Actions

Work Header

Can a World Get Any Worse?

Chapter Text

My name is Genevieve Camille Ronae. I'm 5 foot tall and have brown hair and deep brown eyes. I've lived in Kingsland, Ga all my life. My mom had me when she was 16 and her and my dad; a man I've known only by the name of Joe really tried to make their relationship work. My mom quit school and after she had me. She got her GED and started working at a local diner. She lived with my grandparents for a long time. When I was 2 and my parents were 18, my dad decided that with the option of university looming in the fall, that he would leave us and sign over all his parental rights. After that my mom said she only knew that he moved to York, Pa. From what my grandparents have told me my mom got really depressed after my dad left.
When I was 6 my mom and I moved out of my grandparents' house and into a small 2-bedroom rancher house. She was still working at the diner and made enough money for us to get by. We were in no way rolling in money but we lived well. When I was 9 my mom met Dylan. A 29-year-old "music producer". He treated my mom well enough but he was constantly smoking weed and never fully attentive to my mom or me. One time he did bring me a very nice doll, but I didn't really play with dolls anymore.
When I was 11 my mom had my little brother Jackson Nathaniel Anderson. After my mom had Jackson she didn't really work anymore. She didn't really take care of me or Jackson either other than making sure we ate and that I went to school. Dylan moved in and started paying for everything, I didn't know how since I never saw him work. My mom went back to work when Jackson started school and I was in high school.
When I was 16 and Jackson was 5 Dylan got arrested for possession of an illegal drug and 2 weeks later my mom was fired from her receptionist job because she didn't show up. I got a job at the local grocery store every day after school. On the weekends I waited tables at the nearby waffle house. I even got a boyfriend that year, a sweet guy named Tyler.
A year later Dylan got released from prison. I kept working although Dylan could pay some bills again. I knew he was selling drugs but the one time I brought it up he slapped me across the face and told me never to speak of it again. Tyler was always there for me to talk to and he constantly urged me to get emancipated and move out but I couldn't leave my little brother alone. During my senior year my mom got pregnant but went into labor 3 months early. And on February 12 she gave birth to a stillborn little boy she named Zachariah Leo. After that all my mom and Dylan did was argue and fight. Dylan even hit mom a few times and started going out and seeing other women, I know because I caught him once. Tyler was urging me to go away to a university so I would be away from it all and I easily could have because of grades I would've gotten a big scholarship. But I still didn't want to leave Jackson.
When I graduated I took online classes while taking care of the house and working at the waffle house. Tyler got a job at a mechanic a town over and went to the community college there. The January after I graduated my mom gave birth to my little sister Penelope Grace. Her pregnancy was very difficult she was constantly sick. Her labor was even worse, after the placenta was delivered they had trouble getting the bleeding to stop. The doctors warned my mom that if she had any more kids it would likely cost her life, the baby's or maybe even both. My mom got postpartum depression after she had Penny and was never in the right state of mind to care for Penny. I became the mother figure even more than before. Penny's first word "Mama" was directed at me and not Christy as it should have been. Dylan was never around anymore unless it was to drop off money for me to pay bills or my mom to get her medication or to use Christy. Whenever he did that I took Jackson and Penny to a nearby park or the library.
Shortly after Penny turned 1 Tyler broke up with me. He claimed I never had time for him and I agreed. All my time went into being a mother, making money and getting my education. Way too much for a 20-year-old to handle on her own. I never had any friends to help me out and even then, my boyfriend wasn't there anymore.
2 weeks before I turned 22 Christy found out that she was pregnant again. I lost it. I screamed and yelled for hours and asked her why she would be so reckless to get pregnant when she knew she could lose her life. Why she was so willing to leave her children behind. Her simple answer was that I had taken her place as the mother and she never had the chance to mother Penny. Which left me astounded, it was somehow my fault that she never took responsibility for her kids. That night after I had screamed myself hoarse at Christy, she packed a small bag and went to a motel for 4 days. When she came back we carried on exactly as we had before her announcement. Me being the mother figure and her being the moping lazy person who occasionally played a game of patty cake with Penny.
On August 24, 2010, the world went to shit. Or at least got shittier. The dead started walking, if you got bit or scratched then you turned. I learned quickly that light at night, loud noises and movement attracted them. The only way to kill them was to kill their brain. Our neighborhood was ransacked and it was very easy to sneak into our neighbor’s house and steal the only gun that was left. I made a few trips to stores that were close by and gathered food and water, luckily Christy kept some of the stuff from when Penny was a baby so we had those things.
Almost a week and a half later Christy gave birth, but something went wrong. There was too much blood when the baby came out. She was a little thing and I immediately cleaned her nose and throat and she started crying. Unfortunately, as all my attention was on the baby I missed Christy's eyes rolling back in her head and didn't know anything was wrong until I was cutting the umbilical cord and Christy's legs limply fell to the side. When I looked up I didn't think there was much I could do, the entire bed sheet was coated in bright red blood soaking though and coating everything. I quickly bundled the baby and place her beside the bed in a bundle of towels. I attempted CPR for I don't know how long but when I began to feel her stir, I pulled back and grabbed my nearby knife and prepared for the worst. And boy did it come her eyes opened and they were clouded over unseeing and a groan erupted from her lips before she could make a move for me or the baby I stabbed her in the forehead in one fluid movement and wrapped her in the sheet.
The next few minutes I cleaned the baby and dressed her ignoring my tears all the way. And prepared myself for the hardest part. When I emerged from the bedroom Jackson was waiting at the door. I tried to explain to him the best I could that something had went wrong and Christy had passed away. He handled it surprisingly well, he cried a little bit but then asked about the baby. When I showed him her, he immediately asked if he could name her. I agreed and placed her in a little nest of blankets on the couch while him and penny looked over Christy's list of names.
I went outside and patrolled the immediate area. There weren't too many biters around but I was terrified that Christy's screams had drawn a herd. Deciding to be on the safe side I went inside and explained to Jackson that we had to leave. For the next hour or so I moved between my room, Christy's room, and the bathroom packing everything I could think of. I packed a book-bag for Jackson to carry and 2 for me. I opened the baby carrier and set it up for me to use. With Jackson's help I got the baby settled and loaded up the car. I put the bags on the front seat and a mosses basket in the back between where penny and Jackson would sit. I locked Christy's bedroom door, and herded Penny who is clutching her stuffed bunny and Jackson out the door to the car.
Before pulling off I bundled the baby into the mosses basket and made sure penny was secure. I headed to the gas station and filled up the gas tank and took a few gas canisters from inside and filled them too. I put them in the trunk and went back inside to get some matches, non-perishables and any baby items. The only baby thing they had was a packet of squeezable apple sauce. So, taking a chance I went back to the pharmacy. I filled one of my book-bags up with formula cans and little sample bottles. I managed to get a pack of diapers and water bottles before a bunch of biters headed my way. As I pulled off I asked Jackson if he had finally picked a name. he stayed true to Christy's theme of unique baby names by picking Anneliese Scarlett. And so, with Jackson, Penelope, and Anneliese in tow I headed out of Kingsland towards Atlanta where there was supposed to be a safe zone.
This is my story of survival in a world gone to hell.

Chapter Text

Following an old map, I managed to find a route to Atlanta from Kingsland that shouldn’t have taken more than 5 hours. Of course that wasn’t factoring in the fact that every person in Georgia was trying to get to Atlanta.
What should’ve been a relatively quick roadtrip ended up taking almost 3 days with multiple stops at gas stations and on shoulders. Anneliese was a relatively content baby, but like all babies they need to be fed, changed, comforted and played with. Penny being only 3 also required frequent bathroom breaks but Jackson was proving to be a wonderful helper with keeping Penny entertained.
The sun is almost setting as we approach the exit to Atlanta and my jaw drops at what I see
I pull to a slow stop as I stare at the skeletons of skyscrapers peering over the tree tops.
"Damn" I curse laying my head on top of the steering wheel
"That's a bad word Gen" Penny remarks from the back
"Yes, yes it is Pen don't you ever say it"
"What're we going to do" Jackson inquires
"Well I'm gonna pull over and more to the side in a little bit of shade and were gonna hunker down here for a little while to think out a new plan"
"How are you gonna make a new plan?"
"I don't know yet Jackson, just give me a minute" He huffs in response and looks out the window. 'What the hell am I supposed to do now' I think as I put the car into drive and reverse a little more so that we’re parked more in the shade.
"Ok we're going to rest here a while, maybe overnight." I tell the kids, rolling the windows down a crack to let in any sort of breeze.
"Ok" Jackson says and he looks like he wants to say more but Anneliese starts to cry. I unbuckle as quickly as I can and twist to pick her up before grabbing one of the sample bottes to feed her. "Jack, you can get out a can of food and share it with Penny ok?"
"Yea" We sit there in the same spot for a good hour doing nothing but rhyming games and I- spy before its completely dark. Penny and Jack stretch out on the backseat and I make myself and Anneliese comfortable in the front seats before dozing off.
The sun wakes me in the morning and after feeding and changing Anneliese I decide to look through some of the cars on the other side of the highway.
"Alright Jack I need you to listen, this gun is loaded all you have to do is flick off the safety, point and pull the trigger. Do not use the gun unless a person, a living breathing person is trying to break into the car and take something. Ok? Jack do you understand?"
"Yes Gen"
"Ok as soon as I leave the car I want you to lock the doors, do not unlock them until I'm in front of the door. Don't leave the car for any reason, is that clear?"
"Yes" "Ok I love you guys, follow the rules. Eat a can of fruit it you’re hungry. I'll be back soon" after their echoed I love you I grab the bookbag I just emptied and leave the car. After shutting the door, I wait until I hear the lock click before I move away from it. I quickly make my way across the highway, eyes peeled for any biters or people. I go through numerous cars, not finding much of anything. A few bottles of water some canned food.
Before I know it, the sun is getting high and I decide to check one last car before taking a break. In the trunk, there's a pack of diapers 3 sizes too big for Anneliese but I'd take what I can get. There's also a diaper bag with a can of formula and 2 bottles along with some outfits and a small blanket. I stuff the diapers in the diaper bag and swing it over my shoulder. Before I can lean out of the trunk a first aid kit catches my eye. Just as I reach for it a low growl from in the car catches my attention and I slowly peer over the seat. At the sight of a little baby half its arm missing growling and reaching towards me, induces me to throw myself out of the trunk and throw up everything I’d eaten the day prior which wasn't much.
Hastily wiping my mouth, I pick up the diaper bag and the first aid kit and walk back as quickly as possible. When I get to the car I can see that Jackson has the gun clutched in one hand, Anneliese in his other arm with a binkie in her mouth and Penny curled up beside him. I gently tap on the driver's side window and wait as Jackson quickly unlocks the doors. "Everything good?" I ask shutting the door being me and locking the doors.
"Yea, I fed Anne but you might wanna make sure I put her diaper on right. Penny's coloring" "Ok good. Why don't you hand me Anneliese and the gun and then get some read a comic or something " he nods and passes me Anneliese and the gun before retrieving a comic from the bag.
“Did you two eat anything?” I ask
“Yeah we had fruit for breakfast after you left but we haven’t had lunch yet”
“Okay, I might go looking again.” I inform him and get no response. After sharing 2 cans of vegetables between the three of us and feeding and changing the baby, I give Jackson back the gun and list the rules for the second time that day. I ignore Jack’s eyeroll as I shut the door and head off in the opposite direction than what I did this morning.
I’m drenched in sweat and exhausted by the time the sun even begins setting. My search only yielded a few bottles of water and a box and a half of granola bars. After rejoining the kids I feed Anneliese while Jack and Penny share a can of green beans and then we all settle down to sleep.
Sleep seems to be impossible with how many times Anneliese wakes me up crying and once I finally get her settled I know it won’t be for long.
Around 5 Jackson wakes up when I'm feeding Anneliese so I give him the gun and tell him to wake me up at 8 if Anneliese doesn't before then. I get 2 hours of restless sleep before Anneliese starts to whine.
"Did you and Penny eat Jack?" I question sitting up and pulling the whining Anneliese away from my chest.
"Yea we both had a granola bar and some water”
"Ok good"
"What are we doing today?"
"Well I'm gonna drive us up a little bit, maybe right in front of the Atlanta sign and look in some of the cars try and find some extra gas" I say seeing how the arrow for gas is indicating empty. "Same rules as yesterday ok"
"Yes Gen" I nod before settling Anneliese into her mosses basket and starting the car
"How you are doing Penn?"
"I'm ok Gen"
"Just ok?"
"Yea" "Hm well I spy something with blonde hair that needs to be happier" "Hm Jack?"
"Mm Maybe I was thinking a little someone named Penelope." She giggles in response and within the next minute I'm pulling to a stop in front of the sign.
"Alright I'll be back in a few hours maybe less. Love you"
"Hearing Penny's response of "I love you Genny" and Jacksons meek Love you too as I shut the door, I wait for the locks to click before moving away. A few hours later I'm sweating buckets and I think it's around noon. I can feel the exhaustion and the hunger starting to wear on me so I head back to the car having no luck on gas but finding a few coloring books. When I get to the car Jackson is in the middle of teaching Penny a hand game. I open the door when he unlocks it and slide inside.
"Hey, did you guys eat?"
"Yea a few pieces of fruit and some water"
"Ok good, I'm gonna need yall to be as quiet as you can ok? I need to look at this map" they both nod as I pull a local map out of the bookbag that I found earlier. On it are properties and woods that are labeled. I find where we are judging by where the highways intersect and consider the surrounding woods hoping to see a little house or something. And luck appears to be on our side for once about 5 miles west of where we are there's a camp ground with cabins.
"Alright guys I have a plan"
"Really?"
"Yes, really Jack. So, after I feed Anneliese and change her were going to start walking. About 5 miles that way there are some cabins we can stay at for a while."
"Ok" Penny quickly agrees
"Why don't we just find another car" Jackson questions
"Hopefully we will but we need to stay put for a little bit" he nods still not seeming so happy about my plan but that's not my main concern right now. I divide out food between 2 book bags same with our water bottles. Anneliese's formula getting moved between bags. As I fill our other book-bag with diapers to the brim. I stuff a blanket in with the food. I feed and change Anneliese quickly.
I strap the baby carrier around myself and settle Anneliese in before putting on of the book bags on my back and placing the diaper filled one in the mosses basket. I put the diaper bag full of clothes and diapers on my shoulder and carry the mosses basket in the crook of my elbow. Jackson puts the other on his back and grabs Penny's hand and we head into the woods.

Chapter Text

An hour into the walk Penny starts complaining about her legs hurting so we take a short break. Where I give Jackson one of the bookbags, the diaper bag and the mosses basket; leaving me with one bookbag and just enough room to carry Penny on my back. We power through the rest of the walk and in just over 3 hours we make it to camp ground. There aren't too many biters around which concerns me but I lead Jackson over next to the steps in front of the porch anyway.
"Stay here I'm going to clear this cabin. Then I'll come out to get you. If you see a biter sit as still and as quietly as you can. Same thing for a human, if either get too close to you yell, shoot if they try to touch you"
"Ok Gen" he says taking Penny's hand and making her sit down before taking Anneliese into his arms and the gun with his right hand.
"I'll be back, don't come in until I come out" with his nod I un-holster my knife and go up the porch stairs. Pushing open the door, the main room seems empty and appears to consist of a small living room, dining area and kitchen. There are 3 doors around the area and I head for the first one. I'm assuming it's the master by its size, I check everywhere even the closet and there's nothing there. I check the second door next and it's an empty bathroom. Pushing my luck I decide to test the tap and to my surprise there's running water.
Withholding my squeal of joy, I move onto the 3rd room. Immediately upon pushing open the door I gag at the smell. Spotting the culprit standing at the window I quickly approach and before it can turn around my knife is through the biter's skull. Deciding to just close the door and mark this as off limits I consider the basket at the end of the bed and grab the extra blankets and pillow. I also go through the closet and dresser finding quite a few sets of clothes that look like they'll fit me, I grab the most practical items. I dump everything on the couch before going to get the kids.
"The last room is off limits don't open the door at all" Jackson and Penny both nod.
"Jack go have a look through the first room see if you can find any clothes in there." He does as I say placing the bookbags down in front of one of the couches.
"Hey Penn, can you hand me that bookbag" I ask pointing to the one in the mosses basket, she does so quickly
"Ok close your eyes I have a surprise" I say, and she giggles covering her eyes with her hands. I take out the coloring book and crayons and place them on the coffee table
"Ok open" she squeals a little when she sees them
"Thank you Gen" "Your very welcome princess"
"I found some clothes that should fit me" Jackson says coming out of the bedroom
"Cool, you can take a shower. There's running water, but I don't know if it's hot.... if it is hot save some for us ok?" I request he nods and hurries into the bathroom.
"Jack is silly" I say to Penny tickling her side.
"Hello darling" I coo to Anneliese when I pick her up, she looks at me blankly for a few seconds before whining. Knowing that she's not hungry I slip her binkie into her mouth.
"Hey Penn, what do you say after Jack is finished we get a shower to get clean?"
"With soap" she asks, "Yes ma’m" "Sure Gen" she says before beginning to color.
It's at least 20 minutes before Jackson emerges from bathroom.
"Is there hot water?" I ask
"Yea" "Did ya leave us some" "Yes I did Genevieve"
"Don't take that tone with me, watch Anneliese so Penn and I can get a shower" I snap back placing Anne in her mosses basket and digging Penny's change of clothes out of the back pack. "Come on Penn" Penny follow me into the bathroom. We shower together me washing her first and then letting her splash in the water while I get clean. Once we’re done showering we get out and I dress get us both dressed.
When we rejoin Jackson, I give him instructions "Ok I want you two to go into that room over there and go to sleep, as soon as I clean Anneliese up and feed her we’ll be in to join you so leave me some room on the bed"
"Ok Gen" "I love you guys. Goodnight" I kiss both of their heads and shoo them off to the bedroom.
Turning I pick up Anneliese who is wide awake "Hi baby. You wanna get your first bath? Huh? I think you do" I coo as I enter the bathroom. I run some lukewarm water into the sink and stopper it. I take off my shirt, so I don't get soaked then barely place Anne in the water. Using a wash rag I give her, her first bath being mindful of her belly button although the umbilical stump fell off yesterday. I run the wet rag through her thick, dark brown hair and she coos up at me.
"You like that? Does it feel good?" she's not in the water too long but when she's done I take her out, towel dry her and put a diaper on her before massaging some baby lotion into her skin. I dress her in a onesie and swaddle her with a pink blanket. I feed her until she falls asleep and then I place her in the mosses basket. Looking around the room I spot the pile of our dirty laundry, so I grab it run some water in the tub and add soap before putting our clothes in, hopefully this will work, and our clothes will get somewhat clean.
Grabbing the mosses basket, I join Penny and Jackson in the bedroom. I put the mosses basket on the dresser and climb into the empty side of the bed and I'm asleep before my head hits the pillow. Of course, I only get a grand total of 4 hours of sleep that night. 3 before Anneliese woke me up and one after, before she woke me up again. And then the next 5 hours before sunrise are spent with me being paranoid. I just had a general feeling of unease as I sat in the bedroom.
But now that the sun is rising, and Jackson and Penny are stirring I get out some food to eat for breakfast. I have half a granola bar while the kids split a can of peaches and the other half of my granola bar. I feed Anneliese and change her before settling her into the mosses basket.
"Alright guys I'm going to go search through a few of the other cabins. I want you to stay in the bedroom with the chair up against the door, don't come out for anything. I shouldn't be too long, and you should be able to see me approaching from the bedroom window. If anyone else comes into the cabin, Jack, I want you to take Penny and Anne and hide in the closet. Ok?"
"Yea"
"If a biter comes up to the cabin, keep as quiet as possible and don't worry about killing it. Don't open the bedroom door until I'm in the house and you're 100% sure that its me."
"I get it Gen"
"Ok, ok here's the gun. Don't shoot unless someone manages to get through the bedroom door and finds you in the closet. Ok?"
"Yes Gen" Jackson sighs
"Ok into the bedroom you go" I say shooing them into the bedroom. I wait for him to put the chair under the door knob and test the door before I call out "I love you guys, be back soon" I make my way outside and immediately take note of how while its hot inside, outside is a muggy, humid heat.
Unsheathing my knife, I enter the first cabin. It looks completely empty. There's a bookbag on the couch and nothing useful is inside. Both bedrooms and bathroom are empty too. So, I move onto the next cabin. I go through 3 cabins before I find something of use. Some clothes that'll fit penny and with them the little girl who would've worn them, the only thing is that she's a biter. I quickly stab her in the forehead before doing the same with the man who was slowly moving towards me arms outstretched to grab me and bring me towards his mouth. After he hits the floor I turn around and throw up, everything I’d eaten. Little kids and babies should not be subjected to being turned, hell no one should.
After calming down I just decide to head back to our cabin. It's a quick walk and before I know it, I'm standing in front of the bedroom door while Jackson opens it.
"Everything good?" I ask
"Yea I only had to change Anne once" "Ok good"
"Did you find anything Gen?" Penny asks, "Yea Penny I did, I found some clothes that should fit you" "Really?" "Yep" I reply laughing as I pull them out and show them to her. "Gen look it, its pink!" she squeals holding up a pink and white striped Belle shirt. "Yes, it is Princess" I say back laughing at her enthusiasm. I guess Anneliese gets startled because she starts whining and Jackson quickly hands her to me "Hi baby girl" I coo rocking her in my arms trying to soothe her, “It's not quite time for you to eat yet" I tell her checking my watch. My words mean nothing to her as her whines escalate into cries.
Thinking quickly, I begin to hum the first song that comes to mind and when that doesn't seem to calm her much I begin to sing a few words too.
"I remember tears streaming down your face" I murmur not really singing it. "When all those shadows almost killed your light, I remember you said don't leave me here alone but all that's dead and gone and passed tonight" Anneliese's cries start to slow as I begin to sing more than humming.
"Just close your eyes, the sun is going down you'll be alright, no one can hurt you now come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound" Anneliese has calmed down and it is blinking up at me with wide blue eyes.
"I remember that song" Jackson speaks up causing me to turn and look at him. "You do?" I ask surprised "Yea I think, I remember you singing it to Penny"
"I did, it's the only thing that could get Penny to calm down when she was crying" I explain "I like it" Penny chimes in.
"I'm glad Penny, now how about we eat some lunch then color some pictures in that coloring book" I offer
"Ok!" Penny practically cheers before heading to our food bag causing me to smile and laugh at her eagerness.

