while Dale and Glenn worked on fixing the RV. Rick had told you to take it easy, saying that you were still recovering from a concussion, but before you could argue Carol and Lori had asked if you could take care of the kids and you couldn't say no to that.

"Carl, Sophia, stop going through the cars and come here." You said waving at the two kids who jogged over to you curiosity as you pulled out a small pocket knife from your army pants and held it in your palm. "You kids ever used a pocket knife?" You asked, kneeling down on the ground in front of them as they both shook their heads.

"Alright, I'm gonna show you how to use one. How to flick the blade out and put it back in. Watch carefully and then you guys can try." You explained holding the pocket knife in your hand securely as you flicked the blade out and back in a few times before handing it to Carl, making sure he was holding it correctly as you watched him flick the blade out.

"That's it! Now put the blade back in. There you go, you got it. Now, Sophia you try." You said as Carl handed the closed knife to her and she copied your instructions, flicking the blade out perfectly.

"You guys are naturals! I have two pocket knifes, you can keep that one Sophia and Carl can have this one." You said, pulling your military pocket knife out your other pocket and handed it to your nephew. "You keep these in your pockets. I doubt you guys would need to use them because one of us adults will always be around to protect you, but you keep it on you at all times just in case." You explained watching as the two kids tucked the closed knives away into their pockets.

"This is awesome." Carl commented and Sophia nodded in agreement.

"Thank you, Y/N." The young girl said with a bright smile causing you to smile as well.

"Don't thank me yet, I need to ask your parents if they're okay with it first." You said causing the kids to groan in annoyance and you chuckled, rolling your eyes. As much as you believed that everyone should have some form of weapon even the kids, it wasn't your call to make. It was their parents. You just hoped they'd be okay with it because the kids needed a way to protect themselves too.

"Y/N, under the cars. Get down, now!" Rick shouted in a whisper and you quickly stood up, turning around to find him ushering Lori and Carol under a couple cars across the road and that's when you heard it; walkers groaning. Shit.

"Get down and stay quiet." You quickly instructed, helping the two kids under the nearest cars before you quickly dropped down under the car beside them, your rifle lying on the ground beside you as you faced the two kids, holding your finger to your lips to tell them to keep quiet as walkers began to stumble past the cars.

It felt like hours but was probably only a few minutes before the last walker stumbled past the cars and you sighed with relief. Your heart was still beating a million miles a minute when suddenly Sophia's scream filled the air and your heart stopped.

You quickly looked back towards the car that you had left Sophia under just in time to see her crawling out from underneath, two walkers right behind her as she ran off into the woods. Before you could even process what just happened, Rick was already jumping over the barricade on the side of the road and running after her.

Without hesitation you rolled out from under the car, throwing the strap of your assault rifle over your shoulder as you ran towards the barricade that Sophia and Rick had climbed over. But before you could run after them someone suddenly grabbed you from behind, stopping you in your tracks.

"No, I have to help!" You yelled, trying to break free from whoever was holding you, but they were clearly stronger than you with the firm grip they had.

"We can't have you getting lost in the woods or passing out from that concussion. Rick has it under control." Shane voice said from behind you as you sighed and stopped trying to fight and after a few seconds he let go of you.

You looked around to find the group of you now standing by the side of the road, Lori holding onto Carol tightly as the mother cried for her daughter. It didn't take long before Rick returned, but he was alone and within minutes him, Shane, Daryl and Glenn took off back into the woods to spread out and look for her.

Leaving you to look after the group, despite wanting to be out there looking for the young girl. You weren't one for praying, it felt too much like begging and you hated begging. But, right now, you were silently praying to every God you could think of, praying that the others get Sophia back.

Chapter Text

You tried keeping the group occupied, knowing if they had jobs to do then they wouldn't be worrying about Sophia as much, so you all began moving cars out the way to clear a path for the RV to get through.

You helped patch up T-Dog's arm which he had apparently sliced on some glass when the herd went through. You weren't a doctor of any sort, but you had basic first aid knowledge from the military so you were able to stitch his wound and bandage it appropriately.

Shane and Glenn had returned after 30 minutes, saying that Rick and Daryl were following her trail before they started helping you guys move the various cars.

Shane helped you keep the group busy, but as the sun began to set along the horizon everyone was starting to get worried and you were running out of jobs for people to do. Andrea's gun had also been taken away from her for her own safety which had pissed her off something fierce, but you agreed with Dale and Shane.

"They're back." Glenn called out, turning your attention away from the gun argument to find Rick and Daryl walking out from the woods and climbing back over the road barricade, but again Sophia was no where to be seen. Oh God.

"You didn't find her?" Carol asked, her voice barely above a whisper as you all walked over to them wanting to know what happened.

"Her trail went cold. We'll pick it up again at first light." Rick explained and your heart dropped at the thought of Sophia being out there over-night. "I know it's hard, but I'm asking you not to panic. We know she was out there and we tracked her for a while. We have to make this an organised effort. Daryl knows the woods better than anybody. I've asked him to oversee this." Rick began to explain before Carol cut him off.

"Is that blood?" She asked motioning towards Daryl's shoes and you noticed he had blood covering the front of them.

"We took down a walker. There was no sign it was ever anywhere near Sophia." Rick quickly replied, trying not to worry anyone.

"How can you know that?" Andrea asked from somewhere behind you.

"We cut the son of a bitch open, made sure." Daryl replied, his eyes flashing over to you before looking back towards Carol as she continued to speak.

"How could you just leave her out there to begin with? How could you just leave her?" Carol questioned, sitting down on the barricade as Lori sat down beside her wrapping her arm around the woman for comfort.

"Those two walkers were on us. I had to draw them off. It was her best chance." Rick replied softly and you knew he was feeling guilty about this, but it wasn't on Rick. She had asked you to watch her daughter and you failed. Sophia was lost out there and that was on you, not Rick.

"Sounds like he didn't have a choice, Carol." Shane spoke up, but Carol shook her head as she fought back tears.

"How was she supposed to find her way back on her own? She's just a child. She's just a child." Carol repeated, her voice breaking at the end as Rick shook his head, fighting back his own emotions. You stepped forward grabbing Rick's shoulder as you gently pulled him away from Carol as you crouched down in front of her.

"This is not Ricks fault. My brother did everything he could, it was his only option. Sophia is a smart kid, before the herd came I taught her how to use a pocket knife. Showed her how to use it safely and gave her my spare one." You explained, hoping it would help knowing that her daughter wasn't defenceless out there. But, it clearly had the opposite affect as Carol suddenly stood up from the barricade, her sad expression turning to anger within a split second.

"You gave my daughter a knife?!" Carol shouted causing you to flinch back as you slowly stood up to face her at eye level. "She's not going to remember what you taught her, she's out there. Alone. Scared. And with a knife!"

"I get why you might think that, but Sophia understood what I was telling her. She needed to be able to protect herself, I was going to ask if you were okay with it, but then the herd came." You replied, trying to keep your voice calm as you spoke.

"No. You gave her a knife and now she might try kill a walker instead of running and hiding from one! What were you thinking?!" Carol yelled, grabbing your shoulders as she tried to push you away, but you easily held your ground against her and barely moved as she pushed against you. "I asked you to look after her, I trusted you with my daughter's life!" Carol cried, hands forming fists against your tank top as she began to punch your shoulders weakly. You could barely feel her hits as tears began well up in your eyes before Lori managed to pull the woman away from you.

"I'm sorry." You whispered, staring at the crying mother as you began to take a few steps backwards. You thought you were helping Sophia by teaching her how to use a knife, you thought it would be good for the girl to learn how to defend herself, but Carol was right. She might try take a walker down instead of running and hiding and if that little girl gets bit, that's on you.

"I'm so sorry." You mumbled, tears threatening to spill from your eyes as you turned to try and leave, but bumped straight into Daryl. His arms quickly grabbing your shoulders, stopping you from falling ass up, but as soon as you got your footing you quickly shrugged off his hands and continued walking away.

"Y/N?" Daryl called after you, but you kept walking down the highway, not wanting him or anyone to see you cry. Sophia was alone and lost in the woods, that was on you and only you. You were in the military, you were a highly trained soldier, yet you couldn't even save a scared little kid. How pathetic is that?

"Just leave her, she won't go far." You heard Rick reply, clearly realising that you wanted to be alone. You silently thanked your brother as you sat down against one of the abandon cars, your back leaning against the front tyre as you laid your assault rifle across your lap.

You sat there for a few minutes, your mind running over everything that had happened leading up the herd as your brain tried to figure out what you could have done differently. The whole thing just played on loop in your mind. Maybe you should have hid her inside the car? Maybe you should have squished under the same car with her and that way you might have been able to stop her from running? Maybe you shouldn't have let Shane stop you when you tried to run after her and Rick? Maybe you should have done all of the above and maybe just maybe she'd still be here.

You were so caught up in your own thoughts you didn't even hear someone approaching until they spoke. "You okay?" Rick's voice asked, causing you to jump in surprise as you looked up to find him standing in front of you with a soft smile. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you."

"I should have heard you coming, but..." You trailed off, shaking your head at yourself.

"Got lost in your own head?" He asked and you nodded as Rick knelt down in front of you. "You used to do that a lot when you first came back from Afghanistan. It's been a while since I've seen you do it, but Shane said you did it bit back at the quarry."

"Shane should keep that information to himself." You mumbled as you fiddle with the gun strap of your rifle, not wanting to meet your brothers gaze.

"He was just worried about you. It's barely been a year since you came back after being presumed dead and what you went through... nobody expects you to just forget about everything and move on, just like nobody blames you for Sophia running off." Rick replied causing you to roll your eyes and look up at your brother.

"Carol told me to watch her and what did I do? I give a 11-year-old a knife and let her run off. I know you're just trying to make me feel better, but if anything happens to that little girl, it's on me." You responded, standing yourself up as Rick did the same and you looked around realising that the sun had long ago set as the moon lit the sky.

"We'll find her. Between a skilled tracker, two cops and military soldier, I reckon we'll find her in no time." Rick reassured and you smiled softly as you followed him back to vehicles.

Most of the group had already called it a night. You could see Lori, Carl and Carol asleep inside their car, while Andrea, Dale, Glenn and T-Dog were no doubt sleeping inside the RV somewhere while Shane sat on top of the RV in Dales deckchair giving the two of you a wave when he spotted you.

"Where are you going to sleep? Dale said there was a little bit of floor space in the RV?" Rick suggested, but by the look on his face he knew you would decline the older mans offer.

"There's plenty of cars around here, surely I'll find one without a stinky body inside." You answered causing Rick to chuckle as he pulled you into a gentle hug before he began walking off towards his car to sleep with his family. "Walsh. Wake me up in a few hours to swap." You called out, turning back around towards Shane on top of the RV.

"Nah, you're still recovering from the concussion-" He began to argue, but you cut him off.

"I'm fine, but you need to sleep too." You responded looking up at him and he reluctantly nodded, knowing that there was no point in trying to argue as you began walking over to the nearest car to see if it was good enough to sleep in.

As you opened the drivers side door to check for any dead bodies you practically jumped out your skin when Daryl sat up in the passenger seat and muttered, "taken."

"Son of a bitch, a little warning next time." You gasped, resting your hand over your chest as your heart pumped out of your chest causing Daryl to chuckle softly.

"Didn't pick ya for one to be scared easily." He commented as he laid back down on the passenger seat that was leant all the way back, watching you with amusement.

"Easily? That was not easily, that was like fucking level 100 ninja style." You stated breathlessly as Daryl snorted quietly, shaking his head at you. "Not funny. Now, I'm gonna find another car and hope someone else doesn't jump up and scare the shit out of me. Goodnight."

"Night." Daryl replied as his mouth twitched up in a slight smile and you couldn't help but smile at him either as you closed the door and made your way to the next vehicle hoping it didn't smell like death.

-

The group of you were up and searching early the following morning, while Dale and T-Dog stayed behind to repair the RV. Carl had somehow persuaded Rick and Lori to let him come along and help search. You told Lori that you had given Carl a pocket knife too and to your relief Lori and Rick were fine with it as long as he only used it for emergencies.

As you trekked through the woods you, Rick and Daryl took the lead while Shane guarded the rear, the rest of the group in the middle. You walked for hours, not even the slightest sign or indication that Sophia was anywhere out here until you spotted a small green tent set up amongst the trees. But after Daryl went in to check it out there was no sign of Sophia, just some dead guy who had 'opted out' as Daryl put it.

While everyone was disappointed at the fake hope of it being Sophia inside you quickly spun around when you heard faint bells in the distance. Bells? Why the hell was there a bell ringing in the woods? Is there a church around here or something?

"Shhh. Can anyone else hear that?" You whispered as the bells got louder and within a second the group of you began running towards the sound.

"What direction?" Rick questioned, slowing down as he glanced over at you, knowing you'd be the best person to pick where it was coming from. You quickly stopped as you focused on the noise, trying to pinpoint the direction.

"Damn, it's hard to tell out here." Shane responded, but you shook your head and pointed straight ahead as you started jogging again, the others quickly following behind you. "Someone's ringing the bells, it might be Sophia, but it could be other people, stay alert."

You continued running for a few minutes until you came across a clearing in the woods with a church sitting in the middle of it, but something wasn't right. How was the noise coming from that church? It didn't have a bell.

Before you could say anything to the group, Rick already took off running towards the church and you sighed, pulling your assault rifle off your shoulder and ran after him, Shane and Daryl right beside you.

Rick stopped at the front door to the church, his eyes flashing over the three of you as he pressed his finger to his lips telling you guys to be quiet before he pushed the front door open. For a split second you thought there were actual people sitting down in the church, but as the bodies slowly turned around at the noise, it was clear that they weren't people, they were walkers. Shit.

Slinging your rifle back over your shoulders, you pulled out your military knife, glancing over at Rick, Daryl and Shane before the four of you began walking inside. Rick took the walker on the left, Daryl took the one on the right while you and Shane went straight down the middle taking care of the two walkers there with ease.

"Sophia!" Rick shouted, as he jogged around the church trying to find the little girl, but you knew she wasn't here, not when those walkers were just sitting there like that.

"This is the wrong church. It's got no steeple, no bells, Rick." Shane informed as you began walking back towards the front door where the others where when suddenly the bells began ringing again.

"Shit." You hissed, racing out the door behind Daryl as you looked around trying to find the stupid bell as Glenn called out saying he found it. You ran around the side of the building with Daryl just as Glenn opened some kind of electronics panel on the side of the wall and flicked a switch, shutting the bell off immediately.

"A timer. It's on a timer." Daryl stated breathlessly as he turned around towards the group and you could tell they weren't sure whether to be relieved or disappointed with the news before everyone began wandering back into the church to take a few minutes break.

While the others went back in the church, you stayed outside, keeping watch by the front door until Rick and Shane came back outside. "Gotta move here, guys. These people are spent and there's only so many hours of daylight left. We still got a long way back." Shane suddenly said, but Rick shook his head.

"I can't stop yet." Rick replied, looking between you and Shane as he adjusted his Sheriffs hat on his head.

"We still got a lot of ground to cover, whole other side of the creek bed, so we search that on the way back." Shane began to say before you cut him off.

"She would have heard those church bells. She could be nearby. I can't go back either." You spoke up, not looking over at him as your eyes scanned the woods around you for any sign of movement. "It's my fault she's out here."

"That's great. Now they got you doubting yourself, huh?" Shane responded and you looked over at him.

"What about you? Do you doubt me?" You asked, crossing your arms over your chest as you stared at him, but Shane shook his head.

"This could be the miracle we need. We can't give up." Rick added and you nodded in agreement as Shane rubbed his face with his hands, knowing that there was no way he could argue against two Grimes'.

"Y'all gonna follow the creek bed back, okay? Daryl, you're in charge. Rick, Y/N and I are gonna hang back, search this area another hour or so just to be thorough." Shane announced, walking back over to the others who had all came out the church and were now standing together under a shady tree. You were glad that Shane was starting to give Daryl more respect and appreciation, compared to the beginning where the two of them hated each other's guts.

"You're splittin' us up. Ya sure?" Daryl asked warily, his eyes flashing over at you and you nodded ever so slightly before he focused his attention back to Shane.

"I want to stay too. I'm her friend." Carl spoke up, taking a step towards the three of you as you quickly glanced over at Rick with a questioning look before Lori started talking.

"Just be careful, okay? When did you start growing up?" She responded, pulling Carl into a tight hug as he laughed.

"Dixon, take this." You said, slinging your rifle off your shoulders as you held it towards the archer, but Daryl shook his head.

"Nah, ya need it more. Just be safe." Daryl replied and you nodded with a small smile, glancing over at Rick and Lori as they hugged, but you didn't miss Shane watching them out the corner of your eye with a sad look before he turned away.

You felt bad for Shane, you knew he was trying to put distance between him and Lori for Rick and Carl's sake. It was clearly hard on him, but at the same time it was his own problem, he got himself in the situation now he has to deal with the consequences.

Once the others left, you, Shane, Rick and Carl double checked the church before making your way back into the woods. You and Rick took the front, Shane at the rear with Carl between you guys to keep him safe as you slowly weaved your way around trees and bushes.

Suddenly the sound of branches snapping filled the air and you all froze, your eyes quickly scanning your surroundings as Shane quietly stepped in front of Carl, blocking him from whatever was out there with you.

You raised your assault rifle in the direction of the noise, flicking the safety off as you and Rick slowly began to take a few steps forward when a deer gracefully jumped out from behind a few trees and began grazing on grass only a few metres in front of you. The animal had absolutely no clue that you were literally standing there as you took in the size of the large buck. Man, would Daryl love to hunt this beast, the animal could literally feed the whole group for a few days with the amount of meat on it.

Shane took a step forward, raising his shotgun as you lowered your rifle figuring that he could claim this animal as you stood back.

"Shane." Rick suddenly whispered and you glanced over your shoulder to find Carl slowly creeping towards the beautiful animal causing the three of you to smile as watch Carl proudly.

He glanced back towards you guys with the brightest smile as Rick and Shane gave him encouraging nods while you gave your nephew the thumbs up. Carl smiled even more as he turned back towards the animal and continued trying to get closer to it.

You wondered how close he could actually get before spooking the wild animal. If you were being honest you were impressed he had gotten that close to it to begin with.

Deer have very good hearing and a good sense of smell, but you guys were down wind from the animal which was clearly working in your favour. But your thoughts were quickly cut short when a gunshot echoed through the woods.

You watched in horror as the deer and Carl's body flew backwards as your nephew landed on his back, not moving.

Chapter Text

Your brothers were frozen in shock as you sprinted towards Carl, not even caring about who or where the shooter was as you dropped to your knees beside your nephew. Shit. Shit. Shit. The bullet had hit his stomach and there wasn't an exit wound. Fuck.

Your hands quickly covered the bullet wound, blood seeping through your fingers as you tried to keep pressure on the wound. Suddenly Rick was right beside you, his shaky hands hovering over his sons body and you knew that Rick didn't know what to do. Hell, you didn't know what to do either. Carl had just been shot, what the fuck were you meant to do? You couldn't take him to the hospital.

"Oh my God." An unfamiliar voice called out as the sound of Shane's shotgun cocking filled the air.

"Drop the gun. Hands where I can see them." Shane yelled from somewhere behind you, but your attention was purely on Carl, trusting that Shane had the situation under control as you zoned out their talking.

"Here. Keep pressure on the wound." You instructed, grabbing Ricks hands and placing them over the wound as you quickly pulled your tank top off, not even caring that you just had a sports bra on underneath. You wrapped the material around your nephews stomach, lifting Ricks hand slightly to do so before instructing him to keep the pressure over it.

"He says he's from a farm, about a mile north. They have a doctor." Shane explained and for the first time you looked away from Carl to find Shane with his hand wrapped around another mans arm. You had never seen the bigger man before, but he was clearly a hunter if his camouflage outfit was any indication. Shane's eyes quickly flashes down to your stomach, taking in all the scars you had gotten from Afghanistan and you only just realised that Shane had never seen them before.

"Let's go. Now." You responded, turning back around to Carl, but Rick had already picked him up as the four of you began running in the direction of said farm. The hunter could barley keep up as Shane practically dragged the bigger man to keep him moving, but you were running out of time. Carl was losing a lot of blood. You needed to get to the doctor quickly.

"How far? Hey, dickhead, how far?" You yelled, glancing over your shoulder towards the man and Shane.

"Another mile, that way!" He instructed breathlessly as he pointed straight ahead and without hesitation you began sprinting past Rick, knowing if you got to the farm first then the doctor could have everything prepared for when Rick gets there. "Hershel, talk to Hershel- He'll help the boy." You heard the man yell, but you didn't bother to respond as you sprinted through the tall grass.

Within a few minutes you could see the farm coming up in the distance as you reached the front gate. Your first instinct was to jump the gate and keep running, but you quickly thought better of it and opened the gate so Rick could easily run through.

"Hey! I need help!" You yelled, spotting a woman standing under the front veranda of the farm house as you continued running towards the building, the last 500 metres feeling a 1000 as you forced your legs to keep moving.

"Who's Hershel? Which one of you is Hershel?" You questioned, quickly coming to stop by the front steps as you stared at five people now standing on the porch while you tried to catch your breath.

"I am, who are you?" The old man asked taking a step forward as he stared at you cautiously.

"Your man shot my nephew. He said you're a doctor. My brother is bringing him here now, can you help him?" You asked desperately, leaning against the stair railings as you fought to get air into your lungs.

The mans eyes went wide in shock as he stared at something over your shoulder and you turned around, spotting Rick running towards the farm. "Patricia, I need my full kit. Maggie, painkillers, coagulates, grab everything. Clean towels, sheets, alcohol." Hershel began instructing as they all rushed inside and you quickly followed, mentally taking note of all the rooms, doors and windows in the house in case you had to escape quickly.

You followed Hershel into some bedroom as he began stripping the bed and getting it ready before you rushed back out the room satisfied that you knew where to take Carl as you walked back out onto the porch.

"Hershel?" Rick questioned breathlessly, as he began climbing up the steps towards you, Carl's unconscious body dangling in his arms and you quickly lead him back through the house towards the bedroom.

Rick quickly placed Carl on top of the bed as you took a step back to give Hershel room to work. Your hands were starting to tremble as you folded your arms over your chest, only just realising that you were literally standing around a bunch of strangers shirtless, but you didn't even care.

"Is-is he alive?" Rick asked, his voice shaky as he kept his hands pressed against your shirt around Carl's stomach while Hershel grabbed a stethoscope and pressed it to Carl's chest.

"I've got a heartbeat, it's faint." The doctor declared and you sighed a shaky sigh of relief as you watched an older woman walk over to Hershel to help him and you knew Rick was going to be in the way. You quickly took a step forward, placing a shaky hand on your brothers' shoulder as you gently pulled him away.

"Carl's in good hands, give them space to work." You said, your voice thick with emotions as you fought back tears. Your adrenaline from before starting to wear off as you felt tears starting to rise in your eyes. Rick nodded reluctantly as he turned around to face you, his own eyes glazed over with tears as he pulled you into a tight hug.

"What's your names?" Hershel asked as you pulled away from Rick slightly, his arm still over your shoulder as you both looked at the older man.

"R-Rick. I'm-I'm Rick." Your brother stuttered, his body trembling from beside you as you forced yourself to calm down. You had to be the strong one now, Rick needed you to be strong.

"Y/N." You answered, trying to keep your tone from wavering as you stared at your nephew lying on the bed, his shirt now pulled off exposing his bloodied skin. He was just a kid, this couldn't be happening.

"Rick, Y/N, we're gonna do everything we can, okay? You need to give us some room. Now." The older man instructed and you hated the idea of leaving Carl alone with these strangers, but they needed space to work, it was his only chance.

But to your surprise it was Rick who began walking away from the bed first, his shaky hand clasping your bare shoulder as he directed you towards the door where you guys could stand and still watch Carl without getting in the way.

Neither of you spoke as you watched Hershel inspect the wound, Shane and Otis arrived a few minutes later. The bigger man still mumbling apologises as Shane stood between you and Rick, his arm wrapped around both your shoulders as you stared at Carl.

"You know his blood type?" Hershel asked, glancing up from Carl as he looked towards the three of you.

"A-positive, same as mine and Y/N's." Rick answered and you nodded, completely forgetting that Carl had the same blood type as you.

"That's fortunate. Don't wander far, I'm gonna need one of you." The older man replied, turning his attention back to your nephew as a younger woman with short brown hair set up an IV drip. "What happened?"

"I was tracking a buck. Bullet went through it. Went clean through." Otis explained, shaking his head in disbelief.

"The deer slowed the bullet down, which certainly saved his life, but it did not go through clean. It broke up into pieces. If I can get the bullet fragments out... and I'm counting six." Hershel began to explain before Rick began to speak.

"Lori doesn't know... She- my wife doesn't know... my wife doesn't know." Rick stuttered, tears falling down his cheeks as Shane tightened his hold around Rick's shoulder, but there was nothing either of you could do about it, the only thing you could do was be there for Carl.

You all stood back and watched as Hershel began digging the fragments of the bullet out the gunshot wound, but he only managed to get one out before Carl woke up and the tears you had been so desperately trying to hold back now come pouring down as you listened to your nephew scream in pain.

"Rick, he needs blood. You hold him down." Hershel began instructing and you didn't hesitate as you rushed around the other side of the bed and held your hands over Carl's body to hold him down, trying to ignore his pained cried as Hershel continued working.

"Shhh, it's okay. You're going to be fine, kiddo. It's okay." You whispered, unable to stop the silent tears falling down your cheeks as you heard Rick shout in the background somewhere, but Shane had quickly shut him up and helped Patricia set up the blood transfusion. And as quickly as it all started Carl had passed out again, allowing Hershel to get almost all the fragments out.

You stayed crouched down beside Carl for a few more minutes, your fingers brushing his dark hair out of his face as you watched Hershel work.

"Hey, Y/N, is it?" A woman suddenly asked, breaking the silence as you lifted your head to find the short haired woman standing behind you with a friendly smile and you nodded. "I have some spare clothes that you can borrow, follow me." She said nodding towards the door, but you quickly looked back towards Carl before glancing over at Rick and Shane on the other side of the room as Shane gave you a small nod.

"I'm Maggie by the way, Hershel's my dad." She explained as you followed her down the hallway until she opened a door to another bedroom which you assumed must be her room as she walked in. "Your nephew is in good hands, I'm sorry for what happened though."

"Thank you." You replied, not entirely sure why this woman was being so friendly towards you, you were a complete stranger to her, you literally had an assault rifle slung over your shoulder along with a handgun holstered on your belt, yet she seemed comfortable being alone with you. Maybe she was just a really friendly person?

"You can wash your hands in the bathroom through that door. There's soap on the sink." Maggie explained pointing towards the open door to the left and you nodded your thanks and walked into the room. You wasted no time scrubbing the dry blood from your fingers under the water, hating just looking at your little nephews blood stained to your hand.

"I have some of my friends clothes here, I think they will fit you." Maggie said, opening up her wardrobe as she pulled out a few shirts as you walked back into the bedroom and she held them towards you. "Take your pick."

You stared at the clothes in her hand for a few seconds before you pointed towards the grey tank top and Maggie nodded, handing it to you before she put the rest away. "Why are you helping me?" You asked curiously as you pulled your assault rifle off, placing it on the edge of her bed as you put the tank top on before slinging the rifle back over your shoulder.

"Because if I was in your position, I'd hope someone would help me. Were you in the army before this?" She asked curiously, motioning towards your army pants and rifle causing you to chuckle softly.

"Didn't realise it was the obvious. But yeah, military." You replied, adjusting the gun strap over your shoulder.

"Well between you and your brother with his Sheriffs uniform, you guys are very discrete." Maggie responded with a small laugh and you smiled, but nodded in agreement. You had a feeling that you two were going to get along just fine. "C'mon, let's go see if my dads finished yet."

The two of you walked back down the hallway, spotting Shane and Rick sitting on a couple of chairs outside Carl's bedroom. Rick still had the needle in his arm, wrapped with a bandage in case they needed to take more blood and his uniform shirt was stained with blood, but he didn't seem to be in any more distress than what he was early so you knew that meant Carl was still fighting. Damn, he was one tough kid.

You walked over to your brothers while Maggie walked over to Otis who was sitting on the other side of the room, but before you asked Rick and Shane what the latest was, the door to the bedroom suddenly opened and Hershel stepped out.

"He's out of danger for the moment, but I need to remove those remaining fragments. I need to go deeper, but his belly's distended, his pressure's dropping which means there's internal bleeding. A fragment must have nicked one of the blood vessels. I have to open him up, find the bleeder and stitch it. And he can't move while I'm in there. I mean, at all. If he reacts the same as before, I'll sever an artery and he'll be dead in minutes. To even try this, I have to put him under. But if I do, he won't be able to breathe on his own. Same bad result." Hershel explained as you stared at the older man in shock, trying to contemplate everything he had just said.

"What'll it take?" Rick asked worriedly, doing better than you at processing what the doctor had just told you as your eyes flashed between Rick and Hershel, hoping like hell that he could do it.

"You need a respirator." Otis suddenly said walking over to the group of you and you mentally punched yourself for not even thinking of that. You had done numerous first aid courses during your military training, you should have known that, you did know that, but your brain just wasn't working fast enough.

"You need the tube that goes with it, extra surgical supplies, drapes. You need a lot of stuff." You spoke up, looking back towards Hershel who looked at you in surprised for split second before he nodded.

"If you had all that, you could save him?" Rick asked, a hint of hope in his voice as he stared at the older man.

"If I had all that, I could try." He answered and you nodded grabbing Rick's shoulder in reassurance before Otis began talking.

"Nearest hospital went up in flames months ago... The high school." Otis suddenly said in realisation, but you were still confused. A high school wouldn't have all the medical equipment, would it? Honestly your head was not thinking straight, not after watching your nephew get shot and now on the verge of life and death. God, he was just a kid, Sophia was just a kid. Neither of them deserve what has happened.

"That's what I was thinking. They set up a FEMA shelter there. They could have everything we need." Hershel explained and you began to feel a flutter of hope in your chest, Carl might have a chance.

"Place was overrun last time I saw it. You couldn't get near it... Maybe it's better now." Otis responded, but you didn't care if it was overrun. Carl's life was on the line, you were gonna do everything in your power to save him.

"I said, leave the rest to me. Is it too late to that back?" Shane joked with a hint of a smile forming on his lips as he tried to lighten the mood and Rick shook his head.

"I hate you going alone." Rick responded, but now it was you who was shaking your head.

"He won't be alone. If that place is still overrun, he's gonna need backup. I'm going, too." You spoke up for the first time, Shane giving you an appreciative nod as you turned back to Rick his expression even more worried, but like hell you were letting Shane go by himself. "Rick. I'll be fine. Doc, can you write a list and draw a map for us?"

"You won't need a map. I'll take you there." Otis stated catching your attention as you gave him a questioning look. Why would he want to risk his life to save Carl?

"Otis, no." His wife began to protest before he cut her off.

"Honey, we don't have time for guesswork and I'm responsible. I ain't gonna sit here while this fella and lady take this on alone. I'll be alright." Otis said trying to calm his wife's nerves down as Shane raised his eyebrows at the man, clearly asking if he was sure about this. "I know these roads like the back of my head, we get in and we get out real quick."

"Sounds good to me." You responded and with in 10 minutes the three of you were on the road in Otis' old pickup truck. Shane driving and Otis in the passenger seat while you sat in the bed of the truck, your assault rifle resting across your lap as you watched the farm disappear in the distance.

-

Otis was right. The school had been overrun, you guys had only just been able to get the medical equipment before you got trapped inside the main building. The only way out was through a small high window that Otis wouldn't fit through, so he decided to make a run for it out the back door while you and Shane covered him before making a run for the windows yourselves. However, as you dropped your backpacks out the window you only just realised how high up it was. It was over a story high and you knew it was gonna hurt like a bitch, despite the bushes along the ground to break your fall.

"There's gotta be another way." You commented, panic evident in your voice as you sat on the window ledge, your legs dangling over the sides as you looked over at Shane sitting in the other window.

"Hold onto the window ledge and lower yourself down as far you can and then let go. You need to trust me, Y/N." Shane shouted, but you shook your head. You trusted Shane with your life but this was just crazy and you knew there was no other choice. You watched as Shane began lowering himself down, but even then the drop was still huge.

"Shit!" Shane suddenly shouted as a walker leant out his window, grabbing his arms before he managed to pull his handgun out shooting the walker as he dropped to the ground.

You could hear more walkers inside the building heading your way, so you quickly did what Shane did, lowering yourself down the side of the building. Your hands holding onto the window ledge before you let go, you tried landing on your side to try break your fall, but as soon as you hit the ground something cracked in your right knee as you let out a pained scream.

"Y/N?" Shane's voice suddenly called as you glanced over your shoulder to find him half sitting half laying on the ground, a pained expression on his face and you knew he hurt something too. "My ankle, must have rolled it or something. You alright?" He questioned, grabbing his backpack and shotgun off the ground besides him as you shook your head looking down at your knee as you pulled your pants up to find your kneecap twisted around to the side of the knee. Fuck that isn't good.

"How the fuck do you pop kneecaps back in place?" You questioned looking back over at Shane as he limped over to you in confusion until he saw your knee.

"Shit." He muttered, crouching down beside you with a wince as took in your knee before giving you an apologetic look, but before you ask what he's doing he suddenly slammed his hand against your knee. You quickly covered your mouth with your hands, trying to muffle your pained screams as your kneecap popped back into place.

"I'm sorry, but we gotta go, get up." Shane responded after a few seconds and you nodded grabbing your backpack along with your rifle before you gingerly stood yourself up unable to put much pressure on your right leg.

Within five minutes you managed to find Otis, but he had also injured his ankle and between the three of you, it was clear you weren't all going to make it. A herd of walkers were close behind you guys, but with school fences on either side of you there was only one way to go and that was straight, but the walkers were gaining on you quickly. You were the slowest, your knee stopping you from putting barely any weight on it.

"I'm out of rounds!" Shane yelled as you threw your now empty rifle over your shoulder and pulled out your handgun as you checked the clip realising that you only had one bullet left. You slowed down a little bit, letting Shane and Otis get in front as you continued to limp in the direction of the truck, your eyes glued to the handgun.

There was no way all of you were going to make it back, the herd was gaining on you too quickly. You wouldn't be able to reach the truck in time and there was too many of them for just the three of you to take out with melee weapons. There was only one way the supplies were getting back to Carl and that was if one of you didn't make it back. If one of you stayed as bait, the walkers wouldn't follow the other two, they'd be too focused on the bait giving the others a chance to escape and get back to the farm. It was the only way. It was the only way Carl might survive. It was either all three of you die and Carl doesn't get the supplies and dies too, or only one of you die and everyone else lives, and Carl lives. That wasn't even up for a debate, Carl comes first.

"I'm down to my last." Otis shouted above the loud groaning of walkers as you glanced over your shoulder towards the herd that was clearly getting closer. It was now or never. You'd never let Shane be the one to sacrifice himself and Otis had a wife, you couldn't let him do it either. You knew it had to be you and if it saved Carl's life then you'd do it without hesitation.

"We're not going to make it. Shane take this." You called out, handing him your backpack as you guys continued limping in the direction of the truck and Shane took the bag in confusion.

"The only way we get those supplies back is if one of us doesn't." You explained and it took Shane a few seconds to process what you just said, but the instant he realised what you were talking about his eyes went wide as he frantically shook his head.

"It's the only way. Get those supplies to Carl, it's the only thing that matters. Tell my family I love them." You said and you stopped walking, giving Shane a sad smile as you pulled the slide back on your handgun and lifted it towards your head.

Chapter Text

"No!" Shane yelled, dropping his bags as he sprinted over to you and yanked the gun out of your hand within a blink of an eye.

"You tell them that yourself." He stated, as he turned around towards Otis and you knew exactly what he was going to do. Shane was going to kill him. You couldn't let Shane kill him, Shane had never killed a person before and once he crossed that line you knew there was no coming back. It changes you, you knew that better than anyone and Shane wouldn't be able to live with that on his shoulders.

Before Shane could even raise the gun in Otis' direction, you quickly kicked his injured ankle sending the man tumbling to the ground.

"Y/N, what the fuck?!" Shane groaned, but you didn't give him a chance to get back up as you pulled the gun out of his hands and turned towards Otis.

"I'm so sorry." You whispered as you pulled the trigger before Otis could even say anything as the bullet teared through his stomach and went down like a sack of potatoes. You didn't stay and watch to see the walkers eat him as you turned towards Shane, grabbing the bags off the ground and helping him up.

Neither of you said anything as you continued limping towards the pickup truck, your arm wrapped around Shane's waist, his arm slung over your shoulder as you helped each other walk. Otis' dying screams filling the air as the herd no doubt reached him and you felt like you were going to be sick as you thought about what you just did. You had tried to be the one to stay back, but you knew Shane would never let that happen and you couldn't let Shane kill Otis, there was no other way.

Once you reached the truck, you quickly threw the bags and empty guns in the back before climbing into the cab. You sat in the passenger seat as Shane took the drivers side and within a second you guys were back on the road. 

You leant back in your seat, almost welcoming the thumping pain coming from your knee because it gave you something else to think about as you stared out the side window.

"What the hell was that?" Shane questioned after a few minutes of silence, causing you to jump slightly at the harshness in his tone. You had heard Shane yell before, but it was never direction towards you.

"What?" You asked, your head still resting back against the seat as you tilted your head in his direction to find Shane's eyes flashing between the road and you.

"You nearly killed yourself! What the hell were you thinking?" He questioned in a mixture of anger and concern, his hands tightening around the steering wheel as he spoke.

"It was the only way! It was my life or Carl's, that isn't even a question." You responded, turning back to the window staring up at the stars in the sky, hoping Shane would just drop the topic. It wasn't like you wanted to die. You didn't want to die, you had been close to death too many times to count, but you didn't want to die. You didn't want to leave your family and new friends, but if it was to save Carls life then you wouldn't hesitate. "And I couldn't let you kill Otis."

"Why? It had to be done, why didn't you let me do it?" Shane asked in pure confusion.

"You've never done it before, but I've killed too many men to count during my tours." You began to explain, wincing slightly as you moved your injured leg and turned towards Shane. "Once you cross over to my side of the line, you don't get to come back from that. Not ever, and I know you, Shane, that would eat you up. Hate me for it if you want, but I made an on the spot decision and I don't regret it."

Shane didn't say anything for a while as he focused on the road in front of him and for a moment you thought he might actually hate you for what you did, but then he finally spoke and if he said it any softer you would have missed it.

"Thank you." He whispered, glancing over at you with a sad but grateful expression and you nodded before turning back towards the road. 

Neither of you spoke again after that as you drove back to the farm, Shane practically doubling what the speed limit used to be and it didn't take long before you reached the front of the house. He turned the engine off as he quickly got out the truck the best he could with his screwed-up ankle as he grabbed the backpacks from the bed of the truck.

"Carl?" You heard Shane asked as Rick, Lori, Hershel, Maggie, Glenn and T-Dog all came rushing out the house. You would have been more focused on the fact that Lori, Glenn and T-Dog where at the farm now, but all you could think about was Otis. God, he had a wife and Hershel and Maggie and their family... It was the only option, but it didn't make it any easier.

"There's still a chance." Rick responded as he glanced over to you still sitting in the passenger seat of the truck his face full of concern as you gave him a reassuring nod before you opened your door and carefully climbed out. You leant against the door of the truck, not putting any pressure on your knee as you watched the group of people talk.

"Otis?" Hershel asked looking over at Shane before glancing over his shoulder towards you as you dropped your head.

"No." You heard Shane respond and you could picture the horrified expressions on Hershel and Maggies faces as you stared at the ground.

"We say nothing to Patricia. Not until after. I need her." Hershel declared before he and the others all began walking back into the house with the bags full of medical equipment. You looked back over at Shane and Rick as the two of them hugged.

"They kept blocking us at every turn. We had nothing left. We were down to 10 rounds. Then he said... he said he'd cover us and that we should keep going. So that's what we did. We just... We kept going. But I... I looked back and he... I tried." Shane rambled his voice thick with emotion and you knew he had been thinking about a story to tell Otis' family during the drive back and you felt tears rising in your eyes before you quickly wiped them away. You didn't get to be upset about this, his death was on you.

You glanced past Rick spotting Lori with her arm wrapped around Maggie's shoulders, the younger woman crying. Otis deserved better, sure he had shot Carl and if he doesn't pull through you sure as hell will blame him, but he didn't do it on purpose, even Rick knew that.

"Y/N?" Rick's voice called as you looked up noticing the others had gone back inside while you stood against the truck, too deep in your own thoughts to even notice.

"Hey, you alright? You should be sitting down, you've had a lot of blood taken out of you." You quickly responded, trying to sound strong but you knew you still had tears in your eyes giving away your emotions.

"You're asking if I'm okay? God, you nearly died out there. Shane told me everything, Otis saved the two of you." Rick responded as he reached your side, resting his hand on your shoulder as you dropped your head avoiding his gaze as you felt a tear escape your eye.

Carl could die, you had just killed Otis, the others weren't at the farm, were they okay? Was Daryl okay? Carol? Dale? Have they found Sophia? So many things were running through your mind and you couldn't hold it together anymore.

"I'm sorry." You mumbled, your voice barely above a whisper as you shook your head unable to stop the tears falling down your cheeks as Rick quickly pulled you into a tight hug. Neither of you said anything for a few minutes as he let you cry into his shoulder. You had managed to hold yourself together the entire time Carl was shot and bleeding out, knowing you had to be strong for Rick, but now you just couldn't.

"Let's go sit down, Hershel is operating on Carl as we speak." Rick whispered pulling away from you, keeping his hands on your shoulders and you nodded ever so slightly. The two of you walked over to the porch stairs to Lori, but after a couple of steps Rick quickly stopped noticing your limp.

"Dislocated my kneecap. Shane popped it back in, I'm fine." You simply replied shrugging it off as Rick gave you a worried look, but you shook your head as you limped over to the porch steps taking a seat beside Lori.

"I'll go see if they have an icepack or something." She quickly said giving you a sympathetic smile as she stood up and walked back inside as Rick sat down beside you.

The next two hours went by in a blur. You were still sitting on the porch stairs beside Rick who had his arm wrapped around Lori's shoulder as you held an icepack to your injured knee while Shane leant back against the side of the truck by the front of the house, not knowing what to do.

"He seems to have stabilised." Hershel's voice suddenly declared causing the three of you to quickly look over your shoulders to find the older man walking out the front door.

"Oh thank God." You whispered as Rick and Lori both stood up, your brother giving the doctor a hug.

"I don't have words." Lori responded, unable to hide the smile on her face as she looked over at Hershel as he and Rick pulled away.

"I don't either. Wish I did. How do I tell Patricia about Otis?" Hershel replied as you rubbed your face with your hands. God, his poor wife.

"You two go with Carl. I'll go with Hershel." Rick stated glancing over you and Lori as you both nodded before heading inside.

