Chapter 1: Walk With Me
Two Years later....
Blood sprayed across the concrete as the body spun and dropped to the ground with a wet thud. Darkness...only darkness. Not a twinkling light or a reflection, just endless darkness that seemed to take shape into something physical. Unheard shifting in the shadows and three more soldiers dropped dead. Hands prodded along the walls until they came upon a latch. The metallic bang and clang of the mechanism reverberated through the chamber. Blinding white light illuminated your face as you shuffle from the darkness. The pungent stench of blood and rotting flesh assault your nose. The facility had been overrun by a herd.
You peer down a long corridor, your broken and battered body leaning against the wall. Bare feet creep across shards of broken glass and sticky, congealed blood. Y/E/C eyes shift around, taking in the sight before you as you step over the bodies that litter the ground. Your gear is gone...long gone, for after you left Rick Grimes in the care of Jadis and Merle Dixon, things had went downhill rather quickly. Hydra had lost. The faction had fallen beneath your might as you traveled across the country for two years.
Dr. Wasting had found you washed up on the shore of the French Coast...a long ways away from home. He seemed alright at first, taking you in and giving you food and shelter. Grooming you like so many other predators in your past, but you were so weak that you barely fought against him as he dragged you down into the dredges of an old CDC building. They poked, prodded, and tortured you with their urgency to find a cure for the virus. It didn't matter anyway. Only the newly bitten would have had a chance. The rotting, snarling corpses walking around couldn't just grow back their organs and dead tissue...it was a fool's hope.
But they hurt you anyways. In the need for humans to stay alive, they became the monsters. Not all, of course. You had your pack waiting for you somewhere. You just needed to get home....
You push on, moving through the building until you stumble upon a storage locker that someone had opened in their haste to escape the building. Your trembling hands pried open the door, careful not to cause the hinges to squeak too loud. Quickly and without hesitation, you peel off the blood-soaked gown that had been your only source of modesty for the past four months. The clothes within the locker were nowhere near your size, but you didn't complain, pulling on the layers and binding your feet to protect them as you carried on through the building. The main control room was similar enough to the one in Atlanta that opening the doors had been the easiest thing you've done since leaving Alexandria.
The lack of power routed through the building didn't allow you to take the lift. You climbed inside and pushed up on the tiled ceiling until one gave. Then, you pulled yourself through the opening with wobbling arms. Chest heaving and sweat pouring down your face, you look up the shaft at the light beside the next door. The only way out is up, so you climbed the emergency maintenance ladder, feeling the burn and twitch of each muscle. Nausea began to coil in your gun as you got higher and higher. The next latch was harder to reach. You stretched out, bridging your body between the ladder and the door, reaching with just the tip of your fingers grazing the handle that opened the doors. It was useless. You climbed higher.
Stale air filled your lungs as you took a deep breath and pushed off the ladder, throwing yourself at the flat door so you could push the handle down. The door opened with a loud SWOOSH, causing you to fall. Your hands scramble for purchase, breaking three fingernails off on the concrete as you tried to keep yourself from plummeting to your death. An arm shot out and caught you before you could fall. A man yanked you to your feet only to feel a large shard of glass pierce through the bottom of his chin. Blood poured down your arm as he flailed slightly. You released the glass and let him drop like all the others.
You drop to your knees beside the body, taking the keycard and the small pistol from his clothes. Cold steel clicks and pops as you check the ammunition clip and the bullet in the chamber. That's when you hear it...the high-pitched mewls of a child. Your heart caught in your throat as you hobble through the main part of the building, searching in each room until you found the nursery. There he was...You drop to your knees and pull your son into your arms. Pretty blue eyes blinked through tears as you peppered his face with kisses. His chubby little arms wrapped around your neck and held you as tight as you held him. "Mom..."
