She wanted something to live for, and Shane wanted her.
Shit, maybe Shane wanted something to live for as well, but he'd had it all along. He'd been living for her since the moment he saw those walkers converge on Dixon and the skywalk came crashing down around their ears. God knew this wasn't how he'd wanted things to go and he'd do anything, anything at all, to turn back the clock and make it different.
He'd give up having her in his arms and in his bed in a heartbeat if it meant their people were alive and everyone was safe, no question. If it meant that shadow in her eyes every time he looked at her was gone, and her smile didn't always, always have that brittle edge to it. He meant it when he said he wanted her happy more than he wanted her- and hell, he'd lost just about everyone too. If he could have Rick, and Carl, and Ju-
If he could have everyone back, and see her smile for real again, it wasn't even a question. He'd trade her in his bed for that so fast. Of course.
But there was a tiny part of him, a part he hated and despised and rarely gave any light to, that was glad.
She was his. Nameless was his.
The dancing I'm-going-to-make-trouble look; the smirk; the easy confidence and million-watt smile he'd been dazzled by for so long he could barely remember what it was like to not be under her spell- they were his now. He could reach for her in the dark and she'd curl into his arms. He could kiss that smartass mouth and she'd kiss back with the same fire. He could run his hands down her sides and feel her shiver at his touch; he could call her sweetheart and know the way she called him 'officer' was supposed to sound like that.
This was what he'd wanted; what he'd wished for privately in that dark corner of his mind where the person he didn't like lived.
But the cost-
Shane hadn't been prepared for the cost.
He didn't think about his baby anymore. He certainly never thought her name. And Nameless- she'd agreed without question when he'd asked that she not speak of her ever again. And his criminal hadn't.
She didn't talk about Daryl much either, though it wasn't like she'd asked him not to. And Shane wouldn't have minded if she did talk about him. Dixon had been the love of her damn life, and he was dead. Even if she hadn't been head over heels for the man for as long as Shane had known her, they'd been friends since childhood. It was a big fucking loss, and Shane would never begrudge her her grief.
He saw it, sometimes, in her eyes. There were a few moments when she'd start to speak and Shane could tell from her voice she wasn't talking to him. That she'd forgotten, for a moment, that Daryl was dead. He'd see it when the realization slammed back into her, and he made sure she knew he was there for her.
No matter how much he loved that she was his now, he hated the price she'd payed for his wish to come true.
He wondered sometimes if he'd caused it. If his pining for her had been what killed them all- Rick, Carl, Daryl, all of them. Shane knew it was his fault; the fault of that pool of darkness in his core that didn't care what happened to others as long as Shane got what he wanted.
That darkness was what had led to him killing Otis. Shane had wanted Carl to live more than anything else in that moment, and Carl had. Otis hadn't.
He'd wanted her more than anything. Now he had her, but everyone else was gone.
Shane knew Nameless blamed herself. He knew she wondered if they'd still be alive if she'd kept looking for the Governor. He told her, whenever she'd let him, that it wasn't her fault. She didn't believe him, but he told her.
He watched her turn into something he didn't recognize.
Oh, she was still his crazy criminal. Still the same woman who'd stolen his heart with a couple of punches and a damn Springsteen song. But something had broken in her, after the coffin. Shane saw it and he tried his best, but he couldn't put it back together.
She came out of that thing, an avenging angel with a baseball bat, rotten corpse in her hair and on her clothes, and blank, dead eyes that had scared him almost as much as the thought of her dying in there had.
They hadn't realized people had been living in the funeral home. They'd found it, found a blood-stained note and swept floors and bodies of walkers, and thought it was abandoned. They'd helped themselves to some food and she'd shrugged and said they'd have warning if any of the dead approached, so they might as well both get some decent rest.
They'd have had warning from the dead. The living knew how to avoid traps.
Shane had woken up when hands had grabbed him and shouted for her, and they'd fought. But the men who'd slipped in had the advantage of surprise, and before Shane could do more than get a couple swings in, they'd had a gun to his head and she'd stopped fighting completely, those eyes wide and terrified for him. Not for herself, not for what could happen to her in a group of men who laughed and leered and clearly didn't have a problem taking what they wanted- every ounce of fear in her eyes had been for Shane and Shane alone.
