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Contagion Chapter One

Zac ran a hand through his hair as he stood outside of the cars on the side of some road somewhere. It had been two days now since they had left the CDC and they had decided to go to Fort Benning. Try out Shane's idea. He wasn't sure he liked it but it was what Kate wanted and he seemed to do everything Kate wanted.

Putting some of their stuff in the back of Carol's Cherokee he sighed. They were leaving behind two of the cars. The church van and Daryl's truck. Jessica had opted to ride with Carol,Sophia, Lori, Carl and Rick in the Cherokee while Mac would be riding with him, Kate, Taylor, Dale, Andrea, Shane and T-Dog in the RV.

Avery somehow had gotten on the back of Daryl's motorcycle. A move that shocked him mainly because he knew how Daryl was. He just hoped to God he didn't have another sister who was falling for a Dixon again. That was the last thing he needed.

"Zac?" Kate asked as she looked at her husband who seemed to be zoned out. "Are you alright?"

Turning to look at Kate, Zac gave her a nod, "Yeah, I'm fine," he said his tone going harsh. He had been distant with her ever since she risked her and their baby's life at the CDC. He didn't understand why she even wanted to stay behind and convince Taylor not to opt out as Jenner had put it. If Taylor had wanted that then Kate should have let him do it. She shouldn't have been stupid and risked her life.

Kate rolled her eyes when Zac replied to her harshly, "You still pissed over the whole CDC thing?" she asked as she kept her voice low so the others who were putting stuff away wouldn't hear her.

"What do you think?" Zac asked as he crossed his arms. "I can't believe you did something so dumb."

"It wasn't dumb," Kate told him as she shook her head. "I saved Taylor's life and you still have one more family member here," she sighed as she chewed on her lip. She wasn't going to apologize for what she had done. She had no reason too.

Zac laughed as he uncrossed his arms, "He wanted to die and you should have let him," he snapped at her before walking onto the RV. Everyone was almost done and they'd be leaving soon. Not to mention he didn't want to have this conversation anymore.

As Zac walked away Kate took a deep breath and turned around to pack the last remaining things away but when she did she froze as she came face to face with Taylor. From the look on his face he had heard everything. When he didn't say anything to her she frowned just watching as he shook his head and walked past her going onto the RV as well.

Jessica sat in the back of the Cherokee with Carol and both of the kids. As Rick drove she looked out the window as her mind wandered. She knew it was wrong to be pessimistic but she was. She couldn't help but think that Fort Benning was just a pipe dream like the CDC had been. She couldn't help but think there was nowhere for them to go.

"Was just thinkin about our trip to the Grand Canyon with Carl," Lori spoke as she looked at Rick breaking the silence in the car.

Rick laughed as he looked at Lori briefly when she mentioned that trip.

"I don't remember that," Carl spoke from the backseat. When did they ever go to the Grand Canyon?

Lori shook her head, "No you wouldn't you were just a baby. Besides we never made it past Fort Worth," she said as she looked at Rick.

"You got sick," Rick told Carl as he remembered every detail like it was yesterday. "I never knew a baby could throw up so much."

Carl made a face at the last comment, "Ick," he muttered under his breath.

"Yeah ick," Lori laughed as she remembered that. "But the doctor in Texas said you'd live and we turned around and drove home."

"Well that sucks," Carl said honestly.

Lori shook her head no, "No it was a good trip."

"The best," Rick agreed as he smiled. It had been the best trip even with a sick Carl and not making it to the Grand Canyon.

"Can we go see it?" Carl asked getting excited at that prospect. "The Grand Canyon. I'd like too."

Sophia nodded, "I would too. Can we go?" she asked referring to her mother and herself.

"We'd never go without you and your mom," Rick told the girl as he turned to look back at Sophia. "That's a promise."

Looking over as Sophia smiled and rested her head on Carol's shoulder Jessica just shook her head. She knew a promise in this world didn't mean anything anymore. That had been proven when Zac had let Merle be handcuffed to the roof in Atlanta. Though she was no longer upset about it, it had made her less naive to how things worked. It had made her see the bigger picture.

Taylor ran a hand through his hair as he sat in the floor of the RV. All he could do was keep replaying Zac's words in his mind. Kate should have let him die. She should have just left well enough alone at the CDC. It wasn't like he still really wanted to be here but he'd appease her.

Feeling a body next to him he turned to see Kate, "I kind of wanted to be left alone," he told her as he looked into her eyes. She looked tired and almost run down.

"I figured as much but I just wanted to apologize for what Zac said earlier," Kate shrugged as she scrunched up her nose. "He didn't mean it. He's just angry at me."

Taylor shook his head because he knew Zac did mean it. Zac didn't care if he was dead. Zac would have been fine with it because it was his choice. "He meant it," he told Kate as he gave her a sad smile. "He meant it and I don't blame him for even saying it."

Before Kate could say anything else to him Taylor heard Dale mutter oh geeze and he stood up some looking out the window to see a traffic packed highway full of deserted cars.

"Oh no," Glenn muttered to himself as he looked in front of him as Dale's RV slowed down slightly. Looking down at the map in his hand's he heard Daryl's motorcycle as it came back towards the RV. Hopefully he had found a way through the mess for them since he had been leading their caravan.

Dale looked out the window of his RV as Daryl rode up to him with Avery on the back of the motorcycle. "See a way through?" he asked getting a nod from the man before he took off to circle around the RV and the Cherokee.

"Maybe we should just go back," Glenn spoke as Daryl came back around to the front of the caravan. "There is an interstate bypass."

"We can't spare the fuel," Dale said shooting down Glenn's idea. Driving ahead he stayed close to Daryl.

Taylor chewed on his lip as he had moved to the front standing beside Shane as they both looked out the window. He hated to say but it was creepy driving through this mess of deserted cars. Some toppled over. Others moved sideways. Obviously either people had died here or escaped but it was still like driving through a graveyard of sorts.

Making a face as the RV started sputtering and smoke came out of the front of it Taylor sighed and ran a hand down his face. This was just fucking great. Shaking his head he opened the RV door when it came to a stop and he got out. They were now stuck in the middle of a traffic jammed highway.

"I said it. Didn't I say it?" Dale asked after he had walked off of the RV heading to the front. "A thousand times dead in the water."

Shane who walked behind Dale sighed, "Problem Dale?" he asked sarcastically at the man's words.

"Oh just the small matter of being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no hope of.." Dale started put stopped as he turned to see the group and Daryl coming up the rest of them though instead of coming to them the man went to a station wagon whose back window was open and he began to rummage through it. "Okay that was dumb," he muttered feeling a little stupid at his earlier words.

"Can't find a radiator hose here?" Shane asked the older man.

Daryl who continued to rummage through the station wagon spoke up, "There's a whole bunch of stuff we can find."

"Siphon more fuel from these cars for a start," Mac suggested as he walked past Dale and Shane.

"Maybe some water," Carol added in softly which was followed by Glenn saying food.

Kate shook her head at these people talking about stealing things, "This is a graveyard," she said honestly having seen dead bodies in some of these cars. When everyone turned to give her looks she sighed. "I don't know how I feel about this."

"Come on ya'll," Shane said wanting to get everyone looking for stuff they needed. Even if Kate didn't feel right that didn't mean they still weren't going to take things. "Just look around. Gather what you can."

Avery sighed as she looked through the cars making a face at some of the dead bodies. Opening up the door to one of the cars to get some things she reached in and took out a suitcase. Laying the suitcase down on the ground she opened it and reached out pulling out clothes. Seeing that most of them were maternity clothes she kept them, throwing each of them over her arms. She knew soon that Kate would need maternity clothes and she knew they had none. These would do her when the time came.

"You plan on having a baby anytime soon?" Daryl asked his tone harsh as he read one of the tags on the top shirt slung over Avery's arms. "I mean I'm sure Shane would love to have a baby by you."

Rolling her eyes Avery shook her head, "They are for Kate," she told him as she finished going through the suitcase. "And I thought you didn't care who I fucked?" she asked still feeling stung by his harsh tone. She knew she had been riding in his truck then on his motorcycle but she should have figured he was still pissed over seeing her with Shane though she didn't understand why. It's not like he liked her even if she was falling for him.

"I don't," Daryl replied as he shifted uncomfortably away from her. "Just don't think you havin his baby is a smart move."

Avery laughed at that, "I don't think having a baby period is a smart move," she shrugged before walking away from Daryl. As she did she couldn't help but want to vomit at the thought of being pregnant much less with Shane's baby...but it wasn't like they had used protection either time. Hopefully fate would be on her side. One pregnant woman in this group was enough.

Seeing Avery walking towards where she stood Jessica raised an eyebrow, "What was with the tension between you and Daryl?" she asked as she finished going through the stuff in the car she had been raiding. So far she had found a bottle of pink vitamin water and that was it but it was something.

"Just Daryl being Daryl," Avery told Jessica as she came to a stop beside her sister. "He's a prick who is lashing out at me for being with Shane."

Jessica shook her head at those words. Her sister had been with Shane again. A thought that made her stomach churn worse than knowing she had been with Merle even if she thought she had maybe cared for him at the time. Before she could open her mouth to scold her sister though she turned her head when she heard Rick telling Lori and Carol to get under the cars.

Feeling her panic raising she grabbed Avery and pulled her down under a van not to far from where they stood. As they got under it she could spot Carol and Lori from where she lay and also Carl and Sophia. Turning her head to look down she was relieved to see that Mac and Zac were under a car not far from them. Hopefully Taylor and Kate were safe as well.

After being pushed under the car by Jessica, Avery looked up as she held onto the clothes on her arm with a death grip. Coming down the highway was a herd of walkers. Swallowing hard she laid her head down on the pavement and counted in her head. Counting would keep her mind off the fact that they were just mere inches from death. If any one them made a move or a sound they would be dead.

Hearing the moans louder now as the herd reached where she was hidden with Jessica under the car Avery continued to count though even that didn't help. Instead her mind conjured up an image of Daryl. An image of Daryl holding a baby. It was a funny thought but one Avery found she wasn't opposed too, especially when she thought of the baby being their baby even if it was just a fucking image. They'd never have a baby mainly because Daryl would never be with her. He just wasn't like that.

When the moans and the shuffling of feet died down Avery finally looked up shaking the thought of babies with Daryl out of her mind and she felt the panic inside of her die down some. It seemed the herd had went away and everyone was safe. They had made it out of that close call alive. Thought it was the moment she thought that, that she heard Sophia scream and she turned to look under the car where the girl was hiding.

A walker had startled her and her scream had gotten it's attention because it was now bent down and trying to grab at her. Watching in horror as the walker kept going after her and the frightened child kept going back farther and farther away she felt her heart race. She really didn't want to see another child die again.

Turning to look at her sister who was beside of her as Sophia moved out from under the car and headed off into the woods she sighed. The initial walker who had heard Sophia's screams was following her but so was another walker. The poor scared child was being chased by two walkers into the woods.

Jessica just looked at Avery feeling shocked at the scene they had witnessed. Moving out from under the car she stood up and ran behind everyone else. She could hear her heartbreaking when Carol said what everyone knew. That there were two walkers after her baby.

"At least Rick went after her," Avery whispered to Jessica feeling like Sophia was in good hands with Rick going after the girl and the walkers.

Kate paced the highway back and forth. It had felt like hours now since Sophia and Rick had went into the woods though she doubted it was really that long. The thought of Sophia out there in the woods though made Kate feel for Carol, especially more so now that she was pregnant and it seemed was gonna carry this baby to term.

Turning to look at Zac who was leaning against a car she caught him looking at her giving her a pained expression but when he noticed her looking at him he looked away. Frowning she chewed on her lip. He was already opposed to her being pregnant and this just had to make it worse. Another reminder that the world wasn't safe for kids but Kate knew once Sophia and Rick returned that would help things and maybe show Zac the world wasn't all bad, even if it still didn't get him to forgive her yet for her actions at the CDC.

Hearing Rick call out for Lori, Kate turned her head in the direction of his voice.

Hearing Rick call her name Lori moved from the car she had been sitting on, "We're here," she called back moving towards the guard rail at the side of the highway. Seeing Rick returning she felt relief though that didn't last long when she saw he had no Sophia with him.

Coming over the guard rail after running back through the woods Rick stopped to catch his breath and he looked around at the group in front of him. "Where's Sophia?" he asked seeing the looks of confusion he was getting and Carol breaking into tears. "She's not back?"

At Rick's words Carol felt more tears on her cheeks and she fell to the ground where she was comforted by Lori, Kate and Andrea who had bent down beside her.

Kate closed her eyes as she bent down beside Carol. So much for hoping that Sophia coming back with Rick would change Zac's mind. Sophia was missing and she figured this would just make Zac worse. This was going to make everyone worse, Kate could just feel it in her bones as she surveyed the faces of the people around her. A child was missing out in the woods. Woods that were sure to have more walkers.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Two

Taylor crossed his arms as he stood in the woods. He had agreed to come out here with Glenn, Shane, Daryl and Rick to find Sophia. His reasons for coming out here were simple. He had wanted to find her for Carol. He knew what it was like to lose a child and he didn't want another parent to suffer the same fate as him. He didn't want someone else to experience child loss like he had.

"Are you sure this is the place?" Daryl asked as he stood in the shallow end of the water in the creek where Rick had supposedly left Sophia while he had went to kill the walkers.

"I left her right here," Rick spoke sounding sure as he turned away from Daryl. "I drew the walkers away off in that direction up the creek," he said as he pointed ahead in the opposite direction.

Daryl sighed, "Without a paddle. It seems that's where we've landed," he replied as he turned to walk away from Rick.

"She was gone by the time I got back here," Rick spoke as he walked with Daryl. "I figured she just took off and ran back to the group," he shrugged before pointing beside a tree where Glenn was standing. "I told her go that way and keep the sun on her left shoulder."

Walking closer to where Glenn was Daryl called out to him, "Hey short round want you step off to one side you're muckin up the trail."

"Assuming she knows her left from her right," Taylor spoke up as he turned to look where Glenn was standing.

"Taylor she understood me fine," Rick said his voice again sounding certain.

Taylor shrugged at Rick's words, "Kids tired and scared man. She had her a close call with two walkers. Got to wonder how much of what you said stuck."

"We got clear prints right here," Daryl spoke up after he had walked closer to where Sophia should have exited the creek. He could see clear prints on the grass. "She did like you said. Headed back to the highway," he said as he climbed out of the creek. "Spread out."

Shane who had bent down to help Rick up out of the creek smiled as he felt hopeful, "We are gonna find her. She's probably tuckered out hiding in the bush somewhere," he spoke as they walked off and away from the creek.

Not saying anything else for the time being Taylor just followed behind Daryl and Glenn as Daryl continued to track Sophia's track. He hoped to god what Shane had told Rick about finding her somewhere in the bushes was true just so they could bring some good news to Carol who had looked so upset over this whole situation.

Daryl who had been looking at the tracks eventually came to a stop and bent down, "She was doing just fine til right here. All she had to do was keep going," he said seeing that her tracks veered off in another direction than the highway. "She veered off that way," he said pointing to the side instead of straight.

"Why would she do that?" Glenn voiced from where he stood behind Daryl.

Shane who was bent down beside Daryl shrugged, "Maybe she saw somethin. Spooked her, made her run off."

"Walker," Glenn suggested the first thing that popped into his head.

Daryl who was still examining the tracks made a face, "I don't see any other foot prints, just hers.

"So what do we do?" Shane asked as he turned to look to Rick. "All of us press on?"

Rick shook his head, "No. Better if you, Taylor and Glenn get back up to the highway. People are gonna start panicking. Let them know we are on her trail doin everything we can but most of all keep everybody calm."

Shane nodded as he stood up, "I can keep them bus scavenging cars. Think up a few other chores. I can keep em occupied," he said before turning to walk away.

Following behind Shane, Taylor huffed wishing that they could all be going back to the highway together with Sophia but that seemed less and less likely.

Kate chewed on her lip as she stood beside Carol who was standing vigil at the guardrail. Shane,Glenn and Taylor had came back sans Sophia or Daryl and Rick. They had been told that Rick and Daryl were on her trail and that they were doing everything they could.

Seeing Carol walk off and over to Dale after Shane finished moving one of the cars off the highway to clear it Kate sighed as she followed behind the woman.

"Why aren't we all out there lookin?" Carol asked as she crossed her arms and looked at Dale who had been busy working on the RV. "Why are we moving cars?"

Turning to look at Carol, Dale locked eyes with her, "Well we have to clear enough room so I can get the RV turned around as soon as it's running," he nodded as he explained things to her. "Now that we have fuel we can double back to a bypass that Glenn flagged on the map."

"Going back is gonna be easier than tryin to get through this mess," Shane said as he came to where Carol and Dale where talking.

Turning to look at Shane, Carol made a face, "But we're not going anywhere til my daughter gets back."

"Hey that goes without saying," Kate nodded as she touched Carol's back.

"Rick and Daryl are on it okay," Shane told Carol as he moved a bit closer to her. "Just a matter of time," he smiled as he reached out to touch her arm briefly.

Andrea who had came back from scavenging supplies spoke up, "Can't be soon enough for me," she said as she threw a bottle of water to Glenn. "I'm still freaked out from that herd that passed us by. Or whatever you'd call it."

"Yeah what was that?" Glenn asked as he opened his bottle of water. "All of them just marching along like that."

Shane who had looked down at the road looked back up, "Herd. That sounds about right. We've seen it the night camp got attacked just wider in pack and only fewer," he said before sighing as he shook his head. "Come on people we've still got a lot to do," he said as he turned to see that Carol had returned back to her guardrail vigil. "Let's stay on it."

Zac ran a hand through his hair as he looked over at Kate who was again by Carol's side. This whole situation with Sophia missing just reminded him again that the world wasn't safe for kids. It wasn't safe and yet he was still pissed that Kate had risked her life and that of the child inside of her to save Taylor.

"Zac?" Mac asked as he waved his hand in front of his brother's face. "You home inside there?" he laughed.

Coming out of his thoughts Zac looked at Mac before shaking his head and going back to looking through the truck they were standing beside for supplies. "I was just thinking," he confessed as he felt his cheeks grow hot as he blushed.

"About Kate?" Mac asked taking a guess only because Zac had been staring at Kate for so long.

Zac nodded his head, "Maybe," he admitted as he shrugged. "I'm pissed she did what she did at the CDC and risked her life as well as the baby inside of her but this situation with Sophia missing just reminds me that this world isn't for kids. Not anymore."

Raising his eyebrow at Zac's words Mac made a face, "When did your views on kids change? Back at the camp you seemed all happy for the impending arrival of your child."

"It changed the night camp got overrun. That's when I woke up and realized how wrong I was," Zac answered him as he pulled out a bottle of aspirin from the glove box and handed it to his brother.

Mac sighed guessing he could understand that, "Well I think you are stupid being pissed at Kate for what she chose to do. Yes she risked her life and your kids life but the world just like it supposedly isn't made for kids also isn't made for holding grudges. Who knows what tomorrow will hold."

At Mac's last words Zac paused because he knew his brother was right but for now he kept on wanting to be stubborn. He wanted to be mad at Kate just a bit longer.

Looking at Kate who stood beside her Carol made a face, "It's late," she said knowing it would be dark soon. "It'll be dark soon."

Kate reached out to touch Carol again comforting the woman, "They'll find her," she reassured her.

Carol just nodded her head as she forced a smile hoping that the woman was right. She just wanted her daughter found and back in her arms.

After Carol nodded Kate turned and headed back to the RV getting there right as Andrea did.

"Where is my gun?" Andrea asked harshly as she looked at Dale. She figured the older man had hid it from her in fear that she'd use it to kill herself. "You have no right to take it."

Dale turned to look at Andrea, "You don't need that just now do you?"

"My father gave it to me," Andrea told him hoping that would make him give it back. "It's mine."

"I can hold on to it for you," Dale spoke as he turned away from Andrea.

Andrea shook her head not believing that Dale was doing this, "Or you can give it back to me."

"Everything cool?" Shane asked as he walked over to the RV his hands going into the pockets of his pants.

"No, I want my gun back," Andrea answered as she crossed her arms and turned to look at Shane.

Dale turned to look at Shane, "I don't think it's a good idea right now."

"Why not?" Shane asked after Dale turned to look at him.

At that question Kate just rolled her eyes and headed onto the RV having to use the bathroom and also because she wanted to avoid whatever happened next. When she got out of the bathroom and left the RV again Kate saw Daryl and Rick coming back and she ran over to the guardrail with everyone else.

Carol who saw Rick and Daryl come back shook her head as she frowned, "You didn't find her," she said seeing no Sophia with them.

"Her trail went cold. We'll pick it up first light," Rick said to Carol as he climbed over the guardrail.

Carol crossed her arms as she felt her heartbreaking, "You can't leave my daughter out there on her own to spend the night alone in the woods."

"Hunting in the dark's no good," Daryl told the woman as he held onto his crossbow which was slung over his shoulder. "We'd just be tripping over ourselves. More people would get lost."

"She's twelve she can't be out there on her own," Carol spoke her voice cracking as she did. "You didn't find anything?" she asked as she looked at Rick snapping at the end.

Rick looked at the woman and he truly felt sorry for her, "I know this is hard but I am asking you not to panic. We know she was out there"

"We tracked her for awhile," Daryl added in.

"We have to make this an organized effort," Rick spoke as he looked at the group. "Daryl knows the woods better than anybody. I've asked him to oversee this."

Carol who was looking down as Rick spoke raised an eyebrow as she saw what looked like blood on Daryl, " that blood?"

"We took down a walker," Rick told an even more hysteric Carol.

Carol just shook her head as she felt her worry increase, "Walker..oh god."

"There was no sign it was ever anywhere near Sophia," Rick assured Carol as he moved closer to her and bent to her level.

"How can you know that?" Jessica asked as she looked over towards Rick.

After that question Daryl saw Rick look to him, "We cut the son of a bitch open. Made sure," he nodded.

Sitting on the guardrail Carol took deep breaths trying to calm herself down. "How could you just leave her out there to begin with?" she asked Rick harshly as she glared up at him. "How could you just leave her?!"

"Those two walkers were on us," Rick explained trying to defend himself. "I had to draw them off. It was her best chance."

"Sounds like he didn't have a choice Carol," Shane spoke defending his friend and siding with him for once.

Carol just looked at Rick not buying it, "How was she supposed to find her way back on her own? She's just a child," she spoke as she cried more. "She's just a child."

"It was my only option," Rick told her as he bent down so he could look at her better. "The only choice I could make."

Shane leaned against the guardrail, "I'm sure nobody doubts that," he told Rick.

"My little girl got left in the woods," Carol frowned as she watched Rick walk away after that along with most of the people except for Kate and Lori who now sat on either side of her on the guardrail.

Avery stood against the RV the next morning listening as Rick told the group that everyone would take a weapon. Well everyone who was going. She figured T-Dog wouldn't go as he had hurt his arm yesterday while trying to hide from the herd and she had heard Zac earlier telling Kate she was sticking behind too. Dale of course would stay so he could work on the RV more.

"These aren't the kind of weapons we need," Andrea said annoyed as she looked at the hatchets that were laid across the hood of the car. "What about the guns?"

"We've been over that," Shane told Andrea referring to their talk yesterday. He had told her that Dale should keep them and only people experienced enough with them should have them. "Daryl, Rick and I are carrying. Can't have people poppin off rounds every time a tree rustles."