You could hear Patricia crying on the other side of the house as they told her the news and you hated yourself for being the reason of the woman's cries, she had done nothing but help Carl and this was how you repaid her?

Shaking your head at yourself you followed Lori into Carl's room to find him still lying on the bed, his skin was still ghostly pale and he was still asleep, but he looked better already. You couldn't help the smile forming on your face as you sat down beside his bed with Lori, neither of you saying a word as you stared at the young boy, tears of joy rising in your eyes. Carl was going to be okay, he was going to be okay.

-

You, Rick and Lori slept on the chairs in Carl's room that night, none of you wanting to leave the boys side for a second. The following morning Shane, T-Dog and Glenn helped the Greene family collect rocks for Otis' funeral while the three of you stayed with Carl.

Carl woke up early that morning, his first words were asking if Sophia was okay and Rick had lied his ass off saying that she was fine before Carl went back to sleep. Carl didn't need to worry about Sophia, he needed to rest, but you did not want to be the one to tell him that his friend was still missing.

Your thoughts were taken away from Carl when you heard the familiar rumble of Merle's old motorcycle and you sighed with relief, glad that the others were okay. You stood up, leaving Lori and Rick with Carl as you made your way outside, trying your best not to limp, but your knee still hurt like a bitch.

Opening the front door to the farm house you instantly spotted their vehicles all parked in front of the house as Dale, Andrea and Carol began climbing out the car and RV, but your attention was on Daryl as he kicked the stand down on the motorcycle and climbed off.

The Greene family and the others were all standing by the front of the house waiting for them too. You walked down the front steps of the porch just as Daryl looked up, relief suddenly flashing across his face once he saw you before you began walking towards each other.

"The kid okay? Are ya okay?" Daryl quickly asked, unable to hide the worry in his tone as you reached each other, your eyes locking with his crystal blue ones and you nodded with a small smile before pulling Daryl into a tight hug. 

You surprised yourself with the sudden action, you had never hugged Daryl before and by the way he tensed it was clear he didn't want to either, but before you could pull away his muscles relaxed as his arms wrapped around your body, hugging you back.

"How is he?" Dale suddenly questioned as you pulled away from Daryl about to answer Dale's questioned, but he wasn't looking at you, he was looking towards the house and you turned around to find Rick and Lori walking down the steps.

Rick eyed you carefully before he turned his attention to Dale and you had to stop yourself from rolling your eyes at the inner protectiveness coming out of Rick when he saw you hug Daryl. Rick had always been protective of you when you were kids, but after your first tour that level of protectiveness had shot up tremendously.

"He'll pull through, thanks to Hershel and his people. And Shane and Y/N. We'd have lost Carl if not for those two." Rick answered and you smiled softly as Rick and Dale hugged while Carol walked over to Lori and hugged her too. You weren't sure if Carol was still mad at you, she had every right to be, so you kept your distance from the woman, not wanting to annoy her.

You spend the next hour outside helping collect rocks for Otis' grave, wanting to give Lori and Rick some time alone with their son. During the funeral you stood between Glenn and Daryl, trying to be furthest away from Patricia as Hershel read phrases from the bible and said kind words for his friend before he asked you or Shane to say something on Otis' behalf and you froze.

"You were the last one with him. You guys shared his final moments. Please, I need to hear. I need to know his death had meaning." Patricia cried, looking between you and Shane with teary eyes as you glanced over at Shane not knowing what to do or say. What could you possibly say?

"We were about done. Almost out of ammo. We were down to pistols by then. Y/N and I were limping. It was bad, my ankle and her knee swollen up. 'We've got to save the boy.' See, that's what he said. He gave us his backpacks. He shoved us ahead. 'Run, I'll take the rear. I'll cover you.' He said and I looked back..." Shane trailed off, glancing over at you before he limped towards the wheelbarrow of rocks and picked one up to place on the mans grave. "If not for Otis, we'd have never made it out alive and that goes for Carl too. It was Otis, he saved all of us. If any death ever had meaning, it was his."

You spared a glance over to Patricia as she stared at Shane, tears falling down her cheeks as she nodded, listening to what he said and your heart broke for the woman.

Suddenly a hand clasped your back causing you to flinch slightly as you glanced over your shoulder to your left to find Glenn smiling sadly at you before everyone began wandering back towards the farmhouse, wanting to give the Greene family some time alone.

"Ya alright? How's the knee?" Daryl's voice suddenly called out as you sat against one of the trees by the farm house your good knee bent towards your chest, your bad one laying along the ground as you began to sharpen a random stick with your hunting knife. Images flashing through your mind of Otis' body falling to the ground after you shot him.

"I'm fine." You replied with a shrug glancing over at Daryl who was walking over to you, his crossbow slung over his shoulder.

"Shane killed Otis, didn't he?" He suddenly asked as he sat down beside you, resting his crossbow on his lap as you looked over at him in shock. You shouldn't have been surprised that his guess was so close to the truth. Daryl was very observant and could read people really well, you trusted his instincts more than your own if you were being honest.

"No. He tried to, but I killed him." You answered, looking down at the stick and knife in your hands, not wanting to see Daryl's reaction.

"Why?" Was all he asked as you glanced over at him to find him looking at you in concern. Why was he was concerned? Shouldn't he be angry that you had killed an innocent man? "I know ya, Y/N. Ya wouldn't have done it unless ya had to."

"There were too many walkers, we weren't going to make it. I was going to stay back and let Shane and Otis get back, but Shane wouldn't let me. Literally stole my gun before I could pull the trigger and end it, so I killed Otis instead and if it wasn't for him we wouldn't have made it back and Carl would be dead." You explained, shaking your head at yourself as Daryl suddenly stood up, throwing his crossbow over his shoulder as he stared at you in disbelief.

"Ya tried to kill yourself?" He asked, anger rising in his voice as you frowned and slowly nodded. What the hell just changed to make him angry? "'N to think I thought ya were one of the strong ones." Daryl muttered, not giving you a chance to respond as he began walking away, leaving you sitting there speechless as you tried to figure out what the fuck just happened.

-

"Aunt Y/N?" Carl's voice suddenly asked and you looked up from the magazine you were currently refilling with bullets for your assault rifle to find your nephew's eyes open as he watched you curiously.

"Hey, little man. How are you feeling?" You asked quietly, sliding the magazine back into the gun as you rested it against your chair and leant forward, placing a gentle kiss to Carl's forehead.

"Sore, but mum gave me painkillers before. Do you think it will scar?" He asked, glancing down at the bandage wrapped around his midsection and you chuckled, of course he would want to know that.

"Probably, you'll match your father and I." You responded, lifting up your shirt slightly exposing the bullet wound you had gotten during your first tour and Carl grinned.

"That is so cool." He responded and you rolled your eyes at the boy. "This reminds me of those days when you came home from the hospital and were in our spare bedroom. You weren't allowed to do much, but I sat with you and you helped me with my homework and we watched movies together, except this time it's me in the bed and you sitting there. Do you remember that?"

"Yeah." You replied with a small nod as you thought back to those days. Once you were finally released from hospital Rick had taken you back to his house and you weren't in any state to refuse. It took weeks before you could finally sleep without the help of sleeping pills and it took months before you could even talk about what happened, Carl always asked a lot of questions and whenever Shane came over he would try and ask too, but Rick had told them both to drop the topics multiple times. You still flinched at loud noises and got flashbacks about those horrible months, not a day has gone by where you don't think about it, you don't even mean to, your mind just slowly wanders that way and you have to force yourself to think of something else before you let those memories take over.

"Get some sleep, kiddo, you need to rest." You said after a few seconds of silence and Carl nodded with a small smile as he closed his eyes again and within minutes, he was fast asleep again. 

You sat there watching him as you thought back to your conversation with Daryl. He seemed okay with you killing Otis, but once you mentioned that you nearly killed yourself he just blew up, but it was for Carl, what was wrong with that?

Chapter Text

"Hey." Rick's voice suddenly greeted, and you looked up to find your brother walking into the room as he took his Sheriffs hat off and sat down on the chair beside you in front of Carls bed. "Just spoke to Hershel, he's letting us set up camp amongst those trees in front of the house, the others are setting up the tents and everything as we speak. But, he doesn't want us carrying guns on his property. Said he was okay with the person on watch to have a gun, but that's it. The rest of the guns are being kept in the bag in the RV."

"I'm not walking around without one of my guns, you know that right?" You asked and Rick sighed but nodded. "I'll put my rifle with the other guns, but I'm keeping my handgun. I'll hide it in my boot if I have to, but I'm not walking around here without a gun."

"I figured that much. What's going on between you and Daryl?" He asked, changing the topic and you shook your head. You knew this would come up eventually. "You never let anyone other than family touch you, let alone hug you. Is there something going on there?"

"I don't know." You replied with a shrug as Rick raised his eyebrows at you, clearly not believing that. "Seriously, I don't know. Still trying to figure that out myself." You answered honestly.

"He's gone out to look for Sophia again, although you probably already know that. Hershel gave us a map, we can get this properly organised now, we're gonna start tomorrow and search the grid. Glenn has also gone out on a supply run with Hershel's daughter." Rick explained and you were glad that the searches were going to finally be organised properly, but you didn't like the idea of Daryl being out there alone right now and no, you didn't know about it. He didn't tell you that he was going out searching, he hasn't really spoken to you since he stormed off earlier.

"Glenn and Maggie went on a supply run? They'd be cute together." You commented trying to get the topic away from Daryl and Rick chuckled but he didn't disagree with you as you smiled.

You spent the night sleeping in the bed of the old pickup truck. There wasn't enough tents for everyone despite Rick and Lori saying you could share theirs, but you didn't want to intrude on the couple and the RV was full. So, you grabbed a few blankets and pillow thanks to Maggie and made a makeshift bed in the back of the truck, sleeping under the stars. But you made sure to throw the blankets and pillow into Rick's tent when you woke up in case anyone needed to use the truck during the day.

"Morning, guys. Let's get going, we've got a lot of ground to cover." Rick announced as he walked across your camp towards the pickup truck where you already had the map spread out across the bonnet as you waited for everyone to gather around.

"If she made it as far as the farmhouse Daryl found, she might have gone further east than we've been so far." Rick said glancing around at everyone as Andrea, T-Dog, Shane, Dale and Daryl came over to the truck. You glanced over at Daryl who was standing on the other side of the truck, but he wouldn't look at you as you looked back towards Rick when Jimmy came over asking to help. You weren't sure if he was Hershel's son or not, but he was no older than 18, but seemed to be keen on helping the search.

"Nothing about what Daryl found screams Sophia to me. Anyone could have been holed up in that farmhouse." Shane commented from his spot by the truck door.

"Anyone includes her, right?" You responded, raising your eyebrows at Shane and he sighed but nodded.

"Whoever slept in that cupboard was no bigger than yay-high." Daryl explained, holding his hand up to indicate the height of what Sophia is. "I'm gonna borrow a horse, head up to this ridge right here, take a bird's-eye view of the whole grid. If she's up there, I'll spot her." Daryl stated pointing towards the map.

"Good idea. Maybe you'll see your Chupacabra up there too." T-Dog replied and you grinned remembering when Daryl had told that story one night around the campfire back at the quarry.

"Chupacabra?" Rick asked, clearly unsure if he heard the other man correctly as he glanced over at you for confirmation and you nodded.

"You never heard this? Our first night in camp, Daryl tells us that the whole thing reminds him of a time when he went squirrel hunting and he saw a Chupacabra." Dale explained, causing Jimmy to chuckle.

"What are you braying at, jackass?" Daryl asked looking over at the younger boy.

"You believe in the blood-sucking dog?" Your brother questioned looking over at Daryl in shock as he shrugged his shoulders.

"You believe dead people walking around?" Daryl questioned and you smiled, he had a pretty good point.

"Hey, hey. Ever fire one before?" Rick suddenly questioned snapping your thoughts away from Daryl as you glanced over at your brother noticing he was grabbing the rifle from Jimmy's hands.

"Well, if I'm going out, I want one." The kid responded and you rolled your eyes.

"Yeah, 'n people in hell want slurpees." Daryl muttered, slinging his crossbow over his shoulder as he began to walk off in the direction of the stables.

"Hey, Dixon. I'll join you." You suddenly called out, pushing yourself off the side of the truck as you walked over to him, trying your best not to limp despite the pain in your knee.

"Hey, be careful." Rick shouted as you glanced over your shoulder giving him a thumbs up and he nodded before you turned back towards Daryl who had stopped walking, clearly waiting for you to catch up to him.

"Ya sure 'bout this? Your knee should be restin', especially since ya refuse to let Hershel take a look at it." Daryl commented, once you reached his side, but you shook your head as the two of you continued walking towards the horse stables down the end of the field.

"He doesn't need to look at it, I only dislocated the kneecap and it's popped back in. There isn't anything for him to do, plus he's already done more than enough for us with Carl." You responded, clearly trying to change the topic and Daryl must have realised as he eyed you curiously, but he didn't say anything further about it to your relief. You hated feeling weak and useless. When you were weak, you were vulnerable and you hated being vulnerable.

You and Daryl didn't really say much after that as the two of you saddled up a couple of horses and took off into the woods. He lead the way on his brown horse while your white horse trotted alongside his. You guys had been following along an old trail through the woods for nearly an hour now with no sign of Sophia, but neither of you were gonna give up. It was your fault the little girl was out here and you weren't going to stop until you found her.

"Whoa." Daryl suddenly said as the two of your rode alongside a cliff face. He began slowing his horse down and you did the same trusting Daryl's instincts as he climbed off the horse, tying the reins to the nearest tree as you followed his lead. "Stay here, you'll just slow me down." Daryl muttered catching you by surprise as you looked over at him. Where the hell did that come from?

You didn't bother replying to him, knowing it wasn't worth it as you sat on top of your horse watching as Daryl made his way down to the riverbank and that's when you spotted it. Sophia's doll caught against a large log in the shallow water. Holy shit, she had been here. Sophia had been here, you guys had to be getting close.

"Sophia?!" Daryl suddenly shouted, grabbing the girls doll as he began tying it to his belt so he wouldn't lose it. You glanced around your surroundings as Daryl began making his way back, but you couldn't find any signs of the little girl anywhere. She had to be here somewhere. She had to be.

"Keep followin' the water, it's our only landmark. Chances are she stayed near it." Daryl stated and with that the two of you were back riding along side each other, but you still hadn't gotten over what he said before. Why would he say that? Sure you aren't as quick on your feet with your knee messed up, but you were out here trying to help. He didn't have to be jerk about it. At first you thought he wasn't bothered by you joining him on the search, but now it seemed as though he didn't want you here at all.

"If you didn't want me to come with you, why didn't you just say it?" You suddenly asked, looking over at Daryl who was focused on scanning the water down the cliff face.

"What?" He responded, glancing over at you in a mixture of confusion and annoyance.

"What you said earlier about me slowing you down. Why did you let me help you, if you didn't want me out here?" You asked, staring at the dirt track in front of you as you felt Daryl's eyes on you.

"I don't need no girl helpin' me out here, even if ya weren't injured you'd still slow me down, but you're Rick's sister. I didn't have a choice." Daryl muttered causing your head to snap in his direction in shock. Did he really just say? Just when you were starting to think Daryl was a decent man unlike the other assholes that had been in your life before all this, but apparently you were wrong. Daryl clearly saw you as weak and only important because you were Rick's sister.

"I've dealt with sexist comments and dickheads all my life, I don't need to hear this shit from you. Don't worry after today you won't ever have to deal with me slowing you down again."

"Good, won't have to worry 'bout ya tryin' to kill ya self around me neither." He muttered causing you to frown. That's what this is about? He thinks you want to kill yourself? That was Andrea, not you.

"Hey, I don't want to die, Dixon. If I did I would have stayed at the CDC, I'm not suicidal. But, what I was willing to do for Carl, that was different. I'd die for Carl, I'd die for Rick, Lori and Shane as well, and to think I would have died for you too, but now you're acting like an asshole and I'm starting to rethink it." You responded glaring over at him and for a split second you could have sworn you saw a hint of regret flash across his face as he seemed to process what you had just said, but before he could reply birds suddenly flew out from the trees spooking your horses.

"Whoa. Easy, girl. Easy." You said quietly, patting your horses neck to try calm her down and Daryl did the same to his horse as he looked over at you with a questioning look, but you just shrugged your shoulders having no idea what scared the birds.

"Come on." Daryl said gently pulling on his reins as his horse continued walking and you followed him when suddenly his horse reared up out of nowhere bucking him off and you watched in shock as he got thrown down the side of the cliff face.

"Daryl!" You screamed in panic as your horse suddenly went up on her back legs giving you no chance to hold on as you fell off the back. You tumbled down the side of the cliff unable to stop your fall when suddenly you hit a small ledge, stopping you in your tracks as your head slammed into the side of the rock before you passed out.

-

When you finally woke up the first thing you were aware of was the sound of running water. You slowly opened your eyes in confusion before realising where you were. You were by the small waterfall that lead to the shallow stream. Your head was thumping and you could feel blood dripping down the middle of your face from where your forehead had smashed against a rock.

You glanced around realising you had landed on a small ledge by the waterfall, which was lucky otherwise your fall would have hurt an awful lot more. Wait, what about Daryl? He had fallen down here as well.

Acting on pure adrenaline you forced yourself in a sitting position only just realising how sore your knee was, but that was nothing compared to your wrist. You looked down at your left wrist in confusion, knowing it shouldn't hurt like that and your eyes went wide when you saw the deep bruises painted over your swollen wrist. Well shit, that isn't good. It looked broken, it felt like it too, but that was a problem for later. You had to find Daryl.

You quickly scanned the water below you when suddenly you spotted him lying on the ground on the edge of the water on the other side of the creek. He seemed to be unconscious, but what caught your eye were the three walkers stumbling towards from the other side of the stream.

"Daryl!" You tried to yell, but your voice came out cracked and broken as you watched in shock as the walkers got closer to his unconscious body. No. No. No. You are not letting anyone else die, especially not Daryl.

You quickly went to grab your gun from its holster, but it wasn't there. Shit. You glanced around the small ledge you had landed on trying to find it when you spotted it balancing against a tree root further down the cliff face right above the water. Shit, if that falls into the water it'll become waterlogged and you knew guns that got waterlogged get jammed and are basically useless. The only way to be able to get to your gun was for you to jump down from your ledge and into the water and then you'll be able to reach the gun, but you didn't like how high up you were.

"God damnit. You better wake up soon, Dixon." You muttered glancing over at him and your eyes widened when you realised the walkers had gotten closer to him than you realised. Shit.

Without hesitation you quickly jumped off the side of the ledge, ignoring the sudden dizziness in your head and splitting pain in your wrist as you tumbled down the side of the cliff trying to protect your sore wrist as much as possible until you hit the water.

"Son of a bitch." You groaned in pain forcing yourself to sit up in the shallow water as you blinked away the stars in your eyes.

Suddenly you heard Daryl cry out in panic and your eyes flew in his direction spotting a walker trying to bite his shoe as he squirmed away, but something was wrong. He must be hurt. He would have been able to kill the walker by now and that's when you spotted his crossbow bolt imbedded through the side of his stomach. Holy shit.

Shaking your head, you quickly glanced up at the tree root sticking out the side of the cliff along with your handgun dangling from it. You forced yourself to your feet ignoring the pain in your knee as you reached up grabbing the gun before quickly turning back towards Daryl.

You cocked the gun with shaky hands, hating how much it hurt to just pull the slide back with your injured hand and squeezed the trigger as the walker dropped dead by his feet.

You watched as Daryl stared at the walker in shock before he looked over to where the gunshot had come from and he visibly relaxed when you spotted you standing in the water with your gun raised as you finished taking out the other walkers stumbling his way.

"Still reckon you don't need my help?" You called out, glancing back over at Daryl with a grin causing him to chuckle as he dropped his head back down against the dirt where he was laying in relief. You were about to start walking over to him when suddenly something grabbed you from behind.

"Y/N!" You heard Daryl shout before you got pulled backwards and into the water. You dropped your gun as you landed on your back, catching a glimpse of a walker leaning over you, it's snapping jaws inches away from your body as you struggled to keep your head above the water.

Panic began to set in as you struggled against the walkers hold, you tried to hold both your hands against the walkers neck, trying to keep it's teeth away from you. But the pain shooting through your left wrist was unbearable as you dropped it and only used your right hand, the walkers skin ripping away beneath your fingers as it fought against you.

Suddenly a bolt pierced through its skull as it dropped motionless beside you into the water and you quickly scrambled to your feet in shock staring down at the walker. You turned back towards Daryl to find him sitting up against the cliff face, his crossbow in his hands as he gave you a small nod.

"Now we're even." He called out causing you to roll your eyes as you grabbed your gun from under the water by your feet and walked over to him, trying your best not to show much pain you were actually in. But luckily Daryl was too focused on pulling his flannel shirt off, leaving him in a tank top as he began wrapping the shirt around his stomach to stop the bleeding from where the bolt had hit him. How the hell did he pull that out himself?

"Shit, is that broken?" Daryl suddenly questioned as he stared at your red and purple wrist in pure shock.

"Sure as hell feels like it." You replied as he took a few steps closer to you, his hand hovering over your arm as he looked at it properly. "C'mon. We gotta get outta here, neither of us would be any good up against a few walkers at the moment."

"Already tried, got halfway up, but fell straight back down. We ain't goin' nowhere 'til we get our strength up." Daryl responded, staring up at the tall cliff face that you were going to have to climb eventually. It was a long climb, would've hurt like a bitch to fall down after getting halfway, especially with a bolt through his stomach.

You both sat on the fallen log as you watched Daryl pull his flannel shirt off and began to tie it around his stomach to stop the bleeding from the puncture wound. You wanted to help, knowing it must really hurt, but you wouldn't be able to tie a knot with one hand, so you stayed where you were, cradling your injured wrist with your good hand.

"My mother killed herself when I was a kid, burnt the whole house down around her..." Daryl suddenly said before trailing off and you looked over at him in surprise, but didn't say anything as you waited for him to continue. Daryl rarely spoke about his past, and he sure as hell never started a conversation about it like this, so you stayed quiet, silently encouraging him to continue.

"S'why I didn't like hearin' what ya said yesterday... the only woman I cared 'bout left... I didn't want ya to do that as well." He continued, his voice a lot softer as he stared down at the crossbow in his hands.

Daryl had lost his mother to suicide when he was a kid... no wonder he reacted that way when you were talking to him yesterday, it all made sense now. Shit, you couldn't even imagine what that must have been like for him, for a young kid to have to go through that, you wouldn't wish that upon anybody.

"I'm sorry you had to go through that-" You began to say before Daryl cut you off.

"Don't want ya pity."

"I know, but you need to know that I would never do that, alright? I wouldn't just check out like that and leave my family, my friends, you... I wouldn't do that to you, Dixon." You replied and Daryl looked up at you for the first time with soft eyes and he nodded, his lips twitching up in a slight smile as he looked at you.

Back in Afghanistan if you had the chance then you would have put a bullet a through your skull and let it all end. The shit they did to you, the stuff they put you through, it was hell, no other word for it, but you didn't have the easy option to just end. And now... well, nothing can ever get that bad again, and you knew no matter what happened you have lived through worse and you'd make it through whatever the future held, that you knew for a fact.

Over the next hour, the two of you talked for a little bit. Sharing stories or just talking about random stuff. Sometime during all that, Daryl had managed to kill a squirrel and despite how gross it looked to eat the meat raw, you were not going to complain as he cut the animal open and handed you some bloodied meat.

Once you had something to eat, Daryl seemed to have this sudden burst of energy and began looting the three walkers bodies behind you, trying to find anything useful. He had blood all down the front of his face and tank top from the squirrel and you suspected that you probably looked similar, but you honestly didn't care.

You watched as Daryl pulled the shoelaces off one of the walkers before he began cutting off their ears and threading them through the shoelace as he tied it around his neck. You stared at him for a few seconds debating whether to ask what the point of that was before decided better. You stood up and walked over to him, trying to ignore the sharp pain that spiked through your left arm every time you took a step.

"Ya ready?" He asked, glancing over at you as you stared at the tall cliff face you needed to climb up. No, you were definitely not ready.

"Yeah."

"I'll go first, just follow where I step and ya should be fine." He replied, noticing your nerves as he began to climb. Should be fine? That was very reassuring, thank you Daryl.

It took nearly 30 minutes of climbing, slipping and swearing from the two of you before Daryl reached the top. You watched as he grabbed onto the thick tree on the flat surface to try pull himself up and you could see he was struggling with the wound in his side.

You remained where you were, your feet dug into the side of the cliff while you held onto a tree root with your good hand as Daryl finally made it up. He immediately turned around, grabbing hold of the tree above you as he extended his hand down towards you and you took it as Daryl helped you up.

Once your feet hit the flat surface, you dropped to your knees in relief, cradling your arm as he took a few deep breaths.

"I'm so not gonna be the one to tell Hershel that we lost his horses." You commented, breathlessly causing Daryl to chuckle as he took a few deep breaths, resting his hand on your shoulder as you both took a minute to compose yourself.

"Fuck, lets never do that again." You sighed, standing yourself up and Daryl hummed in agreement but didn't remove his hand from your shoulder wanting to make sure you were okay. You turned to look at him only just noticing the dark scars across his chest that were only made visible because of the tank top he was wearing.

You quickly averted your eyes, not wanting to stare, but wondered how he got them. You had your own scars scattered over your body, stab wounds, brands, rope burns and a damn bullet wound, but you were glad most of them were over your stomach and back because for whatever reason the Taliban seemed to favour those areas during torture.

"You're seriously gonna need a shower when we get back." You commented, taking in all the blood and dirt covering the archers body as he stood in front of you.

"Ya ain't exactly clean either, woman." Daryl muttered, but you didn't miss the slight twitch of his lips and you knew he was fighting a smile. "C'mon, got a long walk back." He said seriously and you nodded, although the thought of having to walk all those miles back to camp through the dense woods did not sound fun.

Chapter Text

Five hours of walking was a long fucking time, but it was even longer when one of you had a been shot with a bolt and the other had a screwed-up knee and possibly a broken wrist.

Daryl got sick of carrying his crossbow after the first hour and opted to hold onto the strap and drag it as you trailed behind. You knew Daryl was going slow for you and he kept glancing over his shoulder occasionally to make sure you were still following behind him. Neither of you really spoke during those five hours, mainly because you were just too damn exhausted to say anything other than the occasional 'walker' but luckily you only came across three that were easy enough to kill.

By the time you finally reached the end of the woods and the start of the Greene property, you were beyond exhausted. Daryl was a few metres in front of you as you limped behind him, your head down as you focused on every step.

"Is that Daryl?" A voice suddenly questioned causing you to lift your head in confusion as you tried to find the source of the voice and that's when you spotted Rick, Shane, T-Dog and Glenn all standing in front of Daryl in shock. Rick had his pistol up and aimed towards Daryl and it took your brain way longer than it should have to realise that Rick thought he was a walker, but before you could say anything Daryl suddenly spoke up.

"That's the third time you've pointed that thing at my head. Ya gonna pull the trigger or what?" Daryl questioned and he sounded about as exhausted as you felt. You continued walking, catching Rick's attention as he lowered his gun and sighed with relief once he realised it was you, the others all matching his expression before a gunshot rang out and you watched in horror as Daryl fell to the ground.

"NO!" You and Rick both screamed, your wrist and knee long forgotten as you sprinted the remaining distance to Daryl's side. Rick and Shane already crouched down beside him as Shane brushed his fingers over the bloodied graze on the side of Daryl's forehead. The bullet just grazed him, he was okay, Daryl wasn't dead.

"I was kiddin'." Daryl muttered glancing between Rick, Shane and you before he dropped his head back down to the ground and passed out.

"Get him up. Y/N what happened?" Rick questioned as him and Shane lifted Daryl's dead weight up, slinging his arms over their shoulders as they both half carried and half dragged him back towards the house.

"Long story." You replied breathlessly about to pick up his crossbow from the ground with your good hand before Glenn bet you to it and you nodded your thanks before following the others.

"Oh my God. Oh my God. Is he dead?" Andrea shouted and you looked up to find her and Dale running towards you guys with panicked expressions.

"Unconscious. You just grazed him." Rick replied causing your head to snap back around to Andrea in sudden anger. She shot him? Son of a bitch. "Y/N, don't!" Rick quickly yelled, clearly knowing what you were about to do as you took a few steps towards the blonde woman before slamming your fist into the side of her face. The force of the punch sent her stumbling back a few steps as you doubled over, cradling your injured hand to your chest instantly regretting the sudden movement as it sent shockwaves of pain searing through your wrist despite not even punching with that arm.

"Y/N, it was an accident, relax." Dale quickly said, stepping between you and Andrea as Glenn and T-Dog quickly joined and you just nodded. Even if you wanted to punch her again there was no way in hell you were doing that with the amount of pain coming from your wrist.

"Shit, Y/N, you okay? You're not looking too good." Glenn quickly asked noticing the pained expression on your face as he took a step towards you and his eyes widened when he saw your wrist. "Oh God, that looks broken. What the hell happened? And he's wearing ears." Glenn commented turning back towards Shane and Rick who were still supporting Daryl as Rick quickly ripped of Daryl's makeshift necklace and shoved it into his pocket.

"Let's keep that to ourselves." Your brother muttered as you all began walking back towards the farmhouse.

-

You were sitting on one of the spare beds in the Greene's farmhouse, your back resting against the headrest of the bed while Daryl laid besides you, still unconscious. You made Hershel stitch up Daryl's wounds first hoping he would stay unconscious until it was over so he wouldn't feel the pain.

"He's going to be okay right?" You asked holding a white cloth that Hershel had given you earlier to your forehead where you had hit your head sometime during your fall down the side of the cliff. 

You had caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror in the hallway as you walked into the house earlier and you had to a double take not realising how long or deep the cut was on your forehead that ran straight down from the right corner of your forehead down to your temple. It was definitely going to leave a scar.

"He'll be fine. I will be back; I just need to get more string for your stitches." Hershel replied as you looked back down at Daryl's unconscious and very shirtless body. You glanced back up at Hershel as he finished the last of the stitches along the side of Daryl's head before he left the room.

A few minutes later you felt Daryl begin to stir on the bed beside you as you shifted slightly away from him giving him a bit of space, but being careful not to bump your wrist which was resting over the pillow you had sitting on your lap exposing your swollen and deeply bruised wrist.

"What the hell?" Daryl muttered in confusion as he blinked his eyes open taking in his surroundings realising that his wounds had been stitched and that he was shirtless.

"Andrea shot you, but luckily she's a bad shot. It's only a graze, Hershel patched you up." You quickly explained, figuring you should make your presence beside him known causing him to flinch in surprise before he quickly turned towards you clearly trying to block your view from his back which was painted with scars. You weren't sure how he had gotten the scars, you didn't really know much about Daryl's life before all this, but by his reaction you knew it must have been bad.

"My old man was a drunk." Daryl responded a few seconds later clearly noticing your questioning look as he propped himself up on his elbow beside you so he could look at properly as you gave him a sympathetic look. He didn't need to explain further, you figured out what he meant, and you wished you hadn't. He had to grow up with an abusive alcoholic father, no wonder he never spoke about his old life.

"Shit, I'm sorry." You replied, not really knowing what else to say as you tried not to let your eyes wander down to his shirtless body. God, how did one man look so perfect while injured and covered in dirt and blood?

"S'alright, was a long time ago." Daryl said with a shrug as he shifted slightly on the bed, his eyes glancing down to your arm that was resting over the pillow and he stared at your wrist in shock. "Shit, girl. That looks worse, ya walked all that way with your banged up knee and your wrist lookin' like that?" He questioned, taking in the deep blue and purple bruises covering it.

"Say's the man who climbed up a cliff after just being impaled by a bolt." You replied with a grin causing Daryl to snort as he looked up at you suddenly frowning at the bloodied cloth you had to your forehead. Neither of you said anything for a few seconds as he stared at you with an unreadable look before he spoke.

"Look, 'bout what I said earlier when we were on the horses, I didn't mean it. I was bein' an asshole. M'sorry." He apologised and you knew he meant it. Maybe you were right about him from the beginning, he wasn't like the others. He had a rough outer layer and might be hot tempered sometimes, but he had a heart and cared about others and that was becoming rare these days.

"Apology accepted." You said with a gentle smile as you looked over at him and again neither of you said anything for a few seconds as your eyes locked. You didn't even realise what was happening as Daryl moved closer to you, his hand cupping your cheek as he sat up on the bed, your faces inches apart and it was clear he was giving you time to back away, but like hell you were going to do that as you pressed your lips against his, catching him by surprise before he kissed you back.

The kiss didn't last long before someone cleared their throat from the doorway causing Daryl to quickly pull away and you looked up to find Hershel, Rick and Shane to staring at the two of you, all of them with unreadable expressions before Rick grinned slightly as they followed Hershel into the room. Rick and Shane used to always get between you and boys when you were growing up, looks like some things never change.

"Your wrist is either severely fractured or it's broken. Either way, I can't do much to help it, but you can wear this. It's Maggies old wrist brace that she used to wear playing sports. It should help keep your wrist straight and in place, just try not to move it or use it." Hershel said, walking over to the bed as Daryl moved away slightly to give you some room. Hershel leant down and unzipped the brace and carefully slipped it onto your wrist as you bit your tongue to stop yourself from wincing before he zipped it back up.

The brace was only small and black, but you could already feel the difference and how much more supported your wrist felt, despite the pain.

"How long does she need to wear it for?" Rick asked worriedly, standing by the end of the bed as Shane took a seat on the small chair in the corner of the room.

"For a few months at least." Hershel replied and Rick nodded as his eyes glanced between you and Daryl, but you were more focused on the folded up map Rick was carrying.

"Doesn't matter, let's just focus on Sophia. Daryl found her doll, spread that map out." You responded pointing towards the end of the bed as Rick began spreading the map out over the top of the blankets.

"We found it washed up on the creek bed right there. She must have dropped it crossing there somewhere." Daryl said wasting no time and pointing to somewhere on the map as Hershel continued stitching the cut on your head.

"Cuts the grid almost in half." Shane said in disbelief staring at the map from his chair.

"Yeah, you're welcome." Daryl replied.

"How are they looking?" Rick asked glancing between yours and Daryl's injuries before looking up at Hershel who was focusing on the stitches.

"They'll be alright. I had no idea we'd be going through the antibiotics so quickly. Any idea what happened to my horses?" Hershel questioned glancing at you and Daryl before he continued with the stitches. 

"Yeah, the ones that almost killed us? If they're smart, they left the country." Daryl responded causing you to laugh as he looked over at you with a slight smile.

"We call that one Nelly, as in Nervous Nelly and her sister. I could have told you they'd throw you if you bothered to ask. It's a wonder you people have survived this long." Hershel commented, finishing the stitches as he stood up and began walking out the room.

"Thank you for the help, I'm sorry about your horses." You called out, but Hershel didn't even respond as he continued walking and you sighed resting your head back against the bedrest as you glanced over at Rick who began folding the map back up before him and Shane walked out the room as well, wanting to let the two of you rest.

"Can't keep going out there, not after this." Shane's voice stated from just outside the bedroom and you groaned leaning back against the wall. Of course Rick and Shane were going to argue right outside the bedroom which happened to have thin fucking walls, just perfect.

"You'd quit now? Y/N and Daryl just risked their lives to bring back the first hard evidence we've had." Rick argued causing you to roll your eyes as you glanced over at Daryl who was still lying down beside you, but he seemed to be more amused by their argument than annoyed.

"That is one way to look at it. The way I see it, Y/N and Daryl almost died today for a doll." Shane responded.

"Yeah, I know how you see it." Rick muttered as silenced followed and for a second you thought it might be over before Shane spoke up again.

"I'm not out to be a hard case. Just being realistic. He's just got to start making the tough calls. You know I'm right." Shane explained and you frowned in confusion as you tried to figure out who else he was talking to because it definitely wasn't Rick anymore.

"I may not agree with all of his choices, but I respect him. It's the easiest thing in the world to cut our losses and to not help. You keep telling yourself you're making the touch calls, you're really just trying-" Lori's voice began to say before Shane cut off her because of course she was always in the middle of their stupid arguments.

"The only thing I care about now in this world is Y/N, Rick, you and Carl. So, I apologise if I appear to be insensitive to the needs of others, but you see I'll do whatever it takes to keep you guys safe." Shane stated and you sighed rubbing your face with your good hand. You really needed to sit down and have a chat with Shane, he needs to get over Lori otherwise things are gonna get a whole lot worse.

"Even abandoning a lost child? Really? My son and I are not your problem anymore, or your excuse." Lori snapped followed by footsteps indicating that she had walked off. Well, now was as good as time as any to have that chat.

With a sign you climbed off the bed, being mindful of your knee and wrist as you walked towards the door. "Ya gonna try talk some sense into Shane?" Daryl asked curiously and you glanced over your shoulder to find him watching you from where he was lying and you nodded before walking out the room.

You spotted Shane a few metres away, leaning his back against the wall in deep thought as you cleared your throat which caught his attention as he looked over at you in surprise before he chuckled shaking his head.

"You heard all that, didn't you?" He asked, although he already knew the answer as you limped over to him and leant against the wall opposite him.

"I know this is a shitty situation, but you have to let Lori go. I know she's just as much to blame for this as you are, but you gotta let her go. I know you care about her and Carl, but you need to step back from them because it's Rick's family, not yours." You said, not bothering to sugar coat anything as you stared at Shane, watching as he dropped his head with a sigh.

"I know. Fuck, I know." Shane mumbled, shaking his head at himself, but you didn't miss the slight waver to his voice which surprised you because you had only ever seen Shane cry a few times throughout your life and for him to get emotional in front of you, this was serious.

"Hey, Walsh, look at me." You instructed, your tone softening as Shane reluctantly lifted his head, tears brimming in his eyes as they locked with yours. "You've always been apart of our family, right from the moment you and Rick first became friends and that won't ever change. You're like a big brother to me and you're like an uncle to Carl, none of that will ever change, alright? But, you need to let Lori go otherwise everything will change and it won't be good, trust me."

"H-how do I get things to go back to the way they used to be?" Shane asked, his eyes never leaving yours as you gave him a sad smile.

"Give Lori some space, she's not dealing with it well either. Just give her a little space and focus on something else and before you know it we'll be back to those Friday night barbeques where we'd spend hours just talking and laughing with each other, no drama, no problems and everyone was happy." You explained causing Shane to smile slightly at the mention of those barbeque nights. 

Before you went on your first tour Rick always hosted Friday night barbeques and you and Shane would show up with food and drinks and wouldn't leave until the sun came up the following morning. It was just a nice way to relax after a busy week, but when you got back from your first tour, you never did it. Until one day Shane just rocked up with a cooler full of beers and a bag full of meat and you just sat outside with Rick, Lori, Shane and Carl, talking about anything and everything and after that it became a weekly routine again until well... this happened.

"What do I focus on?" Shane asked, pulling you away from your thoughts as you looked over at him.

"Whatever you want that keeps your mind occupied." You answered, glancing down the hallway spotting Dale and Andrea standing outside under the veranda of the house as an idea suddenly hit you. "What about Andrea? You always did have a thing for blondes."

"I thought you hated her." Shane replied, not really knowing how to respond to what you just suggested causing you to roll your eyes.

"Right now, yes. But, she's not a bad person. She's been going through a tough time and frankly so have you, plus I reckon you two would be cute together." You reasoned causing Shane to scoff as he stared at you, trying to figure out if you were joking or not. "Oh come on, don't even try tell me that you don't think she's hot. I saw you trying to teach her how to reassemble a handgun in the RV, I've never seen you with so much patience in your life."

"You're an idiot." Shane responded with a chuckle, shaking his head, but you smiled because he wasn't disagreeing with you.

"Give it a shot, I'm pretty sure she's into you as well." You said with a grin as you took a step towards him and patted him on the shoulder with your good hand. "And take it easy with Rick, he's only trying to do what's best." You added and Shane nodded before you walked back towards the bedroom for some much needed rest.

Chapter Text

You spent the rest of the afternoon with Daryl inside the Greene house. Hershel said the two of you could stay the night in the bed so you could rest, but neither of you wanted to sleep in a bed while the rest of the group were outside. Even Carl was now out of bed and walking around the camp with Lori.

"Ya ain't sleepin' in the back of that thing, I got room in my tent." Daryl suddenly said as you walked out of Ricks tent with your blankets and pillows about to throw them into the bed of the pickup truck.

"Is that your way of saying that you miss sleeping next to me, Dixon?" You teased, turning around to find Daryl standing by the entrance to his tent. The white bandage around his forehead now gone as he wore a light grey sleeveless button down shirt and you rolled your eyes. You knew that bandage wouldn't last long.

"Pfft." Daryl scoffed, shaking his head at you as he walked into his tent and you smiled before following him.

It was dark outside, but he had a lamp on inside his tent and the others were all inside the farmhouse, apparently having tea with the Greene family or something, but you didn't exactly feel like being sociable or around Hershel or Carol because you were pretty sure they both hated you at the moment.

You watched as Daryl laid down on top of his sleeping bag gently and you knew the wound on his side was still bothering him, but there wasn't much you could do about it. You watched as he laid on his back, tucking one arm under his head, the other resting over his stomach as he stared up at you. You smiled before throwing your blankets down on the ground beside him, being mindful of your injured wrist as you laid down, your shoulder brushing against his as you did so.

Neither of you spoke for a few minutes as you stared up at the roof of his tent trying to figure out what to say. God, you felt like a nervous school girl again. Why were you nervous? Daryl had kissed you earlier today, he clearly liked you and you liked him so you had no reason to be nervous, but apparently your brain disagreed.

"How's ya wrist?" Daryl asked, breaking the silence first as you turned your head to look at him to find him already looking at you.

"It'll be fine, I've broken it before." You replied with a shrug as Daryl stared at you with a questioning look. "During my first tour in Afghanistan, annoyed I broke it again though." You explained and Daryl nodded in understanding.

"Tough chick." He commented causing you to smile slightly as you stared into his deep blue eyes before your eyes flashed down to his lips and you slowly moved closer to him. Giving him time to back away if he wanted to, but he never did as you tilted your head towards him and kissed him, but quickly stopped when Daryl didn't kiss you back. Shit, did you do something wrong? Maybe you read the situation wrong and he didn't want to kiss you.

You quickly pulled away to find Daryl staring at you as he lifted his hand and cupped the side of your face, confusing you even more.

"If I kiss ya, I don't think I'd be able to hold back." Daryl confessed, brushing his thumb over your cheek.

"Then don't." You whispered and that was all it took before Daryl's lips crashed into yours, his other hand instantly wrapping around your body as you kissed him back.

His hands moved to your shirt as he began lifting it up but suddenly stopped as he stared at your stomach and you knew exactly what he was looking at. You glanced down to confirm that he was looking at the scars scattered over your skin, only the bullet wound and a couple of the brands and knife wounds were visible but it was more than enough to catch Daryl's attention. His eyes a mixture of sadness and confusion, but the last thing you wanted was to explain what they were from.