Chapter Text

Three days later, we had a pretty good routine. We'd wake up, eat some sort of breakfast, then I would go out to a cabin or two and look for supplies. When I got back I'd spend time with Penny working on letters and counting. In one of the cabins there was a dusty algebra book, so Jackson would do problems out of that or play with Anneliese.
I was starting to get worried though, there was only one cabin left for me to check and there had been an increase in biters over the past day. I'm not sure what we are going to do if - when - we run out of food. We have no car and limited supplies as is.
My thoughts are interrupted by Jackson knocking on the bathroom door. "Are you done yet Gen? I need to pee." He calls "Yes, yes I'm done" I say pulling the door open and stepping out of the bathroom. "Thank god" he says rushing in and shutting the door firmly.
"Whatcha coloring Miss. Penny" I ask taking a seat behind her on the couch. "A kitty" "Hm yes that's uh a very bright kitty" I say admiring the pink and purple colored cat. "Her name Lilly" "That's a very pretty name" she nods before turning her attention back to coloring, so I turn to the tiniest lady in the room, Anneliese.
She's lying awake in her mosses basket, waving her hands around and gurgling softly. "Hello baby girl" I say softly offering her my finger, before picking her up. Once settled in my arms she sighs before beginning to cry. "Right on time as always Anneliese" I say while shaking a premade bottle.
Once Anneliese is settled and feeding, I try to get Penny to do numbers with me "Come on Pen just count with me" "I don't wanna Genny" she whines "please" I whine back "No I wanna color" she huffs before moving to the other side of the coffee table causing me to roll my eyes, 3 years old with the attitude of a 13-year-old.
Jackson joins us just as I finish feeding Anneliese. "Did you take a shower while you were in there?" I ask "Yea" I nod at his response "How about you get that algebra book and try a few problems" "But Gen- ""Nope if we have to leave we won't be bringing it with us so we might as fill your brain as much as we can right now" I say causing him to huff but get the book. He settles opposite of Penny and begins working. Every now and again he'll ask me a question but other than that he's able to do most of the work himself.
After about half an hour, I change Anneliese's diaper then lay her back down in her mosses basket. "Are you going out today Gen?" Jackson asks, "Yes I think so, it about half an hour" I respond, and he nods in affirmation.
A little over a half hour later he's shutting the bedroom door behind me and securing a chair under the door. And for what will probably be the last time I head out of the cabin.
It's a short 5-minute walk to the remaining cabin. I cautiously push open the door and prepare my knife to stab anything. This living room is empty like all the others but before I get too happy I check the 2 bedrooms and the bathroom and upon all being empty I return to the main room to look for supplies. To my surprise there's a whole case of bottle water. Along with 3 cans of fruit and a coloring book and crayons. I stuff the fruit and coloring supplies in my bag before hefting the case of water onto my shoulder and once again readying my knife to stab anything.
The walk back takes a little longer with the added weight of the water bottles but within 15 minutes I'm entering our cabin and setting the water bottles on the floor before letting Jackson know I'm back.
That night after Jackson and Penny have gone to bed and I've laid a sleeping Anneliese down in her mosses basket, I go through everything we have. We have enough water to last a week, and enough food to last 5 to 6 days if we rationed it right. There's 4.5 cans of formula left which will last us a little more than a week. And there's enough diapers to last a week. Looking at the supplies we have left, we'll have to leave within 3 or 4 days.
Deciding since I was already up and would need to feed Anneliese in another hour anyway, I start to look over and study the map. The highway is just over 6 miles away and anything else is more than 10 miles away.
By the time Anneliese is awake and being fed again I had worked out a plan.
2 days later I start explaining my plan to Jackson. "In 2 days we'll have to leave the cabin and start walking" "Walking where" he asks, "I don't know, I don't want to be on the highway there's a lot of biters there, so I think well just stick to the woods but maybe walk along the" I say unsurely.
"So, were just going to be walking?" he asks, "Essentially yes, we can't walk much distance with Penny" I try to explain but he just sighs "Why can't we just stay here?" he asks and suddenly I'm reminded that Jackson is only 11 years old.
"Because we're going to run out of food and there's none left in the cabins around here Jack. And I can't just leave you guys and walk 10 miles north of here to get food" "but we're safe here" he mumbles "Oh jack, honey we're safe for right now but tomorrow we might not be" I say pulling him into a hug. "We'll be ok right Gen?" he whispers "Yes. I will always do my best to keep you safe" I whisper back.

Chapter Text

We were walking through the woods, trying to be mindful of stepping on branches. Penny was holding Jackson's hand and complaining that we were walking too much. Anneliese was sound asleep against my chest. And Jackson looked about as tired and bored as I felt. Walking 4 hours nonstop will do that to you.
"Hang on Penn we’ll stop soon and rest" I murmur trying to placate her. We come up to a creek and start walking along it. Not ten minutes into walking along the creek bed does Penny start complaining again, the water had been distracting her but now she was hot, tired, and her feet hurt.
"Genny can you carry me?" she questions, and I sigh giving in to her puppy dog eyes and setting most of my bags down, "C'mon Up-" "Don't Move!" a deep voice comes from behind us and I freeze.
How could I had been so stupid as to not hear someone approaching. I slowly straighten my back and sidestep behind Penny blocking her from view.
"I said Don't Move!" the voice demands again and soon I have a face to match the voice or two faces so it could be either of the men standing in front of me, one with a t-shirt, the other with a sleeveless vest shirt; both very bloody.
"We're not gonna hurt you" T-shirt guy says and I scoff yea right, I think eyeballing the crossbow currently pointed at me
"C'mon Daryl put it down" t shirt growls to sleeveless, and 'Daryl' does so reluctantly. "What's your name?" t shirt asks and I just raise my eyebrow at him
"I'm Rick this is Daryl, we're not gonna hurt you. You can trust us. We have a group back on the highway women and children" we stare at each other for a few minutes
"Gen, my name is Gen" I say looking them both up and down.
"Well Gen, I just have a quick question" I nod my head as a go ahead
"Have you seen a little girl about yay high blonde hair, with a doll"
"Nope, ya’ll are the first people, well undead people we've seen since the beginning" Rick nods and looks over at Daryl seeming to be thinking something over.
"I'd like to offer you a place in our group, but to do that you'd have to go to the highway with us and allow our group a chance to vote" I glance back at Jackson and he pouts at me, silently begging me to go with them. I turn back to the men
"How do I trust you, you're covered and blood and asking after a little girl"
Rick sighs and looks at the ground before speaking "There was a herd on the highway we all hid, one of our children the little girl got out from under her car too soon and got chased into the woods, I followed her and hid her on the creek bank near a tree, when I came back she wasn't there. As for the blood we ran into a walker and well" he stops there as Daryl finally speaks "we had to cut the damn thing open make sure Sophia wasn't its lunch" looking at them in slight disgust I glance back at Jackson. "Most of our group is a little shaken, I'm not too sure how they'd take to you, but I can offer you a chance" I stand there for a few minutes thinking. Daryl and Rick are constantly shifting.
After maybe 3 minutes Daryl speaks up "Come on girl either you come with us or ya don't. Pick one."
"Fine we'll come with you" I sigh.
"Ok" Rick says and before I can move, he picks up the diaper bag and mosses basket before gesturing for Daryl to pick up the two bookbags, and he does so albeit resentfully. I crouch down so Penny can climb onto my back before meeting Rick's eyes and nodding "Alright c'mon" Rick says turning around and leading the way, away from the creek.
I try to keep Jackson as close to me as I can without holding his hand. Rick and Daryl are walking in front of us, Rick constantly glancing back at us. At one point I have to stop and let Penny off my back because she started to slip. So I pick her up and hold her on my hip the best I can without squishing Anne. I can tell Jackson's legs are getting really tired as he's dragging his feet as he walks and not 10 minutes later my thoughts are proved true when he doesn't see the branch in front of him and his foot catches sending him flying forward onto the ground.
"Shit dude! Are you ok?" I ask placing Penny on the ground in order to help Jackson up.
"Yea" he says standing and brushing his hands off on his pants
"Did you get scraped anywhere?" I ask "No, no I'm good" he says checking his hands and legs.
"Ok. Penn do you think you can walk now?" I ask turning my eyes towards her. At her nod I grasp her hand and vaguely gesture for Jackson to go in front of us "Everything good?" Rick asks from where him and Daryl had paused.
"Yes" I say shortly.
"It's only about another mile" Rick says and I nod even though he's already turned back around to continue.
"Gen?" Penny whispers not 5 minutes later
"Yes Penelope?" I grit out trying and failing at not showing my aggravation.
"My feet hurt." She whines back and I sigh before swinging her up onto my hip.
"Thanks " she sighs snuggling her face into my shoulder
"You're welcome Pen" I whisper back unable to be too frustrated with her. True to Rick's word we only walk a little bit more before Daryl and Rick begin heading for the tree line. No sooner than us crossing the tree line does Anneliese let out a wail. I see Rick and Daryl's heads whip towards us as I quickly set Penny on the ground and undo the baby carrier to shift Anneliese into my arms. I pop the pacifier connected to her onesie into her mouth quickly.
"She's just hungry" I say trailing off my eyes going from Rick's face to above his head and up the slight hill to the guardrail where there's a large group of people standing, staring down at us.

Chapter Text

"She's just hungry" I say trailing off my eyes going from Rick's face to above his head and up the slight hill to the guardrail where there's a large group of people standing, staring down at us.
=============================================================
Daryl and Rick's heads slowly turn to look at what my focus had turned to. We're all silent for a moment before Rick turns back to me.
"C'mon might as well introduce you now." He says gesturing in front of him.
"Go on Jackson" I say urging him to go in front of me. Once he's started up the slight embankment, I grasp penny's hand and usher her in front of me following close behind Jackson. We're about halfway up when her foot slips out from under her causing her to fall and me to stumble before hitting my knees.
"Are you okay Penn?" I ask and she nods looking at me with wide eyes.
"Here I can take her" Rick offers holding his hands out for penny who glances back at me unsure
"Go on" I tell her, and she does, allowing him to pick her up and settle her on his hip.
"C'mon" Daryl's voice comes from my other side startling me as I hadn't noticed he was that close and when I turn my face to him, he grasps my arm and pulls me to my feet and giving me a nudge up the hill.
Luckily the rest of the way up I don't stumble anymore.
Once over the guardrail I allow my gaze to once again settle on the large group before I turn my eyes to Rick who is placing Penny back on the ground. I watch as he rubs his hand over his jaw before beginning to speak.
"This is Gen and her kids uh..." he says trailing off realizing he never asked their names, so I fill in the blanks
"Jackson, Penelope and Anneliese"
"And uh we found them walking in the woods and thought maybe they could join us?" He finishes with a questioning tone
"Really rick?" A shaggy headed man asks from the front of the group.
"Shane, she has a baby and 2 other kids" Rick protests
"We could barely keep track of 2 of our own!" Shag-Shane bites out
"Now look that was no one’s fault okay!" Rick defends
"I agree with Shane, Rick. How are we going to feed 3 eventually 4 more people when we barely have enough for ourselves" a brown-haired woman who has her arm a young boy, probably around the same age as Jackson, says.
"What if it was you Lori wouldn't you want someone to help you?" Rick asks
"Look if it's an issue we can be on our way" I speak up causing Rick's head to whip towards me
"No that won't be necessary" he states
"Oh! So, you make the decisions for the group now Rick?" A blonde haired woman says
"No Andrea. I just don't see how it's fair to leave 2 young kids a baby and their mom wondering the woods" Rick says once again rubbing his hand over his jaw.
"Rick really it's no big deal we can just-" I begin but am cut off by an older man with a fisherman's hat
"No, I agree with Rick you shouldn't have to wander the woods alone with 3 kids" he says
"Dale that's not fair. Like Lori said we can barely feed ourselves how can we feed 3 more people" the blonde protests
"We'll do more runs Andrea. How can you possibly justify sending a young woman with children and a baby back into the woods" Dale says back
"Okay, okay calm down. We’ll take a vote. All in favor of them staying raise your hand" Shane says and to my amazement everyone except Shane Lori and Andrea’s hands go up.
"Then it's settled they can stay" Rick says looking back at me. "How about we introduce ourselves?" He suggests
And the group does. There's Dale, the old man with the fishing hat. Andrea the bitchy blonde. T-dog a young African American guy. Glenn an Asian man who looks barely older than 18. Carol an older woman whose daughter Sophia was lost. Shane, who used to be a cop and is Rick's best friend. Lori Rick's wife. And then Carl Rick's 12-year-old son.
"Well I'm Genevieve, you can call me Gen. this is Jackson he's 11. Penelope she's 3 and Anneliese she's about 2 weeks old and very very hungry" I say as Anneliese begins fussing around her pacifier.
"Well let's find you guys an empty car to settle into for the night" Rick says, and I nod following him.
"This one should work" he says stopping next to an SUV not even 2 minutes later. "It looks like you can lay the back seats down and have more room" he says
"Okay thank you" I say giving him a small smile. And he nods before walking back to the rest of the group.
"Come on Jack help me fold down those seats" I say opening the back of the SUV. It takes the two of us 5 minutes to get the seats folded down and by that point Anneliese has graduated from fussing to whining verging on crying.
"Hey here's your bags. Almost forgot to give them to you" Rick says from behind me as I'm helping Penny up into the back. "Thank you" I say turning to take them from him.
"It's no problem. Do you guys have food and water?"
"Uh. We have a can of fruit left. And 3 bottles of water left" I say digging through the book bag one handed.
"Oh, okay well let me go grab you guys some more food-"
"No! No, it's okay we're fine"
"If you're sure. Do you need anything else?"
"Blanket" Penny states rather then asks causing Rick to laugh
"I will go see if I have a blanket" he says walking off.
"Jack can you open the can of fruit and share that and a bottle of water with Penny please" I request opening the diaper bag and pulling out the stuff to make a bottle for Anneliese. It's a little difficult one handed but I manage to get it down just in time for her to spit out her pacifier and let out a wail.
"Okay shh shh here you go" I say sliding the bottle into her mouth which she eagerly begins to drink.
"How's the fruit?" I ask Jackson and Penny
"It's good" Jackson says around a mouthful
"Alright I found a few blankets for you guys and a pillow" Rick says approaching once again
"Rick you didn't have to" I begin to protest but he shakes his head and places the blankets in the SUV.
"Well thank you. Guys tell Mr. Rick thank you" I instruct
"Thanks" Jackson says
"Thank you Mr. Rick" Penny says
"You're very welcome. If you need anything don't hesitate to come find one of us. It’ll be getting dark soon" he says looking to the sky where the sun has just begun setting.
"Okay" I say pulling the bottle from Anneliese’s mouth making her whine as I shift her to burp her.
"I know. I know. You'll have it back as soon as you burp" I murmur to her as Rick walks away
"Gen? Can I color?" Penny asks
"Sure" I answer pulling her coloring book and crayons from the book bag and handing them to her.
"Once it's dark. It's going to be time to go to sleep." I tell them and they both nod. Jackson surprises me by beginning to color with Penny. By the time the sun is almost completely down Anneliese has finished her bottle and I'm changing her diaper before it gets too dark. Once I'm done that I have Penny put her coloring book away and have her and Jackson settle down to sleep before I place the mosses basket in the passenger seat and hop out of the back and close the trunk area door before sliding into the driver’s seat with a wide awake Anneliese propped up against my chest. I let her rest propped up for about a half an hour before I wrap her in a blanket and settle her into the Moses basket. Before I get ready to sleep myself, I prep a bottle for Anneliese for when she wakes up midway through the night.
And just as I thought Anneliese wakes me a few hours later. So, I change her and feed her before settling her back down to sleep. Not even an hour later going by my watch she wakes up crying again and nothing will settle her. Although she does break for her early morning bottle. We sit in the SUV for hours until the sun barely begins to peek over the trees. Then I get out and bounce her while walking around the SUV in hopes of soothing her. On our 5th lap Rick approaches us and stops to talk.
"I hope she didn't wake you" I say gesturing to the constantly whining baby in my arms.
"She didn't. The sun did. Is she okay?" He asks
"I think she has a little bit of colic. But it hasn't been this bad" I say, and he nods before holding out his hands making me raise my eyebrow
"Can I try? Carl had colic when he was a baby" he says, and I look at him for a moment before hesitantly handing her over. And I watch closely as he props her up Almost into a sitting position in the crook of his left arm while his right-hand rubs circles on her back. After a few minutes she begins to calm down. And I raise my eyes to meet his.
"Rubbing their belly always helps" he says
"I know. Penny had colic when she was a newborn, but it went away after a month or so"
"Well hopefully this little lady will have the same luck" he says "Here you go I better get the rest of the group moving. We're going out today to look for Sophia. I would suggest you stay back here. You're more than welcome to look through the cars. You might find some baby items" he says handing Anneliese back to me who snuggles into my arms and closes her eyes sleepily.
"Okay." I say
"You're more than welcome to join us for a small breakfast too" he says and I nod
"Thank you. For that and for soothing her" I say and he smiles
"It's no problem. If we don't help each other then we'd all be in a world of misery" he says before walking off. Shaking my head to myself. I open the back of the SUV and retrieve the discarded baby sling and put it back on before settling Anneliese in it against my chest.
"Jack. Penny. It's time to get up." I say gently pulling the blankets off of them
"Do we have too?" Jackson whines
"Yes. Come on get up" I say flicking the bottom of his foot and laugh as he sleepily sits up Penny doing the same. They both slide to the edge and Jackson hops down. But instead of hopping down Penny just holds her arms up towards me making me smile. As I lift her onto my hip, she snuggles her head into my shoulder. With a little struggle I grab the diaper bag and place it on my shoulder before closing the SUV. I nudge Jackson to where the rest of the group is conjugating in front of the RV. Once there Rick smiles warmly at us and holds out 2 cans of fruit to us.
"Oh no we only need one" I protest
"Gen I know you didn't eat last night. You need to eat too" Rick says frowning at me
"You didn't eat more than a few bites the day before" Jackson states making me blush and glare at him.
"Take it" Rick urges and I motion for Jackson to take the cans. Before walking to a nearby car and settling on the already warming hood. Jackson opens both cans before handing one to me. I only eat half the can before I feel full, so I give the rest to Jackson and Penny to split. Not long after we finish eating does the group assemble and head out. Dale and T-Dog staying behind. Dale to watch everything and T-Dog because he cut his arm pretty bad.
"What's your plan for today?" Dale asks me
"Would it be okay if I set Jack and Penny up in RV with something to do while I go through cars?" I ask
"Yes of course" Dale says
"There might be some board games in there" he says
"Okay thank you. I'll get them settled and then I'll begin looking through cars" I say opening the RV door and ushering Jack and Penny inside. Once they're seated at the table I look around for the board games. After finding a few I set them on the table between Jack and Penny.
"Have fun. If you get hungry come, get me I'll be nearby looking through cars" I instruct getting nods in response. Shaking my head to myself I head back out of the RV and towards the abandoned cars.
I work for about an hour before Anneliese begins to stir so I go to the SUV and change her diaper before feeding her. Once I have Anneliese settled in my arms drinking her bottle, I head over to the RV to see how Jack and Penny are doing.
"Hey guys how'd you enjoy the games?" I ask pulling the door closed behind me
"They were okay. Penny doesn't understand some of them but Mr. Dale came down and got out connect 4 for us so we've been playing that." Jackson says not bothering to look up from the game
"Well that's fun. I figured we could eat some lunch in about 2 hours. How's that sound?" I ask
"Sounds good Genny" Penny says
"Once Anneliese is done eating, I'm going to look through some more cars okay?" They both nod and deciding against going back outside for the time being I sit down in the driver’s seat while Anneliese finishes eating. And once she's done, I strap her back into the carrier and head out of the RV and tell Dale I'm going to head down the highway a little farther to look through some untouched cars.
Which turns out to be a very good decision because I find a trunk full of clothes and baby things. One of which is a little baby hat which I immediately place on Anneliese’s head to shield her some more from the sun. In one of the bags I find a few onesies and a receiving blanket. And in the diaper bag I find half a pack of diapers and a bottle. I empty the book bag and place the items in it before slinging it onto my shoulder and walking to a different car.
Over the course of 2 hours I find a few throw blankets. A couple cans of food and a case of water. I take it all back to the RV with me when I go to give Jack and Penny some lunch.
But upon entering the RV I find them already eating.
"What're you guys eating" I ask sitting next to Penny across from Jack.
"Mr. Dale gave us some green beans, corn and spinach. He said to save one for you" Jackson says sliding the can of spinach towards me.
"Thanks" I laugh grabbing the can opener.
"Did you find anything?" He asks
"Yea I found some stuff for Anneliese there wasn't much else" I say beginning to eat the spinach
"Gen?" Penny says
"Yes?"
"I want a dolly" she says simply
"Well I'll keep my eye out Penny. No promises" I tell her
She nods her head and looks quite dejected and I feel horrible but before I can even tell her that I will look for one I hear a distant loud boom. A sound I quickly recognize as a gunshot. I stand quickly briefly turning to face Jack and Penny
"Go back to the room with T-Dog don't come out until I get you" I order before rushing out the RV door knowing they'd listen to me. It takes me all but 6 seconds to climb the RV ladder.
"Was that a gunshot?" I ask Dale pulling myself to my feet
"Sounded like it" he replies looking through his binoculars
"Do you see anything?" I question
"No." Is his simple response
We stand on top of the RV for about an hour and just as I'm ready to climb down the ladder the group emerges from the tree line. I hurry down the ladder and into the RV to retrieve Jack and Penny. And come out to Dale questioning the group.
"Was that a gunshot?" He asks frantically
"Yes-" Glenn begins
"Was anyone hurt? Where's the rest of the group?" Dale says
"Carl got shot" Daryl says
"What?" I say
"Carl was shot and this chick on a horse cane and got Lori. She told us where to find the farm they're at"

Chapter Text

That was the most words I had ever heard Daryl say. And judging by some of the other group members faces they hadn't heard him say that much before either.
"So, let's go to the farm. If there's someone there to help Carl, then they can probably help T-Dog" Dale says
"How bad is he?" Andrea asks
"Pretty bad. I'd say a blood infection" Dale says
"Keep your oily rags off my bike" Daryl says flinging a rag at Dale before opening one of the saddle bags and pulling a baggie out.
"Why didn't y'all say nothing before got all kinds of shit here. Merle liked to get the clap on occasion" he says pulling out a few different pill bottles and handing them and the baggie to Dale.
"Well I still think T-Dog should go to the farm" Dale says
"I'll stay here" Daryl says
"I will too" Carol says
"If the RV stays, I stay" Dale says
"I'm staying" Andrea says
After most everyone states that they're staying. It's somehow decided against his wishes that Glenn will drive T-Dog to the farm to see what's up. Just as Anneliese starts to fuss and I begin to head for the SUV to prepare a bottle Dale calls my name.
"Yea?" I ask
"You and the kids should probably go to" he says
"What?" I ask confused
"A farm would be better for the baby then a highway" he states
"He's got a point" Glenn speaks up and I just nod
"Okay yea uh just let me know what car we're taking. I have to go feed Anneliese before she starts wailing" I say heading for the SUV and grabbing Penny's hand and taking her with me. Briefly noting Jackson following behind me.
Half an hour later Anneliese is fed and changed and nestled comfortably in the baby sling. Penny is coloring in one of her books. And Jackson is reading a comic that he found in a nearby car. Deciding that the group was close enough, and we were safe at the moment I lean my head back and close my eyes.