Avery shrugged from where she stood beside Shane. A part of her could understand that but of course she didn't voice it. Instead she walked up to grab one of the hatchets doing her best to avoid brushing against Daryl as she did so.

"It's not the trees I'm worried about," Andrea spoke as she looked over at Shane.

Shane sighed as Andrea kept pressing on, "Say somebody fires at the wrong moment. Herd happens to be passing by. See then it's game over for all of us. So you need to get over it," he told her bluntly as he put his back pack across his shoulders.

"The idea is to take the creek up about five miles. Turn around and come back down the other side," Daryl told everyone. "Chances are she'll be by the creek. It's her only landmark," he said as he walked away.

Rick watched Daryl start to walk away and he sighed, "Stay quiet and stay sharp. Keep some space between you but always stay in sight of each other," he said before walking away.

When Shane told everyone to assemble their packs Avery reached for hers making sure she had everything in it to be ready for when they officially took off. As she did she could hear Carl trying to convince his parents to let him come along with the group. He was making a pretty appealing argument by saying they needed more people to cover as much ground as possible. In the end she wasn't surprised when he got to come along.

Once she finished making sure her pack was good Avery looked up watching uncomfortably as Dale and Andrea fought over him taking her gun. It was obvious Andrea was pissed that Dale had forced her hand at the CDC by staying behind and getting her to choose him and it was obvious that Dale was still concerned that she'd find a way to kill herself.

It was after Andrea walked away from Dale that Avery followed behind the rest of the group as they walked off on their trek to hopefully find Sophia.

Walking through the woods for god knows how long Avery stayed close behind Rick. She knew it was crazy but Rick was right behind Daryl and just being close to Daryl made her feel a little better about going through these woods because at the moment even with most of their group she still felt exposed and like something could get her at any moment.

When they got to a part of the woods that had a tent Avery slowed down to a stop when Rick motioned for the group to stop.

"She could be in there," Shane said as he stood behind Rick and Avery.

Daryl stood from where he had been bent down and he took a few more steps closer to the tent, "There could be a whole bunch of things in there."

After Daryl spoke Rick stood up too and started following behind him, putting his hand up to stop the others from following. Well everyone except for Shane.

The moment Rick called out softly for Carol to come where he and Shane where standing near the tent Avery followed behind hearing the rest of the group coming along too. Stopping in her tracks beside Shane she watched Rick telling the woman if Sophia was in there her voice should be the one Sophia heard first.

Staying silent as Carol called out for Sophia, Avery felt her breathing slow down as her nerves got the best of her. When there was no response Avery chewed on her lip as both Shane and Rick walked to the opening of the tent where Daryl was poised to go in. She could tell though the moment that the flap had been open and the faces all of the men standing around had made that Sophia wasn't in that tent.

Watching as Daryl went inside though Avery looked down and just waited for him to come out and confirm the news.

"Daryl?" Carol called out questioningly getting scared when Rick and Shane kept coughing and covering their noses.

Coming out of the tent after pocketing a gun off the dead corpse in the tent Daryl looked at everyone, "It ain't her."

"What's in there?" Andrea asked as she stepped a bit closer to Lori and Carol.

"Some guy. Did what Jenner said. Opted out," Daryl said as he slung his crossbow back over his shoulder. "Ain't that what he called it?"

Hearing bells sounding from somewhere after Daryl spoke Avery looked around confused though she knew they could be from Sophia. Seeing Rick pointing in the direction they were coming from she took off running along with everyone else.

Kate crossed her arms as she looked up at Dale who was standing on the roof of the RV, "Aren't you supposed to be fixing that radiator? What if they come back with Sophia and Rick wants to move on right away?"

"I had it fixed yesterday," Dale answered as he looked down at Kate.

Looking up at him shocked Kate uncrossed her arms, "What?" when Dale nodded she shook her head, "What was all that running sand for then. Was that just bullshit?"

"Yeah that's one word. Another word would be pantomime," Dale smiled as he looked down at Kate. "Just for show. No one else needs to know that."

"Pantomime," Kate muttered to herself sarcastically.

Dale looked away from the woman, "If the others know we're mobile they'll wanna mobilize, move on."

"So you don't think they are going to find Sophia?" Kate asked him as she raised an eyebrow. Just asking that made her feel sick. "That it?"

Dale shrugged, "Just guarding against the worst. Sooner or later if she's not found people will start doing math. I wanna hold off the needs of the many versus the needs of the few arguments as long as I can."

"That is one tricky hose huh?" Kate asked as she laughed softly.

Nodding Dale laughed as well, "Very."

Jessica walked through the woods with everyone else as they still followed the sounds of the bell. When they reached a clearing she raised an eyebrow as they came upon a white church.

"That can't be it," Shane spoke as he eyed the church. "Got no steeple. No bells," though even after he said that he watched Rick head off towards it anyway.

Running through the graveyard that lead to the church Jessica sighed. She hoped that this was the church with the bells. She hoped that this was the place where they would find Sophia. Making it to the entrance she followed Shane,Rick,Daryl and Glenn up the stairs.

The moment the doors where opened though it soon became apparent that Sophia wasn't here though there were three walkers on the pews. Walkers who had turned to face them at the sound of the doors opening. Staying at the doors Jessica made a face as she watched Daryl, Rick, and Shane kill the walkers.

Moving inside some once the walkers were killed Jessica looked over at Shane and Rick once they came towards the back again. Again Shane had stated this was the wrong church because it had no steeple. It wasn't long after those words though that the sound of bells started up and Jessica jumped slightly.

Turning around she ran outside and towards the side of the church. Seeing Glenn run over to a box on the side she came to a stop as he opened it and flipped a switch.

"Timer," Daryl said out of breath as he pointed up to the speaker. "It's on a timer."

Carol felt any hope she had left of finding Sophia here at this church shatter, "I am gonna go back in for a bit," she told the others.

Jessica took a breath and followed her inside staying close to Glenn. Once they were inside she sat down beside of him on a pew. "Why did you really come to my room at the CDC?" she asked him as she chewed on her lip. She could faintly remember him coming by and she could faintly remember his excuse.

Being taken aback by Jessica's question Glenn blushed, "I told you the reasons that night," he shrugged as he avoided her gaze. He couldn't reveal to her the real reasons. It wasn't like she'd ever like him back. She was probably still hung up on Merle.

"And I don't believe them," Jessica said honestly as she moved some hair out of her eyes. "You know you can tell me anything Glenn. You are my friend."

Glenn forced a smile when Jessica said she was his friend. That's all he'd ever be and that was why he couldn't tell her, "And I did tell you," he said again sticking by his lie as he stood from the pew and headed outside.

Going outside after Glenn, Jessica shook her head. She wasn't sure what Glenn was hiding from her but she did feel like he was hiding something.

When everyone had came out of the church Jessica walked to a tree in the graveyard staying close to everyone else in the group as Rick and Shane stood off to the side talking amongst themselves. Seeing Shane walk back over she crossed her arms.

"Ya'll gotta follow the creek bed back," Shane spoke as he walked towards the group that was under the tree. "Daryl you are in charge. Me and Rick we are just gonna hang back. Search this area another hour or so just to be thorough."

Daryl raised an eyebrow as he looked at Shane, "You sure?"

"Yeah," Shane said as he took a deep breath. "We'll catch up to you."

Jessica crossed her arms as her attention turned to Carl as he said he wanted to stay as well. Just like at the highway he had a good argument. He was Sophia's friend and again he got to stay with Lori telling him to be careful.

Turning and following Daryl as he lead the way back to the highway Jessica found herself staying close to Glenn. He was her friend. The only friend she had left besides her family anyway.

Zac who walked through the woods with everyone else as they made their way back to the highway turned to look at Carol as she spoke.

"So this is it?" Carol asked as she continued to walk before sitting on a log. "This is the whole plan?

Daryl leaned against a tree, "I guess the plan is to widdle us down into smaller and smaller groups."

"Carrying knives and pointy sticks," Andrea replied sarcastically before turning her gaze to Lori who Daryl had handed a gun to before they left the church. "I see you have a gun."

Lori who had laid her backpack down to look through turned to look at Andrea, "Why? You want it?" she asked before moving to stand beside the woman. "Here, take it," she said as she held the gun out to Andrea. "I'm sick of the looks you're giving me."

When Andrea took the gun and gave her a flabbergasted look Lori sat down on the log. "All of you," she stated before turning to look at Carol. "Honey I can't imagine what you are going through and I would do anything to stop it but you have got to stop blaming Rick. It is in your face every time you look at him. When Sophia ran he didn't hesitate did he? Not for a second," she said as she looked up at the others. "I don't know that any of us would have gone after her the way he did or made the hard decisions that he had to make or that anybody could have done it any differently," she spoke just getting silence at that.

"Anybody?" she asked as she looked from Carol to the group again. "Ya'll look to him and then you blame him when he's not perfect. If you think you can do this without him go right ahead nobody is stopping you," she finished and not long after she did she saw Andrea hand the gun back to her.

When Lori took the gun Andrea sighed, "We should keep moving."

Zac just shook his head as he stayed towards the back of the group. He was taken aback by Lori's outburst but in a way he understood it and it made sense. It also made him glad that no one looked to him as the leader of things.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Three

Zac who had been walking in the woods with the others paused in his steps when he heard a gunshot in the distance. It was only one gunshot but it was still a gunshot. Looking around at the others who had also stopped he knew they too had also heard it. Not saying anything though the group started walking on for a bit longer until Zac saw Andrea who was beside him turn around. Turning too he saw Lori looking behind them.

"Are you still worrying about it?" Andrea asked as she saw Lori look behind them.

Lori kept her back turned to Andrea, "That was a gunshot."

"We all heard it," Daryl told the woman who was stopped in her tracks.

"Why one?" Lori asked as she turned to face the group her expression serious. "Why just one gunshot?"

Daryl shrugged at the woman's question, "Maybe they took down a walker."

"Please don't patronize me. You know Rick wouldn't risk a gunshot to put down one walker or Shane. They'd do it quietly," Lori said before turning to look behind her again.

"Shouldn't they have caught up with us by now?" Carol added in as she looked at Glenn and Jessica who were standing closest to her.

Daryl sighed, "There's nothing we can do about it anyway. Can't run around these woods chasing echos."

"So what do we do?" Lori asked him as she kept her face serious once she turned back to look at him.

"Same we've been. Beat the bush for Sophia, work our way back to the highway," Daryl answered simply as if it should have been apparent to Lori.

Jessica nodded, "I'm sure they'll hook up with us back at the RV," she spoke and the moment she watched Lori walk towards the rest of the group she smiled. Hearing the others in front of her head off she turned to face Carol. "I'm sorry for what you're going through. I know how you feel."

"I suppose you do," Carol agreed as she looked at the younger girl. "Thank you," she smiled before feeling like she was going to get chocked up again. "The thought of her out here by herself. It's the not knowing that's killing me. I just keep hoping and praying she doesn't wind up like Zoe," Carol spoke and the moment she saw Jessica's face change slightly she instantly regretted what she had said.

Walking closer she reached out for Jessica's hand, "Oh god that's the worst thing I ever said," Carol sighed.

Jessica shook her head trying to keep her emotions in check, "We're all hoping and praying with you for what it's worth."

"I'll tell you what's it worth," Daryl said as he walked down to where the two women were stopped. "Not a damn thing. It's a waste of time all this hopin and prayin. We're gonna locate that little girl. She's gonna be just fine. Am I the only one zen around here?" he asked before walking off. "Good lord."

As the group started moving again Zac picked up his pace and walked to where Taylor was, "I'm sorry," he whispered under his breath.

"For what?" Taylor asked not even looking at Zac.

"I know you were standing there when I went off on Kate the other day," Zac shrugged as he ran a hand through his hair. "I shouldn't have said it."

Taylor laughed slightly, "But you meant it," he said looking over at his brother finally. He could tell from his brother's face that he was correct. "Don't ever apologize for things you mean," he told him before walking faster and going ahead of Zac.

Watching Taylor leave Zac just frowned. He was hoping the conversation would have went better than that.

Kate stood beside Dale as he bent over one of the cars on the highway. He was working on it for something though to be honest she didn't know what. Hearing foot steps coming closer to them she saw T-Dog was headed to where they were.

Dale turned to look at T-Dog when the man came to a stop beside him, "We are going to have quite a collection of spare parts I tell you."

"Shouldn't they be back by now?" T-Dog asked as he moved away from Dale.

Looking up at the sky Dale shrugged, "It's still light. Let's not worry just yet," he said as he looked to where T-Dog walked off too. "How are you feeling?" he asked knowing the man had hurt his arm yesterday. Heck his arm had a huge white bandage on it now.

Kate crinkled her forehead when T-Dog ignored Dale's question and she walked with Dale the few steps where the other man now stood.

"T-Dog I asked you how you were feeling just now," Dale said once he reached where T-Dog was. "Please don't blow that question off."

T-Dog sighed as he looked down, "It really hurts," he admitted honestly. "It's throbbing something awful."

Hearing T-Dog say his arm was throbbing awful Kate sighed, "Let me see," she spoke as she reached down and lifted his bandage off some. Making a face at the sight of it she slowly pulled it down hearing him scream out for her not to touch it. "I'm sorry," she said apologizing for touching his wound.

"Your veins are very discolored," Dale said knowing from what he could see when Kate lifted the bandage off that they looked discolored. "You've got a hell of an infection there. You could die from blood poisoning."

T-Dog sighed but soon started to laugh at Dale's words. "Oh man," he said in between fits of laughter. "Wouldn't that be the way. World gone to hell and the dead risen up to eat the living and Theodore Douglas gets done in by a cut on his arm," he said as he continued to laugh.

Dale made a face and put his hands on T-Dog's arms, "I've been saying since yesterday we've got to get you some antibiotics. We've been ransacking these cars the whole time I can't believe we have not found some ampicillin or something in the whole place. Can you?"

"Seems like there would be," T-Dog agreed figuring there would have been medicines in some of these cars.

"Well that's what I think," Dale nodded. "Well we uh haven't been thorough enough. So lets look some more," he said knowing that they may find something if they were more thorough. "Alright?"

Kate nodded as well and helped the two men as they both looked through the cars. In her search all she happened to find was a pack of nabs, some tampons, and a blue Gatorade.

Taylor came to a stop to catch his breath as the group continued on their journey back to the highway. He swore it hadn't seemed that far out when they left but now with them going back it seemed like it was taking forever.

"We're gonna lose the light before too long," Daryl spoke as he looked at the people behind him. "I think we should call it," he said as he eyed Carol referring to them searching for Sophia for the day.

"We'll pick it up again tomorrow?" Carol asked hoping they did.

Lori nodded as she looked at the woman, "Yeah we'll look tomorrow." It was after she spoke that Daryl again lead the way back to the highway.

Sitting beside T-Dog at the RV Kate looked up as she heard Dale heading towards them obviously he too had finished looking through cars and she bet he had came up empty handed.

"Found some more batteries," Dale spoke as he carried a white bag in one hand and a guitar in the other. "A bottle of very trendy pink water, an excellent new machete and I thought Glenn might like this guitar. Maybe he plays."

Kate smiled when she saw the guitar and she couldn't help but think of Isaac and she hoped he and Nikki were faring better out there on their own then the group was faring out here. Then besides Isaac she also thought of the band in general and the fact that now thanks to the world it was essentially gone. There was no more Hanson. There would be no more records or concerts. It saddened her to think of that.

Sitting down beside T-Dog as well Dale shook his head, "No drugs though. What about you guys?"

"I found a blue Gatorade, some tampons, and a pack of nabs," Kate spoke as she ran a hand through her hair. She had saved the Gatorade for Zac if he wanted it but the nabs she had ate. The tampons had been put in the RV bathroom.

T-Dog who was smoking a cigarette looked between Kate and Dale who sat on either side of him, "Ibuprofen and these," he said referring to the cigarette in his hands. "What are we doing?"

Dale shrugged, "Pulling supplies together."

"No, I mean what are we doing? Our people are off in the woods," he said pointing behind in the direction of the woods. "They are looking for that poor girl and we are here. Why? Cause they think we are the weakest," T-Dog nodded. "Well what are you seventy?"

Dale looked away from T-Dog, "Sixty-four," he answered.

"I'm the one black guy," T-Dog said as he reached up to scratch his head. "Do you realize how precarious that makes my situation?"

Scrunching up his face Dale felt confused, "What the hell are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about two good ole boy cowboy sheriffs and a redneck whose brother cut off his own hand because I dropped a key," T-Dog answered Dale's question. "Who in that scenario do you think is gonna be first to get lynched."

Kate sat there listening to T-Dog. She knew he wasn't making sense and from the look on Dale's face he knew it too.

"You can't be serious," Dale spoke trying to comprehend the man's words. "Am I missing something? Those cowboys have done alright by us and if I'm not mistaken that redneck went out of his way to save your ass..more than once."

When T-Dog said and don't forget about Andrea that was when Kate stood up not wanting to hear anymore of this conversation. She knew the man's infection had to be making him say what he was but she didn't want to hear it anymore.

Taylor stayed close to the group as they walked farther. At least now he knew they were getting closer. They were passing by places he remembered passing on the way out this morning.

"How much farther?" Avery asked from where she walked in the back of the group her steps matching Lori who walked beside her.

"Not much," Daryl answered as he looked ahead of him. "Maybe a hundred yards as the crow flies."

Andrea made a face at his words, "Too bad we aren't crows," she spoke more to herself as she kept walking letting herself move away from the group some. As she did she walked over a few logs and made a face as she stepped right in a spider web or something. Once she got out of it she eventually kept walking, "As the crow flies my ass," she spoke sarcastically.

It wasn't long after she said that, that she heard moaning and when she turned around she saw a walker just a step or two away from her. Backing away from it she screamed.

Hearing a scream in the distance Taylor stopped in his tracks. Hearing Lori call out for Andrea he sighed but eventually he followed everyone else as they all ran to where the screams were coming from. Right when they got there though a woman riding a horse knocked the walker who had obviously been chasing Andrea down. A bat being the weapon she had chosen.

Taylor couldn't help but stand there dumbfounded as he looked at the brunette on the horse. She was almost like a lady Zorro with the way she had rode in and saved the day.

"Lori?" Maggie Greene questioned as the horse she rode came to a stop. Looking down at Andrea she raised an eyebrow, "Lori Grimes?"

Lori heard the woman asking Andrea if she was Lori Grimes and she spoke up, "I'm Lori."

"Rick sent me. You've got to come now," Maggie told the woman as she turned to look at her.

"What?" Lori asked confusion clear in her tone of voice.

Maggie kept her tone serious as she replied to the woman, "There's been an accident. Carl's been shot. He's still alive but you've got to come now," she said as she watched the woman take in her words. At the woman's silence and inability to move to get on the horse Maggie sighed. "Rick needs you. Just come."

Watching Lori take off her backpack and start walking towards the horse Daryl made a face, "Woah woah woah we don't know this girl," he objected as Lori walked closer to the horse. "You can't get on that horse."

As Lori got on the horse Maggie looked at the group standing on the ground, "Rick said you had others on the highway. That big traffic snarl."

Taylor just looked at the woman as she looked at him and he nodded. He was too mesmerized to do anything else at the moment.

"Backtrack to Fairborne Road two miles down is our farm. You'll see the mailbox. Name is Greene," Maggie told the blonde haired guy as she grabbed the horse's reigns once Lori was fully on the horse. Turning the horse around she headed off back to the farm.

Turning around after the woman with the last name Greene rode off Taylor just watched her as he closed his mouth not even realizing it had fallen open. Hearing the walker that had been knocked down by him moan and start to sit up he heard Daryl say shut up and before he knew it an arrow had been put in the walker's skull.

Kate crossed her arms as she stood by Dale on the road. The group had just arrived back and they had been told Carl had been shot.

"Shot what do you mean shot?" Dale asked sounding shocked at the news.

Taylor climbed over the guard rail and shrugged panting and out of breath, "I don't know Dale. All I know is this chick rode out of nowhere like Zorro on a horse and took Lori."

"You let her?" Dale asked another question this time to Daryl.

Daryl sighed, "I'm down to my asshole man. Rick sent her. She knew Lori's name and Carl's," he said as he walked away from Dale.

Kate stayed in place as she shook her head. When Dale asked Andrea if the screams they had heard had been her she just ignored the question though Glenn answered it saying she got attacked by a walker.

"Andrea are you alright?" Dale asked as Andrea almost made it to the RV.

Turning to look at Dale, Andrea just gave him a look and shook her head before opening the RV door and stepping inside.

After Andrea went inside the RV, Kate chewed on her lip seeing Zac walk over to her. Frowning she shook her head and pulled her husband into a hug just glad that he was safe. She was also glad when she felt his arms go around her and he hugged her back. At least he no longer seemed mad at her.

"I love you Katie," Zac whispered as he held Kate close to him. "I love you but I still think your pregnancy is wrong especially more so with Sophia being missing and Carl being shot but I love you and I think in time I can get over the CDC thing and you risking your life for Taylor."

Smiling to herself Kate buried her head in Zac's neck, "I love you too Zac," she whispered as she left a soft kiss on his neck.

"I won't do it," Carol shook her head. It had been awhile now since the group came back and they were deciding what to do about the farm. "We can't just leave."

"Carol the group is split," Dale spoke as he leaned against the opened RV door. "We're scattered and weak."

Carol made a face feeling angry at the man's words, "What if she comes back and we're not here?" she asked though no one said anything. "It could happen," she shrugged not wanting to give up hope.

"If Sophia found her way back and we were gone that would be awful," Avery said as she turned to look at Dale.

Daryl nodded, "Okay we got to plan for this. I say tomorrow morning is soon enough to pull up stakes. Give us a chance to rig a big sign. Leave her some supplies. I'll hold here tonight. Stay with the RV."

"If the RV is staying I am too," Dale said as he eyed Carol. He wasn't sure he wanted to give up just yet but he did agree with Daryl's plan. Not to mention he couldn't leave his beloved RV.

Carol smiled and nodded her head at Dale, "Thank you." she said before also looking at Daryl. "Thank you both."

"I'm in," Avery said as she agreed to stay behind as well. After her Kate,Zac, Jessica and Mac also agreed to stay though they knew they'd probably have to sleep in some of the abandoned cars.

Glenn who had been listening sighed, "We'll if you're all in then I'm staying.." he started but was stopped by Dale.

"Not you Glenn you are going. Take Carol's Cherokee," Dale said after interrupting the boy.

Glen felt his eyes widen, "Me?" he asked. "Why is it always me?"

"You have to find this farm, reconnect with our people and see what's going on but most importantly you have to get T-Dog there," Dale explained to the young man. "This is not an option. That cut has gone from bad to worse.. He has a very serious blood infection. Get him to that farm, see if they have any antibiotics because if not T-Dog will die no joke."

Listening to Dale talk Avery watched as Daryl went back to his bike and grabbed a plastic bag out of a messenger bag that was draped over the front of it.

Daryl walked over to Dale holding rags that had been put over his messenger bag, "Keep your oily rags off my brothers motorcycle," he told the old man. Laying the plastic bag on the hood of a car he sighed, "Why'd you wait til now to say anything?" he asked as he opened the bag and went through the medicines. "I've got my brother's stash. Crystal X don't need that," he spoke as he found another bottle and pulled it out. Reading the label he threw the bottle to Glenn, "That's some kickass pain killers," he spoke before getting another bottle out. "Doxycycline not the generic stuff either it's first class. Merle got the clap on occasion," he shrugged once he finished up going through the medicine.