You pressed a finger to his lips and he quieted down, though the tears still fell from his eyes. Picking up your son, you stuff a bag full of supplies and hurry out of the nursery. You stop dead in your tracks as a group of walkers turn toward you. Nothing could have made you slow down. You toss the bag over your shoulder as Landon buried his face in the crook of your neck while you run as fast as you can toward the exit doors. Unlike at the CDC you've been at before, the doors opened with a swipe of the keycard. Walkers milled through the streets outside, but you hauled ass around the building. Ducking, dodging, and sidestepping any hand that reached for your son.
Each block blurred to the next until you reached the beach. Hot sand scorched your feet, but a coat guard boat bobbed on the water. You set Landon down near the water. "Climb onto Mommy's back, baby," you tell him. He wiggles his small form up and wraps his arms around your neck. "Keep your chin up. Just like we talked about." It wasn't as though this was something you trained him for, but years on the road while he was too young to know what was happening...he had picked up a few tricks with his copy-cat mentality.
Landon was a quiet child in general. He barely cried as a baby and was extremely clingy from the beginning. He held on tight as you waded into the water. The bag was heavy and tried to pull you under a few times, but you kept going for your son. For Daryl. For Arowyn. For Rick. For the Wolf Pack. Slowly...so slowly you made your way to the boat and climbed up the side. "Hide. Nap time," you said. Nap time was your code for him to lay still with his eyes closed. Landon did as you asked as you checked the gun and cleared the walkers out of the boat.
After grabbing your son, you drove the boat along the coast until you found something that could take you back to the United Ruins of America -or so you began to call it. A small sailboat was the perfect thing. No walkers shuffled on the deck, either. It was similar to the one you were on before Dr. Wasting had found you.
"Come on, baby. Lets go find your daddy."
Two years and three months later....
Daryl Dixon knelt beside the trickling stream as he ran his knife down the belly of a fish. Arowyn crouched beside him with an impassive expression that reminded him of her mother. Y/N had never been the squeamish sort and neither was their daughter. His little girl poked at her own fish, always eager to learn his way of doing things. She loved hearing stories about her mother and getting piggy back rides from her Uncle Shane, but she was already a fighter. Y/N would be proud to know that she had adapted well to the new world while understanding the importance of family. Merle even stopped by their camp from time to time. Though Alexandria had been fixed up and the communities were coming together, Daryl didn't stop looking for his wife.
Rick was...Rick wasn't Rick anymore and that hurt, but he was alive. Every day he got better, according to Jadis's doctors. Negan was locked in a cell and Dwight had returned to help Shane run Sanctuary after it fell during the war. Daryl and Arowyn took the wolf pups and started training them the way Y/N had done with Tekah before the loyal wolf died. The rest of the pack were leaders in one way or another, but they always came together when things needed to be done. The worst part was Aaron. Though he and Jesus had a cozy little home with their daughter Grace at HillTop, the kind man never stayed away from Daryl's camp for long.
He fussed like a mother hen over Daryl and Arowyn. It was annoying, but it came from a good place. Everyone felt like they owed them something because she was gone. They treated him differently...so much that it was hard to accept their kindness sometimes. Daryl wouldn't give up, though. Rick survived because she had gotten him to safety. It had taken months to wiggle information out of Merle, but he eventually let it slip that Y/N was still alive. She survived on her own in the world long before he came along. He just had to wait.
"Tell me about mom..."
"Whattcha wanna hear, darlin'?" he grumbled. "Wanna hear the one about the time ya' mama cut down a whole herd of walkers to save your Uncle Merle?"
Arowyn's eyes went wide with wonder. Daryl looked down at the dagger sheathed at his little girl's hip and fought back tears. It was the last of Y/N gear. The rest had been tattered to shreds when Daryl found it in the forest. He cut open every walker he came across, looking for her ring to make sure they hadn't gotten to his wife. Arowyn touched his arm gently and Daryl started his tale. One of the wolves moseyed over and plopped down with its head in her lap. She petted the lazy mutt as she listened intently.
"Uncle Merle had been drinkin' like always. Ya' mama, she didn't have much of tolerance for that sort of thing. 'specially when there was a job needin' ta' be done," his deep voice rumbled. "He was drawin' walkers over with all of his racket. Shootin' guns and cussin' loud."