Chapter Text

Jerking awake I grab the hand touching my shoulder with my left hand and unsheathe my knife with my right and open my eyes to the sight of a terrified Glenn.
"Woah sorry it's just me." He stammers,
I sigh in relief and release his hand and put my knife away.
"It's okay. I'm sorry, you just startled me" I apologize
"No that's a good reaction." It's silent for a moment before he begins again.
"I just wanted to tell you we thought it'd be a good idea to take this SUV to the farm"
"Okay sounds good. When are we leaving?" I ask
"In about 5 to 10 minutes. Wanna head out before it gets too dark"
"Okay. Just let me move some of our stuff then you can give me a hand putting the seats up and we can go" I say before turning towards Penny and Jack.
"Alright guys you heard Glenn. Pack up your stuff" I tell them and they're quick to do so. Once Jack slides out of the SUV I help Penny out and pull our bags back enough to let the seats up.
"Okay we should be good" I say to Glenn and he nods before helping me sit the seats back up. I straighten our bags and close the trunk before turning to Jack and Penny.
"C'mon Penn you get the middle." I say picking her up into the SUV and pushing her across the seat. Backing away I motion for Jackson to get in as I walk around to the other side and climb in.
Within a few minutes we're joined by T-Dog and Glenn. Glenn taking the driver’s seat.
"All set back there?" Glenn asks
"Yup" I answer glancing over at Penny and Jackson.
"Alright let’s get this show on the road. Remember green mailbox that says Greene on the side" Glenn says starting the car and we all wave as we pull away.
About 4 miles down the highway Glenn spots the mailbox off to the side of the road and after swerving around a few cars we turn up the drive. About a quarter of the mile down the driveway there's a huge fence that need to be opened.
"I'm going to get out and open the gate. Why don't you get in the driver’s seat since I'll have to close the gate behind us" Glenn says turning to look at me and I nod opening my door at the same time he does. While he heads towards the gate I slide into the drivers seat. Once the gate is open Glenn hops into the backseat and I drive forward only a little passed the gate so Glenn can shut the gate.
He makes quick work of that and I drive slowly up the driveway. We go around a slight bend and suddenly there's a big farmhouse within half a mile. I pull to a slow stop as the rest of the sun disappears behind the trees. Putting the car in park I slide out of the car and quickly help Penny out and grasp her hand and pull Jackson close to me as we walk up the front porch steps. Glenn and T-Dog stop in front of the screen door where light is pouring out from.
"Did ya close the gate behind you?" A voice comes from the right of us and all our heads whip towards it. It's silent for a moment and Glenn looks to be in awe.
"Yea we did." I say
"I'm Maggie"
"Gen. That's Glenn and T-Dog. Uh Rick and Lori?" I ask
"C'mon I'll show you. I can get Patricia to sew that cut up for you" she says gesturing to T-Dog
We nod and follow her through the door. I pause inside the doorway and grasp Jackson's shoulder.
"Stay close" I whisper and he nods.
Maggie leads Glenn and T-Dog down a hallway but I hold Jackson and Penny back in the living room. Where Maggie rejoins us a moment later.
"Have y'all ate" She asks
"No" I answer shortly
"Well come on I'll fix y'all something to eat" she says motioning us through a dining room and into the kitchen where a smaller table sits.
"Y'all can have a seat" she says pointing the table. So, Penny and I sit on one side and Jack sits across from us. I shift Anneliese in the sling so she's sleeping a bit more comfortably against my chest.
"We have some vegetables and some bread" Maggie says bringing over 3 plates and setting them on the table.
"I uh don't need any. I'm fine." I say and she looks at me raising an eyebrow but puts one of the plates away before bringing over the food and serving Jack and Penny a plate full.
"What do you say" I prompt them
"Thank you Maggie" they both say around mouthfuls.
"You're very welcome. Let me get y'all some water" she says turning back to the cabinets
"Penny slow dow-" I begin to tell her but am cut off by the back door slamming open with a loud bang causing me to fly to my feet and Anneliese to begin wailing.
"Beth!" I hear Maggie say roughly and I look up to see a blonde-haired teenager and a teenage boy behind her both looking shocked. Anneliese lets out another particularly loud wail pulling my attention back to her. I very quickly undo the baby sling and pull her out of it.
"Shhh honey it's okay" I whisper bouncing her.
"I knew I heard a baby" an elderly man says walking into the kitchen.
"I'm Hershel" he says to me and I nod bouncing Anneliese some more then quickly decide that I needed her pacifier.
"Stay here and eat guys I'm going to get her pacifier" I tell Jackson and Penny walking out of the kitchen and through the house very quickly to get to the car. I briefly note both Glenn and T-Dog sitting on the couch with an elderly woman sewing T-Dogs arm. When I get to the car I rummage through the diaper bag to find her pacifier and once I do I slip it into her mouth as quick as possible and shoulder the diaper bag before walking back into the house. No more than 3 steps into the house does Rick come out of the hallway and surprise me by wrapping me in a hug.
"I'm glad you guys are here" he breathes hugging me tightly and after a slightly shocked pause I wrap my arm that's not holding Anneliese around his waist. When Anneliese starts to squirm he lets go on the side where she is and runs his hand over her head then bends and kisses her forehead.
"How's Carl?" I ask in an almost whisper
"He's not doing too good, the bullet broke. Shane and Otis went to get a ventilator" he whispers back running his hand over Anneliese's hair.
"I'm sorry. If there's anything you need let me know. I have 0 negative blood so I can give him blood if he needs it" I tell him
"Thank you" he whispers meeting my eyes before pulling away.
"Daddy said y'all can sleep in the guest room upstairs" Maggie says coming out of the dining room
"Okay thank you" I say to her
"I'll go get your other bags" Glenn says getting off the couch and I nod before walking into the kitchen.
"How was the food?" I ask Penny and jack
"It was good" Penny says and Jack nods in agreement.
"Are y'all ready for bed?" They both nod
"C’mon then" I say grabbing Penny's hand and leading the way back to the living room. When we enter Glenn passes one bag to me, Maggie and Jackson each. And we follow Maggie up the stairs.
"Here y'all are" she says pushing a door open to reveal a bed with a light green bed spread, a dresser against the wall between 2 windows and a chestnut rocking chair in the corner.
"Thank You Maggie" I say placing the bag on the bed
"You're welcome. If you want, you can use the stove in the kitchen to warm bottles for her" she offers
"Thank you I might just take you up on that" I say, and she nods before leaving and pulling the door closed behind her.
"Alright you two. Put on your last change of clothes and get in bed" I say digging through the diaper bag and pulling out a new diaper and onesie for Anneliese.
Jack and Penny are changed before I’m even finished getting Anneliese dressed.
"I'm gonna rock Anneliese in the rocking chair for a little bit. Y'all can have the bed for right now." I tell them pulling the comforter and the sheet back. No sooner than the sheet leaving my hand are Jackson and Penny in the bed and pulling it back up on themselves.
"Goodnight you two. I love you guys" I say kissing them both on the head.
"Love you too Gen" Jackson says
"Love you Genny" Penny choruses as I sit down in the rocking chair and gently begin to rock.
I peer out the window as I rock Anneliese. Within 10 minutes both Jack and Penny are sound asleep, and Anneliese is beginning to stir, getting hungry for her first nighttime bottle. Before she can begin to all out wail, I gather the diaper bag and mosses basket and head for the kitchen. I bypass Glenn, T-Dog, Maggie and Beth sitting in the living room and nod to them as I walk through.
I place the mosses basket on the table and gently lay Anneliese inside. Just as I'm getting a bottle out of the bag Maggie pops into the kitchen.
"Hey, I just wanted to get a pot out for you and tell you that you can use the sink water to make her bottle" she tells me opening a cabinet and getting a pot out and filling it halfway with water.
"Thanks" I say putting a scoop of formula in the bottle before going to the sink and putting water in it and capping it. I go towards the stove and see that Maggie turned the stove on.
"You're welcome. She's really cute you know." She says smiling down at Anneliese in the mosses basket.
"Thank you. I agree" I laugh placing the bottle in the pot.
"Daddy said that it'd be okay if the milk was on the cool side since it's summer" she tells me and I nod
"I know." I tell her
"Alright I'll leave you to it. Feel free to join us in the living room." She says walking out of the kitchen.
Shaking my head to myself I try to ignore the nagging feeling that I'm lying to everyone. Not once have I told them that I'm the older sister not the mom. But I guess in hindsight I'm not lying. They haven't asked and I just haven't said.
Shaking myself from my thoughts I remove her bottle from the pot and test it on my wrist before turning the stove off and emptying the pot just as Anneliese starts to fuss.
"Shush honey I got your bottle right here" I whisper cradling her in my arm and grabbing a burp cloth from the bag before walking into the living room. I pause as Anneliese starts letting out little mewling cries -not unlike a kitten- and decide to sit in the unoccupied armchair. I quickly settle in and slip the bottle into her mouth. We sit in uncomfortable silence through the first half of her bottle and through Anneliese getting burped.
She's barely started on her second half when we hear a car tear up the driveway. And everyone but me fly to their feet and rush out onto the porch. I barely catch a glimpse of Rick and Hershel as they follow the rest.

Chapter Text

... we hear a car tear up the drive way. And everyone but me fly to their feet and rush out onto the porch. I barely catch a glimpse of Rick and Hershel as they follow the rest.
====================================================
I don't move from my position feeding Anneliese, knowing that my help is not needed at that moment. And just listen to the rushed voices through the screen door, I hear Shane say something about Otis telling him to go and it takes me a minute to remember that Otis must have been the member of the Greene's family who went with Shane. Within seconds Herschel and Rick rush back in with Maggie and Lori following at a more sedate pace. Glenn, T-Dog and Shane bring up the rear, Shane looking like he's in shock and I just stare at him as he shakily leans against the wall next to the door before sliding down and running a hand over his face.
"Shane got what they needed" Glenn says causing my head to turn to him, only to find him staring back at me.
"Good" is my simple response as I look down at Anneliese drinking her bottle and gazing at me with wide innocent eyes. I don't know what happened with Shane and Otis, but it wasn't good. I wasn't going to ask what happened though as Shane already didn't like me.
Its silent as Anneliese finishes her bottle and I burp her, glancing up when I burp her and noticing Maggie staring at us, or more accurately through us. When I stand up with Anneliese and walk towards the kitchen, I notice her gaze follows us. Once in the kitchen I change Anneliese's diaper and rinse the bottle out in the sink before placing it on the counter to dry.
Grabbing a light receiving blanket from the diaper bag I walk back into the living room and reclaim my seat, settling Anneliese against my chest and lightly drape the blanket across her back. I lightly run my hand up and down her back soothing both her and I. It’s not long before I feel her breathing deepen and my own body relax.
I'm unsure of how much later it is but I am pulled awake by a hand gently shaking my shoulder making me jump. My eyes immediately meet the kind eyes of Herschel, he holds a finger to his lips and gestures for me to follow him, before he walks into the kitchen. Blinking the sleep from my eyes I take note that Anneliese is still asleep and gently shift her so I'm cradling her. I glance around the room and see T-Dog asleep on the couch and Glenn asleep on the floor. Sighing deeply, I stand and walk into the kitchen.
"I didn't mean to startle you too bad" Herschel's soft voice greets me in the dimly lit kitchen.
"It's okay" I say meeting his eyes and asking the silent question of why he had woken me up in the first place.
"Rick told me that you have O-negative blood, and that you offered to give Carl some." He says
"I did, does he need some?" I ask
"Yes, about a pint or so for now but we might need more later" he says
"Okay" I say, and he nods
"You can just follow me to the bedroom it'll take about an hour or so" he says
"Alright, I'll have to give Anneliese a bottle in that time but that shouldn't be a problem"
"No, just let me know when you need to feed her, and I'll make you a bottle and bring it to you, now let's head there to get this transfusion underway" he says leading the way out of the kitchen.
I follow closely behind him, focusing on not tripping over anything on the dark walk to the room. Herschel gently pushes open a cracked door to reveal a dimly lit slightly crowded room. Rick and Lori are sitting with their backs to the door next to the bed and Carl is laying on the bed pale as white. I wouldn't have believed he was alive if it wasn't for the slight rise and fall of his chest.
Rick's head turns at the sound of the door and his bloodshot eyes meet mine and he stares for a moment before turning back to Carl. Herschel leads me to the other side of the bed where there's 2 more chairs and gestures for me to sit in the one closest to the top of the bed. Luckily for me its an armchair which will be more comfortable for me and Anneliese.
"Ready?" Herschel asks pulling my attention away from Carl and I look at the slightly large needle in his hands with wide eyes before nodding and holding out my left arm to him while shifting Anneliese in my right. I press my nose to her head and squeeze my eyes tight when I feel him place the tourniquet on my upper arm and slide the needle into my vein.
"Scared of needles" he whispers while moving around and I hear him attaching something not daring to open my eyes.
"A little" I breathe and get no response, then I feel the tourniquet come off and he gently pats my shoulder.
"You can open your eyes now." He says, and I do glancing down at the tube running from my arm to Carl's, and the deep red blood flowing through them. Sighing I relax back into the chair and close my eyes, hearing Herschel settle into the chair next to me.
Maybe 5 minutes later Anneliese starts to stir in my arms and let out little whines, pulling mine and Herschel's attention to her.
"Does she need a bottle?" he asks quietly
"Yes, and probably a diaper too" I answer trying to gently soothe her without jostling my left arm.
"How many ounces?" he asks, and I briefly answer with three before he stands and leaves the room. I look down at Anneliese as she starts to fuss more and wiggle in my arms. I gently shush her and am startled when I hear someone stand up, causing my eyes to fly up to see Rick coming around the bed to me.
"I can take her" he says, and I start to shake my head no, brushing off his help. But he shakes his head and says "Let me take her" so I nod, and he gently scoops her from my arms and bounces her while simultaneously shushing her.
It’s not long before Herschel comes back in with a diaper and a bottle. I watch as Rick takes the diaper from him and expertly changes her on the foot of Carl's bed, before taking the bottle from Herschel and settling next to Lori and feeding her.
Not once do I take my eyes off him and Anneliese, unless it’s to gaze at Lori whose eyes alternate between Rick and Carl. It’s not long until Anneliese has finished her bottle and Rick has burped her, then he glances up at me.
"Do you want her back?" he asks, and I nod. So, he brings her over and gently places her back into my arm.
"Thank you" I whisper, and he nods.
Maybe 20 minutes later Herschel stands and begins the process of stopping the blood transfusion. I turn my head away as he removes the drip from my arm and places a piece of gauze over my arm.
Once he is done, I stand and make my way to the door. Only for Lori to catch my arm while I'm walking past her.
"Thank you" she says gazing into my eyes, and I nod whispering a soft you're welcome before leaving.
I walk up the stairs and peak in on Jackson and Penelope and see them both sprawled out sound asleep. Smiling I quietly shut the door behind me and return downstairs. I grab Anneliese's mosses basket from the kitchen and settle the dozing baby in it on the floor, before curling up in the chair and returning to sleep.
A few hours later I wake to a single beam of sunlight coming through the curtains and onto my eyes. Just as I sit up Herschel emerges from the hallway and looks at me.
"Does he need more blood?" I whisper and Herschel nods, so I stretch and pick up the mosses basket and follow him back to the bedroom, where I place Anneliese on the floor next to the chair and go through the tense process of having a needle put in my arm. Once we're set up, I relax back in the chair and close my eyes.
Only opening them when I hear shuffling coming from the doorway, and I raise my eyes to Shane standing there gazing into the room. His eyes meet mine and he nods minutely before moving from the doorframe. Slightly confused I look down at Anneliese and see her stirring, but not yet awake. So, I relax again and doze off.
For the second time that night I'm awakened by Herschel touching my shoulder.
"We're all done. If he needs more later, I'll fetch you, but you should get something to eat. Maggie is making some oatmeal I believe" he tells me removing the needle and replacing the gauze.
"Okay just let me know" I say standing and picking up Anneliese's mosses basket and going toward the kitchen. No sooner than us reaching the kitchen does Anneliese let out a wail. So, I hurriedly set the basket on the table and grasp for her pacifier to place in her mouth.
"Is she hungry?" Maggie asks from where she's standing with Beth at the stove
"Yeah I think so" I answer fumbling for a bottle from the diaper bag
"Here I got it" Beth says taking the bottle from me and I nod in thanks
"How many scoops?" she asks
"One and a half then 3 oz of water" I instruct before changing Anneliese's diaper. As soon as I'm done changing her Beth is holding the bottle out to me and I whisper my thanks before walking into the living room where Glenn and T-Dog are sitting. As soon as I walk in Glenn is on his feet.
"Woah! Are you okay?" Glenn asks gesturing frantically to the gauze on my arm
"Yeah, I gave blood to Carl" I answer simply raising an eyebrow at him and moving towards what I've begun to claim as my chair.
"Uh, why don't you let me uh feed her for you then you can rest or something" he stutters over his words holding out his arms.
"Uh okay, have you ever held a baby before Glenn?" I ask, and he nods his head giving me a rather unimpressed look. Before coming closer and taking the bottle from my hand. When I don't move to hand him Anneliese he raises and eyebrow at me.
"You can trust me with her I promise" He says, and I nod slowly handing him the baby thinking that he’s too puppy like to harm her.
"I'll just go check on the kids. Okay? Holler if you need me" I say shooting him an anxious look
"I will" he says while nodding already settled on the couch feeding Anneliese.
Sighing to myself and trying to shake off my anxiety I walk upstairs to the room where Jack and Penny are. They're still asleep when I get there, so I sit in the rocking chair and gaze out the window. The sun is just beginning to peak over the trees. Its silent and calm, off to the side of the house I can see Beth making her way to what might be a chicken coop. The world almost seems normal in this moment, peaceful if you will. But that peace is broken when I hear my name said from the bed.
"Good Morning Penny" I say back and smile as she sleepily rubs her eyes and gets out of bed before coming over to curl up on my lap.
"Did you sleep good?" I ask, and she nods her head into my collarbone one of her hands twirling a strand of her hair.
"When Jack gets up, we'll go get some breakfast okay?" I say and she once again nods.
It’s not long before Jackson wakes up and gazes groggily at us. I let him wake up for a few minutes before I shoo penny off my lap and him out of bed.
"Make the bed and we'll go downstairs" I instruct watching as they make the bed before looking at me.
I lead the way to the kitchen, holding Penny's hand with Jackson following behind us.
"Good morning" Maggie greets them already setting three bowls of oatmeal down on the table where Glenn and T-Dog are already sitting. In response she gets two sleepy muffed answers as they both sit down and start eating. Smiling at her in thanks I hold my hands out to Glenn to hand me Anneliese, then I settle down and begin eating.
Almost as soon as I take my third bite Anneliese start to fuss and squirm, making me put down my spoon and shift her in my arms. Quickly realizing she needs a diaper change I walk into the living room and change her but even then, she's still fussing so I walk around the living room shushing her
Eventually Jack and Penny make their way into the living room followed by Beth and the boy.
"If it's okay with you, Jimmy and I can take them to the chicken coop and stables, let them play with the horses some" Beth says, and I think for a moment before nodding
"You both listen to Ms. Beth and Mr. Jimmy, okay?" I instruct them both getting nods back
I meet Beth's eyes and mouth thank you, she smiles and nods before herding the kids upstairs to change get their shoes and then out the door.
Glenn and T-Dog rejoin me in the living room where I'm still trying to soothe Anneliese, I finally decide to put on the baby sling and settle her in there with her pacifier, where she calms down rather quickly and falls asleep. I reclaim my seat in the chair once again and just close my eyes, feeling my body relaxing.
I hear my name being said and my shoulder being jostled making me open my eyes to Maggie. I raise a single eyebrow at her.
"Daddy asked me to come get you he said Carl needs more blood" she says before walking away. I stand and head toward the bedroom, and gently push open the door to see Herschel already prepping the tube.
Once I'm seated, he meets my eyes and informs me that he's going to get a little bit more than the previous two times and I just nod, figuring that Carl must have really needed it. Closing my eyes, I hold my arm out and wait for the slight pinch. Once he removes the tourniquet, I open my eyes and just gaze around the room before focusing on a point just above the dresser and zoning out.
My focus is broken when Herschel stands and takes Carl's vitals.
"Maybe another half an hour or so" he says, and I nod closing my eyes.
When I open them again it's to the feeling of the needle being removed from my arm.
"I think that's it from you today" Herschel says, and I nod agreeing, feeling a little weak but I wasn't going to tell him that.
I make my way out of the room and onto the back-porch gazing at the figures of Penny and Jackson brushing a horse at the stables. I stand there watching them until Anneliese begins fussing for a diaper change and to be fed. After changing her and preparing a bottle in the kitchen I go to the front porch and sit in a chair out there to feed her.
Not long after she's done and I've burped her, I hear the faint rumble of what sounds like a motorcycle and evidently so does the rest of the house's occupants, as they all gather on the porch.
Glenn and Rick are standing on either side of me, Rick with his arm around Lori and Shane next to her. T-Dog stands on Glenn's other side with Herschel and Maggie.
It’s not long before Daryl's motorcycle pulls to a stop in front of the house the rest of the caravan following. Everyone unloads almost at the same time. Stepping forward slightly Rick begins speaking
"This is Herschel and his family's farm, he saved Carl's life" I can see the sighs of relief from everyone, except maybe Daryl who is as stoic as ever.
"He has agreed to let us stay here while Carl heals" and my eyes fly to the back of his head as this is news to me too. "So, you can pull the cars over there and begin setting up camp" he says pointing to the lawn about 30 feet away, and the group does.
Just as everyone starts to move off the porch, I begin to stand with the intention of going inside, but before I know it a wave of dizziness washes over me and my vision goes dark. I vaguely feel myself falling and hear rushed frantic voices, and then nothing.