Watching Daryl walk away after giving the medicine up Avery just stood there and shook her head. It was after that she watched as Taylor pulled Glenn aside and talked to him for a few minutes then he walked over to her which made her raise an eyebrow.

Taylor gave Avery an innocent smile, "So we are kind of going with Glenn and T-Dog to the farm," he said knowing that Avery had agreed to stay here but he wanted to go to the farm tonight though it was partly just because he wanted to see that woman again and it was partly because he felt sympathy for Lori and Rick with Carl being shot.

"We are?" Avery asked knowing Taylor had volunteered her without her permission. "And why are we going?"

"Because I don't wanna sleep in a car tonight," Taylor shrugged still trying to play innocent.

Avery shook her head, "No, it's because you want to see the woman on the horse again," she replied as she rolled her eyes. "I think seeing her on a horse got you all hot and bothered," she teased. She was kind of glad that Taylor was again seeming to come around and maybe be happy, especially if he was developing a crush on strangers.

Taylor blushed though he didn't deny Avery's comments. Part of her comment was correct. He did want to see that woman again.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Four

Kate smiled as she looked at Zac. They sat in the backseat of one of the cars as the moonlight from the night sky filtered in. "I know you said you were against this pregnancy still but I think once we find Sophia and Carl gets better your attitude will change," she said as she laid her head on his shoulder. She was glad he had made it back today and she was glad that he seemed to no longer be holding a grudge against her for the CDC stuff.

"You really think Carl will get better and we will find Sophia?" Zac asked as he raised an eyebrow. Laying his head on top of Kate's he hated to admit he was pessimistic on the survival of either child.

Nodding her head Kate shrugged, "It's better than having no faith at all," she said as she reached for his hand and let her fingers link with his. "I mean we need faith to keep going."

"I think I lost all faith in stuff the night the camp was overrun," Zac admitted as he shrugged his shoulders. "I may have gotten it back slightly at the CDC but then we lost that too and I lost even more of my faith. This world is fucked and we're all doomed. We'll never find shelter and eventually we'll die."

"I wish you'd be positive," Kate spoke as she raised her head off his shoulder and kissed his cheek. "I miss my positive Zac. I miss the man who wasn't so cold or dead inside."

At her words Zac didn't say anything he just leaned against the backseat of the car they would be sleeping in for the night. He wasn't sure if he missed the man he used to be. He wasn't even sure if that man would ever come back.

Jessica sat at the table in the RV. Andrea was across from her working on putting a gun back together while Daryl lay in the floor. Jessica knew though that the man wasn't sleeping. No one in the RV could sleep with the way Carol kept crying in the back. Carol's crying was starting to wear Jessica's nerves thin.

Hearing Daryl sit up and then walk to the table where his crossbow laid Jessica looked up watching as he put the crossbow around his chest.

"I'm going to need my clip now," Daryl said as he looked at Andrea who had been messing with it all night. When Andrea handed it back to him he looked from her to Jessica, "I'm gonna walk the road. Look for the girl," he said as he heard Carol calm some after he spoke. Turning to look back at her, he saw her looking at him and he gave her a nod.

Sitting there as Daryl left Jessica grabbed a flashlight and followed him off the RV wanting to go with him. It'd be better than listening to Carol cry if she cried anymore. "I'm coming too," she told Daryl once she stepped off the RV and he had turned to look at her.

Daryl just nodded before looking up at Dale who was on watch on top of the RV, "I'm gonna go for a walk. Shine some light in the forest. If she's out there give her something to look at."

"Do you think that's a good idea right now?" Dale asked as he bent down some.

Jessica just rolled her eyes at Dale and shook her head. Sometimes she could see why Andrea got pissed at the man. Turning away from him she just walked off hearing Daryl following behind her.

Sometime later Zac looked over at Kate. Her head was leaning against a window and he smiled as he listened to her snore. She looked peaceful as she slept and he almost wished he could sleep as well but he couldn't. He had too much on his mind. Worrying about his baby and then also Carl and Sophia.

He also couldn't help but worry about Taylor too. He may have meant what he said and Taylor may have told him not to apologize but that didn't mean he wasn't truly sorry and he didn't want his brother mad at him forever but he feared Taylor would be mad at him forever.

Getting out of the car he closed the door slowly as not to wake Kate and he made his way to the car where Mac was sleeping. Seeing his brother sitting in the driver's side with a flashlight on Zac smiled again and walked to the passenger door. Opening it he climbed inside laughing some when Mac jumped.

"You scared the shit out of me," Mac muttered as he dropped the book he had been reading. It had been some war book Dale had let him borrow.

"Sorry," Zac apologized. "Kate fell asleep on me and I guess I just wanted some company until I got sleepy."

Rolling his eyes Mac eyed his older brother, "And so you decided to bug me?" he asked before laughing some. Zac didn't really bug him. He had always looked up to Zac.

"Something like that," Zac said as he looked over at Mac. "It's fun to be a pain in your ass."

Taylor who was sitting in the back of the Cherokee with Avery as Glenn drove it down a driveway to what looked like a farmhouse nudged Avery some in the side. She had fallen asleep on his shoulder.

Feeling someone nudge her Avery groaned and lifted her head to look at Taylor. She was pissed that he had woken her up but then again she was pissed he had volunteered her for this anyway. He should have just volunteered Jessica. At least then Glenn could have the Hanson sister he liked.

"We're here," Taylor spoke ignoring his sister's glare as the car came to a stop. Getting out he opened the door and let Avery climb out his way as well before shutting the door. Following behind Glenn and T-Dog he looked up at the farm house as they walked closer. It was huge and it was almost out in the middle of nowhere. It almost could be the perfect place to stay.

"So do we ring the bell?" Taylor asked once they made it to the stairs and he turned to look at Avery,Glenn, and T-Dog. "Looks like people live here," he said from the lights that were on inside.

T-Dog shook his head, "We're past this kind of stuff aren't we?" he asked as he climbed up the stairs of the porch. "Having to be considerate."

Maggie who had been sitting in a chair on the porch looked at the group coming up onto the porch, "Close the gate up the road when you drove in?" she asked announcing her presence to them.

Taylor who had been surprised by the woman turned to look at her as he came to a stop at the doors beside Glenn. He was still just as mesmerized as he had been in the woods. "Uh..hi," he said feeling at a loss for words. "Yes," he said realizing he hadn't answered her question. "We closed it. Did the latch and everything."

When the woman just moved forward in the chair he gave her a smile, "Hello nice to see you again. We uh met before briefly."

"Look we came to help," T-Dog spoke up knowing at this rate Taylor would just keep rambling. "Is there anything we can do?" Watching as the woman stood from the chair and walked closer he groaned out as he felt a pain from his wound. Seeing the woman look down at his bandage he sighed, "It's not a bite. I umm I cut myself pretty bad though."

"We'll have it looked at," Maggie told the man as she walked closer to the group. "I'll tell them you're here."

Glenn reached for the backpack on his back, "We have some painkillers and antibiotics," he said as he got them out. "I already gave him some in the car."

"Come inside I'll make you something to eat," Maggie told them as she reached for the door handle and stepped inside giving the group behind her a smile.

Following behind the woman and T-Dog and Glenn, Taylor chewed his lip as she lead them to the room where Carl was. Getting there he frowned seeing Carl on the bed and Rick and Lori just sitting there helpless in chairs. Just the sight of Carl reminded him of how he had found Ezra dead and he felt his heartbreak for Carl's parents and he hoped they had a better outcome than he had.

"Hey," Glenn said his voice coming out somber as he slipped off his hat.

Rick who was sitting beside Lori and holding her hand looked up at Glenn, "Hey," he replied back to the group at the door.

"Umm we're here okay," Glenn told Rick wanting the man to know he was there if he needed them. Turning towards the bed where Carl lay he saw an older man with a stethoscope who he assumed was a doctor. The one trying to save Carl.

"Thank you," Lori nodded as she gave Glenn a grateful smile.

T-Dog who had been silent looked over at the Grimes's, "Whatever you need," he said before turning to leave the room and being followed by Glenn,Avery,Taylor and the brunette woman from the horse.

"So do you really think we're gonna find Sophia?" Jessica asked Daryl as they walked through the woods.

Shining his flashlight on Jessica, Daryl shook his head as he saw her expression, "You've got that look on your face. Same as everybody else," he said after moving his flashlight back down and using it to look around as he walked. "What the hell is wrong with you people? We just started looking."

"Do you?" Jessica asked again as she turned to look at the man beside her.

"It ain't the mountains of Tibet. It's Georgia" Daryl replied sarcastically as Jessica asked her question again. "She could be holed off at a farmhouse somewhere. People get lost and they survive, it happens all the time."

Jessica shook her head at Daryl's words, "She's only twelve."

"Hell I was younger than her and I got lost," Daryl admitted to Jessica. "Nine days in the woods eatin berries and wipin my ass with poison oak."

"They found you?" Jessica asked as she shrugged before looking over at Daryl again.

"My old man was off on a bender with some waitress," Daryl told her as he looked away. "Merle was doing another stint in Juvie. Didn't even know I was gone. I made my way back though. Went straight to the kitchen and made myself a sandwich," he sighed as he continued to use his flashlight to look at the surroundings as he passed them. "No worse for wear except my ass itched somethin awful."

Jessica couldn't help but laugh at the itchy ass comment. It was too funny not too. Feeling Daryl look at her she tried to control her laughter, "Sorry," she apologized trying to keep a straight face. "Sorry there that's a terrible story," she told him before she laughed again hearing him laugh slightly as well now.

"The only difference is Sophia's got people looking for her. I call that an advantage," Daryl nodded knowing she had at least one up on what he had as a child.

Going back to the car where Kate was Zac yawned as he got inside. Sitting beside Kate again he slipped the jacket he had on off and put it over his sleeping wife.

Moving some Kate opened her eyes as she felt something brush against her arms. Seeing Zac she yawned before giving him a smile, "You left the car?"

"I went to visit Mac," Zac nodded as he looked back at her. "You fell asleep and I was bored," he defended as he moved closer to her and leaned against the seat to get comfortable. "Sorry if I woke you."

Kate shook her head, "It's fine I probably would have woke up anyway," she said honestly. "It's hard to sleep in a car."

"That it is," Zac agreed as he leaned over to peck her lips. "What are you going to do if we don't find Sophia and Carl doesn't get better?" he asked as he closed his eyes. "I mean I'm just curious if that will change your opinion on things. On this baby."

"I don't think it will," Kate answered honestly knowing she was committed to her opinion now. This baby was going to be okay in this world. It had Zac as it's dad after all.

Hearing Zac snore instead of answering her she let out a tiny laugh but closed her eyes as well hoping to get some more sleep.

Mac who couldn't sleep even after Zac left his car soon got out of the car he had claimed as his own for the night. Seeing Dale on top of the RV he climbed up, "You want some company?" he asked as he walked over to the older man. He really hadn't talked much to him but he was thankful that Dale had saved Kate,Avery and Zoe the first day in Atlanta.

Turning to look at the now youngest Hanson Dale nodded his head, "Figured you'd be asleep," he said giving the boy a smile.

"I tried but sleep wouldn't come," Mac said as he ran a hand through his curls. "I guess I just have too much on my mind."

Dale arched an eyebrow, "Like what?" he asked as he walked a bit closer to the boy. He hated that it seemed someone so young was worrying already but with the world like it was he guessed it was unavoidable.

"Just the fact that I think my brother is being too hard about stuff. It's like he is losing his positive nature. Zac's always been positive but ever since the camp invasion he's been different," Mac sighed not sure if he liked this new Zac but if it seemed to get Zac through everything and kept Zac alive he wouldn't complain to his brother.

"I think this world is changing everyone," Dale offered the boy as he reached out and patted him on the back. As he did his own thoughts went to Andrea who had been willing to die at the CDC. She would have too if she hadn't chose to save him as she liked to remind him. "I'm sure it's changing you as well."

Mac went silent at Dale's last words because they were true. This world was changing him as well. He no longer could be as care free with his life. Even if he could stay positive he found it hard to have fun or even relax for just a few moments. He always felt sooner or later the bottom would drop and it felt like since leaving the CDC the bottom kept dropping on them.

Walking in the woods with Daryl still Jessica chewed on her lip as she heard a rustling in the woods and the moment she heard it the man beside her turned to see what it was, she turned as well feeling on high alert. They were out in the woods after dark and of course the rustling made her more scared now than it would if it was during the day.

As Daryl went closer to where the sound came from Jessica followed close behind him not wanting to be alone or by herself for too long. When they finally came upon what looked like a campsite with a tent and a fold out chair outside of the tent she made a face at the sight in the trees.

"What the hell?" Daryl asked as he looked up at the tree to see a walker hanging by a rope. As he walked closer he saw a note taped to the tree where the walker was. "Got bit. Fever hit. World gone to shit. Might as well quit," he spoke out loud reading what had been written on the paper. "Dumbass didn't know enough to shot himself in the head," he mused out loud. "Turned himself into a huge swinging piece of bait," he said honestly hearing Jessica make some noise behind him.

Bending down Jessica closed her eyes as she felt the need to get sick. The smell and the sight was enough to make her stomach turn and Daryl's words weren't helping anything either. "Trying not to puke," she told him honestly as she looked up seeing him turning to look at her.

"Go ahead if you gotta," Daryl said as he turned to look back at the walker in the tree.

"No. Let's just talk about something else for a moment," Jessica sighed as she went to looking back down at the ground after bending over again. She hoped a change of subject would help her now upset stomach. "How'd you learn to shoot?"

Daryl shrugged at her question, "Got to eat. It's one thing these walkers and us have in common," he told her as he watched the hanging walker reaching out for him. "This is probably the closest he has been to food since he turned. Look at him hanging up there like a big pinata," he said before pointing at the walkers legs. "The other geeks came and ate the flesh off his legs."

Hearing Daryl's last comment Jessica felt her stomach turn and soon she lost the contents on it, puking in the grass. After she got sick she coughed some and wiped her mouth off with her hand, "I thought we were changing the subject," she muttered as she shook her head.

"Call that payback for laughing about my itchy ass," Daryl smirked as he looked over at her.

"It wasn't a lot that came up," Jessica told him hoping that he didn't do anything else to try to make her get sick.

Shrugging Daryl turned his back on the walker and headed towards Jessica, "Let's head back."

"Aren't you going too...?" she started as she looked at him and made a face hoping he knew what she meant. She wanted to know if he was going to kill the walker.

Daryl shook his head, "Naw," he answered honestly. "He ain't hurtin nobody. He ain't wastin air either. He made his choice, opted out. Let him hang."

At Daryl's words Jessica moved closer to the walker. She wasn't sure why but she felt sorry for him. Maybe because at one point she had thought of opting out after Joe had died. Before she had met Merle.

"Does your sister like Shane?" Daryl asked out of nowhere as he stepped closer to Jessica who was standing closer to the walker. It wasn't the question he wanted to ask her. No he wanted to ask her if she wanted to live now. He had known or well guessed that she had probably been close to suicidal thoughts when she met Merle. There had just been something about her those first few days that screamed broken.

When Jessica turned too look at him he ran a hand through his hair and looked down blushing, "It's just a question," he told her not wanting her to get the wrong idea and think that he liked her sister. He didn't like Avery. He couldn't allow that to happen especially if she liked Shane.

Jessica kept eying Daryl even after he had looked away from her. Eventually she turned back to look at the walker in the tree, "An answer for an arrow," she stated figuring that was the only way she'd get him to put the walker out of his misery. "Fair?" she asked him as they locked eyes and he nodded his head agreeing that it was indeed fair.

Looking away from him she shrugged, "I don't know if she likes Shane. I don't think she does but then again she has been with him twice now."

"Not much of an answer," Daryl sighed not sure why her words just made him feel worse than he had before asking her his question. Raising his crossbow he shot an arrow into the skull of the walker. "It's a waste of an arrow," he told her before turning and heading back towards the way they had came.

Avery crossed her legs as she sat on the couch next to Glenn. T-Dog was in the kitchen getting his wound stitched up and she had no clue where Taylor had snuck off too but he had went somewhere.

"Things have just seemed to go to shit since we left the CDC," she sighed as she ran a hand through her hair. She hated the fact that Sophia was missing and now Carl was laying in the next room fighting for his life though hopefully this old man who owned the house who she now knew was named Hershel could save Carl. Though for now he couldn't do anything until Shane and some man named Otis got back from a run to a local high school. Maggie had said they had went to go get stuff Hershel needed.

Glenn looked at Avery a sarcastic laugh coming out, "You could say that's an understatement," he told her as he looked over at her.

At Glenn's words Avery felt her cheeks turn red, "I'm sorry you got stuck with the wrong Hanson sister again. I'm sure you'd much rather Jessica be here."

"After the almost mess I created at the CDC with her I'd much rather be stuck with anyone but her," Glenn admitted honestly. He knew he shouldn't but he just wanted to run from his feelings for Jessica. He'd always just be her friend in the end anyway.

"Almost mess?" Avery asked as she raised an eyebrow.

Glenn felt himself blush now as she questioned him, "I almost told her how I felt. She questioned me about it in the church today."

"And?" Avery asked again figuring that Glenn still hadn't told her sister the truth.

"She's still clueless," Glenn shrugged as he gave a half smile. "It's best she not know. I'll always just be a friend to her anyway."

Sitting in the chair on the porch Taylor looked out around him at the blackness. He had came out here to pray though he wasn't sure where to begin or even if he could remember how to pray. It had been so long. Too long since he had prayed. The last time was probably before he had married Natalie.

"You praying?" Maggie asked as she came outside and leaned against one of the porch's rail posts. She could see the blonde man who had been staring at her funny sitting in one of the chairs and he almost looked like he had been praying to her. That was why she had asked him that question.

Taylor sighed and ran a hand down his face, "Why do you sneak up on people so much?" he mused not even looking at the brunette.

Maggie smirked and moved to sit down on the porch railing, "You're easy to sneak up on," she admitted to him being honest.

"I was praying," Taylor confessed as he finally looked at Maggie. He wasn't as mesmerized by her anymore but he knew she still made him feel like he did when he saw Natalie the first time. He felt like a boy with a crush. "I was trying too."

"You religious? You pray a lot?" Maggie asked him after he looked at her. For once he wasn't acting like he was a schoolboy with a crush.

Taylor laughed some as he looked down, "Actually I haven't prayed in ages," he shrugged. "Haven't prayed in over eight years."

Hearing his answer Maggie made a face, "Sorry for ruining your first time in eight years."

Laughing again Taylor looked over at her as he scrunched up his nose, "God probably got the gist," he nodded.

"Praying for what?" Maggie asked another question not caring if she was being nosy right now. It didn't hurt to get to know someone.

"Friends. Looks like they could all use a little help right now," Taylor answered his voice going soft as he spoke. "You think God exists?" he asked hesitating at first but then looking over at Maggie as he finished his question.

"I always took it on faith," Maggie told him honestly. "Lately I've wondered. Everything that has happened there must have been a lot of praying going on and seems quite a few went unanswered."

Taylor nodded not sure if her answer comforted him any. "Thanks," he muttered under his breath. "It's really helping."

"Sorry," Maggie apologized as she looked away from Taylor and down at the jeans she had on. "Go ahead," she said referring to him finishing praying. "Really."

At Maggie's words he just remained silent and when she looked up at him again he raised an eyebrow as she made no effort to move, "You gonna watch?"

When Taylor asked her if she was going to watch Maggie moved down from the railing and picked up an empty glass next to the chair he was sitting in. "I'll get you a refill instead," she told him as she bent down and grabbed the glass. Once she had the glass she stood up and headed towards the door stopping before she went inside. Instead she turned to face him.

"I know it's not my business and feel free to believe in God but the thing is you've got to make it okay somehow," she nodded at him. "No matter what happens."

Taylor sighed but remained silent as he watched Maggie walk inside after she said what she had. He knew she was right. He did have to make it okay somehow no matter what happened. That was what he had to do now since losing everyone he cared for.

Avery who had stayed sitting on the couch in the main room even as Glenn had decided to go to bed in a room upstairs stood up when she heard what sounded like a car coming towards the house. She hoped to god it was Shane and Otis coming back with what Hershel needed for the surgery.

Seeing Rick, Lori and Hershel heading outside Avery followed behind them and the moment she did she was relieved to see Shane taking stuff out of a truck though he seemed to be minus the person she had been told he left with.

"Carl?" Shane asked Rick breathlessly as he limped over to where Lori and Rick had came to a stop.

"There's still a chance," Rick told Shane feeling relieved to see that his friend had made it back.

Hershel who had taken some of the stuff from Shane looked around for Otis, "Otis?" he asked wondering where his longtime friend and neighbor was. It was Shane's silence that answered his question though. Turning to the people behind him he sighed, "We say nothing to Patrica," he said knowing now wasn't the best time to tell her that her husband was gone. He did need her help with the surgery on Carl. "Not til after. I need her."

Standing there as Shane described what had happened to Otis, Avery closed her eyes. They apparently hadn't had enough ammunition and Otis had sacrificed himself telling Shane to keep going. Something about Shane's story didn't sit well with her but she remained silent as she opened her eyes and turned her head to see Lori comforting Maggie who she hadn't even realized had came outside as well.

Mac walked back to the car he was sleeping in after talking with Dale some more. Hearing a noise behind him he turned seeing Jessica and Daryl coming back from somewhere they had obviously been. Stopping at his car door he grabbed his sister's arm which only made her make a face.

"What the hell Mac?" Jessica asked as Mac grabbed her arm making her come to a stop.

"Where did you go?" Mac asked her as he raised an eyebrow.

Jessica shrugged, "To look for Sophia. Carol was crying and I just needed out of the RV. Daryl opted to go look for her and I decided to go with him. Obviously we still didn't find her," she said as she frowned slightly.

Mac just rolled his eyes, "You need to stop associating with those damn Dixon brothers," he told her as he opened the driver's side so he could get in the car soon. "One was enough."

Laughing at his words Jessica just shook her head, "Trust me Mac I'm not the one whose got the hots for Daryl. That sister is Avery," she smiled as she removed his arm from his grasp and walked back to the RV.

Watching as his sister walked away Mac rolled his eyes and got in the car. He swore his sisters were both going crazy. They had to be to find anything likeable about either Dixon brother.

"I've known Otis since I was a kid," Maggie chocked out as she sat inside of her house now. It had been awhile since finding out about his death and she was still reeling. Still trying to come to terms. "He was running this farm since before my mother died.

Taylor who leaned against the counter in the kitchen uncrossed his arms as he listened to Maggie talk to him. Walking over to the fridge he looked at the pictures on it. Pictures of people he guessed where relatives of hers. "Who else? Who'd you lose?" he asked as he turned to look at her. When Maggie looked at him but kept crying he sighed, "You told me I had to make it okay somehow. That's what you've been trying to do right?" he asked as he kept his eyes on her. "Which ones?"

Standing from the table Maggie walked over to where Taylor stood at the fridge. Through her tears she looked at the pictures on it, "Step-mother," she answered pointing to a picture of Anette who was her sister Beth's mom. "Step-brother," she spoke again as she then pointed to a picture of Shawn. They were the others she had lost since the world went to hell.

It was after she had finished that she heard the door to the room where her father had been working on Carl open. Wiping at her eyes she turned to leave the kitchen.