She giggled. "Sounds like Uncle Merle."
"Well, she knocked him out with the butt of his own gun and then fired her bow. One by one, they dropped like flies. When she ran out of arrows, your mama jumped from the building and took out that dagger...she moved like ya' wouldn't believe. If you think Michonne is good with her sword, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Your mama carved through those biters like they were nothin' and she did it so gracefully that you forgot she was fightin' for a minute and thought she was dancin'."
"Will I be like her?"
"You already are."
The pain at the center of Daryl's chest eased slightly when his daughter smiled. He looked down at the fish and got back to work, using it as a distraction. The other wolves came to camp before sunset like always, but one carried something in it's mouth. Daryl wrestled the object from the wolf's jaws and nearly fell over from shock. He grabbed his crossbow and whistled for Dog. The belgian malinois fit in well with the wolves and often accompanied him through the forest. "Stay here, Arrow. Don't wander off. Keep quiet and -"
"I know, Daddy."
"What is it?" she asked when he headed toward the treeline.
Daryl looked over his his shoulder and let the item dangle from his fingers. It was a necklace made of ears. And he knew only one person who ever did that...
Chapter 2: Home To You
The three months it took you to make it to Virginia were hell. You shuffle through the underbrush with a map clutched in your hand and a fussy toddler in the other. Landon was hungry and began sniffling about a mile back. His little belly rumbled and guilt clenched in your heart. You couldn't leave him behind to hunt, so you searched for berries or anything else to calm his hunger until you made it to Alexandria. Something rustled in the bushes to your left and you sank back into the shadows. Landon must have sensed your unease. He went quiet instantly. A branch snapped and there was no doubt in your mind that someone was trailing you.
You turn around and set Landon down. "Nap time," you whispered in his ear. He laid down and closed his eyes as you reached for the knife in your belt. Someone's sent was strong on the wind...familiar, but lost in the fog of your memory. You moved silently, bare feet chilled from the damp earth as you move closer to your target. You circled around, coming up from behind to see just the shadow of whoever was following you. They moved quick, throwing you against the tree. You kick out, hitting them in hip and forcing them to take a knee. Your knife slashes out, but they evade your maneuver with skilled reflexes and instinct that rivaled your own.
Strong hands gripped your wrist and twisted, but you followed the momentum to keep your bones from breaking. You grabbed the knife with the other hand before it could hit the ground and held it to the man's throat. Blue eyes suddenly caught your attention. A crooked smile formed on lips you knew with breathtaking intimacy. Daryl. Tears prickled your eyes as he lifted you up and claimed your mouth in a searing kiss that caused your toes to curl. But you shoved as his chest. "Follow me," you ordered. He gave you an inquisitive look, but followed you anyway.
He watched on as you crawled back into the underbrush and pulled Landon out. The recognition on Daryl's face was immediate and he walked over to you slowly. "Is...he's...."
"Yours? Yeah." You handed your baby boy over to his Daddy and took a step back. Seeing them side by side was enough to make you smile. "I didn't know I was pregnant until I started to show. Being sick in the wild isn't uncommon for me, so I didn't think anything of it. His name is Landon." A wolf came barreling toward you and you reached for you knife once again, but Daryl spun around and growled....actually growled at the wolf. It was...one of the sexiest things you'd ever seen. The wolf backed down instantly, but circled around you in the way Tekah used to. Not day went by that you didn't miss your companion. But his offspring looked strong and you felt pride swell in your heart.
"Come on out," Daryl grumbled. A little girl stepped into your line of sight and you fell to your knees with unbridled joy. Arowyn had her daddy's eyes and her mama's everything else. Cute little dimples flashed and she ran over to throw herself into your arms. She smelled of rainwater and something sweet. Your little girl was healthy and -by the looks of the dagger- very capable of handling herself.
"You're so big now! I missed you so much."
"Woah! Do I has a little brother?!"
