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Now And Forever (A 'Pack' remix)

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A hand intertwines with his as the morning sun shines into their room. The body behind him shifts closer, hot breath of his alpha tickling the back of his neck. For a moment, he’s at peace, content in the arms of his alpha. But as all good things do, this peaceful moment comes to an end. Flashes of the past few weeks filter in, reminding him of the horror he and his children now live in, and the one thing that he hates most of all.

“This isn’t real,” the body behind him shifts again, and for a moment, he thought the world around him would fall away, and he would be alone. But it doesn’t, and the arms around him tighten, holding him close. Tears form in his eyes. “This is just a dream.”

His alpha hums behind him, soft lips kissing the nape of his neck. “Why do you say that?”

“Because you died,” a sob escapes him.

“Are you sure?”

He wonders, for a brief moment, why his mind has decided to torture him like this. He grips the hand he’s holding hard, knuckles turning white with the effort. “I can’t feel the bond any more. It faded the day you were shot and it just kept fadin’ til…”

“Mer?”

“The bond, I...Rick!” he turns to face his alpha. Rick smiles at him, a hand caressing his wet cheek. The sadness and fear leaves him as that dull, almost non existent flame bursts back to life. It leaves him breathless.

“It’s time for you to wake up now, Mer. I love you.”

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Merle startles awake just as the sun begins to rise on another hot, summer day. He can hear others outside his tent getting ready for the day. His hand grabs at his chest, clutching over the gold ring he wears on a silver chain. In the back of his mind, his bond hums, peaceful and true. With a new determination, he grabs his jacket and heads to leave the tent, glancing back to make sure his two youngest pups were still sleeping in the corner. He grabs his rifle, and asks Carol on the way to watch over his kids until their older siblings Daryl and Joanna return.

“Merle, where are you going?”

“To find Glenn!”

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He wishes he had just kept his big mouth shut. He had found Glenn, talking loud as ever, packing the truck for their trip into the city. It was just bad timing that he had mentioned going when Jo walks up.

“I should be the one going.”

“I’ll be fine mom. Besides, you need to stay here with the pups.”

He grabbed hold of his daughter's wrist, stopping from entering into the truck. “Just be careful, Jo.”

“I will, and I promise, one way or another, I will find him.”

He watches as the truck leaves the quarry, hoping that he hadn’t just sent his daughter on a suicide mission.

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He knows he’s being followed the moment he left Dale’s line of sight. He stops, the scent of alpha pheromones are heavy as his stalker draws nearer. For a moment, he wants to embrace it, but the moment is gone when he bunches his hand into fists, turns, and punches the alpha square in the face.

“You son of a bitch! You lied to me!”

“Mer, what the fuck!”

“You don’t get to call me that, you bastard!”

He goes to swing another punch when the alpha stops him, pulling
His arm around his back. “Let go of me Shane!”

“Not until you calm down! What’s gotten into you!?” He squirms in Shane’s grasp, trying to get free. The alpha is leaning over him now. “I said stop it, or I'll make you!” He stops his struggles, breathing hard as Shane finally lets go with a push. He tumbles onto the ground. “Now, are you going to tell me what the fuck you’re going on about? Or are you gonna try to punch me again?”

“You lied to me about Rick. You said he was dead,” he turned to look up at the alpha standing before him, and he could tell he had said something to make the other look on nervously. “Why did you lie?”

“I didn’t lie! And besides, you couldn’t feel the bond anymore, remember!”

“Yeah, well, I can feel it again. It’s there, stronger than ever,” he stands, looking the alpha straight in the eye. “So that means you lied. He wasn’t dead when you left the hospital.”

He sees Shane falter before the alpha looks away. “That’s what I thought. Keep away from me, and my kids.” He walks away, leaving the alpha fuming.

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He’s just about finished combing out his daughter’s hair when Glenn comes back to the Quarry, alarm blaring as he comes. He can feel the bond become stronger as he and his kids walk to the scene, and as he sees Jo and Rick come into view, his knees nearly give out.

He sees the twins run towards their father, the alpha bending down to catch them. The twins move to the side as Rick moves towards Merle, bringing him into a strong embrace. Merle doesn’t care that the others are watching them now, his family is back now, and that’s all that matters.

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He runs his hand down his alpha’s chest, tracing the scar left behind from the bullet that nearly took his life. “I’ve missed you.” He lays his head down onto Rick’s chest, listening to the steady heartbeat.