Taylor watched Maggie leave and he sighed. Her losses though not the same amount as his obviously still hurt her and yet here she was surviving. It made his own choice at the CDC seem dumb now. Shaking his head he followed her out of the room eventually going outside where he heard Hershel telling Lori and Rick that Carl had stabilized.

Lori who had tears in her eyes watched as her husband hugged Hershel, "I don't have words," she said when Rick pulled away from the hug.

"I don't either," Hershel said in response to Lori. "I wish I did. How do I tell Patricia about Otis?"

Rick who had went silent at Hershel asking how he told Patricia about Otis turned to look at Lori, "You go to Carl. I'll go with Hershel," he said as he turned to look at Hershel again.

Running a hand through his hair Taylor waited until Rick and Hershel had both went in before going inside. Hearing crying coming from the kitchen Taylor just closed his eyes and sat down knowing that Patricia had more than likely learned the news now. News that made his heartbreak for her because he knew what it was like to lose a spouse.

Avery who had came inside finally watched as Shane left the room where Carl was. She was glad that he was okay but something still felt off about the story Shane had given on how Otis died. Staying quite as she watched Maggie give Shane clothes to wear she bit her lip hearing the woman say they wouldn't fit well because the clothes had once belonged to Otis.

When Maggie turned to leave Avery caught Shane's eyes and she sighed. The guilt was written all over his face.

"Join me in the shower," Shane told Avery not even asking. He needed something to help him forget what he had done and being with Avery helped him forget. It made him feel like he was with Lori even if he knew he wasn't.

Avery shook her head at Shane's words, "Not this time," she said as she thought of Daryl catching them at the CDC and his bitterness towards her on the highway. "I think what we did should just be in the past," she nodded as she turned her back to him and headed into the room where Taylor was. She was done allowing Shane to use her. It wasn't like it was Shane she wanted anyway. She wanted Daryl though she still wasn't ready to admit that out loud.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Five

Taylor sighed to himself as he helped Shane,Maggie,Beth, and Glenn get rocks out of a bucket. It was daytime now and they were building a makeshift memorial for Otis. They had all agreed to have a funeral for him even if there was no body to actually bury. It was the least they could do and he figured it also helped Patricia deal with the loss of her husband.

Hearing the sound of cars in the distance Taylor looked towards the road seeing the rest of their people coming towards the house. At least now everyone would be together and not spread out between the farm and the highway.

Turning away from the sight Taylor just shook his head and went back to the bucket where the rocks where. After they finished he would go greet his family, the ones he hadn't seen since leaving the highway yesterday.

Avery who had stayed inside with T-Dog raised an eyebrow as she heard what sounded like a motorcycle. Walking over to the window she looked outside and smiled seeing Daryl on his motorcycle as he lead the rest of their group down the driveway of the farm.

"Is that them?" T-Dog asked from where he sat on the couch.

Nodding her head Avery smiled a bit more, "Yeah it is them?" she confirmed watching as T-Dog moved from the couch and she walked over to him to stabilize him some as he seemed a bit wobbly on his feet still. "Don't want you to fall and hurt yourself," she told him when he looked at her funny.

T-Dog just shook his head but didn't say anything back as he walked to the room just a short distance away. The room in which Lori and Rick were sitting at Carl's bedside with Hershel in there with him. Getting to the door he cleared his throat and looked at Lori and Rick, "They're here," he said letting the couple know the rest of their group was here.

It was after T-Dog had let Rick and Lori know that the group was here that Avery moved away from the man and headed outside, letting Rick and Lori lead the way as she followed behind with Hershel, T-Dog and Patricia.

"How is he?" Dale asked once he was out of the parked camper and standing face to face with Rick and Lori. He was concerned over how Carl was doing since being shot.

Lori smiled as she nodded her head, "He'll pull through," she answered feeling thankful that her son would be okay. "Thanks to Hershel and his people," she said turning to look at Hershel who was standing behind her though just a bit closer to the porch.

"And Shane," Rick added in knowing if it wasn't for Shane and Otis going to the high school and getting the stuff for the surgery that Carl may not have made it. "We would have lost Carl if not for him."

Avery just rolled her eyes at Rick's words mainly because she still felt like he had done something to Otis. His story just seemed too fishy for her.

After hearing Rick and Lori speak Dale moved up some and pulled Rick into a hug feeling thankful that things with Carl would be okay.

"Thank god," Carol muttered as she walked over to Lori and hugged her. At least one of them had good news about their child. Maybe with that good news she'd get her own and Sophia would be found soon. "We were so worried," Carol said after she pulled away.

"How did it happen?" Dale asked once he too had pulled away from the hug with Rick.

Rick chewed his lip before answering Dale, "A hunting accident," he shrugged finally speaking. "That's all just a stupid accident."

As Rick referred to the accident Avery found herself looking at Shane. It was hard not to see the guilt written across his face. Shaking her head she looked away from him and walked off the porch making her way towards Kate who she pulled into a hug. She was just glad to see the rest of her family again even if she had just seen them yesterday.

It was after everyone got reacquainted with each other that Avery found herself standing beside Daryl in the half circle their group made around Otis's makeshift grave. The rest of the group had been informed about Otis's death and the funeral and now here they were having a funeral for a man she suspected was killed by Shane though she doubted Shane would ever admit it out loud to anyone.

"Blessed be God father of our Lord Jesus Christ," Hershel spoke as he looked down at the open bible in his hand. "Praise be to him for the gift of our brother Otis. For his span of years, for his abundance of character. Otis who gave his life to save a child's. Now more than ever our most precious asset," he said smiling some. "We thank you God for the peace he enjoys in your embrace. He died as he lived, in grace," he spoke as he turned to look at Shane.

"Shane will you speak for Otis?" he asked as he kept eying the man who spent the last few hours of Otis's life with him.

Shane swallowed hard as he looked away from the older man, "I'm not good at it," he said as he shook his head and looked down at the ground. "I'm sorry."

"You were the last one with him," Patricia said her voice coming out with sadness as tears went down her face. "You shared his final moments," she nodded her head as she turned to look at Shane. "Please. I need to hear. I need to know his death had meaning."

At Patricia's words Shane felt his guilt grow. He knew the words out of his mouth were gonna be a lie but he had to say them anyway. "We were about done. Almost out of ammo, we were down to pistols by then. I was limping, it was bad. Ankle all swollen up," he said as he kept his gaze away from Patricia who kept looking at him. "We've got to save the boy, see that's what he said," he lied flash-backing to the true events of the night before. He had shot Otis in the leg to save himself. "He gave me his back pack, he shoved me ahead. Run he said. Said I'll take the rear I'll cover you. Then when I looked back," he sighed knowing what that implied.

Limping over to Otis's makeshift grave Shane picked up one last rock, "If not for Otis I would have never made it out alive and that goes for Carl too. It was Otis he saved us both," Shane said as he eyed the people standing at the grave site before putting the rock down on top. "And if any death ever had meaning it was his," he nodded before turning to look Patricia right in the eye.

After Otis's funeral Jessica leaned against the Cherokee as she stood beside Hershel. He was inquiring about Sophia and had asked how long she had been lost.

"This will be day three," Rick informed the man. It was the thought of Sophia being gone for three days that worried him. After he had spoken he felt Maggie come to stand beside him as she laid a map down on the hood of the car.

"County survey map. Shows terrain and elevations," Maggie spoke as she unfolded the map she had laid on the hood of the car.

Looking at the map Maggie unfolded Rick couldn't help but smile, "This is perfect we can finally get this thing organized. We'll grid the whole area and start searching in teams."

"Not you not today," Hershel said as he turned his head to look at Rick. "You gave three units of blood. You wouldn't be hiking five minutes in this heat before passing out," he said before turning to look at Shane who stood across from him on the other side of the vehicle. "And your ankle. Push it now and you'll be laid up a month. No good to anybody."

Daryl who had stayed silent as he listened to Hershel sighed some, "Guess it's just me. I'm going to head back to the creek," he said as he looked at the map. "Work my way from there."

"I can still be useful. Drive up to the interstate see if Sophia wondered back," Shane said knowing that he could at least do that. Do something instead of just sitting here.

"All right tomorrow then. We'll start doing this right," Rick nodded knowing they had to get on the ball.

Shane looked at Rick after he spoke, "That means we can't have our people out there with just knives. We need the gun training we've been promising."

After a moment of silence Hershel looked at both men, "I'd rather you not carry guns on my property. We've managed so far without turning this into an armed camp."

"With all due respect if a crowd of those things wonder in here..." Shane started only to be stopped by Rick.

"We're guests here," Rick said as he locked eyes with Shane. "This is your property," he said turning to look at Hershel then. "And we will respect that," he told the man before getting his own gun out of his pocket and laying it down on top of the map. It was after he did that, that he watched Shane soon do the same.

"First things first," Rick continued after that. "Set camp, find Sophia."

Shane who was ticked at Rick making him give up his gun decided to ask the one question on his mind, "I hate to be the one to ask but somebody's got too. What happens if we find her and she's bit?" he asked sarcasm apparent in his voice. "I think we should all be clear on how we handle that."

Looking away from Shane after he posed that question Rick sighed not even wanting to think of that option. "You do what has to be done."

"And her mother? What do you tell her?" Maggie asked breaking her silence.

"The truth," Jessica answered bluntly. She was sure if it came to that, that Carol would in some way understand what they had done.

After Jessica answered her Maggie just watched as her dad shook his head at her.

"I'll gather and secure all the weapons. Make sure no one's carrying til we're practice range off sight," Shane spoke. "I do request one rifle man on look out," he said as he looked at Hershel wondering if the man would at least agree to that. "Dale's got experience."

When Hershel went silent after Shane's request Rick looked at him, "Our people would feel safer. Less inclined to carry a gun," he told him watching as the man eventually nodded his head in agreement. "Thank you."

"That stuff you brought," Maggie started as she looked at Rick. "Got more antibiotics, bandages, anything like that?"

"Just what you see," Andrea told her before walking off behind Shane and Daryl.

At that answer Maggie looked at her dad, "We're running short already. Someone should make a run into town."

Hearing Maggie, Jessica's face perked up some, "I can do it," she said feeling eyes on her. "I mean I can take Glenn with me and Maggie can write the directions and what they need down," she nodded as she eyed the brunette who reluctantly agreed.

"You can also take two of our horses," Maggie answered before turning to leave and go make a list for the blonde as well as saddle the horses.

After Maggie left Jessica could see the hesitancy in Rick's eyes but she ignored it as she walked away and over towards Glenn to inform him of their upcoming run. She hadn't been on a run alone with him since Atlanta and she hoped this one went better.

Kate made a face as she sat on the RV watching Zac after Shane had taken his gun. She was surprised at how easily he had handed it over.

"What?" Zac asked as he felt Kate's eyes on him.

Kate shrugged as she looked away, "Just surprised you gave up your gun so quick," she answered. "I mean your guns are like your babies. I never expected you'd give it up willingly."

"Shane said Hershel didn't want people carrying on his property," Zac said knowing Shane had also said he'd rather people have training as well. "I can respect that at least and give up my guns. Anyway this place seems safe."

"The CDC seemed safe too," Kate added in knowing that just because somewhere seemed safe it didn't mean that it was.

Laughing at his wife's words now Zac made his own face, "What happened to your positive attitude?"

"I still have it," Kate said as she stood and walked towards the door of the RV. "But I am also more cautious now too," she nodded before leaving the RV.

"So we kind of are making a run into town," Jessica spoke once she made it to where Glenn was.

Glenn who had been helping set up one of the tents turned to look at Jessica, "What do you mean we are making a run into town?" he asked her as he raised an eyebrow.

"I volunteered us to go," Jessica admitted as she blushed slightly. "They are low on medicine and stuff here and Maggie is writing a list of what they need as well as directions on how to get there. She's also letting use their horses," she said hoping Glenn wasn't too mad at her for this.

Shaking his head Glenn groaned internally but outside he forced a smile. It wasn't that he didn't want to do this because he did, he liked going on runs. It was the thought of being with Jessica alone that scared him. He liked her and he was afraid the longer he was around her he'd just blurt it out and he was resolved on not telling her.

"Are you mad at me?" Jessica asked when Glenn remained silent.

Glenn shook his head again, "Not mad. I'm just surprised you volunteered us to go."

"We haven't been on a run together since we went to Atlanta. Hopefully this run will be safer," Jessica nodded before turning to walk away from him. She couldn't help but feel though that Glenn had less enthusiasm about this then he normally would and she wished she could place why.

As she walked away she could hear Dale asking Maggie what the water situation there was.

Maggie who had been on her way to give the list and directions to Jessica turned to face Dale, "Got five wells on our land. House draws directly from number one," she said as she pointed to the well the house used. "Number two well is right over there," she smiled pointing to the second well. "We use it for the cattle but it's just as pure. Take what you need," she nodded. "There's a cartoon of containers in the generator shed behind the house," she said as she finished the conversation.

Meeting Jessica half way she handed the blonde the piece of paper with the directions and the list of supplies, "I'll go saddle those horses now," she told her before walking off again.

Leaving the RV eventually Zac walked off and spotted Taylor helping set up one of the tents. Going to his brother he sighed, "I made amends with Kate," he spoke as he came to a stop on the other side of the tent Taylor was setting up.

"I figured you would," Taylor nodded as he smiled. He was glad to know his brother had forgiven Kate. He would hate for them to stay arguing just because she had decided to stay back and save his life. "But you are still mad at me aren't you?"

Zac shook his head as he started to help Taylor with the tent, "I was never mad at you," he told his brother though maybe that was partly a lie. "It was your decision to choose to die. I just hated that my wife risked her life to save yours," he shrugged as he chewed his lip. "But I am glad you are here. I don't want to lose you Taylor."

"And you aren't going to lose me," Taylor smiled as he shook his head. "I'm still here and I plan to be here for a long time. Mainly just to annoy you," he teased as he stuck his tongue out at his brother.

"Asshole," Zac muttered under his breath as he raised his hand and flipped Taylor the bird, trying to be as discreet as possible.

Taylor crinkled his nose in mock disgust at Zac flipping him off, "I think I will refrain from fucking you," he teased again as he shook his head. It was in this moment he was glad at the decisions he had made at the CDC. Choosing to live. He knew now that this was what he had to do. If he had chosen differently he wouldn't be having time with Zac nor would he have met Maggie who he was sure he was crushing on hard.

"I did kiss your wife though," Taylor admitted sounding innocent mainly because the kiss was innocent and had meant nothing to him.

Freezing at Taylor's words Zac raised an eyebrow, "No you didn't," he said shaking his head in disbelief.

"I did," Taylor reaffirmed as he looked at Zac. "At the CDC the night we all drank. It was innocent and meant nothing and she wasn't even going to tell you but I thought you should know."

Zac just nodded his head not sure what to think at this revelation. If Taylor said it was nothing then it was nothing but why would Kate keep this from him?

Avery who had left the main house came to a stop on the stairs as she watched Rick move from them as he saw Daryl.

Rick walked towards Daryl after he saw the man heading off to go look for Sophia, "Daryl?" he asked as he walked a bit closer and he saw Daryl come to a stop. "Are you okay on your own?"

"I'm better on my own," Daryl yelled at Rick though his eyes landed on the person behind Rick. Turning his back to both Rick and Avery he continued walking, "Don't worry I'll be back before dark."

"Hey!" Rick yelled out again watching as Daryl stopped again and turned to look at him. "We've got a base. We can get this search properly organized now."

Daryl listened to Rick and stepped closer to that man, "You got a point or are we just chattin?" he asked harshly. He tried to keep his gaze on the man in front of him but somehow his gaze kept going to Avery and each time they did he kept replaying her with Shane in his head along with his question to Jessica. He hated that he had allowed her to get under his skin like this.

"My point is it let's you off the hook," Rick told him as he watched Daryl step a bit closer to him. "You don't owe us anything."

Turning his back towards Rick, Daryl headed off again, "My other plans fell through," he said loud enough for Rick to hear.

Watching Daryl walk off Avery made a face and stepped off the porch. Running after him she came to a slow walk when she reached him. "I'm going with you," she told him knowing he'd probably object but that wouldn't change her stance. She was going with him to help him look for Sophia.

"I said I was better on my own," Daryl growled under his breath not even turning to look at Avery. "Or are you deaf?"

"I know what you said," Avery snapped at him as well. "But when have I ever listened to what you said?" she asked knowing she had never really listened to what he told her. "I'm going with you and you can't stop me."

Glaring Daryl didn't say anything else but he kept walking. If she was going she was going, Avery was just that damn stubborn.

Jessica crossed her arms as she followed the rest of her group to the well. They had been brought there by Dale and T-Dog. Apparently Dale had found a walker in the well they were told they could get water from.

Circling around it with the rest of the people who came Jessica looked down at the well which had been opened. Making a face as she saw the walker looking back up at her she just shook her head. That thing had to have been down there for awhile given just how big it looked.

"Ah looks like we got us a swimmer," Dale spoke as he shined his flashlight down towards the bottom of the well where the walker was.

"How long do you think it's been down there?" Glenn asked curiously as he looked over towards Dale who was opposite him at the well.

"Long enough to grow gills," Andrea answered instead from where she stood next to Lori.

Lori shook her head, "We can't leave it in there. God knows what it's doing to the water."

"Well we gotta get it out," Shane said in reply to Lori's words agreeing with the woman on getting the walker out of the well.

"Easy. Put a bullet in it's head," T-Dog replied figuring that would be the easiest way to get rid of the walker.

Maggie who had been listening to T-Dog just made a face, "Woah woah guys, no," she said as she shook her head some.

"Why not? It's a good plan," Glenn spoke as he turned to look at the brunette feeling confused by her objection.

"It's a stupid plan," Jessica said as she broke her silence agreeing with Maggie. "If that thing hasn't contaminated the water yet, blowing it's brains out will finish the job."

Shane nodded his head after Jessica spoke, "She's right. Can't risk it."

"So it has to come out alive?" T-Dog asked as he looked back down at the walker.

"So to speak," Shane answered as he put his hands on his waist.

Glenn who looked up from the walker looked at Shane, "How do we do that?" he asked not sure how they would get the walker out of the well alive.

Zac who had went inside some time after helping Taylor put the tent up sighed as he saw Kate sitting in the kitchen with Patricia and Carol. They were talking and he wasn't close enough to hear what about and to be honest he wasn't sure he wanted to even hear what they were talking about anyway. He wasn't sure he wanted to be near Kate anyway right now.

He knew it was wrong but he was hurt that she had no plans of telling him about the kiss with Taylor. He was hurt that she didn't seem to trust him enough to tell him. Yeah he was kind of pissed it happened but if Taylor said it meant nothing then it meant nothing but if that was the case then why couldn't Kate have told him? He would have understood.

Shaking his head he walked upstairs to go to the bathroom. It was on his way back down the stairs though that he stopped in his tracks outside one of the rooms as he heard someone singing. Stepping closer he looked into the door which was cracked to see the blonde girl whose name he thought was Beth. She was singing as she made her bed and he couldn't help but smile as he listened to her sing. It had been so long since he heard someone sing. It had been so long since he himself had sang and it felt nice to hear some part of the past.

"She's good huh?" Jimmy asked softly as he came to a stop beside the man looking into his girlfriends room. "She had the best voice of every girl in high school."

Zac blushed some at being caught but he turned to look at the teenage boy who seemed to fit the image of a farmer perfectly, along with that southern drawl to boot. "She is good," he admitted as he turned to look back in the room. "She's really good."

Jimmy just smiled before patting Zac on the back, "And she's all mine," he said wanting to set the record straight before the man got any ideas.

Again Zac blushed and turned to look at Jimmy, "I..I'm not...I mean I'm married," he defended finding himself stammering over his words. Just because he liked Beth's singing that didn't mean he liked her. He actually wanted to honor his wedding vows even if his wife couldn't honor hers by being honest with him about one simple fucking kiss.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Six

Standing at the well Jessica raised an eyebrow as she watched the piece of meat being lowered into the well. She wasn't sure whose idea it had been but they were trying to use that to bait the walker up so they could pull it out of the well and hopefully keep the water from being contaminated worse than what it probably already could be.

"He's not going for it," Dale spoke as he stood beside Shane and helped him lower the piece of meat down into the well.

"Maybe because canned ham don't kick and scream when you try to eat it," T-Dog piped up from where he was bent over the well.

Lori nodded, "He's right. There is a reason the dead didn't come back to life and start raiding our cupboards."

"We need live bait," Andrea said knowing that meant they would have to send someone down into the well. It was after she said that she turned to look at Glenn. He was the only one she could think of to do it. The only one who would do it.

Feeling Andrea's eyes on him Glenn turned to look at her realizing that she had meant him. It was an idea he wasn't really fond of but he'd do it. He always did what was expected of him.

Jessica who had stood there in silence looked up towards Andrea and she rolled her eyes when she realized Andrea had meant they would be sending Glenn down there into the well. When Glenn didn't fight back or stand his ground she shook her head and just stood there watching as Shane eventually hooked Glenn up into the rope and got him ready to go down in the well. She hated to admit it but she was scared for Glenn. She was scared about sending him down into the well. Besides her family he was the only true friend she had here.

"Have I mentioned that I really like your new haircut?" Glenn asked nervously as Shane hooked the rope around him. "You have a nice shaped head."

Shane who was finishing the ropes sighed, "Don't worry bout it bud," he said patting Glenn's back. "We are going to get you out of there in one piece."

"Living piece," Glenn stated wanting to make sure Shane knew he didn't want to die. "The living part is important," he said watching as Shane walked off to where they had the other end of the rope tied around and eventually the others in the group grabbed a part of the rope too. "Nice and slow please."

Andrea nodded her head, "We've got ya."

"Oh you people are crazy," Maggie spoke as she crossed her arms. She felt scared for the poor boy going down into the well and she could tell that Jessica too seemed scared though she wasn't voicing her words.

"Do you want to get that out of your well or not?" Shane asked Maggie after she called them crazy.

Not saying anything to Shane, Maggie kept her arms crossed as she heard Dale ask her to give them an eye. Uncrossing her arms she walked closer to the well so she could watch as Glenn went down. It was only when Glenn turned to look at her that she shook her head in disapproval of this.

Once Glenn eventually moved down Maggie bent down over the well to look at him, "Doing okay?"

"Yep. Doing great," Glenn answered as he forced a smile feeling himself being slowly lowered down into the well. "Living the dream," he whispered to himself as he held onto the rope with one hand and his flashlight with the other and he turned to look down at the walker he was slowly being lowered towards. The walker who he was supposed to throw another rope around.

Jessica who stood in between Andrea and Dale as she held the rope heard Maggie say a little lower and she along with everyone else moved the rope some more. She knew as she did so that her hands were shaking and her nerves were shot. She was worrying about Glenn and what could happen. When Maggie told them a little more she made a face but again they kept pulling on the rope.

It wasn't long after that she turned her head when she heard a noise and she made a face seeing that the end they had their rope around had broke off and she felt herself panic then. That meant Glenn was going down faster towards that walker and god...god he could fucking get bit or worse he could become a whole meal to that thing down there.

As things became panic stricken when Shane and T-Dog both ran towards the part that had broke off Jessica watched in horror as the thing fell all the way down and she knew that meant Glenn had to be really close to that walker now. A fact that made her scared, especially when she could hear him screaming down in the well telling them to get him out of there.

Grabbing onto the rope she went along with everyone else to where T-Dog was near the well, holding the part that had broken and they all began to pull together to get Glenn out of the well. She couldn't lose Glenn, she just really couldn't lose him.