"Don't ask. Please don't ask." You whispered as Daryl stared at the scars for a few more seconds before he met your eyes and simply nodded before he pulled your tank top off, being mindful of your wrist as he began placing gentle kisses down your neck.

-

You woke up early the following morning, Daryl fast asleep beside you and you couldn't help but smile at how peaceful and relaxed he looked. His sleeveless shirt was only partly buttoned up exposing his chest as he laid on his back. You couldn't see the bolt wound through his stomach but you knew it was still bandaged up under his clothing despite him wanting to rip if off like he did with the bandage around his head, but you made him leave it on.

You were taken away from your thoughts when you heard soft voices talking outside and figured you should probably get up and see what Rick was planning for the day. Although you doubted he would let you help search for Sophia after what happened yesterday and you sure as hell weren't going to let Daryl go look for her until his wounds at least healed slightly.

Walking out of Daryl's tent you quietly zipped it back up as you tucked the handgun Shane had given you through the back of your belt. Your old handgun had been water damaged yesterday and wouldn't fire, Shane said he would try and fix it, but gave you his spare one in the meantime.

"So, are you and Daryl a thing?" Glenn suddenly questioned softly, not wanting to wake the others in the tents around you as you practically jumped out of your skin. You turned around to find the young Asian man walking towards you with what looked to be a basket of fruit, but you didn't miss Maggie walking off in the distance back towards the house which explains where he got the fruit from. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you. Just... you came out of his tent and well..."

"Yeah, we're a 'thing'." You chuckled at the awkwardness as he held the basket out towards you and you took one of the apples. "So, are you and Maggie a thing?" You asked in the same tone he did as you took a bite of the apple.

"I don't know. I hope so." Glenn replied with a bright smile as he glanced over his shoulder towards the farmhouse just as she disappeared through the front door. "How's your wrist? Maggie said it was broken, that must be painful."

"It's alright, I've had worse." You answered honestly as you held up your arm showing him the black brace you had over it before you heard the others in camp beginning to wake up and get out of bed. "What's been happening lately? It feels like days since I last had a conversation with you."

"What's been happening? No, nothing, why would something be happening? Just same old same stuff really, there's nothing weird happening or going on." Glenn rambled, rubbing the back of his neck nervously causing you raise your eyebrows at the man.

"Right... thanks for the fruit, I'll give Daryl one." You responded trying to ignore how weird the conversation just turned as you grabbed another apple out the bag and began walking back to Daryl's tent.

"I don't expect you to forgive me, but if there's anything I can do-" You heard Andrea began to say as you walked around one of the trees towards his tent to find her standing by the open door to Daryl's tent, a fresh bruise evident over her cheek.

"Ya were tryin' to protect the group. We're good. But hey, shoot me again 'n you'd best pray I'm dead." Daryl's voice responded causing you to smile at his response as Andrea nodded and turned to leave before she froze seeing you.

"Y/N-" She began to say, but you cut her off.

"Sorry for giving you that shiner." You apologised motioning towards the dark bruise over her left cheek. "But if you shoot anyone I care about again, a bruise will be the least of your worries." You warned and Andrea nodded giving you a small smile before she walked off.

You watched as she disappeared behind a few of the tents before you walked back into Daryl's to find him now awake as he laid on his back with his arm resting under his head.

"Was wonderin' how she got that bruise." Daryl muttered, a hint of a smirk forming on his lips as you rolled your eyes and threw one of the apples to him which he caught easily with a chuckle.

"Have you spoken to Glenn lately? He seems off, like more awkward than usual." You explained, sitting down on top of your blankets beside Daryl, but he shook his head. Maybe you were reading too much into it.

You bit into your apple and held it in your mouth as you moved towards Daryl and began unbuttoning the last few buttons of his shirt with your good hand. "The hell ya doin'? Last night not enough for ya?" He asked, a hint of amusement in his tone as took another bite of his apple causing you to roll your eyes.

Taking the apple from your mouth, you looked over at him. "I'm checking your wound, dumbass. Lay still and eat the apple." You instructed causing Daryl to snort as you bit into your apple again and held it in your mouth and went back to undoing his buttons with your good hand, exposing the white bandage covering the left side of his stomach. Carefully you peeled the bandage back as you took in the stitches covering the wound, but it didn't look infected and seemed to be healing already so you took that as a good sign.

"Ain't gonna do the buttons back up?" He asked as you sat back down beside him and continued eating your apple.

"I have a broken wrist, do your own buttons up." You responded causing Daryl to chuckle as he began doing his buttons back up himself. Neither of you spoke for a few minutes as you finished the fresh fruit before you broke the silence.

"I like you, Daryl. I'm not the kind of girl to do this for no reason, so are we a thing or...?" You trailed off, not really sure how to ask what you wanted to say.

"Ain't ever done somethin' like this before." Daryl admitted, fiddling with his apple core.

"Well, neither have I." You responded, which caught Daryl's attention as he looked over at you in surprise.

"Bullshit." He muttered, but you just shook your head. You've never been in a relationship before, all the guys you went to school with were all assholes and then you joined the army and, well, finding a partner just didn't seem that important. "Girl like ya ain't ever had a boyfriend?"

"Guys aren't really interested in a woman who's in the military and can kick their ass." You responded, causing Daryl to shake his head.

"Nah, not all guys." He replied, turning his attention back to the apple core in his hands as he continued to fiddle with it. "I like ya too, just don't know how to do this." He admitted quietly.

"We'll figure it out together then." You simply replied and Daryl nodded in agreement as a small smile spread across his face while he fiddled with the apple.

-

You spent most the morning resting in the tent with Daryl while Rick and Shane took most the group out for gun training. Andrea had a dropped off a book for Daryl to read if he got bored, but he seemed more interested in pocking holes through the fly net of his tent with the broadhead of one of his bolts than reading, so you read the first few chapters of the book.

Glenn and Maggie had gone on another supply run into town, although he avoided the question when you asked why they were making another trip after only just doing one yesterday. Something was definitely going on, but you couldn't figure it out.

By midday everyone minus Shane and Andrea had come back from gun training, Rick said that Shane was going to give her 'the advanced lesson' because she was apparently that good, but you were pretty sure you both knew that wasn't the only lesson Shane would be teaching.

You hung around the camp for majority of the day, walking around the area when you got sick of lying down and resting. Although you didn't let Daryl walk around too much, he needed to give his wounds time to heal or at least scab over so they didn't bleed or get an infection when he was able to get up and do stuff.

"Y/N?" Lori's voice suddenly called and you turned around from where you were standing, watching Carl as he drew random pictures on a piece of scrap paper by the campfire.

"Everything alright?" You asked, taking in the redness around your sister-in-laws eyes, she had been crying that much was obvious, but you weren't sure why. You quickly scanned her body looking for any sign of injuries, but she seemed to be okay.

"Can you go talk to Rick? Please, he needs his sister." Lori whispered which quickly got your attention as you walked the remaining distance towards her. "He's out by the gate to the front paddock, you can't miss him." She added and although you wanted to ask what it was about, you had a sinking feeling that it wasn't anything good, so you didn't bother asking and just nodded as you began walking off in the direction she had told you.

You walked down the old dirt road towards Rick who was leaning against the barbed wire fence with his head dropped and even from the distance you knew he was crying by the way his shoulders were trembling. Shit, what happened?

"Hey, what's going on?" You asked softly, not wanting to scare him as you reached his side, but Rick didn't look up at you as he stared down at the ground, his forearms resting over the gaps between the barbed wire as he took a deep shaky breath.

"It's all too much. I don't know what I'm suppose to do, Y/N. I don't know how to keep everyone safe and happy... I don't know what to do." He whispered in a trembling voice causing you to frown in confusion. Where was all this coming from?

"Hershel wants us to leave once we find Sophia and Lori's pregnant, she took morning after pills but threw them up afterwards." Rick further explained and you stared at him in disbelief as you tried to take all the information in. No way where you going to let Hershel kick you out, this was the safest place you guys have found and if Lori was pregnant then there was no way you'd let her live out there on the road when she was carrying a baby. That was no way for anyone to live especially a pregnant woman. Shit, was the baby even Ricks? Wait, does he know about Lori and Shane?

"Don't worry about, Hershel. I will talk to him, alright? I won't let him kick us out, that isn't an option. I will deal with all the other shit, you just focus on Lori and your baby, okay? That's all you have to do, Rick. Look after your family and let me handle the rest." You responded, squeezing his shoulder as Rick nodded slightly, but still refusing to look at you as he stared at the ground.

"It's probably not even mine." He whispered and your heart dropped. Well, at least you didn't have to tell him about it. "I figured it out pretty early, I'm not stupid and I wanted to break Shane's jaw for it. But they thought I was dead, the world went to shit and Lori thought I was dead... I-I get it, but what if it is Shanes? She's my wife..." Rick trailed off, his voice breaking at the end and you sighed. It could very well be Shane's baby and if was then shit, that's just a whole new can of worms, but this stuff happened before between partners, there's no reason they can't work through it and deal with it now that the world has changed.

"Come here." You instructed, pulling Rick towards you and to your surprise he didn't resist as you pulled him into a tight hug, his body shaking slightly against yours as he hugged you back, but you didn't let go.

"It's going to be okay. There's no way to know who the father is and you three are going to have to figure out the best way to deal with this on your own, but you have months to figure it out, so don't worry about it right now, okay?" You said, pulling away from him, but you left your good hand on his shoulder as you stared into his teary eyes and Rick nodded.

"Shane's a good man. He's your best friend, you guys will figure it out and hell, co-parenting with him would be entertaining. The day I see Shane Walsh change a baby's diaper is the day I can die happily. You remember what he was like when Carl was a baby, he'd rather jump on a live grenade than help change him." You added causing Rick to chuckled slightly at the memory. "The way I see it. This baby is the most luckiest baby in the world because it's gonna have two amazing fathers, a loving mother, a protective older brother and a kickass Aunty to watch over it, it doesn't get any better than that, right?" You asked and Rick nodded in agreement, a slight smile forming on his face which you were gonna call a damn good win.

"I'd be lost without you." Rick admitted, but you shook your head.

"Nah, you'd be fine without me, bro. It would be me who'd be lost without you. Now, come on, I think Carol and T-Dog were cooking up stew for dinner." You replied, wrapping your arm back around his shoulder as Rick wiped away the tears in his eyes and nodded before the two of you walked back towards camp.

-

The following morning you were all sitting around the campfire in various deckchairs or on wooden logs as you silently ate the scrambled eggs Carol had cooked you all for breakfast. It was kind of nice to eat with everyone, but of course nothing good ever lasts.

"Um, guys." Glenn suddenly spoke up, breaking the comfortable silence as you looked up from your half-eaten plate, not liking the nervous tone to Glenn's voice. "So... the barn is full of walkers." He informed and you froze. Surely you heard him wrong, the barn couldn't seriously be full of walkers, you must have heard him wrong. But as you glanced over at Daryl beside you who had stopped eating and was now staring at Glenn in shock, you knew you had heard the man correctly. Well shit.

None of you bothered to finish your food as you grabbed your assault rifle from the gun bag in the RV, slinging it over shoulder and followed the group out to the barn because like hell you were going out there without your rifle.

When you reached the barn, you made sure Carl and Lori stayed back a bit as Shane walked up to the chained front door, but he didn't need to because you could hear the groans and growls of walkers from where you stood a few metres back.

"You cannot tell me you're alright with this." Shane said, turning away from the barn as he looked over at Rick who shook his head. Nobody was okay with this, keeping walkers in a barn was just crazy, but this was Hershel's land, what could you do? "Okay, we've either got to go in there and make things right or we've just got to go. Now we have been talking about Fort Benning for a long time."

"We can't go." Rick argued and you silently prayed that this wasn't going to be the moment that he tells Shane about the baby because this was definitely not the right time for that.

"Why, Rick? Why?" Shane questioned, but before Rick could say anything Carol spoke up.

"Because my daughter is still out there."

You watched as Shane shook his head as he covered his face with hands and took a few seconds to collect himself before looked over at Carol. "Okay. Okay, I think it's time that we all start to just consider the other possibility-"

"We're not leaving Sophia behind." You spoke up, taking a step towards Shane knowing that if this conversation kept going then he was going to lose his temper.

"I'm close to finding this girl. We just found her damn doll two days ago." Daryl added, from somewhere behind you, but your attention was purely on Shane who chuckled in disbelief.

"You found a doll, Daryl. That's what you did. You found a doll." Shane responded.

"You don't know what the hell you're talkin' 'bout!" Daryl yelled throwing his hands in the air in frustration as he took a few steps towards Shane before Rick stepped in front of him trusting that you had Shane handled.

"I'm just saying what needs to be said. You get a good lead, it's in the first-" Shane began to argue.

"Shane. That's enough." You and Rick both yelled, but Shane shook his head, ignoring the two of you completely.

"Let me tell you something else, man. If she was alive out there and saw you coming, all methed out with your buck knife and geek ears around your neck, she'd run in the other direction!" He yelled and that was all it took before Daryl charged at him.

"You shut your mouth!" Daryl snapped before the two of them tried to charge at each other as you and Rick stood behind them. Rick holding Daryl back as you held Shane back, trying to be mindful of your wrist, but that was far from your mind at the moment as you listened to the two of them yell at each other.

"Hey. Hey! Everyone just calm the fuck down! Shane back off!" You shouted, pushing him backwards which seemed to snap him out of his fury as he stared at you before he shook his head and began walking off.

"Now just let me talk to Hershel. Let me figure it out." Rick tried to reason which only made Shane more angry as he spun around.

"What are you gonna figure out?!" He shouted, glaring at Rick as he took a few steps towards your brother in anger, but you quickly stepped in front of him.

"Walsh, that's enough." You warned, placing your hand on his chest as he stopped walking, but his eyes never left Rick's.

"If we're gonna stay, if we're gonna clear this barn, I need to talk him into it. This is his land." Rick responded, trying to keep his tone calm although nobody was calm right now as glanced between your two brothers.

"Hershel sees those things in there as people, sick people, his wife, his stepson-" Dale began to say and now you were even more confused. How did Dale know about this?

"You knew?" Rick questioned in shock.

"Yesterday, I talked to Hershel. I thought we could survive one more night and we did. I was waiting till this morning to say something. But Glenn wanted to be the one." Dale explained, but that didn't help calm Shane down.

"The man is crazy, Rick. If Hershel thinks those things are alive or not!" Shane yelled, but he quickly stopped when the walkers began banging loudly against the barn door trying to get to you guys which seemed to shut Shane up.

"Okay, everyone just needs to relax. We'll figure something out, but we aren't going to keep yelling right next to a barn full of fucking walkers, okay?" You said, glaring at Shane as you spoke before glancing around at everyone else who nodded in agreement. "Rick and I will persuade Hershel to deal with the walkers, but we wait until he gives his permission before we do anything. Until then we'll have someone by the barn and guarding it, like watch duty, except barn duty. Keep an eye on the doors and walls, make sure they aren't breaking through the wood, but that's it. We don't kill them or open those doors until we get Hershel to say yes." You instructed and you knew Shane wanted to argue with you as he opened his mouth to say something, but quickly shut it as he shook his head and walked off.

"Who's gonna take the first shift?" T-Dog asked, speaking up for the first time during the entire argument.

"I'll do it. The rest of you go back to camp, someone back on watch duty, Rick try talk to Hershel and the others can start mapping out a trail to find Sophia. We'll head out this afternoon and pick up where Daryl and I left off. Anyone disagree?" You questioned, glancing around at the group, but nobody said anything as Rick gave you a grateful nod and with that everyone began heading back to the camp.

 

 

Chapter Text

You were leaning against the old broken down tractor in front of the barn, keeping an eye on the walker infested building. You didn't trust the old wooden walls of the barn to hold against a herd of a walkers and by the sound of it, there were a lot of walkers inside.

Shouting suddenly erupted from the farmhouse and you pushed yourself off the tractor and looked over to the farmhouse to find Shane handing out guns to everyone. But before you even had a second to process what he was doing you saw Rick, Hershel and Jimmy out the corner of your eye, but they weren't alone. Turning your attention to them you quickly realised that they were leading two walkers towards the barn with snare poles around their necks. Okay, what the fuck was going on?

Shane and the others began running towards the barn and you sighed. Well, this was just about to turn from bad to worse.

"Shane, just let us do this and then we can talk." Rick tried to reason as Shane began yelling and shouting at your brother and Hershel, but you weren't really focused on what he was saying as pulled your assault rifle off your shoulders, wincing as you flicked the safety off with your bad hand. The whole group was there now and they had two walkers on snare poles and even more walkers in the barn behind you, like hell you weren't going to have your gun ready.

Shane continued shouting as he circled around the three of them with walkers and you spared a glance at the rest of the group, taking a mental note that T-Dog, Glenn and Andrea all had guns on them, along with Daryl who had his shotgun aimed at the walker Rick was holding.

"Hershel man, let me ask you something. Could a living breathing person, could they walk away from this?" Shane questioned as he pulled the slide back on his handgun and fired a few bullets into Hershel's walker, hitting it dead centre in the stomach.

"Shane, stop!" You and Rick both yelled, but you were probably better off talking to a brick wall at the moment.

"That's three rounds in the chest. Could someone who's alive, could they just take that?! Why is it still coming?" He shouted, firing off another two bullets. "That's it's heart, it's lungs. Why is it still coming?"

"Shane, enough." Rick yelled.

"Yeah, you're right man. That is enough." Shane responded as he marched towards the walker Hershel was holding and fired a bullet through it's skull as the walker dropped to the ground dead before Shane turned his attention back to the group.

"That is enough. Enough risking our lives for a little girl who's gone! Enough living next to a barn full of things that are trying to kill us. Rick, it ain't like it was before. Now if y'all want to live, if you want to survive, you got to fight for it! I'm talking about fighting right here, right now!" Shane yelled as he turned around and began running towards the barn door.

"Shane, don't do this!" You shouted, running after him as you heard Rick shouting at Hershel to take his snare pole, but you were more focused on Shane who began slamming a pickaxe against the chains on the door. "Walsh! Stop!" You shouted, stopping a few metres behind him because you sure as hell weren't about to get any closer when he was this riled up and the barn was about to open.

"Shane, do not do this, brother." Rick yelled from behind you, but it was too late as you watched the broken padlock and chain fall to the ground.

"Y/N, get back." You heard Daryl shout from somewhere behind you and didn't have to be told twice as you took a few steps back and Shane did the same, drawing his pistol and aiming at the door as the walkers began stumbling out.

It didn't take long for you guys to kill the walkers, Andrea, Glenn, T-Dog and Daryl joining you and Shane as you took them down while the others stayed back. Within a minute the gunfire stopped as you stared at all the corpses scattered on the ground in front of the barn.

Nobody said anything for a few seconds as you all took in what just happened before soft groaning came from inside the barn catching your attention as you raised your rifle again, waiting for the last walker to wander out. You stared at the door, your finger resting over the trigger as the walker stumbled through the gap of the doors and your heart stopped when you realised who it was.

"Sophia? Sophia!" Carol whimpered you glanced over your shoulder just in time to watch as she tried running to her little girl before Daryl grabbed and gently lowered her ground while she cried.

You turned back towards the barn, trying to block out Carol's sobbing as you aimed your gun towards the walker. But, as you stared at her, taking in the walker bite over her shoulder, you noticed your pocket knife still clipped to the side of her pants. It was your fault. Sophia was dead, she got bit and it was your fault.

Suddenly, Rick began walking forward as he pulled out his handgun and walked towards the little girl. Tears began blurring your vision as you stared at Sophia and you lowered your rifle, dropping to your knees unable to stop the silent tears falling down your cheeks as you watched Rick pull the trigger and Sophia hit the ground.

"Don't look. Don't look." You heard Daryl say to Carol before she got out of Daryl's grip and ran back towards camp as she cried and you dropped your head. This was all your fault. This was all your fault.

"Ma." Someone sobbed and you looked up through teary eyes watching as Beth dropped down beside one of the walkers who you figured must have been her mother when suddenly the walker you thought was dead grabbed her.

You weren't quick enough to do anything as you watched the guys pull the young girl away before Andrea swung the pickaxe through the walkers head, killing it instantly while you sat where you were and watched, unable to move.

Hershel quickly grabbed his crying daughter and began walking back towards their farmhouse followed by Maggie and Patricia. Rick glanced down at you, but didn't get the chance to say anything before Shane began jogging after the Greene family and he had no choice but to chase after him.

You stayed where you were, knowing Rick could handle Shane, but even if you wanted to get up and help you doubted you could. You couldn't even tear your eyes away from Sophia's body as it laid on the ground a few metres in front of you.

"Hey, don't look at her. Just, don't look." Daryl said, crouching down in front of you, blocking your view from Sophia as you looked up at him with teary eyes, but Daryl quickly shook his head like he could read your mind. "It ain't your fault."

"Go find Carol, she shouldn't be alone right now." You whispered, hating how weak your voice sounded as you stared at Daryl.

"Nah, I ain't leavin' ya." He muttered, shaking his head as he stood up and held his hand out towards you and you sighed, but grabbed his hand with your good one and let him help you up. He pulled you into a gentle hug, surprising you by the sudden gesture, but you quickly hugged him back as tears fell down your cheeks.

-

You buried Sophia and the two members of the Greene family who were also in the barn, before you burned the rest of the walkers corpses. Carol didn't show up to Sophia's funeral, but that was the last thing on your mind when Hershel suddenly disappeared and Beth went into some kind of catatonic shock.

Rick and Glenn went after Hershel, who they thought might have went to the local bar in town, while you stayed inside the house, trying to help Beth. You weren't sure what to do, but between you, Andrea and Maggie, you kept an eye on her and tried getting her to eat and drink, but she wouldn't respond to anything.

"Y/N?" Lori suddenly called as you walked out of Beth's bedroom to find the other woman walking through the front door. "I think Daryl's starting to make a new camp away from the group. You might want to go talk to him." Lori explained and you sighed, of course Daryl was. He was probably blaming himself as much as you were blaming yourself.

"Shit." You sighed, giving Lori a grateful nod before you walked outside. The sun was starting to set along the horizon as you walked across the Greene property to where Daryl was currently sitting by an old chimney stack as he sharpened a stick with his knife.

"You're not planning on moving your tent out here, right?" You asked, catching his attention as he looked up with a shrug before looking back down again, seeming more amused by the stick than you. "I know we're both knew to this whole relationship thing, but I'm pretty sure you shouldn't just pack up and move away without telling the other person." You said as you sat down against the bricks beside him.

"I wasn't... I..." Daryl trailed off shaking his head as he struggled to find the words he was looking for. "Was still decidin' if I should or not." He admitted as he continued sharpening the stick with his hunting knife.

"Please don't move out here. The group needs you, I need you and after what happened I'm not sure what's going to happen next." You replied looking over at him as you rested your head back against the bricks watching as he lifted his head and gave you a small nod. You didn't like the idea of him sleeping out here by himself, so you were glad he wasn't going to.

"Carol hates me, she hasn't spoken to me since... we'll she hasn't really spoken to me much at all since Sophia ran away back on the highway. It's my fault she's dead. She asked me to watch her and all I did was give her daughter a knife. Sophia died and that's on me." You stated, forcing yourself not to cry as you stared out over the Greene property and watched the sunset.

"It ain't." Daryl muttered a few seconds later as he dropped the stick and tucked his knife away before moving himself closer to you until your shoulder was touching his. "I should've found her long before Otis put her in the barn. I've spent most my life out in the woods, trackin' damn animals from dusk to dawn, if anyone should've found her, it was me, but I couldn't."

"It's not your fault, Dixon. You did more for Sophia than anyone else in the group. You got shot and speared by your own bolt for that little girl. It is not your fault." You argued, turning your head towards him as your eyes locked with his.

"'N it ain't your fault either." Daryl insisted causing you to shake your head, but before you could argue any further Daryl grabbed your good hand, squeezing it gently. Neither of you said anything for a few seconds as you stared at your hands laced together and smiled softly. Actions speak louder than words.

-

By the time you and Daryl returned back to the farmhouse it was chaos. Lori had apparently gone off after Rick and then Shane had gone off after her, without so much of a conversation about it. Leaving the rest of you standing around the farmhouse not really knowing what to do. Beth was still unresponsive and Maggie refused to leave her side, but you didn't blame her because if that was one of your family members then you wouldn't either.

You spent most the night trying to comfort Carl who was going out of his mind with his mother and father out there. The poor kid just lost his best friend and now he had to worry about his parents lives as well, but luckily Shane had bought Lori back within an hour. Her car apparently crashed, but other than a few scrapes and bruises she was perfectly fine.

"Where's Rick? Where are they?" Lori questioned once she finished reassuring everyone that she was okay and you quickly glanced over at Shane who began walking away. He must have told her that Rick was back, it would've been the only way he could get her to come back to the farm, that was smart, but now she's clearly pissed.

"Look, I had to get you back here." Shane began to reason, turning around to face her and you stepped back, not wanting to get in the middle of this. You glanced around at the rest of the group as you all stood outside by their car, the moon shining brightly in the sky above you.

"You asshole. He's my husband." Lori said angrily as she glared at Shane before she began walking towards the farmhouse.

"Lori, I will go after him. I will find him. First things first I gotta look after you. I gotta make sure the baby's alright, okay?" Shane said which caused Lori to freeze where she stood as she slowly turned back around towards him. Well shit, looks like Rick or Lori told him about the baby already, but by the look on Lori's face at the moment it was clear she hadn't told anyone else.

"You're having a baby? Why didn't you tell me?" Carl suddenly questioned and for a moment you forgot he was even here as you looked over at your nephew who's face was hidden from the Sheriffs hat, so you couldn't tell if he was happy or not.

"I'm sure your parents were just waiting for the right moment to tell you, kiddo." You spoke up, breaking the awkward silence as you crouched down in front of Carl who nodded in understanding before you glanced over your shoulder towards the others. "Can you guys take Lori and Carl inside, make sure that she's alright and has something to eat?"

"Of course. Come on." Andrea quickly said as her, Maggie and Dale began taking your step sister and nephew back to the farmhouse, leaving you, Daryl and Shane standing by the car.

"I'm sorry, I didn't-" Shane began to apologise before you cut him off.

"It doesn't matter. You, Rick and Lori have a lot to workout and it's none of my business, but you guys have months to do that, so right now lets just focus on getting Rick, Glenn and Hershel back." You responded, looking over at Shane who was leaning against the car as he nodded in agreement and with that the three of you began to figure out the best course of action to get the others back.

It didn't take long for you guys to come up with a plan and as much as you hated the idea of waiting until morning before going after your brother, you knew it was the best choice. It was dangerous at night and you were more than likely going to get yourselves hurt or killed instead of getting them back. So, you were going to wait until morning and take one of the cars and go into town, start at the local bar and go from there.

-

You didn't sleep at all that night, nor did you really try. You spent most the night on watch duty because like hell you were sleeping while your brother and Glenn were still out there. When you swapped with Shane on watch duty, you joined Daryl in his tent, but didn't bother to try and sleep as you laid there beside him, listening to his soft snores as you waited for daybreak which seemed like it would never come, but finally it did.

The second the sky began to light up, you were up and starting to pack the lime green car along with Shane, Daryl and T-Dog. But just as you guys were about to leave a familiar red hatchback came speeding down the dirt road towards the farmhouse and you sighed with relief. They were back.

You watched as the car drove past you guys and parked in front of the farmhouse, but you didn't miss the stranger sitting in the backseat between Glenn and T-Dog.

You quickly jogged over to them, the others following as Rick climbed out the car first and was immediately wrapped up in a hug by Carl and followed by Lori. You wanted nothing more than to hug Rick too, but your attention was purely on the person in the backseat with a blindfold over his head. You rested your good hand over the holster of your handgun just in case.

"Patricia, prepare the shed for surgery." Hershel instructed as he climbed out the car and you frowned, your eyes quickly scanning the three of them for any injuries that you must have missed, but they all seemed fine.

You could hear Rick and Lori talking to your left as she told him about the car accident, but that wasn't really important at the moment, not when there was a stranger tied up in their car.

"Rick, who the hell is this guy?" You questioned, cutting off their conversation as you stared at the guy, your hand still resting over your handgun, every instinct in your body telling you that whoever he was, that it wasn't anything good.

"That's Randall." Glenn answered, like that was meant to explain everything as you glanced over at the other man and raised your eyebrows at him, waiting for him to explain further before Rick spoke up.

"I'll explain everything in a minute. Let's just help Hershel get everything ready for surgery, the guy hurt his leg pretty bad." Rick instructed and with that you all began helping Hershel and Patricia move his medical gear into the shed because like hell you were letting a stranger into the house even if it was to fix his leg up.

Over the next few hours, Hershel fixed up Randall's leg while Rick and Glenn explained how they found Randall or more specifically how his group found them and tried to kill them. You listened as they spoke and tried to take in every detail, including the part about Rick killing two of their men because what if there was more of them out there?

Shane seemed to be on the same page as you, but Rick was certain that Randall's group wouldn't come looking him which then turned into another argument. But, you managed to break it off before Rick and Shane had another pissing contest and persuaded them both to just sleep on it and deal with Randall the following day.

-

However, little did you know that the following day was going to turn just as chaotic as today. Beth tried to kill herself and Hershel had to stitch up the deep cut on her wrist which wrecked the whole family. Then Maggie approached you and said that the Randall guy looked familiar for some reason, but she couldn't figure out where she had seen him from which bought forth even more issues. If she recognised Randall that meant he might know her, which then meant he might know where the farm was, which if that was true then Ricks plan of driving him 18 miles south and leaving him was stupid because he could find his way back, with his group.

"Maggie was adamant that she recognised him from somewhere. If he recognised her too then he might know where the farm is, which means your plan of driving him 18 miles south and leaving him is too risky." You stated, glancing over at Rick who was standing on the other side of the putout campfire where your group was currently standing around and trying to figure out what to do about Randall.

"What do we do then? How do we find out if he knows Maggie? It's not like he's just going to tell us." T-Dog spoke up, asking the question all of you were thinking as he glanced around at the group of you and you stared at the barn where Randall was currently tied up in.

"Y/N?" Rick asked, causing you to look away from the barn, but as soon as you saw the look on your brothers face you knew exactly what he was going to ask.

"No." You stated sternly, your eyes locking with his as you shook your head. He wanted you to get information out of Randall and you both knew there was only on way of doing that; torture.

You had enough experience in torture to last a lifetime and you did not want to use those experiences on someone, you didn't even want to think about those experiences, those dreadful, painful months locked away in a Taliban basement. Rick and Shane were cops, they had interrogated people before, it was part of their job, but you knew Randall wouldn't just give up information about his group, Rick had already tried. No amount of police interrogation tactics would work, which again bought you back to torture.

You glanced around the group, everyone's eyes on you and Rick as they stared at you two in confusion, having no idea what you guys were talking about. Although by the sad look on Shanes face you knew he had figured it out and he was smart enough to realise that it was the only way. Rick couldn't ask anyone else to do it, none of the other women would even like the idea of torture and the other guys? They wouldn't even know where to begin, but you did.

"You can't ask me to do that." You said, focusing back on Rick as you absently rubbed at the scar over your good wrist from the tight chain that was locked around it during horrible months.

"Do what?" Glenn questioned in confusion.

Rick sighed, rubbing the back of his neck as he gave you a sympathetic look and boy were you getting sick of seeing that expression. "This is too much to ask. I know it is. But I have to ask it, it's the only way."

"You ask me to walk down that path... You won't like what walks back out." You warned your eyes never leaving Ricks. You knew it was the only way, it was the only way to guarantee that your group was safe. You couldn't risk Randall's group showing up and killing all of you. It was the only way.

"Wait, you're not talking about torturing him? He's a kid." Dale stated, clearly having caught on with what you two were talking about as he stared at you in disbelief, but you just nodded. There was no point trying to argue with the older man, this had to be done. He didn't want to torture the kid. You had seen what kids could do, raised the wrong way and exposed to stuff like the Taliban, they could be just as ruthless as men and you knew that. But you didn't want to torture him because you knew it would bring up old memories, memories you had spent years trying to forget.

"I'd give anything not to have you do this, you know that." Rick said sincerely and you nodded. You knew he didn't want this either, but what else could you do?

"I'll do it." Daryl spoke up from beside you and you glanced over at him to find him already looking at you. "He's a kid can't be that hard to get information from him."

"Dixon, you don't have to-" You began to say before he cut you off.

"Nah, I'll do it." He replied, adjusting the strap of his crossbow over his shoulder before he began walking off towards the barn where Randall had been tied up.

You watched Daryl until he disappeared inside before you turned back to Rick with a questioning look, but your brother just shrugged his shoulders. You didn't like the idea of Daryl having to try get the information out of the kid, he shouldn't have to do that, but you knew he did so you didn't have to and for that you were grateful.

"I still don't like this." Dale commented as the group of you began heading back towards your camp you had set up out the front of the Greene house.

"We have to make sure his group isn't going to show up in the middle of the night and kill us in our sleep. It's the only way." You responded looking over at the older man before you sat down in your deck chair by the putout campfire, resting your injured arm over your lap as everyone else followed and did the same.

"That's a bit dramatic." Dale replied.

"You don't know what people are capable of. Even before all of this, there are some seriously fucked up people out there and some of his group already tried shooting Rick, Glenn and Hershel. I'm not going to risk the rest of their group coming to finish the job." You stated, glancing around at the rest of the group to make sure that they actually understood the gravity of the situation and by the shocked looks on their faces, they did

 

Chapter Text

"He's back." Glenn suddenly called out nearly 20 minutes later, catching everyone's attention. You stood up from your chair by the putout campfire, spotting Daryl walking back towards the group, his knuckles bloodied as he held onto the strap of his crossbow.

"Boy there's got a gang, 'bout 30 of 'em 'n they ain't lookin' to make friends. If his group comes through here our guys are dead 'n our women... they're gonna wish they were." Daryl explained, focusing his attention on you and Rick as he spoke. Great, so not only was his group dangerous with guns, they were rapists too, just fucking perfect.

"No one goes near this guy." Rick instructed sternly, but you shook your head. Daryl did good, getting the information he did out of the guy, but it wasn't all the information and if anyone could get it out of the guy then it was going to be you.

You didn't bother saying anything, knowing Rick would only argue as you began walking off towards the shed. "Y/N, you aren't going in there." Rick called out, stopping you in your tracks as you turned around to face him.

"20 minutes ago you wanted me to. You were asking me to." You responded, anger evident in your tone as you stared at your brother who stood up from his deck chair and took a few steps towards you.

"His group are rapists!" Rick exclaimed, saying the last word slightly softer before continuing. "I'm not letting you go in there, not after..."

"Not after what?" You asked, folding your arms over your chest, knowing exactly what he was referring to.

"Y/N." He and Shane both said and your eyes flicked over to the other man who was walking over to Rick from the other side of camp.

You had never spoken to Shane about what happened during your tour, he knew that you had been assumed dead but was actually just being held hostage by the Taliban. But you didn't think he knew anything else, he could probably guess what had happened and you were starting to think Rick or Lori might have told more than he was letting on, but that was a conversation for a later date.

"No, after what?" You repeated, turning your attention back to your brother as if daring him to say it.

"You know what I'm talking about." Rick answered.

"Then you know that I'm the only one who can get this prick to talk."

"I'm comin' with ya." Daryl said, speaking up for the first time as he began walking towards you and you shook your head about to tell him that you were fine on your own, but he must have read your mind. "I ain't askin'. I'm comin' with ya." He muttered and with that, the two of you began walking off towards the barn, leaving Rick, Shane and the others all standing around the camp.

You walked into the barn first, spotting Randall still sitting against the metal pole, his hands handcuffed behind his back around the pole as he stared up at you in confusion. His cheeks and jaw were already starting to bruise from the punches Daryl must have thrown at him, but a few bruises were gonna be the least of worries soon.

"You got one chance. Tell me how many people are in your group and I want a location." You instructed sternly, not wasting any time as you stood in front of the guy and stared down at him. You didn't want to torture the guy for information, but if it came to it then you would, especially now that you knew what his group had done.

"I already told him, there's 30 of us." Randall responded, nodding towards Daryl, but you shook your head not believing a word of it.

"Bullshit. 30 of you assholes wouldn't last an hour together without killing each other. So, I'm going to ask one more time. How many people in your group?" You questioned, kneeling down in front of him as you pulled out your handgun and pressed it to the side of his head.

"I-I'm telling the truth." Randall insisted and you sighed pulling the gun away before slamming the butt of your handgun against his head causing him to cry out in pain. You holstered your handgun and grabbed the guy by the collar of his shirt to sit him up straight.

"Don't fucking lie to me. How many people are in your group?" You shouted, but again the man remained silent. It was like he wanted you to kill him because really feel like just ending it right now.

"Fine, have it your way." You responded, pulling out your tactical knife as you walked around behind him and grabbed one of his hands.

"W-what are you doing?" Randall questioned in panic, but you didn't bother to respond as you grabbed his left hand with your injured one, ignoring the sharp pain it sent through your wrist. You pressed the tip of your knifes blade underneath the nail of his index finger causing his body to suddenly stiffen and you knew he had caught on with what you were about to do.

You didn't bother trying to ask him the question again as you pushed the blade down under his fingernail ignoring his pained screams and within a second the fingernail was on the floor as blood began dripping from his finger.

You could feel Daryl watching you from the door, but you didn't dare look over at him, knowing what he must be thinking right now. Knowing what he was probably thinking of you, how you were a monster. You turned your attention back towards Randall who was currently doubled over and whimpering in pain.

"There's still nine more to go, now how many people are in your group?" You asked again as you moved around to the front of him, pressing the flat side of your knife under his chin as you lifted his head up, but his eyes were glued to Daryl who was standing somewhere behind you.

"No, don't look at him. Why are you looking at him? He's not gonna help you, look at me." You ordered which seemed to do the trick as his eyes flicked back towards you and you could practically see the cogs turning in his brain as he tried to figure out what to do.

"T-there's eight of us. They have automatic weapons, but they were never in any place more than a night, I swear." Randall explained and for the first time he finally said something that wasn't a total lie.

"Do you know where you are?" You asked, not moving the knife from the mans chin as you stared at him, but he didn't respond as he stared at you in confusion. It wasn't a hard question, why is he trying to make this so difficult?

"Answer the question or so help me God, you will lose more than a damn fingernail." You threatened which seemed to get through to him as his eyes glanced around the room.

"A barn... On the Greene property, I saw Maggie earlier. We used to go to the same church, she was a sweet girl, real pretty too." Randall answered sending shivers down your spin when he said the last part and he must have sensed it too. "I would never touch her though, I'm not like that. I'm not like that. I just watch when my group does it, I would never do it." Randall tried to reason which just made your stomach turn at the thought of what he just said and the worst part was that he seemed to think he wasn't doing anything wrong by just watching. Fuck this kid is messed up.

"I've heard enough." You announced, pulling your knife away and tucking it back through your belt as you glanced around the barn trying to find anything that you could use to secure him to the pole because you did not trust the handcuffs that were around his wrists. If the kid was smart enough he could probably dislocate his thumb and be able to squeeze his hand through and then he'd be free, it's what you would do if you were in his situation and you were not going to risk him thinking of that idea.

"What are you doing? I answered all your questions, aren't you going to let me go?" Randall questioned as you grabbed a bundle of rope from one of the old work benches as you began to wrap it around his body and the pole, but you quickly realised that it was next to impossible to tie with only one good hand.

"I got it." Daryl spoke up as he appeared by your side and took the end of the rope from you as he began to tie the knot.

You stood up and took a few steps back staring at Randall who was too busy staring at the rope around his midsection to notice you, but as you were about to leave the barn he suddenly spoke up.

"I'll get out of here and when I do my group is going to kill everyone you love! Those pretty girls you guys have, including yourself, are going to want to hide when that time comes." Randall threatened causing you to freeze as you turned back around towards the kid.

"The hell did ya just say?!" Daryl yelled from beside him as he finished tying the knots, but before Daryl could retaliate or say anything further you marched towards the kid and slammed your boot into his stomach before punching his jaw with your good hand. You crouched down in front of him and wrapped your other hand around this throat and squeezed it tightly, despite the searing pain it was sending through your wrist.

"You threaten my family or the people I care about again, it will be the last thing you ever do, understand?" You warned and Randall quickly nodded, choking for air as you let go of his throat, instantly cradling your injured wrist to your chest as you stormed out the barn.

You could hear Daryl calling out for you as he shut the barn door behind himself, but you ignored him as you walked back towards the camp. You could see everyone sitting back down on their various chairs or leaning against the trees around camp, but as soon as they saw you coming they all quickly stood up.

"Y/N, what happened?" Rick quickly questioned, noticing you were cradling your broken wrist as took a few steps towards you, but you shook your head.

"There's eight in his group, they have heavy artillery and he knows Maggie. He knows he's at the Greene property, we can't let him go and no women are going anywhere near him." You explained, glancing around the group who all seemed to quickly realise why you added the last part.

"What are we gonna do?" Lori asked, seeming to be the first one to actually process what you just said as she looked over at Rick.

"We have no choice. He's a threat, we have to eliminate the threat." Rick answered, surprising you that he just agreed to killing the guy, but you were relived he did.

"You're just gonna kill him?" Dale questioned in disbelief.

"Yes, and I'll be more than happy to be the one who pulls the trigger." You responded, looking over at Dale before you began walking off, ignoring the others calling out towards you as you continued walking. You just needed to be alone for a minute. Too many memories and images were flashing through your mind from your first tour and you knew if you stayed around the group any longer than you'd end up snapping at someone.

-

"Y/N." Daryl shouted after her as he watched her walked off towards the woods, not liking the idea of her being alone in the woods especially not after what just happened and with her injured wrist.

"Leave her, she needs to be alone for a while." Rick responded causing Daryl to look over at the other man in confusion. Why wasn't he worried about his little sister going off into the woods herself?

"She can take care of herself, trust me. Sometimes she just needs to be alone for a bit." Rick added like he knew what Daryl was thinking as the others in camp began wandering back to their tents and the campfire leaving him and Rick by themselves.

"What happened to her? I ain't stupid, something happened. The nightmares, the scars, the way you 'n Shane are protective over her-" Daryl began to say before Rick cut him off.

"It's not my place to say. Y/N was in the military before this, she got deployed to Afghanistan and a lot of shit went down. If you want to know, then you're gonna have to ask her yourself." Rick answered.

-

You spent the next hour wandering around the woods trying to get your head straight. You knew Randall needed to die, that wasn't the issue. You just couldn't stop your brain from replaying the events from Afghanistan. Trying to get information out of Randall seemed to open up all those old wounds of the Taliban trying to get information out of you and Tracy and it was hard to shut those memories away.

After nearly an hour you made your way back to the farm and ended up helping Maggie prepare lunch for Beth, who seemed to be doing a little bit better today. It was nice talking to Maggie, it got your mind away from those horrible months and hearing her talk about old happy memories made you happy to.