So her being locked in that fucking coffin had been his fault too.
She hadn't fought them putting her in; just told them in that someone's-going-to-die voice that hurting him would be a very bad idea. Shane wasn't worried about himself; he could take whatever they dished out. Shane had been taking punishment since the world ended, what was a little more?
But while she was in there slowly suffocating with a rotting corpse, he was having to hear them talk. They were making plans for what to do with her when they let her out, and none of it was anything Shane ever wanted to hear again.
He knew she was getting close to running out of air in there when he finally had a chance to make a move. He tossed himself into the fight, tied up as he was, and ended up knocking the coffin to the ground. It broke as they converged on him and the beating started, and he took the pain because she would be able to breathe with that thing broken open. And maybe he accepted it a little too much because he fucking deserved it, for letting his guard down and getting her locked in there to begin with.
Then she was in the midst of them, swinging a fucking bat and splattering blood and brains all over the room. She fought like nothing Shane had ever seen before, with no regard for her own safety and a distinct lack of anything resembling mercy.
She stood, covered in blood and guts and other things, and shook as she cried. He pulled himself to his feet- no easy task considering he didn't have hands and he was bruised as fuck- and went to her. He didn't know what he said or what he did, but she was holding onto him and crying and they were both alive.
They were both alive, and that was all Shane gave a shit about anymore.
The best day of Shane's life came and went and he didn't notice.
Looking back, he wasn't surprised that he didn't know it at the time. It started out like any other day, Judith waking up in Rick's cell- or maybe it was Beth's- and crying for her bottle. Shane rubbed his eyes and squinted at the clock Nameless had brought over from Woodbury after the Governor'd escaped, and it read 7:05 am.
His little girl was nothing if not consistent.
Shane rolled to his feet and got dressed, ducking under the curtain over his cell only to run damn near smack into Nameless. "Shit!" he muttered, reaching out to steady her if she needed it.
Of course she didn't, 'cause she was a damn cat even in those ridiculous boots. Went half the damn winter refusing to get new ones, and when she finally did replace the things, it was with those. Shane hadn't even known anyone made boots with the Rolling Stones logo on the tongue of the shoe, much less where the fuck she found them in Georgia.
"Officer! Where you going in such a hurry?" she asked, and Shane shrugged.
"Judy's up. Figured I may as well be too."
She fell into step with him, heading toward the common area. "What's on tap for today? Any Council shit needs doing? I'm bored, man. Getting that itch."
"Jesus," Shane muttered. "Don't you have a boyfriend around somewhere to handle that itch for you?"
She flipped him off with a laugh as the boyfriend in question came banging open the cell block door. "Not the itch I was talking about, Walsh. Hey, babe."
"Hey, baby. Shane. Got some people out there wanna talk about supplies, man. Get on that shit," Daryl said, dropping a kiss on her upturned lips and jerking his head at the door.
Shane sighed and headed out to talk about supplies. He wondered how the fuck he ended up in charge of this place, since Rick was supposed to be the one running the damn joint.
It should have been a shit day, but about an hour into it, she came walking up, spinning the key to Merle Dixon's old bike- hers now- in one hand. She had a rifle across her back, a handgun strapped to her thigh, and trouble in her eyes.
Shane went with her without even stopping to think.
"No, Officer. No. We are absolutely not taking back... really? The Beastie Boys?" she said, leaning over his shoulder and snatching the record out of his hand.
Shane had never thought he'd find himself in a record store again even back before the world ended, but this was the third time she'd drug him to this particular one. They'd killed three walkers in here today, and she didn't look like she gave so much as a single shit. She had a bag slung over her shoulder that had five new records already in it and she was going for more.
"Wasn't planning on taking the Beastie Boys. I was looking to see if there was any Springsteen behind there," he said dryly.
She snorted and tossed the record over her shoulder. "Come on, you know you cleaned out the Springsteen last time."
"And you didn't look for more Guns N' Roses, even though you got Appetite, Lies, and Illusion I and II?"
She grinned as she flipped through one of the 'R' crates beside him. "Fair enough."