After what felt like forever Jessica sighed in relief as Glenn was pulled up and finally landed on the ground. "Are you okay?" she asked him breathlessly as she walked closer and bent down towards where he was.

Glenn who was on all fours as he caught his breath felt Lori rubbing his back and he tried all he could to get over the fact that he had almost died in the well today. When he heard Dale say back to the drawing board he eventually looked up smiling slightly when he saw Jessica bent down in front of him.

"Says you," Glenn finally spoke before taking his eyes off Jessica and looking at Dale. Standing up he handed the man the other rope he had went down with before standing up and walking away.

Jessica who had watched Glenn walk away watched as the rope in Dale's hand started to move and then she walked closer to the well with everyone else seeing that Glenn had successfully got the walker roped up.

Avery who had been silent the whole time she walked with Daryl through the woods looked over at him when they finally came out and came face to face with a house not far from where they stood. It was sort of old looking but it could still pass as a place for shelter especially if a scared little girl came across it.

"You think she is in there?" Avery asked seeing Daryl come to a stop beside her. He seemed to be eying the house with an interest.

Daryl shrugged at Avery's question, "Doesn't hurt to check," he answered as he took his crossbow off from around him, holding it close in case he'd need it. "Stay close to me," he told her harshly as he began to walk towards the house. "The last thing I need is you getting hurt."

Nodding her head Avery went silent again as she followed Daryl towards the house. The closer they got the more he raised his crossbow up til he had it all the way raised once they reached the porch. Seeing him raise his foot she jumped slightly as he kicked the door open. The loud banging taking her off guard though it really shouldn't have done so.

Avery remained silent as she followed Daryl inside and she looked around remaining on alert for Sophia or any walkers they could potentially run across. The farther they went inside the more Avery felt her heartbeat faster and when they headed towards the kitchen she watched as Daryl came to a stop before picking up an empty can that had been thrown in there.

"Has it been recently opened?" Avery asked under her breath just loud enough for him to hear her.

Daryl turned to look at Avery after her question and he just nodded his head before catching sight of an open closet as he laid the can of empty sardines down back into the trash. Raising his crossbow again he began to walk towards the closet which he eventually reached out to open once his was close enough.

Watching as Daryl opened the closet door Avery raised an eyebrow as she scanned the contents, her eyes quickly falling on the makeshift bed in the closet. A bed big enough for a small child.

Daryl too saw the bed and he just turned to look at Avery before deciding to check the rest of the house and heading outside again. Once they had went outside that was when he decided to call out the young girls name, "Sophia!"

Avery followed Daryl outside and she chewed on her lip when he hollered for Sophia but got no answer. Seeing him walk in one direction she looked ahead as she spotted some flowers blooming and she walked towards them. She had never seen them before.

When Daryl came to where she was after hollering for Sophia one more time she watched as he bent down towards the flower, "I've never seen one of those before," she spoke as she looked down at him. "I just thought they were pretty."

Daryl looked up at Avery as he pulled a flower out of the ground,"It's a Cherokee Rose. The story is that when American soldiers were moving Indians off their land on the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee mothers were grieving and crying so much 'cause they were losing their little ones along the way from exposure and disease and starvation. A lot of them just disappeared. So the elders, they said a prayer; asked for a sign to uplift the mothers' spirits, give them strength and hope. The next day this rose started to grow where the mothers' tears fell."

"And you think it's a sign you'll find Merle?" Avery asked curiously wondering if he was even going to search for his brother again or if he had just given up and realized that Merle was probably a lost cause. They would probably never see him again.

Laughing at that some Daryl stood up after he pulled the flower out of the ground, "Nah," he told her as he shook his head. "I think this one was blooming for Sophia," he said before turning back to the woods so they could head back to the farm. He hadn't meant to let his guard fall with her again but yet he had. Somehow it just seemed easy even when he was pissed at her.

Pulling on the rope that was now tied to the horse Jessica made a face as it got harder and harder to pull the walker the closer that it got to the top of the well. She was near the back so she couldn't see how far it had til it got to the top but she could hear T-Dog saying that it was almost there.

Eventually she made a face in disgust when she saw the top of it come out of the well. It was obvious from how fat and bloated it was that it head been down there for awhile. Making another face as everyone pulled harder once the walker seemingly got stuck at the very top of the well she wanted to gag when she watched as the walker got torn in half. The bottom half of him falling back into the well and for sure contaminating the water and the top half staying on the ground trying to reach out for someone, anyone to bite.

"We have to seal off this well," Dale spoke as he looked down knowing they couldn't use this well now.

"Yeah that might be a good idea," Shane agreed as he rubbed his hair for a bit. His tone had been sarcastic mainly because he figured that didn't need to be stated.

Andrea who had just started to ask what they do about the half of a walker watched as T-Dog attacked it with a pickaxe.

"Good thing we didn't do anything stupid like shoot it," T-Dog said sarcastically as he looked at the rest of the group after he had killed the walker on the ground.

Kate left the main house and she raised an eyebrow seeing Taylor sitting on the porch steps. Going to sit down next to him she sighed, "Have you seen Zac?" she asked him knowing she had looked everywhere for him after Jimmy had mentioned seeing him in the main house though Jimmy had also said that Zac had left not long after he had caught him watching Beth sing.

Taylor who had been watching the situation at the well from where he sat on the porch shook his head at Kate's words, "I last saw him when he was helping me put up the tents. He could be in the tent maybe."

"I hope so," Kate sighed wondering why Zac hadn't even came to find her when he was in the house. She had to hope he wasn't ticked at their talk in the RV that morning. They had been doing so well after their chat in the car last night and she'd hate to go back to page one. "We had finally made up last night after the incident at the CDC."

Taylor gave Kate a smile, "I'm sure things are still fine," he said knowing Kate was worrying. He could read her worry on her face. "You need to stop worrying though or it's going to affect my future niece or nephew."

Laughing Kate put a hand on her stomach, "I can't help but worry. I think worrying comes with this new world," she said knowing it seemed like everyone worried now. "I just don't get Zac sometimes though. I mean he was in the main house earlier but he didn't even come to find me or let me know. I know I was talking to Patricia but I guess I just hoped he would have at least let me know he was there."

"Zac's just on his man rag probably," Taylor teased knowing Zac had a tendency to be moody. "I'm sure it's nothing to do with you."

"If you aren't right my pregnant ass is going to kill you," Kate told Taylor as she stood from the stairs. "And I'll make sure it's slow and painful," she smiled at him before turning to head for the tents to see if her husband was in one of them.

Making it to where the tents were set up Kate checked them all and frowned when she didn't see Zac in any of them. "Where the hell is he?" she asked herself as she ran a hand through her hair not understanding where Zac could have ran off too or even why he had ran off.

Jessica looked over at Glenn as they rode the horses into town. So far since they had left things had been silent between them and that made Jessica sad. She hadn't wanted the silence especially since she thought of Glenn like a friend. "Are we okay?" she asked as she looked back at the main road. They were getting close to the pharmacy.

"Y..yeah we are okay," Glenn nodded as he looked at Jessica briefly. "Why wouldn't we be?"

"Because you haven't talked to me since we left the farm," Jessica shrugged as she chewed on her lip for a second.

Glenn blushed at Jessica's words, "I just don't get why you volunteered yourself to come," he finally said knowing it was a lie. He was silent because he was afraid if he said anything he'd reveal how he felt about her. "You know I do this type of stuff by myself."

Nodding Jessica saw the pharmacy come into sight as they rounded a corner, "I know you do but I wanted to do something. I wanted to help and I've been on a run with you before," she said as she eventually stopped the horse in front of the pharmacy. Getting off she looked at the sign in the pharmacy's window and reality hit her as she read the words Take What You Need and God Bless. This world had fallen into such a terrible shape and it probably never would get better.

"Yeah and you know how well that went," Glenn reminded her as he came to a stop beside her in front of the store window and he too read the sign. "I don't want your family blaming me if something happens to you," he said knowing in actuality he'd probably blame himself if something happened to her.

Jessica just shook her head and turned to walk away from Glenn, walking the short distance to the front door and going inside. "I'll go see what antibiotics are left," she told Glenn once they were both inside and she heard him shutting the door behind him. "What else is on the list?" she asked knowing he had a list of stuff from people at the camp while she had the list of antibiotics they needed.

Reaching for the list in his pocket Glenn handed her one of the list, "Why don't you get started," he said knowing he had to look for whatever it was Lori needed.

"What about you?" Jessica asked seeing his nervousness when he told her to get started.

"I'm..uh..gonna look around and see what's worth grabbing," Glenn lied as he gave her a nervous smile hoping that she fell for it. "Just general stuff," Glenn spoke again as he watched Jessica turn her back and walk away from him again. After she was gone he unfolded the paper Lori had given him and then headed to the aisle she had said he could find what she needed on. The feminine hygiene aisle.

Getting to that aisle he looked to make sure Jessica wasn't near him and he bent down, putting some random things in his bag before grabbing what it was Lori needed and he felt shock when he saw that it was a pregnancy test. As he held the pregnancy test he felt his heart start to hammer in his chest when he heard Jessica's footsteps coming closer to where he was bent down.

"What you got?" Jessica asked Glenn as she came to a stop behind him.

Glenn froze for a second before sticking the pregnancy test in the bag and then searching around for anything he could grab on the floor. "Umm nothing just this, general stuff," he said as he stood up holding a box though he really had no clue what box he had grabbed.

Jessica made a face at the box in Glenn's hand, "Condoms?" she asked as she shook her head. "You got a girlfriend I don't know about?"

"Me? No," Glenn said as he shook his head as well almost feeling embarrassed at the fact that he had grabbed a box of condoms. "No," he said again as he felt his cheeks get hot.

"Then you're a pretty confident guy," Jessica smirked slightly as she watched his reactions.

At her next words Glenn felt his cheeks getting even hotter. Dear god she must have thought he wanted to have sex with her and while he did he figured it was best to just say no. "No.." he stated again. " I wasn't. I would never.."

"Is something wrong with me?" Jessica asked feeling slightly offended.

"No," Glenn said again this time his voice came out sure. " I would never have sex.." he started to say but stopped himself as he made a face and kicked himself mentally. "I'm lost," he admitted knowing this wasn't a conversation he even wanted to be having.

Jessica just watched Glenn and as he dug an even bigger hole she sighed, "I'll have sex with you," she finally admitted.

"Really?!" Glenn asked as he eyed her. "Why?"

"You're asking questions?" Jessica asked him as she chuckled some.

Glenn shrugged, "I can't help wondering."

"It's not like our options are vast these days," Jessica informed him as she laid the bag full of antibiotics that she had been carrying down on the floor before reaching over to take Glenn's baseball cap off. After doing that she gave him a smile and leaned in to kiss him softly on the lips.

"You're not the only one whose lonely," she told him after pulling away from the kiss and looking at him. It was after she spoke that she took her shirt off and let it drop to the floor though she didn't break eye contact with Glenn, not even as she reached behind and unhooked her bra, also letting it go to the floor.

Hearing Glenn mutter a word before looking away from her body briefly she couldn't help but smirk when he eventually took off his shirt. Once his shirt was off she leaned in and kissed him again. They were actually going to do it. They were going to have sex in a pharmacy. She still wasn't sure it beat Avery having sex with Shane on top of an RV though.

Taylor who had went inside the main house smiled some as he saw Maggie in the kitchen. Going into the kitchen he walked to where she stood beside the stove fixing dinner for her family. "You want help with that?" he asked as he raised an eyebrow.

Maggie jumped slightly as she heard Taylor, "You trying to give me a heart attack?" she asked him as she shook her head. "And no thanks I think I can handle this on my own. Anyway for all I know you may end up burning the house down if you helped me."

"I can cook," Taylor stated knowing that was one thing Natalie had liked about being married to him, the fact that he helped her cook. "My wife used to like it when I helped her."

Maggie looked at Taylor skeptically, "You had a wife?" she asked as she crinkled her nose. She wasn't sure why she was shocked. He just didn't seem like the type who would have been married before.

Nodding at Maggie's question Taylor watched her as she gave him a look before she turned away to continue fixing dinner, "Yeah. I also had four children too. Does my having a wife shock you?"

"Maybe," Maggie admitted as she blushed when she felt his eyes on her still. It was like he was looking into her soul and that was the main reason she didn't want to have eye contact with him again. Every time they did she felt like she was laid bare in front of him. "What happened to your wife and kids?"

"They all died," Taylor revealed as he frowned some. "My wife and three of my kids died the first day. The other died a few days or maybe even a week ago now. Seems I'm slowly losing track of time and days but it was recently. The camp we were staying at was overrun and he was bit. He died and after he died I felt like I had lost everything."

Listening to Taylor's story Maggie frowned some as she thought of the people she knew that had been taken away as well. "I'm sorry," she said as she finally turned to look at him. "That must have been hard."

"It was," Taylor nodded as he gave her a sad smile. "I almost let myself get blown up just so I could join them but my brother's wife talked me out of it and I think I'm kind of glad she did," he said knowing if Kate hadn't talked him out of it then he would have never have seen Maggie who was slowly but surely making him feel better with this crush he had on her.

Maggie smiled some at his last words, "I'm glad you didn't get blown up too," she nodded knowing he had helped her last night when she was coming to terms with Otis's death. Biting her lip she sighed, "You can help me if you want," she said giving in to his earlier request to help her.

At Maggie's words Taylor smiled more this time much more genuine. He was glad she had given in and was going to let him help her. It meant more time he got to spend with her.

Arriving back at the farm Jessica looked over at Glenn who was trying to get her attention and kept smiling and grinning real big at her. "Don't spoil it," she told him as she shook her head.

"So it was good," Glenn stated as he smiled at Jessica's words feeling confident that she had liked having sex with him. Maybe her actions proved that she didn't see him as just a friend.

"It was a one time thing," Jessica clarified as she kept looking at him. Seeing his expression change at her words she just shook her head and eventually kept silent as they brought the horses to a stop and it wasn't long after that they were greeted by Patricia who took the bag with medicine from her as Jimmy lead the horses towards one of the barns.

After that Jessica walked to Mac who seemed to be standing there as if he was waiting on her.

"Everything go okay?" Mac asked as he eyed Jessica. He hated to admit but he worried about his older sister. He worried about her more than he worried about everyone else.

Jessica nodded, "Everything went fine," she smiled as she shrugged and put her arm around Mac's shoulder leading him towards one of the tents. "Nothing happened," she said knowing that was a semi lie but she wasn't about to tell Mac that she had sex with Glenn.

As she walked off with Mac, Jessica looked back and raised an eyebrow as she saw Lori coming out of the house and walking towards Glenn like he had something important that she needed or wanted. Shaking her head she turned away from them and sighed. "How are you doing baby bro?"

Mac just gave Jessica a look not buying her saying nothing happened, "I'm doing well Jess. It's you I worry about though."

Avery came to a stop as she and Daryl arrived back at the farm. Watching him head inside the RV with the flower he had picked she shook her head and walked towards the tents coming to a stop when she saw Jessica and Mac heading towards them too. When they reached her she gave them a smile, "Mind if I borrow Jessica?" Avery asked as she raised an eyebrow.

Mac sighed at Avery's request, "Do you really need her?" he asked before giving Avery a tiny smile. "I kind of wanted to spend time with her."

"I do really need her," Avery nodded as she chewed on her lip. "Now give her up and I promise to send her to you once I am done with her."

Sighing again Mac just rolled his eyes but walked inside of a tent. He knew it was no use arguing with Avery. She'd get her way in the end anyhow.

After Mac had left Jessica gave Avery a look, "Is everything okay?" she asked as she scrunched up her nose.

Avery shook her head and grabbed Jessica's arm pulling her away from the tents and the RV. "I think Daryl hates me now," she said knowing besides him talking to her briefly about the flowers and also telling her to stay close to him not much had been said while they were out looking for Sophia.

"And that's a bad thing?" Jessica asked before smiling some. She knew it was but she was trying to tease her sister and well she wanted to see what Avery would say in response to that.

"It is when I think that I kind of sort of am falling for him," Avery admitted as she gave Jessica a look before shrugging and looking down at the ground. "I'm falling for Daryl and I think him catching me with Shane screwed that up."

Jessica made a face hearing Avery's words. She had known from what Avery had said on the highway that she had been with Shane again but she hadn't known that Daryl had saw them though maybe she should have guessed from Daryl asking her if Avery loved Shane. "Well I'm sure it didn't sit well with him but I don't think it screwed it up," she smiled feeling confident that if it had been screwed up Daryl wouldn't have asked her what he did.

"What makes you so sure of that?" Avery asked as she raised an eyebrow.

As she was about to answer Avery, Jessica watched Daryl come out of the RV and look over at where they stood. "I just am sure," she smiled before turning and heading back to the tent where Mac was.

Watching Jessica walk off Avery made a face before shaking her head. She wasn't sure what made Jessica so sure but she hoped her sister was right.

That night after it had gotten dark Zac walked towards the tents and came to a stop when he saw Kate sitting in a chair outside of one. He hadn't expected her to be up still. That was one of the reasons he had waited until it was dark to come back.

Hearing footsteps Kate looked up from where she sat and she breathed a sigh of relief as she saw her husband, "I was worried about you," she said as she stood from the chair and pulled Zac into a hug. "Where did you go?"

"I just went for a walk," Zac said as he hugged his wife back and tried to force a smile. "I needed to clear my mind and try to forget things."

"Did the walk help with that?" Kate asked as she pulled away and looked at him. "And how could you be so stupid going off on your own and not telling anyone?"

Zac again forced a smile as he looked at her, "I think the walk did make me forget what I needed too," he lied knowing the walk had just made his thoughts worse. He was almost convinced that maybe his wife didn't love him. Maybe she wanted Taylor and that was why she had kept the kiss a secret from him. "And I was fine on my own," he said as he shrugged. "I can take care of myself and I really don't need to report to someone when I want to take a simple walk."

"You do when there are walkers out there and you have a pregnant wife who worries about you," Kate scolded him as she crossed her arms. "I thought you were dead."

At her words Zac almost wanted to ask her if that would be a bad thing. At least then she could have Taylor. "Well I'm not dead. I would have been fine though if I came across a walker. I can take care of myself Kate," Zac nodded as he leaned in to kiss her cheek and at least try to calm the situation. "Let's go to bed now okay."

Nodding at his words Kate uncrossed her arms before turning and unzipping the tent where Avery and Jessica were sleeping as well. "Just so you know if you ever run off again without telling me I will make you wish you were dead," she laughed as she walked over to the cot that was theirs now.

"I wouldn't expect less," Zac said as he followed her into the tent. As she headed to the cot he zipped the tent back up and then stripped down to his boxers. Going to the cot finally he slipped in beside his wife. "I'm sorry I scared you," he apologized as he kissed her forehead and pulled the blanket over them. He was sorry for that but he knew he was still hurt over her lie. It was one simple lie but it was eating away at him.

"I forgive you," Kate smiled before snuggling to Zac and closing her eyes.

Smiling at Kate's words Zac held her as she drifted off and he stayed awake for a bit longer. He knew he was probably crazy but he wondered if she wished she were in Taylor's arms instead of his. Maybe she had always wanted Taylor and had just settled for him. After all she had dated Isaac first and girl's only dated Isaac when they couldn't have Taylor.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Seven

Avery awoke the next morning and raised an eyebrow as she saw Jessica sitting on the empty cot that belonged to Kate and Zac. She looked like she had just woken up and she also looked scared shitless. "Jess?" she asked as she sat up some and wiped at her eyes still feeling a bit tired. Anymore when she slept she dreamed of walkers and death and losing more people she loved.

"Huh?" Jessica asked as she raised an eyebrow and looked at her sister.

"Are you okay?" Avery asked as she stood from where she had slept and walked to the cot where her older sister sat. "You look kind of scared shitless which to be honest I haven't seen from you in awhile. Not since the herd on the highway anyway."

At Avery's words Jessica heaved a sigh as she shook her head, "Glenn's out there," she whispered not sure if she could face Glenn, not after having sex with him at the pharmacy. She wasn't even sure why she had let things go that far and why she had sex with him except for the fact that it had felt right in that moment.

"And?" Avery asked feeling confused about why Glenn being out there would scare Jessica so much. "Last I checked you and Glenn were friends."

Looking away from Avery, Jessica blushed, "Friends who had sex yesterday on that pharmacy run."

Avery felt her eyes widen at Jessica's admission of having sex with Glenn, "Wow," she muttered as she smiled slightly. "I mean I knew he liked you but I didn't really expect you two would finally hook up," she said trying not to show that while she was happy a part of her was also jealous because as it seemed right now she and Daryl would never get past this awkward phase of him being pissed at her even if he denied that he was.

"You knew he what!" Jessica stated as she eyed Avery. "And you didn't tell me?" she asked wondering how she had missed the clues on him liking her and she also couldn't help but wonder how she felt for him now. Yes the sex was good but she wasn't sure if that meant she liked him or she just liked how his dick had felt inside of her.

"Well the camp was kind of overrun when we came back the day that I found out and then after that you know we went to the CDC and almost died again. Sorry if it slipped my mind," Avery teased as she nudged Jessica back. "But why are you so scared to face him after having sex with him?"

Jessica shrugged, "Because I'm not sure how I feel for him. I mean what if he thinks I love him or something?" she asked as she ran a hand through her long hair.

Avery knew it was wrong but she laughed at her sister's words, "Honestly Jess so what if he does?" she asked as she stood from the cot. "Would it be so wrong to love Glenn or have him think that you love him? At least Glenn doesn't hate your guts like Daryl hates mine," she nodded before finding a pair of clean clothes and changing into them. "You could at least have some happiness. I just have to watch mine slip away because I was too weak and I gave in to Shane too many times," she admitted before leaving the tent.

Before she could object to Avery's theories on Daryl, Jessica watched Avery leave the tent and she looked down knowing Avery's words about Glenn had hit home sort of. What would be wrong about loving him? He wasn't Merle but then again she wasn't sure if she was ready for a relationship even if she had to admit Glenn did make her feel happy and somewhat safe. Things she had thought Merle had done too but he really hadn't. She had just been on the rebound from Joe's loss.

Kate smiled at Carol as she helped the woman hang their clothes up on a line. Doing simple chores helped Kate forget for awhile the reality of the groups situation. That at the moment they were temporary borders on some man's land and that things could always change. Doing simple chores also reminded her of their time at the lake quarry and how at least then they were all happy and things seemed to be easier.

Turning away from Carol, Kate raised an eyebrow as she saw Lori walking towards them. The woman had slept in today and Kate really couldn't blame her given what all she had been through lately.

"I can't believe I slept in," Lori spoke to Kate and Carol as she walked to where the two women stood putting clothes on the line.

"You must have needed it," Carol mused as she turned around to get more clothes out of the basket. "Feeling alright?" she asked as Lori too now got clothes from the basket to hang up.

Lori just made a face at Carol's words, "Next time wake me okay, especially on laundry day," she said once she had some clothes and she turned around walking to the line where Carol was hanging clothes up at.

"I can manage," Carol told Lori knowing she had done fine. Anyway she had Kate's help today which was good. "I had an idea I wanted to run by you."

"What's that?" Lori asked as she hung up one of the shirts she had grabbed.