Chapter Text

Just as everyone starts to move off the porch I begin to stand with the intention of going inside, but before I know it a wave of dizziness washes over me and my vision goes dark. I vaguely feel myself falling and hear rushed frantic voices, and then nothing.
=============================================
Waking slowly, I feel the pain in my head and softness under my back. With a slight groan I open my eyes. The first thing I see is Herschel leaning over me.
“Hey welcome back” he says, and I just stare at him.
“Genevieve?” He asks, and I moan in response
“You feel okay?”
“My head hurts. What happened?” I whisper
“You fainted when you stood up. Glenn tried his best to grab you, but you still knocked your head on the arm of the rocking chair on the way down”
“Is Anneliese okay?!” I ask frantically trying to push myself up but stopping when I feel intense nausea
“Yes. Rick somehow grabbed her before you went completely down” he says, and I sigh relaxing
“Now Genevieve. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but you should be taking care of yourself. I know you gave blood, but you wouldn’t have fainted like that if you were eating properly” he begins
“But Herschel the kids- “I start
“Will not be safe if you don’t take care of yourself too. If you’re passed out no one can take care of them” he says making me sigh
“I understand Herschel” I say trying not to roll my eyes, I know how to take care of them.
“Good I hope you do. Now I’ll bring you some Tylenol and have Glenn help you into a bedroom. You’re going to eat and rest. I’m afraid you might have given yourself a concussion” he says, and I nod knowing an argument would be futile.
Within 5-minutes Glenn is helping me walk up the stairs and into the bedroom.
“Thanks Glenn. And thanks for catching me” I say sitting down on the bed
“You’re welcome. Uh sorry I didn’t catch you before you hit your head”
“It’s fine. Where are the kids?” I ask hoping he’d know
“Jackson and Penny are with Beth. And I think Lori and Rick have Anneliese” he says although looking unsure.
“Okay. Could you have them bring me her please?” I ask
“Yeah sure. You should rest. And yell if you need anything, I’ll be hanging around in case you need help” he says, and I nod before he walks out of the room
I slip my shoes off and am settling into the pillows when Maggie comes into the room.
“I have some oatmeal and Tylenol for you. Daddy said later tonight or tomorrow once you’re not too dizzy you can use the shower to freshen you and the kids up” she says handing me a bowl and a few pills and placing a cup on the nightstand.
“Okay thank you” I say, and she nods curtly before leaving. It doesn’t seem like she likes me too much
Not dwelling on it I slide so my back is against the headboard and take the Tylenol and start eating. Maybe 5 minutes later Rick comes into the room carrying Anneliese in her mosses basket.
“Hey there. You scared us” he greets
“Sorry I don’t know what happened” I say with a little shrug “Can I have her?” I ask holding my arms out for Anneliese with my eyebrows raised
Rick sighs before placing the mosses basket on the bed next to me.
“Herschel said he doesn’t think you’ve been eating enough” he says leaning against the doorway
“I do my best Rick, but Jackson and Penny come first, when you’re in a car and you only have one can of fruit you don’t think about eating it you think about them. I know you understand. You’re a parent yourself” I say raising my eyes to meet his bright blue ones.
“I do understand Gen but you’re with us now and we have more than enough to go around. You shouldn’t skip meals it’s not good” he says with a sigh and I echo him “I understand putting yourself first, but some things are also important, if you’re not eating then you aren’t strong and if you aren’t strong then you can’t protect yourself let alone your kids” he finishes
“I understand Rick, I’ll do my best not to skip any more meals” I say after pausing for a moment to think of his words and knowing they were all true “Where are the kids?” I ask after a moment
“Beth is still entertaining them; last I saw they were headed towards some apple trees with baskets” he answers me
“Wow its already that far into fall that apples are ready to harvest” I say in astonishment and Rick nods in agreement
“Thanks for taking care of her for me and for grabbing her so she didn’t get hurt” I say to Rick smoothing a hand over Anneliese’s hair.
“You’re welcome. You’re part of our group. We help each other.” He says, and I nod
“I’ll leave you to get some rest. Yell if you need anything okay?” he says, and I give him another nod. He leaves the room pulling the door partially closed behind him before I sink into the pillows and drift off staring at Anneliese’s peaceful face.
==============================================
Like normal I’m woken by Anneliese’s whimpers and quickly give her, her pacifier and change her. I grab the things I need to make a bottle and head down the steps to make one. I don’t even make it a foot into the kitchen before Glenn is in front of me
“Here I’ll make it for you, just tell me how much goes in. You should sit down.” He says in one breathe grabbing the bottle and the formula from my hand.
“Just fill the bottle to the three, the put in one and a half scoops of powder and shake it” I instruct him trying not to show how dizzy I am but failing when I have to grab onto the doorframe to stay upright.
“Seriously sit down” Glenn says placing the items down before grabbing my elbow and steering me to a chair in the living room.
I settle into the plush blue chair and shift Anneliese to a more comfortable position in my arms and gaze into her wide-open eyes.
“Hey pretty girl, Glenn’s gonna make your bottle and then you’ll eat” I tell her in a soothing voice. Within minutes Glenn comes into the living room with her bottle and hands it to me. I nod my thanks and quickly trade her pacifier for her bottle. Anneliese gives no protests and quickly begins eating her bottle. She does get frustrated with me when I take the bottle away halfway through in order to burp her but settles quickly as soon as she’s given it back.
“How are you feeling Gen?” Herschel asks walking into the room from the hallway
“I’m okay. My head is still tender, and I got dizzy not too long ago but I’m not as nauseous as before” I tell him as I place Anneliese’s empty bottle on the end table next to the chair.
“That’s good, still take it easy. Don’t go up and down the stairs too much okay?” he says, and I nod before turning my attention back to Anneliese who is staring up at me with her deep blue eyes.
“Hey Gen, I’m gonna go on a run with Maggie to get some things. Do you or the kids need anything?” Glenn asks and I pause to think for a moment.
“A tent, we don’t have one and we’ll be needing one.” I say meeting his eyes
“Okay, I’ll look for one. Is there anything the kids would want” he asks again
“Penny would probably request a doll, but it’s not something she needs and it’s not something anyone should stick their neck out for. Okay?” I insist, and he nods
“I’ll find you when I get back with it” he says, and I nod before he goes outside.
I turn my attention back to Anneliese as she lets out an adorable coo.
“Are you starting to find your voice? Huh little princess?” I whisper to her and beam at her answering coos.
“That’s a welcome sound in this day and age” Rick says coming in from the hallway
“Yes, it is, seems like she’s starting to find her voice” I say smiling as she wiggles her little hands in the air.
“How are you feeling?” he asks
“I’m good, head is still tender, but I’ll be okay” I tell him, trying to keep the annoyance at being asked the same question out of my voice.
“Do you need help with anything?” he asks
“No not at the moment, I’m gonna go round up the kids and take up Herschel’s offer of a shower” I tell him, and he nods
“Yell if you need anything” he says, and I nod my thanks before gathering Anneliese’s empty bottle and rinsing it in the kitchen. From there I head out the back door and towards the fruit trees where I see Beth and Jimmy with the kids.
“Well hey guys” I greet gaining all of their attention
“Hi!” Penny squeals greeting me with a hug around my legs talking a mile a minute about brushing the horses and the different types of fruit they picked and how Beth let her feed the chickens.
“And have you thanked Ms. Beth and Mr. Jimmy for letting you help them” I prompt smoothing down her curly blonde hair
“It was no problem; I love kids and they are the most well-behaved ones I’ve ever seen” Beth says with a smile
“Well thank you” I say returning her smile “Now you two let’s head back to the house, Mr. Herschel said we can use the shower and freshen up”
“I’ll come with you. You’re small enough I think you can wear some of my clothes” Beth says
“Oh no you don’t have to do that.” I try to protest but she just smiles and shakes her head before leading the way back to the house carrying a basket full of apples.
“Guess we’re following her, thanks Jimmy for helping to keep them occupied” I say with a nod. Without waiting for a response, we walk up to the house and up the stairs to the bathroom.
I instruct both Penny and Jackson to get a set of clothes out of the bags while I rock Anneliese to sleep.
Just as I’m placing Anneliese down in her mosses basket, someone knocks on the doorframe and I turn to see Beth.
“I have some clothes for you” she says holding out a bundle
“Thank you, for the clothes and for the shower” I say taking the clothes from her and she smiles before leaving closing the door behind her.
I send Jackson off to shower first, and once he’s done, I give Penny a bath. I quickly shower myself and laugh at Beth’s clothing choice a pair of jean shorts that don’t leave much to the imagination and a simple grey tank top. I wake Anneliese from her nap and bathe her in some shallow water in the tub before changing her into a plain white onesie and settling her back down. I quickly brush mine and Penny’s hair and prepare a bottle for Anneliese for her next feeding before we all walk outside and join the group around the fire. Lori is cooking, something I’m not sure what., and the sun is preparing to set.
“Hey Genevieve” Dale says approaching us as we sit down
“Hi Dale” I say back giving him a warm smile
“Glenn said he was going to look for a tent for you and the kids” he says
“Yea?” I say confused
“You won’t need it” he states
“And why won’t I, we need somewhere to sleep” I say raising an eyebrow
“You and the kids can have the back bedroom of the RV” he says, and I instantly begin protesting
“Dale I can’t put you out- “
“You wouldn’t be putting me out, I’ll make the table into a bed and sleep there and besides Andrea has been wanting out of the RV for a while” he says
“If you’re 100% positive I’m not putting anyone out” I tell him
“I am” he insists
“Well thank you very much”
“No thanks needed” he says before returning to his seat
“Here you go, it’s just some rice and beans” Lori says passing out plates to everyone and we all nod our thanks.
About halfway through the meal Glenn and Maggie get back from their run and part ways, Glenn heading towards me with a box with what I assume contains a tent. He goes to set it down at my feet, but I shake my head.
“You can give that to Andrea, we’ll be sleeping in the RV” I tell him, and he nods instead heading towards where Andrea is sitting. I try to make small talk with Jackson and Penny while we eat but Penny is exhausted and Jackson seems to be in a mood so for the most part we sit in silence, the group talking around us until Anneliese starts to whine for her bottle.
After she eats, I ask Glenn to keep an eye on the kids for a moment while I grab our bags from the room and take them to the RV. He doesn’t seem to have any protests to holding the dozing infant or letting Penny lean against his side tiredly.
It doesn’t take me more than 10 minutes to get everything situated and by that point Penny has fallen asleep. I send Jackson into the RV first to change and settle into the bed before I carry Penny back and settle her in between where I’ll lay and Jackson. Then I change Anneliese and rock her to sleep before joining the kids in the room.

Chapter Text

The sun is up and shining through the small window of the RV bedroom when I wake up. Anneliese only woke twice during the middle of the night and is still sound asleep in her mosses basket. Jackson and Penny are still asleep too, curled around each other. But it’s time for us to get up and moving, as I can hear the group talking and can only assume, they’ve been up for a while. It takes about 5 minutes for me to get them both awake and changed. I have Jackson help me settle Anneliese into the carrier on my chest, and I prepare a bottle for her in advance. Then we emerge from the RV, Penny leaning against my side sleepily.
“Good Morning” Rick greets when he sees us
“Morning. Any idea what time it is?” I ask and tactfully ignore Andrea’s whispered comment of way past time for us to get up
“About 8, Genevieve” Dale answers from atop the RV
“Thanks Dale” I say before returning my attention to Rick “What do y’all need help with today?” I ask him
“Well first you 3 can come get some breakfast, and then I believe Lori was going to do laundry so maybe you could help her with that?” he says glancing at his wife
“The more hands the merrier” Lori laughs giving me a smile that I return
“Laundry it is then” I agree leading the way to the chairs and handing Penny and Jackson both a can of fruit that Lori gestures too, and before I can even sit down fully myself a hand is pushing an opened can of fruit into my hands. Following the arm, I meet Rick’s eyes and raise an eyebrow. “I’m a big girl Rick I can feed myself” I say jokingly
“Not too sure about that” he says before turning to join Shane, Daryl, Glenn and Jimmy at a truck. Rolling my eyes at his back I stab a piece of fruit and shove it in my mouth
Once we’re done eating, I join Lori in gathering everyone’s clothes -including ours- to wash. She had asked Jackson if he would want to go sit with Carl and play some board games, and he had gone readily. And Penny was tagging along with us, her thumb in her mouth looking way more exhausted than a 3-year-old should.
Lori informs me that Patricia and Beth had lent us a few buckets, some soap and the use of the clothing lines on the side of the house. Feeling even more appreciative of the family allowing us to briefly live on their lawn, I follow Lori both of us carrying large baskets full of clothes.
There’s about 5 different clotheslines, each about 15 feet long. Not too far away is an old-fashioned water pump with 4 buckets and a container of soap near it. I spread one of Anneliese’s receiving blankets on the ground and have Penny sit on, while I work with Lori to wash everything.
About half an hour in I have to stop to feed and change Anneliese, but I quickly settle her back into the carrier and rejoin Lori. At some point in our washing Penny falls asleep on the blanket, and I wake her when Lori and I break to prepare lunch. We make rice again with some cans of mixed veggies and no one voices a complaint, save for Penny who would rather be asleep.
After a quick lunch Lori and I get back to washing clothes, which is turning out to be a long tedious process.
“I wish it was more than just me and you doing all the washing” I complain to Lori moving to hang up a flannel, to whom it belongs I have no idea
“I understand. A washing machine sounds nice.” She agrees scrubbing at the piece of clothing in her hands
“Well yea but even just a couple other pairs of hands would be nice” I say with a huff, shifting Anneliese in the carrier. Holding her for so long on my chest along with the almost constant bending over needed to wash the clothes was starting to make my back hurt.
“Well, Gen the men and Andrea are working to make sure we’re safe here and looking for Sophia too” Lori says her tone taking an edge of rudeness making me scoff and barely resist looking behind me to where the men are back around the hood of the truck and Andrea is sun bathing on top of the RV. Deciding not to reply to Lori, I turn my attention to Penny as I pick up another shirt.
“Are you okay Penny?” I ask her as she plucks another dandelion and blows on it
“Yea, I’m okay. I’m bored” she says not quite whining but not sounding happy either.
“Well maybe when I’m done with laundry me and you can play a game. How’s that sound?” I ask
“Okay” she says moving a few feet away to look at a butterfly on a bush.
It takes Lori and I almost 2 more hours to finish all the laundry, and by that point my back hurts too much to do anything, but since I promised Penny a game, I lead her to the RV. Where I quickly remove Anneliese from the carrier and begin playing candy land with Penny.
About halfway through the game I have to stop and prepare a bottle, but I feed Anneliese with one hand using my other to play with Penny.
“Gen?” Penny asks after moving her game piece two places.
“Yea Penny?” I say meeting her eyes as she looks up at me
“Are we going to stay with Mr. Rick?” she asks
“Well yea Penny I think we will, as long as we’re somewhere safe.” I tell her and she nods
“Good. I like Mr. Rick. It’s your turn” she says smiling, making me laugh at her easy jump of topic
After we finish the game, I settle Anneliese into her mosses basket and begin reading a book to Penny. No more than 10 minutes later does Anneliese start crying. So, I stop reading to Penny and try to soothe her. Nothing seems to work, no bouncing, no shushing, no rocking. So, I decide to try walking around outside hoping that some fresh air might be the trick of soothing the screeching baby.
I lead Penny outside and over to the firepit where Lori is sitting.
“Hey Lori, can you keep an eye on Penny for me please? Anneliese won’t calm down so I’m going to try walking around with her” I ask
“Yea sure, here sweetie you can sit over here on this green chair” Lori says gesturing to the chair next to her and I smile in thanks before walking away with Anneliese.
I walk in a line back and forth quite a few times before I start doing laps around the house. A combination of bouncing and walking with her seems to be working. But I don’t stop walking until I’ve been walking laps for almost 30 minutes. Out front of the house I slow to a stop and shift Annelies who has just fallen asleep to a more comfortable position before turning and walking towards the fire pit.
It takes me a few seconds to figure out what looks wrong, but when I do fear and anger flow through me. The green chair where Penny was sitting is empty and her book is sitting on the seat. I walk faster until I’m directly in front of Lori.
“Lori where’s Penny.” I say and her head flies up from her magazine and she looks at the empty chair beside her
“She was just there” she starts to say but I cut her off
“Well where is she now!” I demand
“I- I don’t know, she was just- “
“Dammit Lori! I asked you to keep an eye on her!” I say my voice rising to almost a yell
“I was Gen, I don’t know where she could’ve gone” she says looking up at me
“Obviously you weren’t keeping an eye on her. God Dammit!” I yell catching the attention of just about everyone in camp. I see Rick start to walk over to us out of the corner of my eye just as Anneliese starts crying again.
“Too busy reading your damn magazine that you didn’t notice her getting up and walking off!” I say with a growl in my words
“It’s not my fault- “she tries to protest
“Not your fault? NOT YOUR FAULT?! I asked YOU to watch her!” I say putting a lot of emphasis on the word you
“Now let’s calm down, she couldn’t have wandered far.” Rick says coming to a stop next to me
“How can I calm down Rick. I asked her to watch Penny and she has no clue where she went.” I say my voice rising to be heard as Annelies’s crying increases
“Here let me have her.” Rick says taking Anneliese from my arm and shooting a look at Lori who just lowers her head
And now with my hands free I have the sudden urge to punch Lori, but I don’t; choosing instead to ask her a question
“You have absolutely no idea where she could’ve gone?”
“No, I’m sorry Gen, I’m so sorry” she says, and I open my mouth to say something back when Rick grasps my arm causing me to look at him
“Look.” He says nodding his head toward the area behind Lori, which I focus my attention on
It takes me a second to register the two figures walking towards us are Daryl and Penny, coming from the direction of Daryl’s camp. And then I exhale and start towards them
Once they’re about 15 feet away, Daryl pulls Penny’s hand from where it’s holding on to his belt loop and gives her a nudge toward me. With a smile and a laugh, she runs towards me and I fall to my knees to meet her and pull her into my arms.
“Don’t ever walk away from someone who is watching you ever again Penelope Grace. Do you understand me.” I whisper pulling back to look at her face
“Yes Gen” she whispers back, and I pull her back into the hug, meeting Daryl’s eyes over her head. Holding his stare for a moment I nod my thanks and he lifts his head in acknowledgement before turning away. I hug Penny for a few more moments before standing and grasping her hand. Together we walk back to where Rick is standing with an asleep Anneliese in his arms
“Thanks” I whisper taking her from him and placing a kiss on her soft hair
“No problem” he says back and before I can respond Lori starts talking to Penny
“You shouldn’t have walked away from me. You could’ve been hurt- “and there I cut her off
“Thank you, Lori, but I already talked to her. I don’t need you to parent for me” I say with a glare in her direction causing her mouth to drop open. Taking her silence for what’s it worth I sit down in one of the chairs with Penny in my lap. And wait for Lori to make and serve dinner.
Just as she’s finishing up dinner Rick goes inside the house and reemerges with Jackson and Carl. Carl finally getting the all clear to get up and move around but nothing too strenuous.
After dinner is over the sun is beginning to set so I have the kids get ready for bed and feed and change Anneliese before deciding to read to Penny and Jackson until they fall asleep. I pick Harry Potter: The Philosopher’s Stone from Dale’s vast book collection and settle with my back against the wall. And with Penny curled into my side, Jackson reclined on his pillow and Anneliese asleep in her mosses basket, I dive into the magical word of Harry and his friends.

The next morning Anneliese wakes just before the sun is up, for her morning bottle. I wake up Penny and Jackson before most of the group is up, so I lead them to the fire pit and begin making breakfast.
The oatmeal I’m making is about halfway done by the time everyone is awake. Dale has already ascended to the top of the RV, Carol is sitting right outside of her tent, Lori has made her way to the fire pit and it is sitting quietly while Carl is talking to Jackson. Shane, Glenn, Daryl, T-Dog and Andrea are standing around the hood of a truck a map spread out in front of them. And Rick has just come to a stop next to me.
“Want me to take her?” he says gesturing to where I’m holding Anneliese with my left hand while stirring the pot of oatmeal with my right.
“You don’t have to” I say meeting his eyes
“C’mon let me have her for a while” he urges so I shrug and lift her up to him. Rick quickly settles her against his shoulder one arm resting under her bottom and his other hand on the back of his head.
“How well can she hold her head up?” he asks
“She’s working on it, she can hold it up for a few seconds, but I think some more tummy time is needed” I answer with a slight laugh but before he can answer Shane calls him over to the truck.
When the oatmeal is done, I call everyone over and dish it out. I listen as everyone discusses the day’s plans. Daryl is going to take one of Herschel’s horses and head out into the woods to look for Sophia. Rick, Shane, and Andrea are going to search on foot. Lori and Carol are in charge of returning everyone’s laundry. Dale and T-Dog on RV guard duty, and Glenn is going into a nearby town with Maggie.
“What would you like me to do today?” I say standing and approaching Rick before taking Anneliese to make it easier for him to eat.
Its silent for a moment before Lori speaks up “I guess stay with the kids, watch Carl? Maybe do some math or something educational” she says, and it takes every ounce of control in me not to snap at her that if I didn’t watch Carl surely she’d lose him too.
“Okay that sounds good” I say before turning to the kids “You guys stay here, I’ll go up to the house an ask if they have any paper we can use” I tell them and start making my way to the house. When I get on the porch, the door opens to reveal Maggie.
“Good morning Maggie” I greet with a smile
“Morning, did you need something” she asks with a slight smile of her own
“I was just wondering if y’all had any paper and writing utensils around that the kids could use” I tell her, and she thinks for a moment
“I think Beth has some notebooks. I’ll bring them out to you in a little bit” she says
“Okay thank you” I say with a smile before returning to the fire pit. Most of the group have finished eating and has dispersed to get started on the day’s tasks. Glenn is sitting by the kids and seems to be the only one who didn’t leave them alone.
“Figured I’d stay with them ‘til you got back” he says in response to my unasked question
“Thank you, at least someone has some sense” I say rolling my eyes making him laugh
“Do you need anything? I think we’re going to a pharmacy” he tells me
“If they have baby Tylenol, or formula or anything baby related it’d be appreciated” I tell him, and he nods making a note on a small notepad
“Anything for Penny and Jackson?” he asks
“Coloring books, comics, anything that’ll consume time.” I laugh “but those things are not a necessity” I say, and he nods
“Did they have paper?” he asks nodding towards the house behind me
“Maggie said if they do she’ll bring it out with her” I tell him before we settle into a brief silence
Its only broken when Maggie approaches with a handful of notebooks and a pencil case. After giving my thanks, I find out what was the most recent math Carl had learned in school. And then I set about writing down about 20 math problems; a mix of multiplication, subtraction, fractions and decimals. Once I give Jackson and carl notebooks they begin working on the problems. I give Penny a notebook too and help her practice the letters of the alphabet.
By lunchtime Carl and Jackson have done a total of 60 math problems and have listened to me read a chapter and a half from harry potter. Lori and Carol have finished sorting and giving back laundry. Shane, Andrea and Rick have all gotten back from searching. Of course, just as I’m beginning to make some lunch Anneliese starts to cry for her bottle. Surprising me at his quickness Rick swoops her up and asks me how many scoops of formula. Once I tell him he heads into the RV and emerges a few minutes later with a content Anneliese happily drinking her bottle.
Lunch is a simple meal of rice and lima beans, that’s eaten quickly and then everyone gets back to their various chores. I secure Anneliese to my chest in her carrier and then I clean up the items from lunch. And just as I’m about to start reading to the kids again. The sound of heavy foot falls drags my attention to where Maggie is approaching Lori fast. Standing and moving closer in case I need to diffuse a situation -and by diffuse a situation I mean telling them to be quiet- I watch as she rips stuff out of the bag and throws it on the ground loudly naming each item.
“Got your special delivery right here! Got your lotion! Got your special conditioner! Your Soap Opera Digest! Next time you want something get it your damn self. We’re not your errand boys.” And as Lori tries to protest Maggie’s pulls one more thing out of the bag and throws it at the ground
“And here’s your abortion pills.” She says low enough that I’m pretty sure only myself and Glenn heard her, and I can’t help but let my jaw fall open as Maggie storms past Glenn and Lori hastily picks up the pack of pills making brief eye contact with me before going into her tent.
I turn to Glenn slowly to find him staring at me
“I got you and the kids some stuff, but please don’t say anything about Lori” he says moving closer
“I won’t.” I tell him turning to walk back to the kids
“I was able to get you some baby Tylenol and formula. They also had a teether that I got cause shell need that eventually. They had a handful of comic books and few kid magazines that I grabbed for Carl, Jackson and Penny” he tells me holding out a bookbag full of things
“Thanks Glenn you’re the best” I tell him pulling him in for a one-armed hug
“Now you best go calm down your girlfriend” I laugh as his face turns red before I take the bag from him and he heads in the direction that Maggie went
I get the kids into the RV before I hand out the comic books and magazines. I put the items for Anneliese in her diaper bag and relax on the seat next to Penny with Anneliese asleep on my chest and find myself dozing off.
I’m jerked awake by someone jostling my shoulder. I peer up at Jackson standing next to me and ask him what’s wrong
“Andrea said something bout a walker”
“And then my dad grabbed his gun from the counter” Carl adds, and I stand up as quick as possible
“Shit okay you guys stay here do not come out until Rick or I come get you” I order grabbing my knife from its holster and making my way out of the RV. I come around the side where Dale is standing on the ladder
“Just one?” I ask
“Looks like it” he says before telling Andrea to put the gun down.
I’m staring out in the field at Shane, Glenn, T-Dog and Rick just standing in front of the walker wondering why none of them are moving when all of a sudden, a gunshot rings out making me crouch at the loud sound and my hands to instinctively cover the sleeping baby’s ears.
I’m shocked to hear cries of no from the field and it seems Dale and Andrea are too as they take off in a run. I move to the other end of the RV where the Greene family along with Lori and Carol are just coming to a stop.
“What happened?” Herschel asks
“I have no idea, I was in the RV with the kids” I tell him honestly and he nods
We all watch as the group in the field make their way back, Rick and Shane supporting a body between them and as they get close, I realize why and can’t hold my gasp. Its Daryl.
“Is he okay?” I ask when they’re almost too us
“Knocked out. Got a nasty cut on his side” Rick says I don’t hear Herschel’s response as my attention is pulled to my side when a hand suddenly fists itself in my shirt and curse when I see Penny staring eyes wide and filled with tears at Daryl.
“C’mon Pen lets go back inside” I say trying to turn her around
“Is he dead?” she asks bluntly, and my eyes widen
“No honey Mr. Daryl is just hurt.” I tell her crouching down in front of her getting her to look at me
“Are they going to fix him?” she asks
“Yeah he’ll be okay. I promise” I say pulling her in for a hug as best as I can with Anneliese strapped to my chest
After hugging her for a moment I coax her back into the RV where I immediately begin reading again trying to distract myself and her from the gruesome image, we both saw.