"Why don't we just bring all the damn crates back with us?" he asked, for the fifth time this trip.
"Because where's the fun in that? Half the reason to come to a record store is to see what you find. Empty this whole store and I'll have to range out further for another one. Nobody wants that," she said, lifting the eyebrow with the stud through it. "Besides, I need to grab some of the comics from next door for Carl. Get back my crown."
He sighed, shook his head, and decided he wanted some Fleetwood Mac this time, and she wasn't going to stop him, damn it.
They pulled back through the gates, Shane acutely aware that he didn't give a shit about being seen with an arm wrapped around her and perched on what she called the bitch seat. He didn't know how to drive the damn bike, did he? And besides, even if she'd let him in the driver's seat- not fucking likely- this way, he got to hold on to her, and no one noticed. Not even her.
He didn't like the way that thought wormed in, so he shoved it aside, into the locked place where he kept Otis and that time he drew on Rick and now the parts of him that wanted her and fuck everyone else. That wasn't him, he told himself firmly.
It was easy to say, with the way she tossed her arm around Carl's shoulders and leaned in close, discussing details of this weird-ass new character Carl was into. Rick wandered over and shook his head at the comics she held just out of Carl's reach, and Shane couldn't help but laugh. Rick's eyes met Shane's, warm and open and trusting, and Shane once again thanked whoever the fuck was paying attention up there that Nameless had been around to help him get his head on straight and fix shit with Rick.
That evening, Shane danced with Judith, sipped moonshine Daryl and Michonne had brought back, and listened to the strangest mix of music he'd ever heard in his life. He argued with Nameless until Rick declared it was enough of the record player and refused to give in when she pouted, and then Shane tucked Judith into her crib and came back out to the common area to argue with her some more.
He got to hear her singing absently along to Springsteen when he put The Darkness on the Edge of Town in right under her and Rick's noses- it couldn't be Born to Run, even though that was his favorite, because her head would shoot up and she'd grin at him and start paying attention, and the debate over who was better would begin all over again until Rick threatened to burn all the records and she threatened to burn Rick if he touched her vinyl. He'd never liked a rendition of "Badlands" more. She hummed along, tossing out 'honey, I don't give a damn for the same old played-out scenes, and I don't give a damn for just the in betweens' between sips of moonshine that had her leaning a little into Daryl's side as it hit her. Even that was perfect, he thought, as Dixon looked down into her eyes and brushed hair from her face before curling a hand around the back of her neck and kissing her.
It was easy to put aside how bad he had it when they looked so fucking happy, and Shane- Shane realized abruptly that he was too. Rick had dropped down at his side, muttering about Shane asking for trouble with firing up that record player again, and shouldn't the two of them be doing something about the moonshine and the pot Nameless thought she'd hidden? Shane had snorted and confessed to smoking some of that pot with her, and Rick had cracked up hard enough that everyone demanded to know what was so funny.
He and Rick, Michonne, Maggie and Glenn, and Daryl and Nameless were the die hards, but the others all seemed to drop in and out as they laughed and talked and sang. When it was late- way too late for all of them to be up and still drinking goddamn moonshine- and even Michonne had gone to bed, the six of them sat around the table and let themselves be shocked by some of Nameless' stories of that damn club.
When Shane stumbled off to bed, thumping his best friend on the back and sticking his head into the kids' cell to check on Judith and Carl, he fell asleep with a smile on his face and Nameless' voice singing Springsteen in his ears.
When she got sick, he thought he was going to lose her. He watched her coughing in the Council meeting and he hauled Dixon back from her, his grip on the other man's arm white-knuckled and tight enough to bruise.
Dixon didn't even notice, only having eyes for Nameless. Shane could understand.
Then he saw how fucking bad off she was, pale and hacking up a damn lung and coughing blood, and Rick was off his rocker about Carol killing those people and Carl and Judy were in quarantine and it seemed like he and Maggie were the only people in the damn place fully in their right minds. Though if the look he saw in Maggie's eyes was anything like the steady stream of babbled worries in his head, maybe they weren't in their right minds either.