"Saw that big kitchen of theirs," Carol answered referring to the big kitchen in the Greene's house. "Got me thinking I wouldn't mind cooking in a real kitchen again. Maybe if we all pitch in we can cook dinner for Hershel and his family tonight," Carol smiled and when Lori stayed silent she continued. "I am kind of looking for things to keep my mind occupied."

Lori nodded briefly and put up a pair of jeans, "After everything they have done for us it seems like the least we could do."

"You mind extending the invitation?" Carol asked as Lori came over to the basket to get more clothes. "It'd just feel more right coming from you."

After getting out a few more clothes Lori turned to walk away but paused at Carol's words, "How so?" she asked not understanding how it'd be more right coming from her.

"You are Rick's wife. It sort of makes you our unofficial first lady," Carol spoke as she shrugged.

Again Lori paused at Carol's words and then turned to look briefly when she heard her husband as he came towards where Andrea and T-Dog where and he offered them a good morning before telling them they had to get going because they had a lot of ground to cover.

Shaking her head slightly she looked at Kate who had remained silent during her talk with Carol. Kate was a huge reminder now of her own problems that she dealt with. Kate was pregnant just like Lori now found herself though as far as Lori knew Kate had gotten pregnant before the world went to hell and not after.

Zac chewed his lip as he stood around the Cherokee as Rick laid out a map to explain to them how the search for Sophia would go. He was nervous about looking for the girl but he knew he wanted to find her and bring her home. Maybe finding her could change how he felt about Kate's pregnancy.

"Alright everyone's getting new search grids today," Rick informed the people who were at the car. "She made it as far as the farmhouse that Daryl found she might have gone farther east then we've been so far."

It was after Rick spoke that Zac turned his head when he heard Beth's boyfriend Jimmy speak up as he came towards the group saying he'd like to help find the girl. Zac wasn't sure it was a good idea mainly because he really didn't look like he was equipped to helping. He was just some scrawny farm boy kid.

"Hershel's okay with this?" Rick asked as he eyed Jimmy after the boy spoke.

Jimmy nodded his head, "Yeah," he lied hoping that Rick couldn't see through his lie. "He said I should ask you."

Rick gave the boy a smile, "Alright then, thanks," he said before turning to look at Shane as he began to talk.

"About what Daryl found. Ain't screamin Sophia to me," Shane said as he opened the door of the Cherokee and and sat down. "Anyone could have been holed up in that farmhouse."

"Anybody includes her right?" Andrea asked as she turned to look down at Shane since she was the closest to him.

Daryl who had listened to Shane made a face, "Whoever slept in that cupboard was no bigger than yay high," he said showing them with his hand before looking to Avery who nodded to confirm his words.

"That's a good lead," Andrea spoke after Daryl did.

"Maybe we'll pick up her trail again," Rick said hoping that they did.

Daryl shook his head, "Ain't no maybe about it. I'm going to borrow a horse," he said as he eyed the map. "Head up to this ridge right here. Get a birds eye view of the grid. If she's up there I'll spot her."

"Good idea," Zac agreed as he looked at Daryl. "Maybe you'll see your Chupacabra up there too," he smirked as he teased the redneck.

Rick made a face at Zac's words, "Chupacabra?"

"What you never heard this? Dale asked as he made it to the Cherokee and laid the gun bag down. "The first night in camp Daryl tells us the whole thing reminds him of the time he went squirrel hunting and he saw a Chupacabra."

When Jimmy laughed at Dale's words, Daryl glared at the boy, "What are you laughing about jackass?" he grunted annoyed that the teenager found this funny.

"So you believe in a blood sucking dog?" Rick asked feeling amused as well.

"You believe in dead people walking around?" Daryl asked his tone serious.

Zac who had went silent after his comment made a face as he watched Jimmy reach his hand out for a gun.

"Hey," Rick said as he saw Jimmy's hand reach for the rifle out of the corner of his eye. "Ever fire one before?" he asked as he reached out and moved Jimmy's hand off the gun before picking it up.

"Well if I'm going out I want one," Jimmy spoke knowing he'd feel comfortable that way, even if he had never shot a gun before in his life.

Daryl slung his crossbow over his shoulder as he listened to Jimmy's response, "Yeah and people in hell want slurpees," he replied before walking off to get one of the horses so he could head out.

After Daryl left Zac turned to look at Avery before nodding. He would take her with him as they went to look for Sophia. Hearing Shane telling Jimmy to come gun training with them tomorrow he made another face as he lead Avery away so they could get going. He wasn't sure how he felt about that kid even holding a gun for gun training. He just seemed so ill equipped or maybe that was just his inner gun enthusiast talking right now.

Jessica who had just finished showering in the main house chewed on her lip as she headed towards the door. She could hear the guitar being strummed and she knew Glenn was out there. She'd have to face him and that thought scared her because she really didn't want too.

"Just do it Jess," she spoke to herself before opening the door and stepping outside. Once she did she watched as Glenn looked up at her and then stood up. Giving him a smile she walked over to him. "Nice guitar," she nodded as she looked down at the guitar in his hands. She could vaguely remember Kate telling her over dinner last night about the guitar that Dale had found.

"Dale found it on the highway," Glenn said as he gave her a smile not sure if she had known that. When Jessica didn't respond but just gave him a look he looked around briefly before leaning closer. "You know we still have eleven condoms," he informed her as he smirked.

Jessica laughed slightly at Glenn's words, "You see eleven condoms, I see eleven minutes of my life I'm never getting back.."

Glenn chuckled for a bit before getting serious, "It wasn't that bad was it?" he asked almost feeling slightly offended and confused by Jessica at the moment.

"Look I don't even know if I like you," Jessica told him honestly as she shook her head. Honesty was the best policy right now.

"But you're thinking about it," Glenn stated as he leaned in closer to her and put his hand on the house for support. "You should," he said not sure where this confidence was coming from but he'd go with it. It meant that Jessica finally knew how he felt and well now the ball was in her court.

Rolling her eyes before laughing again Jessica just shook her head as she turned and walked away from Glenn.

Avery chewed on her lip as she walked through the woods with Zac. They were walking at a slow pace and she raised an eyebrow mainly because he seemed to be off in another world now. "You okay Zachary?" she asked knowing that he hated to be called Zachary. Only their mom had called him that, though it was usually when he was in trouble.

Hearing Avery, Zac turned to look at her, giving her a small glare, "I'm fine," he lied knowing he had let his mind wander to the Kate and Taylor kiss again. He kind of wished now that Taylor hadn't told him but then again he was glad his brother had been honest. Something his wife should have been.

"Really because it seemed like you were a thousand miles away from me," Avery said in disbelief as she shrugged when Zac just gave her a glare. "You know I know we aren't as close but you can talk to me and I'll listen. Better than me having to deal with my own shit right now."

"Like being worried about Daryl being out on his own?" Zac asked as he eyed Avery. He had seen her face when Daryl had mentioned taking a horse and going out. She had looked terrified at the idea and it was then that Zac knew that his baby sister was in love with that redneck. "I may not like the Dixon's but at least he is better than Merle," he admitted as he ran a hand through his hair.

Avery blushed at Zac's words, "I'm not..." she started but stopped knowing she'd be lying if she said she wasn't worried about Daryl being out on his own even if she knew he could take care of himself. "I am but he is my friend," she lied though she figured Zac could probably see through it. "And nice way to change the topic."

Zac looked down and blushed now as well, "I wasn't changing the subject. I was just trying to see how my baby sister felt for a dirty redneck," he laughed as he looked back up at her. "And I have my answer."

Rolling her eyes Avery shook her head, "I guess you do," she said knowing whatever conclusion Zac had came too he was probably right. "So tell me your problems?" she asked wanting to know what had made him zone out. "I'm not giving up til you answer me Zachary."

Zac glared again playfully when she called him Zachary. Opening his mouth to answer he paused though when he heard a tree branch crack in the distance and he paused in his tracks not sure if it was a walker or a person. Looking at Avery he could tell from the panic on her face that she had heard it too and he raised his finger to his lip to shush her before slowly starting to walk towards the noise they had heard.

Taylor who had came into the bathroom after Jessica left sighed to himself as he stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist. He had probably taken much longer than he had meant too in there but it was nice to have some hot water again as well as to just shower. Not to mention showering seemed to help him forget things though right now it seemed he had nothing to forget. He sure as heck didn't want to forget Maggie or how he was starting to feel for her. He hadn't felt like this since Natalie.

At the thought of his wife he frowned slightly. He knew Natalie would want him to move on but maybe it was too soon but then again in this world he knew he couldn't just let moments slip by. Not when things were crazy.

Hearing the door open Taylor turned to look at whoever had came in and he cursed himself mentally for having forgotten to lock the door.

Maggie who had opened the bathroom door paused as she took in the sight before her. Taylor was clad only in a towel around his waist and his hair was wet still. It was a sight that made her blush and a sight she had to admit she liked even if she knew that liking him was probably too soon.

"S..sorry," she stuttered feeling her blush deepen as she tried to look away from him. "I didn't realize anyone was in here."

Taylor couldn't help but laugh when she stuttered, "It's my fault," he said as he shook his head. "I should have locked the door," he told her truthfully knowing he should have. "I guess it slipped my mind."

Nodding Maggie chewed on her lip as she stood in the doorway for a bit longer, "I..I should go," she muttered as she blushed even more before backing away.

"You really don't have too," Taylor spoke up watching as Maggie stopped in her tracks. He knew it was wrong but yet he didn't stop himself as he walked towards her and gently reached out pulling her into the bathroom with him before shutting the door and locking it.

Maggie took a deep breath as Taylor pulled her into the bathroom and locked the door. Chewing on her lip she looked up at him before deciding to be just as bold as he was being. Leaning in she kissed him on the lips not caring about consequences or even how long she had known him. All she cared about in that moment was the fact that she was slowly growing attracted to him. An attraction she wasn't sure she wanted to stop.

Kate shook her head as she sat in the tent she shared with Zac. Again it seemed Zac had gone off without telling her though this time she had learned from Mac that Zac had went out with Avery to look for Sophia. She knew she couldn't be mad over that but she was mad. She was so very mad that he had left without telling her. Did he like making her worry?

"You okay?" Mac asked as he sat across from Kate. He had agreed to keep Kate company as she knitted and it had been during that, that he had revealed to her that Zac had went out with Avery. Something that he was shocked to find out she hadn't known.

"I'm pissed but okay," Kate muttered through gritted teeth as she began to knit faster. "This is the second day in a row Zac has left without telling me and while I am okay with him going to look for Sophia I wish he would have told me. Hell I was right there outside hanging up clothes with Carol. I don't see how he couldn't have taken the time to just fucking tell me."

Mac just sat there as Kate ranted, "I still can't get over the fact that sometimes you could probably make a sailor proud with your mouth Katie," he smirked as he gave her a wink.

Kate looked up at Mac and glared, "Don't try to make me forget that I'm pissed at your brother," she told him sounding dead serious.

"Oh trust me I'm not trying too," Mac laughed as he shrugged his shoulders. "But I guess I don't really want you stressing. You are pregnant with my nephew or well my nephew," he chuckled hoping the baby was a boy.

Laughing some Kate looked down at her stomach, "Or it could be a niece," she said smiling some. "I'd like a little girl," she told her brother-in-law honestly. "I just wish this baby's daddy would make things easy for me and do simple shit like tell me when he was leaving. He knows I worry."

"He's with Avery," Mac said as if that should ease Kate's worries. "She won't let anything happen to him or even herself. She's strong. Stronger than most people would think," he said as he smiled thinking of Avery. He had known what she had been through. He was sure most of their siblings did. It was a silent fact within their family. Something they never talked about often but it was always there and he was sure sometimes it had made Avery into who she was now.

Nodding Kate hoped Mac was right, "I just don't get why he is being like this," she mused as she went back to knitting. "Things were good between us yesterday morning."

Avery crinkled her eyebrow as she bent down to pick up the locket that laid on the ground. It was the only thing left next to the snapped twig. A twig that she was sure had made the noise that she and Zac heard. "You don't see anyone?" Avery asked as she stood up and eyed her brother.

Zac shook his head at Avery's question. "No one is in sight," he said as he looked down at the locket in her hands.

"Someone was here," Avery nodded as she handed him the locket. "Doubt it was Sophia though. I don't remember her ever having that."

Taking the locket from Avery, Zac opened it and eyed the picture inside it. It was a picture of a redhead and his mouth fell open as he saw that the redhead was kissing another female in it. "Yeah I don't think it belonged to her either," he blushed before laying the locket back down.

Avery watched Zac lay the locket down, "You think whoever dropped it will come back for it?" she asked curiously as she crossed her arms.

"Yeah," Zac nodded knowing that with that picture in there they probably would. "Let's get going," he said knowing they were almost to the end of their zone anyway. "Think you can get us back just by tracking like you got us here that way?" he asked knowing he had started to lead the way but Avery had taken over. She had apparently learned a few things from the younger Dixon during her short amount of time in his presence.

Making a face Avery just stuck her tongue out at Zac. Instead of leading the way though she walked side by side with him.

During the silence Zac looked at Avery as he chewed his lip briefly, "I can see why you like Daryl," he spoke as he nodded. "He's broken just like you."

"I never said I liked Daryl," Avery spoke keeping her voice calm.

"You didn't have too," Zac smiled as he nudged her shoulder. "Like I said earlier your face at the thought of him out there gives away everything and I already have my answer. I know you do."

Groaning Avery just blushed, "It doesn't matter if I do," she whispered as she shook her head. "He'll never like me back. Not like that and not after what he's seen."

"What he's seen?" Zac asked confused as he raised an eyebrow. "What don't I know Avie?"

Avery groaned again but she rehashed everything to Zac. She told him about how she had given into Shane on top of the RV and then again at the CDC. She told him about how Daryl had seen them at the CDC and since then that things had been weird between them. Then she had also confessed how she had turned down Shane here at the farm when he had propositioned her on the first night she came here with Taylor.

Making a face at Avery's admission Zac shook his head, "I'm just going to ignore the fact that my baby sister slept with Shane Walsh," he muttered as he pretended to hurl.

"What you don't want me with someone who was a cop?" Avery asked as she laughed at Zac's reaction.

"To be honest I'd rather you be with who you love," Zac told her honestly as he reached out to put his arm around her. "And you love Daryl. I guess it was inevitable. I mean broken people tend to gravitate towards other broken people," he nodded. "Maybe you didn't blow your chance though Ave. You just need to talk to him."

Avery gave Zac a look as she rested her head on Zac's shoulder but she continued to walk with him, "Yes because getting Daryl to talk about emotions or feelings would be an easy feat," she replied back sarcastically. "He doesn't seem the type of guy who does that."

"My type of man then," Zac joked as he laughed. "I give you my blessing though to be with him if that's what you want," he smiled knowing he'd be okay with it."

"Maybe you should date him then," Avery teased as she pulled away when they got closer to the farm. "I'd even call you guys Zaryl. You know since the media used to love to give awful ship names and you were famous."

Zac laughed more at Avery's words but he raised his hand to flip her off. At least these fun moments with Avery were enough to make him forget his troubles getting over Kate's secret that she was keeping from him.

Lucy came out from behind the tree she was hiding behind as she watched the man and woman walk away. Going to where the man had dropped her locket she picked it up and smiled as she held it in her hands and opened it. Seeing the picture of her kissing Renee she felt tears come to her eyes. She hadn't looked at this picture since Renee had turned and died. She just had never had the courage before now.

"I'm glad they left this Renee," she spoke as she slipped the locket back on. "I don't know what I would have done if they took the only gift you ever gave me," she laughed as she reached up to wipe away a few tears that had came down her cheek. Shaking her head she knew she probably looked crazy standing out here talking to herself.

Looking around to make sure no walkers or humans were in sight she headed off to the old abandoned farm house that her group was staying at. She was debating on telling Viv that they had other survivors close by, but then again Viv may not care. Viv liked things the way they were. Viv liked the small group they had. The small group that consisted of Viv,Lucy,Sutton and Alice. They had all met when each had gotten separated from their own group and Viv had said that was how it should have been and if they were to ever take anyone else in Lucy figured it would happen that same way. The person would get lost from their own group.

It was at that thought she knew she wouldn't mention her findings. She'd just keep it to herself.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Eight

After spending some time with Kate, Mac slipped outside and sat down in front of the RV. Lately he felt as if sometimes he no longer fit in with his family. Like they all had their own issues and that he just didn't fit in anymore. Avery had Daryl and Jessica well who knew anymore. Zac and Kate had their new baby and whatever drama that brought and since arriving here it seemed as if Taylor had that one Greene sister named Maggie.

Mac on the other hand had no one and it saddened him. At least if Zoe had still been alive she would have been there for him even if she had also been close to Jessica too.

Being brought out of his thoughts Mac looked over as he felt someone sit down beside him and he raised an eyebrow seeing Avery, "You guys just get back?" he asked her curiously plastering on his best fake smile.

Avery nodded at Mac's words, "Zac went towards the house I think. Said something about needing a shower before he started to look even more like a dirty hobo," she laughed as she shook her head.

"Kate's going to be even more pissed off," Mac muttered as he looked towards the tent where he could see Kate still sitting and knitting. "He better pray she puts the knitting stuff away before he goes back in there or we are going to be down a brother."

Making a confused face Avery just looked at Mac, "Why is Kate pissed at Zac?"

"Apparently he didn't tell her he was going with you and he also did it yesterday," Mac said not really understanding exactly what was going on in Zac's marriage. "I just think things between them have been strained since the CDC."

Avery nodded again as Mac talked, "Zac did seem off at first when we were gone but then he got better," she said knowing that whatever had been on his mind had seemed to go away. Maybe it had to do with Kate? "I..Is Daryl back?" she asked her younger brother knowing she probably sounded a bit too eager to know this information.

At Avery's question, Mac rolled his eyes, "No," he answered. "Do you like him?" he asked remembering Jessica's words on the highway. That he had the wrong sister when he accused her of liking Daryl.

When Mac asked her that Avery looked down, "I wish everyone would stop asking me that," she said as again she thought back to her time with Zac. "But yeah I guess I do," she finally admitted to someone else who wasn't Jessica. "I like Daryl."

Mac sighed at Avery's words. He wasn't sure how he felt about his sister liking a Dixon. He knew how Merle was and he was afraid Daryl could be the same way. "Don't let him break you," he told her as he smiled finally. "Or I will break him."

Laughing Avery shook her head. "He can't break what's already broken," she said as she shrugged. She had remembered Zac calling her broken in the woods and she knew he was right. She was broken and she just wanted someone who could either put her together or love her in spit of it.

Taylor groaned as he pulled away from Maggie when they heard a knock on the bathroom door. They had already had sex twice and he was sure they could have been well on their way for a third time had the knock not have came. Hearing his brother's voice call out to ask if anyone was in there Taylor chewed his lip and watched as Maggie scrambled to get dressed a blush now on her cheeks.

"I'll be out in a second," Taylor hollered to Zac as he soon found the clothes he had brought to change into. As he changed he looked at Maggie. "I..I don't know what to say." he said honestly not sure if he should apologize for Zac knocking or tell her how great the sex was but he was sure she knew he had already thought the sex was great. He had kept telling her how good she was during the whole thing.

Maggie shook her head, "Don't say anything," she hissed as she walked to the door. "I'm going to be so embarrassed when I walk out and have to face your brother," she said knowing that she would be. It wasn't like she was a virgin but she didn't like people knowing what she was doing and she was sure his brother would come to conclusions when she left the locked bathroom.

"My brother isn't going to embarrass you," Taylor told her as he finished dressing. "If he does I will kick his ass," he smirked though he figured Zac could easily take him if he wanted too.

Laughing slightly Maggie sighed, "I just don't like the idea that he'll know what we did," she finally said before opening the door and coming face to face with Zac who obviously from his shock had not been expecting to see her. Giving him a smile she slowly slipped passed him and headed out of the bathroom. She figured she should head to the kitchen because she knew thanks to haven spoken with Lori this morning that some of the women in the group wanted to cook a meal for her family and she had agreed that Lori and Carol and a few of their women could use the kitchen to make dinner and it was probably almost dinner time. She should go see if they needed help.

As Maggie left Taylor shook his head and walked to the door looking at Zac. "You breathe a word to anyone about this and I will tell everyone you used to wet the bed until you were twelve."

"But I didn't," Zac whined as he gave Taylor a look.

"I know that but there is no one here to confirm or deny it," Taylor smirked as he brushed past Zac to leave the bathroom. "The younger ones probably don't really remember and well Isaac's gone," he said feeling sad at that thought. He knew he'd probably never see his older brother again and while they may not have been close he still missed him.

Continuing to give Taylor a look Zac just rolled his eyes, "You have my word. I won't tell anyone you banged the farmer's daughter," he said as he went into the bathroom as Taylor left. "Just tell me which surfaces you fucked her on so I know not to touch them," he teased as he stuck his tongue out at his older brother.

"Fuck you," Taylor muttered as he turned to walk away. He swore he could hear Zac mutter something but he couldn't make out what it was. Shaking his head he just remained silent as he walked down the stairs and soon headed outside where he paused when he saw Jessica sitting on the stairs. She apparently hadn't heard him come out here because she still seemed to be staring at some invisible object out in the distance.

"Penny for your thought?" he asked as he sat down beside her and watched as she jumped.

Jessica jumped as she heard Taylor speak and then she hit him playfully on the arm, "You scared the shit out of me."

Taylor laughed at Jessica's reaction and he held his arm trying to mock being hurt, "Sorry but I wouldn't have scared you if you had been home when I spoke," he said as he reached up to tap her head. "What were you thinking of?"

"Boys," Jessica admitted as she blushed when she answered Taylor's question. "Glenn," she said making it even more clearer which boy.

When Jessica said Glenn was who she was thinking of Taylor just sat there and tried to process things. "Why would you be thinking of Glenn?"

"Because we had sex and now things are awkward," Jessica shrugged. She wasn't as secretive about her love life as Avery was at times so it was easier for her to tell people what was wrong.

"Oh..." Taylor muttered as he blushed at Jessica's words. "I didn't know Glenn was your type."

Jessica forced a laugh, "He isn't really but do you see a lot of men I can choose from now days?" she asked him as she shook her head. "It just sort of happened and I don't know. I don't know how to feel and things are awkward. I think Glenn wants more and I just don't really know where I stand or what I want."

Taylor took a deep breath before answering Jessica, "Maybe you should just let whatever happens happen Jess," he nodded as he stood up. "Eventually you guys will figure something out," he smiled as he looked down at her before walking off the stairs and heading towards the tents.

Avery who had moved from the grass after Mac left to go the tents sat on the swing under the tree when she heard Andrea who was on top of the RV saying there was a walker. Standing up she watched as Rick came closer.

"Just the one?" Rick asked as he looked up at Andrea who was now looking through a pair of binoculars.

Andrea who watched the walker that had came out from the woods lay down the binoculars as she reached for the shotgun, "I bet I can nail it from here," she said sounding confident in her ability to hit the walker that was coming their way.

Avery heard Andrea say what she did and she raised an eyebrow at Rick telling Andrea no and to put the gun down. She didn't understand why Rick didn't want Andrea to kill the walker though maybe it had something to do with Hershel. This was his property after all but made no sense.

"You best let us handle this," Shane called out to Andrea as he came out from one of the tents and held a rifle in his hand as well.

Rick watched as Shane and T-Dog came towards him, "Shane hold off," he told his friend as he shook his head. "Hershel wants to deal with walkers."

"What for man we got it covered," Shane replied not sure why Hershel would mind if they took care of the walkers.