"So, you told Glenn you loved him and now he blames you because apparently he froze when they were getting shot at and somehow that was your fault?" You asked, trying to wrap your head around what Maggie had just told you as she nodded and you couldn't help but laugh. "And guys say that girls are complicated."

"I know right!" Maggie responded unable to stop herself from laughing as you finished cutting up the cucumber and placed it on Beth's plate.

"Glenn's a good guy and he really cares about you. He just needs to man up and pull himself together. Just don't say 'man up' because that never goes well." You chuckled looking over at Maggie who was standing on the other side of the kitchen bench cutting up the meat.

"Enough drama about me and Glenn. What about you and Daryl? You're together right?" She asked curiously as she placed the knife down and rested her elbows on the bench and waited for you to tell her all the gossip causing you to roll your eyes.

"Yeah, we are, but it's still new."

"That's it? Come on, it's me, give me more information than that." Maggie responded and you smiled softly at her as you stared down at the cucumber, realising just how normal this conversation felt. It honesty felt like you and Maggie were long lost friends and hadn't caught up in years. Realistically you guys were friends, but you barely knew each other.

"I like him, he's different than most guys. He treats me fairly and knows I can handle myself, but he still looks out for me... It's hard to put into words, but I like him and have you seen him? The guy is super-hot." You answered honestly, looking up at Maggie to find her smiling at you warmly.

"You are totally falling for him, aren't you?" She asked, but you just shrugged your shoulders unsure of how to answer that. With everything that has happened these past couple of weeks you haven't really had much time to sit down and think about it, but deep down you knew Maggie was right. You were falling for Daryl Dixon, but you didn't even know if Daryl still liked you after what he saw you do back in that barn.

-

You were still inside the Greene house helping Maggie and Patricia with the dishes when everyone slowly began coming inside to decide what was going to happen with Randall. You thought it was already settled, but apparently Dale had been trying to talk people out of it and now you guys were basically having a group meeting about what to do. Man, this new world was screwed up.

"So how do we do this? Just take a vote?" Glenn asked, breaking the silence as you all stood around the main room of the farmhouse waiting for someone to speak up.

You were leaning against the bookshelf beside Daryl, who gave you a small smile when he walked into the house and stood beside you, giving you a glimmer of hope that he didn't hate you for what you did earlier.

"Well, let's just see where everybody stands, then we can talk through the options." Rick suggested taking a step forward as he glanced around the room before Shane spoke up.

"Well, where I sit, there's only one way to move forward."

"Killing him, right? I mean, why even bother to take a vote? It's clear which way the wind's blowing." Dale responded and you had to fight the urge to roll your eyes at the older man as you stood back and listened to the group argue between themselves. You knew there was only one way to deal with this, you didn't see the point of having to talk through it, but it was Rick's idea and you respected that.

"If you go through with it, how would you do it? Would he suffer?" Patricia asked, catching your attention hearing a different voice other than Dale, Rick or Shane arguing as you looked over at the woman across the room.

"We could hang him, right? Just snap his neck." Shane suggested from where he stood by the fireplace.

"I thought about that. Shooting may be more humane." Rick replied and you nodded in agreement. It would be quicker, easier and like he said more humane. It was the only logical way to do it.

"And what about the body? Do we bury him?" T-Dog asked.

"Hold on, hold on! You're talking about this like it's already decided." Dale interrupted, glancing around the group.

"You've been talkin' all day, goin' around in circles. Ya just wanna go around in circles again?" Daryl asked, speaking up for the first time during the entire conversation, although you weren't exactly listening earlier so he might have said something then.

"This is a young man's life, and it is worth more than a five-minute conversation! Is this what it's come to? We kill someone because we can't decide what else to do with him? He's been tortured. He's gonna be executed. How are we any better than those people that we're so afraid of?" Dale questioned and you sighed, taking a step forward having enough of this conversation.

"He knows where the farm is. His group has already tried killing Rick, Glenn and Hershel. If we let him go then he will bring his group back here and we're all dead or worse. We don't have any other choice." You responded, staring at Dale as you spoke but he just shook his head.

"I get why you don't want to kill him; you still think that the world is good and that the people in it are still good, but it's not. The world has changed. Even before this, the world wasn't just all puppies and rainbows, I've seen people die in ways you can't even imagine. What we're going to do to Randall is nothing compared the shit I've seen, done and been through. It's our only option, end of story."

"No, no, don't bring your military stuff into this, we aren't in Iraq or Afghanistan, things are different here. You chose to be in the military, Y/N. You knew what you were signing up for when you joined the military, so don't try and compare the two because it's different. He's just a kid!" Dale responded, but that was the wrong thing to fucking say and Rick obviously knew it too as he quickly turned around just in time to grab your shoulders and stop you from charging at the older man.

"Dale, back off." You heard Shane warn from the other side of the room as Rick held you back.

"No, I thought I knew what I was signing up for. I thought I was going overseas to make a difference, to help and protect innocent civilians, but that was far from what actually happened. I know guys like Randall, his age doesn't matter, they're all the same. They'll try tell you that they're good people, but they're not and everyone here knows it, except you!" You said harshly as you pointed towards him, Rick still holding onto you as you shook your head and took a few steps back until Daryl's hand suddenly grabbed your back gently to stop you from walking straight into him, but he didn't move his hand away when you stopped.

"Alright, anybody who wants the floor before we make a final decision has the chance." Rick announced, taking the attention away from you as he looked around at everyone, but nobody said anything. There was nothing left to say, they knew what needed to be done.

"Are you all gonna watch too? No, you'll go hide your heads in your tents and try to forget that we're slaughtering a human being. I won't be a party to it." Dale said, shaking his head as tears threatened to spill from the man's eyes before he walked out the house.

Nobody said anything for a few seconds as you heard the front door to the house slam shut. "Everyone stay inside until we get this done, none of you should see it." Rick said, nodding towards Shane who pushed himself away from the fireplace and began walking towards Rick as you and Daryl followed them out the front door.

 

Chapter Text

It was already dark outside as the four of you walked across the yard towards the old shed where Randall was still tied up in. Rick held a lantern to help you see where you were walking, but it was nearly a full moon anyway, so it wasn't too bad outside.

Daryl untied Randall and walked him out the shed, he still had the handcuffs on while Daryl held his upper arm tightly to make sure he couldn't go anywhere as you all began walking towards the barn. It seemed like the best place to do it. It was out of the way, out of sight and the wooden walls should soften the gunshot from echoing too far into the woods.

"Put him there." Rick instructed as you walked into the barn and watched as Rick placed the lantern on the ground while Daryl moved Randall into the middle of the area as Shane covered the kids eyes with a blindfold.

"It'll be over soon." Shane said, trying to calm the kid down, but causing the opposite affect.

"What? What's gonna be over soon?" He asked in panic before he began mumbling 'no' repeatedly, but you blocked the kids voice out as you walked over to Rick who was standing a few metres in front of him.

"You don't have to be the one to do this. I can do it if you want." You offered, resting your hand over Rick's as he reached for his pistol, but he shook his head and you sighed, but didn't argue. You knew Rick had killed three men, so he had killed somebody before, but killing them like this was different. It was like what you stopped Shane from doing all those days ago back with Otis, because you knew once you did something like that, you couldn't come back from it.

"Would you like to stand or kneel?" Rick asked, but only got a bunch of mumbled 'please don't' in response as Daryl grabbed the kids shoulders and kicked the back of his legs causing Randall to drop to the ground on his knees. "Do you have any final words?"

"No, please. Please don't. Don't." Randall sobbed and you rolled your eyes. Now he wanted to play innocent, how many little girls has he watched been raped by his group? How many innocent men and women has he helped his group kill? This guy was not innocent and he did not deserve your sorrow or pity.

You watched as Rick bought his gun up, aiming at Randall's head before a voice you did not want to hear spoke up. 

"Do it, dad. Do it." Carl suddenly said, snapping your attention away from Rick and Randall to find your nephew standing in the doorway of the barn. What the fuck? Why was Lori not watching him?

Before you could even move a muscle to take Carl away from the scene, Shane had already beat you to it as he began walking over to Carl. 

"Are you kidding me? What'd I say to you? What did I say to you?" Shane muttered in frustration as he grabbed Carl by the arm and pulled him away.

You turned back towards Rick and you could see the hesitation etched into his features as he stared at Randall and you knew he wasn't going to go through with it. He wouldn't go through with it, not after his son practically encouraged him to kill someone. Shit.

"Rick, Shane, take Carl back to camp. Daryl and I will handle this." You suddenly said, walking over to Rick who began to shake his head as he holstered his gun with shaky hands. "Do you trust me? Rick, do you trust me?"

"Yes." He replied instantly.

"Then trust me on this, it has to be done. Rick, please for once just let me handle this and take your son back to camp. Please." You replied, staring at your brother desperately and you were almost certain that he wouldn't agree to it, but he simply nodded, glancing over at Daryl before he walked out the barn with Shane and Carl. You watched as they walked away, Shane sending a quick glance over his shoulder towards you with a small nod and you nodded back, knowing he was silently thanking you for doing this.

"W-what's going?" Randall questioned a few seconds later as you turned your attention back to the man kneeling on the ground in front of you as you pulled out your handgun from your holster.

"Shut up." Daryl ordered, standing a few metres to the left of Randall, his eyes glued to the man as you pulled the slide back on your handgun and flicked the safety off. You waited a few more seconds, wanting Rick, Shane and Carl to be away from the barn.

You glanced over at Daryl who was already looking at you and gave you a small supportive nod before you turned your attention back towards Randall and aimed your gun at the guys head before you squeezed the trigger. You watched as his body flew back and hit the ground, the bullet piercing straight through his forehead, killing him instantly. It was over. The group was safe. It was over.

Holstering your gun you walked over to one of the haybales on the far side of the barn and grabbed the old blanket that was lying over it as you walked back over to Randall and laid the blanket out over his body. You didn't really care whether he was buried or burned, but either way you were gonna have to do it tomorrow since it was already night time and you didn't want to risk Carl or Beth or anyone walking into the barn and seeing a dead body.

You noticed Daryl had been watching you the entire time as you leant back against one of the wooden poles and stared back at him.

"I'd understand if you wanted to rethink being with me. After what I did with Randall earlier to get information and what I just did... It's not stuff a normal person would do." You admitted, adjusting the strap of your assault rifle over your shoulder as you stared at Daryl just waiting for him to agree with you.

"Well the world ain't exactly normal anymore. Ya did what was right, don't reckon anyone else could've done it." Daryl replied, walking over to you and resting his arm over your shoulders as you leant into his body. "I ain't leavin' ya, girl. Not over." He muttered quietly, his southern accent thick as he spoke causing you to smile, but your smile quickly disappeared when a sudden scream erupted through the silent night air.

You and Daryl both tensed at the sudden noise before your bodies clicked into action. Neither of you needing to say anything as Daryl grabbed the lantern from the ground before you sprinted out the barn and rushed in the direction where the screams where coming from. 

It didn't take long for you to reach the source of the screams and your blood ran cold when you spotted Dale lying in the middle of the field with a walker leaning over the top of him.

You forced your body to run faster, all your training for military paying off as you reached Dale first and without hesitation you tackled the walker off Dale's body as you tumbled to the ground a few metres away with the walker in your arms. You could hear Daryl yelling at the others, telling them where you guys were as you sunk your knife into the walker's skull.

Ignoring the flaring pain from your broken wrist you quickly got to your feet and rushed back to where Dale was to find Daryl standing over the other man. "Hang in there, buddy." Daryl muttered, as you dropped to your knees beside Dale taking in the mess of blood and organs coming out of his stomach. Shit, this was bad. This was really fucking bad.

"Hey, hey, just listen to my voice. Listen to me, alright? You're going to fine, Dale. Just stay with me." You quickly instructed, although you knew that he wasn't going to be fine. His entire stomach was ripped open by a walker, even if Hershel could somehow operate on him and fix him, it wouldn't matter because a walker had ripped him open and he'd turn anyway.

"Oh God. Hershel!" Rick's voice suddenly yelled as your brother skidded to his knees on the other side of Dale, panic evident in his voice as he took in just how bad the wounds were. Within seconds the group was there, everyone in panic once they realised what had happened and you quickly stood up and took a few steps away when Andrea began to cry, giving her room to be with Dale, knowing she was the closest to him.

"What happened?" Hershel questioned and you looked up to find the older man rushing towards the group, your eyes flashing around the area making sure there weren't anymore walkers before you spotted Carl standing a few metres away from the group as he stared at Dale in shock.

"Come here, don't look." You quickly said walking over to Carl and pulling him into your body as Carl hugged you tightly, his arms wrapping your midsection as he buried his head into your stomach. Your bad arm wrapped over Carl's back as you cupped the back of his head with your good hand to make sure he didn't decide to suddenly turn back and look at Dale.

"He's suffering. Do something!" Andrea cried as you looked back over towards Dale. They needed to put him out of his misery, it was the humane thing to do. Someone needed to end it. He didn't deserve this pain. He didn't deserve to die like this.

You didn't dare move to try and be the one to do it though, you weren't going to risk letting Carl see it as you held your nephew's trembling body tightly. You watched as Rick pulled out his pistol, tears threatening to spill from his eyes as he shakily aimed it towards Dale, but before he could pull the trigger, Daryl suddenly stepped forward and gently grabbed Rick's hand. You weren't sure if you were relived that your brother didn't have to do it or sad that Daryl was going to be the one to do it, but it didn't matter as you watched Rick give Daryl his gun as the archer knelt down beside Dale, cocking the pistol as he aimed at Dale's forehead.

"M'sorry brother." Daryl said and pulled the trigger causing Carl to flinch at the loud bang and you closed your eyes trying to stop the tears from falling down your cheeks as you held Carl against your body tightly, needing the comfort as much as he did.

Nobody spoke or moved for the next five minutes as you all cried over the loss of a close friend. No matter how many times you all had argued with the older man, he was still a respected member of the group and was a good man. Nobody deserved this, especially him.

"I'll stay here with Andrea, get a blanket from somewhere and cover him up. He deserves a proper funeral." Shane suddenly said, catching you by surprise as you looked over at him to find him staring at Andrea who was sobbing over Dale. You were about to say that you could help him, but Shane must have realised what you were going to say because he beat you to it. 

"Just give me this, Y/N. I argued with him too many times to count, let me do something right by him. He deserves that." Shane explained and you nodded giving him a sad smile, but you were proud of Shane for stepping up. You knew it was partly due to Andrea, the two of them definitely had a thing, but you were still proud of Shane for doing this. Despite what Dale probably thought, Shane was still a decent man, he might have gone off the rails a little when he was head over heals for Lori a few weeks ago but he was getting better and his relationship with Rick was getting better because of it too.

Slowly everyone began heading back to the camp and farmhouse, letting Shane handle it and giving Andrea some time alone with Dale who you knew was like a father figure to her. 

You walked back to camp holding Carl's hand, who didn't want to let go of you as he held your hand tightly, but you weren't going to complain or tell him to let go. If you had it your way you would still be hugging the boy, but you couldn't hug him and walk at the same time.

Once you reached the camp you walked Carl over to his parents tents where Lori and Rick were waiting. Carl instantly let go of your hand as he rushed over to his mother and hugged her while Lori gave you a thankful, sad smile before leading her son into their tent.

"Thank you." Rick said softly as he pulled you into a tight hug and you wrapped your arms around his body and hugged him back. You weren't sure if he was thanking you for watching Carl during the whole thing or if he was thanking you for dealing with Randall, but it didn't matter. 

"It's what I'm here for. Get some sleep, bro. I'll take first watch." You replied, pulling away from Rick as he stared at you with red eyes. "It's okay, I got it." You reassured giving him a sad smile as Rick nodded and walked into his tent.

You glanced around camp, watching as everyone disappeared into their tents, but you doubted anyone was going to fall asleep straight away after what just happened. Hell, you doubted anyone would get any sleep at all if you were being honest.

Adjusting the strap of your assault rifle, you climbed up the ladder to the RV which was a lot more difficult than you thought with only one good hand. You took a seat in one of the chairs Dale had up there, resting your rifle against the side of your chair as you stared out across the Greene farm.

You sat there for a few minutes before you heard someone climbing up the ladder and you glanced to your right as Daryl climbed up and walked over to you, taking a seat on the spare chair beside you in silence.

"What you did back there-" You began to say quietly, not wanting to wake up anyone before Daryl cut you off.

"Ain't no reason you 'n Rick should do all the heavy liftin'." Daryl replied, keeping his tone low as you both stared out across the Greene property.

"Thank you." You whispered as you rested your bad arm over your lap which was now thumping in pain from when you tackled the walker. You were tempted to take the brace off, hoping that would somehow stop the pain, but you knew that was stupid and would probably hurt even more trying to take the damn thing off.

"Here." Daryl suddenly said as you glanced over at him to find him holding a small bottle of painkillers out towards you. "It's been botherin' ya ever since ya used it when ya were interrogating Randall 'n ya probably hurt it even more when ya dealt with that walker. Ya can act tough 'n fool the others, but I can tell it's hurtin' ya. Take it."

"Thanks." You replied sincerely as you took the bottle, unscrewing the lid as you took a couple of the painkillers before handing it back to him.

"I've broken it before, during my first tour... has Rick or Shane told you anything about that?" You asked curiously. You didn't think either of them would say anything to anyone about it without your permission, but you knew Daryl would start asking questions about it sooner or later, so you might as well tell him. He has already told you about his past, with his abusive father, after being stuck in the same bedroom for a whole day on Hershel's instructions, he eventually opened up to you about it and you figured it was only fair if you showed him the same amount of trust.

"Nah, just kinda figured somethin' bad must've happened. The nightmares ya get, the scars, how Rick 'n Shane are protective over ya the way they are. I know somethin' happened." Daryl replied truthfully and you nodded as you stared back out towards the Greene property and tried to figure out how to word everything.

"It was about five months into my first tour. My team was sent out to do a simple search mission to some farming village where the Taliban had been apparently storing explosives. We searched the village, but couldn't find anything so we radioed it back to base and were ordered to come back, but we never made it back. Our helicopter was shot down... didn't even see the RPG coming until it was too late." You began to explain before Daryl spoke up.

"Ya don't have to tell me." He whispered, but you shook your head. You knew that, but you needed to tell him, he had to know.

"When I woke up we were in some basement. Taliban soldiers everywhere. They executed the men in our group, kept me and the two other women alive. You could probably guess how well that ended, three women chained up in front of 30 Taliban soldiers..." You explained shaking your head at the memory as Daryl suddenly leant over and grabbed your hand, squeezing it gently for comfort as you took a deep breath and continued.

"They wanted locations of every military base and safehouse and they had a lot of different techniques to try and get us to talk. That's how I knew what to do with Randall, the whole fingernail thing was the least painful thing I could think of, so I was glad it worked. Long story short, we were held prisoner for over three months. Amber was killed during the first week after she gave them a fake location, but Tracy and I eventually escaped. Stole a couple horses and both got shot in the process, but we managed to get to a safehouse and radioed for help. Tracy died from blood loss before help arrived and I must have passed out soon after because the next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital bed back in America with Rick beside me."

"Those scars over your stomach..." Daryl trailed off as he stared at you in shock.

"Yep. Some where from knives, others from burns, brands, whips, objects I didn't even realise could be used as torture." You explained as you lifted your shirt and pointed to the various scars as you spoke. 

"Got more over my back and thighs. I'm just glad they didn't touch my face or arms much, makes it easy to hide it." You replied with a small chuckle, trying to make light of the situation because what else were you meant to do?

"Shit, Y/N." Daryl muttered, seeming lost for words as you pulled your tank top back down and grabbed his hand again before something must have clicked in his mind as he sat up straighter. "Back at the quarry, ya said ya did two tours. Ya went back after what happened?"

"Once I was physically fit enough to go back, I did. Rick hated it, I've never seen him that angry and upset with me before, but I went back. I couldn't just live with myself knowing that those people were still out there, still making explosives in an innocent farming village and hurting innocent people. I had to make it right, call it justice for my team, call it revenge or call it just plain stupid, it didn't matter because that was all I wanted." You replied with a shrug, turning away from Daryl as you stared up at the full moon in the sky.

"Did ya do it? Take 'em down?" 

"Never got the chance. I got a call saying that Rick had been shot during a high-speed chase. I was on the first plane home and a few weeks later the dead started to walk and well now we're here." You answered gesturing towards your surroundings.

"I hope they all got bit and turned." Daryl muttered in anger causing you to smile slightly at how angry he was about this, it meant he really did care about you. "Bastards don't deserve to live."

You hummed in agreement but didn't say anything further as you leant back in your chair and took in the stars glimmering in the sky. 

The camp wasn't as safe as you guys originally thought, if a walker got through the fences somewhere then that meant more walkers could easily get through as well and your group were literally just sleeping out in the middle of nowhere. You needed to talk to Rick and Hershel about securing the farm better, if Hershel was going to let you guys stay, then you needed to make it safe.

 

Chapter Text

By the time the sun began to rise the following morning, Daryl was still sitting beside you. You knew he dozed off for a few hours when you told him to get some sleep, but he woke up not long after and insisted for you to sleep, but you couldn't. Not after what happened last night. So you and Daryl stayed on top of the RV together and kept watch.

Everyone was up and walking around camp earlier than you had ever seen them, but it was probably because nobody got much sleep anyway. Shane had apparently burnt Randall's body last night so at least you didn't have to worry about dealing with him which you were glad of, but him and Andrea had also buried Dale during night, so you held a funeral for him that morning.

Rick said a few words, saying how we needed to honour Dale by putting aside our differences and coming together, and he was right. If the group had any chance of making it, of growing and becoming better, that was exactly what you needed to do.

A few others in the group said a few words, shared a few memories back from the quarry about Dale which sparked a few sad laughs and smiles. After the funeral you all made your way back to camp, but before you had a chance to talk to Rick about making the camp safer, Hershel, Maggie and Beth approached your group, saying that your group could move into the house.

"It'll be tight, don't worry about that. With the swamp hardening, the creek drying up and 50 head of cattle on the property we might as well be ringing the dinner bell. We should've moved you in a while ago." Hershel explained, looking between you and Rick as you both nodded gratefully at the older man.

"Alright, let's move the vehicles near each of the of the house doors, facing out toward the road." Rick instructed pointing to the farmhouse and all the vehicles that were parked around area. "We'll build a lookout in the windmill, another in the barn loft. That should give us sightlines both sides of the property." Rick added and you nodded in agreement. The RV was a good watch point, but you couldn't see everything, there were blind spots where walkers could easily get through undetected.

"Hershel, with your permission I'd like to take a group out and secure your fences. They seem pretty good, but I want to double check and maybe reinforce them if need be." You suggested, glancing over at the older man. It was still his property after all, but you knew he was starting to warm up to your group.

"That is fine by me. We have fencing equipment in the shed, take what you need. I'll stock the basement with food and water, enough that we can all survive there a few days if need be." Hershel replied and you smiled at the man liking his thinking as he walked off back towards the farmhouse leaving you guys in camp.

"We'll have a group build the lookout in the windmill first, that will take the most work, the lookout in the barn won't need much done to it. Y/N will take a group around the property to secure the fences. T-Dog, you can take watch duty on the RV for the time being until the other lookouts are ready to use. The others can start moving our gear inside the house." Rick instructed, looking around the at the group.

"Alright, you heard the man. I'll start the lookout in the windmill, Andrea you can help me." Shane spoke up, glancing over at the blonde girl causing you to grin at Shane who not so subtly gave you the bird as he adjusted one of the buttons on his shirt and you rolled your eyes at him.

"I'll go with Y/N." Daryl added causing Shane to send you the exact same grin you gave him only seconds before as you rolled your eyes at his childish behaviour and flipped him off and you could tell Rick was trying not to laugh at the two of you.

"We're gonna need more to help with the fencing, Glenn, you in?" You asked, looking over at him as he nodded in agreement before Carl spoke up.

"I want to help too." He said, walking over to the group of you as you looked over at Rick. It was his call whether Carl came out with you or not, but Rick just nodded in agreement causing Carl to fist bump the air in excitement.

"Sweet, let's get started then." You responded as you began walking over to the blue pickup truck, followed by Daryl and Glenn. Daryl climbed in the drivers seat, not wanting you to irritate your injured hand any more, so you jumped into the bed of the truck with Carl while Glenn sat in the passenger seat.

You went via the shed first, filling the back of the truck up with iron droppers, a couple rolls of barbed and straight wire. You grabbed a few tins of metal staples to hammer into the wooden fence posts to keep any new wire secure, along with a couple tool boxes which you hoped had anything you might need inside.

You decided to start on the far side of the farm and work your way back towards the main area, which meant you and Carl should get comfy in the bed of the truck for the next 10 minutes as you drove to the far side of the farm. You leant your back against the window of the cab as you stared out at the trail of dust the truck was leaving behind as Daryl drove, Carl sitting right beside you.

"Did you kill him? Randall?" Carl suddenly asked, just loud enough for you to hear over the old trucks engine. You glanced over at Carl who was staring at you in curiously and you sighed. You should have seen this question coming.

"Yes. I shot him, it was quick and painless. But, that doesn't mean killing people is the right thing to do, it's not. You know that right?" You asked and to your relief Carl nodded straight away. "It was the only way to keep the group safe, I didn't have a choice. But, you don't ever kill someone unless they are going to kill you and it is your last option. And you don't ever draw your gun on someone unless you plan on actually pulling the trigger."

"I know. Shane told me most of that when he was teaching me how to shoot." Carl replied causing you to smile, glad that Shane didn't just teach him how to safely operate a gun, he also taught Carl about the right and wrongs and it seemed Carl was a fast learner.

"But, you won't have to worry about anything like that for a long time. You have a whole group of people who will always be here, your father, Shane, Daryl, me and we'll deal with any bad people that come our way, just like we did with Randall." You reassured and Carl nodded.

"This is going to be a good place for my baby brother or sister to grow up in." He commented proudly as he looked up at you with bright eyes and you nodded in agreement unable to stop the smile forming on your lips because he was right. This was going to be a damn good place for the group to settle down in and good place for Lori, Rick and Shane to raise the baby.

-

You spent majority of the afternoon out with Daryl, Glenn and Carl fixing the fences. It was nice being out in Hershel's fields with the three of them, Glenn was still down about Dale so you kept trying to make him laugh and keep his mind distracted as you fenced and it seemed to work.

"You two make a really good couple, you know that?" Glenn suddenly said as you began loading the fencing equipment back up into the truck as the sun slowly began to set in the distance.

You glanced over at Daryl who seemed to be trying to ignore the other man as he focused on putting the hammer and nails back into the toolbox, but you didn't miss the slight blush of his cheeks as he did so.

"You're both strong and independent. Neither of you take shit from anyone, seriously if you guys had a kid, he or she would be badass." Glenn added causing you to chuckle.

"Says you. Look at you and Maggie, you guys are like the perfect couple and if you have kids in the future, they would be so adorable." You responded, closing the tailgate of the truck, not really knowing how to respond to what he just said so you tried turning to conversation back to him which seemed to work as Glenn and Carl both laughed.

"Ya done with whatever the hell this conversation is 'bout?" Daryl asked in amusement, turning back towards the three of you, a hint of a smirk forming on his lips and you chuckled, but nodded.

"Relax, Dixon. We all know Shane and Andrea will have a kid before anyone. Those two can't keep their hands off each other." You responded causing Carl to make a fake throwing up noise.

"Ew." Your nephew muttered in disgust and that was all it took before you, Daryl and Glenn burst out laughing. It was probably the first time you had ever seen Daryl generally laugh at something, he looked so happy as he grabbed Glenn's shoulder when the guy nearly fell over from laughing and you couldn't stop the smile spreading across your lips as you watched them. "Grownups are gross."

"Can't argue with that, kiddo. C'mon, hopefully tea's ready by the time we get back." You said breathlessly from laughing so much as you all began piling back into the truck. You and Carl in the bed of the truck again before Daryl started the engine and you all drove back to the farmhouse.

To your surprise all the tents had been taken down and the only thing that remained from your camp was the ashes from the campfire. Everything else was all packed up and when you walked through the front door to the farmhouse it was clear where everything went.

The Greene's lounge room had been turned into the new camp. Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags and mattresses were all spread out across the lounge room floor.

You glanced around the room, spotting your military bag and blankets sitting on one of the mattress along with Daryl's bag and you rolled your eyes knowing Maggie must have made sure your gear was put together on the same mattress.

"Well this looks cosy." Glenn commented as the four of you stood by the entrance of the lounge room taking it all in.

"If anyone snores they're gettin' a pillow to the face." Daryl muttered causing Carl to laugh as he said something about Shane being a loud snorer before he disappeared towards the kitchen where you could hear everyone else. Daryl threw his crossbow down on top of the mattress and you did the same with assault rifle as Daryl suddenly grabbed your shoulder. "Ya alright with sharin' a bed like this?"

"As long as you don't use my pillow to throw at Shane when he's snoring in the middle of the night then, yes." You replied with a grin causing Daryl to snort as closed the distance between the two of you, his hands coming up and cupping your face as he stared into your Y/E/C eyes before pressing his lips to yours and you kissed him back.

"I know I said you guys make a good couple, but seriously get a room." Glenn commented in amusement as you and Daryl to both flipped him off as you continued to kiss causing Glenn to groan. "I'm so glad Maggie is letting me stay in her bedroom."

"I'm sure that's the only reason you're glad about that." You responded as you pulled away from Daryl and looked over at Glenn who's cheeks instantly began to blush causing you and Daryl to chuckle before the three of you made your way towards the kitchen.

You stood by the door for a second as you took everything in. Everyone was sitting around the large dinning table, another small card table was set up beside it where the people who couldn't fit at the main table were sitting.

"There's a few spare seats here." Maggie called out, spotting the three of you by the door as you all walked over to the small card table where three plates of food were waiting for you. You sat down between Maggie and Daryl and quickly began eating, only just realising how hungry you actually were.

"How's the lookout in the windmill coming along?" You asked between mouthfuls as you looked over at Shane and Andrea who were sitting beside each other at the dinning table.

You glanced around at the rest of your group, Rick sitting on the other side of Shane followed by Lori and Carl along with T-Dog, Hershel, Beth, Jimmy, Patricia and Carol... she still hasn't spoken to you at all and you didn't even need to talk to her to know that she blames you for the death of her baby girl. It was your fault, no matter what Daryl says, you knew it was your fault.

"Should be finished by tomorrow, then we'll start on the barn lookout." Andrea answered since Shane was too busy eating his food to answer the question. "How'd the fencing go?"

"Good, it should be enough to stop any stray walkers from pushing through the fences." You said and Rick and Hershel seemed happy with that answer as you all began talking about plans for the winter. Hershel told you guys about a section of pine trees on the outskirts of the farm that would make good firewood, pinewood burns slower and lasts longer which would be ideal for the winter.

"I left my hat in the shed when we were putting the fencing stuff away." Carl suddenly said and you rolled your eyes at your nephews forgetfulness, but before you could say that you'd go with him to get the Sheriffs hat, Rick's already standing and the two of them headed off to retrieve the hat that has lasted longer than you ever thought it would.

The rest of you continued talking about future plans between eating the food that Lori, Patricia and Carol had apparently made. It wasn't much just pieces of chicken and some vegetables, but it was more than what you've had in a long time and after working all day it was damn delicious and by the way Daryl and Glenn had quickly scoffed down their meals they agreed as well.

"What's taking them so long?" Lori suddenly questioned 10 minutes later as she began picking up the cutlery off the table while T-Dog and Jimmy started washing the dishes.

"It's Rick and Carl. They probably got distracted with something stupid, I'll go find them." You replied, standing up from your chair as you handed your empty plate to Lori before you walked out the dinning room towards the front door.

You opened the door and looked out towards the shed to see if you could spot your brother and nephew, glad that it was still a full moon so you could easily, but that wasn't what you spotted.

"Holy shit." You gasped, taking in the herd of walkers that were heading towards the barn and house.

You quickly raced back inside to find everyone still standing around the dinning room, but when they heard you run back they all instantly stopped their conversations and looked over at you in confusion until they saw the look on your face.

"There's a herd coming. Shane, get the guns. Patricia, kill the lights." You quickly instructed, not waiting for anyone to respond as you rushed into the lounge room grabbing your backpack. You threw it over your shoulders knowing you had spare clips for your assault rifle inside before grabbing your rifle and Daryl's crossbow as you rushed back outside onto the front porch.

Daryl was suddenly beside you and you quickly handed the crossbow to him. "Maybe they're just passing, like the herd on the highway. Should we just go inside?" Glenn asked and you glanced over your shoulder to find most the group standing behind you on the porch staring at the herd in shock.

"Not unless there's a tunnel downstairs I don't know 'bout. Herd that size will rip the house down." Daryl responded as your eyes quickly scanned the area trying to find any sign of Rick or Carl, but all you could see were the walkers.

"I thought you said you guys secured the fences." Andrea commented from somewhere behind you, panic evident in her voice.

"I said it was enough to stop any stray walkers from pushing through, not a whole damn herd." You responded as you tried to do a head count of the walkers. Fuck, there were so many.

Shane quickly rushed through the front door with the bag of guns as he dropped it on the ground behind you as him and Maggie began handing out the various shotguns and rifles to everyone, but Daryl shook his head.

"I got the number, it's no use." He muttered nodding towards the herd.

"You can go if you want." Hershel spoke up as he began loading rounds into one of the shotguns.

"Rick and Carl are out there somewhere. I'm not leaving without my boys." Lori stated in panic and you nodded in agreement.

"I'm not going anywhere without them. We have guns and we have cars. We kill as many as we can and use the cars to lead the rest of them off the farm." You instructed, checking the magazine inside your rifle relieved that it was full.

"You serious?" T-Dog questioned in disbelief and you glanced over at Hershel waiting for his call.

"This is my farm. I'll die here." He responded and you nodded. Well, this was going to be one hell of a fight.

"I was born a soldier, might as well die like one too." You responded, sliding the magazine back into your assault rifle as you looked over at Daryl and Shane waiting to see what they wanted to do.

"Alright, it's as good a night as any." Daryl responded, loading his crossbow as he jumped down over the railing of the porch, but you chose to take the stairs not wanting to screw your bad knee up again.

"Two people in each car, one drives the other shoots. We leave one of the cars here for you girls and you take it and go if we can't stop the herd, understood?" Shane instructed, glancing back towards Lori, Carol, Patricia and Beth who were standing by Hershel and on the porch and they all nodded in agreement as you all began running towards the cars.

Glenn and Maggie took one, Andrea and T-Dog took the other leaving you, Shane and Daryl as you stood by the vehicles.

"I'll take the bike, I can ride 'n shoot at the same time." He stated, pulling out his handgun and checking the clip before tucking it back through his belt.

"Shoot from a distance. You don't have the walls of a car to protect you from the dead, be careful." You said, unable to hide the fear in your tone as you leant over Daryl, pulling him into a hug as he mounted his bike and he instantly hugged you back.

"Ya be careful too, alright?" He asked as you pulled away, his worried eyes locking with yours and you nodded.

"Always am, Dixon. I'll see you when this over." You responded, giving him a reassuring smile before you jogged off back towards the blue pickup truck, noticing Shane was already in the drivers seat as you opened the passenger side door, throwing your backpack inside before climbing in.

"You good to shoot with your hand?" Shane questioned as he put the truck into gear and took off down the dirt road towards the gate that lead to field by the barn.

"Yep, just keep the walkers on my side of the car and I'll take them down." You responded, rolling down window because of course Shane picked the one car without electric windows.

Flicking the safety off you pressed the butt of your rifle against your shoulder as you leant the gun over your wrist brace since you couldn't exactly hold with it your hand to stabilise it. You used your good hand to hold the handle, your finger hovered over the trigger as you lined up the first walker and squeezed it.

"The barn's on fire!" Shane yelled above the gunfire, vehicle engines and walkers causing your head to snap around towards the barn to find that it in fact was on fire and seemed to be drawing some of the walkers towards it.

"That had to be Rick and Carl." You replied before turning your attention back towards the walkers as you continued firing bullet after bullet, making sure every shot was to the head as Shane continued steering the truck around the outside of the herd.

You could see the other two cars driving around on the other side of the field along with Daryl on his motorcycle, who was parked outside the fence and firing at the walkers. Someone had obviously climbed inside the RV, who you suspected was Jimmy and to your relief he drove over to the barn where you could see two figures standing on the roof, Rick and Carl.

"We're not making a dent and they've already busted through the fence and are heading to the house as well." You observed, flicking the empty magazine out as Shane swung the truck around and began driving back that way as you quickly grabbed a full magazine from your bag between you legs, your hands were shaking but you easily reloaded the rifle. You've done this a thousand times before back in Afghanistan, okay not exactly like this because there weren't any walkers then. But you had been in enough fire fights to know how to calm your body and focus on the mission instead of just freaking the fuck out even though that was all you were doing on the inside.

"If any of you can hear me, get back to the house to pick up the women and Hershel and get the hell out of here. There's too many!" Shane shouted through the CV radio in the truck. You had no idea if the other cars had a handheld radio or not. You knew the RV did, but you hoped like hell Maggie's and T-Dog's vehicles did as well and hoped they happened to be on the same station.

You continued firing at the walkers relieved when you saw T-Dog's truck driving back towards the house to pick up the others, but you couldn't see where Maggie's car or Daryl’s motorcycle was through the herd of walkers. Shit.

"Everyone, get off the farm! Get off the farm now!" Shane yelled through the CV as you spotted the taillights of Maggie's car disappearing off in the distance, clearly having heard what Shane just said through the radio.

You focused back on the walkers firing off rounds into the herd even though there was no way you'd be able to shoot them all, there was just too many.

"We do one lap around the property, make sure everyone's gone and then we get the fuck out of here." Shane instructed and you didn't bother to respond as you continued firing at the walkers out your window as Shane turned the truck around and began heading towards the burning barn.

You kept your eye out for Rick and Carl, but you were pretty sure you saw them make a run for the red car by the farmhouse a few minutes ago. You were almost certain they were safe, but like hell you weren't going to double check.

"Shit!" Shane suddenly yelled as he drove around the corner past the barn and you did not like the tone in his voice as your head quickly snapped around to the front window to find a thick group of walkers right in front of you. Oh shit.

"Turn!" You screamed, dropping your rifle as you grabbed the handle on the roof above you, bracing yourself. Shane quickly spun the wheel to try and avoid the walkers, but with the speed he was going and how sharp he turned, the truck flipped.

 

Chapter Text

Broken glass and metal flew everywhere as the truck rolled for nearly 50 metres before coming to a stop. It laid in the middle of the field on it's roof and if your brain was actually working you would have been thankful that you decided to put your seat belt on. But, the only thing you could actually get your brain to process was the fact that the truck had crashed and that you were still strapped to your seat and sitting upside down.

You couldn't hear anything over the ringing in your ears as you looked over to Shane who was lying face down into the roof of the car which was now the bottom of the car since the damn truck had landed on it's roof. He clearly didn't have his seat belt on and if it wasn't for the herd of walkers that were no doubt heading towards you, you would have ripped into him about basic fucking safety, but now was not the time.

"Shane." You shouted in a whisper, not wanting to draw any more walkers towards you by shouting, but he seemed to be passed out because you could see his chest slowly moving up and down so you knew he wasn't dead. Well, he wasn't dead yet. You guys were literally sitting ducks right now.

"God damnit, Walsh." You muttered as your shakily reached for your seatbelt buckle before taking a deep breath as you clicked the button. Your body crashed to the ground and you couldn't stop the scream escaping your lips as your broken wrist slammed against roof of the truck, the sudden pain sending tears to your eyes.

Without wasting anytime dwelling over your wrist, you quickly rolled your body over and scrambled to your hands and knees. You grabbed your backpack which somehow was still beside you as you threw it out your open window and crawled out the gap, ignoring how the broken glass scraped against your bare arms.

Once you were out you quickly grabbed your backpack, throwing it over your shoulders as you rushed around to Shane's side of the truck. You took a split second to glance towards the herd and you wished you didn't because they were coming and shit they were getting close.

"Walsh! Wake up!" You shouted, not caring about raising your voice since the walkers were coming anyway as you crouched down beside his open window to find him still lying face down where he was earlier.

"Shit." You cursed under your breath as you grabbed Shane's hands and bit your tongue in the process to stop yourself from screaming at the pain it was causing your broken wrist as you began to pull him out through the window.

You only managed to pull his body halfway out before his eyes suddenly snapped open and you sighed with relief as he stared up at you in confusion. You could pinpoint the exact moment his brain clicked into gear because he suddenly rolled over and crawled the rest of the way out the truck before scrambling to his feet.

"The woods. Now." You yelled, pulling your handgun from it's holster as you fired at a few of the walkers that were getting too close and Shane followed suit, pulling out his own pistol and firing off a few rounds before the two of you sprinted towards the woods.

Neither of you dared to look back as you reached the woods and kept running. The moonlight proving you with enough light to see the trees as you dodged and weaved through them. Neither of you were running very fast since your knee was still recovering and you knew Shane's ankle was still screwed up from that night at the school with Otis.

You ran for nearly 10 minutes before Shane grabbed your arm and you both stopped running as he grabbed onto the nearest tree for support and he tried to catch his breath.

"D-did you see Daryl? Did he make it out? Did you see?" You asked breathlessly as you leant your back against the tree beside you and cradled your broken wrist to your chest. You were pretty sure the others had made it out, but you never saw if Daryl did or not, God you hoped he did.

"I couldn't see anything." Shane replied a few seconds later as he took in a couple deep breaths, trying to get air back into his lungs and that's when you saw the nasty bruise forming over the left side of Shane's forehead which he got during the crash and was clearly hard enough to knock him out.

"I'm fine, just a bruise." He reassured noticing your sudden worry and you nodded, not wanting to waste energy in speaking as you focused on trying the breath.

You pulled your handgun out and checked the clip which only had four bullets left inside and by the expression on Shane's face he didn't have many rounds left either as he checked his gun before tucking it back through his belt.

"We sho-" You began to say when suddenly the groans of walkers began to fill the air and your blood ran cold as you spun around and spotted the herd in the distance. Shit, they were quick. You couldn't out run them.

"C'mon!" Shane whispered nodding in the other direction as the two of you took off running again, but you were both already exhausted and it was clear you weren't going to be able to outrun the herd.

"Get in the tree." Shane suddenly instructed as you both stopped running and you quickly looked over at him thinking you heard him wrong.

"What?"

"We can't outrun them and I don't see any other options." Shane responded, but you quickly shook your head. No, like hell you were climbing a fucking tree and if the walkers could bust through a secure fence then they could probably knock down a damn tree.

"Y/N, you need to trust me." Shane said as he pointed towards one of the thicker trees to your left and you sighed. Fuck it, might as well try.

"I hate this." You grumbled, double checking that your handgun was secure in your holster before you began to climb up the tree, Shane helping you up the first few steps since your left hand was practically useless before he began climbing up behind you.