“I’ve missed you too, Mer.”

He can feel guilt welling up inside him, for everything that has
happened. For not trying hard enough to get him moved to another hospital. For believing Shane when he was told that Rick was dead. For...hands cup his cheek, bringing his gaze up to his alpha’s.

“Mer, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong alpha,” he curses himself, closing his eyes and
looking away. “Rick…”

“You only call me alpha when something’s wrong.”

“Or when I’m in heat.”

“But you’re not, so what’s the matter?”

His breath is shaky, tears beginning to fall. He doesn’t know how to
tell his alpha about his infidelity. He buries his face in the nape of Rick’s neck, inhaling his scent as if this was the last time he would. “I slept with Shane.” His voice is muffled, but he knows Rick understood him. An old fear fills him, body tensing as he waits for the hit he’s sure will come. But arms wrap tightly around him instead. “Rick, I’m so sorry.”

“How many times?”

A sob escapes him as he tries to bury himself deeper into his alpha’s
embrace. “Only once.”

“After you started going through bond withdrawal?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you for being honest Mer.”

“You’re not mad?” he looks back up at his alpha. There’s warmth and
love shining in Rick’s gaze. “Why aren’t you mad.”

“I am mad. Not at you, but at Shane. He should have known better.”

“But why…”

“Shane should have known better to not take advantage of a bonded
omega going through bond withdrawal.”

Merle looks on in confusion. “But, I did it...I did it willingly, I...I don’t.”

Rick leans down to kiss him softly on the lips. “It’s okay Mer. Just
know that my anger is not directed towards you. Let's just concentrate on us. I love you Mer. I always will, no matter what.”

Merle lets out an unwanted sob, “I love you so goddamn much Rick.”

“I love you too Mer. I always will.”

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“I don’t like the idea of you going back into the city.”

Rick packs the last of the supplies into the truck before turning to Merle. “We need the supplies Mer. We talked about this.”

“I still don’t like this. Something’s going to happen,” Merle’s eyes look towards Shane, who has taken to watching him in the shadows. It’s unnerved Merle ever since their fight. Rick notices and brings Merle close to him.

“I’ve told Dale to keep Shane away from you. I promise I won’t be gone long.”

“You better not be.”

Merle watches as Rick and the others leave, still wary of the looming threat hiding in the shadows.

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They almost arrive too late. Screams and gunfire echo through the hills as they hurry to race back to the camp. They get there as the surviving Quarry members finish off the last of the walkers. Jo is at the front of them, nursing a bloodied arm close to her shoulder. Rick looks around frantically, wanting to know where the rest of his family is. Daryl comes up from behind, running to his little sister.

“Jo, are you okay?”

“I’m fine Dar, just got cut on something is all. I’m not bit, I promise.”

“We need to get ya patched up.”

“We need to find mom. He went to hide the pups, but I don’t know where he went. Shane is gone too.”

That sent a cold feeling up Rick’s spine. He looks around frantically, hoping to see a glimpse of his mate and younger children. He spots Dale running up to them, Carl and Lucy behind him.

“Oh thank god!” The pups run up to him, hugging him tightly. “Where’s your mother?”

The twins look up at him teary eyed, both pointing towards the woods. “We hid in the RV. Mom was with us, but then Shane found us and dragged mom away.”

They hear gunshots then, and Rick takes off running, the others not too far behind.

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“Let go of me Shane!” he fights in the alpha’s grip as he’s dragged into the woods. “I need to get back to my pups!”

“The twins are fine. I made sure to lock the RV door before we left. I’m sure Dale or someone will find them.”

“Why are you doing this!?” Merle is thrown forward, falling onto the ground. Before he is able to move, the alpha is on him, pinning his wrists above his head with one hand.

“Because you’re mine,” Shane growls out his response, leaning in close. Merle begins to struggle anew when he feels a hand travel down his body, cupping him between his legs. “And I’ll show you just how much you belong to me.”

“Fucking get your hands off me!”

“Or what? You’ll stop me? Just like you tried to stop your daddy when...you bitch!” Merle scrambles out from under the alpha as said alpha falls to his side, clutching his now sore crotch. “I’m gonna fucking kill you!”

Merle is caught off guard when Shane grabs at his ankle, yanking him back towards the alpha. He tries to kick again, desperate to get away. Hands are on his throat before he has time to retaliate. “Fucking bitch, coulda just left here and be happy! But no! You have to fight the whole fucking way.”