Continuing to watch the scene play out in front of her Avery heard Rick mutter a damn it before he ran inside the RV. Obviously to her it seemed he was no longer going to fight his friends and he too was going to see if they could take care of this walker before the walker made it to where they all were.

After most of the men had headed off towards the walker Avery moved to where Dale stood near the front of the RV. Looking up when she heard Andrea drop down she raised an eyebrow knowing Andrea was going to try to shoot the walker.

"Andrea don't," Dale warned the woman knowing that Rick had told her not to shoot.

"Back off Dale," Andrea muttered harshly as she looked through the scope on the gun. When she was sure she had the shot, she fired the gun.

It was after Andrea had fired the gun that Avery heard Rick yell out a no and she raised an eyebrow hearing the panic in his voice. A panic that made her heartbeat faster. Hearing the people who had been in the house come out Avery turned her head as she heard Hershel yell out asking what was going on and then she watched as Andrea and Dale both took off running to where the others were as well as the thing or whatever it was that Andrea had shot.

Staying where she was though she felt someone put an arm around her and she turned to see Kate. "Andrea shot a walker," she muttered to the brunette beside her though deep down she had a feeling that maybe Andrea had messed up and maybe that hadn't been a walker but who else or what else could it have been?

Eventually when they got closer Avery had her answer when she saw Rick and Shane walking a slumped over Daryl towards Hershel. He was much dirtier than when he had left and from the blood on his head she knew that Andrea had at least hit him somewhat when she fired her gun.

Moving away from Kate she ran towards the men as she watched them get to Hershel who helped usher Daryl inside and it was then that Avery felt like her world was going to crumble before her. Daryl was hurt and she was scared she was going to lose him and as she walked with them inside the house, watching as Daryl was lead into one of the rooms she again felt arms around her and this time when she looked it was Jessica not Kate who was holding her.

Avery let Jessica hold her and she walked to a couch sitting down. She wasn't sure how long she had sat there but eventually they had gotten news that Daryl would be fine and she breathed a sigh of relief. She wasn't going to lose him and now all she wanted was to make things right between them.

"Hopefully he can tell us where he found Sophia's doll," T-Dog spoke from the couch he sat on opposite of Jessica and Avery where he still held the doll he had found next to the spot where Daryl had fallen when the bullet from the gun had grazed him.

Zac who had left the shower ages ago sat on the porch as he looked at Kate. They had just gotten news that Daryl would be fine and he felt relieved. He was relieved because Avery would at least be happy now. "I'm glad he is okay."

"Me too," Kate nodded as she kept her gaze off Zac. She hadn't confronted him about his leaving without telling her. "I'm sure Avery's relieved to hear that he will be fine," she said knowing from Avery's reaction when she had seen them carrying Daryl inside that she cared for the man.

"She probably is," Zac smiled as he noticed Kate avoiding his gaze. "Are you okay? I mean you won't even look at me right now."

Kate closed her eyes briefly at Zac's words as she took a deep breath, "I'm mad at you," she confessed as she finally looked at her husband. "You left again this morning without telling me where you went. I thought after last night you'd tell me when you decide to leave so I don't sit around and worry about you and you know I will," she scolded him almost like she would a child. "How would you feel if that was me who just wondered off without telling you?" she asked as she crossed her arms over her chest.

Going silent at Kate's outburst Zac blushed, "I..I'm sorry," he apologized as he looked down. "I know I should have told you and I guess it just slipped my mind," he lied. It hadn't slipped his mind if he was being truthful. He was ticked at her and when he was ticked at her he did things to make her ticked. That was how they had always worked and he guessed even this world couldn't change that.

"Well next time tell me," Kate said as she uncrossed her arms and gave him a smile as he looked down. Standing from the porch she headed inside to see if the women in the kitchen needed anymore help. It was getting dark and it was almost dinner time.

Watching as Kate left Zac too stood up and as he did he watched as the youngest Greene came from the other side of the porch giving him a smile.

"I didn't mean to overhear your conversation with your wife," Beth stated as she smiled at the man in front of her. "I was just coming back from the barn and yeah.." she nodded as she shrugged.

Zac returned Beth's smile, "It's fine," he assured her as he nodded. "I guess we are even," he said knowing he had overheard her singing yesterday without her knowledge.

Beth gave Zac a confused look, "What do you mean?" she asked as she walked closer to the front door.

"I sort of overheard you singing yesterday," Zac told her as he gave her another smile. "You have a nice singing voice."

At Zac's words Beth felt herself blush and she looked away from him. "T..thank you," she stuttered out as she looked back up at him. "That means a lot coming from you," she said knowing exactly who Zac and his brothers were or well had been. "I wasn't a fan but I knew people who were," she lied before nodding.

"I wouldn't mind if you were a fan," Zac admitted honestly. "I mean you haven't tried to take advantage of me or anything so you seem sane."

Laughing at that Beth just shook her head, "Or I could be hiding my crazy well," she said before turning her back to him and heading inside. She really wasn't crazy though but maybe it would have been fun to have him think she was.

Sitting at the dinner table that night Jessica made a face. She had gotten stuck at the smaller table or what most people would refer to as the kiddie table, though luckily she hadn't got stuck alone. Jimmy and Beth where at the table as well along with Glenn who she happened to be seated with though of course right now things weren't really awkward and she still had Taylor's words in her head. Just let things go and see what happens.

"Does anybody know how to play guitar?" Glenn asked as he turned to face the people at the other table. There was a weird tension coming from that table and what better way to break it then to ask a question. "Dale found a cool one," he said seeing Dale smiling at him though when no one answered he sighed. "Somebody's got to know how to play."

"Otis did," Patricia answered unable to turn to look at Glenn.

Hershel smiled as he looked at Patricia, "Yes and he was very good too."

When Glenn turned back around Jessica just gave him a sympathetic look before passing him a piece of paper.

Taking the paper from Jessica, Glenn looked down to read her writing, a smile forming on his face at the words. She was asking him to meet her tonight. Looking back up at her he saw the smirk on her lips and he grinned before writing something down knowing he was making noise as he did so.

As Glenn wrote on the piece of paper Jessica made a face when she saw Taylor eying her and Dale also looking over at them and giving them both a look. Shaking her head she took the paper from Glenn and read it having to laugh at where he had chosen for them to fool around at.

Avery chewed on her lip as she stood in the kitchen after dinner. Carol was getting a tray ready to take to Daryl and she sighed, " you mind if I take the tray to him?" she asked as she looked at the woman.

Raising an eyebrow at Avery's question Carol finished fixing the tray, "I kind of wanted thank him for all he did today," she said as she looked at the girl.

"I get that but I just really want to do it," Avery said knowing her reasons were purely because she just wanted to see Daryl. "I can thank him for you," she told Carol giving her a smile.

Carol nodded finally relenting to what Avery wanted. After she gave in she walked away and out of the kitchen.

Watching Carol leave Avery grabbed the tray and headed to the room where Daryl was. Getting there she opened the door slowly and as she went inside she watched Daryl turn to look at her as he tried to cover up his bare chest.

"How are you feeling?" she asked as she sat the tray of food down on the table by the bed.

"About as good as I look," Daryl told her as he held the covers up over himself as best he could and he eventually turned his head away from her.

Avery just nodded at his words, "I brought some dinner," she told him knowing she was stating the obvious. "You must be starving," she half smiled watching as he turned to look at the food and as he turned back away from her she leaned down kissing his forehead an action that made him flinch slightly.

"Watch out I got stitches," Daryl spoke his voice coming out harsh.

Rolling her eyes at Daryl's words Avery shook her head, "I'm not going to hurt you," she told him honestly. "I'd never willingly hurt you," she admitted as she walked closer to the door. "I just..I like you and I want to take care of you and I wish you'd understand that," she confessed feeling her cheeks heat up as she spoke.

Daryl laid there as he listened to Avery's words and he sighed remembering what his hallucination of Merle had said today. No one would love Daryl like Merle and it was hard for him to believe what Avery was saying, especially knowing that she had been with Shane. He wasn't as good as Shane or even Rick for that matter.

At Daryl's silence Avery frowned, "And Carol wanted me to think you for looking for Sophia."

"I didn't do anything that Rick or Shane wouldn't have done," Daryl stated as he kept his gaze away from Avery.

Avery again frowned trying to think of something to say in response to that. "I know," she finally spoke smiling as she did. "You're every bit as good as them," she told him knowing that he was or well she thought he was. "Every bit," she stated again before leaving the room and shutting the door behind her.

After Avery left Daryl curled deeper into the sheet as he thought over her words. Did she really mean them?

Taylor yawned as he stood in the kitchen with Mac. The clean up with dinner was almost done and he sighed not seeing Jessica. "Where is Jessie at?" he asked as he looked at his youngest brother.

Mac who had been standing next to Maggie at the sink turned to look at Taylor, "Probably in the barn with Glenn. I found that note they were passing at dinner," he said as he smirked. "Glenn asked her if she had ever done it in a hayloft."

After Mac had answered him Taylor raised an eyebrow as he heard Maggie drop the dish she had been holding into the sink and before he or Mac could question her about it they both watched as she bolted out of the kitchen. Shaking his head he turned and decided to follow her.

Jessica giggled slightly as she walked with Glenn to the barn, "I can't believe you suggested the barn," she said as looked at him.

"Didn't know I could be so kinky?" Glenn asked her as he held the flashlight in one hand and a blanket in the other.

"No," Jessica answered honestly as they reached the barn and she watched as Glenn looked up at the padlock on the door. Without saying anything to her she watched him walk to one side of the barn and she followed behind him.smiling when he found a ladder that lead to the hayloft at the top.

Seeing him throw the blanket up into the barn she giggled again and then climbed up soon watching as he did the same thing. Once they were inside she looked around and watched as Glenn finally turned on the flashlight. Taking the blanket from him Jessica sit it down and made a face as she smelled something awful.

" you smell that?" she asked Glenn and when he shook his head she watched as he shined his light down and she gasped when she saw a barn full of walkers, reaching up at them and she was almost glad they were up so high.

Glenn turned to look at Jessica a frightened look on his face, "I..I think we should go," he stuttered as he turned to leave in a hurry hearing Jessica coming after him. When they almost made it out they both came to a stop as they came face to face with Maggie.

"You weren't supposed to see this," Maggie told them as she frowned hearing footsteps and she knew Taylor was behind her.

"What weren't they supposed to see?" Taylor asked feeling confused as he stepped closer to Maggie and looked at Glenn and Jessica who were standing in front of him looking scared.

Jessica took a deep breath before answering her brother, "The barn is full of walkers," she answered seeing a look of horror take over his face as well.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Nine

The next morning Jessica chewed on her lip as she sat far off from the farm with Glenn, "We should tell them," she said not feeling right about keeping the secret about walkers in the barn. "We should really tell them."

"We promised we wouldn't," Glenn said he turned to look at Jessica. "If we tell Maggie is going to be pissed at us," he sighed not sure if that would be a good thing. "Your brother will be pissed at you," he told her knowing Taylor had also made Jessica promise not to tell as well.

Rolling her eyes as she was reminded of the fact that she had promised Taylor as well that she would keep this secret Jessica ran a hand through her hair, "I know but we could be risking everyone's safety if we keep this secret," she reasoned as she locked eyes with Glenn. "Kate's pregnant for god sake. I don't want to risk her or the that unborn child's safety."

"We've been safe this far," Glenn reassured her as he reached over and took her hand squeezing it. He could understand why she was afraid but he also didn't want to make Maggie or Taylor mad at them.

Jessica nodded at his words and she squeezed his hand back. They had been safe thus far on the farm even with walkers being in the barn so maybe they could continue to be safe. "I guess you have a point," she conceded finally as she gave him a smile.

Smiling as well Glenn leaned over to peck her lips, "I always have a point," he smirked as he pulled away from her.

"Don't get too cocky on me," Jessica teased as she stuck her tongue out at him and stood up. "I may not have sex with you again if you get too cocky on me," she warned again teasing him before making her way back towards the farm. As she did so she could see Carl and Lori feeding chickens as well as Patricia wheeling something towards the barn. It was the sight of the latter that again made her feel slightly guilty for the secret she was now keeping.

Standing under a tree near the RV, Taylor held the binoculars as he looked through them towards the barn. He knew he had told Maggie that everyone who had been in the barn would keep their silence but if he was being honest with himself he was nervous. He was nervous at having walkers not far from where he slept at night.

"Could you be more obvious?" Maggie asked harshly as she walked towards Taylor carrying a basket full of food in her hands. "Here..enjoy," she told him when he pulled down the binoculars and looked at her.

Looking down at the basket Taylor raised an eyebrow, "You are going to buy my silence with fruit?" he asked her almost wanting to laugh at that.

"Of course not," Maggie answered as she looked at him seriously. "There's also jerky."

Taylor just sighed, "Will you please tell me why your dad has a secret barn full of walkers. It's creepy."

Shushing Taylor before anyone could maybe hear Maggie kept her eyes on him.

As Maggie shushed him Taylor shook his head, "You know it's creepy right?"

"Just trust me on this," Maggie told him not wanting to argue. She almost wished he hadn't followed her outside and into the barn last night.

Taylor made a face, "I suck at lying. I can't even play poker, it's too much like lying," he told her not sure if he could keep this to himself even if he had said he could.

"You have to keep this to yourself," Maggie warned him as she ran a hand through her hair. She knew last night before dinner her dad had warned the group wouldn't be sticking around for long and she was afraid that if Taylor told he'd throw them off the farm much quicker. "Please," she stated one last time before walking away.

When Maggie walked away Taylor watched her before picking up the basket of fruit and walking to Dale who was pulling out the awning of the RV, "Here's some peaches for you," he told the old man almost feeling guilty for giving away the fruit brought to keep his silence.

"Thank you," Dale smiled as he took a peach out of the basket.

After Dale took the fruit Taylor watched as Andrea left the RV and they both greeted each other by saying good morning and then he kept walking until he reached T-Dog who asked him sup. Pausing he swallowed hard before answering. "Nothing. Nothings up why?" he asked nervously.

Hearing footsteps he turned to see Dale coming to a stop behind him giving him an amused look and he was afraid he'd blow this secret he had right out of the water. Handing T-Dog a peach he turned and walked away once the man had taken it. He was so going to end up telling at this rate.

Avery raised an eyebrow as she sat in Daryl's tent watching him poke holes in the mesh with one of his arrows. To be honest she was surprised he had let her come in here in the first place but he had though he did mumble some incoherent words to himself. She knew he probably didn't understand why she was here and hell at the moment she didn't either other than the fact that almost losing him had scared her and now she didn't really want to let him out of her sight. She was afraid if she did she'd lose the one person who had been making her feel safe for far longer than she would like to admit.

"You know you keep poking holes in the mesh and soon your tents just going to be full of bugs," she told him knowing she probably shouldn't have talked but she wasn't sure what good his poking holes in the mesh of his tent was doing.

Daryl turned to look at Avery and he gave her a glare, "You're lucky I ain't kicked you out yet," he warned her. "But if you continue to talk I will."

Rolling her eyes Avery crossed her arms, "What's so wrong with me talking?" she asked trying to sound offended though she was just glad that he wouldn't kick her out if she stayed silent.

Before Daryl could answer her question though Avery looked up as she saw Andrea come in the tent.

Andrea paused briefly as she went inside Daryl's tent. She was surprised to see Avery there but she didn't question it. Instead she gave both Avery and Daryl a smile before turning to look at the man who was laying on top of a sleeping bag. "Hey," she said as she pulled a book from her bag and handed it to him. "This is not that great.." she sighed as he took the book and flipped through it.

"What no pictures?" Daryl asked her sarcastically as he flipped through the book.

Andrea laughed as she shook her head, "I'm so sorry," she said apologizing for shooting him. "I feel like shit."

"Yeah you and me both," Daryl muttered as he laid the book down and adjusted his pillow before he laid back down.

"I don't expect you to forgive me but if there's anything I can do..." Andrea sighed as she shook her head. She really did feel awful for what happened.

Daryl nodded his head understanding why she had done what she did, "You were trying to protect the group," he told her as he picked up his arrow again. "We're good."

When Daryl said they were good Andrea gave him a tiny smile before turning to leave the tent but right as she stepped outside she turned back as Daryl spoke again.

"You shoot me again, you best pray I'm dead," Daryl said once Andrea turned to look back at him from outside the tent.

Avery couldn't help but laugh at Daryl's last words to Andrea and as she did she felt his eyes on her. As she opened her mouth to say something she watched as he threw the book that Andrea had given him to her.

"Read," Daryl growled out knowing her reading would at least keep her quiet.

Picking the book up Avery shook her head, "I still don't understand what you have against me talking," she shrugged as she looked at the books title. The Case of the Missing Man.

Not answering her question Daryl just watched her. He didn't want to admit that he kind of liked her being here in his tent. It made him feel like she had meant what she said last night.

Zac groaned to himself as he felt a body move beside him on the cot he was sleeping in and he opened his eyes to see the sun streaming through the tent. As he looked around he saw both of his sister's gone and his wife getting dressed. "What time is it?" he asked as he sat up and yawned, running a hand through his messy hair.

"Late," Kate said as she watched him run a hand through his hair which only made his bed head worse. "We overslept today," she said knowing they should have been up hours ago.

"Well maybe we needed the sleep," Zac told her as he stood from the cot and reached for some clothes. "I know you need all the sleep you can get. You are carrying my son inside of you," he said as he gave her a smile.

Kate made a face when Zac called the baby his son, "I swear you and Mac are both convinced it's a boy. It could be a girl," she told him as she smiled. "My poor daughter is probably being called a boy by two members of her family."

"It's probably a boy," Zac told her as he gave her one of his crooked smiles. "I mean my family tends to have more boys than girls in it or did you miss that fact?"

"I didn't miss it I just want to pretend it doesn't," Kate admitted honestly as she walked towards the entrance of the tent after she threw her hair up into a messy bun. "Don't you have that gun shooting lesson with Shane today?" she asked curiously. She knew last night Shane had came by and asked if Zac would come. He apparently wanted to help people learn how to shoot guns correctly. Zac knew though he was only going to help others who didn't know.

Zac groaned again at Kate's reminder, "You should come," he said as he finished dressing and walked to her. "Learn how to be a better shooter," he smirked as he pulled her closer by her waist. "Seeing you with a gun turns me on," he winked before pecking her lips.

Kate laughed as she pulled away from the kiss, "I'll consider it," she nodded before leaving the tent.

At Kate's words Zac watched her leave and he smirked to himself. Maybe he could forget about her kiss with Taylor though he wasn't sure he was ready to forgive her yet.

Taylor who had again been watching the barn with binoculars turned as he heard Shane call out for him by calling him fruit boy. Rolling his eyes he moved the binoculars down but kept them around his neck as he picked up the basket of fruit before walking to where Shane was at the Cherokee. He was having some sort of meeting with Rick and Beth's boyfriend was also there too. It was probably something to do with the search for Sophia.

Taylor hated to admit it to himself but the longer she was gone the more he had a feeling she wouldn't be found. No kid could survive out there on their own now.

Coming out of his thoughts though once he reached the Cherokee he watched as Rick and Shane grabbed fruit out of the basket.

"My binoculars," Shane spoke as Taylor just stood there after both he and Rick had gotten fruit from the basket.

Blushing at Shane's words Taylor sat the basket down and took the binoculars off, handing them to Shane. He couldn't help but feel nervous being around both Rick and Shane with the knowledge he held about the walkers in the barn. After he handed the binoculars to Shane he picked up the fruit and offered a goodbye as he began to walk away.

It was sometime after giving the fruit to them and handing the binoculars back that Taylor stood by a tree as everyone else except for Glenn and Jessica and probably Daryl and Avery started to head off up to where the gun training would be. Hearing Shane calling out to ask if he was coming Taylor made a face.

"I've got to help Dale clean the spark plugs on the RV," Taylor lied hoping that Shane bought his lie. "Says he is going to teach me mechanics. I should probably go look for him," he said as he continued to lie.

Dale who was leaned against the swing smiled as he heard Taylor lie to Shane. "You found me," he spoke letting Taylor know he was there. When Taylor turned to face him he raised an eyebrow but then turned his gaze to Shane. "He's a good learner."

At Dale saving his ass by playing along with the lie, Taylor watched as Shane finished getting ready and he turned his back to Dale again watching as the others drove away.

"Spark plugs huh?" Dale asked once everyone had left. "Want to tell me what's going on?"

Turning back to Dale again Taylor crossed his arms, "You're old.." he started before making a face knowing that probably sounded mean. "You know what if somebody told you something that somebody else shouldn't know.."

"Taylor stop being dramatic. Spit it out," Dale said bluntly.

"There's walkers in the barn," Taylor admitted feeling lighter now that he had told Dale.

Dale just made a face as he listened to Taylor's confession. That was the last thing he needed to know. Heck thanks to Glenn blurting out Lori's pregnancy news to him confidence this morning he swore he was beginning to learn everyone's secrets.

Standing at the gun firing range Zac made an impressed face as he watched the group in front of him firing guns. A group that consisted of his wife as well as Beth. He knew he shouldn't but instead of watching his wife his eyes were glued to the youngest Greene girl. She was actually better than Kate though he would probably never admit that out loud or he'd be afraid that Kate would shot his balls off and he really didn't want that.

"You're doing good," Zac spoke as he stepped closer to Beth which made her turn her head slightly to look at him.

Hearing Zac, Beth turned to face him and she blushed again, something that he seemed to be making her do a lot. Something she wasn't sure she actually minded when he did it and she knew that was wrong. She was sixteen and he was well into his twenties and married. She had Jimmy and she shouldn't be developing a silly school girl crush on a married man.

"Thanks," she muttered as she nodded and turned away from him again. She knew the best thing she could do right now was just play off like his compliments and his words didn't affect her.

Smiling to himself Zac watched her turn away, "You know I could take you somewhere privately after this is done and help you more. I think some one on one lessons may do you good," he said honestly knowing with some one on one help she probably could be better than she was.

At Zac's offer Beth felt her cheeks heat up more and she did her best to fight the urge not to look back at him but of course she did. She looked back at him and smiled, "I'd have to ask daddy," she said knowing it would be up to her father in the end. "But if he says yes then I don't see the harm."

When Beth said she'd ask Hershel but if he said yes she didn't see the harm Zac couldn't help but smile more and he also couldn't help but say a prayer that Hershel would say yes. He really did want to teach Beth how to shoot a gun better..and maybe they could also talk about singing, something that he found he missed a lot.

Giving her a nod he then walked over to Kate and whistled softly so only she could hear, "You look smoking holding that gun," he said as he stepped closer to her.

Kate just laughed as she turned to look at him, "I'm surprised you finally noticed me," she said to him as she shook her head. For most of their time here his attention had been on Beth and well she knew it was crazy but she was jealous.

"I've noticed you all day," Zac said though he guessed it was a partial truth since his attention had been divided between both women.

Throwing the book down after awhile Avery sighed as she looked at Daryl, "Andrea was right. The book isn't he greatest at all," she sighed as she shook her head. "Not my cup of tea anyway."

"And what is your cup of tea?" Daryl asked as he looked up at her. "A romance novel where the leading lady fucks the hot leading man?"

"No," Avery told him as she shook her head. "More into books about scary shit. Though I guess real life is now scarier than any book," she said as she made a face at the thought. "But enough about books. Do you need anything? I can go get you whatever you need," she volunteered knowing she wouldn't mind taking care of him.