Landon stared at Daryl and Arowyn like they were aliens from a different planet and Daryl chuckled. There was no doubt that the boy was Dixon. He already had the attitude. "As you can see, he takes after his father quite a bit."
"I missed the hell outta you, Princess."
"Back at you, Dreamy Blues." You walk over and kiss him gently. Daryl presses his forehead against yours and seems to breathe in your scent like he needs it to keep living. You took Arowyn's hand and the four of you walked back to their little camp. It was then that you noticed a well-mannered dog on your heels. "Hey, big guy. You're so cute."
"Don't call him cute. He's a vicious guard dog," Daryl insisted. But the gangly mutt nudged your hand with his nose and you gave him hugs and kisses. It didn't matter how old or how big a dog was, it was puppy to you. Daryl muttered something under his breath, but he wasn't fooling you. There was a smile ghosting at the corner of his lips and it made desire coil in your belly. You took a minute to actually look at Daryl for the first time. His hair was even longer than before and salt and pepper streaked his small bit of facial hair. He had heavy bags under his eyes and a few more signs of age, but he was Daryl. Nothing could ever distract from his beauty. Not to you. He was everything.
"Keep starin' at me like that and I won't be responsible for my actions," he warned. You ducked your head and blushed a little at being caught admiring your husband. "Still gottcha ring?" Daryl asked, but you heard the real question in his voice. He wanted to know if you still cared for him the way you used to. If anything, your affections for Daryl only got stronger. You reach down tug on a necklace around Landon's neck. Dangling from a thin gold chain was your wedding ring.
"I love you, Daryl. Time could never change that," you admitted as you took the ring from the chain and placed it on your finger. He was pleased...maybe too pleased, telling by the cocky lopsided grin he gave you. "Don't you go giving me those eyes, Dixon. We've got kids around us right now."
"Shane's comin' by soon. Maybe you and I can get lost for a little bit." The heat in his gaze made you shiver. You nodded your head and sat down beside Arowyn. She looked up at you with flushed cheeks and stars in her eyes. Her happy little giggle did wonders to soothe the cold dread that had come with not knowing what had happened to your family after you left. She handed you her dagger, but you put it back in the sheath at her hip.
"You keep it, sweetie. I've got plenty of weapons back home."
Something shifted in Daryl's eyes and he bounced Landon up and down as the young boy stared at his daddy's face with something akin to wonder. He cleared his throat and shook his head. "There ain't no home to go back to, Darlin'. Things have changed since you've been gone. Alexandria ain't what it used to be. People...ain't what they used to be."
"We all keep in touch, but that ain't the same either." He leaned down and kissed your cheek as you struggled to process what he'd told you. Change never quite sit well with you when there was nothing to justify it. You needed to get back to your people and find out what happened. And Rick...you needed to know what happened with Rick.
"Does Michonne know?" you asked. Daryl shook his head. "What about everyone else?"
"Me, Shane, Glenn, and Merle -of course. But that's it. Didn't think anybody should know until we got word from Jadis and her doctors," Daryl explained. "But I want to know everythin' and I mean everythin'. Where you've been, what you've been doin', who you've been doin' it with, and anythin' else in between. Got it?"
You sarcastically salute your husband and wink at him when he frowns. Landon suddenly beamed an adorable little smile at Daryl. You looked on as Daryl made his face normal before scowling dramatically, just to make his son laugh. The sound was so cute, no one cared if it drew walkers. In fact...it was the first time you'd ever heard Landon laugh. You pulled Arowyn in for another hug and she tucked her head into your neck. Eventually, both children fell asleep and you helped Daryl lay them down in the tent.
It was nearly noon when Shane stepped out of the treeline. He stopped dead in his tracks and looked like he had seen a ghost. Well, maybe he had...after all, the past two years had been quite rough for you. "Hey, Fuck-face," you said as he yanked you off your feet and pulled you into a big bear hug. Daryl cleared his throat and Shane set you back down. You couldn't help but laugh. Some things just never changed.