Chapter Text

When Penny and I go back in the RV Jackson and Carl immediately ask a million questions to which I tell them that I don’t know what happened, just that Daryl was hurt in the woods. I settle the kids by reading to them from Harry Potter some more. About an hour after everything happened, I’m in the bedroom changing Anneliese and getting ready to feed her when Carol comes into the RV.
“Hi Carol.” I greet turning around to face her briefly
“Hi Genevieve. I just came to tell you that we’re going to have dinner with Herschel’s family in the house today” she says not making eye contact, only looking at her hands
“Okay. Thanks, when should we be up there?” I ask
“Rick said he’d come get you when dinner is done.” She says before turning and leaving
“Well okay then, dinner at an actual table sounds nice doesn’t it?” I ask the kids, getting distracted nods from them all as they’re absorbed in their comic books, and magazine. Enjoying the quiet I feed Anneliese and let her sit propped up for about 15 minutes before grabbing a receiving blanket and laying it on the floor to do tummy time. I remember that Penny liked to have someone be on her level to talk to her and make noises and just keep her calm. So, I lay down on my stomach between the table and the cabinets just in front of Anneliese.
Anneliese isn’t a huge fan of tummy time, but she doesn’t cry the entire time either. I’m about to get up from the floor when the RV door opens.
“Hello.” Rick greets and I turn my head to see his amused smile and raised eyebrow
“Tummy time” I say simply, and he nods in understanding offering me a hand up, so I roll onto my back and let him hoist me to my feet.
“Thanks” I tell him picking Anneliese up from the floor.
“You’re welcome. I just came to get y’all because dinner is done” he says, and I nod before grabbing the baby carrier.
“Can you help me put her in? I can do it on my own but it’s easier with two sets of hands” I tell him with a laugh, and he nods taking Anneliese from me and helping me settle her into the carrier. I grab the diaper bag just in case I need it and settle her pacifier in her mouth before telling the kids to get a move on.
When they all try to take their magazine or comic books with them, I hold a hand up
“Paper entertainment stays here” I say with a smile at the sighs I get but they all place their respective books down before filing out the door. Once down the steps I grasp Penny’s hand and follow Carl and Jackson up to the house with Rick walking next to me.
“How much of Daryl did she see?” he asks in a low voice
“Hopefully not much, she knows he’s hurt” I say back lowly but obviously not low enough as Penny looks up at me
“Is Mr. Daryl okay?” she asks Rick more so than me
“Yeah he just got hurt while looking for Sophia. But he’ll be okay” he tells her with a soft smile
“Are you sure?” she asks him
“Very sure, he’ll be good as new in no time”
“How long?” she asks, and he looks to me for help
“Maybe after dinner we can see Daryl and you can see for yourself that he’s okay?” I offer and she nods quickly.
There’s almost an awkward silence when we walk into the house and I try not to shift too much as I follow Rick and the kids into the dining room. Carl and Jackson sit together next to Lori and I help Penny into a chair next to Jackson. Rick surprises me by pulling out my chair for me.
“Thanks” I say to him with a smile, and he nods back settling into the chair next to mine. There is an awkward silence around the table save for Carl and Jackson’s hushed whispers about a comic book character.
The silence is broken when Carol followed by Maggie, Patricia and Beth file out of the kitchen carrying dishes full of food. Once it’s all on the table and everyone is seated. Herschel says a blessing over the food and then we begin serving ourselves.
I give Penny some pasta and peas on her plate and as I cut up her pasta, I see Lori serve Jackson a plate of food along with Carl. Dinner is quiet except for a few small conversations around the table, no one seems very happy to be sitting there. It gets even more awkward when Glenn asks if anyone knows how to play guitar and Patricia says that Otis did.
I decide that now would be a good time to take Daryl some food and prepare him a plate.
“Jackson behave Penny and I will be back in a minute” I tell him before turning to Rick
“We’ll take this to Daryl; what room is he in?” I ask
“The room you guys used” he says, and I nod
Penny and I quickly walk up the stairs and stop at the closed door. I knock on it and wait until he says to come in before pushing it open.
“Hey Daryl. We brought you some dinner.” I say trying to focus on his face only as he pulls the sheet up to his neck.
“Thanks, you can put it there” He grunts gesturing to the side table
After placing his food down, I guide Penny to stand next to me and she stares at Daryl wide eyed with her thumb in her mouth
“Penny wanted to make sure you were okay” I say
“I’m fine” he grunts out looking very annoyed that we’re there
“Are you sure?” Penny speaks up for the first time
“I’m sure” he answers his eyes meeting hers and softening a little
“Gen says that if you don’t feel good that you have to tell someone” She says inching closer to his bed, as my eyes widen at her little slip hoping he doesn’t notice – but of course he did
“Oh, Gen says that huh?” He says moving his eyes to mine
“Yes, to little girls who don’t like telling her they don’t feel good. But Penny Mr. Daryl is a grown-up, he can take care of himself” I tell her
“Now come on, let’s leave him to eat and rest” I say moving to take her hand
“Feel better Mr. Daryl” Penny tells him and surprises me when she quickly gives him a little kiss on his cheek, before taking my hand.
“Let us know if you need anything” I tell him and only receive a grunt in response.
We leave the bedroom and I pull the door shut behind me.
“What do you think about us reading some before we go to bed?” I ask Penny as we walk downstairs
“Are we going to read Harry Potter?” she asks
“Yea probably” I tell her
“Okay, I like Harry Potter.” She says
“Good I’m glad” I say just as we reach the doorway to the dining room, the atmosphere is tense and awkward, and I waste no time grabbing the diaper bag and telling Jackson it’s time to go.
He doesn’t protest and together we walk back to the RV, where we all settle on the bed and I begin to read from the book, as the sun begins setting.
I know I probably should’ve stayed and helped clean up, but I’d rather read to the kids and keep them from a tense and somewhat hostile environment, they had enough of that before the world went to shit.
Three Chapters later, the sun has set, Jackson and Penny have fallen asleep and Anneliese is whining for her bottle. After changing and feeding Anneliese I settle her in her mosses basket and climb into bed myself.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Whining rouses me from my sleep, causing me to sit up and lean over the edge of the bed to check on Anneliese only to find her sound asleep. A rustling on the bed behind me pulls my attention there, where I find Penny squirming with tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Penny, Penny.” I call her name gently jostling her shoulder
She slowly opens her eyes and focuses on my face, before letting out a sob and climbing into my lap. I wrap my arms around her, smoothing her hair down with one hand and gently rocking her, making soft shushing noises.
“Did you have a bad dream?” I ask her in a whisper
“Yes” She mumbles
“Do you want to tell me about it?” I ask
“You were like Mr. Daryl, you were hurt momma” she says, her voice increasing in her panic
“Hey, hey Penny look I’m okay. I’m not hurt.” I tell her
“But momma what if you get hurt?” she asks
“I won’t baby. I won’t” I whisper to her pressing a kiss to her head
“What’s wrong?” Jackson asks sitting up blearily rubbing his eyes
“Penny just had a nightmare, go back to sleep” I tell him, and he nods rolling over and falling back to sleep.
It takes Penny close to half an hour to calm down and fall back to sleep and then Anneliese is up for her night feeding. Almost 2 hours after Penny first woke me up, I’m able to settle back into bed.
-----------------------------------------------------------
When I sit up from sleep it takes me a second to realize why I was jolted awake, Penny is squirming on the bed and whining again.
“MOMMA!” she yells out and I jump, quickly leaning towards her and grasping her shoulder to rouse her.
“Penny wake up. Come on its just a dream Penny. Wake up!” I see Jackson sit up out of the corner of my eye, Penny doesn’t show any signs of waking though and a few seconds later she screams out for me again
“Penny wake up” I try again and no sooner than the words are out of my mouth does the door to the bedroom open behind me, I turn just enough to see Rick standing in the doorframe but quickly refocus on Penny.
“Penny wake up, it’s just a dream, it’s time to wake up now Penny” Her eyes fly open and she looks around the room quickly before focusing on me.
“Hey Penny, it was just a bad dream you’re okay” I tell her pulling her into my lap as she starts to cry again, once her cries settle to hiccups, I shift back to look at her.
“What happened in your dream Pen?” I ask
“You were hurt again, like Mr. Daryl. You were all bloody” she says, and I hear Rick suck in a breath from the doorway.
“I’m okay Penny. I’m not hurt. I’m okay.” I tell her and she nods against my neck.
“I was scared Momma” she whispers
“I know Penny, but it was just a dream, I’m okay, you’re okay, Jackson and Anneliese are okay. And Mr. Daryl told you himself that he’s okay”
“Can I see him again tomorrow?” she asks and before I can answer Anneliese starts to cry
“Can you get her Rick?” I ask him and he nods before quickly moving from the doorframe and scooping Anneliese up
“Her pacifier is on the shelf” I tell him gesturing with my head to the shelf that acts as a nightstand.
He grabs in and puts it in her mouth quickly.
“I’ll take Anneliese up to the roof with me so you can get Penny settled” he says, and I nod watching as he leaves and pulls the door shut behind him.
“I think maybe we can go see Mr. Daryl later Penny. Maybe we can take him lunch or something okay?” I ask her and she nods already falling back to sleep
Jackson has laid back down and is just watching us.
When Penny falls back to sleep, I gently lay her down and cover her with the sheet.
“She called you Momma” Jackson whispers and I nod
“But you’re not our mom” he whispers
“I know Jackson, but I’m as good as you have now” I tell him
“You were always more of a mom than our real mom” he says, and I smile sadly at him
“Do I have to call you mom too?” he asks
“Not if you don’t want to, I love you like your mine no matter what” I say
“I might, I’ll think about it” He says with a yawn.
“Okay, go back to sleep. I’m gonna go get Anneliese from Rick” I tell him sliding off of the bed and leaving the room.
Moving through the RV I see that Dale is still asleep. I close the RV door as quietly as I can behind me and ascend the ladder.
“Hey” I say once I’m on top where Rick is sitting in a lawn chair, Anneliese sitting against his chest wide awake.
“Hey, how’s Penny?” he asks
“She’s asleep, that was her second nightmare of the night.” I tell him sinking to sit on the roof of the RV.
“She’s dreaming about you being hurt like Daryl?” he questions
“Yea, this past one was much worse, I’ve never seen her have a nightmare to the point of screaming in her sleep” I say
“It sounded rough, I could hear her while I was up here, doesn’t look like Dale budged at all though.” He laughs
“No, he’s still out, I’m surprised Anneliese didn’t wake up sooner” I tell him, and he nods
“I’m sorry she saw that.” He tells me
“It’s not your fault, if anyone is to blame it’s me. I should’ve made sure she stayed in the RV”
Its silent for a moment and I focus my attention on the faint line of light over the distant trees.
“You’re doing a good job” Rick says suddenly
“Huh?”
“You’re doing a good job, you’re on your own raising 3 kids. Sure, you have the group to help you but when it comes down to it, you’re their only parent. Not like how Lori and I both parent Carl, and he’s only 1 child!” He says laughing
“Why thank you, I try my hardest” I say
“And not only were you caring for your kids earlier, you were caring for Carl too” he tells me
“I appreciate all of your help Genevieve, I really do. And I think you’re doing a good job in this shit hole of world, better than me and Lori at least” he tells me his voice suddenly taking a solemn tone.
“What do you mean?” I question tilting my head to study his face, he’s quiet for a moment
“Lori’s pregnant.” He says surprising me by his willingness to confide in me
“I know” I tell him causing his head to snap towards me and his eyes meet mine searching,
“You know?” He questions
“I saw Maggie give her the abortion pills, I was outside with the kids and Maggie was quite pissed” I tell him quickly following up with “I don’t think Carl saw or heard anything, him and Jackson were quite immersed in talking to each other”
“She didn’t even tell me, before she took them. She threw them up and we argued. She said she doesn’t think it’s right to force a baby to be born into this world. But I mean look at you! Look at little Anneliese here. You are managing” he tells me
“I am Rick but it’s rough. If I didn’t have the group and you especially; to help me as much as y’all do I don’t know where we’d be” I tell him honestly
“I can’t speak for anyone but if you ever need help with the kids you can come find me and I’ll try my best to help you” he says
“Thank you, Rick, that means a lot. It goes the same for you, if you need someone to sit with Carl or keep him occupied for a little while I’m here. Him and Jackson get along great and it’s good for them to hang out gives some sense of normalcy to this world.” I say before turning my attention back to the sunrise.
“It always feels like the calm before the storm” Rick says
“What does?” I ask
“Sitting up here, watching the sunrise.” He says
“Well it seems to have calmed that little storm” I say gesturing to where Anneliese has passed out in Rick’s arms.
“That it has” he agrees
“Thanks for coming down to check on us, and for taking her when she started to cry.” I tell him
“You’re welcome, it takes a village. Especially now”
I stretch my legs out in front of me and lean back on my hands enjoying the warm sun shining on my face as it rises over the trees, and for the first time in a while I let myself fully relax. Jackson and Penny are asleep. Rick is holding a sleeping Anneliese, I could just breathe. Even if only for the next few minutes.

Chapter Text

I ended up dozing off sitting on top of the RV with Rick and Anneliese. And once the group was up and starting to move around Rick nudged me awake and helped me climb down with Anneliese after him. I thanked Rick for holding Anneliese before I went inside and woke Jackson up and sent him outside to sit with Carl while I changed Anneliese. I decided to wake Penny up and if she needed a nap later, she could take one. I strap Anneliese into the baby carrier and then Penny and I join the group around the fire where Carol is preparing some oatmeal.
“Good morning Genevieve” Dale greets as I sit down in a lawn chair and pull Penny to sit on my lap, her head coming to rest on my shoulder.
“Good morning” I say back with a small smile.
Sitting in a foldable lounge chair with a baby strapped to my chest and a 3 ½ year old curled up on my lap is not the most comfortable and anytime I or Penny shift I feel like the whole chair will just collapse.
Breakfast is mostly quiet and awkward and then everyone splits into separate groups. Dale to the roof of the RV; Rick, Shane, Glenn, Andrea and T-Dog all gather around a truck with a map; Carol starts cleaning up from breakfast, and Lori has disappeared somewhere leaving Carl with me.
“What do you say about some math problems?” I ask and get groans from Carl and Jackson
“Do we have to Gen?” Carl asks
“Yes, I think we do, I’ll go grab the books and some pencils. Don’t go anywhere and keep an eye on Penny please” I put Penny in the chair and head off to the RV and quickly grab the books and the diaper bag.
“Hey Dale! I’m gonna take the kids out to that tree and do some schoolwork” I call up to Dale
“Okay, be safe” He tells me, and I nod.
Once the kids and I settle underneath the tree out in the field that provides shade from the hot sun, I write some math problems down in the books and get Carl and Jackson to start that. I lay a blanket out on the grass and lay Anneliese down to stretch out while she naps. And then I start counting with Penny.
About an hour later I’ve run out of math problems and send Jackson and Carl to get Harry Potter from the RV. By the time Lori and Carol have lunch prepared we have read through 2 more chapters of the book.
We all join the group at the fire, and I make Anneliese a bottle before I take a plate of for myself. Lori and Carol had made rice and beans with some corn. It’s slow eating while feeding a baby, so I’m not surprised when pretty much everyone is finished before me and the kids. I am a little surprised when a shadow falls over my lap and I look up to see Rick, with his arms out. I raise my eyebrow at him, and he laughs.
“Here let me hold her so you can finish eating” He says, and I nod my thanks letting him lift Anneliese from my lap and quickly resume eating.
As soon as I’m done, I take Anneliese back and settle back into my chair and wait for the kids to finish lunch. Once the group has dispersed, I start reading again. About half a chapter in Daryl walks out of the house and towards his tent. He looks relatively okay just a little sore.
“Momma look Mr. Daryl is outside” Penny says excitedly
“I see him Penny, I told you he was okay” I tell her smoothing a hand down her hair
“Now come on let’s read some more” I instruct trying to pull her attention back to me
==================================================
A little over an hour and a chapter later, Beth approaches us.
“Hey Beth” I greet her with a smile
“Hi Gen, Patricia and I made some lemonade, you and the kids are more than welcome to come get some if y’all would like”
“I think that sounds wonderful Beth. We’ll follow you up” I say standing up and ushering the kids to their feet as well.
It’s a short walk to the house, where Carl, Jackson and Penny all sit at the kitchen table with a glass of lemonade and a shortbread cookie – a treat that Patricia has decided all kids need after a day of schoolwork.
“You’d think I’d deserve a cookie for having to listen to them whine every 2 seconds” I mock whisper to Anneliese who grunts in her sleep.
“Do you want a cookie Genevieve?” Patricia asks with a laugh
“No thanks Patricia”
It’s quiet for a few minutes before Carl speaks up
“Do we have to do more math Gen?”
“Well that depends on how much time we have, I’ll have to feed Anneliese, but I can teach y’all something while doing that”
“But we’re tired of math” Jackson whines causing me to raise my eyebrows at him
“I could also think of some verb and noun exercises if that would be better.” I tell them which they immediately say no to, causing me and Patricia to laugh.
“I think I have some of my old schoolbooks if you’d like them?” Beth asks and I consider it for a moment
“Thank you, Beth, no rush on getting them” I tell her, and she nods
“Momma?” Penny asks
“Yes Penny?”
“Can we take Mr. Daryl some lemonade?”
“I guess, Patricia could we take Daryl some lemonade?” I ask the older woman
“Sure, I’ll pour you a glass” she says grabbing another glass from the cabinet next to the sink.
“Would you two mind keeping an eye on Carl and Jackson while I walk her to Daryl’s tent?” I ask and they both agree.
Once Penny finishes her cookie, I pick up the glass of lemonade for Daryl and take Penny’s hand and let her lead the way to his tent.
We’re about 10 feet away from his tent when Andrea steps out. She gives us a small smile as she walks by us and I try not to make a ‘what the hell’ face. She has made it clear that she doesn’t like us, so her smile unnerved me. Shaking the thoughts from my head we continue on and stop outside the unzipped tent.
Daryl is laying on his cot poking holes in the netting of his tent.
“You’re gonna be sleeping with tons of bugs” I comment and his head whips towards us
“Penny wanted to see how you were and to bring you a glass a lemonade” I tell him holding up the glass of lemonade.
He stares at us for a moment “Well come on in then”
I gently nudge Penny into the tent, as Daryl pushes himself into a seated position which looked very painful. I hand him the glass of lemonade once he’s sitting straight.
“Thanks” he grunts, and I nod looking down towards Penny who is sucking her thumb and eyeing Daryl nervously
Its silent for a few minutes before Daryl makes eye contact with Penny
“Are you still hurt?” Penny asks around her thumb
“A little but I’m getting better” he tells her, and she nods
This has to be the most awkward conversation I’ve ever been involved in and I’m not even involved completely.
“What’s your book about?” She asks him
“I don’t know yet, I haven’t started reading it”
“Does it have pictures?”
“No”
“Hm, I can’t read books unless they have pictures” she informs him her thumb leaving her mouth as she gets more comfortable
And then out of nowhere in one swift movement Penny climbs onto the cot next to him.
"Penny don't!" I scold and make to tug her lightly off of the cot and away from the poor man’s personal space, not noticing the baby strapped to my chest begin uncomfortably wriggling and letting out small whines.
"She's alright." Daryl gruffly says.
"Penny-"
"Gen." He raised his voice a little but not in a yelling manner. "She's fine. She ain't hurtin' nothin'."
"Can you read it to me?" Penny's sweet voice asks Daryl. Either oblivious to the happenings around her or actively ignoring my protests I couldn't tell. Just then Annelise lets her displeasure known by exhaling a shrill cry. I scramble a little to look at her face and shush her, making a promise to take care of her soon.
"I'm not a very good storyteller." Daryl tells her.
"Please?" Penny drew out.
"Penny, let's go." I beckoned her. "Your sister needs something. If he says it's okay, we'll come see Mr. Daryl later."
"I wanna stay here." I try to bounce Annelise to soothe her and stop her piercing hollers. "Just one page?" Penny holds up a finger and looks to Daryl.
"We can't right now Penny, we need to let Daryl rest and I have to take care of Annelise." Said baby swings her fists and kicks her legs.
"Penelope, right-"
"I got her." That gruff voice assures.
"Daryl, that's sweet but you need to rest. You won't get any-"
Penny cheers and smiles wide. "See momma, I can stay. He said so." I shake my head.
"We can talk about this later. Daryl is still hurt and-"
"It's one story, Gen." Daryl gestures with his chin for me to go. "I got her." I look between the baby, Daryl and Penny, and outside the tent. I couldn't possibly leave Penny here; she can be a handful sometimes. I was torn but I couldn't fuss with Penny and placate the screaming infant on my chest at the same time.
"Be easy with him, Penny, he is still hurt. I'll be back, half hour tops."
"Yay!" She says pumping her hands in the air.
"Half hour tops." I swear to Daryl and make my way out of the tent and to the RV.
I feed and change Anneliese as quickly as possible and even then, it takes more than half an hour.
I’m rushing out of the RV and towards Daryl’s tent when Rick calls my name, causing me to turn towards his voice.
“What’s up Rick?” I ask as he comes to a stop in front of me
“You got a minute to talk?” he asks
“Kind of not really, the kids-”
“Where are the kids?” he asks interrupting me
“Jackson and Carl are with Beth and Patricia hopefully not doing too much damage. And I’m on my way to rescue Daryl from Penny”
“Daryl is watching Penny?” he asks his eyebrows almost reaching hairline
“Yes, that’s why I have to go rescue him, she’s a handful” I laugh
“This shouldn’t take too long” He tells me and it’s my turn to raise my eyebrows at him
“Okay? I guess Daryl can survive a few more minutes. Why don’t we go sit over here?” I gesture towards the shaded area where I sat with the kids earlier.
Once we’re seated, he doesn’t speak for a minute and then his eyes meet mine and I’m shocked to see his filled with unshed tears.
“Rick? What’s going on?” I ask placing my hand over his clenched ones.
“Lori slept with Shane” he says after a shuddering breath
It takes a second for his words to register and when it does, I’m sure my face is the picture of shock.
“What?” I stutter out
“Lori slept with Shane. When it all started, she said she thought I was dead. But I’ve seen what grief does to people you don’t immediately jump into bed with your dead husband’s best friend” He rants his voice rising to an almost yell at the end causing Anneliese to shift and whine in my arms. I take a moment to shush her before I grasp his forearm to bring his attention to me.
“That’s a bullshit excuse and I’m sorry” I tell him
“I just don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. She said the baby might not even be mine. Which just fucking sucks.”
“I’m sorry Rick, I really am”
“It’s not your fault Gen, I just don’t know how I should act. I don’t even want to look at either of them right now. And I don’t want Carl to know, that would make even more of a mess” he mumbles running a hand down his face
“You do what you have to do, you be civil and that’s that. Carl has been with me lately and I don’t think there would be too much of a chance of him noticing that anything is up. And Rick?” I ask
“If you need a break or just a quiet moment to sit, come get Anneliese, she might be small but she’s a good cuddle bug” I say once he’s looking at me
“Thank you Gen, really thank you. For watching Carl, for helping around camp, for listening. Just thank you.” He says squeezing my hand
“You’re welcome Rick” we sit in silence for a minute before I speak up “I gotta go get Penny from Daryl, but if you need to talk or just some quiet company come find me okay?”
“Okay, thank you Gen really” he says. I nod and squeeze his shoulder as I walk past towards Daryl’s tent.
It’s quiet as I approach so I slowly lean in the entryway and smile at the sight; Penny is curled up next to Daryl sound asleep.
“Hey, I hope she wasn’t too much trouble” I whisper
“Nah she fell asleep bout 5 minutes into the book” He murmurs back meeting my eyes
“She probably needs it”
“She not been sleeping?” he asks
“No, she had a lot of nightmares last night” I tell him hoping he won’t ask what they were about
“Nightmares? Bout what?” No such luck I think as I bite my lip and look down at a sleeping Anneliese trying to think up a response
“Gen? Nightmares bout what?” he presses, and I look up to meet his eyes and sigh debating on whether or not to tell him the truth.