But somehow they kept the place standing, him and Maggie and Rick, until the gunshots sounded from inside and Shane's heart stopped. Rick sent him and Maggie to help and Shane fucking ran, leaving Rick to deal with the fence while his heart pounded and Maggie ran silent and grim beside him.
He almost lost her to a walker right in front of his eyes, and then he almost lost her to the sickness while Hershel and Maggie were keeping Glenn breathing. But somehow, some way, maybe Shane prayed fucking hard enough to the right fucking deity, because Dixon came in at a dead run behind Bob and his magic, magic bag of medicine.
Shane's hands were still shaking hours later, when she was sitting at the table with an IV in her arm and cracking jokes while Daryl kept one hand on her at all times, fear in his eyes that she might up and disappear if he stopped touching her. Shane freaking understood that, and from the way Daryl watched him watch her, the redneck knew what Shane was thinking.
He couldn't bring himself to care.
He'd feel guilty for that later, when he ordered her off the damn bike and into the trailer for the night. When she lay her head in his lap and he could feel the way her body kept trembling, long after they lay down and fell silent. He'd feel guilty then for a lot of things, and of course, it would only get worse as the days became weeks became months and miles stretched out between them and everything they'd loved.
But even through the guilt and the loss and the fear, there was her. Her in his arms, turning to him and asking for a reason to live. Her skin under his hands, the taste of her in his mouth, her voice filling his ears and his need to make her safe again filling his mind.
She was fucking everything, even more so than before, with the rest of their family gone. And he was everything to her, and-
Well, Shane wasn't the most moral upright man in existence, and it was Nameless. He knew he was going to hell when he died, if they weren't there already, so God and Satan both could kiss his lily white ass if they had a problem with him being happy she was his.
Then there were the Wolves. Then there was Negan.
Negan's dog-eat-dog world didn't bother Shane any. What he was doing to Shane's criminal did.
She'd started killing with brutal efficiency after the prison fell, and Shane had watched some of that playful light that filled her fade into something dark and hard. He didn't like it, but he understood it. The world they were adrift in was rough, and there was nothing he wouldn't do to keep her safe. She felt the same way about him. He got it.
When Negan started tapping her to be his executioner- that Shane wasn't cool with. It fucking pissed him off, and the only thing that kept him from protesting too damn hard was the way the bastard would sling an arm around Shane's shoulders and whisper in his ear that if Shane didn't like it, Negan could always give her another job.
Implication being, it'd be one on the fucking fence with the other poor assholes who crossed Negan.
Shane knew Negan used the same threat against him to keep her toeing the line, and he thought about taking her and running. He thought about taking her and running at least once a week.
But he'd seen what happened when people tried that. It was worse than watching the lighthearted troublemaker become something else.
So he did the only thing he could do, and he had her back. He tried to be the shelter, the boat in the middle of the stormy sea that she was for him. He did his best, and she turned to him over and over again, so he thought maybe he was doing all right. But he watched her breaking and there was nothing he could do about it except take all the weight from her shoulders she'd let him take.
He took the punishment for her when her smart mouth and her own iron-clad convictions got her in trouble. The first time she landed in the cell, he stood outside the door and listened to her start to lose her damn mind, screaming and crying until her voice went completely and all that reached his ears was her short, shallow gasps. Then he heard her fist hit stone and the pained cry, he shoved off the wall and straight into the bat-wielding bastard's office and struck his first deal with the devil.
Him for her. Whatever Negan wanted.
He'd agreed with the slow, calculating smile that told Shane clear as day the asshole had noted Shane's weak spot and filed it away for further use. And Shane took the beating and pulled her out of there, and the way she clung to him told and her breathing slowed and deepened as he half-sang Springsteen in her ear told him he'd made the right fucking choice.
"I more than tolerate you, officer," she'd whispered in his ear when she could speak again.
He'd whispered it back, knowing he'd take a thousand beatings to hear those words from her.
When the impossible happened fucking again, and some of Shane's ghosts came back to life, he knew there was only one thing he could do.
The moment he'd gotten a glimpse of tattered angel wings on black leather, blood and dirt smeared over them, he'd known it was all over. Daryl was alive, and Shane could practically feel the clock in the corner start ticking away the last of the time Shane had to call her his.