“Shane...please…” he clawas at the hands squeezing his throat. “Please…”

“Now you listen whore, you’re gonna lay here, and you’re gonna let me do what I want, and then, when I’m knot deep inside that pretty, wet cunt of yours, I’m gonna bite your mating mark. Make you scream for me as you forget all about Rick.”

The grip on his throat loosens, and he takes the chance to take in a breath. His whole body is shaking, but he doesn’t dare move. Tears begin to fall when he feels hands loosen his jeans, a rough hand snaking inside.

“And if you fight, at all, I’ll kill you, and go back to camp, and rape that pretty little omega son of yours. I bet he’s still virgin tight. Now, are ya gonna do as I say, or is Daryl gonna have to pay the price?”

A sob escapes him, but he nods his head. There’s no way in hell he’d let this bastard touch his children. The hand inside his pants moves lower, fingers rubbing at his entrance. He sobs louder, trying to close his legs, earning him a slap to the face.

"None of that, bitch. You keep those legs nice and wide for…"

Blood splatters across his face, the hand tormenting him going slack. He's stunned, eyes wide as the body above him falls to the side.

"Merle? Merle? Come on, get up."

"Andrea?" The body is moved away from him as soft hands help him set up.

"It's okay, he's dead now. He's not gonna hurt you."

"I need...Rick...I need my alpha. Where is he."

"I…."

"Mer!? Mer, where are you!?"

The female alpha holding him mumbles something, before shouting into the distance. Before he’s able to comprehend what she's doing, he's wrapped in the warm embrace of his alpha.

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Soon after their departure from the Quarry, they lose Jim, the beta deciding to take his own life instead of suffering. It was a somber moment, the group saying goodbye before continuing their trip to the CDC.

Merle looks over towards Rick, who’s staring out the windshield at the scene before them. Bodies line the roads and grass before the CDC, some of the dead walking amongst the carnage. “What do you think?”

“We don’t have a choice. We have to take a chance.”

“I hope you’re right Rick. I hope you’re right.”

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He can sense Rick enter the room, but his gaze remains on the bookshelf before him, his eyes wandering from cover to cover. Arms wrap around him as he reaches for a book.

“Ever a bookworm, Mer. Find anything interesting?”

“Not really. Are the kids in bed?”

“Passed out as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Carol tucked them in.”

Merle turns in his alpha’s arms, and Rick takes his chance to lean in for a kiss. When the kiss starts to become heated, Merle has to stop Rick’s hands from wandering down too far. “We can’t do this here in the middle of the rec room.”

“Mm, I think we can. There’s no one here but us.”

“What if someone walks in? What are you going to do then?”

“Then I guess they’re gonna get an eyeful. Hey! What was that for!” Rick laughs as Merle swats the back of his head. He grabs hold of his omega, and brings him into one final kiss. “Why don’t we continue this in the bedroom, huh?”

“See, now you're making sense.”

Rick picks Merle up, carrying him bridal style back to their bedroom.

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After the fiasco at the CDC, the small pack continued on their way, lost and confused and not sure what to do anymore. Rick himself was unusually quiet, driving quietly down the highway.

“Do you remember the first trip we took as a family?”

Rick glances over to his omega, giving him a soft smile. “Yeah, I remember. It was on our first wedding anniversary, and you had just turned 19. I seem to recall a certain son of yours getting sick halfway through.”

“Dayle couldn’t help it. Poor thing never really been a car that long before, neither had Jo. It was amazing we made it as long as we did.”

“Hey mom, why don’t I remember that trip?” Merle looks back towards the twins sitting in the back seat, both looking curious at their parents.

‘Because, your mother hadn’t had you yet. Hell, I don’t think we were even thinking about having more kids at that point.”

“Nah, Jo and Dar were more than enough, but we’re glad we had you two too,” Merle feels Rick’s hand on his thigh, squeezing in reassurance. “I wouldn’t change any of it for anything.”

They continue on in content silence, until the RV stalls an hour later.

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It was luck that he managed to find a pregnancy test in one of the abandoned cars. It was even more of a miracle being able to sneak away to take it in peace. As he watches the test confirm what, in his head, he already knew, he buries the stick and box away. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he makes his way back to the highway, promising himself that he’d tell his alpha as soon as they begin moving.

Then, Sophia goes missing, and everything goes to hell.