Chapter Text

“She not been sleeping?” he asks
“No, she had a lot of nightmares last night” I tell him hoping he won’t ask what they were about
“Nightmares? Bout what?” No such luck I think as I bite my lip and look down at a sleeping Anneliese trying to think up a response
“Gen? Nightmares bout what?” he presses, and I look up to meet his eyes and sigh debating on whether or not to tell him the truth.
==================================================
“Nightmares bout you and me” I mumble toying with the edge of Anneliese’s blanket
“What d’ya mean bout me and you?” he asks shifting towards me
“Uhm” I say not sure how to respond
“Gen?” he prompts
“She saw you when they dragged you back to camp when you were all bloody. And she’s been having nightmares about it since. Sometimes imagining me being hurt instead of you” I blurt
“Ah shit Gen I’m sorry” he says rubbing a hand across his jaw and looking at the tiny girl curled up next to him
“It’s not your fault Daryl” I tell him, but he just shakes his head
“Kinda is, if I would’ve just asked bout the damn horse ain’t none of this would’ve happened” he says, and I raise my eyebrow about the horse comment
“No Daryl, she’s little I’m surprised she hasn’t had more nightmares. I mean the dead are walking we’re practically living a nightmare”
“Still sorry.”
“It’s okay. Now I just gotta get these two little ones back to the RV so they can get proper naps” I say and he’s quiet for a moment as I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to carry two sleeping children without the baby sling
“You can leave her here if ya want” he says
“Daryl no I can’t ask that of you, you really do need to rest, and you’ve had her for more than half an hour now” I protest
“Gen it’s fine, she’s asleep, I’ll be resting” he tells me, and I think about it for a moment
“If you’re sure?”
“I’m sure. I’ll get her to you as soon as she wakes up” he tells me, and I nod. I know I can trust Daryl with her.
“Okay, yell if you need anything” I tell him, and he just rolls his eyes before settling into a more comfortable position on the cot. Sensing that he wasn’t going to say anything else I nod to myself and head towards the farmhouse.
Upon entering the kitchen I’m mildly surprised to see Carl and Jackson still sitting at the kitchen table but working on problems from what looks to be an English textbook.
“Hey y’all haven’t been causing too much trouble have ya?” I say pulling everyone’s attention to me
“They’ve been model guests Genevieve” Patricia says from her spot at the stove stirring what looks to be a pot of broth
“Good, what’re yall working on” I ask the boys peering over Jacksons shoulder
“Beth gave us a few textbooks, there’s a reading one, a math one, a history one and a science one. She even gave us more notebooks” Carl says and I smile
“That’s awesome I hope y’all told her thank you” I say
“They did, and they seem to be doing pretty good with that English book too” Beth says coming in from the back porch
“Good! Thank you so much Beth. Lord knows I was running out of math problems to give them” I laugh
“Where’s Penny?” Jackson asks
“With Daryl taking a nap”
“Daryl?” he asks
“Yea she’s okay” I tell him sensing his uneasiness at his little sister not being close by. He nods and before I can say anything else Herschel steps into the kitchen
“Well isn’t this a welcome sight, young people doing schoolwork” he says upon seeing the kids at the table
“Well we can’t let them completely off the hook now can we Mr. Greene?” I joke
“No, we cannot and call me Herschel” he tells me, and I nod
“We’ll get out of your hair as soon as they finish this set. Should probably see who’s going to start dinner anyway” I say speaking my thoughts aloud
“It’s no rush” Hershel says but for some reason I don’t fully believe him. He has always been nice to me and the kids, but I can sense that the group is starting to grate on his nerves
“Thank you, Herschel, but I better check that someone is making dinner or there might not be any made” I tell him.
It doesn’t take long for Carl and Jackson to finish their problems and when they do I have them collect the books and take them to the RV.
“Genevieve?” Herschel asks as I’m checking to make sure we weren’t leaving anything behind
“Yea?”
“Do you want to take some vegetables with you to make dinner for your group?” he asks, and I turn to look at him
“Vegetables as in?”
“Beth just got some fresh carrots and string beans from the garden. You’re welcome to them”
“Are you sure?” I ask and he nods
“Well then, thank you. Fresh veggies will be a nice change from canned.” I tell him accepting the basket that Patricia is passing me with at least a pound of carrots and string beans.
“Here take some olive oil too, so you can cook them up good” she says grabbing a bottle of oil from the cabinet and placing it in the basket.
“Thank you so much! And thank you for the lemonade earlier I know the kids enjoyed it”
“You’re very welcome” Patricia says running a hand over Anneliese’s head.
“You and the kids are welcome in the house anytime Genevieve” Herschel cuts in
“Thank you, I appreciate it. Now I better go start dinner before the kids get up to trouble” I laugh and start towards the front door. Anneliese cradled in one arm and a basket with vegetables in the other.
Carl and Jackson are waiting for me at the campfire. I can see Lori and Rick over by their tent talking. Dale is on the RV, T-dog is sitting next to fire, Glenn is on the porch with Maggie and I don’t see Andrea, Shane or Carol.
“Hey T-Dog, do you know if anyone was planning on starting dinner” I ask
“Nah I don’t think so; I haven’t seen Carol in a while and Lori looks busy” he says
“Alright well Herschel gave me some veggies and oil. I was gonna cook them up with a can of beans and rice.”
“Sounds good”
“You have fresh veggies?” Jackson speaks up
“Yea Beth got them out the garden”
“Awesome I miss fresh veggies”
“I know you do, maybe one day you and Carl can help Beth in the garden” I tell them
“Could we do that instead of schoolwork?” Carl asks
“Sure, as long as you’re actually working and not playing around”
“Can we do that tomorrow” Jackson asks
“Have to ask Beth. Jackson can you go get a blanket from the RV so I can lay Anneliese down while I cook?” I ask him but before he can get up T-Dog speaks up “I can hold her for you”
“Are you sure?” I ask turning towards him
“Yea she seems easy enough” he laughs, and I chuckle placing the baby in his arms
“Thanks”
Dinner takes a little longer to cook than normal and just as I’m mixing the rice into the vegetables, I see Penny running towards me.
“Woah Pen slow down! This is hot!” I call as she gets closer, but she doesn’t slow down. I’m about to yell again when Daryl scoops her up from behind. “Your mama said slow down” he chastises her
“But I wanted to hug her” she whines as he comes to stop next to me
“And you can hug me as soon as I’m not holding a hot pot okay?” I tell her
She nods, sticking out her bottom lip in a pout.
“Don’t pout Penelope.” I scold, mixing the food together
“You should put her down Daryl you’re not completely healed” I tell him
“I’m fine she don’t weigh nothing’”
“Well I’m just about done here and then I’ll take her from you”
True to my word as soon as I’m done stirring the food and put the lid on the pot, I stand up and pluck Penny from Daryl’s arms. She hugs me quickly before wiggling to be put down. Once on the ground she joins Carl and Jackson sitting on the ground between a few of the chairs. Looking around I catch Ricks eye and he raises a hand in a wave.
“Dinner’s done” I call waving back; he nods before him and Lori start heading towards us.
Within 5 minutes dinner has been served to everyone and I’ve taken Anneliese back from T-Dog. A few people comment on the fresh veggies and how nice of a change it is but other than that dinner is verging on awkward. As soon as dinner is over Carol and Lori work together to clean up while I make a bottle for Anneliese.
While I was in the RV, I could faintly hear Shane start a conversation, something about guns and needing to know how to use them. And when I reclaim my seat, they’re still talking about it. Rick arguing that Herschel doesn’t want guns being used on his land and Shane arguing that they’ll leave his land then.
“If they don’t know how to use the guns how are they going to protect themselves. What about Carl?” Shane asks his voice rising
“Leave Carl out of this! Herschel doesn’t want guns on his land. We’re lucky he’s let us stay this long; we don’t need to give him a reason to kick us off his land!” Rick argues back
They continue like that for a few minutes everyone’s eyes moving back and forth between the two as if it were a tennis match. Before Shane turns to me out of nowhere “What about you? Don’t you want Jack to know how to shoot a gun?” he questions
“He knows how to shoot a gun” I state raising an eyebrow
“But does he know how to aim?”
“As good as he can, I don’t see how this relevant” I tell him
“It’s relevant because, if he knows how to shoot a gun but not the best than that’s a hazard. That’s why I think we need to do these trainings” Shane says shooting me a glare.
“Where do you want to do these trainings?” Rick asks running a hand down his face
“We can go to a field somewhere”
“And who’s invited to these trainings?”
“Anyone who needs to learn”
“Who is gonna teach?”
“Well I would and you, Rick. We’ve both taught people of all ages hell kids even younger than Carl.” Shane says
“Okay I guess, as long as it’s off of Herschel’s land. When do you want to start?” Rick asks
“Tomorrow, the sooner the better” and with that the conversation is moved to a different topic; supplies.
I tune out most of the conversation as Anneliese finishes her bottle and starts fussing. I burp her and check that she doesn’t need to be changed but she doesn’t want to settle. I stand with her and walk a little distance away where I can see the sun setting behind the trees casting the camp in twilight.
I walk with Anneliese for a good half an hour as the group continues to talk and the sun is setting. And then I rejoin the group around the campfire. Anneliese isn’t completely calm, so I remain standing, bouncing her.
“I think we need to focus on getting canned food and rice, they’re the easiest things to keep on hand” Rick says and Glenn nods agreeing
“We should also think ahead; it’ll be winter quicker than we think” Lori cuts in
“It’s just now the end of summer, we don’t need to be worrying about coats and blankets Lori” Andrea protests which leads to everyone going back and forth.
‘Should’ve stayed away from the group’ I think to myself as everyone starts talking louder and Anneliese starts whining again.
Rick has now gotten up and is pacing around the campfire looking stressed to the max.
“Okay so we all have opinions on what we need to focus on right now” He practically shouts over the loud talking
“Glenn what have you seen when you’ve went on runs?” Rick asks turning to Glenn
“There’s not really any winter stuff. I mean everything started in the summer so I’m not going to be able to find winter coats. At least not around here. Non-perishable food is getting low too” Glenn says
Just as Shane starts to talk Penny stands up from her spot next to Jackson and walks around the campfire until she gets to Daryl – who hasn’t been involved in the conversation as much and is sitting a little apart from the circle – with no hesitation Penny climbs up into his lap and lays her head on his shoulder and starts sucking her thumb. I feel my eyes widen as they slowly meet his over her head. I shrug at him and give him an apologetic smile as he wraps his arms around her back. Deciding not to dwell on it the conversation moves on.
“So, we have to go out farther search more stores” Shane says
“That’ll be a waste of gas and horses can only go so far” Glenn tells him
“How would getting food be a waste of gas?” Shane asks getting agitated
“There’s not much gas to gather either” Glenn protests
“Okay, okay so we need food. We’ll have to make a plan for getting more. Daryl? Is there a way to set up traps in the woods?” Rick cuts in
“Well yea, I’ll need traps in order to set them. But I can also go out and hunt” Daryl says, and I glance over at him to see that Penny is nearly asleep.
The group talks about food shortage and hunting for almost another hour, all the while Penny is asleep on Daryl’s lap. When the conversation is over, I help Jackson up from the ground and tell him to go get ready for bed.
“I’m gonna go lay Anneliese down and then I’ll be back for her” I tell Daryl nodding towards Penny.
I change Anneliese as quickly as I can without waking her and then I settle her into her mosses basket. Jackson is already in bed and almost asleep by the time I’m walking back out of the RV. Rick is standing talking to Daryl when I approach them.
“Hey Gen, do you want Jackson to go out tomorrow to get trained?” he asks me, and I think for a minute
“I want him to know how to shoot a gun properly and I trust you Rick, but I don’t want him going anywhere without me.”
“Well why don’t you come. You could probably use a refresher”
“I do, but what would I do with Anneliese and Penny. I don’t want them to be around guns going off any more than they have to be” I tell him
“I would watch them, but I have to be out there with y’all”
“I can watch them for ya” Daryl speaks up
“You would? Are you sure?” I ask quickly
“I could yea”
“Really?”
“Yes Gen” he says
“Well that settles that, I’ll let you know what time we’re going to head out in the morning. Good Night” Rick says heading off to his tent
“Good Night Rick” I tell him before turning my attention back to Daryl
“Are you sure you can watch them?” I ask
“Yea. You and your boy need to go out there and get some gun time in.” he says
“Well thank you Daryl. And thanks for letting her pass out on you” I tell him as I reach down and with his help shift Penny into my arms her head lolling onto my shoulder. He stands as I straighten up and just as I’m turning towards the RV his hand catches my elbow and halts my movement.
“Be careful out there with Shane, he’s gotten shifty lately” he whispers
“Okay. Thanks again Daryl. Goodnight” I tell him trying not to think about his warning too much.
“Goodnight Gen” he says letting go of my elbow and turning to head towards his tent. Shaking my head to myself I ascend the steps into the RV quickly and walk quietly past a sleeping Dale and into the back bedroom. Penny snuggles into the sheet as soon as I lay her down and I smile at all 3 of the sleeping kids. They look so happy and peaceful in their sleep, as if the world around them isn’t in shambles.

Chapter Text

I wake up just as the sun starts to rise, to feed Anneliese and I decide that I want to enjoy the peace before the group is up. I exit the RV and pull a lawn chair to face where the sun is rising. Anneliese is almost finished her bottle and I’m relaxed with my eyes closed and my face towards the sun when I hear footsteps approaching from behind me. Turning my head to the right I meet Rick’s eyes and smile in greeting. He smiles back before sitting on the ground next to me. We sit there in silence, that’s only broken by Anneliese’s coos, enjoying the sunrise.
It’s not long until the rest of the group is up and moving. Lori starts making breakfast and arguing with Rick all at the same time.
“I don’t think he needs to have a gun” Lori says
“He wouldn’t have it all the time, but he needs to know how to shoot, Lori” Rick argues back
“I still don’t think he needs to go out there today” Lori protests
“Well then where is he going to be? What is he going to do around here?” Rick asks
“He can hang out with Jackson and do schoolwork like he’s been doing the past few days” Lori says and that’s when I decide to cut in
“Actually, he can’t. Jackson and I will be joining the training today”
“But what about watch- “Lori starts but I cut her off
“And maybe instead of just assuming I’ll watch Carl every day and disappearing after breakfast you could ask me if I can”
“Well it’s not like you can do anything else” She says snidely, and my eyebrows fly up
“Not like I can do anything else. Really? Who has made breakfast, lunch and dinner the past 3 days? Who has made sure your kid was safe? Who is giving your kid some semblance of an education while you’re off doing god knows what” I grit out
“Don’t talk to me that way- “
“I will talk to you how I damn well please, you’re not going to try and say I don’t do shit for this group when you’re the one that disappears everyday”
“That’s enough you two” Rick cuts in and gently takes my elbow to turn me away from Lori, and I see that we’ve gathered every single person in camp’s attention.
“C’mon Gen why don’t you go wake up your kids” He prods still leading me towards the RV
“Fine, I’ll send them out to eat. Do ya mind if they sit with you and Carl? I gotta make sure stuff is ready for Daryl” I huff
“Of course, they can. And for the record Lori does not speak for me. You do a hell of a lot for this group” he whispers
“Yea right.” I laugh bitterly “I’ll send the kids out” I tell him heading into the RV, Penny and Jackson are already awake, no doubt from mine and Lori’s raised voices. I send Jackson to get dressed and quickly help Penny dress and brush her hair before I direct them both to go to the campfire and sit with Carl for breakfast.
“Are you comin momma?” Penny asks
“No baby I’m not hungry but you go enjoy okay?” I tell her and she nods before grasping her big brother’s hand and following him to the campfire.
Once I see that they’re seated I shuffle around the small back bedroom doing a multitude of things. I gather all of our dirty clothes into a pile to be washed after training. I lay a wide-awake Anneliese on her belly for tummy time. And I pack a diaper bag with everything Daryl could possibly need.
And then I have time to think. Lori is right I really don’t do much for the group, I watch the kids and make meals. When I could be doing so much more. Rick might appreciate my help with Carl but it’s clear that Lori is taking advantage of it. Andrea and Shane seem to hate me more each day, for I guess joining the group and bringing along extra mouths to feed. For a brief moment I let myself wonder how it would be for me and the kids to be on our own again and then Anneliese starts to fuss.
“Hey little miss none of that” I coo picking her up, and she instantly calms “You don’t like tummy time very much huh?” I ask cradling her in my left arm
“You’re gonna spend some time with Mr. Daryl today. Take it easy on him I don’t think he’s all that used to babies” I tell her “Or little girls like your sister” I laugh gazing into her bright blue eyes, she’s about a month old and her eyes are still as blue as the day she was born.
“Why don’t we get you dressed” I say looking out the window and noticing that everyone seemed to be dispersing from around the fire pit.
I’m just finishing snapping her onesie when I hear the RV door open. I look up and see Rick walking towards me.
“Hey” He greets coming to a stop in the doorway
“Hey” I say back resuming dressing Anneliese
“We’re gonna head out in about half an hour”
“Okay”
“We’re taking 2 cars you and the kids will be with me and Shane will have Andrea and Carol.” He tells me and I nod “Do you want help taking them to Daryl?” he asks
“No, but can you ask Jackson and Penny to come here?” I ask
“Yea sure” he says before leaving.
I sigh to myself and try not to get caught up in my thoughts too much, I was very short with Rick, but I can’t help but feel that he agrees with most of the group.
It’s barely a minute later when Jackson and Penny join me.
“I heard Mrs. Lori saying we were going to gun training today” Jackson states right a way
“Me and you are Jackson. Penny and Anneliese are going to be with Mr. Daryl.” I tell them
“But I wanna come with you momma” Penny protests
“You can’t sweet pea, it’s going to be very loud there. So, Mr. Daryl offered to watch you and Anneliese for me. And as soon as I get back, we’ll do something okay?” I offer her and she nods pouting a little. “Now you have to listen to Mr. Daryl okay?” I ask her
“I will Momma, I like Mr. Daryl” she informs me
“Good I’m glad, now let’s head over to his tent. Jackson if you could wait with Carl and Rick I’ll be right back” I tell him, and he nods heading out of the RV first. I guide Penny by the hand to Daryl’s tent, where he’s sitting on a log outside.
“Hi Mr. Daryl! Momma says I’m gonna spend time with you!” Penny greets releasing my hand and running to sit next to him on the log, Daryl doesn’t say anything just looks at her with a raised brow and then turns to me.
“Anneliese has been changed and I fed her not too long ago, she’ll probably be falling asleep shortly. If she gets fussy she has a pacifier and she’ll need to eat again in about 2 hours, I already prepped the bottles, all you have to do is shake them” I tell him placing the diaper bag on the ground next to his leg “There’s a book and a coloring book in there for Penny to distract her.” I inform him and he nods
“Okay” he says holding his hands out for the baby. I try not to let my nervousness of leaving them show as I place a kiss on Anneliese’s forehead and hand her over to Daryl.
“Be good Penelope, listen to Mr. Daryl” I instruct her kissing her forehead
“I will momma” she smiles
“Anything you could possibly need is in that bag, if you run out of diapers there’s more in the RV. Oh crap! I forgot to grab her mosses basket for you to lay her in” I realize
“I can get it if I need it, we’ll be okay Gen” He tells me, and I nod biting my lip
“I know you’ll be fine; I’ve just never left Anneliese before and I don’t want Penny to give you is- “I start to rant
“Gen! We will be fine. You better go or they’ll leave without ya” he cuts me off
“Okay, okay. Thank you, Daryl. Really thank you” I tell him, and he just grunts as I turn away and walk back to where the rest of the group is standing at the cars.
“So, there was a slight change” Rick starts as I come to a stop next to him “Beth, Jimmy and Patricia will be joining us”
“And they have Herschel’s blessing?” I ask shocked
“Yea seems so. Beth is gonna ride with us, Jimmy and Patricia will ride with Shane” He tells me, and I nod
“I call shotgun” I laugh and Rick chuckles with me, but he calms very quickly when Lori walks up to us with Shane.
“You’ll make sure you watch everything he does? You won’t let him out of your sight?” She says looking at both Rick and Shane
“We will Lori” Shane says at the same time Rick says “I know how to care for my son”
My eyebrows shoot up and I look at Rick with wide eyes who also looks a little shocked at what he said.
“He’ll be fine Lori. Now we better get going” Shane says simultaneously diffusing the situation and shooting Rick a glare.
With a nod Rick turns to usher the youngest members of the training group into the SUV and I go to follow him when someone grabs my shoulder. Turning my head, I come face to face with Lori.
“I know I was a bitch to you” I laugh at her words “But please look out for Carl I don’t want anything to happen to him” She says and I kind of just tilt my head at her words. Sure, treat me like shit and then ask me to watch out for your kid. She’s lucky I like Carl.
“I’ll keep him with me and Jackson, but I don’t think you need to worry” I tell her and walk to the SUV without waiting for a response. Shaking my head to myself I climb into the passenger seat and see that Jackson pulled the short straw and is in the back-middle seat.
“Everything okay?” Rick asks, he had obviously seen Lori talking to me
“Yea, she just wants me to keep an eye on Carl” I tell him buckling my seatbelt
“You’d think I didn’t know how to care for my son” He mumbles, and I laugh a little as we pull off.
“We can talk about it later” I tell him, deciding that it wouldn’t be a good idea to discuss this in front of the kids.
“So, Beth have you ever shot a gun?”