He didn't care. It was Daryl and Michonne and Glenn, and a Hispanic woman Shane didn't know but they clearly did, and if those three were alive then maybe, just maybe, some of the others were too. They were blindfolded and gagged in the back of Dwight's van, and Shane couldn't fucking believe anyone had gotten the drop on Daryl Dixon.
Just like he couldn't believe how utterly stupid he was to not have put Dwight's story of the lone man with a motorcycle and a crossbow and a backwoods accent together with Daryl. Then again, they'd searched. They'd searched for days.
And Shane had seen him die, after all.
But hadn't he been there before? he thought sourly. He'd known Rick was dead too, and look what had happened with Lori.
The ticking clock didn't stop him from going straight to the big man himself and offering up another bargain.
Shane for her. Shane for Daryl's life and Nameless staying out of the brutality that was about to happen.
There was only so much Shane had to work with, but it didn't matter. "Me for them," he said, leaning on the truck beside Negan. "I'll be your executioner. I'll kill whoever you want me to kill. I knew those people there, and I suspect when we trap that RV there'll be some others I know. It doesn't matter. You keep the one with wings on his vest alive, you send Nameless back home, I'll take out your one. Your pick of them who it is, it doesn't matter."
Negan's slow gotcha smile spread over his lips and he ran his gloved hand over his beard. "I've gotta tell you, I did not see this one coming," he said with a chuckle. "That's a mighty tall demand, Shane-o. Keep one alive, keep my criminal out of it. While the idea of my cop killing someone does intrigue me, what if that's not enough? Just how much is this worth," he continued, and stabbed a finger out at Shane, "to you?"
Shane set his jaw and a ran a hand over his head. "If me killing one of my friends isn't enough, then you can take my head too," he said, zero hesitation.
Negan laughed. "Well then. It just so happens I got a rather panicked call from my lovely wife Sherry on the radio. I might be persuaded to send my criminal back to take care of the problem. If."
Shane waited as Negan leaned toward him. "If what?" he asked finally.
"I want to know who this winged asshole is to you two, Boy Toy."
Shane scoffed and looked away. "To me? No one, really. To her? He's everything."
"And my criminal is everything to you, isn't she? Damn, Officer Walsh. You are- you are truly fucked aren't you? Now I like you, Shaney boy. So I will do you this favor. I will send her away. And I will keep the winged asshole alive." Negan leaned in close and whispered in Shane's ear. "But you are on thin fucking ice after this, my cop. One wrong move, and I'll claim your head- on a platter that I have delivered to her door."
Shane held a gun on the Hispanic woman and let Negan threaten Rick and Carl. He watched Negan beat Glenn to death and didn't look away. He'd struck his deal with the devil, after all, and Shane would pay the price in guilt.
Daryl stayed alive, even after he took a swing at the asshole, and Nameless didn't have to see any of that nightmare. It was worth it. Even with the look in Rick's eyes, it was worth it.
He went back knowing it was going to be bad. The ticking clock in his head whispered to him to put it off, delay it, for one more moment with her as his.
He didn't get the chance to know if he was that kind of man or not. She saw fucking Dwight with Daryl's fucking vest first, and Shane had never seen Fat Joey move so damn fast as when he came running to tell Shane his criminal was out for blood. Shane pulled her off Dwight, ducked the punch she sent his way, and caught her when she passed the fuck out, physically unable to handle the news.
Shane took the punishment when he turned to take her to the infirmary and saw that bastard and his bat smirking at him and Shane couldn't control his damn mouth, and he hoped to hell as he took the beating that she'd stay out until he could be there to break the news.
He made it just in time, and he ached to see the way she stood up fearless and pissed in his defense. He'd gotten beat up. It didn't matter. Negan was going to use Daryl to hurt her, and Shane needed to be there for her.
He was fucking right about that, and he tried- he tried so damn hard- to get her to go. To run off with Daryl and leave him behind. He couldn't watch her destroy herself, and that's what she was doing.