You focused on making sure your feet were on secure branches as you climbed higher until you were a good 10 feet in the air before you sat down on a thicker branch that seemed the strongest. Your legs were dangling off either side as you carefully pulled your backpack off and rested it over your lap so you could lean your back against the trunk of the tree as Shane sat down beside you on another thick branch.

You tried not to look down as you rested your head back against the tree, your legs gripped around the branch tightly and your good hand holding onto another branch to your right for support. You weren't a big fan of heights and jumping out the school window with Shane that day was enough for you, but this was a whole different story.

"You won't fall. Relax." Shane whispered from beside you and if you weren't sitting 10 feet up in a tree you would have wacked him because seriously saying 'relax' was not helping in the slightest.

"If this doesn't work, I'm killing you." You said quietly, glancing over at him as he chuckled.

"If this doesn't work, we'll be dead anyway." He replied honestly and you rolled your eyes.

"That makes me feel so much better." You muttered turning away from him as you stared up at the moon in the sky, trying anything to distract you from what you and Shane were doing.

It didn't take long before the herd caught up to you, the groans of the walkers getting louder and louder every minute before you finally spotted them in the distance as they stumbled through the woods in your general direction.

Neither of you dared to speak as you stared at the walkers, hoping, praying that they would just walk straight past. It took nearly 30 minutes before the herd finally walked past and continued heading in the opposite direction, but of course life seemed to hate you.

The next thing you heard was Shane mumbling 'oops' as you watched his knife fall to the ground, smashing into every single tree branch possible on the way down before it landed on the leafy floor below with a loud of enough thud for the last few walkers in the herd to hear.

"You couldn't have waited five more minutes?" You whispered, glaring at Shane as he stared down at his knife in a mixture of frustration and guilt before he glanced back towards the herd which were now walking back in your direction. Oh, that was just perfect.

You rested your head back against the tree with a sigh and just sat there as you waited to see what the walkers were going to do. But, of course, they all just end up milling around by your tree trying to find the source of the noise, but little did they know that the dumbass who made the noise was sitting 10 feet above them.

You both sat there for nearly an hour, some of the herd had gotten bored and began to wander off further into the woods, but others seemed happy to just stumble around your tree with nothing better to do.

"What time do you think it is?" You whispered as you very carefully began to unzip the front pocket of your backpack as quietly as possible.

"Maybe two, three in the morning?" Shane answered, but it sounded more like a questioned as he watched you curiously as you pulled out your military radio. "The hell you got that for? It's useless."

"It's more useful than your police radios." You responded quietly as you flicked it on and sighed with relied when it actually turned on. "I can set an alarm to go off on here at a certain time. We got taught how to do it in training, but never actually thought an alarm would come in handy until now." You explained as fiddled with the radio until you found the alarm setting and it was telling you to enter a time. You had to make sure you set the right time because if it was actually four in the morning and you set the alarm to go off at three in the morning then you were gonna have to wait 23 hours before it would go off.

"Tell me what time you think it is and then add another hour onto it just to be sure, because I would rather sit here for an extra hour than have to sit in this damn tree for a whole day because you got the time wrong." You whispered, glancing over at Shane who was staring up at the sky clearly trying to figure it out in his head. You tried to think of what the little digital screen said on the dashboard of the truck you guys were driving around in, but the last thing you were worried about in that moment was the time.

"Shit, I don't know. It wouldn't be any earlier than five in the morning, that's the only thing I'm certain on." Shane replied and well if that was the only thing he was positive about then that was what you were going to use.

"Five in the morning it is." You whispered as you set the alarm and turned the volume up to MAX before you threw the radio in the opposite direction of the farm as it landed on the ground 20 metres away with a thud.

A few of the walkers began heading towards it already, but most of them still stayed by your tree as you closed your backpack up and leant back against the tree as you waited for the alarm to go off.

You weren't sure how long you ended up sitting there for, but eventually the alarm began to ring, catching the walkers attention straight away as they all began to stumble over to the radio. The two of you quickly but quietly began climbing back down the tree while they were distracted.

Once you both reached the ground Shane grabbed his knife before you began running back in the direction of the farm, the walkers too focused on the alarm to hear or notice you at all.

By the time you reached the farm it was daylight, making the aftereffects of the herd even more presentable as you slowly walked up the dirt road towards the farmhouse which somehow still looked perfectly fine. There were still a few stray walkers stumbling around the property and were easy enough to kill with your knifes as you walked into the farmhouse.

You held your knife up ready in case there were any walkers inside, but the place seemed clean as you two did a quick sweep of the building, but nobody was inside. You walked back out onto the porch as Shane began packing up supplies into another backpack as you scanned the property.

The barn had been completely demolished, just a pile of smoking coals and ashes. The fences around the farm were all busted and broken and you could still very clearly see the blue pick-up truck lying on its roof in the distance.

"Y/N, you got any room in your bag?" Shane's voice suddenly called out as you walked back inside to find him in the kitchen, shoving plastic water bottles into his bag before he pointed towards the lounge room. You nodded knowing what he meant as you walked in and immediately grabbed your blanket, knowing it could easily fold up into a small pile and fit perfectly inside your backpack before you began going through the rest of the groups bags and shoving anything useful inside.

"Grab any clothes you can, the nights are starting to get colder." Shane instructed as he appeared by the doorway and dropped his backpack as he began grabbing various clothes from peoples bags as you grabbed your military jacket that was lying over one of the mattresses and tied it around your waist. "Rick would have went back to the highway where we left that sign for Sophia. Hopefully the others were smart enough to go there as well."

"That's over a days walk from here." You replied, throwing your backpack over your shoulders as Shane did the same with his before you both began to head back outside. The others were all in cars which meant they would all be there already... well that was if they all went there in the first place.

"Let's just hope we can find some place to camp the night on the way." Shane responded and with that the two of you set off down the dirt and began heading in the direction of the highway.

-

You managed to come across an abandon house on the side of the road when the sun began to set and figured it was a good of a place as any to spend the night. One of you slept while the other kept watch before you swapped halfway through the night and by sunrise you were back on the road and continued heading towards the highway.

It was about midday by the time you reached the highway and after following it for another hour you finally reached the sign you left Sophia, but the group wasn't there, nobody was there.

"This was the truck T-Dog and Andrea were in, they were here. Were the others here too?" You questioned out loud as you pointed to the familiar rusty truck that was covered in walker blood and guts as you scanned the area trying to find any other signs of the rest of the group before Shane spoke up.

"I don't think Andrea was here, Y/N. But the rest of the group definitely was." He suddenly said and you turned around to find him standing by the car where the supplies were left for Sophia, but he was holding a piece of a paper. "Read this." He said holding the paper out towards you as you jogged over to him and took the paper.

'Y/N, Shane, Andrea,

We couldn't wait any longer, the highway isn't safe with the number of walkers around. We've left you half the supplies and we'll be heading east, following the highway for as long as we can. We left the Greene truck as well if you need it, if you don't then take its fuel and head east. We will find each other again, but until then stay safe, please.

From, Rick, Lori, Carl, Daryl, Hershel, Maggie, Beth, Glenn, Carol and T-Dog.'

"Thank God," You whispered, staring at the paper as tears began rising in your eyes. Your family had made it out, Daryl had made it out, most of them had made it out and they were all together.

"They're alive, they made it." You repeated looking over at Shane who seemed to be relieved about it as well before he began loading the supplies into the truck, but made sure he left some for Andrea in case she had made it out as well.

You tucked the piece of paper under a few of the tin cans so Andrea knew which way to go if she happened to read it before you and Shane climbed into the rusty old truck and took off down the road.

You followed the main road for a few days, cyphaning fuel from any vehicles you passed along the way. You drove through a few small towns, but didn't dare to stop and try scavenge them, there were too many walkers and you guys had enough supplies to last the two of you for a few months.

Day 4:

Four days later you came across an intersection, it wasn't the first intersection you had come across, but it was the first one where the main road that was heading east was completely blocked by broken down cars and there was no way you'd get through. You thought about which direction Rick would take the group, but neither of you could figure out it out so you ended up turning right and hoped for the best.

Day 15:

You must have fallen asleep because when you opened your eyes the truck was moving and you glanced to your left to find Shane sitting in the drivers seat. You weren't sure why, but you've been really tired lately although that wasn't anything new these days those, you were just glad Shane was with you so you could keep switching watch duties at night while the other slept.

"Sleeping beauty is awake. You dozed off on me a few hours ago." Shane commented, glancing over at you noticing you were awake before he focused back on the road. You groaned sleepily as you rubbed your tired eyes and sat up straighter in your seat trying to wake yourself up. "About what I said yesterday-" Shane began to say before you cut him off.

"No. I'm not going to stop looking for them, I'm never going to stop looking for them." You responded, turning to look out your side window as you crossed your arms over your chest.

Shane had bought up the topic that you both had been thinking for a while, but neither of you wanted to say it. It has been over two weeks and you hadn't seen any sign of the group, they could be on the other side of the country by now and you knew that was a very real possibility, but when Shane said it out loud you refused to believe it.

"I'm not saying we should stop looking, I'd never stop looking either, but we can't keep living on the road like this. We need to find a place to say for a while, it's going to be winter soon." Shane said logically and you hated that he was right, but the thought of stopping and staying somewhere for a few months when you could be driving and covering more ground to find the group just didn't sit right with you, but you knew Shane was right.

Before you had a chance to say anything back sudden nausea hit you like a truck and you barely had any time to wonder why the hell you started to feel nauseas because you knew you were about to throw up.

"Stop the car." You quickly said, already reaching for the doorhandle as Shane hit the brakes without asking why, clearly sensing something wasn't right by the tone of your voice. As soon as the truck came to a stop you opened the door, not even having time to step out the car as you leant out the door and threw up the little food you had inside you.

"Shit." You thought you heard Shane mutter from some somewhere behind you, but all you could focus on was your stomach retracting violently as you continued to throw up.

It felt like hours, but was probably only a five or so minutes before the nausea seemed to fade away, leaving you sitting on the edged of your seat as you leant your forearms against your knees trying to remember how to breath.

"Here." Shane's voice suddenly said as he handed you a plastic water bottle and you took it, rinsing out the disgusting taste in your mouth before you took a few sips. "You alright?" He asked after a few seconds and you nodded, screwing the lid back onto the water bottle as you handed it back to him before you shut your car door and leant back in your seat.

"I better not be getting sick." You muttered, glancing over at Shane who was staring at you with a hint of concern etched into his face. "Don't look at me like that, I'll be fine. Let's just find a place to stay for the winter." You responded and Shane looked like he wanted to argue about the first part, but for the first time he kept his mouth shut and started the truck up before he continued driving down the road.

 

Chapter Text

Day 25:

You and Shane had created a makeshift camp inside an abandon gas station on the side of the road. It had already been scavenged by other people, but there were still some useful items tucked away at the back and under shelves like a few canned corns and candy bars.

The two of you had managed to find some nails and with the old tool box that was already in the back of the truck, you were able to board up the windows and back doors with wooden slats. It would stop walkers from breaking in and to stop anyone from seeing inside if they happen to drive past, especially at night if you had any torches or lanterns on.

"How are you feeling? I heard you throwing up again early this morning." Shane asked, looking over at you from where you were sitting on your pile of blankets that you called a bed as you looked up from the book you had found a few days earlier. The book itself wasn't that interesting, but reading it kept your mind from thinking about the group, it stopped you from thinking about Rick, Carl, Lori and Daryl and wondering if they were still alive or not. "And don't say that you're fine because this has been going on for over a week." He added.

"I feel fine at the moment, it's probably just some bug. Give me another week and I'll be as good as gold." You replied, looking up from your book to find Shane leaning against the front counter as he stared at you. You knew he didn't believe a word you said and if you were being honest you didn't believe yourself either.

You were around Lori when she was pregnant with Carl, you knew all the symptoms and side effects of it. The tiredness, the nausea, the headaches, the strange food cravings you had been getting which were just ridiculous because you had never had food cravings in your life and not to mention you hadn't got your period yet. But, you couldn't be pregnant, that was just crazy. You couldn't be pregnant in the middle of the damn apocalypse without any doctors or hospitals. You had Shane, but that was it and as much as you loved the man like a brother, he wouldn't know the first thing about delivering a baby or how to look after one and hell, neither did you.

"If you're not, I'm gonna make a run into that town 10 miles back and see if there's any pharmacies there or something." Shane announced as he grabbed his thick jacket and threw it on.

"Want some help checking the traps?" You asked, knowing he was going to head outside to check the old cat traps you had set up in the woods with pieces of canned meat in hopes of catching something worth eating.

"Nah, I got it." He replied, grabbing the axe he had found a couple weeks earlier as he slipped it through the front of his belt before he walked out the front door of the gas station.

The second he was gone you were up and scanning the aisles of shelving trying to find the feminine hygiene section. It only took a few seconds before you found it and like the other shelves it was practically empty. A few packets of pads and tampons lying on the lower shelf although if your suspicions were true then you wouldn't need to use them for a while.

You quickly scanned the other shelves before your eyes landed on a pregnancy test at the very back and you grabbed it. Part of you didn't even want to know, but the more logical part of your brain knew it would better to know the truth and that way you could figure out how to deal with it.

You walked into the bathroom at the far end of the gas station and shut the door behind yourself in case Shane happened to come back earlier than you expected. You sat down on the closed lid of the toilet seat as you read the instructions on the packet because you had no clue how to work the stupid thing, you had never been in this situation before.

After doing what the instructions said, you walked back out into the main part of the gas station and sat back down on your blankets, placing the pregnancy test face down beside you. You had no way of timing how long you needed to wait for, but that was okay because by the time you forced yourself to pick the damn thing up anyway you were sure nearly 10 minutes had passed.

You stared at the plastic stick in your hands for a few seconds before flipping it over as a small positive sign stared right back at you.

You didn't even know to respond as you continued to stare at the test like if you kept looking at it then it would magically change to a negative, but as the minutes ticked by nothing happened and you felt yourself starting to panic.

You dropped the pregnancy test back down on the ground in front of you as you pulled your knees up to your chest, wrapping your arms around them. You were pregnant, you were carrying Daryl's child and he doesn't even know about it. How the hell were you meant to bring a baby into this world? Lori was going to do it, but she has Hershel, she has the whole group and she has her partner. You couldn't be a mother, you didn't know the first thing about looking after a baby. Yes, you helped out with Carl when he was a baby, but that felt like a lifetime ago.

You were so lost in your thoughts that you didn't even hear Shane walk through the front door, didn't even hear him call out to you until suddenly his hands were on your face as he crouched down in front of you.

"Hey, hey, what's wrong? Y/N, talk to me, why are you crying?" Shane frantically questioned in panic and you didn't even realise you had been crying until he said it which only made you cry even more. How the hell were you meant to tell him that you were pregnant? How were you meant to tell him that he was going to be an uncle? It was going to bring up his memories of Lori and you knew it has been hard on him knowing Lori was out there possibly carrying his or Ricks baby and he couldn't do a damn thing to help.

"Y/N, I need you to tell me what's wrong, I don't know what to do." He said, his hands still cupping the side of your face as he stared at you in worry.

"I-I'm..." You stuttered unable to finish the sentence as you pointed towards the pregnancy test sitting on the ground knowing it would probably be easier to show him than tell him.

You watched as Shane looked towards where you were pointing and spotted the plastic stick on the ground as he stared at it in confusion, clearly having no idea what it was.

He glanced back towards you with a questioning look before he removed his hands from you as he turned around and picked up the stick, flipping it over the right way as his body suddenly froze. Yep, he must have figured out what it was.

He didn't say anything for a few seconds as he stared at the positive pregnancy test in his hand trying to process what he was seeing before he turned back towards you.

"You're pregnant." He said and you just nodded, not trusting your voice as few tears escaped your eyes.

"Holy shit. It's Daryl's isn't it?" He asked and you just nodded again as Shane looked back down at the stick in his hands before he chuckled, shaking his head. "I'm just going to ignore the fact that I'm holding something that you have probably peed on... but holy shit, you're pregnant." Shane said causing you to smile slightly as he dropped the stick and turned his attention back towards you. Neither of you said anything for a few seconds as you tightened your hold around your knees being mindful of your broken wrist.

"I'm sorry." You whispered, not knowing what else to say because what could you say? You were pregnant, you were going to slow him down, you were going to become a reliability and when the baby is born... it'll attract walkers every time it cries, which will be all the time. Shane didn't sign up for this, hell you didn't either, but else could you do?

"No, don't apologise. This isn't your fault, come here." Shane replied softly as he dropped down beside you and pulled you into his chest as he hugged you tightly and that was all it took before you broke down crying again.

He didn't say anything for a while as he let you cry into him, whispering soft soothing words to you occasionally as he held you tightly.

"It's gonna be okay. We'll work it out, do you want to keep it?" He asked, catching you off guard by the question because you didn't even consider not keeping the baby. As much as you wanted to get rid of it because logically you knew it would be easier without having to worry about a baby on top of everything else, deep down you knew you wouldn't be able to go through with it. You couldn't get rid of the baby.

"Yeah, I think so." You answered, proud of yourself for stringing a few words together and saying them out loud as Shane pulled away from you slightly, his hand still resting over your back as he looked at you.

"Then that's all that matters. We'll work it out."

Day 91:

The two of you ended up living inside the store of the gas station for the entire winter. You did a couple supply runs into a near by town for food and any warm clothes or blankets you could find since you couldn't exactly light a fire inside the store without smoking yourselves out.

Luckily the winter wasn't too bad, it snowed a bit and it was definitely cold, but with the number of blankets and jackets you had collected the two of you were fine inside the store.

You were surprised that neither of you had gotten sick of each other yet, considering when you were kids Shane used to have sleepovers at your house with Rick all the time and you'd get sick of being around each other for 24 hours let alone being around each other for three months.

The morning sickness or more like all fucking day sickness was still frequent, but you managed to find some anti-nausea pills in the town a few weeks ago which seemed to help. You were only three months pregnant and your stomach was just starting to get a small bump to it, but it was practically invisible when you were wearing clothes.

Shane had even surprised you one day after returning from a trip to town with a bag full of pregnancy books about dealing with pregnancy and raising a new born. He even got a couple books about how babies were delivered so he could try and learn as much as he possibly could because there was a high chance that it was just going to be the two of you when that time comes. Despite your hopes of finding the group and having Hershel help you deliver the baby.

The days were starting to get warmer now as winter came to a end and over the course of winter you managed to fill up a few jerry cans full of fuel for when you decided to hit the road again. You were excited to get back on the road and try find the group, but at the same time you didn't want to leave the gas station. It was the first safe and secure place you have had since the farm.

Day 243:

You had been on the road for a few months now, the back of the truck filled up with the gear you took from the gas station, mainly blankets, weapons, food and water. Although you were starting to run out of fuel, down to your last jerry can and that was going to cause a problem because there was no way you'd be able to walk along the road all day or live in the woods when you were eight months pregnant.

"We'll find somewhere to stay for the next few months. Some place safe where you can have the baby and look after it." Shane said, glancing over at you as you sat in the passenger seat of the truck, your hand resting over your very distinct baby bump that couldn't even be hidden with your military jacket.

"Where? We don't have much fuel left and I doubt we'll be able to find a place that's fucking sound proof because I don't know about you, but Carl used to cry and scream all the time when he was baby." You snapped, turning away from Shane as you stared out your side window and you heard Shane sigh. You didn't mean to get angry at him, he has done nothing but help and look after you this whole time. Although by now he was probably used to sudden mood swings.

"We'll find somewhere. There's a town up ahead, surely there's a building there that's suitable." He replied, his tone calm and gentle, but you knew he was fighting the urge to snap at you. Shane had always been hot-headed and easy to start an argument with and the apocalypse had done nothing by heightened those traits of his.

You didn't say anything after that not wanting to make him snap at you, although you probably deserved it for snapping at him earlier which wasn't even the first time you got angry at him that day.

It didn't take long before you reached the town as Shane slowed the truck down as you drove through the main street. Your eyes scanned the buildings and side streets for any signs of danger, but there seemed to be only a few walkers stumbling around the bare streets as you drove past which was a good sign.

You mentally took note of all the buildings as Shane continued to drive before he stopped in front of a large old fashioned building on the outskirts of the town that looked to be a library.

"Stay in here while I check the building." Shane instructed, leaving the car engine running as he reached for his door handle, but you shook your head.

"I'm not letting you go in there by yourself. I'm pregnant, but I can still shoot." You responded, pulling your handgun out your holster, not giving Shane a choice as you climbed out the truck and followed him towards the large building.

To your relief there were only a few walkers inside that Shane easily took down with his axe before you both secured the area and began bringing all your gear from the truck into the building.

The library was just full of book shelves after book shelves and you looked forward to checking them out, but you were more focused on the reading area of the library which was full of various couches and tables that looked a lot more comfy to sleep on than the seats in the truck.

The building was in good condition despite how old fashioned it was which was good because old houses like this had thick walls which meant any walkers that walk past won't be able to hear anything outside. The library also had a fire place near the couches which was good, because in a few months it would be winter again.

"I'll go check out that day-care building tomorrow morning, see what I can find. Maybe check that grocery store a few shops over from it too, I doubt there'd be much inside, but it's worth a look." Shane announced as he jumped over back of the 'L' shaped couch opposite you as he laid down with a relaxing sigh causing you to chuckle as you leant back on the soft dark green couch you had taken a liking too.

"Thank you. I know I drive you crazy sometimes, but I appreciate everything you've done for me." You said, looking over at him as he still laid on the couch and looked to be ready to fall asleep.

"Don't start getting sentimental with me, woman. You're like a sister to me, it's practically my job." Shane replied causing you to smile slightly as you leant back into the couch, contemplating whether to have a quick nap or not before Shane started talking again. "Lori's probably already had her baby, they probably know if it's a boy or girl by now." He commented causing you to smile sadly as you thought about your family.

"Rick and I were just starting to talk about co-parenting the baby, we were just staring to get it sorted out and then later that day the herd came and well..." Shane trailed off as he looked over at you sadly.

"We'll see the group again. I don't know when or how, but we will all find each other." You replied, because you weren't ever going to stop until you find your family again.

"I can just imagine Daryl's face when he finds out that he's a father or Rick's face when he finds out that he's an uncle." Shane commented causing you both to smile as you pictured those moments in your head. Their reactions would be priceless.

Day: 280

You laid on the couch, a pillow tucked under your head as you cradled your newborn baby to your chest. Tiny fingers curled around your pinky finger as you stared down at your daughter, watching as she slowly opened her eyes and you could only imagine how weird everything must seem as she took everything in for the first time. She stirred slightly in your arms, probably not used to all the free space after being inside the womb for so long. You couldn't believe how tiny she saw, how vulnerable and adorable she was.

She was only a few hours old, but you knew you would die for her without hesitation.

"How is she?" Shane's voice whispered as he quietly walked back into the room after cleaning himself up and changing clothes that were dirty after he helped you deliver the baby.

"Finally asleep." You answered, your voice barely above a whisper, afraid that you might wake her up. You looked over at Shane as he crouched down beside you with a bright smile on his face as he stared at his baby niece that was currently wearing a tiny pink jumpsuit that was still a bit too big for her.

"She's beautiful. Does she have a name yet?" Shane asked quietly.

"Sophia."

 

Chapter Text

You lost track of the days once Sophia was born, but knowing the day wasn't that important anyway. Shane had gone out to go scavenging somewhere in town while you stayed inside the library that you called home with Sophia who was just over a year old now.

She had started to learn how to walk, but is only able to take a couple steps without support which you were kinda glad of because she was a curious baby and definitely got that from Daryl. She already had thick Y/H/C hair and Shane kept saying that she was looking more and more like you everyday. But there were definitely aspects of Daryl in her too, including her crystal blue eyes and her attitude. She might have not met her father before, but man she acted like him in so many ways. It used to make you cry, but now it made you smile.

You were in the middle of feeding her some canned peaches while she was strapped into her highchair by the table. To your relief she wasn't a fussy eater which was good because you didn't have a large variety of foods to give her anyway.

"Do you want more?" You asked, holding a piece of peach in your fingers as you held it in front of her and you smiled as she reached for it.

"Oh-oh." She cooed which you knew was her way of saying yes as she took the fruit and began to eat it. You watched her for a few seconds before eating a slice of peach yourself when suddenly your walkie talkie began to buzz causing you to frown.

Shane had found a couple walkie talkies in a hunting and fishing store a few months back, so the two of you always had them on you at all times for emergencies. You unhooked the walkie from belt about to ask if Shane was alright before he suddenly spoke.

"Y/N?! There's a herd, twice the size of the one from the farm. It's coming straight through the town, we have to get out of here." Shane's panicked voice called through the walkie causing your blood to run cold as you stared at your baby girl who was completely oblivious as she ate her food.

"Where are you?" You quickly questioned.

"Running. Pack what you can, we need to go now!" Shane shouted and with that you quickly strapped the walkie back onto your belt and glanced at Sophia, satisfied that she will be okay strapped into her seat for the time being.

You sprinted towards the 'living area' where all your bags and gear were located on top of the various couches as you quickly began shoving clothes, food, water, blankets and anything within arms reach into Shane's bag. You grabbed your military bag and began throwing all of Sophia's stuff inside, her clothes, toys, formula and bottles, anything you could grab you threw into the bags.

Once you had most the important stuff packed you quickly grabbed the keys to the truck along with your bags as you raced to the front door so you could load up the truck. But when you opened the door you could see the herd stumbling down the street only a couple houses down from and that's when you spotted Shane limping towards the house, the walkers right behind him. Shit. Why the hell is he limping?

You instantly dropped the bags and closed the front door as you sprinted towards him.

"Give me the axe!" You yelled, running towards Shane and he didn't hesitate as he threw the axe towards you, too exhausted to fight off the walkers himself as you caught the axe easily and began slamming it into the closer walkers.

"The bags and key are by the door, Sophia is in her highchair. Get them in the car, I will hold them off!" You yelled and Shane didn't bother to argue as he limped back towards the library while you continued taking down the walkers in the middle of the street.

You swung the axe into the skulls of the first few walkers while kicking a couple away so you only had to deal with a few at time, but the herd was massive and there was no way you'd be able to fight them all off.

"Y/N, come on!" Shane's voice suddenly yelled and you glanced over your shoulder spotting him running towards the truck with the bags and a crying Sophia in his arms as you began sprinting back towards them.

You threw the axe into the bed of the truck as Shane tossed you the keys since you were on the drivers side as you all climbed in, the bags sitting by Shane's feet with Sophia in his lap.

Quickly you shoved the keys in the ignition as the walkers began banging on the back of the truck causing Sophia to cry even more before you bought the old vehicle to life and took off down the road. The herd slowly getting smaller and smaller through the revision mirror until you couldn't see the town at all.

"It's alright sweetie, you're mommy is right there. It's alright." Shane whispered and you glanced over at him to find him holding Sophia in his lap, the little girl facing him as he gently bounced her up and down on his knee which seemed to calm your daughter down fairly quickly.

"You were limping, are you okay? What happened?" You asked, once Sophia had stopped crying as she began to play with Shane's silver chained necklace that you and Rick had bought him for his 22nd birthday since it had a charm '22' on it and for the life of you, you couldn't figure out why he still wore the damn thing, but Sophia seemed to like it.

"I was checking out the bar on the other side of town, most bars had illegal guns stashed away somewhere especially in small towns like this, but then the herd started to come through and I tripped, rolled my damn ankle again and that's when I radioed you. The herd was already tearing down the old post office, there were too many of them, we couldn't risk it." Shane explained, shaking his head in annoyance as you focused back on the road.

"It's like the farm all over again." He muttered in frustration and you understood his anger. The library was the probably the best place you had found since the farm and was without a doubt the safest place for Sophia, but there was nothing you could do about it. Sure you could have stayed and risked the herd tearing it apart as they wandered through town, but you guys had spent months living on the road, you could do it again, just this time you had Sophia with you.

"Hey, it's not the end of the world. We're still alive, Sophia is okay, we have the truck, a few spare jerry cans and we still have most of our supplies. The library was just four walls and roof, we'll be fine." You reassured, glancing over at him as Shane chuckled, shaking his head.

"How do you stay so positive?" He asked curiously and you nodded towards Sophia in his lap who was babbling happily as she fiddled with his necklace causing Shane to smile. "Yeah, you're right. We'll be okay." He replied as he kissed Sophia's forehead causing the little girl squeal happily.

-

You had been living on the road for nearly two years now. The truck had died a couple months ago and there wasn't anything you could do to fix it. So you and Shane managed to narrow your supplies down to fit inside your military backpack since it was the biggest bag and easiest to carry. Shane carried the bag on his back while you usually carried Sophia on your back with a baby carrier you had come across.

Sophia had quickly adapted to life on the road, she seemed to know when she was allowed to talk or when she needed to be quiet because there were walkers around. With her strapped to your back you could easy take down walkers without having to worry about her. But the times where you had her in your arms or walking slowly beside you for something different, you usually had to step back and let Shane handle any walkers that came your way.

Neither of you really knew where you were going, you had just been following the roads and keeping an eye out for any sign of your group, but you hadn't seen anything since you saw the letter on the highway all those years ago.

"Looks like a prison or something up ahead." Shane suddenly called out as you looked away from Sophia who was holding your hand and walking beside you.

He was right, it definitely looked like some kind of prison, but as you got closer it was clear the place was destroyed. The front fences were destroyed and the watch towers seemed to have been blown up or something and that was just what you could see from the outside. There were a few walkers stumbling around in the field in front of the prison and few more further in the courtyard type area, but it was nothing the two of you couldn't handle.

"Should we check it out?" You asked and the two of you stopped by the tree line of the woods as you surveyed the prison for any signs of danger other than walkers, but it seemed fairly empty.

"Might as well." Shane replied as he walked over to Sophia who seemed to realise what he was going to do as she lifted her arms up towards him and waited for him to pick her up as he placed her in the carrier on your back, strapping her in before the two of you began walking towards the prison.

You had swapped melee weapons with Shane a while back, so he used your knife while you used his axe since it put more distance between you and walkers which meant there was more distance between Sophia and any walkers you killed.

As the two of you stepped over the fallen fence the five or so walkers in the field instantly began walking towards the two of you and you took them down easily before you began making your way to the main part of the prison.

If this place hadn't been destroyed it would have made one hell of a camp. With fences and tall watch towers, it would have been perfect.

"There was a big gunfight that happened here. Look at all the bullet holes in those walls and the empty shells on the ground." You observed, pointing towards the prison walls after you finished killing the remaining walkers in the courtyard.

"Is that a fucking tank?" Shane questioned causing you to glare at him for the language. "Sorry. But look, it's a tank!" He exclaimed pointing to what was very clearly a military tank and you frowned in confusion. There weren't any army bases around the area and you were pretty sure there weren't any emergency army bases set up around here when the outbreak started.

"I'm gonna check inside this cellblock, keep looking around out here. I think I saw a few cars around the side of the building." Shane said and you nodded in agreement, taking a mental note of what door he took in case he called you over the walkie for help.

You began making your way towards the vehicles, half of which had been blown up by the tank, but a couple seemed to be somewhat good condition which usually meant they were good for scavenging.

You walked over to the cars and froze when you spotted a light green car that seemed awfully similar to the lime green car that Glenn and Maggie had been driving the night the farm fell, but that was impossible. It was a popular type of car anyway, it couldn't be the same car.

Shaking your head at yourself you began walking around the car to get to the drivers side to see if it'll start, but you didn't even make it around the car before you froze and your jaw dropped when you spotted a familiar Chopper Triumph motorcycle parked a few metres away. No, that was impossible, it couldn't be Daryl's motorcycle, it couldn't be.

"Oh my God." You gasped, covering your mouth with your hands as walked over to the bike and spotted the signature 'SS' badge stuck to the fuel tank. Merle had put it on there. You remember watching him do it back in the quarry camp while Daryl argued with him saying that it made the bike look shit, but after Merle was gone Daryl never had the heart to take it off.

Daryl had been here, which meant that green car was the one Glenn and Maggie were driving back at the farm and if they had all been here that meant the others probably had been here too.

Holy shit, the gunfight. They might have been here when it happened... maybe that was why they had to leave, that would make sense. Were they okay? Were they still alive? Where did they go? How long ago did they leave? You had so many questions and your brain could barely process any of them as you stared at Daryl's motorcycle with tears rising in your eyes. Daryl was here. He was here.

"Hey, whoever used to live here must have had a baby. There's tins of baby formula and stuff inside. They must have left in a hurry because there's supplies everywhere." Shane called out as you heard the prison door open and close, but you couldn't tear your eyes away from Daryl's bike.

"Shane, it was them. They were here." You informed, glancing over your shoulder as the man walked around the corner of the building towards you as he frowned at you in confusion.

"Maggie's car, Daryl's motorcycle, the baby formula for Lori's baby. Our group... our family were here." You explained as Shane stared at you for a few seconds before glancing over at the car and motorcycle before he quickly covered his mouth with his hands in shock.

"They were here." He repeated, his voice muffled slightly by his hand, but you heard him clear enough and you nodded as a few tears silently fell from your cheeks.

"Rick, Carl, Lori, my son or daughter, the others, they were all here." He said, still trying to wrap his head over the first solid piece of evidence you guys had found that your group and family were still out here somewhere.

"If they were here and left in a hurry then they must have been here during the gunfight." You said slowly as you tried to get your brain to work as you quickly walked back towards the army tank, ignoring Sophia on your back as she babbled nonsense to herself as your eyes scanned the area. "Whoever attacked must have came through the front, the tank would have pushed the fences down and allowed the shooters to enter." You explained as you turned around and tried to workout what direction the group would have fled.

"If whoever attacked from there, then our group could have escaped out this way. There's an open gate over here, tyre marks on the ground too like someone was in a hurry. I saw it earlier." Shane added pointing to the right and you nodded in agreement. That had to be it, that had to be where they went.

"That leads straight to the woods." You observed, wiping the tears from your eyes as you looked back at Shane who for the first time in a while seemed to be hopeful. "It's going to be dark soon though. We should stay here for the night, scavenge whatever we can and head that way in the morning."

"This cellblock was clear, got cells with mattresses and everything." He explained and you sighed with relief, liking the sound of sleeping on a nice soft mattress.

-

The next morning the two of you were up and already moving before the sun. You scavenged a few tins of food and a few medical supplies that could fit inside Shane's backpack before you left the prison in the direction you figured the group would have went.

You tried to walk in a straight line, using the sun to help guide you and it wasn't long before you came across an old train track that cut straight through the woods. Once again the two of you were at odds with what direction to go, but ended up going left when Sophia pointed in that direction because why not take directions from a 3-year-old?

You followed the train track for most the afternoon, having walked past a few signs saying 'Terminus. Community for all. Those who arrive, survive.' And you knew if the group had followed the train tracks and seen all the signs then they would be going in the same direction.

-

Shane was currently sitting on one of the train tracks playing with Sophia while you stretched your back and took a drink break. You had been walking all day and you were both exhausted, but neither of you wanted to stop, not when your family might be at this community.

You took a few sips from your water bottle, screwing on the cap when you heard the groans of a walker and you turned around spotting two of them stumbling out the woods towards you guys.

"I got them." You said, handing Shane the water bottle, satisfied that Sophia was safe with him as you pulled the axe out from your belt and took down the walkers with ease before you caught sight of another sign on the side of the train tracks up ahead.

You glanced over your shoulder making sure Shane and Sophia were alright before you walked over to the sign, expecting for it to be another same old Terminus sign, but it wasn't. Well, technically it was, but it was different.

You looked at the sign noticing someone had crossed out all the writing on it minus the word 'Sanctuary' and whoever crossed it out also wrote the word 'NO' above it causing you to frown. No Sanctuary. What? You stared at the word 'no' for a few seconds hating how familiar the letters seemed before sudden realisation hit you. That was exactly how Rick wrote, all capital letters and everything.

"Hey, Walsh. How often did you look at Ricks police reports or handwritten notes back in the day? Do you think you'd be able to recognise his handwriting?" You asked, looking back over at Shane who quickly stood up, taking Sophia's hand as he began walking over to you in confusion before you pointed towards the sign.

"Yeah, that's his writing." Shane replied confidently as he stared at the sign before it must have clicked with what it said. "No Sanctuary?... They must have went there and maybe it had been overrun or something and followed the train tracks back and Rick wrote this to warn other people?" Shane suggested hesitantly as he continued staring at the sign.

"Uncle Rick?" Sophia asked curiously from beside Shane causing you to smile. You and Shane tell her stories about Rick and Daryl all the time, so she knew who her father and uncle were.

"Yeah, sweetie, Uncle Rick and the others were here." You replied, turning back towards the sign before you looked further down the train track in confusion. Why was it only this sign? "Why didn't he write it on any other signs that we had already walked past?" You asked out loud not expecting Shane to actually know the answer, but to your surprise he came up with pretty good one.

"Because they didn't walk past those other signs. They must have stopped here and turned off into the woods." Shane answered, looking over at you as you stared at him in surprise. That actually made a lot of sense, why didn't you think of that?

"So, you think they went this way?" You asked, pointing off towards the woods to your left and Shane just shrug his shoulders. It was impossible to tell what direction they had gone, but there was only one way to find out.

 

Chapter Text

It's been a week since you left the train tracks for the woods which then stopped as an old bitumen road cut through it. You decided to follow the road instead of crossing it and going back into the woods, figuring the road had to lead to somewhere.

You had been following the road for a few days now. Sophia resting in your arms now since the carrier had finally broken and you didn't exactly have a sowing kit to fix it, so you and Shane took turns holding her when she was too tired to walk.

"Remember that time back during high school when you dared me to steal the principles car and drive it out to that chicken farm on the other side of town?" Shane suddenly asked as the two of you walked side by side down the road and you couldn't stop yourself from laughing as you thought back to that day. He didn't just drive it to the chicken farm, he parked it inside the farm with the doors open and an open bag of chicken feed in the back. The principle had been so pissed.

"I still can't believe you actually did that. What did I even bet you for it?" You questioned, looking over at Shane, but before he had a chance to answer the sound of car engines filled the air and you both froze.

It wouldn't be the first time you've come across other survivors, but you knew not all of them were nice like the ones you had happened to bumped into over the past couple of years.

"Trees. Hide in the trees." Shane quickly said and the two of you ran into the woods on the side of the road and crouched down behind a tree while you held Sophia to your chest whispering to her to stay quiet.

It didn't take long before you spotted the black truck driving down the road, followed by a white van. You stayed hidden behind the trees on the side of the road waiting for them to drive straight past, but of course they decided to stop in the middle of the damn road right in front of you.

Your free hand instantly reached for your gun on as you pulled it out your holster and heard the familiar click of Shane's pistol and you smiled softly. The two of you were always on the same page and you weren't going to take risks with strangers.

You watched as the doors to the truck opened first and a man wearing a black leather jacket stepped out. He was holding what looked to be a baseball bat with barbed wire wrapped around it dangling by his side as another man with a thick moustache climbed out the passenger side.

The two men walked around to the van that was parked a few metres behind the truck and only then did you notice the smoke coming out from under the vans bonnet.

Four other men climbed out the van, all of them with some form of weapon in their hands, but to your relief they were only melee weapons, however you didn't miss the handgun strapped to the moustache guys belt. You watched as the four men immediately popped the hood of the vehicle, but even from where you were you could tell that the vehicle was screwed and by the annoyed look on the baseball bat guys face, he knew it too.

"Chop chop, we don't have all day. We got shit to steal from our favourite prick." Baseball bat guy shouted, clearly not worried about louring in walkers by the tone of his voice. Shit to steal? You didn't like the sound of that. Were these guys like pirates of the apocalypse or something?

"People." Sophia suddenly said, pointing towards the group of men causing you to quickly cover her mouth with your hand to hush her before the men heard her, but it was too late.

"Well, shit. What do we have over here?" The baseball bat guy questioned as he turned in the direction of the voice with a grin that sent shivers down your spin. You quickly looked over at Shane, who seemed to have come to same conclusion as you, these were bad people.

"Come on out and we maybe we won't kill you." The same man called out, his men now standing behind him completely ignoring their broken down car as they all held onto various axes, knives and machetes while moustache man pulled out his handgun.

You looked back over at Shane with a questioning look, but he clearly wasn't sure how to deal with this situation either before you stood up, placing Sophia on the ground as you grabbed her hand and got her to hold onto the back of your military jacket.

"Stay behind me and don't let go." You whispered, hoping that those instructions weren't too much for her 3-year-old brain to handle, but to your relief she tightened her grip on your jacket as Shane stood up as well.

"We don't want any trouble." Shane suddenly responded as he walked out from the tree, his gun raised and aimed towards the group and you followed his lead, raising your gun as you slowly walked back onto the road.

The group of men were all standing by the front of the van still, but the baseball bat guy had stepped forward and was staring at you curiously.

"We're just passing through and will be on our way." Shane explained as he motioned for you to continue walking in the opposite direction, but you barely took a step before the stranger spoke up.

"Yeah, that's not going to happen." The man responded causing you to quickly tuck Sophia further behind you, your handgun still aimed directly at the mans face. "You see, I own a community, we call ourselves the Saviours. We are what brings civilization back to the world, people work for me, they provide for me and I give them shelter, food and safety. Now, you guys look like you could really use all of that."

"Thanks, but we're fine on our own." You replied, not lowering your gun as you stared at the man who just chuckled.

"I'm not asking, darling. Now, put the guns down before I'm forced to kill one of you and I really don't want to do that in front your little girl." The man said, nodding towards Sophia who was still standing behind you, but neither of you lowered your guns. Like hell you were going to work for this guy.

"We have more guns than you, I'd rethink what you just said." Shane warned, his finger hovering his trigger as you glanced at Negan's other men who all immediately pulled out guns from behind their backs and aimed them straight at you. Of course, they had more guns, nothing ever goes your way. Just perfect.

"Let's try this again, shall we. I'm Negan and you will do as I say or things will get messy. Now, put the guns down and get on your knees, I won't ask again." The man- Negan- instructed and as much as you hated just giving up and not fighting back, you knew when you were beat and you didn't want to put Sophia or Shane in risk. if you were alone, you would have taken your chance and fought back, but you couldn't risk putting either of them in harms way.

With a sigh you dropped your gun and slowly got to your knees as you pulled Sophia into your chest and held her tightly, not wanting Negan or his men to go near her.

You glanced up at Shane who was still standing beside you, clearly not wanting to do it, but as his eyes glanced down to you he knew it was the only choice. You watched as he reluctantly dropped his gun and got to his knees beside you, but he didn't take his eyes from Negan who was now walking towards you, his baseball slung over his shoulder.

"All we have is in that backpack, take what you want and let us go." You said nodding towards the bag on Shanes back who didn't seem happy that you were willing to give up your supplies to these assholes, but for once you just hoped that Shane would stay quiet and backdown.

"That's not going to happen. You look like a capable fighter, what were you? Army? Police?" Negan asked, looking over at Shane, but Shane didn't say anything as he just glared at him. "Doesn't matter, you will be a good solider for me and your girl and daughter would be safe, don't you want to keep them safe?"