Chapter Text

We drive for almost half an hour before we turn up a driveway that leads to a farmhouse, one that looks a lot like the Greene’s. Except this house doesn’t look like it has seen a living person since before the beginning of the apocalypse.
Rick and Shane instruct everyone to stay in the cars while they set up some cans and bottles as targets. While they are doing that, Jackson and Carl are immersed in a conversation about a superhero and Beth is staring out the car window.
“So, how long have you and Jimmy been together?” I ask, pulling her attention to me
“A few months. We hadn’t been together long when the illness hit”
“How old are you, exactly?” I ask “Not to sound rude I’m just curious” I laugh
“I’m 16” she says with a smile and I quickly nod and change the subject to the different fruit trees on the farm, hoping to avoid her asking me how old I am.
Rick interrupts our conversation a few minutes later by opening my car door.
“We got it all set up y’all can join us now” he informs us before gesturing for me to get out and I do after staring at him for a second.
“Alright if y’all could form a line right about here, we’ll begin” Shane instructs and while my instinct is to do immediately the opposite of what he says, I join the others in a rough line with Carl and Jackson on either side of me.
Shane and Rick go through the basic movements of how to hold a gun, how to stand while shooting and all of the safety information. At some point I tuned them out in favor of watching a blue bird fly around behind them.
“Alright those of you that have guns please take them out and get into the stance we just showed you. If you don’t have a gun, we will give you one in a second, but you should also stand the way we showed you and we’ll help you make sure your stance and grip are correct.” Rick says pulling my focus back to him and I notice him staring at me, meaning he had seen that I was not paying attention. Feeling my cheeks begin to burn I pull my gun from my waistband and stand the way I was taught a few years ago at the gun range.
Shane starts at one end of the line helping Andrea, while Rick starts at our end with Jackson. I watch as he helps Jackson position his feet and his hands, and as he hands him a gun – a Beretta – to be exact.
“When you are holding a gun never point it at yourself or anyone else. Whether it is loaded or not. Okay?” Rick instructs and Jackson nods
“The safety is still on but make sure you point it away. Alright?” he prompts
“Yeah” is Jackson’s short answer and Rick nods before moving over to me.
“Your stance is good Gen, but your feet should be a little bit farther apart” he instructs, and I move my feet apart a tad. “Little bit more Gen” he says nudging my right foot with his own.
“Your grip is good, who taught you to shoot?” he asks
“My high school boyfriend took me to a shooting range, and I learned there” I answer
“They taught you well” I smile at him as he moves to help Carl
Within 10 minutes everyone is standing correctly and anyone who didn’t have a gun now has one.
“Alright so we have lined up cans and bottles as targets. When we say you can, we want you to hit as many targets as you can. If we say your name point your gun to the ground and turn the safety on” Shane instructs “Ready? Go!” he calls out after a few seconds
The sheer amount of noise from 8 guns going off at once is headache inducing but I don’t let it distract me as I hit can after can. On my 5th can I hear Rick call my name, so I lower my gun and flick the safety back on. I step back out of line so I’m next to Rick.
“You’re good. Gonna hold you back here and have you help Carl and Jackson and next round have you try a different gun” he tells me, and I nod before I start helping the kids with their aim.
A short while later Rick and Shane has everyone stop and then they reset the targets.
“Here Gen. Try this one” Rick says trading my gun for a slightly bigger handgun “This is a Sig Sauer, it’s a little bit bigger and heavier than your Beretta” he tells me
“Okay thanks” I smile at him and realize as soon as I pull the trigger that not only is it bigger and heavier the recoil is a lot worse. I take a second and shake my arms out before lifting them again.
“Here you’re gonna want to position your arms a little differently to handle the recoil better” Rick tells me stepping up behind me and reaching around my arms with his own to move me how he thinks I should be standing. “There you go” he says softly, and I smile at him briefly, trying to ignore the awkwardness I feel at having Rick pressed so close to me.
As he steps back, I pull the trigger again and the recoil is absorbed better, but this gun is definitely more than I’m used to.
After the second round of shooting Rick asks me what I thought of the gun.
“It’s nice, but it’s not my gun. I think I’ll stick to what I’m used to” I laugh
“That’s fair” he smiles giving me my gun back.
“How much longer do you think we’ll go?” I ask
“One or two more rounds” he answers, and I nod
Two rounds later Carl and Jackson’s aim has improved greatly, and Rick and Shane are collecting back the guns.
“I think Gen and Andrea are ready for the advanced course, what do you think Shane?” Rick speaks up
“I agree”
“Alright well you three stay here and we’ll head back to the farm” Rick says
“Actually, I’d also like to head back to the farm” I speak up and Rick meets my eyes for a moment before nodding.
“Alright we’ll stay here for a little while and then we’ll head up the road to some properties and see if there’s any sign of Sophia” Shane says and Rick nods before leading the way to the SUV
“Alright it’s gonna be tight with 3 extra riders” Rick says as we come to a stop, we all stand there for a second thinking before I voice my thoughts
“Carl, Jackson and I could ride in the back-trunk area and everyone else can have the back and passenger seats” I offer, and Rick thinks for a moment
“Or if they’re willing of course Beth and Jimmy can ride in the back with you that way Carl and Jackson can have seatbelts.” He says and I nod hoping he’s not judging my “parenting” skills
“Sounds good to me” Jimmy says and Rick nods before opening the trunk for us.
Jimmy and Beth climb in first and just as I’m about to climb in Rick grabs my arm
“Look I’m not undermining you. I just don’t want Lori to bite my head off for letting Carl ride in the back” he whispers
“It’s okay. I get it” I tell him before climbing into the back. I can see he’s frowning as he shuts the trunk, but I don’t focus on it.
After Rick starts the SUV it’s a quick and relatively painless ride back to the farm, minus the moment where Rick hit a bump and Beth got knocked into me.
When I get out of the SUV, I notice that Glenn is sitting on the porch with Maggie, Dale is on the top of his RV, T-Dog is sitting at the fire pit cleaning his gun and Lori is nowhere in sight.
Patricia, Beth and Jimmy thank Rick before heading towards the house while the rest of us head towards the fire pit.
“Hey T! Did y’all have lunch?” Rick asks
“Yeah Lori made a small lunch for us here, I don’t know bout Daryl he’s been over at his camp with your girls all morning” He says directing the last part at me and I nod my thanks
“I’ll go check in with Daryl and then I can whip up lunch for the rest of us” I say, seeing as how Carol has brushed passed us all and has gone into the RV.
“Jack stay here with Carl and Rick I’ll be right back” once he nods, I head off towards Daryl’s camp
As soon as I round the large oak tree, I can see that Daryl is inside his tent with the girls.
“Knock Knock” I say peeking around the tent flap and smile at the sight that greets me.
Daryl is relaxed on his cot, a sleeping Anneliese cradled in his left arm while Penny sits on his right “reading” a book to him
“Hi Mama!” Penny squeals abandoning the book and Daryl to run and give me a hug
“Hi darlin’. Were you good for Mr. Daryl?” I ask and she nods
I look at Daryl over her head and raise an eyebrow
“She was good. Kept herself occupied for a while. And this little one didn’t do more than whine when she got hungry” Daryl tells me
“Good, thanks for watching them. I really appreciate it.” I tell him and he nods “What’re your plans for the rest of the day?” I ask
“Gonna head out and look for Sophia some”
“Alright, well be safe. Did y’all eat?”
“Mr. Daryl made us rice and green beans” Penny speaks up
“Thanks Daryl, grab your things Pen I gotta go make lunch for everyone else” I instruct her, and she nods although she looks a little sad to be leaving
“Why’re you makin’ lunch?” Daryl asks as I pick Anneliese up from his arms.
“Cause it’s something I can do for the group while taking care of the kids” I tell him not seeing why the question was important
“Takin’ care of the kids is enough” he grumbles, and I just raise my brow before picking up the diaper bag
“Tell Mr. Daryl bye and thank you” I tell Penny
“Bye Mr. Daryl thanks for watchin me today” she says before slipping her thumb into her mouth
“Just Daryl is fine” Daryl corrects with a slight grimace
“Well thanks ‘just Daryl’ for watching the today” I say with a laugh
It’s a quick walk back to the fire pit where I quickly grab the baby sling from the RV and secure Anneliese in it and settle Penny down with a coloring book. I make the quickest meal possible, canned vegetables with crackers, and serve it to everyone.
Lunch is short and sweet and before long I’m left cleaning up the dishes while T-Dog, Glenn and Rick head out to look for Sophia some more, Carol hasn’t left the RV and I’m assuming that Lori is in her tent. Deciding not to waste any energy on wondering where Lori is, I instruct the kids to go get their workbooks from the RV and start where they left off. Penny sits with me next to the washing bucket and we work on her letters and numbers.
After an hour or so of schoolwork we are joined by Beth.
“Hey Beth! What’s up?” I greet
“Hi Gen. I was just wonderin if Carl, Jackson and Penny would like to join me collecting vegetables and fruits that are ready” She offers, and I look to the kids to see all 3 of them staring at me eagerly
“That sounds great” I say and almost laugh at how quick Carl and Jackson are to close their books and stand up “Now hold up y’all have to put your books away and while you are with Beth you act respectful and you do as she says alright?” I state before they can escape
“Yes Gen” Carl sighs and is shortly echoed by Jackson “Yes Mom” Jackson looks slightly startled at his use of the term, but I smile at him quickly before shooing them to put their books away.
“Thanks for that Beth, if they give you any trouble just send them back to me” I tell her, and she nods
“I’m sure they won’t be any trouble they’re some of the best-behaved kids I’ve ever seen”
“Thanks, but they kind of have to be with the way the world is now” I smile sadly at her and a look of confusion crosses her face as she tilts her head as if wanting to ask what I mean. But before she can Carl and Jackson are back and eagerly waiting to garden
“Be good!” I tell them as they depart, Penny grasping Beth’s hand and talking animatedly about something. Shaking my head to myself I take Anneliese out of the sling and let her stretch out in my arms.
“How’s it going up there?” I call up to Dale upon approaching the RV
“Quiet, hot.” He laughs and I nod
“Do you have water?” I ask
“Yeah I’m good” We’re quiet for a moment before I ask a question
“Any suggestions for what I could do around camp?”
“Uh, is there any laundry that needs to be done” he suggests, and I sigh
“I guess I’ll go see if there is. If Lori ever emerges tell her she’s free to join me doing laundry” I huff, and he laughs
Before I gather the laundry, I change Anneliese’s diaper and grab a receiving blanket to lay next to the washing tub to avoid a stiff back from wearing her.
No one joins me while I’m doing laundry not even while I had to take a break in order to feed Anneliese. Rick, T-Dog and Glenn got back about an hour and a half after I started laundry but now it’s almost dinner time and Shane and Andrea haven’t come back yet.
I can sense that the group is becoming anxious about their return but before I can approach the fire pit, where everyone including Lori and Carol are seated my attention is pulled to the back of the house where I can see the kids approaching with Beth, all of them carrying a basket.
“How’d it go?” I ask
“Pretty good we got loads of veggies, y’all are more than welcome to take some for your dinner.” Beth offers and I nod my thanks as she begins to help the kids sort the veggies and place some into a basket for us.
“You still have the oil Patricia gave you?” she asks, and I nod
“Alright well you’re all set then.” She says handing me a basket full of potatoes, string beans and carrots.
“Thank you, Beth it means a lot,” I tell her honestly and she nods sending me a smile
“Let Carl and Jackson help you get those other baskets into the house” I tell her while sending the 2 boys a look telling them to help her
“Thanks, they were great kids by the way” she says before leading the way into the house
“C’mon Pen lets go start some dinner” I say, and she nods jogging a little in front of me
“Did you have fun with Ms. Beth?” I ask
“Yeah, there’s was worms in with the potatoes” she says making a face
“There was? Did you hold any?” I ask
“Ew! No Mama that’s gross!” she giggles, and I laugh a little at her expression before a voice cuts in
“What’s gross?” Rick asks as we come to a stop just outside the circle of chairs
“Penny was just telling me that there were worms with the potatoes” I tell him, and he nods raising an eyebrow
“The kids helped Beth harvest today and she graciously gave us some vegetables for dinner” I say holding up the basket full
“Looks like Daryl’s got some meat to go with it” Glenn says, and I can just make out Daryl taking a seat on his log and beginning to skin what looks like a rabbit.
“Penny! Can you go grab Anneliese’s binky” I hastily request, and she looks at me like I have two heads before trotting off to do as I ask. Turning my attention back to the group I notice many amused expressions

“What? She sees walkers almost everyday of her life she doesn’t need to see a bunny being skinned, especially not if I want her to eat it” I say, mumbling the last part under my breath and setting the basket down next to our makeshift dishwashing station and beginning the process of strapping Anneliese back into the sling.
“I can take her” Glenn speaks up and it takes me a second to realize that he’s talking to me
“Huh?”
“The baby, I can hold her so you can cook” he offers and while in the back of my mind I’m trying to figure out why no one else can cook dinner, I am grateful for his offer. So, I swaddle Anneliese in the receiving blanket to ward of the slight chill that’s in the air and set about cleaning and cutting the vegetables. Not to long after I’ve put it all in a pot and gotten a small pot of rice going does Daryl approach with a tupperware bowl filled with raw strips of meat.
“Here ya go” he says handing it to me
“Thanks Daryl” I tell him before setting up a separate pan to cook the meat.
Just as I’m about to start serving dinner Shane and Andrea pull up, they’re not even all the way out of the car before most of the group is approaching them and asking them what took so long
I can faintly hear Shane say that they checked out some houses and that they ran into some walkers but nothing out of the ordinary. I don’t believe them completely, not with the way that Andrea’s hair is messed up and her shirt is crooked. It looks more like Andrea jumped into bed with Shane.
Shaking my head to myself I’m very thankful I didn’t stay for the extra training.
Once everyone settles back into their seats, I have Carl and Jackson pass a bowl out to everyone, I take Anneliese back from Gen and strap her into the baby sling so I can eat with both hands, a rare occurrence with a baby.
Dinner as always is silent, at least until Rick asks what everyone’s plans are for the next day. Aside from Dale and T-Dog who are going to gather water and Daryl who is going to go look for Sophia it seems like the group is going to be doing a whole lot of nothing.
“What about you Gen?” Rick asks and I turn my head to meet his gaze
Shrugging I tell him the first thing that pops into my head “Probably more laundry, it’s taking longer since I’m the only one doing it. Oh! And watching the kids of course, probably have them work through their books some more”
“Sounds good, is it okay if Carl joins y’all?” he asks, and I smile at him as he obviously recalls me going off on Lori for never asking
“Of course, it is” I laugh ruffling Carl’s hair, even as he tries to scoot away
“The rest of us should probably take the time to plan out some runs for things we need and maybe gather some fire wood” Shane voices and unsurprisingly almost everyone agrees, that is except for Lori who is too busy glaring at him and Andrea, who are sitting next to each other.
“Sounds like we all have some pretty good plans tomorrow. Remember no guns on Herschel’s property and always let whoever is on the RV know if you’re going off anywhere on your own.” Rick instructs
“Alright Gen cooked so who’s got dishes?” Dale asks causing me to laugh – damn straight I’m not doing the dishes.

Chapter Text

Hi Everyone!
I know I said the chapter schedule would be once a week Sunday or Monday but that has changed. Upon starting classes I've come to the realization that in order to give myself enough time to write and to have Jay help me read through and edit a chapter the best day for posting will be Friday. So from now on every Friday I will be posting a new chapter. The chapter probably wont get posted until Friday night because of work schedules and such but I'm happy to say that this schedule will be stuck too. Hopefully within a month I will be able to increase my postings to twice a week but don't hold your breathe as I'm looking into a second job (minimum wage sucks ass). But with that noted when I am on winter, spring and summer breaks you can definitely expect and increase in postings. (I was trying to mentally map out the story in my head and I've come to the conclusion that there will be at least 100 chapters to this story as long as all goes to plan.) But back to what I was saying over winter and summer break I plan to go back to my 3x a week posting and hopefully over spring break as well (that break is just shorter so that's up in the air). I want to thank you all for the continued support and love for my story. It lived in my documents for almost 2 years being a love child of mine and Jay's before I got the nerve to post it and I'm so happy you enjoy it. If you have any questions please feel free to comment them and this might sound a little teacherish but I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on what you would like to see happen in the future chapters (even if it's something that will take place in season 4). As always I love and appreciate you all!

XO
Val

PS. I will be keeping this chapter here as a reminder for my future plans and so I don't lose your comments on what you want to happen in the future :)

Chapter Text

As usual I’m woken twice during the night to feed and change Anneliese. And like every other day she’s my morning alarm clock as well. The sun is just starting to peek through the curtains when her whines rouse me from sleep. I’m quick to prepare a bottle and change her before her whines could turn into wails.
Once she’s eating contently, I settle against the headboard and contemplate not leaving the RV until someone comes to get us. I briefly wonder if they would even make breakfast or if that would be the reason that they come to get me. Shaking my head at my thoughts I decide that I will not stay in the RV and I will go out to make breakfast if only because it’s a way I can contribute while watching the kids – well that and laundry. Although it would be nice if Carol and Lori helped, maybe I’ll be missing for lunch and they’ll have to make lunch.
“Mama?” Penny’s voice pulls me from thoughts
“Yeah honey?” I ask turning my head towards her
“Morning time?”
“Just about, you can sleep a little more” I tell her, and I try really hard not to laugh when she nods her head, sticks her thumb in her mouth and goes right back to sleep.
Not 10 minutes later, Anneliese is finished her bottle and I can hear a few people moving around outside the RV.
“Do you think we should go start breakfast?” I whisper to Anneliese, whose wide awake, cooing and kicking her legs. Taking her lack of cries as an affirmative I lay her on the bed and quickly change into some jeans and a t-shirt; while it was nice of Beth to loan me shorts, I feel much safer in pants that cover more than an inch below my ass.
I lightly swaddle Anneliese in a blanket to ward off any lingering chill and head out of the RV to make breakfast.
“Morning” Rick greets me as soon as I step out the door
“Good morning” I greet back and join him standing next to the fire pit
“How’re the kids?”
“Good, Penny and Jack are still asleep, and this little one just had her breakfast” I tell him stroking a finger down Anneliese’s arm as she coos up at us
“Good, are you up to making breakfast this morning” He asks, and I almost laugh it’s like he’s been in my thoughts
“Of course, Rick” I tell him, and he nods
“I can hold her while you cook” he says reaching for Anneliese before I can even say anything. Knowing that I can trust him with her I don’t even bother trying to protest.
“Thanks” I tell him before getting to work making breakfast.
Within half an hour I have the fire going, a bot of water boiling for tea or coffee, oatmeal almost done and a pan of powdered eggs that could definitely use some work. At some point in my cooking Rick sat down in one of the lawn chairs and has Anneliese laying on his lap while he moves her hands and feet talking to her. It’s kind of funny that the world is ending around us but here I am making breakfast and he’s talking baby talk to a baby whose looking at him like he’s lost his damn mind.
As soon as breakfast is done, I ask Rick if he would mind waking up Penny and Jack while I serve the food. And when I turn around to dish out another serving it’s to the sight of a barely awake Penny clutching Ricks hand while he holds Anneliese with his other and a sleepy eyed Jackson all clambering out of the RV. Unsurprisingly Jackson ends up sitting between Lori and Carl and Penny after glancing around the group ends up climbing onto Rick’s lap as soon as he’s seated. I smile sympathetically at him and he smiles right back, perfectly content to cuddle the two little girls, one wide awake and one trying her hardest to fall back to sleep.
Once I’m done serving the food, I usher Penny off of Rick’s lap and into her own chair and instruct her to eat. And then I trade Rick a plate of food for Anneliese and take my own seat and attempt to eat with a wiggle worm of a baby in my arms.
Breakfast is quiet, save for Anneliese’s coos, as everyone is still waking up. But as soon as it’s over I get the kids up and moving.
“Alright Carl, Jackson you two start gathering dishes and washing them; and wash them good. Penny you come with me we’re gonna go change the baby” I instruct and without pausing to see if the kids are doing what they were instructed I grasp Penny’s hand and go to the RV.
Not 5 minutes later we emerge from the RV. Carl and Jackson are washing the dishes, Andrea is on the RV, Dale and T-Dog are off to the side talking, Daryl is no where to be found – and come to think of it he wasn’t at breakfast either – and the rest of the group including Carol and Lori are seated in a group around the fire with a map and seem to be discussing runs.
When Carl and Jackson are done with the dishes I have them go around camp with me and collect everyone’s laundry and then I have them go get their schoolbooks from the RV.
I settle Anneliese on a blanket near where the kids are set up with their books, and have Penny trace some letters in a notebook, and then I start on laundry, all the while thinking how long of a day it’s going to be.

I’m humming an old song when my attention is pulled to the rest of the group at the sound of Shane’s surprised yell. I turn and watch as Glenn breaks off headed to the house, while the rest of the group moves en masse to the well where T-Dog and Dale just were. I don’t see Rick anywhere but decide that’s not my issue right now. Furrowing my brow, I swoop Anneliese up and instruct the kids to stay put, that I’ll be right back.
I follow the group’s path as quickly as I can, to see what’s going on and I come to a stop beside Carol.
“What’s going on?” I ask glancing from Carol to where the rest of the group is huddled around the well
“There’s a walker in the well”
I blink once, twice; “What?!”
“It’s been in there a while they think” she says with a slight shudder and I struggle to hide my own disgust
“That’s gross, I’m gonna rejoin the kids and get back to the laundry” I say having no desire to be involved with a well walker.
“I think I’ll join you” she says and together we start heading back to the kids. About halfway there I urge her to go on ahead while I swing into the RV to put Anneliese in her baby carrier and grab her pacifier, as she’s starting to get whiny and tired.
On my way back to the laundry area I pass Glenn and Maggie heading towards the rest of the group.
“How’s the schoolwork?” I ask the kids
“Fine, why’d the group all go over that way” Jackson asks gesturing vaguely to the area of the well
“There’s a walker in the well”
“Ew” Jackson says at the same time Carl asks, “The well we get water from?”
“I think it’s a different one” I tell them but I’m not entirely sure myself “Now get back to work, we’ll take a break in like an hour or so, so I can make lunch” I tell them and join Carol at the laundry tub.
True to my word an hour and a half later I stop with laundry, gather the kids and lead the way to the fire pit, where there’s a pretty clear view of the well. It looks as if they’re tying a rope around Glenn. What they were going to do after that I had no clue.
“Why don’t you guys go get a board game to play while I make lunch” I suggest to the boys and they do, heading off to the RV.
I notice that Andrea has joined the group at the well, and I still don’t see Rick. I try not to wonder where he is and begin making lunch. It’s much the same of what we’ve eaten for almost every other meal, but with some pasta and leftover vegetables instead of rice. Deciding to be adventurous I take a can of cream of chicken soup and mix that with the pasta. It’s not pasta sauce but it’d do.
All of a sudden yells come from the direction of the well. Carl and Jackson fly to their feet at the same time as me, but I hastily tell them to sit down and not move as I run to the group that’s frantically grasping a rope that’s sliding out of their hands too fast.
Paying no heed to the baby strapped to my chest, I slide to a stop next to Lori and grasp the rope and start pulling. I can hear Glenn’s yells from inside the well, mingling with T-Dog yelling for him to hold on and Shane yelling for us to keep pulling.
What seems like hours later but is actually just seconds Glenn emerges from the top of the well and hoists himself out with the help of Shane. I fall to my knees in front of where Glenn is on his hands and knees taking heaving gasps of air.
“You Okay? You get scratched?” I ask running my hand through his hair, instead of trying to answer me through his gasps he just shakes his head no and I close my eyes in relief. I may not have known the group for long, but I cared for many of them. Glenn reaches up and rests one of his hands on my jean covered knee and I open my eyes to meet his and he’s looking at me with the most terrified eyes I’ve ever seen, he may not have been hurt but he was definitely scared out of his mind.
“You’re okay, we got you” I whisper placing my hand over his, after a moment he nods and lets his head fall as he tries to control his breathing.
“Back to the drawing board I guess” Dale comments from my right and I barely hold back my scoff, yeah, we almost lost Glenn to the well walker but sure let’s think up another plan to get the damned thing out.
“Says you” Glenn huffs sitting up on his knees and holding a rope out for Dale to take
“What? What? That means…” Dale trails off giving the rope a light tug and walking over to peer down the well, “Well I’ll be damned” he mutters and the rest of the group moves to join him looking down at the walker while Glenn shrugs the rope off of his hips.
I’m still sitting on the ground with no desire to get up and see what is probably an utterly disgusting sight in the well, I’ve just started poking at a few of the rug burns on my hands when a hand, that is not my own pops into my eyesight. Following the hand up, my eyes meet Lori’s and I raise an eyebrow at her. She raises one back moving her hand even closer. Deciding not to look too deep into it I grasp her hand and allow her to help me to my feet.
“Thanks” I mumble, and she nods
“Well while y’all deal with that, I’m gonna go finish lunch. Feel free to join me when y’all are done doing whatever it is you’re gonna do” I tell them walking back to the kids
“What happened?” Carl asks frantically
“They almost fed Glenn to the well walker” at their incredulous looks I just nod as if to affirm that I’m telling the truth.
“Hey, which one of you moved the pot?” I ask upon seeing that the pot of pasta and vegetables that I was cooking is no longer on the fire
“I did, we didn’t want it to burn and didn’t know how long you’d be” Jackson says, and I nod
“Thanks for that bud”
Just as I’m about to serve myself and the kids food Rick emerges from, somewhere.
“What’s going on over there?” he asks gesturing to the group still at the well
“Well walker” I state simply and watch as Penny walks from where she was attempting to play sorry with Carl and Jackson to curl up on Rick’s lap.
“I’m sorry a what?” he asks looking at me as if I’ve lost my mind
“A walker got into the well I don’t know all the details except that they tied a rope to Glenn to lower him to tie a rope on it and they almost lost him to it” I tell him and his eyes seem to widen with every word
“Christ, can’t we just have a few good days with no drama? Is that too much to ask?” he sighs irritably and runs a hand down his face
“Maybe tomorrow will be better?” I suggest handing both him and Penny a bowl of food and taking my own seat to eat.
Not even halfway through eating our lunch the group at the well, once again starts yelling. The difference is that this is not a panicked type of yell but a frustrated on. Turning towards them I can faintly make out what looks like a blob on the ground just over the lip of the well. Upon seeing Lori throwing up into a bush I assume that the blob is the walker or at least part of it.
“Oh, that’s gross” I mutter and make a face turning back to face the fire just as Rick sees what’s going on and sighs very loudly.
Shortly after the well group joins us at the fire and I gesture to the pot
“There’s food there if you want it” I tell them, deciding that they can serve themselves, but of course when they don’t move, Carol steps up to the pot and starts serving everyone I missed.
After lunch I took a break from laundry and started working with Penny on her numbers and letters more and let the boys take a break from the workbooks.
As usual I make dinner, which is even more lean than usual, a few cans of vegetables and some beans make a vegetable soup kind of meal. Glenn seems oddly shift at dinner, but I don’t pay attention to it, he’s probably just hoping that no one noticed him sneaking off with Maggie earlier. Sucks for him though because we all saw it.
Daryl gets back just as I’m about to start cleaning up dinner.
“Did you find anything?” Rick asks as he approaches, and Daryl just shakes his head
I watch as Carol runs off to her tent, more than likely to cry. Shaking my head to myself I fill a bowl with some food and walk to hand it to him, he nods his thanks still discussing with Rick what he saw, or rather what he didn’t see.
The sun is setting by the time I’m finished cleaning up from dinner, so I usher the kids into the RV and get them ready for bed. Before I settle into bed with them, I give Anneliese her bedtime bottle and hope that she doesn’t wake me too many times.
I wake before the sun with Anneliese and decide to feed her outside as she’s being unusually whiny.
Settling in a chair, I can see Daryl moving around his tent, it looks like he just came back from somewhere. Deciding to find out where he went once Anneliese eats some, I relax into the chair.
After burping her, she doesn’t seem to want the rest of her bottle, instead she’s squirming, whining and beginning to cry. I prop her up on my shoulder as I stand and decide to walk over to Daryl.
“Morning” I greet, and he grunts back
“You go somewhere this morning?” I ask
“Went hunting”
“Get anything?” I question still rubbing the baby’s back and trying to calm her down
“A few squirrels and a rabbit” I can’t help but curl my nose at the sound of eating squirrel, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers
“she okay?” he asks a few seconds later
“Yeah she’s just a little more whiny than usual” I tell him and just as I’m about to ask what his plans are for the day; I hear my name called softly from behind me.
Turning I spy Beth walking up with a basket of what looks like eggs
“Good morning Beth” I say as she comes to a stop in front of me
“Morning, Daddy sent me to bring yall some eggs” and I raise my brow but nod
“Well tell him we said thank you”
“I will, where do you want the basket?” she asks
“You can put it on that bin right over there, I’ll be starting breakfast soon” I tell her with a smile, and she nods before going to do so
“Well eggs sound good for breakfast” I say turning back to Daryl and he nods
“You gonna sit with us?” I ask and before he can answer Anneliese lets out a particularly loud cry and throws up down my back. Closing my eyes in resignation I pull her away from my shoulder.
“You just had to do that when I didn’t have a burp cloth didn’t you?” I tell her and she’s just staring up at me, apparently content now that she’s thrown up everything, she ate
“Here lemme hold her so you can go change” Daryl says standing and plucking the baby from my arms.
“Thanks” I mumble and without even thinking bout what I’m doing I pull my shirt over my head, leaving me in a sports bra and jeans, and use the inside of my shirt to wipe Anneliese’s chin.
“I’ll go change real quick, you should come sit at the fire” I tell him already walking away
I pass Rick coming out of his tent on my way to the RV and try not to laugh as his brows furrow at the sight of me walking through camp without a shirt. Peeking behind me I see Daryl trailing after me.
I throw on a new shirt and wake the kids, practically having to drag them out of bed and to the fire. Daryl is sitting in the chair where I abandoned Anneliese’s bottle and Rick is sitting not to far from him, both seemingly discussing plans for the day, and it doesn’t take long for Penny to find Rick and curl up on his lap.
It’s not long before the rest of the group is up and waiting for me to serve breakfast, and once everyone has been served I secure Anneliese in her sling and am just taking my first bite when Glenn standing up out of the corner of my eye causing me to look up.
He looks even more nervous than last night but deciding not to dwell on it I resume eating.
“Uhm guys” he says moving form foot to foot and bringing everyone’s attention to him
“So” he pauses looking around and meeting my eyes making me raise my brow at him
“The barn’s full of walkers”