His criminal was hard, yes; a dangerous killer and don't fuck with me attitude covering a heart so big and so damn battered and beaten Shane knew it could break forever any minute. But she wasn't reckless and destructive and cold. There was a difference, and he didn't know the woman who drank herself to passing out with a loaded gun in her hands. He was terrified for her, that he would lose his criminal forever if something didn't change soon.
His criminal sang Springsteen and Clash and the Stones at the top of her lungs in the sunlight, walkers and other threats be damned. His criminal flashed that million-watt smile and told him she more than tolerated him. His criminal drank and smoked and tried to pretend she didn't, sure, and maybe she couldn't ask for help to save her life, but she could take it when he offered it. She'd scowl at him and ask why he was bullying her, and he'd tell her it was for her own good. She'd bitch, but she'd let him.
This woman, the one he saw coming unraveled before his eyes, scared him with how little she cared.
We living or dying today? they asked each other. They would go together or not at all. They'd decided, all the way back when she stared blankly into his eyes in the chaos of the prison and turned for the bin full of guns.
It wouldn't be till later that Shane realized she only lived to get him out of there.
He tried to step back, to give her space. But the more he tried to step away, the harder she clung to him. The more she needed him, and told him so. When she reached for him, how the hell could he do anything but hold on right back? He was hers, after all- with all the madness in his soul- even if she was only his to borrow.
When Sherry got him and Dixon out- and he still didn't know how the fuck she'd managed to set all that in play- and they met the weird ninja who Daryl obviously knew, Shane didn't know what the fuck was happening. Dixon and fucking Jesus- his crazy criminal was going to shit a damn brick over this guy- filled Shane in on where she was, off in Alexandria with Negan.
Maggie was the one who convinced him not to go running straight back and trying to save her. Then Rick and the others showed up at the gate and Carl- Carl, who should have fucking hated Shane for not making a move to protect him from Negan- called him Uncle Shane and told him she'd been taken back after refusing to kill someone for Negan.
Shane couldn't help the pride, but the fucking terror- Goddamn it, what did the woman think she was playing at? Didn't she know she could get herself killed that way?
Shane was restless and angry and it was Carl who held him back this time; Carl who convinced him that he had to come with them while they got some allies and made a plan. He went with them to the Kingdom, hovering on the edge of their group and worrying about her, and there she fucking was.
Striding out with Rick's name on her lips, past the fucking tiger and the king's amused eyes and fucking Morgan, all business until she met his eyes and started laughing. He didn't know he was moving until she rolled and sprang into his arms and he was surrounded by her scent again.
Jesus, he'd been terrified for her.
Of course, as with every time he thought he'd felt the worst fear he'd ever feel, it got worse.
She hadn't been planning to leave there. She'd been planning to rot away in that cell or on the fence, all because she thought she wasn't more than a killer. All because she would put it all on the line for him or Daryl fucking Dixon, who wouldn't even look her in the eyes or say a word directly to her.
Even after they yelled at each other for awhile, Shane was pissed. He was pissed that she thought so little of herself; pissed that he was losing her even as he fought to keep her; pissed that he couldn't let her go like she needed him to; pissed that she needed him still. He was pissed at Negan for torturing her like he had, pissed at himself for not risking running away with her, pissed at Daryl for making her feel like a monster.
Shane was pissed at the world for not leaving them well enough alone, and pissed at himself for thinking that way about getting their family back.
He took it out on Dixon, because the man was a handy target, and she broke up with them both in a fit of that sparking temper he adored. Shane largely ignored that she had, carrying on much the same as he would have otherwise.
He just didn't get to kiss her anymore, and he realized suddenly that as in the prison, that wouldn't be so fucking bad. Like he'd told Daryl, who was fucking her was just extra bullshit she had to figure out. Shane was her friend before he was anything else, and he was watching her crumble to pieces and he couldn't stand it.
If what she needed was Daryl, he'd let her go. Not without a fight, but-
He wanted her happy more than he wanted her.
Then she went and got herself captured again, and Shane relearned that he wasn't the only one who gave more shits about her than he did himself.
Daryl, amazingly, was right there at his side, ready to take on the whole damn Sanctuary as a strike team of exactly two, and Rick and Carl held them back. Told them to trust her, that she could handle herself, and stick to the plan they'd put in place when she ran off after Rosita and Sasha.