"She's not my girl and she's more than capable of taking care of herself." Shane responded sternly, anger rising in his voice, but you didn't dare turn your eyes away from Negan to look at Shane. You just had to hope he could keep his cool while you figured out a way to get out of this.

Sophia stirred in your arms slightly, confused and upset with what was going on, Her little brain unable to process what was happening, but she could sense your stress and the anger in Shanes voice which was making her upset as you held her tightly.

"She very well could, but what if she was walking around my community with that little girl in her arms amongst all my men? It's been a while since my guys have seen any new women around and I think we both know what I'm referring to... I wouldn't be able to guarantee their safety unless you agree to work for me. You work for me, become one of my soldiers, then the three of you could live in luxury." Negan said and you mentally face palmed because that was the wrong fucking thing to say.

"The hell did you just say?" Shane questioned in sudden anger as he began to stand up, but Negan quickly slung his bat off his shoulders and held it in front of Shane's face causing him to freeze instantly.

"Don't!" You yelled in panic, causing Sophia to whimper in your arms as you cradled her head to your chest, but you didn't take your eyes from the bat that was hovering beside Shane's face. "You so much as touch him and I swear to God I will kill you." You threatened, but Negan obviously didn't see it as a threat as he grinned and turned his attention towards you.

"For someone who's not his wife, you are awfully protective over him. What's your name darling?" He asked, slinging the bat back over his shoulders as he stepped in front of you, but you didn't answer as you held Sophia closer, not liking how close the man was to her. "Alright, don't answer. What about this little girl? She got a name? I've always wanted a daughter." Negan continued as he knelt down in front of you with a grin. His hand reached up up to touch Sophia's short Y/H/C hair when suddenly Shane sprung up beside you and tackled Negan to the ground away from you, his bat falling to the ground beside them.

"Shane!" You screamed in sudden panic as you quickly stood up and took a few steps away, Sophia in your arms as you watched Shane and Negan wrestle on the ground. Negan's men all cocked their guns and aimed towards Shane, but they seemed to be more interested in watching the fight rather than helping their boss.

You glanced down at your two handguns on the ground, but you knew the second you took a step towards them you'd be dead, they were out of the question, damn it. You stood back, watching as Shane threw a punch to Negan's jaw before Negan kicked Shane from off top of him, sending Shane tumbling back a few metres until his back hit the ground.

You watched in horror as Negan stood up, picking his bat up in the process as he marched over to Shane who was struggling to get to his feet, clearly winded from hit. But, he didn't even stand a chance as Negan stood above him, pressing his boot down onto Shane's chest as he stared down at him.

"I told you, I didn't want to do this. But, you left me with no choice." Negan said, swinging the bat up behind his head as he stared down at Shane, but Shane wasn't even looking at him, his head was turned towards you and Sophia.

"You so much as touch him with that and I will kill you. I will fucking kill you, let him go!" You threatened, trying to keep your voice strong, but with the tears rising in your eyes you knew it was pointless.

Your teary eyes locked with Shane's as he smiled sadly at you, already accepting his fate, but you just shook your head. This couldn't happen, there had to be a way out of this. But, it was too late and all you could do was helplessly watch as the bat same crashing down against Shane's head, killing him instantly.

"No!" You screamed, the tears you had been trying to keep back now pouring down your cheeks as you took a few shaky steps backwards, watching as Negan continued to slam the bat into his head.

You cradled Sophia as you cried causing her to cry as well, but you made sure to tuck her face into the crook of your neck away while Negan kept smashing his head in with the bat.

He killed Shane. He's killing Shane. Shane tried to get Negan away from you and Sophia. He was trying to protect you, and Negan killed him.

Sudden anger overtook your body as you forced yourself to calm down, crying was not going to do you or Sophia any good. You had think straight, you had to get out here, that's what Shane would want. You needed a plan.

Tearing your eyes away from Negan and Shane, you glanced back to the handguns on the ground a few metres in front of you, but they were still out of the question, too risky. You quickly glanced around, looking over at the black truck beside you, it's drivers side door open as your eyes landed on an assault rifle sitting on seat.

You quickly turned back towards Negan, but he seemed to be finished with Shane and you forced yourself not to look at your brothers body as you stared at Negan through teary eyes as he waved his now bloodied bat in the air like it was some damn trophy.

"Sir, we have a problem." The man with the moustache suddenly spoke up as you looked over at him to find him holding a walkie talkie. "Fat Joey is dead." He explained and you had no idea who he was talking about, but it seemed to catch Negan's attention as he walked over to his men, not even worried about you at all, probably just thought you were defenceless mother who couldn't hurt him if you tried, but that was his biggest mistake.

"Give me the walkie." Negan instructed, slinging the bat over his shoulder as he grabbed the walkie and held it to his mouth. "What the fuck happened back there?" Negan shouted through the walkie, his back facing you and you knew that was your chance.

Slowly you took a few steps towards the truck, not wanting to make any sudden movements that might catch the eyes of his men. But, they all seem intrigued in wanting to know with what happened to Fat Joey as you quickly lifted Sophia up and into the truck before you grabbed the assault rifle from the drivers seat.

You didn't have time to check if it had any ammo in it as you flicked the safety off and turned towards Negan's men and pulled the trigger. Relieved when bullets began flying from the barrel as you aimed at the men who had guns, killing four of them with ease before Negan and the man with the moustache quickly ducked down behind the van. The moustache man pulled out his handgun and began to fire back and you knew you had to get out there, you couldn't risk getting hit and leaving Sophia. Shit.

You glanced down at Shane's lifeless, bloodied body, still lying in the middle of the road, not wanting to leave him, but there was no other choice.

Turning back towards the men, you fired off a few more bullets towards the van before you quickly jumped into the truck where Sophia was still crying from the passenger seat. You turned the key in the ignition, bringing the vehicle to life as put it in gear and hit the gas as you sped down the road in the opposite direction.

Bullets ricocheted from the back of the truck as you drove off. Your eyes glancing to the revison mirror, spotting Negan and the moustache guy standing in the middle of the road watching as you drove off. Shane's body lying on the ground beside them as tears continued to fall down your cheeks. Your best friend was dead and there was nothing you could do to stop it.

-

*2 Years later*

"I miss Uncle Shane." Sophia commented as you set up an empty water bottle on top of a log before walking over to where she was standing a few metres away as she watched you.

Her hair was longer now, just below her shoulders which you had tied into two braids to keep it out the way and harder for anyone including walkers to grab. She had matured a lot since the day Shane died. She was still a kid, but she was smart and observant, smarter than any other 5-year-olds you knew and you knew she got that from her father.

"I miss him too. He would be proud of how good you are with a slingshot, you're a fast learner." You replied, kneeling down beside her as you handed her the small handmade slingshot. It wasn't much, just a metal frame that you had made from a hardware store, the handle wrapped with duct tape to make it easier and more comfortable to hold. It had a rubber band connected to a small piece of leather to use as a pouch to hold the stone or metal pellet to shoot it.

"Fire when you're ready." You said kneeling beside her as she picked up a stone from the ground and loaded the slingshot. She pulled the rubber band back, aiming at the water bottle for a few seconds before she released it and you watched as the rock hit the bottle, sending it flying to the ground.

"Yes!" Sophia shouted in excitement as she looked over at you with a large smile and you couldn't help but smile back as you stared at your daughter proudly.

You wanted to teach her how to protect herself, but you didn't feel comfortable giving a 5-year-old a knife or a gun, so you opted for the next best thing. A stone to the brain would kill a walker instantly and it meant she didn't have to get close to them to be able to kill them, which was a bonus.

She had only ever had to shoot one walker before, a few weeks ago when you were camping in some cabin in the woods and mini-herd came through. You took down most of them with your axe, not wanting to waste the limited bullets you had left in the assault rifle you stole from Negan all those years ago and Sophia had shot one with her slingshot to try and help you. You were torn between being angry that she wasn't hiding like you told her to do or to be proud for what she did.

"Alright smarty pants, I'll set it up a bit further away this time." You said giving Sophia a pat on the back as you stood up about to walk over to the water bottle when suddenly sticks crunched to your left and you quickly spun around, raising your rifle to find a man standing beside a tree, his hands instantly raised in surrender.

"What do you want?" You questioned, taking a step in front of Sophia who you noticed had picked up a rock from the ground and you quickly held your hand out towards her which she knew meant stand down before you turned your attention back to the stranger. Your eyes quickly scanning the woods around you, but he seemed to be alone.

"I'm not here for trouble, I'm just trying looking for my wife." The man replied, his hands still up as you stared at him. He had shoulder length blonde hair and half of his face was just covered in burn scars and you didn't even want to imagine how that must have happened. "Her name's Sherry, brown hair that goes to about here, tall, skinny woman. Have you seen her?" He asked and you shook your head.

"No, sorry. I'm looking for my family. Have you seen any groups around here?" You asked, your gun still raised in the strangers direction not wanting to take any chances, but he shook his head. It was worth a shot asking.

"My name's Dwight." He informed and you had no idea why knowing his name was important, but you just nodded figuring if you saw a brown haired woman you could at least ask if she knew someone called Dwight and tell her where you last saw him. You'd hope someone would do the same for you and your family.

"Y/N Grimes." You replied and the man froze as he stared at you in shock.

"Grimes? Any relation to a man named Rick Grimes?" He asked and now it was you who froze. He knew Rick. Holy shit, he knew Rick. Wait, how did he know Rick?

"You know Rick?" You questioned as you lowered your gun slightly, Sophia holding onto your military jacket as she stood behind you, the slingshot in her other hand as she stared at the stranger.

"You could say that."

"Where is he?" You asked, watching as the man slowly lowered his hands now that you didn't have you gun trained on him as he glanced down at Sophia and smiled softly.

"Last I knew he was at a community called, Alexandria. Although that was well over a year ago now. There's a river about 50 miles north of here. It cuts through the woods, so if you keep heading that way you will eventually find it. Follow the river east until you reach a bridge and then turn left down the road. If you follow that road it will lead you straight to Alexandria." Dwight explained and you mentally repeated what he just said so you didn't forget the instructions. A community? There were still communities around? How'd they keep the walkers out? No, that's not important right now, Rick was alive which meant the others probably were too.

"Thank you." You replied, relief evident in your tone as you slung your rifle over your shoulder and you reached down for Sophia's hand as she took it.

"Let's go find this river." You said, looking down at Sophia who nodded in agreement before you turned your attention back towards Dwight. "I hope you find your girl."

 

Chapter Text

You took Dwight's directions and it didn't take long before you reached the river, but as you began to follow the fast flowing river a sudden explosion erupted in the distance.

You heard the bang first causing Sophia to jump in panic and quickly grab your leg before you spotted the thick black smoke drifting up in the air in the distance. You had seen explosions before, too many times during your time in the military and you knew what a few sticks of dynamite did and you hated how similar that explosion was. Who even had dynamite these days?

"It's okay, sweetie. That was a long way away, we'll be fine." You replied, crouching down beside her as you pulled her into a reassuring hug. But, the direction of the explosion was exactly where you were heading, so you hoped like hell that whoever set it off will be long gone by the time you get there.

The two of you continued walking, but didn't get very far before corpses of walkers began floating in the water, being carried by the fast current as they floated down the river and that was not something you saw everyday.

You stared at the walkers being washed away in the river in shock, there were so many of them. It was like a whole herd just decided to jump into the river. But, that didn't make any sense and a lot of the walkers were burnt, almost as if they were near that explosion when it happened... Maybe someone set the explosion up to take down a herd? That would make sense.

"Mommy." Sophia suddenly whispered, snapping your attention away from the river full of walkers as you looked down at your daughter to find her pointing towards something. You followed her line of sight and froze when you saw van pull up along the road that was running parallel to the river. Shit.

"Come on." You whispered, grabbing her hand as you ducked down behind a few bushes by the side of the river and pulled your assault rifle out as you stared at the van.

Memories of that day on the road with Negan flashing through your mind. That was the last time you had seen another person, minus Dwight. But, this felt eerily similar as you watched the van door open and a women with short dark hair stepped out.

She was holding a handgun in her left hand as she fiddled with what looked to be some kind of walkie talkie in her other. You could hear muffled voices coming from the walkie, but you were too far away to make any sense of the words.

"What the f..." You trailed off not wanting to swear in front of Sophia, but holy shit there was a fucking helicopter in the distance and it looked to be slowly descending to the ground towards the woman.

You were so focused on the helicopter, when you finally looked back towards the woman she had moved and was now closer to the river and was further left and away from you as she stared at something washed up on the riverbank.

You couldn't really see what she was looking at from where you and Sophia were crouched, but whatever it was had definitely caught her attention as she raised the walkie to her mouth.

"I have a B. I never had an A." She shouted, glancing over her shoulder towards the helicopter that was now hovering in the air behind her and you knew she must be talking to whoever was flying it.

"He's hurt, but he's strong, can you help him?" She questioned and now you were confused, who was she talking about? Who was hurt? "It's not a trick, not anymore. I'm trying to save a friend. A friend who saved me. I have something for you now, do we have a deal?" The woman questioned holding her handgun up in a surrendering position as she stared up at the helicopter.

"Do we have a deal?" She yelled and you watched as the helicopter began to descend to the ground in the clearing beside her van.

"Mommy, what's happening?" Sophia asked, her voice quiet as she stared at the woman and helicopter in confusion.

That was a good question because you honestly had no idea what was happening. Someone was clearly injured on the riverbank, but it seems like this woman was going to give him to the people in the helicopter by the way she had said 'I have something for you now'. Was she selling people or was just trying to help her friend? You honestly had no idea, but something was seriously wrong and the last time you ignored your gut feeling you ended up in a Taliban base for three months and you weren't going to ignore your gut instinct again.

"Sophia, I need you to stay here, okay? You stay here and stay hidden while I go and see what's going on." You instructed quickly glancing around the area to make sure there weren't any walkers near by, minus the already dead ones floating in the water.

"If you see any walkers coming towards you then shout, I will hear you. Do you understand?" You asked and Sophia nodded as she pulled out her slingshot that was tucked through her belt.

"Okay." She replied as you kissed the top of her head, doing another check for walkers before you slowly walked out from behind the bushes and ducked behind a tree a few metres away.

Your military skills came in handy as you ducked and weaved between trees and bushes staying hidden and out of sight and it probably helped that you were wearing your military jacket making it easer to camouflage. You stopped behind a larger tree, now only 10 metres away from the woman as she turned back towards whoever was on the riverbank.

You glanced to where she was looking and you frowned spotting a man lying on the riverbank in a pool of his own blood. Shit, that doesn't look good.

You stared at the man for a few seconds, taking in the giant blood stain on the side of his stomach as your eyes caught sight of the familiar brown cowboy boots, the tactical belt, the empty gun holster... Holy shit.

You quickly looked back at the mans face taking in his short grey hair and beard, you couldn't really see the man clearly since his head was tilted away from you, but you knew your brother. It might have been five years since you last saw him and he had definitely aged, but you would always be able to recognise your brother and that was definitely him. Holy shit. Your brother was alive, but he was hurt, he was hurt really badly.

"The deal wasn't to rescue someone. The boss wants a fit, strong person, what part of human trafficking don't you understand?" An unfamiliar voice suddenly questioned forcing you to look away from your brother as you spotted two men walking out from the helicopter that was now turned off and parked near the van.

You mentally cursed yourself for not paying close attention to the strangers as you quickly glanced behind you to where you had left Sophia, relieved when you could only just see her sitting behind the bush in the distance, clearly having listened to you and was staying hidden.

"He is fit and strong. If you help him, he'll be one of the best." The woman answered, pointing towards Rick as the two men reached her side and stared at your brother on the ground.

Hang on, they said human trafficking... what the actual fuck? Like hell you were letting these crazy people take your brother back. Human trafficking could be many things, but it's mainly the trade of humans for forced labour or sexual slavery and there was no way you were letting your brother go with them.

"Fine, get him in the chopper and get the med kit out, see what we can do." The same man responded as you silently flicked the safety off your rifle while trying to figure out what to do. You didn't want to let those men anywhere near Rick, but you wouldn't be able to get Rick into the helicopter without them, so you stayed hidden and waited for your moment.

You watched as the woman jogged over to the helicopter, but you ignored her as you focused on the two men who walked down to Rick, who seemed to be unconscious as they picked him up and began carrying him towards the helicopter.

You quickly ducked down behind the van as they reached the helicopter, laying your brother down on the backseat as one of the men began setting up what looked to be an IV drip while the other began walking around towards the drivers door. Shit.

"Hey!" You yelled, jogging towards the helicopter causing the man to freeze as he reached for the door handle before he spun around, pulling out a handgun from behind his back as he aimed it towards you. The other man quickly jumped out the helicopter, standing beside the woman as they both pulled out pistols and aimed them towards you.

"Do you know her?" One of the men asked and you figured the questioned was for the woman as she shook her head. "Very well then." He responded, cocking his handgun as he aimed it towards you, but before he could pull the trigger Sophia suddenly shouted from somewhere behind you.

"No!" She cried and you knew she wasn't behind the bushes anymore, her voice sounding a lot closer as the three strangers quickly turned their guns towards her and that was all it took before you pulled the trigger. Killing the three of them in a split second as they dropped to the ground and you quickly turned around to find Sophia standing by a tree, tears falling down her face as you ran over to her.

"It's okay, baby. You're okay." You whispered, throwing your rifle over your shoulder as you dropped to a knee and pulled her into a tight hug, her small arms wrapping around neck as she hugged you back. "I told you to stay hidden." You said after a few seconds pulling away from your daughter as you wiped the tears from her cheeks.

"They were going to kill you." She whimpered, but you shook your head.

"I'm still here, I would never leave you, okay?" You said and Sophia nodded as she rubbed her teary eyes before you picked her up. "Remember me telling you about Uncle Rick? I found him, but he needs our help." You explained and Sophia nodded again as you jogged back towards the helicopter, holding her tightly in your arms as you tried to keep her from seeing the three dead bodies.

You opened the back sliding door to the helicopter as you lifted Sophia inside and closed the door behind yourself, not wanting any walkers to sneak up on you or something as you instructed Sophia to sit down on the chair to your left before you turned your attention towards your brother.

He was strapped to some kind of gurney with an IV drip set up beside him. You pressed your fingers to his neck and sighed with relief when you felt a heartbeat. He was alive, but shit he was losing a lot of blood.

To your relief the men had not only hooked him up to an IV drip, they had also wrapped and bandaged the wound over his stomach, but you could already see blood beginning to stain the fresh white bandages that were wrapped around his midsection.

Rick's body was just a mixture of dirt and blood, his pants and arms covered in his own blood and you knew he needed a blood transfusion, like what Carl needed back on the farm when he got shot, but there was nothing here to use.

"Y/N?" Rick's voice asked groggily and you looked away from his stomach as your eyes locked with his glazed over blue ones and you knew he was boarder line conscious as he stared at you in confusion. "I-Is this it? Am I dead?" He asked, his voice barely a whisper and you shook your head.

"Not on my watch. You're gonna be okay, Rick. Just stay with me, alright?" You begged unable to stop the tears rising in your eyes as you watched your brother helplessly. His eyes slowly began to flutter shut again and you were kind of glad he passed out again because then he couldn't feel the pain of his wound.

He needed blood otherwise he was going to die. That was the only thing you were certain on.

You quickly looked around the helicopter again, taking in all the medical equipment set up inside it, it was clearly some kind of emergency response helicopter in the old days, but must have been spray-painted and modified by those other people.

Where could you go that would have the right equipment? You watched Hershel back at the farm, you could probably figure out how to do it, but you needed the equipment to be able to do it.

You quickly glanced around the helicopter, trying to find anything, anything that might be somewhat useful and that's when you eyes landed on the large digital screen at the front of the helicopter. A GPS, surely the nearest town had a hospital, right?

"I need you to stay here with Uncle Rick, okay? Sit here." You instructed turning back to Sophia as you pointed to the bench beside Ricks bed as Sophia sat down and you quickly strapped her in with the seatbelt.

"This is going to be scary, but I need you to be brave for Uncle Rick, okay? I'm going to be sitting here and flying the helicopter, but I need you to sit beside him and watch him, can you do that?"

"Yes. Uncle Rick, you're going to be okay." Sophia said, looking over at Rick's unconscious body causing more tears to swell in your eyes at how caring she was despite only just meeting him.

You quickly opened the siding door up and climbed out, shutting the door behind you before you opened the drivers side and sat down in the pilot seat. You could do this, it was just a helicopter. You have done it heaps of times before, you could do this.

It took a couple of minutes before you got back into the rhythm of what to do in the pilot seat, especially since last time you sat in this seat your helicopter got shot down in Afghanistan, but you tried not to think about that.

You turned on the GPS both shocked, yet relieved that it actually turned on as you searched for the nearest hospital and your jaw dropped when it gave you the coordinates to the exact hospital that you were in when you came back from Afghanistan. Well, at least you'll know where to find stuff inside the hospital.

-

Once you got the helicopter in the air you had it under control, it might have been years since you last flew one, but it felt like second nature now as you followed the coordinates to the town. Sophia was sitting beside Rick, her hand holding his bloodied one, but she didn't seem to mind as she stared at her uncle.

It didn't take long to reach the town, spotting the three-story tall hospital in the middle of town and you knew there'd be a helicopter pad on the roof because that was how they transferred you all those years ago.

You landed the helicopter on the roof with ease and you quickly turned it off not wanting to waste fuel as you jumped out the piolet seat and rushed around the back of the helicopter, sliding open the door and climbing into the back.

You rushed to Rick's side, relieved that he was still breathing, but you weren't too happy with the amount of blood seeping through the bandages around his midsection. He needed more blood, he needed it right now.

"I have to search the hospital for something, can you stay here with Uncle Rick?" You asked, turning your attention to Sophia who was still strapped in her chair and she nodded as you unclipped her seat belt before you grabbed the flashlight that was tucked under her seat before you jumped back out the helicopter, shutting the door behind you.

You pulled your assault rifle from your shoulders as you reached the door that no doubted lead to the staircase of the hospital. Flicking the flashlight on, you opened the door and slowly walked in, your gun raised at the ready as you slowly walked down the staircase.

You passed the door that lead to the third floor, wanting to check out the first and second floor first, but you quickly came to a stop when you heard the familiar groans of walkers coming from further down the stair case, shit.

Quietly you walked back up the stairs, opening the door to the third floor relieved that the hallway was empty before you quickly walked into the first room and grabbed the mattress from the hospital bed. With a great amount of difficulty you eventually moved the mattress into the staircase as you used it to block any walkers that happened to walk up the stairs from reaching the third floor.

Once you were satisfied that no walkers could get through, you quickly rushed back onto the third floor and began pulling apart the first room trying to find any of the right equipment for a blood transfusion.

"Come on, give me something." You muttered to yourself as you pulled open various draws spotting a familiar blood recipient set consisting of a filter, tubing with a drip chamber for blood and a couple needles.

"Thank God." You whispered, grabbing everything out of the draw before you rushed out the room and sprinted down the hallway trying to ignore the blood stains and dead corpses scattered around the place as you reached the staircase, taking two stairs at a time as you ran back out onto the roof towards the helicopter.

Sophia was still sitting beside Rick as you climbed inside, spreading the equipment out on the spare seats as you tried to think back to what Hershel did when he was doing it between Carl and Rick.

It didn't take long before you figured it out, connecting the right tubes and filters together like Hershel once did before you stabbed one of the needles through a vein in Rick's arm before forcing yourself to do the same with your arm as you winced stabbing yourself with the needle.

"What are you doing?" Sophia asked, watching as blood slowly began to flow through the clear tube before you began unwrapping the bandage around your brothers stomach with your free hand to see how bad the injury was.

"Giving him some of my blood. He's hurt really bad." You explained, glancing over at your daughter who was staring at the blood in the tube with fascination.

"Like when Uncle Shane cut himself on the fence?" She asked, surprising you that she could actually remember that. She would have only been three at the time when Shane came back from a supply run with a gash through his thigh. You really wished Shane was still here, at least he might know how to help Rick because right now you just winging it.

"Exactly like that." You replied with a small smile as you pulled the bloodied bandage away revealing what looked to be some kind of puncture wound which by the looks of it had gone all the way through since he had a matching wound on his back. Shit, that wasn't good. He could have internal bleeding or could have damage to some of his organs. You knew how to stitch wounds up, but you didn't know how to do anything else. You were just gonna have to hope that his insides were fine and stitch him up, that was all you could do.

Without wasting anytime you began to sterilize the wound before getting the needle and stitches ready, remembering how unsteady Rick was after giving Carl his blood, you needed to get him stitched up while you still could.

It was hard to stitch the bloodied wounds especially while trying not to bump the needle in your arm for the blood transfusion, but you eventually did it before you came across another problem, how much blood did you need to give him? Was there a certain amount? How do you even measure it when it's just going from your arm straight to his?

Oh God, you weren't cut out for this. Where was Hershel when you needed him? Hershel. The group. They were at that Alexandria community, did they know Rick was hurt? Lori and Carl were probably freaking out right now, but you couldn't exactly just call them and tell them what's going on.

-

You stopped the blood transfusion after a couple of hours and redressed Rick's wound, but you were happy with how the stitches were holding.

The sun was beginning to set as you packed away all the blood tubes, but you made sure to keep it near by in case Rick needed more. Although you doubted you would be able to give much more since you were already feeling a bit light headed as you sat back down on the seat beside Rick, Sophia sitting next to you as she fiddled with her slingshot in her lap.

"Try get some sleep, sweetie." You said, tapping your lap as she put her slingshot back through her belt before shifting over to you as she laid down on the seat resting her head in your lap. "Goodnight, Sophia, I love you." You whispered, leaning down and kissing the side of her head as she smiled.

"Love you too, mommy." She replied and within a few minutes she was asleep as you leant back in your chair watching Rick's chest rise and fall slowly, hating how similar this was to when Rick got shot and put into a coma. There was nothing you could do except sit with him and hope he'd wake up and now you were in the same seat again. You had done everything you could do, the only thing left was to hope that he'd make it through the night and wake up.

You thought about going to Alexandria, Hershel's probably there and they might have more doctors too. Dwight had given you the rough directions and you could probably see the community easily from in the air, but the helicopter didn't have much fuel left, you wouldn't make it to the next town let alone back to the river to find Alexandria.

What if Rick never woke up? He was in a coma before and nearly didn't make it and that was with the help of professional doctors, now all Rick had was you and 5-year-old to help him. How would you even know if he was in a coma or not? What if he didn't even make it through the night and you woke up and he was dead? You have been searching for him, for your family, for your group, for over five years and now just as you were this close Rick might slip away?

You quickly shook your head trying to stop yourself from thinking like that, but you couldn't help the tears beginning to rise in your eyes as you stared at your brother. How pale and helpless he looked lying there hooked up to an IV and oxygen. How'd he even get this injured?

"Come back to me, Rick. Please, come back to me." You whispered, reaching for your brothers hand as you laced your fingers with his.

"I need my big brother back, please. I need you back. You and Shane were the only friends I ever had... nobody ever wanted to be friends with the weird tomboy chick from school, but you and Shane used to ditch your own friends to hang out with me. You used to play checkers with me because no one else would. You taught me how to ride a bike and bought me my first skateboard. You took me to get ears pierced and helped me hide them from mom and dad, although that didn't exactly work and we both got in trouble..." You trailed off as a sad chuckle escaped your lips as you thought back all those memories.

"I want my big brother back, I need my big brother back. Rick, please, if you can hear me, I need you to wake up, I can't do this without you." You mumbled, unable to stop the silent tears from falling down your cheeks as you squeezed your brothers' hand.

 

Chapter Text

*1 Month Later*

You had somehow managed to move Rick inside the building and he was now lying on a hospital gurney in a patient room on the third floor, but he was yet to wake up.

You were pretty sure he was in another coma, since it's literally been four weeks, but you weren't a doctor, you had no idea what was going on.

You still had him hooked up to IV drip and managed to find bags of fluids that were full of nutrients. They seemed to be for people in comas since they couldn't eat or drink on their own and got nutrients and liquids through them, or at least that was what you could make out of the paragraph of writing on the back that had way to many scientific words that you had never heard of let alone pronounce. But, he was still breathing and he had started to get more colour back into his skin and the puncture wound was healing fairly well as far as you could tell.

You had spent the past month scavenging the third floor of the hospital, by now you knew every inch of the place and had set Rick up in the cleanest patient room you could find that didn't smell like rotting flesh. You had wheeled two other hospital gurneys inside for you and Sophia to sleep on and had stacks of blankets and pillows from other rooms sitting in the corner in case you needed them.

Sophia kept herself entertained with the toys you had managed to find, silently thankful that someone had kept kids toys on this floor. So, she spent a lot of time playing with dolls and drawing on any scrap pieces of paper you'd come across.

The hospital was loaded with medical supplies, but it didn't have many other supplies, so you've had to do a couple runs outside the hospital and around the town to look for food and water.

Since you couldn't use the stairs and walk out the front door because of all the walkers on the lower levels and you didn't want to waste the little fuel you had left in the helicopter, you used the fire escape that was connected to the side of the building. It was old and rusty and honestly looked like it would break and fall to the ground with a strong gust of wind, but it seemed to be able to hold your weight when you climbed down it.

Sophia stayed with Rick whenever you left the hospital to look for food and every time you came back she was always standing beside his bed and telling him stories about you and Shane. You had told Sophia that sometimes people in comas could hear you talking to them and ever since then she always talked to Rick and said goodnight and good morning to him every day.

It was early one morning as you stood beside Rick's bed, checking on his IV fluids while Sophia was busy colouring in on some nurses clipboard. It was starting to get colder now as winter began to set in and although your army pants had long ago been destroyed, you still had your army jacket which you were currently wearing over your tank top.

You were so focused on the IV drip that you didn't even notice Rick had opened his eyes and was staring at you until he tried to speak, but only managed to make a groaning noise instead causing you to jump at the unexpected noise.

Your eyes shot down to your brother in shock to find him staring up at you in confusion and you quickly grabbed a water bottle from the nightstand, unscrewing the lid as you helped him take a few drinks.

"Y-Y/N?" He asked, his voice rough as he spoke, but at least he was able to speak and you couldn't help the tears already falling down your cheeks as you stared at your brother who was finally awake.

His hair and beard were a little longer than what they were when you first saw him, but you had been with him every day so you didn't even notice the difference nor did you really notice how his muscles and body had gotten slightly skinnier from being in a coma for so long, but he was awake and alive and that was all that mattered.

"Welcome back to the land of the living." You replied, watching as Rick removed the oxygen tube by his nose with shaky hands, his eyes never leaving yours as he stared at you like he was seeing a ghost.

"You're real?" He questioned, his eyes flashing down to your military jacket before he shook his head. "No, you're just another dream. Shane was in his deputy uniform and he wasn't real and your in your army uniform-" Rick began to say and you hated how weak and panicked his voice was before you cut him off.

"Relax, don't talk, you need to save your energy." You quickly said as Sophia suddenly appeared beside you and you could see Rick staring at her in confusion.

"There's a lot you need to be caught up on. You've been in a coma for a month, but I think the wound through your stomach is healing up nicely. How are you feeling?" You asked, drawing his attention away from Sophia as he looked back up at you.

"Tired." He admitted and you couldn't stop the small laugh from escaping your lips, but you nodded in understanding. He had been asleep for a whole month and was still tired, although in this new world you've been tired for years so maybe a months sleep wasn't enough.

"Go back to sleep, bro. I'll be here when you wake up." You replied, leaning down as you placed a soft kiss to his forehead before a sudden thought popped into your mind. "Wait, the others. Are they still alive? Daryl? Carl? Lori? Glenn? The rest of the group?" You quickly asked staring at your brother as he blinked a few times, clearly fighting to stay away and he nodded.

"Everyone's fine." He responded and you let out a sigh of relief, not even realising you had been holding your breath as you watched Rick slowly close his eyes and go back to sleep. The group was okay and Rick had woken up, that almost seemed too good to be true.

"Is he going to be okay?" Sophia asked from beside you as she stared at her sleeping uncle in the bed and you nodded.

"Yeah, I think he will be."

-

The next morning you were up before the sun, unable to get much sleep. You did your usual morning perimeter check, climbing back onto the roof and making sure the helicopter and fire escape stairs were intact before checking the barricades you had made in the stairwell inside to block the walkers in the floors below from getting up.

By the time you walked back into the room you practically lived in, you could see Rick lying down on his bed. His eyes open as he stared at Sophia who was still fast asleep on her bed across the room before his eyes flicked over to you as you shut the door and he visibly relaxed when he saw you.

"It wasn't a dream. You're alive, you're here." Rick whispered while you rushed over to his bedside and sat down on the chair beside him as you grabbed his hand, being mindful of the needle in his arm. "What happened? Where are we?"

"Found you washed up on a riverbank in a pool of your own blood. A woman saw you as well and called in a helicopter and they loaded you into the helicopter, but they were talking about human trafficking or something. I killed her and the two men in the helicopter and took you to the nearest hospital. I stitched you up best I could, gave you blood because you lost a lot and you've been in a coma for a month since." You explained and Rick stared at you in complete shock as he took in everything you just told him. He didn't say anything for a few moments as he tried to process all the information before something must have clicked.

"A helicopter? Shit, have you even been in a helicopter since what happened in Afghanistan?" He questioned and you smiled softly, but shook your head. After everything Rick had been through and everything you just told him, his first concern was about you flying a damn helicopter.

"The others, they think I'm dead, I have to-" Rick quickly said as he began to sit himself up, but you grabbed his shoulders to stop him.

"You have been in a coma for a month, you need to get your strength back first. I doubt you'd even make it up the stairs to the helicopter without falling over. Now, lay back down." You instructed and to your relief he didn't argue and laid back down as you stood up and began disconnected the IV drip as you carefully pulled the needle out his arm before you walked over to your backpack. "Do you want canned peaches or canned carrots?" You asked, glancing over your shoulder.

"Peaches and I can feed myself." He responded causing you to chuckle as you walked back over to him and helped him sit up slightly against the pillows before handing him the open tin of food.

"Rick, I have spent the past month looking after you. That includes taking care of your bowel movements because apparently people in comas still do number one's and two's." You responded unable to stop the grin spreading across your face as Rick cringed in disgust and embarrassment. "Yeah, your right it was disgusting." You chuckled, but neither of you said anything for a while as you let him eat the peaches despite having a thousand questions to ask him.

"Who's the girl?" He asked, pointing towards Sophia who was still fast asleep on her bed and you smiled softly.

"My daughter. Your niece." You responded causing Rick to nearly choke on the food in mouth as he stared at you with wide eyes.

"How old is she?"

"Five." You answered and you could see Rick silently doing the calculations in his head and eventually he put two and two together as his eyes flashed between Sophia and you in shock. "Yeah, I didn't know I was pregnant until two weeks after the farm fell."

"Holy shit." Rick gasped in shock.

"Shit." Sophia repeated and your head snapped around towards her to find her sitting up in her bed with a grin as she stared at the two of you.

"No, you can't say that word. Uncle Rick has claimed it, that's his word." You responded, staring at your daughter as she brushed her long Y/H/C hair out of her face.

"Why were you two whispering?" She asked curiously, her eyes glancing back forth between you and Rick as she spoke.

"Because we have some important shit to talk about." You answered causing Rick to laugh from beside you at Sophia's reaction as she tilted her head slightly and tried to glare at you for saying that word, but with the smile spreading across her face it was adorable and you laughed too.

"We were just talking, didn't want to wake you up. Come say hi to Uncle Rick, he wants to meet you properly." You said, turning back to Rick who was smiling brightly at the little girl as she climbed off the bed and walked over to you as you picked her up and placed her on your lap.

"Rick, this is Sophia. Sophia, this is your Uncle Rick." You introduced as Ricks eyes snapped over at you once he realised who you named her after before Sophia lent forward and wrapped her arms around Ricks stomach as she hugged him. "Be careful of his stitches." You warned, but Rick didn't seemed bothered by it as he stared at his niece in shock, tears rising in his eyes as he hugged her back.

"You have a beautiful name." He replied as Sophia pulled away and sat back down on your lap with a smile. "She's definitely Daryl's daughter." He added staring at the little girl as he wiped the tears from his eyes and you nodded in agreement. She might have your hair colour, but she was definitely Daryl's daughter.

"You know my daddy?" Sophia asked and Rick nodded as he leant closer to her on his bed.

"Your daddy and I are best friends, he's like a brother to me." Rick answered and your heart swelled hearing that. Him and Daryl must have gotten close over the past five years, they were friends at the farm, but they had clearly gotten closer over time.

You spent the next hour or so talking to Rick as he told you about the herd of walkers and how he fell off his horse and got impaled and how he had to blow up a bridge to stop herd. He didn't say much about the group or what they had been through, but you figured that was probably because he was waiting for you to reunite with them.

Over the course of the day you helped Rick start to move around the room slowly. At first he was a bit wavy on two feet and needed your support, but by the end of the day he seemed to be doing alright. After nearly a month of no moving or walking and a wound to his stomach that almost killed him, he was doing a lot better than what you thought.

To your relief his stiches seemed to hold while he walked up and down the hallway. Although, the wound had nearly fully healed by now anyway and the stitches could probably come out, but you might wait until you got him back to Alexandria so Hershel could look at the wound and be the judge of that.

"How are you feeling after all the walking you've done today?" You asked as you finished eating the canned food you found a few weeks ago as you looked over at Rick who was lying back down on his bed.

"Exhausted, but in a good way." He replied and you nodded satisfied with his answer before you began to get Sophia ready for bed.

"Tomorrow morning I'll go out and find more fuel for the helicopter. There's nothing in this town, but I found a map and apparently there's another town not too far from here, so hopefully I can find some fuel in there and then we can go to this community of yours." You explained, tucking Sophia in as you turned around to Rick, but looked back to Sophia as she spoke up.

"Can I come with you? It's been ages since I was last outside. I still have my slingshot, I'll be careful." Sophia begged as you rubbed your face with your hands not wanting to say no to your daughter, but not wanting her to be out there when she didn’t have to be. You glanced over at Rick, hoping he would help you, but he just shrugged his shoulders.

"It's your call. I'll be fine on my own while you guys get the fuel, if you want." He responded and you sighed, but nodded.

"Alright, you can come with me. Do you remember the rules for being out there?" You asked, turning back to Sophia who nodded in excitement.

"Stay close, stay quiet and let you handle any walkers." She answered and you smiled proudly at her. Well, she had a damn good memory, definitely Daryl's daughter.

"Good, now get some sleep. We got a big day tomorrow."

-

A big day was an understatement. You and Sophia trekked through the woods in the direction of the small town for a few hours when you came across a couple kids wandering around the woods by themselves.

A few were only Sophia's age while a couple others were a bit older, including a young girl named Winnie, who told you that they lost their group and explained that they were living in an old abandon school.

It was like life had started to give you good luck instead of bad luck because you remembered seeing an old school from a distance maybe an hour ago when you and Sophia walked past it. That had to be where their group was.

"How long have you kids been separated from your group?" You asked, holding Sophia's hand as you lead the kids through the woods in the direction of the school.

"A couple days." One of the older ones answered. Shit, these kids had been scared and alone for a few days in the woods, no wonder they were so happy to see you and Sophia, despite being complete strangers.

You made small talk with the kids hoping it would distract them from how terrified they must be before you spotted the school in the distance. "Is that where your camp is?" You asked, pointing towards the red bricked building in the distance and you saw the kids visibly relax as they all nodded and you sighed with relief.

You walked the kids up the building, figuring you should probably speak to their parents who'd be worried sick.

Winnie opened the front door and held it open for you as you walked in, Sophia right beside you when suddenly something hard slammed into he back of your head. The last thing you heard was Sophia calling out to you before you passed out.

-

You must have only been unconscious for a few minutes because when you woke up your wrists were tied together in front of you as you laid on the ground. It took a few seconds for you to process that this wasn't right before you quickly sat up to find Winnie and couple of the older kids standing above you with weapons raised. The older boy had a bow aimed at you, another with some kind of spear gun, while Winnie stood off to the side with a knife. What the fuck is going on?

You quickly glanced around the room in confusion before your brain clicked. Sophia. Where the hell is Sophia?

"Where's my daughter?!" You shouted in sudden panic, your eyes flashing between the three kids. You didn't think they'd fire their weapons at you, but you also didn't expect them to knock you out earlier either, so you weren't going to take your chances.

"Get up. Take her to Jocelyn." The boy instructed as you glanced around the room, taking note of where the windows and doors were before you turned back towards the boy. You could easily take down the kids, but they were kids. You couldn't hurt a kid. "I said, get up!" He shouted and you nodded.

Slowly you got to your feet, only just aware of the thumping pain coming from the back of your head which was probably now bruised thanks to whoever knocked you out. The oldest kid grabbed your bound arms and began leading you down the dark hallway, the others still with their weapons aimed at you so you just followed.

"I don't want to hurt you kids. I just want my daughter and I will go." You tried to negotiate, but neither of them responded as they opened a door to your left and pushed you inside, but with your arms bound in front of you, you couldn't get your balanced and hit the ground.

"And to think I was trying to help you little brats." You muttered, looking up from where you were on the ground as you glared the kid with the bow before a woman's voice filled the air.

"Well done my children." Someone said and you turned around to find a dark skinned woman walking over to you with a smile that made your skin crawl. She had her hair pulled back into a loose pony tail and was wearing a green jacket, but your attention was quickly swapped to the other two people in the room.

Both of them with hands bound above their head to some metal pipe, they're feet barely touching the ground with gages over their mouth. The one closest to you was again a darker skinned woman with dreadlocks, but you didn't miss the small baby bump under her white jumper. What were they doing to this pregnant woman?

Your eyes quickly flashed over to the man next to her, but the second you saw the vest over his black jacket and those piercing blue eyes staring at you, you knew exactly who it was.

Daryl Dixon.

Holy shit, it was Daryl. His hair was a lot longer and darker now which surprisingly suited him, but it was him. Daryl was right here and he seemed to recognise you too as he stared at you in pure shock.

"Daryl?" You questioned, although it was pointless because he had a gage over his mouth, but you couldn't help yourself from asking the question because this couldn't be true. After years of looking for him, this was how you found him?

"Oh great, you know each other, this will be fun. Now stand up and hold your hands above your head." The woman who you were assuming was this Jocelyn person instructed, but like hell you were just going to do that and let them tie you up like Daryl and dreadlocks lady. You had to find Sophia and get her and Daryl out of here.

You didn't move from where you were on the ground as you glared up at Jocelyn before she leant down and grabbed your arm, lifting you up and once you were on your feet you began to fight back.

You slammed your elbow into the woman's stomach causing her to groan in pain and release your arm, but you didn't even get a chance to move before a gunshot filled the air.

Sudden pain burst through your knee as you stumbled backwards until your back hit the wall. You could hear Daryl screaming into the cloth over his mouth, but your eyes were glued to Jocelyn who seemed amused by the whole thing.