Chapter Text

“The barn’s full of walkers”
It’s echoing in my head as I stare at Glenn blinking
My immediate instinct is to take the kids and get the hell out of dodge, but I push it down as Rick finally speaks up
“I’m sorry? What?” he asks as if hoping that Glenn was just messing around
“There’s walkers in the barn; a lot of them” Glenn says and before I can even form a complete thought everyone is on their feet and heading towards the barn, Shane in the lead
I glance at the kids and Daryl the only other people who didn’t move besides me. He shrugs and starts heading towards the barn. Not wanting to be left out of the group I grasp Penny’s hand and encircle my other arm around Anneliese protectively and follow the group.
Just as I come to a stop, Shane is walking up to Rick
“You can’t tell me you’re alright with this” he growls
“No, I’m not but we’re guests here, this isn’t our land” Rick replies as Shane brushes past him
“Oh God this is our lives man!”
“Lower your voice” Glenn tries to interject
“We can’t just sweep this under the rug” Andrea adds oh so helpfully
“It aint right not remotely. We either gotta go in there, we gotta make things right. Or we just gotta go. Now we’ve been talking about Fort Benning for a long time now- “
“We can’t go” Rick cuts Shane off
“Why Rick? Why?”
“Because my daughter’s still out there” Carol cuts in and when Shane lets out a bitter laugh and covers his face, I edge closer to Carl and pull Jackson and Penny as close to me as I can.
“Carol, I think it’s time that we all start to just consider the other possibilities” apparently Shane is going to try the diplomatic approach
“Shane!” Lori gasps at the same time that Rick says we’re not leaving Sophia behind
“I’m close to finding this girl, I just found her damn doll the other day” Daryl says walking from the back of the group to the front
“You found her doll Daryl. That’s what you did, you found a DOLL” Shane retorts mockingly
“You don’t know what the hell you’re talking bout!” Daryl practically yells stepping even closer to Shane causing Rick to put a hand up between the two of them. And all I can think is good luck Rick hope you don’t lose your arm when those two let lose.
“I’m just saying what needs to be said around here. Now you get a good lead the first 48 hours and let me tell you something else” Shane is ranting all the while Rick is telling him to stop
“If she was alive out there and saw you comin’ all methed out with your buck knife, geek ears round your neck, she would run in the other direction!” Shane yells and sensing an explosion I reach past Penny and grasp Carl’s shoulder to pull him back into me, effectively sandwiching Penny between me and him.
“Shut up!” Rick tries at the same time Daryl lunges for Shane, all of a sudden everyone is yelling and trying to pull the two apart as they try to land punches on each other. I can make out Shane yelling that he’ll beat Daryl’s ass and I almost laugh, he couldn’t if he tried.
They finally get them apart and Shane shoves Lori away from him “Keep your hands off me” he growls, and Lori looks around and meets my eyes from where I’m standing back from the group with all 3 kids practically cowering against me.
“Just let me talk to Herschel. Let me figure it out” Rick says as Shane starts walking away
“What’re you gonna figure out?!” Shane yells and it seems that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back with Anneliese as she starts wailing
“Enough!” Lori practically yells at Shane
“If we’re gonna stay. If we’re gonna clear this barn. I gotta talk him into it. This is his land!”
“Herschel sees those things in there as people” Dale interjects, and I try not to take a step back while calming the screaming infant.
“Sick people, his wife, his stepson” Dale continues
“You knew?” Rick asks
“Yesterday, I talked to him” well damn not one but two people of our group knew we were neighbors with a barn full of walkers
“And you waited the night?” Shane asks and I can’t help but kind of agree with him
“I thought we could survive one more night and we did” Dale retorts as I finally get Anneliese slightly settled with her pacifier “I was waiting til this morning to say something, but Glenn wanted to be the one”
“That man is crazy Rick! If Herschel thinks those things are alive!” and just like that Shane is yelling again Rick is yelling over him trying to get him to stop and Anneliese is crying
“No!” Shane yells at Rick and before Rick can say or rather yell anything back our attention is pulled to the burn at the sudden sound of chains rattling and rather loud growls
It seems we’ve attracted the walker’s attention
Everyone save for Anneliese falls silent and I start pulling the kids away from the barn
“Come on get back to the RV” I instruct Carl and Jackson and give them a nudge up the slight hill to camp
“Let’s go Penny” I say pulling her along and away from the barn all the while trying to soothe Anneliese
I don’t bother looking back to see if any of the group is following. Do I feel safe being neighbors with a walker barn? No but will I be screaming my damn head off in front of it? Again no
I love this group and I feel safe with this group but sometimes they have no goddamn sense and it just seems to be getting worse every day.
I usher the kids into the RV but have them bypass the table and instead go to the bedroom area, I ask Carl, Jackson and Penny to just relax and look at their magazines or play a game or something while I calm Anneliese.
It doesn’t take Anneliese too long to calm down now that we’re in a calm environment and once she’s calm, I join the kids on the bed playing candy land.
Me nor the kids leave the bedroom for a while and I’m doing everything I can to distract them when a knock sounds from the other side of the door.
“Yeah?” I call breaking from my reading
“Hey” Lori says pushing the door open
“Hi” I greet back
“Lunch is ready” she says, and I nod but after a second of none of us moving I get off the bed
“C’mon you heard her, it’s time for lunch” I tell the kids and they move as one out of the bedroom and RV, but I hang back to secure a now sleeping Anneliese in the sling
“Thanks for watching him” Lori speaks up
“You’re welcome” I say moving to walk past her
“Hey, uhm if it’s okay I’d like to join y’all working on schoolwork after lunch” she says
“Okay” I say trying to figure out why she’s asking permission. Carl is her kid after all.
The lunch she and Carol prepared is bland and simple, but I’m not going to complain. Afterall they still haven’t decided on when they are going to do any runs or what those runs will be for.
After lunch the kids, Lori and I set up at a picnic table beneath a nearby tree and while Lori monitors Jackson and Carl in the workbooks, I work with Penny on letters.
“Mom?” Carl speaks up not too long after we get started
“Yeah?”
“Does Shane think Sophia is dead?” he asks making my head fly up to stare at Lori, she glances my way briefly before focusing her attention on Carl
“Shane’s just scared”
“Of the walkers in the barn?” apparently, we are playing 20 questions about Shane’s motives
“Yeah” Lori answers and I can tell she would rather not be answering at all.
“Mom, I’m not leaving until we find Sophia. And I don’t want to go even after that”
“Well, we’re not leaving, carl.” Well we will be if Shane doesn’t calm his shit
“You finish those problems” Lori tells him trying to redirect his attention
“I just think she; she’s gonna like it here. This place, it could be a home” Carl says, and I meet Lori’s eyes as she pulls Carl in for a hug
I’ve never met Sophia, but I can’t even imagine Jack or Penny being able to survive in the woods with walkers and no weapons or food. With extreme luck some good person found her, but the chances were slim.
“Now c’mon get back to work” Lori says once again redirecting his focus
A little while later I pass by Dale heading out of the RV with a huge black trash bag and no one on watch, while heading into the RV to change and feed Anneliese.
I’m resnapping the baby’s onesie when I hear Glenn calling for Dale, and I’m just about to see what’s wrong when he practically flies into the RV
“Have you seen Dale?” he asks
“He was walking off with a bag when I came up here” I tell him, and he nods kind of tilting his head
“Alright I’m gonna go back on watch” he says, and I just stare after him as he leaves.
Trying to shake off the bad feeling that I have I go about making Anneliese a bottle, deciding that Lori couldn’t possibly lose all 3 kids, I stay in the RV to feed Anneliese.
Anneliese is babbling up a storm as we leave the RV. And the first thing I notice is that Lori is not sitting with the kids, instead she’s sitting at the fire cutting up carrots. Penny is coloring and both Jack and Carl appear to be reading.
I’m just sitting down at the table when I notice Shane approaching Lori and crouching down in front of her. I’m not watching them with all my attention but I’m definitely keeping them in the corner of my eye.
It doesn’t take long for Shane to storm away from Lori, and Lori is left looking very shaken.
Shane is heading right past us and as he walks by Carl calls his name and stands up
“Can I talk to you for a sec?” Carl asks and Shane stops; glancing at me and then at carl before he grabs Carl’s arm and pulls him a little bit away but not far enough that I wouldn’t be able to hear what they were saying.
“You okay?” he asks Carl
“Yeah. I know you think Sophia’s dead and that we should stop looking for her. But that’s bullshit” my eyebrows shoot to my hairline in surprise at Carl’s language
“Hey man, watch your mouth” Shane admonishes but Carl just keeps on talking
“We’re gonna stay here until we find her”
“You think that’s what we should do?” Shane asks and he’s making me want to grab carl away from him with the way he’s shifting.
“It’s what I know we should do”
“Then we stay. That means we got to do whatever we go to do to make that happen.” Carl makes a confused noise and I almost echo him this Shane makes me nervous.
“Like helping out with chores” Shane says leaning down to look Carl in the eye
“Carl!” Lori calls and Shane quickly stands up and tells Carl to see what his mom wants. Shane stands still for a few minutes and then heads towards the RV. And after a moment I follow him to get a blanket for Anneliese.
Whatever I expected him to be doing in the RV was very different from what I found. Everything was a mess and he was throwing shit all about the bedroom.
“Shane! What the hell!” I exclaim
“Where’s the bag?!” he growls turning to face me
“What bag?” my own voice rising
“The gun bag, where is it?!”
“I don’t know!” I almost yell back and he throws whatever he was holding down in anger and goes to storm out of the RV except that there’s not enough room between the counter and me for him to get past so his shoulder collides roughly with mine, knocking me off balance and out of the way
“Jesus Christ Shane!” I exclaim and walk to the doorway to see him calling up to Glenn
“Which way did he go?”
“Who?” Glenn asks confused
“Don’t even try to shit me, okay?”
“What?” Glenn tries but Shane cuts him off
“Dale, Glenn. Did you see where Dale went?”
“Yeah, he asked me to run and get him some water. Said he’d cover me on watch”
“And he was gone when you got back, huh?”
“Yeah, you think he’s okay?” Glenn questions
“Oh, he’s fine” Shane growls
“Then why’d he bail?” poor innocent Glenn I think
“So, you wouldn’t tell me which way he went” Shane growls before storming off.
Sighing to myself I step out the RV door and peer up at Glenn
“What happened in there?” He calls down to me
“From what I gathered Shane was looking for the gun bag that Dale had” I tell him
“I heard yall yelling. You okay?” he asks
“Yeah he just knocked me off balance. I’m fine. All our stuffs a mess though.”
“I’m sorry” he says, and I shake my head at him
“You didn’t throw it everywhere” I tell him before going back inside the RV and attempting to straighten our stuff.
When I leave the RV Glenn is no longer on watch, in fact nobody is. It looks like everyone is gathered at the porch including the kids. Beth is braiding Penny’s hair by the looks of it while Patricia sits reading a book, and Carl and Jackson read their comics. Just as I join them and am about to ask on the missing people’s whereabouts T-Dog and Andrea approach and beat me to the punch.
“Do you know what’s going on?” T-Dog asks at the same time Andrea asks where everyone is
“You haven’t seen Rick?” Glenn questions standing
“He went off with Herschel. We were supposed to leave a couple hours ago” Andrea answers and while they’re standing in front of the porch, I step up onto it next to Beth and tuck the blanket more snuggly around Anneliese, where she’s relaxing in the carrier.
“Yeah you were. What the hell?” Daryl says approaching with Carol
“Rick told us he was going out”
“Damn it. Isn’t anybody taking this seriously” Daryl vents “We got us a damn trail” he says turning around to gesture at the woods but falling short
“Oh, here we go” he says walking towards where Shane is fast approaching with the bag of guns and I’m instantly concerned that Dale isn’t with him.
“What’s all this?” Daryl asks
“You with me, man?” Shane asks rather than answering
“Yeah” Daryl says taking the offered shot gun
“Time to grow up” Shane says to the rest of us before asking Andrea if she’s got her gun
“Yeah, where’s dale?” she asks
“He’s on his way” yeah that’s not suspicious Shane, not at all
“Thought we couldn’t carry” T-Dog asks taking a gun from Shane. I pull Penny off Beth’s lap and wrap my arm around her. There’s no telling what was about to happen
“We can and we have to. Look it was one thing sitting around here picking daisies when we thought this place was supposed to be safe. But now we know it aint” at this Carl stands up and moves as if to walk down the steps leaving me frantically trying to grasp his shoulder to pull him back to me, he may not be my kid but seeing as how I don’t see either of his parents I’m going to watch out for him
“How about you, man? You gonna protect yours?” Shane asks Glenn and after glancing at Maggie he takes the gun
“That’s it!” he says encouragingly before turning to Maggie “Can you shoot?”
“Can you stop?” she retorts “You do this, you hand out these guns, my dad will make you leave tonight.”
“We have to stay Shane” Carl demands, moving away from me and down the steps to stand in front of Shane
“What is this?” Lori asks coming from the side of the house and glancing at everyone there, but Shane just ignores her
“We ain’t going anywhere okay? Now look! Herschel, he’s just gotta understand. Okay? He’s well he’s gonna have to. Now we need to find Sophia am I right?” he asks crouching in front of Carl
“Huh? Now I want you to take this.” Shane says to Carl holding out a small pistol “You take it, Carl and you keep your mother safe. You do whatever it takes. You know how. Go on, take the gun and do it” But before Carl can take the gun from Shane Lori rushes down the steps and pushes Carl behind her
“Rick said no guns. This is not your call. This is not your decision to make” she growls at Shane
“Oh Shit.” T-dog exclaims and almost in sync we turn and look in the direction that he is.
What we see makes my stomach drop and me to grasp penny and Jackson closer to me.
Rick, Herschel and Jimmy are leading two walkers out of the woods on poles.
The group takes off towards them, I try to hold Jackson back with me, not wanting to get any more involved but he breaks away from me and catches up to carl rather quickly.
“Fuck” I mumble sweeping Penny up into my arms and jogging after the group.
By the time I join the group who stopped outside the barn, Shane is angerly circling Herschel, Rick and the walkers.
“I see who I’m holding onto” Herschel yells in reply to whatever Shane said
“No man you don’t.”
“Shane just let us do this than we can talk” Rick tries placating Shane, but it doesn’t seem to be working
“What you want to talk about Rick?” Shane yells as I place Penny on the ground and make her stand behind me while reaching out and pulling Jack to my side as we move more behind Lori
“There things aint sick. They’re not people. They’re dead. Ain’t gonna feel nothing for them cause all they do, they kill! These things right here, they’re the things that killed Amy!” he yells
I have no clue who Amy is or was, but it seems to have been someone close to Andrea
“They killed Otis! They’re gonna kill all of us!”
“Shane Shut Up!” Ricks yells
“Hey, Herschel man, let me ask you something could a living breathing person, could they walk away from this?” at the sight of Shane taking out his gun and cocking it I press Anneliese’s head to my chest, one hand covering one of her ears while the other is pressed against my chest and I do the same with Penny pressing her head into my hip, in anticipation of what was about to happen.
3 shots ring out and I feel both of my girls jerk and I know instantly that Anneliese is awake as she starts wailing but Shane doesn’t stop there
“That’s 3 rounds in the chest. Could someone who’s alive, could they just take that?! Why is it still coming?”
2 more shots echo, and I catch a faint glimpse of Herschel’s devasted face
“That’s its heart, its lungs. Why is still coming.”
2 more shots
“Shane enough!” ricks yells
“Yeah, you’re right, man. That is enough” Shane says walking up to the walker and shooting it in the head Herschel falls to his knees as the walker falls and I watch as Shane starts pacing towards the barn
“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. Enough! Rick it aint like it was before! Now if yall wanna live, if you want to survive, you got to fight for it! I’m talking about fighting right here, right now!” he yells before making a run for the barn
“Take the snare pole!” rick says trying to hand it off to Herschel, but he just stays on the ground unmoving, unseeing “Take it now Herschel!” I’ve never heard Rick sound so desperate and my heart breaks a little. But Anneliese is still wailing, and I can feel penny crying against me.
Shane starts hitting the chains on the barn with a pickaxe
“Shane no! do not do this, brother. Wait!” Rick tries to call to Shane, but I doubt Shane could hear him even if he did want to listen.
“Rick!” Lori yells and Rick echoes, it with his own please to Shane but Shane isn’t listening, instead he’s pulling the board off the barn and backing away.
Glancing around I see Maggie with her arms around her father, Carol standing off to the side and Lori trying to push Carl behind her. Making eye contact with Lori, she seems to make a split-second decision and pushes Carl towards me while withdrawing her own gun.
I fall to the ground gracelessly and make Jackson move so Penny is squished between us and then I gesture Carl in with my now free arm. Both boys cover their own ears and lean they’re head down and into my sides while I frantically cover both Anneliese and Penny’s ears.
The doors seem to open in slow motion, but once they’re open walkers are pouring out. Shane takes the first shot as Andrea and T-Dog run up to join him. Within seconds most of the group is shooting at the walkers and all I can do is hold all four kids as close to me as I can. I faintly hear Glenn ask Maggie for permission and see her nod the okay. But then my focus is pulled to Rick as he starts shouting for Herschel to take the pole, but before he can Shane turns and shoots the walker causing rick to drop the pole and stumble. Rick glances back at Lori and then at me and the kids
“Stay back!” Rick yells back at us
Within a minute maybe 2 the final shot rings out and then there’s an odd silence, filled with Anneliese’s cries and the sniffles of the kids.
Everyone starts to lower their guns and then there’s a small growl from inside the barn and everyone tenses raising their guns once again, and out steps a little girl.
“Sophia!” Carol sobs running towards the walker, but Daryl catches her just in time. Carols sobs are heart breaking and I press the kids closer to me as Lori stumbles back mumbling no over and over again.
No one moves at first, and then rick steps up
A single shot rings through the air.
Carol’s cries are heart breaking as she breaks away from Daryl and runs back towards camp. Lori starts to move towards me and the kids just as Beth runs towards the walkers laying on the ground her sobs filling the air.
Rick tries to stop her, but she just rushes past him and rolls over a walker with what was probably gorgeous chestnut colored hair.
“Ma” Beth whispers just before the walker growls and grabs Beth’s hair as she starts screaming. Almost everyone runs to pull her away from the walker, even Herschel. My eyes widen with Andrea picks up a scythe and stabs it through the walker’s skull.
Herschel and Patricia start ushering Beth up towards the house and Lori comes and helps the kids and me up off the ground. Before we start moving too, but it doesn’t seem like Shane is done yet
“We’ve been out. We’ve been combing these woods looking for her and she was in there all along” he says jogging after Herschel and after a look our way rick follows Shane
“You knew” Shane yells at the family who has just watched their loved ones, neighbors die a second time
“Leave us alone”
“You knew and you kept it from us” that’s the last of the conversation I can hear as they’re out of earshot.
“C’mon let’s get them into the RV” Lori says, and I nod picking up Penny and following Lori and carl to the RV
My attention is pulled to the group at the base of the Green’s stairs when a slap echoes through the air followed by Maggie yelling “Don’t touch him!” shaking my head in disbelief I move further into the RV and secure the door behind me.
Lori and Carl sit at the table while me, jack, penny and Annelise sit in the bedroom.
It takes me almost half an hour to get Anneliese settled and, in that time, Carl and Jackson went with Lori up to the house and Penny fell asleep.
At the sound of the RV door opening I move out of the bedroom and pull the door closed behind me
“Hey” I greet upon seeing Daryl leaning against the counter and he just grunts in response
“You okay?” I ask after a second
“I’m fine” he replies gruffly, and I just raise my eyebrows
“How’re the kids?” he asks biting his thumb nail.
“They’re okay, Penny fell asleep and Carl and Jack are up at the house. This one is still calming down a little.” I tell him glancing down at the baby whose letting out an occasional hiccup
My eyes fly up when Daryl moves towards us and he stops so close that my arm – that’s cradling Anneliese – is brushing against his stomach.
“You’ll be okay darlin’” he says to her softly while running a hand down her face and unsurprisingly it helps soothe her even more.
Raising my eyes Daryl and I hold eye contact and I barely breathe. I don’t know what I wanted or expected to happen, but our gaze is broken at the sound of 2 voices screaming mom outside.
Pushing past Daryl, I rush out of the RV and stop at the bottom of the steps as Jackson slides to a stop.
“What’s wrong?” I ask gabbing his shoulder,
“Beth passed out” he breathes out and my eyes widen
“Where’s Herschel?”
“I don’t know, I came to get you and Carl went to get his mom”
I glance frantically behind me at Daryl who is staring right back at me.
“Go up to the house I’ll stay here with Penny” he tells me, and I nod my thanks before following Jackson back to the house
“Go back to wherever you were with Carl” I tell him, and he does as I move up the stairs towards where I can hear people talking.
“What happened?” I ask when I come across the room
“She just passed out and it’s like she’s awake but she’s not?” Glenn tells me sounding very confused himself
“She’s probably in shock” Lori’s voice comes from behind me and I nod in agreement.
“Where’s Herschel?” Lori asks
“We can’t find him” Glenn answers and I just look at him, where could Herschel have gone?
I don’t hang around much longer as there isn’t anything, I can do so I head back to the RV and relieve Daryl and my gaze lingers a little longer than it probably should while he’s leaving.
I’m just settling Anneliese to eat when the RV door opens again
“Hey Gen” Rick greets
“Hi Rick. What’s up?” I ask
“I’m heading into town with Glenn to look for Herschel.”
“Okay. Please be safe” I tell him
“I will, look Gen can you just keep an eye on Carl for me please” he asks
“Yeah of course”
“I just I don’t know things feel weird now”
“I agree Rick. I’ll watch him” I tell him, and he nods
“Be safe okay? We need you back here” I instruct, and he laughs
“Yeah I’ll be safe. See you soon” he says before leaving the RV
I make the decision that it would be easier to watch the kids up at the house, so I wake Penny and gather the necessities, including a few board games and we head up to the house.
I have all the kids gather in the living room and then I check in with Maggie and Beth.
“Is she any better?” I ask and Maggie shakes her head
Since she doesn’t seem to want company, I go back to the living room and oversee the intense game of candy land.