Oh, Shane and Daryl had yelled at those two idiots, until they'd actually made tough-as-nails Sasha cry.
Shane couldn't bring himself to care. Especially when he saw the coffin.
He knew as soon as he saw it; knew Negan had her in there. He immediately braced himself for the possibility that what came out of there, even if she was breathing, wouldn't be his criminal anymore.
Negan's threat to keep her there until she lost her mind was a terrifying proposition, the one battering at the edges of Shane's mind and screaming into the dark place where he kept all his shit locked up. Rick glanced at him and made a calming gesture, but Shane wasn't about that shit right now. Shane had had one purpose, one person, for too damn long, and that person was somewhere Shane knew would break her.
Not if, not might, but would, without a doubt, leave him with a shell of the woman he loved if she stayed in there.
So he yelled down that he wanted proof she was alive, and that bastard with the bat laughed and opened the thing and-
Out she came, swinging that damn bat in a moment of we've-been-here-before so intense for Shane he almost didn't start fighting back as well.
That was his criminal down there fighting with Negan, and Shane abandoned Rick to Jadis without a second thought, because Shane's world was her and he had to know if she was still his Nameless. He caught sight of her running for the gate and he saw the garbage asshole hold a gun on her. Shane shot him down in the blink of an eye as she flashed him that million-watt smile in the middle of the carnage.
"Hey, sweetheart," he snapped, beating her to the one-liner before she could get one out. "Get your ass in here and tell me where the fuck you've been."
And of course she showed him up, pulling him into a mind-blowing, blood-heating, breathtaking kiss and following it up with a casual "hey, officer. I missed you."
Goddamn her, he thought as he followed her into the bloodbath. He fucking loved her insane ass so much.
"Kill everyone we don't like," she said cheerfully. That was her idea of a plan.
That was fine, as long as he was glued to her back, but then he suddenly wasn't. Fresh fear fueled him as he searched for her, but someone kept shooting at him, pinning him down while he muttered a string of curses she'd have approved of and a few that probably would have earned him a twitch of that goddamn eyebrow.
He heard something behind him, turned to look, and the world exploded into pain before going black.
He woke up in the cell, and that was fine. It wasn't her in here, after all, and Shane didn't have a problem being in the dark and alone.
It was days. He knew it, and he spent those days thanking every one of her rock gods and a few gods of his own that Dixon or Rick or whoever hadn't just let her run headfirst into danger after him. He knew she'd wanted to. That was the thing, Shane knew his criminal.
She'd meant it when she'd said she had no line when it came to him. He'd seen that in play over the past year, after all.
She'd killed for him. She'd bled for him. She'd wholesale slaughtered for him.
She wouldn't hesitate to come after him, and they'd do this thing where they went round and round sacrificing themselves for each other some more.
Shane half-laughed in the darkness of the cell, thinking about how fucking accurate that was. She loved him, he thought with a smile. She did. Maybe it was always 'too'- she loved Daryl, but she loved Shane too- but that didn't matter. It was more than he'd ever thought to get, and he remembered the first time those words came falling from her lips, over and over again as he bled and she cried.
"Oh, damn it. Oh shit damn fuck. Fucking hell! Don't move, Shane; don't move. Let me- let me see- Oh god," she mumbled, her hands shaking as she pressed her hands to the cut on his neck.
He knew it wasn't that bad; knew she was overreacting, and he kept trying to tell her that, but the crazy criminal wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise.
"Oh, god, don't- shit. I love you, officer. Hold on, I'm- I'm going to- Judas Priest, I love you. I love you. Oh fucking hell. I love you, Shane; hang on, you're fine."
He'd reached a hand up to her cheek, caressing her face gently as she lifted her hands to check the cut. She was pale and her eyes glassy with fear, and he chuckled slightly as she kept babbling over and over. "I love you too, sweetheart," he'd interrupted her. "I'm fine. Just a cut, but it ain't bad."
He'd never forget the look on her face when she realized what she'd been saying, or the way her lips had felt against his in the next moment when she bent over him and captured his mouth with hers in a desperate, needy kiss.