You could feel blood dripping down your left leg and of course the bullet had to hit your bad knee as you forced yourself to stay standing, knowing if you hit the ground then it was over.

"Surely you can do better than that? Getting a child to do your dirty work, pathetic." You spat through gritted teeth, trying to ignore the pain flaring through leg as you glared at Jocelyn who was standing beside you before she slammed her first into your stomach and that was all it took before you hit the ground.

The air got knocked out of you as you tried to break your fall with your bound hands and you landed on your side, pain skyrocketing through your knee as it slammed against the ground, but you were too busy coughing and trying to get air back in your longs to notice.

Okay, you deserved that punch. You should probably keep your mouth shut and not annoy her anymore, but you had survived three months in a God damn Taliban base being tortured, this bitch had nothing on you. You were going to find your daughter and get her and Daryl out of here or you were going to die trying.

 

Chapter Text

"Cheep shot. Take this rope off and let's go a few rounds, see who wins." You challenged, lifting your head up towards Jocelyn who was now standing in front of Daryl and pointing a knife towards him. Shit.

"You are a feisty one, aren't you? Now stand up and let the kids tie you to the pipe over here." She instructed, motioning towards the spot beside Daryl as your hands began to form first in front of you. You forced yourself to stand up, biting your lip in the process to stop yourself from groaning in pain.

"That man you got the knife to, I'd do anything for him, anything. Now, do whatever you want to me, just leave him and this woman out of it." You said, holding your hands up in a surrender.

You glanced towards the dreadlocks woman who was staring at you with unreadable look before your eyes locked with Daryl's. You knew he was silently begging you to shut up, but that wasn't going to happen.

"Alright, tie her up." Jocelyn ordered and suddenly the older boy grabbed your arm and began walking you across the room towards her well more like limped across the room as the pain in your knee screamed at you to stop putting weight on it.

You glanced over at Daryl as you walked passed him, noticing the small hole in his jacket near his shoulder along with a small pool of blood. But, you knew it wasn't enough blood for a bullet wound so it must have been from one of those stupid arrows one of the kids had.

You let Jocelyn tie your wrists to the metal pipe above your head like how Daryl and the other woman were. You instantly lifted your left leg up from the ground slightly, but it didn't really do much to ease the pain.

Once they finished trying your wrists the pipe, Jocelyn lead the kids over to the other side of the room and began talking quietly too them. You didn't bother trying to listen to their conversation because you couldn't hear them so you took your time to take in your surroundings.

It was clear you were downstairs somewhere since you had to go downstairs to get here and there weren't any windows or other exits, minus the door you got pushed through earlier. There was a chair in the corner of the room along with what looked to be a katana, a few knives and a crossbow which you knew must be Daryl's.

Your assault rifle, handgun and knife where on the other side of the room, sitting on the ground by the door, but they weren't much use over there. You continued scanning the room before your eyes landed on Jocelyn and the kids. Well that doesn't look good.

They had started a small fire in what looked to be a 44 gallon drum that had been cut in half. For a second you wondered why they needed a fire before you spotted the iron cattle prod that one of the younger kids were holding that had a very distinct 'X' brand on the end. Great, they were going to brand you.

You had been branded before, too many times if you were being honest and it hurt like a bitch, but it was a stupid way of torture, why'd they even want to torture you anyway? Hell, you were trying to help her kids, but that backfired on you majorly.

You watched as the dark-haired kid began heating up the end of the iron rod over the fire and you closed your eyes as images of the Taliban base flashed through your mind.

This was nothing like the base, but the thought of being branded again did not sit well with you, especially while your daughter was out there somewhere and you had no idea what they've done to her.

"This seemed to have shut you up." Jocelyn commented, motioning towards the iron rod sitting in the fire as she grinned at you.

"Been branded before, not a fucking fan." You muttered, glaring at her before you glanced over at Daryl to find that he was already looking you.

His long hair was covering half of his face, but you could still see him as he stared at you as if still trying figure out if you were real or not.

"If we don't make it out of this, Dixon, there's probably something you should know... You have a daughter, those little brats took her and this bitch won't tell me where she is." You explained, glaring at Jocelyn as you spoke before looking back towards Daryl as he stared at you in pure shock. But, you could see his wrists moving slightly around the metal pipe above your heads and you knew he was trying to loosen the knots, you had been trying too, but damn those knots were tight. You needed to stall this woman and buy yourselves some more time to get out of the restraints.

"Your daughter and the other kids are at the perfect age to teach, they will become valued members of my group." Jocelyn explained and now it was you who was staring at her in shock.
She was using children and teaching them to do this shit, raising them to think that this was normal. She was using these kids and they didn't even know. What the hell was wrong with this woman?

"That's not going to happen. You let my daughter go and take me instead. Hell, kill me if you want to, I don't care. I probably deserve it. I've killed more people than these kids could probably count and that was before the world ended." You stated, turning back towards her as you watched her lean against the wall in amusement.

"I was in the military before all this, was a prisoner in a Taliban base for three months too, so you don't scare me." You added, but you were starting to run out of things to say to try and buy some time. Man, you wished Shane was here, you could never get that guy to shut up, he'd be able to stall this woman for days.

"Oh don't worry, we're not going to kill you yet, but we will eventually. Linus, you ready?" Jocelyn asked, turning away from you and focusing back on the little boy as he nodded and pulled the iron rod from the fire exposing the burning red cross on the end of it.

You eyed the red cross cautiously as Jocelyn pointed towards you before the kid-Linus- began walking in your direction. But, you were more relieved that he was going to you first and not Daryl or the pregnant woman.

"You don't have to do this kid. This woman is manipulating you." You tried to say, but it was like he couldn't even hear you as he walked behind you. You tried to look over your shoulder towards him, but you couldn't see him.

Suddenly, his hand grabbed the bottom of army jacket as he lifted it up along with your tank top exposing your bare back and you knew what was about to happen.

"Go on, Linus. Be strong." Jocelyn encouraged and your eyes snapped over in her direction, but before you could even try argue the kid pressed the iron rod against your skin.

You quickly bit your tongue as you squeezed your eyes shut at the sudden burning pain, hating how familiar it was as you forced yourself not to scream. She wants you to scream, she wants to hear your pain, that was the whole point of this, but you weren't going to give her that satisfaction as the kid pulled the rod away.

"Was the best you can do?" You questioned breathlessly, looking over at Jocelyn as she crossed her arms over her chest, clearly not happy that you weren't affected by it. But damn did that hurt like a bitch, you were just too stubborn to let her know about it.

"Linus, heat it up and do it again." She instructed as the kid walked back over to the fire and held it against the flames. You could feel Daryl watching you out the corner of your eye and you glanced over at him as he shook his head, silently telling you to just shut up, but you shook your head.

"If we're going to do this again at least make it hurt this time, this is just boring." You commented, looking back over towards the woman. You knew you were starting to piss her off as she stood up and grabbed a rag from a bench before she walked over to you and gaged your mouth. Well that was one way to shut you up, Daryl would probably be happy now.

You watched as Linus kept the rob in the fire for a lot longer than before while Jocelyn crouched down beside him and whispered something, her eyes locked with yours the entire time and you had a bad feeling about what was to come. The kid began walking back over to you, standing behind you again as he lifted the back of your shirt and tank top up. Here goes nothing.

Not a second later he pressed the cross against the small of your back. Your skin instantly sizzling as he pushed hard against your skin and you were unable to hold back your scream as you cried out in pain. The rag muffling your screams as you squeezed your eyes shut.

The kid didn't move the rod away for nearly 10 seconds until Jocelyn said that was enough, which was good because you were almost certain that you would've passed out if he kept it there any longer. A few tears escaped out the corner of your eye as the kid removed the rob and walked back over to the fire. Damnit, Y/N, you had been through worse than this, toughen up.

"Winnie, you're turn." Jocelyn announced a few seconds later as the young girl took the iron rod from the boy and began to walk over to Daryl. Oh hell no, don't do that shit him, he's already been through so much.

You quickly focused back on loosening the knots around your wrists, trying to find someway to break free so Daryl and the dreadlocks woman didn't have to go this, but you couldn't. The kid lifted up Daryl's shirts and pressed the rod to his lower back causing him to scream and wriggle in agony, but to your relief she didn't push as hard against his skin and removed it only a few seconds later.

There was nothing you could do as you watched her heat the rod again and repeat the same process on the poor pregnant woman causing her to cry out in pain as Jocelyn stood in front of her. Their faces inches apart as dreadlocks woman glared at Jocelyn while screaming and you had a bad feeling that the two of them somehow knew each other, but clearly weren't friends.

"I told you, children are capable of anything. I taught them, helped them become what we are because we can't be soft." Jocelyn stated which just further proved your theory of this woman being crazy and raising this kids to be just a crazy.

"We'll be back soon, I have more kids to teach." She said, her eyes glancing over at you before she walked out the room. The other kids all followed her, minus the oldest boy who wouldn't be any older than 14 as he sat down on the chair in the corner of the room and watched the three of you.

You glanced over at Daryl and the pregnant woman, both still trying to catch their breath from the brandings while you continued to try loosen the knots around your wrist.

Daryl lifted his head, his eyes glancing up at your hands realising that you were still trying to get out of the restraints and he began to do the same.

Five minutes felt like five hours, but eventually you managed to loosen the knots and slip your hands through the rope, although the blood from the cuts around your wrists definitely helped as well.

The second your feet hit the ground your left leg buckled from underneath you, pain erupting from the bullet wound as you landed on your side. The brands on your back burning as your tank top touched them, but that was the least of your problems.

The boy was instantly up and standing over you and obviously had no idea how to deal with you getting out the restraints. But, lucky for you Daryl must have gotten loose as well because the next thing you knew the kid was on the ground unconscious as Daryl dropped to your side in panic.

You quickly pulled the gage from your mouth off as you looked up at him. You wanted nothing more than to just wrap him up in a tight hug and never let him go, but dreadlocks woman was still tied up.

"Go untie the other woman. I'm fine, Dixon." You said, wincing as you sat yourself up and you could tell Daryl didn't believe you. He stared at you for a few seconds, clearly unsure with what to do before he nodded and picked up a knife from the ground and walked over to the other woman and began cutting her rope.

While he helped her you untied your own rope before standing yourself up and limped across the room to your weapons. You quickly clipped your belt back on over your jeans containing your knife and handgun before you threw the assault rifle over your shoulder.

You glanced down at your knee, realising your jeans covering the front of your left leg were just saturated with blood and you winced looking at it.

You quickly grabbed the rag that was being used as your gage earlier and wrapped it around your knee to try and stop the bleeding, but luckily the bullet had gone clean through.

"Y/N... how- how are you alive? I thought ya were dead... we all thought ya were dead." Daryl's voice suddenly said in disbelief and you turned around to find him and the dreadlock woman grabbing their weapons too as they stared at you, but you could tell the woman was confused and you were too because you had no idea who she was.

"Right back at you, Dixon." You replied trying to keep your voice strong, but you could feel tears rising in your eyes as you limped over to him and he rushed towards you. Wrapping you up into a tight hug being mindful the fresh brands on your backs, but neither of you cared at the moment as you hugged him back.

"I missed you so much." You whispered, unable to stop the tears falling down your cheeks as you buried your face into the crook of his neck.

"I thought I lost ya. How are ya here?" He asked, pulling away from you slightly, his hands on your shoulders as his eyes glanced down to your leg which you knew looked worse than it was. "Shit, Y/N." He muttered, looking back up to your face as he wiped the tears from your cheeks.

"That's a story for later, but I'm fine. Let's get out of here." You replied and Daryl nodded, not convinced that you were in fact fine as you looked over at the dreadlock woman who was watching the two of you curiously.

"We can't leave, we have to find Judith and the other kids." The woman quickly responded and you nodded because no way would you leave without Sophia.

"I'm not going anywhere without my daughter, our daughter." You corrected, glancing back at Daryl who seemed to have forgotten that little detail during in the mist of things as he stared at you in shock. His mouth opened like he was going to say something, but closed again and you knew he didn't know how to respond.

"Yeah, it was a surprise to me too. Who's Judith" You asked, looking over at the woman.

"My daughter, but she took other kids from our community." The woman answered before looking over at Daryl. "We should split up, cover more ground." She suggested and you nodded in agreement already liking this woman.

"Alright, I'll tie him up. Y/N, ya alright to go with Michonne?" Daryl asked, glancing over at you, worry edged into his expression as he glanced back down to your leg, but you nodded in reassurance. "Be careful, Y/N. You've already pissed that woman off, I can't lose ya again."

"I'm not the one who dies, Dixon. I'm the one who does the killing. Let's go." You responded and Daryl nodded before you followed the woman -Michonne- through the door you had been pushed through earlier.

Neither of you said anything as you walked down the hallway towards the stairs that you came down earlier. Michonne had her sword in her hands while you had your assault rifle up and ready as you limped up the stairs.

"Stay behind me." You instructed, not because you didn't think she could handle herself. She seemed like a strong woman and had a katana as her weapon of choice for crying out loud, but she was pregnant and you were the one with the assault rifle, so it made sense.

Michonne just nodded as you took the lead once you finished climbing the stairs. You continued walking down the hallway, Michonne a few feet behind you before you turned the corner and froze spotting Jocelyn and a bunch of the kids down the end of the hallway.

"They're out. Alert the others, we need to go." Jocelyn instructed as Winnie blew a whistle before running off down the hallway and ducking into a room on the left.

"Where's our daughters? Where are the other kids?!" You shouted, flicking the safety off your gun as you aimed at the woman. "You answer the question right now or so help me God, I will put a bullet through your skull."

"Why? Your kids are better off. You guys live in the past, chasing a ghost, while Judith and Sophia have been with me." Jocelyn responded and you had absolutely no idea what she was talking about when she talked about chasing ghosts, but suddenly the door behind them opened again.

Winnie ran out along with a group of young kids, but you instantly spotted Sophia amongst the kids and Michonne must have seen her daughter too because she started yelling for her. But, as quick as they appeared, they disappeared again through the door that lead outside. Shit.

"You know what's next, Linus?" Jocelyn asked, glancing over at the young boy and slightly older girl beside her and you did not like where she was going with his.

"Marked our kill, kill our mark." The boy answered, pulling out a knife as the 13-year-old girl stepped forward with a damn sword in her hands.

"I don't want to have to hurt you." You shouted as she swung the sword at you, while the boy charged at Michonne.

You hoped like hell Michonne was okay because you were too focused on the girl to check. You dodged her sword, ignoring the pain in your leg as you slammed the butt of your gun against her hands causing her to drop the weapon and stumble back a few steps in pain.

"Please, I don't want to hurt you!" Michonne pleated and you turned around just in time as Linus raised his knife about to slash her stomach.

You quickly rushed forward and grabbed the boys shoulders, throwing him across the hallway as Michonne stared at the kid in panic, clearly not expecting the boy to actually try and hurt her. You had seen what kids could do before, there wasn't just adult soldiers in the Taliban base, there were kid soldiers too and sometimes they were worse.

You glanced over Michonne's body making sure she was okay before you turned back around to find the two kids running off down the hallway and disappearing out the back door. Damnit.

Without hesitation the two of you sprinted towards the door, your knee flaring in pain but you ignored it as you reached the door to find that it had been locked. Fucking typical.

"I'm going to try find another way around." Michonne quickly stated and you nodded as you slammed the butt of your gun against the glass squares in the door. The glass shattered as you reached your arm through the gap trying to feel for a lock switch, but quickly realised that it was chained with a padlock.

Thinking on the spot, you quickly took a few steps back and raised your rifle, firing at the two hinges on the door frame, breaking them both.

You kicked the door, instantly regretting it when your bad leg nearly gave way, but to your relief it worked as the door busted open. You nearly fell over in the process, but managed to keep your feet as you quickly scanned your surroundings but there was nothing outside.

"Michonne?!" You yelled, hoping the woman had somehow found another way outside when suddenly you heard her scream out in pain and you didn't waste any time as you sprinted around the building in the direction of the sound.

You could feel fresh blood dripping down your leg from the sudden movement, but you didn't worry about it when your eyes landed on Michonne. She was lying on the ground as Jocelyn started to beat her with a small plank of wood.

You quickly raised your rifle, pulling the trigger and Jocelyn fell to the ground motionless, a bullet imbedded through her skull. You jogged over to Michonne who to your relief seemed to be okay as she stood up in shock, before her eyes landed on you.

"Thanks, they took the kids in there." She stated, pointing towards something behind you and you quickly turned around spotting an old caravan across the yard. But, you were more focused on the five older kids standing between you and the caravan, all with various melee weapons in their hands.

"You can all come back to Alexandria. We'll take care of you." Michonne said, her voice soft and calm as the two of you took a few steps towards the kids, but you knew they weren't going to do that. They were too far gone.

"Kill all their children. The rest of you are with me." An older boy instructed, but even he would not a day over 14. He looked over at Winnie who nodded before she pulled out a knife and began running towards the caravan. No, she can't kill, Sophia. No.

 

Chapter Text

"Winne! No!" Michonne yelled desperately, her eyes focused on the younger girl, but you quickly turned your attention back to the other kids in front of you just as the oldest boy began to charge at the two of you with a machete.

Every part of you didn't want to pull the trigger, he was just a kid. But, as your eyes quickly glanced towards Winnie who was heading towards the caravan to kill your daughter, you didn't have a choice. There was nothing you wouldn't do for Sophia, and like hell you were going to let these kids kill her.

You turned your attention back to the boy who was sprinting towards you and Michonne, and you quickly aimed your gun towards him and pulled the trigger. You watched as the boy fell to the ground in an instant before the other kids began to charge with their weapons out.

Everything happened in flash. One minute the kids were running at you with knives and pickaxes. The next minute you had your rifle raised and you watched as bullets pierced through their bodies before they all fell to the ground, dead.

"Winnie!" Michonne's voice shouted, snapping your eyes away from the bodies on the ground as you looked back towards the caravan to find the girl standing in the open doorway, clearly unsure with what to do.

Michonne began walking towards the caravan and you followed, forcing yourself to look away as you walked past the bodies and kept your gun trained on Winnie. You didn't want to kill her too, you didn't want to kill any of them, but if she made one move into the caravan then she'd be dead. You weren't going to let her kill your daughter or Michonne's daughter or any of the other kids from her community.

"Winnie, please don't." Michonne begged, staring at the girl, her eyes flashing between the two of you before she jumped out the caravan and sprinted off in the other direction before the sound of a door opening filled the air.

Quickly, you turned around, your gun raised towards the building across the yard, but you immediately lowered it when you realised it was Daryl. His eyes glued to the dead bodies on the ground and you quickly turned back towards the caravan, tears threatening to spill from your eyes. You killed them.

"Judith." Michonne whimpered as she took a step towards the caravan and you did the same.

"Sophia." You called out, your voice breaking at the end.

You stared at the open door to the caravan when a little girl with long blonde hair and Sophia stepped forward, both of them holding hands. They were clearly the same age as they stared at the two of you for a split second before they both let go of each other and jumped out the caravan.

"Mommy!" They both called out happily as Judith ran to Michonne while Sophia ran to you. You grabbed her, lifting her up as you hugged her tightly, ignoring the sudden burst of pain coming from your knee as you did so.

"Why are you covered in blood? Are you okay?" Sophia asked, once you put her down, her eyes looking up at you and you knew you had the other kids blood over your face and jacket before she looked down at your leg, which you knew was worse.

"Yeah, are you okay?" You questioned, your eyes scanning her body, but she seemed to be okay. She was okay. Your daughter was fine.

"Yeah. I made a friend." She replied pointing towards Judith who was hugging Michonne and you let out a soft chuckle despite the tears in your eyes before other kids you hadn't seen before began to walk out the caravan. They must be the kids from Alexandria.

You watched as Sophia walked over to the other kids and you only just realised that she had never been around another kid her age before.

You smiled softly watching your daughter interact with her new friends before you glanced over your shoulder towards the bodies of the dead kids and your smile quickly disappeared.

Memories of Afghanistan suddenly flashing through your mind. You tried to look away, but you just couldn't get your body to move before Daryl suddenly appeared in front of you.

His lips were moving like he was trying to talk to you, but you couldn't hear him past the faint screams of the kids and the gunshots that were flooding your mind.

Suddenly his hand was on your shoulder, the other cupping the side of your face and not a moment later his voice broke through the noise, snapping you back to the real world.

"Y/N? Ya with me?" He questioned, his eyes searching your face for any sign of acknowledgement and you nodded your head ever so slightly, your eyes filling with tears.

"I-I killed-" You began to stutter before Daryl cut you off.

"I know. Ya didn't have a choice, okay? Ya didn't have a choice." He insisted before he pulled you into a hug, your head resting on his chest as he held you tightly and that was all it took before the tears started falling down your cheeks.

"I've been looking for you for over five years..." You trailed off as you tilted your head up to look at him, his arms still wrapped around your body before he brushed your hair out your face and you could see that he was trying to hold back tears as well.

"Thought I was never gonna see ya again." Daryl mumbled, a silent tear trickling down his face as you lifted your hand, cupping his cheek and wiping the tear away with your thumb.

Neither of you said anything for a few seconds as you just stared at each other and you weren't even sure who made the first move or when it exactly happened, but the next thing you knew Daryl's lips were on yours as you kissed him.

Michonne's voice suddenly filled the air, causing the two of you to pull away as the other woman asked the other kids if they were okay. The three of you began to check the other kids for any sign of injuries, but they were all okay.

"Y/N, is this..." Daryl trailed off as he looked over at Sophia who was standing by your side and you nodded as tears began to fall down your cheeks again and you could see Daryl's eyes welling up as well.

"Sophia, remember me telling you about your daddy and how one day we were going to find him?" You asked, looking down at you daughter as she stared up at you with big blue eyes and nodded.

"We found him. Daryl, this our daughter, Sophia. Sophia, this is your daddy." You introduced pointing towards Daryl as Sophia looked over at him before glancing back at you with a questioning look. You nodded and not a second later she ran over to Daryl who knelt down on the ground just in time as she jumped on him, her little arms wrapping around his neck as she hugged him and he hugged her back.

"Mommy's told me all about you." Sophia said happily causing Daryl to chuckle as he stood up, still holding Sophia as he walked over to you and pulled you into a hug with his free arm.

You buried your head into his chest as held you tightly with one arm, the other firmly wrapped around Sophia. The three of you stayed like that for a few minutes before Sophia began to squirm and Daryl put her down as you pulled away.

Michonne was watching the three of you with a with a warm smile on her face before one of the kids pointed towards the dead bodies across the yard and you quickly stood in front of them, trying to block their view of the children.

"C'mon, there was a bus they were gonna use to leave in." Daryl suddenly said, glancing between you and Michonne. You both nodded before the three of you began leading the children in the direction of the bus, but you made sure to keep yourself between them and the bodies, not wanting any of them to see that.

You were still limping as you walked and you knew Daryl kept looking over at you in worry, but there was nothing either of you could do about it at the moment as you reached the bus and the kids seemed excited about riding in a school bus. None of them had probably seen a school bus in real life, let alone been inside one, no wonder they were excited.

Michonne and Judith sat on the seats behind the drivers chair where Daryl was, while you and Sophia sat on the other front seats across the aisle. The rest of the kids all spread out around the bus, laughing and talking amongst themselves, clearly finding this whole little adventure fun.

"Do you know how to drive this?" Michonne questioned, once Daryl finally figured out what button it was to close the door before he began to drive the bus down the gravel road and away from the school.

"You alright, Y/N?" Daryl asked a few minutes later, glancing over his shoulder towards you and you nodded.

Your knee was hurting like a bitch and you tried to not let your back touch the back of the seat because of the two burns, but you were okay. Although, you couldn't stop thinking about those other kids, they had been brainwashed by Jocelyn and you knew you didn't have a choice, but it didn't make it any easier.

-

It took a few hours, but eventually you saw the tall fences of what you assumed was Alexandria come into view. There was a man standing above the gate with a rifle in his hands and you figured he must be on watch duty as Daryl waved at him before the gate suddenly slid open and he drove the bus inside before parking it.

As the kids all began to pile out the bus as their worried parents met them by the door, you took the time to take in the large community. There were houses, some clearly from the old days, others seemed to be made recently as your eyes scanned the community through the windows of the bus.

"C'mon, lets get ya to the doc." Daryl's voice suddenly said, bringing you away from your thoughts to find him standing in front of you and you nodded as you followed him out the bus, Sophia right beside you as you held her hand.

There were heaps of people gathered around the bus, relief evident on their faces before they spotted you and Sophia. They stared at you in confusion and you stared back at them trying to find any members of your old group, but you couldn't recognise anyone.

"Who's this?" A man with a long beard and curly hair asked looking over at you with hesitation before he looked over at Daryl and Michonne who were standing a few metres away.

"My girlfriend. It's a long story, man." Daryl answered, which seemed to catch the guy off guard before Daryl spoke again. "Siddiq, Y/N was shot in the leg." Daryl shouted towards another man who quickly jogged over to the group of you, but you shook your head.

"I'm fine. Michonne and Daryl have burns on their backs, check on them first." You responded, looking over at Siddiq who you assumed much be the doctor causing him to quickly look over at you with a frown, but you weren't about to seen first by a doctor when there was a injured pregnant woman.

"Alright, all of three of you, let's go to the infirmary." Siddiq instructed as Daryl wrapped his arm around your back to help you walk while Sophia still held your hand tightly, clearly anxious with all these strangers around, but once you were inside the infirmary she seemed to calm down.

Siddiq asked what happened as he began take a look at the burn on Michonne's back and you stayed quiet as you sat down on chair beside Daryl while Sophia and Judith sat on the floor on the other side of the room, playing with a few toys.

Michonne explained what happened in limited detail, not saying anything about having to kill the other kids while the doctor bandaged up the burn before looking over at you and Daryl waiting to see which one of you wanted to go next before Daryl stood up and held his hand out towards you.

"Ya were shot 'n branded twice. You're goin' next." He muttered and you knew better than to argue with him as you grabbed his hand, letting him help you up before you sat on the edge of the hospital bed and Siddiq began rolling up your bloodied pants leg.

"The bullet went clean through. Shocked you could still walk on it." The man commented causing Daryl to muttered something like 'stubborn woman' under his breath before the doctor began to stitch the wound.

It didn't take long for him to stitch the wound up and bandage it before he cleaned the two burn marks on your back. He said one of them was more severe than the other and bandaged them up as well before he moved onto Daryl, bandaging his burn before stitching up the small wound on his shoulder from an arrow which a kid apparently shot at him. Siddiq then gave the three of you some antibiotics and offered you some pain killers which you gladly took before he excused himself to give the three of you some privacy.

The three of you sat in your chairs for a few minutes as you watched Sophia and Judith play together. Daryl sitting in the chair opposite you, while Michonne sat in the one to your left. None of you really knew what to say after what just happened, so you sat in silence and watched the two little girls.

"So, you guys have a daughter that Daryl clearly didn't know about. How do the two of you know each other?" Michonne asked curiously, looking over at you as she broke the silence and you were actually relieved for the sudden distraction, because it meant your brain wasn't thinking about those kids.

"I was with his group since the start, but then the farm got overrun and we got separated." You explained, glancing over at Daryl who was already looking over at you with a sad expression before you turned back to Michonne. You could tell she was trying to figure something out before her expression suddenly sadden as well causing you to frown. What aren't they telling you?

"You're Rick's sister, aren't you?" She asked, catching you off guard slightly as you stared at her and suddenly it all made sense. They were sad because of Rick. They thought he was dead, holy shit they were about to get one hell of a surprise.

"Y/N, there's something I need to tell ya." Daryl said softly, but you quickly shook your head as you stood up and began walking towards the door

"No, there's something you need to know, but I can't tell you until the whole group is here. Where's Carl and Lori and the others?" You asked, glancing over your shoulder as Daryl quickly stood up and grabbed your arm to stop you from walking out the room.

"No, Y/N, just wait a minute 'n sit down." Daryl said, his voice laced with sadness as he began to pull you back towards the chairs, but you shook your head.

"No, I know what you're going to say. Rick is alive. He's not dead." You stated causing Daryl to freeze.

"Y/N, what are you talking about?" Michonne asked and you looked over at her, noticing tears in her eyes.

"It's a long story, but I found him washed up on a riverbank. He was injured really bad and some other people showed up with a helicopter, but they bad. I had to kill them and I flew Rick in the helicopter to the nearest hospital. Gave him blood because we have the same blood type and stitched up his wounds. Somehow I managed to keep him alive while he was in a coma for a month and he woke up yesterday. Sophia and I were out looking for fuel to fly him back to Alexandria and then I came across the kids in the woods and tried to help them and well you know the rest from there." You explained, barely taking a breath during the whole thing as you glanced between Daryl and Michonne as they stared at you like you were crazy.

"How many pain killers did Siddiq give her?" Michonne asked quietly and you rolled your eyes.

"I'm not high or anything. I'm being dead serious. Rick said that there was a herd and he took a horse to try lead the herd away, but he got thrown off the horse and got himself impaled by a metal rod. But, he managed to get the herd to the bridge and he blew the bridge. Now, tell me how the hell would I know all that if I hadn't spoken to him myself?" You asked, crossing your arms over your chest, just daring them to say that you were crazy and high on pain killers, but neither of them said anything for a few seconds before Michonne began to cry and you could see tears welling up in Daryl's eyes.

"Oh my gosh, he's alive." Michonne whimpered, tears falling down her cheeks as you wrapped your arms around Daryl, noticing how he was trying to hold himself together.

"I'm sorry I couldn't come find you sooner and tell you. Rick is alive and he's okay." You reassured, holding Daryl tightly as buried his head in the crook of his neck and you gently ran your fingers through his hair.

"Now, where are the others? Carl and Lori need to know he's still alive." You said after a few minutes causing Daryl's body to tense as he pulled away from you, his hands moving to your shoulders as he stared at you, tears still in his eyes, but they weren't happy tears anymore and you frowned.

Rick said the group fine, he said everything was fine, why is Daryl sad? You had never seen Daryl cry before, alright that's a lie. You had seen him in tears when he found about the group leaving Merle on the rooftop, but that was it and if Daryl was close to crying you knew whatever he was going to say was bad.

"Where's my family? Where's Carl?" You asked, staring at Daryl before you glanced over at Michonne who was still sitting down, but now had a sad look in her eye as she stared at Sophia and Judith still playing on the ground, completely oblivious to what was going on.

"Daryl, where's my nephew?" You questioned again, when neither of them answered you.

"Carl's gone, Y/N. M'sorry, I'm so sorry." Daryl said softly and you stared at him in disbelief. Your whole world suddenly crashing down around you as you shook your head. No, Carl couldn't be gone. He couldn't be dead, he was just a kid! You had spent the past five years trying to find him, trying to find all of them, but now that you finally did, Carl was gone.

"He's dead?" You asked, your voice barely above a whisper as you felt tears brimming in your eyes and Daryl just nodded ever so slightly and that was it.

You couldn't hold it back anymore as you stumbled back a few steps away from him and buried your face into your hands and cried. Within a second Daryl had his arms wrapped around you as he pulled you into his chest, his hand cupping the back of your head as he held you tightly against him.

"W-what happened?" You sobbed into his chest.

"He found a stranger in the woods, Siddiq, the doctor from before. He was tryin' to help him against a group of walkers... but he got bit." Daryl explained, his voice thick with emotion and you knew he was crying too. Carl died, he got bit and he died. You little nephew died trying to help a stranger.

It took a while, but eventually you stopped crying. You didn't think you had any tears left to cry after that as you slowly pulled away from Daryl.

Michonne was still sitting on her chair, wiping her own eyes before your brain suddenly clicked. Lori. Oh my God, Lori. Her son had died and now she thinks her husband is dead too, you had to see her.

"Where's Lori? I need to see her." You quickly said as you began rushing back towards the door, but again Daryl grabbed your arm, stopping you and you turned around to find him slowly shaking his head with the same sad expression. You quickly shook your head, refusing to believe what he was silently telling you.

"No, Lori isn't dead too. Where is she?" You asked, your voice wavering as you stared at Daryl desperately.

"M'sorry, Y/N." He whispered, shaking his head as tears began to blur your vision, your entire body shaking as your legs buckled from underneath you. Your entire world shattering around you as you landed on the floor, crying.

 

Chapter Text

Lori and Carl were both dead. They were gone and you never got to say goodbye...

Over the past five years you had learnt to accept that they were probably dead and that you'd never see them again, but then Rick told you that everything was fine. That the group was fine, but that was a lie, nothing was fine. Lori was dead, Carl was dead, what about the others?

"Who else?" You asked, although you weren't sure you actually wanted to know.

"Patricia, Jimmy, Hershel, Beth, T-Dog, Andrea, Glenn." Daryl listed off as you stared at the ground in disbelief. Nearly everyone was dead, the whole group was basically dead.

"Carol's at another community called Kingdom, 'n Maggie's at a community called Hilltop. All the communities trade together 'n help each other, they're both fine." Daryl reassured and you nodded ever so slightly, relieved that they were okay, but you still couldn't stop thinking about the others. About Carl, about Lori, about Glenn, about the kids you had to kill today. God, it was all too much. Wait, Lori was pregnant. Did she have the baby or did she die before?

"Lori was pregnant... did she..." You trailed off, really not wanting to know the answer because you couldn't take any more deaths, but you had to know.

You glanced over your shoulder towards Daryl, who had sat down beside you on the ground sometime while you were completely out of it and crying, his arm wrapped around your shoulder.

"She had the baby, but died during child birth. Judith is her daughter." Michonne answered and your head snapped around towards the two kids still playing on the ground on the other side of the room as you stared at the little blonde girl beside Sophia.

Judith... Carl's favourite school teacher was Judith, it was his third grade teacher, he must have named her.

You smiled softly at your small discovery as you stared at Judith, only just realising how much she actually looked like Lori. But, you couldn't quite tell if she was Rick's or Shane's, although that didn't really matter anymore. Shane was dead. He didn't even get to meet his daughter. But, Rick would have raised her and he would have raised her right, just like he did with Carl. Rick was a good father.

"Wait, I thought you said Judith was your daughter?" You asked, glancing over at Michonne while you still sat on the ground, your face wet with tears, but you didn't have the energy to wipe them away.

"Does she look like my real daughter?" Michonne chuckled lightly as she wiped her teary eyes with a sad smile.

"She's my daughter in every way, but blood. Rick and I are together. I helped him raise her, the whole group helped." She explained and your eyes went wide with shock as relief flooded your body. You were glad that she was there to help Rick, especially having to raise his daughter just as his wife died.

"So, your unborn baby is his?" You asked, with a hint of a smile forming on your lips and Michonne nodded.

You sat there for a few minutes as you watched Sophia and Judith play, before you forced yourself to stand up as you glanced outside taking note of how low the sun was in the sky. There was probably still a few hours of daylight left, you had to get Rick.

"I need to go get, Rick. Can I take that school bus and a jerry can of fuel with me?" You asked, glancing between Daryl and Michonne as Daryl stood up from the ground with a confused expression.

"I need more fuel for the helicopter. Rick won't be able to walk down the fire escape like I did to get out the building, he's fine, but he's still recovering." You explained.

"Yeah, but I'm going with ya." Daryl responded, but you quickly shook your head. You needed Daryl to stay here and look after Sophia. After today you did not want her out there if she doesn't have to be, and you did not trust anyone else to keep her safe in this community.

"Dixon, do you trust me? I know it's been years, I know people change, but do you trust me?" You asked, taking a step towards him and he nodded.

"Yeah."

"Then trust me with this and let me do it. I need you to keep Sophia safe. I'm not letting her back out there after what just happened, promise me you'll keep her safe until I get back?" You asked and Daryl stared at you for a few seconds, clearly contemplating what to do before he glanced over at his daughter on the ground.

"Yeah, I promise." He muttered, clearly not happy about it.

"Mommy, I don't want you to go." Sophia's voice suddenly said and you turned around to find her walking over to you as she wrapped her arms around your legs. She wasn't listening to any of your conversations earlier, but happened to listen to this? Typical.

"I know sweetie. But I gotta go get Uncle Rick and bring him back." You explained and she nodded. "Good, now you stay here with your daddy. He's a good man and mommy loves him very much, do whatever he says okay?" You asked, glancing over at Daryl who was already looking at you with a small smile on his lips.

"Okay." Sophia replied.

-

Daryl honestly had no idea how deal with everything that's happened in the past 12 hours. First he finds out Y/N is alive, then he finds out that he has a 5-year-old daughter that he never knew about. The he finds out that Rick never actually died and Y/N had been looking after him for the past month.

Daryl was currently sitting in the lounge room of Michonne's house. Aaron, Eugene, Rosita, Gabriel, Siddiq and Tara all sitting and standing around the room while Michonne told them about Y/N and how Rick was still alive.

He sat there silently as he listened, still trying to process everything himself. He leant back into the couch, Sophia sitting on his lap as she fiddled her slingshot that Daryl had noticed was tucked into her belt.

His daughter had a slingshot. Y/N had taught her how to use a slingshot, holy shit.

He used to have a slingshot when he was her age, just some old scrappy thing that Merle made him in the garage, but it worked and he took down his first bird with it. That's how he started off hunting, walking through the woods with his slingshot in his hand and a pocket full of small rocks for ammo, and now his daughter had one too.

"I can't believe he's alive. We have to get word out to Kingdom and Hilltop, they need to know." Tara announced, clearly the first person to process what Michonne had told them as she glanced around the room.

Daryl had no idea how she took everything in so quickly, he was still caught up on the fact that Y/N was alive, that she was alive and had a daughter, had his daughter.

"Y/N said that she should be back some time tomorrow, if the bus doesn't break down or anything. It will probably be better for Rick to go to the communities personally rather than sending a note." Michonne responded and Daryl was astonished to how well Michonne had dealt with all this news.

They had spent every day throughout the past month looking for Rick's body. She found his gun and then found out she was pregnant when her clothes weren't fitting right anymore and now she found out he was still alive.

"What if it breaks down? Y/N was shot in the leg, she couldn't walk to whatever hospital she had Rick in while carrying the two jerry cans of fuel." Siddiq spoke up and Daryl shook his head.

These people did not know Y/N. She helped him climb up a damn cliff face when he was shot by his own bolt. All while she had a broken wrist and was recovering from a dislocated kneecap. She was the strongest and most stubborn girl he knew, but he still wished he went with her.

"Nah, she's strong. If she says she'll be back tomorrow, then she'll be back tomorrow." He responded glancing down at Sophia in his lap who was now trying to braid Gracie's hair as the younger girl sat in Aaron's lap beside him.

"Didn't even know Rick had a sister or you had a girlfriend, no offence." Eugene commented from his seat cross the room, but Daryl shook his head to show that he wasn't offended.

Once the group realised that Y/N was gone he never even looked at another woman like how he did with Y/N. It just felt wrong and he had no idea how Rick did it after Lori died, but he just couldn't. There wasn't any other girls like her and frankly he didn't want anyone else.

"Carl used to always talk about her, but Rick didn't. He never liked talking about her after she died or so he thought." Michonne replied and Daryl smiled softly remembering the times when Carl used to share stories about Y/N whenever Rick wasn't in the room. At first he used to hate it, but over time he began to enjoy hearing the stories and thinking about her.

"She was in the military before all this, apparently. Carl thought the world of her and used to say how badass she was and how she could easily deck Rick if she wanted to and how nothing used to scared her. I didn't believe him until today when Y/N showed up and saved us." Michonne explained and Carl was right with the first two things, but Daryl knew she was scared of some stuff, like those assholes in Afghanistan who he hoped were long dead by now.

"I like this chick already." Rosita commented causing the others to chuckle and Daryl smiled as Sophia began to curl up in his lap. Her head was resting on his chest as he wrapped his arm around her and smiled proudly down at his daughter.

He was shocked that Sophia had warmed up to him so quickly. Judith was always weary of strangers, but Sophia seemed to like him instantly. He wasn't sure if it was because Y/N had talked to her about him a lot or if it's just because she felt comfortable around him for some reason, either way he wasn't going to complain.

"Do you want to go bed?" He asked quietly, looking down at the little girl curled up on his chest, but she shook her head.

"Don't leave me." Sophia whispered, glancing up at him as he shook his head.

"I ain't leavin' ya, sweetheart. Not ever." He replied, kissing the top of her head before he stood up from the couch, Sophia still in his arms. "M'gonna head to bed, is it alright if we take the spare room?" He asked, looking over at Michonne.

He used to share a house with Rick, Michonne and Carl before the Saviours bombed the place. Now there were new buildings and he hadn't really stayed here long enough to get himself an actual house yet, so he's just been crash in Michonne's spare room.

"Of course, there spare blankets in the cupboard if you need them." She replied and Daryl nodded before saying goodnight to the others as he walked up the stairs towards the spare room.

"Are you going to sleep here with me?" Sophia asked as he gently laid her down on the bed, her blue eyes barely able to stay open as she stared up at him and he smiled.

"Only if ya want me to." He replied, not wanting to push any boundaries with her since he only just met her today, but to his surprise she quickly nodded.

-

The following morning he took Sophia back downstairs where Michonne was cooking breakfast while Judith sat at the table waiting patiently. The second the little girl spotted him and Sophia, she quickly called out to them and Sophia let go of his hand and ran over to Judith as the two of them sat together by the table.

"Good morning." Michonne called, glancing over her shoulder towards Sophia before Daryl walked over to her about to ask if she needed help, but didn't get a chance. "I got this under control, sit down. How's your back?"

"Hurts, how's yours?" He asked, not bothering to lie to her since she had the same injury and knew it hurt too and Michonne chuckled.

"Same. It could have been much worse though, Y/N copped most it for us." Michonne responded and Daryl nodded, remembering back to those days at the quarry and farm.

Y/N was always putting herself in front of other people, taking the fall for them so they didn't have to. He wasn't sure if she just wanted to protect everyone or if she thought she deserved the pain it caused, he hoped it wasn't the latter.

"She always does, the woman would've died for anyone in the group, probably still would." Daryl muttered shaking his head as he thought back to the time she had gotten between Ed and Carol. She copped a bruise along her jaw that lasted for a week. Or the time she took the grenade from Rick back in the CDC, so he didn't risk his life and she ended up hitting her head and getting a concussion when it blew up.

"Are you talking about my mommy?" Sophia asked, joining in on the conversation and Daryl nodded as Michonne began serving up what looked to be scrambled eggs from the chickens Maggie had given the community. "When is she coming back?"

"Is she bringing daddy home?" Judith asked looking over at Michonne who sat down on the seat next to Daryl while the two girls sat opposite them.

"Uncle Rick is your daddy? Does that make us cousins?" Sophia asked, looking at Sophia before glancing over at Daryl and he again nodded, surprised with how smart his daughter was for her age. Michonne seemed to be impressed too as she raised her eyebrow at him, but he just shrugged his shoulders because he sure as hell hasn't be teaching her anything.

Between him and Michonne they managed to keep Sophia and Judith distracted for most the day while they waited for Y/N and Rick to come home. But, as the sun began to get lower in the sky he was starting to get worried and he knew Michonne was too.

He was out showing Sophia the veggie garden when the distant sound of a helicopter began to fill the air and for a split second he had no idea what the noise was since he hadn't seen or heard a helicopter in nearly six years.

Sophia seemed to know what the noise was straight away as she began tugging on his pants leg excitedly. He began leading the little girl out the garden and towards the large clearing section in the community where he told Y/N to land the helicopter.

By the time he reached the clearing, Michonne, Judith, Rosita, Tara, Aaron, Gracie, Eugene, Gabriel and a few others had already gathered there, all staring up the helicopter in the sky as it flew towards the community.

He knew Y/N used to fly helicopters during her time in Afghanistan, but he still couldn't believe his eyes when he spotted her in the piolets seat as she began to lower the chopper down.

Everyone quickly stepped back from the sudden wind the propellers were causing before she parked the helicopter with ease and turned the engine off.

It took a while for the blades to stop spinning, but they finally did and not a second later the back sliding door to the helicopter opened and Rick climbed out.

-

You took of your seat belt off, giving Rick the all clear to climb out as he opened the back door where everyone was standing.

You climbed out the driver door on the opposite side and walked around the helicopter towards everyone.

You couldn't stop the smile spreading on your face as Rick pulled Michonne and Judith into a tight hug. Both of them were crying as Rick pointed towards her small baby bump in shock and you grinned, leaning back against the side of the chopper not wanting to get in the way.

"Mommy!" Sophia's voice shouted and you looked to your left to find her running through the crowd with her arms up.

Immediately you vent down and lifted her up, resting her against your hip, being mindful of the burns on your back. You glanced over to where she came from to find Daryl standing there as Rick pulled away from his girlfriend and daughter and looked over at Daryl.

"Thought ya were dead, man." Your heard Daryl muttered, his voice thick with emotion before Rick walked the reminding few metres towards him and wrapped Daryl up into a tight hug.

"I nearly was, brother." Rick responded, patting Daryl on the back and you smiled softly at Rick calling him brother before he pulled away and greeted everyone else who had come out to either see Rick or the helicopter.

"That was one way to make an entrance." Daryl commented as he began walking over to you, Sophia still in your arms.

"Thank you for staying and watching her." You said, looking over at Daryl and he nodded, smiling lightly at Sophia before you looked back at Rick and the others, everyone crying and hugging each other.

You were glad Rick had found this community, this new group, everyone seemed to be close to each other, but you just wished Rick didn't lie to you about your old group. He should have told you the truth, instead it got your hopes up and destroyed you all over again.

-

Once the reunion was over Michonne told every to give Rick some space since he only woke up from a coma yesterday and still needed to take it easy.

You, Daryl and Sophia joined her, Rick and Judith in their house so Rick could take it easy, despite him insisting that he was fine, but Michonne wouldn't have any of it.

After getting Siddiq to check on Rick to take his stitches out and to make sure he was okay, the six of you all ate tea together and ended up sitting around the lounge room.

Sophia and Judith were already fast asleep together on one of the couches while you sat on the single seater, Daryl on the other single couch to your left while Rick and Michonne sat together on the three seater opposite you.

Rick explained everything that happened with the herd and how he blew the bridge of with dynamite -you knew that explosion was dynamite- before he talked about waking up in a hospital with you and how he thought it was all a dream.

He held Michonne's hand the entire time before she explained everything that happened during the past month and how they had been looking for him ever since.

You sat there silently as you listened to them talk, Daryl adding a few things in as they spoke and you smiled as you listened.

"Y/N, you still haven't told me what happened after the farm." Rick suddenly said, looking over at you curiously. "T-Dog said he saw your truck roll by the barn and that was the last anyone saw. We all thought you were dead." Rick explained and you saw Daryl turn towards you out the corner of your eye, wanting to hear everything you had to say and you sighed, well this was going to be a long story.

"Our truck rolled, but Shane and I managed to get out before the walkers got to us and we made a run for it into the woods. By the time we got back to the highway two days had passed and we saw your note." You began to explain before Rick cut you off.

"You got out with Shane? What happened to him?" He asked realising that something must have happened to his best friend since he wasn't with you anymore and you raised your eyebrows at your brother. "Sorry, continue talking, I'll shut up."

"We tried looking for you and then I found out that I was pregnant, thanks Dixon." You added with a hint of a grin as you looked over at Daryl who's cheeks turned pink as you spoke before you looked back down at the ground and continued talking.

"We made camp in an old library and Shane helped me deliver the baby. He helped me a lot, I'd be dead if it wasn't for him, Sophia too. Anyway, we had to leave the library when a herd came and we eventually came across a prison."

"A prison?" Daryl asked in disbelief.

"Yep, we're all thinking of the same prison because I found Merle's old motorcycle and that lime green car Maggie and Glenn were driving at the farm. Then we began following train tracks and signs to a place called Terminus, but came across a sign that had been crossed out and said 'No Sanctuary' and Shane could recognise your messy handwriting anywhere, bro." You explained glancing over at Rick who began laugh, but nod in agreement.

"After that we didn't know where to go, then we came across some assholes on the road." You continued, your tone turning serious as you moved your injured leg slightly into a more comfortable position and tried to figure out how to tell them.

"The men wanted to take us back to their community and make Shane work for them. They threatened Sophia and the leader tried to touch her, but Shane stopped him and he got killed in the process. I killed half of them and took the guys truck and got the hell out of there, but they killed Shane, I'm sorry." You explained, shaking your head at the memory as you forced your tears not to fall at the memory.

They didn't need to hear how the leader bashed Shane's head in with a baseball bat until there was nothing left of it. They didn't need to picture that image in their heads.

"After that, Sophia and I just kept moving, trying to find you guys and two years later we bumped into a man named, Dwight. He somehow knew you and gave me directions to Alexandria and that's when I came across Rick on the riverbank and well, you guys know the rest." You finished, glancing over at Daryl who was staring at you in disbelief.

"You had been looking for us that whole time?" Rick asked in shock and you nodded.

"I wasn't going to give up, no matter how many years had passed. I'm stubborn, you know that." You replied looking over at him with a sad smile.

"Ain't that the truth." Daryl muttered from beside you causing the group to laugh before quickly quietening down not wanting to wake Sophia and Judith.

The four of you continued to talk for a little bit, Michonne telling Rick about what happened with Jocelyn. Although, you had already told him most of it when you bought him back since he asked how the hell you got shot, but he was just relived that you all made it out of there alive.

"Do we still have that horse cart? We can go to Kingdom tomorrow, stay the night there since it's the furthest and then go via Hilltop on the way home." Rick suggested and you all nodded in agreement and began planning the trip to the other communities.

"Guys, can I talk to Rick privately for a second?" You asked once they finished planning as you looked over at Michonne and Daryl who both instantly nodded and picked up Sophia and Judith before disappearing out the room.

You looked back over at Rick who was still sitting on the couch opposite you, but you didn't say anything for a moment as you tried to figure out how to word it.

"Are you okay?" Your brother asked, his voice gentle as he spoke as he stared at you in worry and you sighed.

"No, Rick, I'm not okay. Yesterday I killed six kids, innocent kids. Some where even Sophia and Judith's age-" You began to say before Rick cut you off.

"Jocelyn brainwashed them, you didn't have a choice, Y/N. You did what you had to do-"

"I know, I know. It doesn't make it any easier, but that's not even the reason why I'm not okay. I'm not okay because my brother told me that everyone from the group was okay. You told me that everyone was fine!" You exclaimed, standing up from the couch, despite the pain in your knee as you began to pace the small area.

"Hey, just come sit down-" Rick tried to say.

"Over the past six years, I had learnt to accept that I'd never see anyone from our group again. I accepted that they were all probably dead, but I never stopped looking.... then you said that everyone was fine and that acceptance just went out the window because everyone was alive and I was so happy. But, then I arrive at Alexandria and Daryl tells me about... he tells me about C-Carl... and Lori... he tells me about everyone, but you said they were alive, but they aren't!" You shouted softly, not wanting the others to hear as silent tears fell down your cheeks.

"I'm sorry." Rick whispered shaking his head at himself as he stared at you through his own teary eyes.

"I couldn't tell you... I couldn't put that on you because in that moment I wasn't entirely sure I was going to survive. I didn't want to drop that on you and say that your family is dead and then for me to die straight after. Hell, I wasn't entirely sure that you were even real and I just couldn't tell you, I couldn't..." Rick trailed off unable to finish his sentence as the tears in his eyes began tricking down his face before he stood up and walked over to you, resting his hands on your shoulders.

"I'm sorry." You whispered, dropping your head as Rick pulled you into a tight hug.

"No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have lied to you." He quickly replied, hugging you tightly as he kissed the top of your head.

-

*One Hour Later*

You were lying in the king sized bed in the spare room. Sophia curled up on your left and Daryl lying to your right as you stared up at the ceiling.

"I killed six kids yesterday. Six innocent kids are dead because of me." You whispered and for a moment you thought maybe Daryl was asleep before he moved slightly and wrapped his arm around your body, pulling you into him as you rested your head on his chest.

"I know, but they ain't innocent. They were gonna kill Sophia 'n the other kids, ya didn't have a choice, I killed one too. Older kid, probably only 16 though." Daryl replied, keeping his voice quiet as he rubbed his thumb in small circles over your shoulder.

"I've killed people before, killed a lot before the world turned to this, it was part of the job. I never really had a problem with it, the people I killed were always bad guys, murderers and rapists, they deserved it. But this... this was different."

"I know what ya mean." Daryl whispered and neither of you said anything for a few minutes as you laid there together, before Daryl spoke up again. "It's nearly been six years, a lot can change in that time, ya sure ya still wanna be with me?"

You had to stop yourself from laughing at Daryl's question because if it wasn't obvious that you didn't want him still then you didn't know how else to prove it.

"I've spent the past six years trying to find you, Dixon. We have a daughter together and I know you didn't plan it, neither of us did, but it happened and I wouldn't change it for the world. Of course I still want to be with you." You responded and Daryl leant forward and placed a gentle kiss to the top of your head causing you to smile softly. You missed this. You missed him and now for the first time in a long time you actually felt at home.

 

Chapter Text

 

The next morning you, Daryl, Sophia, Judith, Rick, Michonne and Tara all made the trek to Kingdom. Tara wanted to tag along because apparently she wanted to live at Hilltop and help Maggie run the community and Rick didn't try make her stay even though everyone was sad that she was leaving.

Tara and Michonne sat up the front controlling the horses while you sat in the back of the cart with Daryl, Rick and the kids. You knew Michonne wasn't too keen on taking Judith outside the walls, but seemed to relax a bit when you said Sophia was going to come too because like hell you were leaving her in Alexandria when everyone you trusted was leaving.

It took all morning and most the afternoon to get to Kingdom, but you eventually got to the community as the tall walls came into view. Apparently it was only an hour or so trip back when they had fuel to run the cars or something, but now it took nearly all day which made sense why Rick suggested staying there the night.

You took in the large walls of the community as Tara and Michonne slowed the horses down in front of the gates and greeted some woman named Diane as she opened them.

Once you were inside the community you could see a man with dreadlocks walking down the street towards you and right beside him was Carol. The two of them looked confused when they saw Tara and Michonne and you knew they couldn't see the rest of you inside the cart as the horses stopped.

Rick climbed out as he grabbed Judith and walked around the side of the cart towards Carol and the man who was apparently named King Ezekiel, yes they had given you the whole rundown about this place and now you understood the name.

"Oh my God, Rick!" Carol shouted and you smiled watching on while inside the cart, not ready to get out just yet as you watched Carol run over to Rick who handed Judith to Michonne before pulling Carol into a hug as Ezekiel patted him on the back.

"Ya alright?" Daryl asked from beside you, noticing you staring at Carol as tears began rising in your eyes. You hadn't seen Carol for years, the last time you had even spoken to her was before her daughter died, she never talked to you for those few days afterwards. How was she going to react when she saw you? How was she going to react when she finds out that you named your daughter after her daughter?

"Hey, look at me. It's alright, I know it's a lot to take in." Daryl said softly as he reached for your hand and squeezed it gently.

"That's an understatement." You replied before Daryl climbed out the back of the cart and helped you out too since you were still recovering from the gunshot wound to your knee.

You grabbed Sophia and put her on the ground beside you, but she immediately grabbed your hand and you knew she was anxious seeing all of this for the first time and you were too.

"How are you alive? We thought you were dead." Carol questioned, after she finished hugging Rick and commenting with how big Judith had gotten as looked between Rick, Michonne and Tara before you and Daryl walked out from behind the cart, his arm over your shoulder as he helped you walk while Sophia held your hand.

"I found him on the riverbank and patched him up. Although, it wasn't the kind of reunion I had been hoping for since he went into a damn coma for a month and nearly died on me, but it worked out in the end." You called out unable to stop yourself from smiling as Carols head quickly spun around in your direction clearly recognising your voice and when her eyes landed on you she had to cover her mouth with her hands as she stared at you in disbelief.

"Who is this lady with Daryl?" The King questioned, glancing over at Carol in confusion before Rick spoke up.

"King Ezekiel, meet my sister and Daryl's girlfriend, Y/N." Rick introduced pointing towards you and the mans face immediately broke out in a friendly smile as he looked between you, Daryl and the little girl beside you.

"We thought you were dead... No way, is this your daughter? Is she Daryl's?" Carol questioned as she walked over to you, her eyes flashing between you and Sophia and you couldn't form the right words as tears began to fall down your cheeks, so you just nodded before Carol pulled you into a tight hug as Daryl let go and picked up Sophia. "I'm so glad you're okay, I can't believe you're here." She said as you hugged her back.

"Carol, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry." You whispered, unable to stop the tears that were pouring down your cheeks causing Carol to pull away in confusion, her hands still on your shoulders. "Sophia, your daughter... It was my fault, it was all my fault. You asked me to look after her and I gave her a pocket knife and-"

"Y/N, it wasn't your fault." Carol interrupted, but you shook your head and looked down at the ground unable to see the sad look in the other woman's eyes. "I'll admit for a while I blamed you because it was easier to blame someone than deal with it, but it wasn't your fault. You were trying to protect her and broke your wrist trying to find her. Between you and Daryl, you did more than anyone for my little girl." Carol insisted as she pulled you into another tight hug.

"Now, what this little princesses name?" She asked, looking over at Sophia who was sitting in Daryl's arms and watching her curiously.

"Sophia." Your daughter answered and you quickly looked over at Carol, not quite sure how she was going to react, but to your relief a giant smile broke out on her face as quickly she glanced over at you and mouthed 'thank you' before she turned back to Sophia and began talking to your daughter.

Once everyone had caught up and Carol and Ezekiel introduced their son, Henry, to you and Sophia. Ezekiel took the group of you into the theatre room so you could all sit down while he and Rick began discussing plans for the future with all four communities- yes, they told you about Oceanside on the long ride here.

You weren't really listening as you mucked around with Sophia beside Daryl, but you heard bits and pieces about another community called Sanctuary or something and how they were bad people and now they were all gone or something.

"Eugene was talking about building something, can't think of the name, but something so all the communities can communicate with each other. Like through a device that each community has, so we can keep in contact and stuff." Tara suddenly spoke up which caught your attention because that sounded like a really cool idea.

"Can he actually make something like that?" Rick asked, clearly interest too as everyone looked over at the woman.

"He thinks he could, he just needed some place up high to put it that's roughly between all the communities, so the signal could reach everyone and apparently he knows the perfect place." Tara answered.

The group of continued talking for a while, sharing ideas and eventually coming up with some kind of monthly trade market where each community would take turns hosting a market. People would gather and bring homemade and homegrown items like food, weapons, clothes and linen like blankets, cloths, pillows, really anything. Hilltop were more of a farming community so they'd have different stuff to trade compared to Oceanside which is more of fishing community and will have other items to trade.

It made sense and everyone seemed to like the idea, so Kingdom were going to send a few people to Oceanside tomorrow while you guys went to Hilltop and see if the other two communities liked the idea and wanted to join.

Ezekiel showed you all were you could stay for the night and said breakfast would be ready before you all set off to leave. You and Daryl had your own room with two beds and to your surprise Sophia didn't argue and seemed to almost enjoy having her own bed while you and Daryl shared the other.

If you were being honest it was probably the best sleep you've had in years, probably since you and Shane lived in that library and slept on those ridiculously comfy couches. If only Shane was here now, he'd be so happy to see his daughter so grown up and you knew he missed Rick as much as you did. But, if it wasn't for Shane than neither you or Sophia would be back with them today and Rick would be dead or being used for human trafficking. You owed Shane Walsh everything.

-

After breakfast the group of you headed off to Hilltop after saying goodbye to Carol and Ezekiel. On the ride to Hilltop, Rick and Daryl gave you the rundown of Maggie's community because apparently she was the leader there and had a son that Glenn never got to meet and named him Hershel Jr.

They also told you that her righthand man who helps her run the community was Jesus, well it was his nickname and apparently you'd realise why it's his nickname when you saw him so you just nodded and went along with it.

As you pulled up to the front of the community you immediately realised why they had referred to it as the farming community by all the crops and gardens they had set up in front of the tall wooden walls. This community definitely suited Maggie with the whole farming theme, Hershel would be proud of her, Beth too.

"What are you guys doing here? Not that I'm complaining, we haven't seen each other since..." An unfamiliar male voice said, trailing off at the end as you all began climbing out the cart and your eyes landed on a man wearing a long sleeved blue henley shirt and jeans, but you noticed his long beard and long hair that seemed to be tied up in a bun behind his head.

"Oh, he's got be Jesus." You commented, clearly saying it too loudly because he quickly looked over at you with an amused expression. "Sorry, I just get why that's your nickname now, I was so confused earlier. Nice to meet you, I'm Y/N Grimes, Daryl's girlfriend." You said holding your hand out towards the man.

"Paul Rovia, although as you know most people call me Jesus, your pick." Jesus replied as he shook your hand before he suddenly he stopped and stared at you. "Did you say that your last name was Grimes?"

"Yes, she did. Jesus, meet my long lost sister who also saved my life." Rick said from somewhere behind you and the mans eyes darted over your shoulder and went wide in shock. "Yeah, I'm back." Rick added as Jesus walked over to him and pulled him into a hug.

"Maggie and Enid are going to flip. Come on, they're in her office with Hershel." Jesus quickly said and you smiled softly at how excited the man was with reuniting Rick and the others, although you had no idea who Enid was, but she obviously knew Rick.

You glanced over your shoulder as Daryl walked up to you, Sophia walking beside him holding his hand and the smile on your face grew even wider watching Daryl and your daughter get along so well.

Daryl eye's locked with yours and seemed to read what you were thinking as his lips twitched up in a slight smile before he held his free arm out towards you and you took it as the group of you began following Jesus towards the large mansion in the middle of the community.

You knee was starting to hurt after all the walking you have done today and the stairs inside the mansion really sucked. But, you managed to limp up the stairs, Jesus sending you a worried look before Daryl told him that you were shot a couple days ago which seemed to worry him even more, but you insisted that you were fine.

"Maggie, it's Jesus. I have some people who really need to see you." Jesus called out as he knocked on a door to his right and slowly opened it. Michonne and Tara walked in first followed by Daryl, you and Sophia and then Rick who was holding Judith.

You glanced around the room spotting Maggie sitting on the ground on a blanket with a baby playing on the ground beside her along with another girl sitting on a desk watching them.

"Rick? Y/N? Holy s..." Maggie trailed off and you weren't sure if it was because she didn't want to swear in front of the kids or she was just too shocked to finish her sentence as she quickly stood up and rushed over to the two of you and seemed to be conflicted with who to greet first, but you quickly motioned towards Rick.

Maggie instantly hugged Rick, being mindful of Judith in his arms as he hugged her back and you knew the woman was crying as Rick whispered to her that he was okay, that everything was okay.

After a few minutes she pulled away wiping her eyes before Enid walked over hugging Rick and Maggie glanced over at you. That was all it took before the tears began to fall down your cheeks as you stared at your long lost friend and instantly pulled her into a tight hug.

"I thought you were dead, I thought you were both dead." Maggie whispered, her voice thick with emotion.

"I found this dumbass practically bleeding out along the riverbank and figured I should probably help him." You joked trying to lighten the mood since over half of the people standing in the room were either in tears or close to it, causing everyone to chuckle.

"Your son is beautiful, Maggie." You said a few seconds later, looking over at the baby boy who was now in Jesus' arms. He looked so much like Glenn already.

"Thank you, is this your daughter?" Maggie asked, looking over at the little girl holding Daryl's hand and you nodded. "I didn't even know you were pregnant! Y/N, you should have told me, you were sleeping out in a tent while I was sleeping in a comfy bed back on the farm." Maggie said as she stared at your little girl before glancing between you and Daryl.

"Kinda hard to tell you when I didn't even know I was pregnant until a couple weeks after we all got separated." You responded causing Maggie to look at you in shock.

"You had to go through all that alone?"

"No, I got out the farm with Shane. He helped me with everything, we'd both be dead if it wasn't for him." You replied with a sad smile and Maggie seemed to be relived with the news but also worried all over again and you knew she was wondering where Shane was.

"Shane didn't make it, some guy killed him when he tried protecting me and Sophia." You said motioning towards the little girl beside Daryl.

"I'm so sorry." She replied, knowing that Shane was like a brother to you before she glanced over at Hershel. "I know what it's like, the same happened to Glenn, but at least his murder is rotting in a cell." She added causing you to frown. Did she say that Glenn's murder was in a cell? They let the person who killed Glenn live?

"I know what you're thinking and for a long time I wanted Negan to die for what he did, but he's already worse than dead in that cell back in Alexandria." Maggie explained and everything just came to a sudden stop as you froze. She said Negan. That was the name of the man who killed Shane, that was the same name!

"What weapon did he use to do it?" You questioned and you saw everyone in the room turn to you in shock and you knew it was a horrible question, but Negan was a rare name and there can't be two Negan's running around with baseball bats wrapped with barbed wire. Maggie stared at you for a few seconds, not expecting that upfront question before she cleared her throat.

"Baseball bat with barbed wire wrapped around it." She answered her expression hardening as she stared at you and you could feel your hands starting to tremble at your sides as you realised that the man who killed Shane wasn't just still alive, but he was living in Alexandria. The same place you and Sophia had been staying. Negan had been there the whole time.

"Why do you want to know?" Maggie questioned when you didn't respond to her and shook your head trying to get yourself to calm down.

"Watch Sophia, I need a minute." You quickly said, not looking at anyone in particular as you spoke before you rushed out the room. You heard Rick and Daryl shout your name in confusion, but you ignored them as you rushed out the room and made your way back down the stairs, not caring about the sharp pain searing through your knee as you took two stairs at a time before you rushed out the front door.

You had no idea where you were going, but you knew you needed to be alone. You made your way around the back of the large mansion and to your relief there was nobody around this side of the community.

He was alive. Negan was alive. The man who brutally murdered Shane was still alive and they had him living in some cell in Alexandria, what the fuck?

You leant your back against the brick wall of the mansion and covered your face with your hands as you tried to control your breathing, but everything was just spinning and you knew you were on the blink of a panic attack. You used to get them when you first came back from Afghanistan, but you hadn't had one in years.

You didn't know what to do as your legs trembled from underneath you and you knew you should sit down before you collapsed. You dropped to the ground, wincing at the pain it caused your leg as you rested your back against the wall behind you and tried to take a few deep breaths. But, you couldn't stop the tears from falling down your cheeks as memories from that day flashed through your mind.

The way Negan leant down in front of you and tried to reach for Sophia and then Shane spear tackled him away from you. The way Shane tried so hard to protect you before Negan grabbed that fucking bat and ended it all within a second. The awful crunching sound you heard every night in your dreams as Negan's bat connected with Shane's skull. The way his body hit the ground and Negan continued to swing his bat until you couldn't recognise your best friend lying on the ground.

"Daryl, Rick, she's over here!" Jesus' voice shouted in the distance, but you could barely hear him as you closed your eyes unable to get that memory out of your mind. It was like your brain was just playing it on replay and there was nothing you could do to stop it as you buried your face into your hands.

"Y/N? What's wrong?" Daryl questioned, but he might as well be talking to a brick wall because you couldn't hear him over the blood rushing through your ears. You could feel his hands on your good knee, but you couldn't respond, you couldn't pull yourself out of the memories as they flooded your mind. "Rick? What do I do? She ain't responding?"

"Shit, I've seen this before. When she first came back from Afghanistan, she'd go into this state of flashbacks and a panic attack all in one, PTSD stuff, I didn't know she still got them." Rick answered, dropping to his knees beside Daryl who was crouching down in front of you, but you couldn't see them.

"How do we get her out of it?" Daryl questioned in panic, but didn't wait for Rick to answer as he grabbed your shoulders. "Y/N, c'mon, girl. Ya gotta snap out of it." Daryl muttered, shaking your shoulders gently before he grabbed your hand and moved it away from your face.

"Y/N, whatever you're seeing, it's not real. Y/N, please." Rick begged as Daryl cupped the side of your face with his hand as slowly you opened your eyes, the images of Negan and Shane slowly disappearing as you took in Rick and Daryl's worried faces.

"I-It was real." You whispered, shaking your head causing Rick and Daryl to frown as more tears fell from your cheeks. "Negan."

"How do you know Negan?" Daryl asked, quickly glancing over at your brother who just shrugged his shoulders in confusion.

"He killed... he killed Shane. Negan killed Shane, right in front of me, right in front of Sophia- Sophia, where is she?" You quickly questioned once your mind slowly began to clear and you realised your daughter wasn't with Daryl anymore.

"In Maggie's office with the others, she's fine. Y/N, are you it's the same man?" Rick asked, although by the look on his face he knew the answer to the question and quickly shook his head.

"Shit." He sighed, rubbing his face with his hands because he knew exactly what you wanted to do. You might have been apart for over five years, but he still knew you better than he knew himself.

"Why isn't he dead? He killed Glenn, how could you just throw him in a cell in the same community that Judith and Michonne sleep in?" You questioned, looking over at Rick while Daryl stayed crouched where he was, not wanting to get in the middle of this.

"I wanted to, I really wanted to, but Carl had a vision... he had a vision of a better future where all the communities could work together, live together, including the Sanctuary where the Saviours were." Rick tried explained, but you just stared at him in disbelief. He couldn't be serious? Back on the farm he agreed to killing Randall, but he wouldn't kill Negan after he murdered Glenn?

"It's Glenn!" You shouted, sudden anger taking over your body as you stood up, wincing as you moved your knee quickly causing Daryl to quickly stand up in worry, but your eyes were locked with Rick's. "It's Glenn! He was the purest out of all us and he had a unborn baby with Maggie!"

"You think I don't know that?!" Rick snapped, standing up too and staring at you before he shook his head and rubbed his face with his hands. "I had the same conversation with Daryl a month ago and Maggie has moved on, she knows Negan is suffering more in the cell than he ever would. I don't want to argue with you, Y/N. We just got each other back, can we not argue?"

"I'm not going to argue with you, Rick. But, when I get back to Alexandria I'm going to kill Negan like I should have done two years ago." You responded, adjusting the strap of your assault rifle over your shoulder as you stared at your brother just daring him to say no.

"We kept Negan alive in that cell to show that we were making a new future. Keeping him alive is how we made sure it didn't go back to how it used to be with the Saviours." Rick explained, but before you could say anything Daryl spoke up.

"Rick, the Saviours are gone." He muttered, clearly unsure if Rick knew that or not and you had no idea what he was talking about, but by the sound of it all the Saviours were dead and that was better for everyone.

"I know, Michonne told me last night." Rick replied with a sigh, but he seemed sort of relived that they were dead so at least you agreed on something.

"Rick, I get it. I get why you had to keep him alive back then, but things have changed now. The Saviours are dead and he killed Shane. Shane Walsh, he was practically a brother to us, Rick! And Negan killed him. He bashed his head in with that baseball bat right in front of me and Sophia and he enjoyed it." You said, your voice wavering at the end as you thought of Shane before you shook your head. "Say whatever you want, but I'm killing him."

Rick didn't say anything for a few seconds as he stared at you, taking in the tear stains over your cheeks from earlier before he nodded reluctantly. "Alright, alright."

-

You got back to Alexandria by nightfall. Rick hadn't spoken to you since your conversation earlier and you were pretty sure he regrets saying yes to you, but you weren't going to let Negan live after what he did. Shane was dead because of him, so why should he get to live?

Daryl wanted to come with you, not liking the idea of you being alone with Negan, but you had to do it alone. Plus, you needed Daryl to look after Sophia because you were pretty sure Rick was pissed at you which meant Michonne probably was too.

You slowly walked down the stairs that lead to the cell, telling the man standing guard that you were there to take over and he seemed relived about that because he didn't ask any questions and just left the building as you opened the door and walked in.

You placed the lantern you were holding on the ground letting it light up the room as you looked over at the cell spotting Negan fast asleep on his stretcher bed. Of course they gave him a fucking bed, because God forbid that he gets a sore back from sleeping on the floor or something, but whatever.

"Hey, wake the fuck up!" You shouted hitting the metal bars of cell causing him to quickly sit up in shock as he glanced around the room until his eyes landed on you. It took him a few seconds to figure out who you were before his face broke out in a grin. "Good, you remember me."

"Damn right I do. You shot up my men, killed four of them too and stole my truck." Negan responded, throwing his legs over the side of his bed as he stared up at you. His hair had been cut short and his stubble had turned into a full length grey beard and you had to admit he looked shitty, but he still was breathing and that was more than what Shane was doing.

"You murdered my best friend, I should have done a hell of a lot more than kill your men and take your damn truck." You responded causing Negan to just grin. "You think this is funny?"

"You're here to finish the job, aren't you? About damn time. The Asian mans wife didn't have the balls, do you?" He asked, standing up from his bed as he walked towards you, his hands resting over the bars of his cell as he stared at you.

"Stupid fucking question." You responded as you pulled out your silenced handgun from your holster and aimed it at Negan's forehead between the bars.

"Do it. Pull the trigger." Negan ordered, pressing his head against the bars as he stared at the handgun. "I bashed your friends head in with my bat. I did right in front of you and your little girl. So pull the damn trigger!" He shouted.

"Why do you want to die?" You questioned as you pulled the slide back, cocking the handgun before you took a few steps towards him, resting the barrel of the gun against the middle of his forehead. "Answer me!"

"I want to be with my wife. Kill me!" Negan yelled, closing his eyes and well you were not expecting him to react like this at all. You expected him to try put up a fight, to try and beg for his life, but it was the opposite, he was begging you to end his life.

"Okay." You replied and squeezed the trigger.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Epilogue-

*3 Years Later*

"Now, I know it might sound stupid, but how you stand while firing a gun is really important." You began to explain looking around at the small group you had gathered around your stall at the monthly trade market.

Rick and Ezekiel’s plan to keep the communities together and helping each other had worked. Three years later, the communities were still meeting monthly during the markets to trade homemade and homegrown items with the other communities.

The markets usually lasted a couple of days, most of the people from other communities packed tents to stay the night if they weren't in a rush to get back.

This month it was being held at Alexandria and you had your own stall out the back of the community where you taught basic firearms training.

There were a few stalls set up that weren't for trading items but were for offering free lessons about certain things. Like Earl from Hilltop who had a blacksmithing stall. Along with Siddiq and Enid who worked together on the infirmary stall, teaching anyone who wanted to learn about basic first aid.

The markets were a great idea, everyone enjoyed the monthly gathering and although you could talk to any of the communities whenever you wanted, thanks to Eugene. He somehow set up communication through old style radios, it was good to stay close and keep in contact with everyone.

Rick had approached you a few weeks after you killed Negan and asked if you wanted to have your own stall for teaching firearms. It was a shock when he asked you because the two of you hadn't really been talking much after the whole Negan thing.

You knew Rick hated what you did, but he also understood why you did it and it took him a while to accept it. But, the two of you had been through thick and thin, both before and after the world died and you could never stay mad at each other.

"Think of it as the foundation of everything. If you have a wobbly base, chances are it doesn't take much to mess up whatever is on top and loud explosions and recoil have a way of messing stuff up, trust me." You continued to explain as you picked up the Desert Eagle from your portable table, double checking that the chamber was empty before you held it up to demonstrate.

"The main thing is to have a stable and comfortable stance, if you have that then you'll be fine. Now, I think you are all sick of hearing my voice so let's hear some gunshots instead. You all know how to hold, aim, and reload a handgun, so everyone come over here and stand on these red dots." You instructed pointing to the red circles you had drawn on the ground behind you. All the dots had small tables in front of them with an unloaded handgun and a magazine sitting on top and in front of each desk was a target set up 10 metres away.

You rested your hand over your rapidly growing baby bump underneath your military jacket.

You and Daryl were expecting your second child in a couple of months and if you were being honest, Daryl seemed to be more excited than you. You were definitely excited, but Daryl never got to be there for Sophia's first few years. He never got to be around you when your stomach was the size of a basketball and he never got to help deliver the baby.

He never even got hold his baby daughter until she 5-years-old and you couldn't wait to see Daryl with a baby. He was a great father to Sophia and you knew he was going to be a great father to your next child.

You watched as Henry, Eugene and a few other teenagers and young adults from other communities all walked over to the desks and stood in front of them, while Carol, Rosita and Rick watched on from a distance.

"Alright when you're ready, pick up the handgun and magazine in front of you and load the weapon like I showed you earlier and fire at your target." You instructed, glancing around the area making sure nobody had wandered into the firing range. But, you had the targets set up against the far wall of Alexandria for that exact reason. You also made sure each gun had a silencer, so you didn't frighten the others around the community or draw in walkers.

You slowly walked around behind the line of people, watching them carefully to make sure they were doing everything correctly and safely before they began to fire at the targets.

You knew most of them had fired a gun before, most people had in this new world, but none of them had ever been taught how to do it properly. Most of them had come to your other lessons over the past few months and were starting to get really good.

As you walked passed everyone you gave them a few tips and encouraging words, honestly shocked with how much they had all progressed since the first lesson they attended.

"That's it Henry! Soon you'll be a better shot then your mother." You commented with a wink causing the teenager to grin brightly as he hit the target.

"Remember to squeeze the trigger slowly, don't yank it because that'll jerk your gun and send the shot off. Just squeeze the trigger gently and let the shot surprise you." You instructed, unable to stop yourself from smiling as you watched the group all hit their targets.

Once everyone finished off their magazines you talked to them all for a few more minutes and gave them constructive feed back. But, mainly you just said how impressed you were and announced that next month if they were interested, you might move onto shotguns which seemed to get them all excited.

"You're really good at this." Rick said while you began packing away the handguns after they left.

You turned around to find your brother walking over to you, young Rj in his arms babbling away causing you to smile.

"You're a good teacher, these guys really enjoy your lessons and it looks like it's paying off too." He added, glancing over your shoulder towards the targets set up.

"They're good students. Thank you for asking me to do this, I'm glad my military skills are coming in handy for something good." You replied, looking down at Rj as you kissed his forehead with a smile.

"Couldn't think of anyone more qualified for the job, Shane would be proud." Rick said, wrapping his free arm over your shoulder as he kissed the side of your head. "Michonne needed to talk to you about something, she's with the kids at the playground. I'll finish packing up everything here."

"Alright." You replied as you began to walk in the direction of the playground before you stopped and turned around. "Hey, bro?"

"Yeah?" Rick replied, looking over his shoulder towards you.

"Thank you. For everything." You said and Rick smiled with a nod before you continued walking across the community to the small playground.

You and Rosita had made and set up the playground a couple years ago. It wasn't much, just a few old swing sets and slides you had found and done up, but the kids loved it.

You could see Michonne sitting on the small bench beside the playground watching Judith, Sophia, Gracie and Hershel playing.

Aaron and Jesus were also sitting on the bench beside her, Jesus with his arm draped over Aaron's shoulder causing you to smile at the two of them. They made a really cute couple and Gracie absolutely adored Jesus. Although, you missed not seeing Aaron and Gracie around all time since they moved to Hilltop last year to live with Jesus, but the three of them have never been so happy.

"Hey, thank you guys for watching Sophia, she hasn't been causing too much trouble I hope?" You said, walking over to the three of them on the bench catching their attention as they all turned around towards you.

Jesus immediately stood up from the bench and offered you a seat, which you gladly took because your back was killing you from standing up for so long.

"Of course not, she's mainly been swinging Gracie on the swing." Aaron replied causing you to smile as you glanced over at the playground to find her and Judith now trying to climb up the slide instead of going down it. "Where's Daryl?"

"Last I heard he was going to talk to Earl about making more metal broadheads for his crossbow bolts or something." You answered with a shrug.

"Do you guys mind if I talk to Y/N for a minute?" Michonne asked a few seconds later and the two of them nodded as Aaron stood up from the bench.

"We'll be over by the kids if you need us." Jesus replied taking Aarons hand as the two of them walked over to the playground and began mucking around with the kids.

"Everything alright?" You asked, glancing over at Michonne as you leant back on the bench, resting your hand over your stomach that used to be hidden by your thick military jacket, but not anymore.

"Yeah, I don't think I ever thanked you for what you did that day we first met. How you tried distracting Jocelyn while we were tied up, even though you got shot and branded twice. And for what you did after with her kids. I don't think I would have been able to do what you did, so thank you." Michonne said, and looked over at her as she smiled sadly at you, but you shook your head.

"Nah, you would have been able to do it. You're strong, Michonne, there's nothing you wouldn't do for your family. It's why my brother loves you." You answered honestly, resting your hand over her knee for comfort.

You knew back then that she would have done it, but you didn't want her to have to deal with the burden of it. You didn't want that blood on her hands. You had killed more people that you could count both before and after the world changed, but you had never killed a child until then and you still got nightmares from it.

It didn't make it easy and you thought about it every single day, but it's not about being easy. It's about being able to get the job done so nobody you cared about got hurt. As much as you hated doing it, you would do it again in a heartbeat to save Sophia because you would anything for your family.

"Still, thank you for doing it. I'm really glad you found us. I haven't seen Rick or Daryl this happy in a long time." Michonne admitted.

"You and me both."

"Hey, sunshine." Daryl's voice called out from behind you.

You didn't even have a chance to turn around before he wrapped his arms around your shoulders from behind as he rested chin on top of your head.

"Daddy look!" Sophia called out, waving at Daryl where she was currently sitting on top of Jesus' shoulders causing the three of you to chuckle.

"Be careful, sweetheart. I'm going to borrow your mother for a few minutes. Can you guys keep an eye on Sophia?" Daryl asked, looking over at Jesus and Aaron who seemed to be too focused on the kids to hear him.

"It's alright, I'll watch the kids and the two giants kids currently giving them piggybacks." Michonne chuckled causing Daryl to snort before he walked around to the front of the bench and held his hand out towards you to help you up.

"Thanks, Michonne." You replied once you stood up. Although, you had no idea where Daryl was planning on taking you as he laced your hands together and began leading you down the street.

"What are we doing?" You asked, glancing over at him and you could see a hint of a smile playing across your boyfriends lips. He was up to something and you had no idea what it was.

"C'mon." He muttered, motioning towards the infirmary causing you to frown. Why was he taking you to the infirmary? No one is sick or hurt are they?

"Daryl-" You began to say before he cut you off, reaching for the door handle.

"Trust me."

You simply nodded, trusting him no matter what, but you still had no idea what he was planning.

He opened the door, letting you walk in first to find Siddiq and Enid setting up some kind of machine across the room by the hospital bed. Now you were even more confused.

"Hey, ya ready?" Daryl asked catching their attention as the two of them turned around and nodded.

"Y/N, come lay down." Siddiq said motioning towards the hospital bed beside him causing you to frown in confusion. Okay, what the hell was going on?

"Daryl wanted to surprise you and asked me to bring Hilltops ultrasound machine over, so you guys could see your baby." Enid explained and your jaw dropped in shock as you looked over at Daryl who just nodded and walked over to the bed with you.

You didn't even know they had an ultrasound machine, Siddiq had a few other machines that he used to make sure your baby was healthy. But, you never even thought about an ultrasound machine to actually see your unborn baby. Holy shit.

You laid down, unzipping your military jacket and lifted your tank top like Siddiq said, exposing your swollen stomach.

Enid began to place clear gel over your lower stomach before Siddiq gently moving the probe of the ultrasound machine over it.

Daryl sat down on the chair beside you, his hand holding yours as you both stared at the small display above the machine. Enid stood beside Siddiq watching the screen in excitement before the baby appeared.

"The baby looks to be healthy and has a strong heartbeat. Do you want to know the gender?" Siddiq asked while Enid began printing the ultrasound photo for you.

You glanced over at Daryl with a questioning look because you honestly hadn't even thought about that. You just figured you'd find out the gender when the baby was born.

"I'd like to know, only if ya wanna though." Daryl replied and you quickly nodded in agreement as you looked back towards Siddiq who smiled at the two of you.

"It's a boy." Siddiq announced . "We'll give you two some privacy." He added as Enid handed you the small photo before they both left the room.

You couldn't stop the tears from swelling in your eyes as you looked down at the photo in your hand.

"We're having a baby boy." You whispered and Daryl squeezed your hand gently as you turned back towards him to find his own eyes laced with tears as well.

"I love you so much, Y/N." Daryl said, leaning forward as he placed a gentle kiss to your lips and you kissed him back.

You handed him the small photo, giving him time to look at it while you grabbed a tissue and began wiping the gel off your stomach.

"Well, now that we know it's a boy. Got any names in mind? I named Sophia, I think it's only fair if you get to name our son." You declared with a grin causing Daryl to chuckle softly as he wiped his teary eyes and looked back towards you.

"Was thinkin' if it's a boy we could name him after Shane, if ya want?" He suggested and the tears you were trying so hard to keep began to trickle down your cheeks.

"Shane and Sophia Dixon? I like the sound of that." You replied causing Daryl's lips to twitch up in a smile as he rested his hand over your baby bump.

"Can't wait to meet ya, little man." He whispered, kissing your stomach as you ran your fingers through his hair. You couldn't stop yourself from smiling as silent tears trickled down your cheeks. This was your life now.

10 years ago you were chained up in a Taliban basement, being tortured for information.

A few months later, you woke up in a hospital bed with enough PTSD to last a lifetime, wishing you had been killed in that basement.

Nine years ago, you thought your brother had died in a coma. Then the dead started to rise and you thought you were all going to die.

Eight years ago, you thought you were never going to see your family again when the farm fell.

Six years ago, you had to watch Shane get his head bashed in after trying to protect you and Sophia.

Then, three years ago, you found Rick. You found Daryl. You found your family again and got justice for Shane.

10 years ago, you would have never thought your life would turn out like this. After everything you had been through, both before and after, you never thought you'd get a 'happy ending', never thought you'd see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, now you were proven wrong.

You finally reached that light and have your happy ending. Everything you had been through had bought you to this moment, it had bought you to where you are right now and you wouldn't change it for the world.