Shane knew something was going on when Dave pulled him from the cell and hauled him by the arm toward the door. He heard Negan's voice, yelling something about someone saying hello.
Then Dwight stepped through the door, shot Shane a look of intense pity, and grabbed his elbow.
"Your friends are out here," D hissed under his breath, and Shane's eyes hurt in the sunlight after the darkness of the cell.
All of Negan's top dogs were lined up on the railing, and Shane squinted past the bat in his face at the forest of sheet-metal cars. Rick Grimes, Shane thought with grim amusement. The man was a genius and he didn't even know it.
Shit, Shane hoped his criminal wasn't out there. But of course she was.
"I'm thinking she's out there. My criminal," Negan taunted him, knowing full well how Shane felt about that.
She wasn't Negan's fucking criminal. She was Shane's.
"She hasn't said anything yet, but I bet we can get her to talk," the asshole continued.
"I bet you won't," Shane fired back, trying to warn her not to play Negan's game.
Course she didn't fucking listen. When had she ever? he thought, ignoring Negan's threat to shoot him in the knee.
It was just punishment, and Shane could take it. As long as she was ok.
"What's up, boss?" she called, her voice breaking his heart. She sounded so close to the edge. How did Dixon not hear it? The redneck better have been taking care of her, he thought angrily.
Negan was baiting her, trying to get her to come out from behind the safety of the sheet metal, and Shane fucked up in an effort to keep her safe. He called out to her, Negan clocked him in the head, and when he shook the blow off, she was just there.
Rifle to her shoulder and the empty look in her eyes, the one that made Shane want to run away with her and never look back, she narrowed her eyes at him. "Hey, Officer. You good?" she called.
He sighed. "Shouldn't be here, sweetheart," he told her. She should have been sticking to Rick's plan, back there where it was safe. Where Negan couldn't get his hands on her again and wipe out any more of that spark.
Negan aimed a gun at him and demanded to know who she was, and his crazy criminal fired back that she was Nameless.
Shane's moment of fierce pride was followed by another wave of worry when she threatened fucking Negan.
"Shut up, Walsh. We're living today," she snapped at him.
That should have made him feel better, and for one moment it did. They were living.
Then he saw the look in Negan's eyes. Shane knew he wasn't making it out of this one, but maybe, if he was lucky, she could.
Rick started counting, asking for Negan's lieutenants to surrender. He didn't get very far before Negan pulled the trigger, and Shane's world became pain.
He fell, but he tried to get up. Gunfire raged around him, and Nameless was out there in it and so was Negan, and Shane needed to get up. He couldn't, and he was dying and he knew it. He called her name once, not so much a plea as a goodbye.
Like he'd summoned her, she appeared, with a smile on her lips as she and Rick hauled him to his feet. "Hey, Officer. What the hell you doing laying down on the job like this? Come on, we've got to get you out of here," she said, the words belied by the terror he heard in her tone.
He leaned into her side and couldn't help but laugh. "Hell, sweetheart, we've been here before."
Tramps like us, baby, he thought, but he couldn't speak through the pain as she and Rick got him moving toward one of the cars. Baby, we were born to run.
Shane knew he wasn't running anymore.
She begged him not to leave her, and he said the only thing he could think to say to maybe convince her he never would.
"Tramps like us, sweetheart," he said, squeezing her hand as much as he could.
She laughed through the tears, that million-watt smile springing to her lips like he'd wanted. "Baby, we were born to run," she replied, and damn.
Damn. He was babbling to her, trying to say everything he wanted to say, everything he'd wanted to say from that first moment in his Jeep. From the moment on Hershel's farm that he realized he was in love with her. He didn't even know what he was saying, but she was smiling through the tears and that was all he wanted.
Her, holding his hand, and that smile.
The last time he heard 'I love you' from her she was bent over him and crying, much like the first. Shane should have known that's how it would end. After all, that's how it began.
"Oh, I more than tolerate you, Nameless," he managed, the pain nearly gone as the cold took over. His world had narrowed again, to her face, her tearful eyes and the smile she'd managed for him.
"I more than tolerate you, too, Officer Walsh," she whispered over him. "I more than tolerate you, too."
Yeah, that'd always been enough for him.