Rolling his eyes at Avery's words Daryl shook his head, "I'm fine. I don't need your damn help," he said knowing he was fine without it. "You ain't my mother so stop acting like it by offering to do crap for me."

"I know I'm not," Avery nodded as she looked down at him. "But I want to do crap for you," she muttered as she mocked him slightly. "You're hurt and I want to take care of you. I just want to be there for you."

"I'm not Shane," Daryl told her as he locked eyes with her. "I'm not going to fuck you. I don't even like you," he said though he knew those last words were probably a lie. He did like her but he was afraid too. She had the ability to hurt him and even though she had said last night she'd never willingly hurt him she had fucked Shane at the CDC and whether she knew it or not that had messed with his mind and his emotions and hearing her say his name that night is what had made him so god damn conflicted now days when it came to her.

He almost wished he hadn't went to her room or that she hadn't kissed his cheek before that even. He wished he hadn't done like Merle had said and taken her hunting when they had been at camp. That was what had lead to her getting under his skin though. He was also sure that was what had lead to her deciding to plant herself firmly in his life at times when he'd much rather she not.

"I never said I wanted you too," Avery told him as she crinkled her nose and leaned down closer to him. "Trust me Daryl I don't even think about you fucking me, even if I do like you," she whispered as stared him down. Their faces were close and she had to fight off the urge to kiss him. She could only hope that he didn't know her words were lies either. She could hope he couldn't see that she did indeed think and wonder what it would be like to have sex with him.

Daryl felt his heartbeat quicken at her closeness and he looked up at her swallowing hard, "You don't like me," he told her as he shook his head. "The only person who will ever like me is Merle and he's gone."

Avery rolled her eyes, "I do like you," she nodded as she moved away from him and stood up. "I like you a lot Daryl Dixon," she said before smiling as she reached the entrance of the tent. "And I'm going to get lunch for myself. Do you want anything?" she asked again hoping that he'd cave and let her do stuff for him but when he just shook his head no she sighed and turned to leave the tent.

"You are really taking her out for her own private shooting lessons?" Kate asked as she crossed her arms and looked at Zac as they stood in their tent. The group had came back from shooting awhile ago and just a few minutes ago Zac had came in and told her he was taking Beth out on her own for more practice. Apparently she had convinced her dad to see it was for the best and for her own safety.

Zac nodded as he looked at his wife, "It's just to teach her to shoot," he defended as he chewed on his lip. "I figured you'd be grateful that I remembered to tell you I was going out."

"Oh I am," Kate deadpanned as she rolled her eyes. "But I don't trust you going out by yourself with some attractive girl you were giving puppy dog eyes too all afternoon."

Hearing Kate, Zac almost wanted to laugh at her jealousy, "I'm not going to do anything with her," he said as he glared at Kate. "Thought maybe your guilty conscious is making you think I would," he snapped as he walked to exit the tent.

Kate raised an eyebrow feeling confused at Zac's words, "What's that supposed to mean?" she asked him as she walked to where he was and she grabbed his arm to keep him from going anywhere at the moment.

"Figure it out yourself," Zac snapped again as he pulled his arm away from her and left the tent. If Kate couldn't figure it out than she was slower than she seemed but there was no way he was going to tell her that he knew she and Taylor had kissed and that she was keeping that from him. It was obvious she never wanted him to know anyway.

As Zac walked away Kate frowned and walked to the cot eventually where she sat down. She felt again like her marriage was falling apart just when it had gotten better and she wasn't sure what had changed seemingly overnight between them.

Jessica who had been standing at the sink in the kitchen turned her head as she heard footsteps and she smiled when she saw Avery come in the room. "Surprised you aren't with Daryl still," she laughed knowing her sister had been with the man all day.

"I was hungry," Avery shrugged as she walked to Jessica. "Food will make you leave anyone's side."

"That is true," Jessica nodded knowing she had spent most of her day with Glenn except for when she had left him this morning and then now. He was off doing god knows what for someone since he was always the errand boy around here it seemed. "So how is your loverboy?"

Avery rolled her eyes as she looked at Jessica, "He isn't my loverboy," she clarified as she chewed on her lip. "He doesn't like me like that."

"You're wrong there," Jessica sighed as she looked down. "The night you and Taylor came here Daryl and I went out looking for Sophia," she said as she kept eye contact with Avery. "He asked me randomly if you liked Shane. He could have asked me anything but what he asked was about you and Shane. He likes you but it seems like he is like you were at first. He's in the denial stage of liking you."

After Jessica confessed what she did Avery stood there frozen as she took her sister's words in. So seeing her with Shane had affected him even if he tried to deny it. Frowning slightly she looked away from Jessica. "I think I hurt him when I slept with Shane," she said knowing she felt like shit right now.

"Nah," Jessica muttered as she walked a few steps to her sister and kissed her forehead some. "Bruised his ego more than what it was but I don't think you hurt him," she said as she shook her head and left the kitchen to go off and find Glenn. She almost felt if she was with Glenn she had less of a chance of inadvertently revealing the barn full of walkers secret to anyone.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Ten

Zac smirked as he stood and watched Beth as she shot the target he had given her. A small empty coke can. "I swear you should be an Annie Oakley at this rate," he said as he watched her move the gun down and turn to face him.

Beth looked at him as she made a face, "I don't know about that," she muttered as she shook her head. "I don't even really feel comfortable shooting a gun period to be honest," she admitted as she walked to him and handed the gun back. They had been out here now for what felt like several hours.

"You keep saying I shoot good, why don't you show me how you shoot?" she asked eying him curiously. "I think it's only fair."

Taking the gun from Beth, Zac made a face as well especially when he felt the spark that passed between them. A spark that Beth must have felt too because he heard her mutter ouch as she shook her head briefly. Blushing he walked away from her some as he raised the gun and pointed to the pop can as well. Taking a few deep breaths he eventually fired and grinned when the pop can was knocked over.

"Impressive," Beth said from where she stood beside him. "Let me guess you're a gun enthusiast?" she asked as she shrugged innocently. "I think most of the Georgia boys I know are or try to be."

"I guess I sort of am," Zac answered as he walked back to Beth. "I used to go fire guns a lot at shooting ranges in Tulsa and I also played air-soft. My wife once joked we had too many guns and bullets in our house and she was right. We had three hand guns and tons of bullets."

Beth raised an eyebrow as she heard how many guns he had. "Three?" she asked trying to make sense of why he had three guns.

"Our fans are pretty crazy," Zac defended as shrugged now himself. "A few of them had tried to get on our property once. I wanted to make sure we had a lot of protection if need be and I always brought them on tour with us too. I think having them saved most of us when this all started."

Nodding at his answer Beth guessed it made sense, "So tell me how come you and your wife seem to be having trouble?" she asked changing the conversation on him. "I didn't hear everything but what I did hear seemed kind of heated."

"Just typical married stuff. I found out something and I'm ticked at her so I do things to make her ticked at me," Zac confessed as he blushed before looking away from Beth's gaze. "I know I'm an asshole."

Beth laughed at his answer, "Nah you just sound like a typical man," she teased him before walking to the blue truck they had brought. It was truck that had once been Otis's. "You better get me back. You promised my daddy we wouldn't be out all day."

"That I did." Zac said as he looked up again and walked to the truck as well. "And I hate to break my promises," he winked as he opened the door for her to get in.

Turning to say something to Zac before getting in the truck Beth chewed on her lip as she saw just how close Zac was to her and she gulped. She knew it was wrong but a part of her wanted to kiss him and against her better judgement she gave into that. She was sure she could play it off as teenage hormones.

Zac froze when Beth kissed him. It was something he hadn't been expecting and it was something he knew he shouldn't have liked or gotten butterflies from. She was sixteen and he was twenty-five and this was wrong and yet he responded to the kiss briefly before pulling away and just looking at her. He had kissed someone else. He had done what he was semi-mad at Kate for doing.

"We should go," he muttered out before walking away from her and getting in the truck. When she got in Zac did his best to forget that this truck had no space and that they were technically on the same seat. He did his best to forget just how close Beth Greene was and he certainly did his best to forget that he had liked kissing her because it was wrong. She was only supposed to be someone he could connect to by teaching her how to shoot and maybe talking about music which they hadn't even done today like he had wanted too. He had been too busy watching her with that damn gun.

Taylor crossed his arms as he stood in the Greene Family kitchen. Maggie was starting on dinner early and Taylor had came to help her though it seemed she was giving him the silent treatment. "Are you going to talk to me?" he asked her after awhile of her silent treatment. "Maggie I..." he started but was cut off by her.

"I asked for your trust and you betrayed it," Maggie blurted out harshly as she looked at him before chopping up the carrots. She was angry and so she wasn't being so nice when it came to her cutting. "Now my dad's pissed at me," she said as she looked up at him again. "Your turn."

"So your dad thinks they're sick," Taylor said remembering what Dale had told him after Dale had spoken to Hershel. "You agree with that?" he asked only getting silence in return. "Even after what you saw at the well."

Maggie shook her head, "I'm not sure what I saw at the well."

"Yes you are," Taylor replied knowing she was damn sure what she had seen when the walker had been pulled out of the well. He had been watching from the porch. "If you had seen Atlanta you would not have a barn full of walkers," he sighed knowing how infested Atlanta had been when they had went to the CDC.

Maggie glared at Taylor," I wish you'd stop calling them that."

Looking away from her Taylor ran a hand through his hair, "What do you call them?" he asked as he raised an eyebrow and looked at her curiously.

"Mom," Maggie replied referring to her step-mother Anette, Beth's mom. "Shawn," she said again this time referring to Beth's half brother. "Mr and Mrs. Fisher," she said as she laid the knife down, keeping eye contact with Taylor. "Lacey Duncan," she finished naming off people she knew who her dad was keeping in the barn.

After she had finished talking to him she left the kitchen and soon also left the house. She needed to go out and clear her mind as well as get away from Taylor.

"I don't know why you are going back into town," Jessica hissed out as she sat on a horse opposite Glenn. When she had found him after leaving the kitchen he had told her he had to make another run into town to the pharmacy though he hadn't told her why.

Looking over at Jessica, Glenn shrugged, "It's for Lori," he said not wanting to tell her why. He had already accidentally told Dale today and Dale had confronted Lori. The last thing he needed was to tell someone else. "And you didn't have to come along."

"What does Lori need at the pharmacy?" Jessica asked as she raised an eyebrow. "And I wanted to come. I don't trust you out by yourself."

Glenn remained silent for awhile at both of her questions and once the pharmacy was almost in sight he chewed his lip, "I can take care of myself on my own," he nodded knowing with her here he would just want to protect her before himself. It made him a liability.

"You may not come back to me," Jessica replied as she lead her horse to the pharmacy. Getting off of it once they had arrived she got off of it and tied it in place. "I want you to come back and not leave me like Joe and Merle did," she said knowing she was tired of everyone leaving her.

Not saying anything else as she walked inside the pharmacy Jessica waited til they were inside, "So what does Lori need again from the pharmacy?" she asked sarcastically knowing that the last time they came she had Glenn getting something then too.

"Can't say," Glenn answered when Jessica had asked him again what Lori wanted.

Stopping in her tracks Jessica turned to face him, "So you're keeping a secret from me too?" she asked a bit harshly. "I mean keeping the barn secret from the group isn't bad enough but you are keeping one from me as well?"

Glenn rolled his eyes but held the piece of paper out to Jessica. "Crawl out of my butt," he responded to her not wanting to argue. "Help me look please."

Jessica took the paper from Glenn and unfolded it. Reading the words she felt shocked and eventually she looked up at Glenn. "You have got to be kidding me," she replied as she turned her back towards him and headed the short distance behind the counter in the pharmacy where they kept all of the medicines.

Getting behind the counter she grabbed a basket and laid it down before going to the rows of medicine and beginning her search. She was pissed now over what Lori had Glenn risking his life for.

As she went down the row of medicine Jessica kept grabbing bottle after bottle reading the labels on them and putting them back when they weren't what she was looking for. After putting one of the bottle down though she froze when she felt a hand on her coming from the other side of the shelf and from the familiar moaning and smells she knew it was a walker that had a hold of her.

"Get off," Jessica muttered as she tried to get her arm away but the walker's grip was tight and her arm stayed in his grasp even as the shelf rocked back and forth causing bottles of medicines to come dropping off. "No! No!" Jessica screamed as she felt her heartbeat quicken and her world seemed to almost slow down. This wasn't how she wanted to die.

Glenn who had been at the front of the store heard Jessica and the moment he rounded the corner to where he had a clear shot of the situation his eyes widened, "Jessica!" he called out hearing and seeing her still struggling with the walker. That was all it took for him to take off running to where she was. He wasn' he couldn't let her die.

On his way to where she was he cleared off a shelf before taking the shelf off and running with it. Climbing on top of the counter he raised the shelf and hit the walker square in the face watching as it fell to the floor and released it's grip on Jessica.

After that he dropped the shelf and moved down off the counter going to Jessica, "Did it get you?" he asked putting both of his hands on each of her shoulders. "Did it bite you?!"

Jessica was just in too much shock to answer Glenn and instead she cried feeling him pull her into a hug. As they hugged though she watched the walker stand back up and she yelled out Glenn's name before pulling away and she just made a face wanting to be sick at the sight of the walker standing in front of them half his head literally hanging off his shoulders.

Seeing Glenn reach for something in his pocket she just stood there dazed watching as Glenn finally made a clean shot to the walkers brain and it fell again though it kept making gurgling noises and that was when Glenn just started stabbing it repeatedly in the head.

When he stood back up again finally she watched him come over to her and this time it was her that pulled him into a hug and she broke down crying again.

Maggie screamed out as she ran through the woods away from her father's house. She had been on her way back when she had been spotted by a nearby walker and now that walker was chasing her and she knew it was almost to her. "God damn it," she muttered as she felt her breathing get heavier and she ran faster.

It was during her running though that she tripped and after she fell she backed away as the walker soon bent down trying to get her. "Someone help me!" she called out as loud as she could and she started to move backwards on the ground to get away from the walker.

Mac who had been nearby in the woods paused as he heard Maggie scream out and he took off running, reaching for the knife in his pocket. As he ran towards the scream he heard her call out again and by the time he reached her he saw a walker reaching for her leg.

Going to the walker before it could fully grab onto Maggie's leg Mac stuck the knife into it's skull watching as it went limp. Pulling his knife out he looked at Maggie seeing that the poor girl looked shaken up. "Come on," he said holding his hand out to her and helping her up.

Maggie stood up and took Mac's hand, "I...Taylor," she muttered wanting to see Taylor.

"I'll take you to my brother," Mac nodded as he kept a hold of Maggie's hand and walked with her through the woods. It was obvious from her shaking that the attack from the walker had scared her, obviously shaken her up well. "I'll rub it in his face as well that I played the knight in shining armor to the lady he likes," he teased trying to lighten the mood.

Slamming the gate at the farm after they arrived back Jessica spotted Lori, "Hey!" she called out harshly as she walked towards the woman. "We got your stuff."

Glenn who was walking behind Jessica ran after her, "Jessica..please," he pleaded not wanting her to cause a scene.

Lori raised an eyebrow at Jessica's outburst and turned to lead her inside the tent she shared with Rick, "C..come on in here."

"Why?" Jessica snapped as she followed behind Lori. "Nothing to hide," she said as she reached inside the bag when Lori turned to face her. "Got your special delivery right here," she continued as she pulled stuff out. "We got your lotion, we got your conditioner, your soap opera digest..."

Lori was still stunned at Jessica's outburst and she was sure as the girl kept on her eyes got even wider, "Jessica?" she asked questioningly.

"Next time you want something get it your damn self," Jessica spat as she locked eyes with Lori. "We're not your errand boys."

Shaking her head Lori looked at her muttering a hon before looking down at the ground and seeing the packet of morning after pills that she had asked Glenn to get.

Jessica too spotted the packet and picked it up roughly, "And here's your abortion pills," she said throwing the packet at her before walking off.

Glenn who had stood there wordlessly watched Jessica walk off and he turned heading after her. He would explain to Lori what happened later. He knew he would need too.

"That was not cool," Glenn muttered as he reached up with Jessica.

Jessica looked at Glenn, "Which part? The part where that bitch almost got us killed?" she asked as her voice cracked at the thought.

"I should have gone alone," Glenn spoke after Jessica turned her back to him and walked away some again. "If you want to blame anybody blame me," he told her knowing he should have tried harder in stopping her from going.

Nodding her head Jessica rolled her eyes, "Right?" she asked sarcastically as she turned to face him. "Take the blame," she said as she locked eyes with him. "You know for a smart guy you're really stupid."

"Kay I'm confused," Glenn admitted as he scrunched up his face. "Because I think you just paid me a compliment but you made it sound..." he continued but was stopped when Jessica walked over to him and pulled him into a kiss.

Pulling away from the kiss Jessica looked at him, "I've already lost three people that I cared about most in this world," she spoke as she stayed close to Glenn and when he said her name she shook her head and shushed him. "Shut up. You're smart, you're brave, you're a leader," she said feeling confident in her words. "But you don't know it and our friends don't want to know it. They'd rather have you fetching peaches. Just a dead guy in the well, send Glenn down," she nodded before moving away from him slightly. "You're walker bait. I can't take you becoming one of them," she admitted honestly before walking away from him again.

Standing in silence Glenn just watched Jessica walk away processing what she had said to him.

Taylor ran a hand through his hair as he paced back and forth in the kitchen. It had been awhile since Maggie had left and he was fighting against his better judgement to go and find her but he just figured if he did that would cause more issues for them.

"Taylor!" Mac called out as he entered the house with a still shaken Maggie at his side.

Hearing his brother Taylor stopped pacing and he left the kitchen, pausing when he found Mac who was holding onto a dirt covered Maggie. "What happened?" he asked as he walked over to them and the moment he made it he felt Maggie's arms go around his neck. It was a definite change from her attitude when she left earlier.

Maggie held onto Taylor tightly as she closed her eyes, " of those things..those walkers attacked me," she spoke as she felt tears go down her cheek.

"I saved her," Mac added in as he watched Maggie holding onto Taylor. "I played her knight in shining armor but even after saving her it was you she asked for," he nodded before turning to leave them.

Watching Mac leave Taylor held Maggie closer to him and he closed his eyes. He was thankful that she was okay because he wasn't sure he could handle losing someone else. He never wanted to lose her.

At Taylor's silence Maggie continued to cry and she almost wanted to tell him he was right about those things but she stopped herself because she wasn't sure if she was fully ready to say that out loud.

Zac chewed on his lip as he paused at the entrance of the tent. He had just gotten back from shooting with Beth and he wasn't sure he was ready to face Kate, not with his guilty conscience eating away at him. Beth had kissed him and he had let her, hell he had even kissed her back briefly before pulling away. He had known it was wrong but it still happened.

"You going to come in the tent or stand out there all day?" Kate asked as she looked at Zac's form outside their tent.

Coming out of his thoughts Zac forced a smile as he went into the tent. Seeing Kate giving him a look Zac knew though that he probably shouldn't be smiling so he dropped it. Kate was either going to lecture him on something or have a conversation and neither option sounded the best right now.

"What happened to make you mad at me?" Kate asked once Zac was in the tent in front of her. "Things were fine and then you just got mean and I don't understand by you telling me to ask Taylor."

Zac looked down and away from Kate as she spoke, "Taylor told me about the kiss at the CDC," he admitted as he looked up finally. "I don't get why you kept it from me," he frowned feeling almost broken in this moment. "It makes me think it meant more to you."

At Zac's response Kate felt her eyes widen, "Trust me it didn't mean more to me," she said as she stood up and walked over to her husband. "I didn't tell you because I knew you'd do like you did. You'd get angry and paranoid."

Zac wanted to deny what she said but he didn't because deep down he knew it was true, "I'm sorry," he finally whispered as he pulled Kate to him and kissed her. He kissed her with all he had in him and he hoped to god now that she never found out that he had kissed Beth.

Kissing Zac back Kate wrapped her arms around his neck before pulling away, "Is that all that was bothering you?" she asked him as she raised an eyebrow. When he nodded she smiled, "How about you tell your sister's to find somewhere else to sleep tonight."

"Why?" Zac asked as he felt confused.

"Because I plan on making love to my husband and showing him just how much I do love him and no one else," Kate whispered before kissing Zac again.

That night Avery huffed as she entered Daryl's tent. She hadn't been here since dinner time and now she was back. Seeing his curious gaze she looked at him, "Don't kick me out," she told him as she laid her sleeping bag down. "Zac and Kate are getting lucky tonight and they sent Jessica and I elsewhere."

Daryl couldn't help but laugh at Avery's words, "So you chose to come be a pain in my ass?" he asked not liking how close her sleeping bag was to his.

"Better than sleeping in the cramped RV or in Lori and Rick's tent and god forbid I even think of sleeping in Mac and Taylor's," Avery said before rolling her eyes. "They both snore worse than Zac."

"So I'm just your last option," Daryl muttered as he rolled his eyes, "Lucky me."

Avery shook her head, "My first," she said as she slipped into her sleeping bag. "I never considered the other options til you said what you did and I thought of reasons not to go there," she smiled as she looked at him. She knew she was being more open with him than she ever had been but she didn't care anymore, not after almost losing him. "Goodnight Daryl," she said before closing her eyes.

Taking in Avery's words Daryl felt his guard lower some and he sighed. He hated knowing that she was getting more under his skin as each day passed. He didn't do stuff like this. Hell he was still a virgin and he was in his forties. This was all new and just plain wrong and he wanted it to stop but he doubted it would.

"What did your dad do to you?" Daryl asked her after she had closed her eyes. "On the way to the CDC Jessica said you were messed up because of something your dad had done."

At his words Avery opened her eyes and looked at Daryl, "Jessica had no business saying what she did," she muttered as she shook her head. "But my dad he..he did things to me that father's shouldn't do to their daughters. He fucked me up and I think I'm still fucked up from it."

Making a face at her words Daryl frowned and he wanted to confess his own stories about his shitty dad. About the reasons of why he flinched from her touches and why he had been trying to hide his back from her but he didn't. He stayed silent because he didn't want to let her in more than she already was and as he stayed silent he watched her close her eyes again and eventually her breathing evened out.

As he watched her sleep though he bit his lip and reached over nervously to brush some hair that had fallen into her face off it. She was beautiful when she slept and he wasn't so sure that he liked it when she was silent. Not anymore at least.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Eleven

The next morning at breakfast Taylor chewed on his lip as he watched everyone. He was nervous because today was the day he was going to do it. He was going to tell the whole group about the situation in the barn. He and Dale had agreed to give it one more night and they had. They had and everyone was still safe.

Looking towards the main house he saw Maggie standing on the porch, her arms were crossed and she was shaking her head no. He knew she didn't want him to tell still even after her encounter yesterday but he had too. When he looked back at his group he saw Dale giving him a look and he knew the man was afraid that Maggie would be the reason he kept the secret.

When Dale nodded his head yes Taylor gave Dale a nervous nod back. This was the right thing even if he was nervous for what would happen after everyone knew. Standing up from where he had been sitting Taylor walked towards the group, "Umm guys.." he started feeling the nervous feeling in his stomach getting worse. "So the barns full of walkers," he stated finally spitting his words out.

From the looks of horror or shock on everyone's face Taylor knew he just knew things wouldn't turn out good and they hadn't. Eventually the whole group had made a trek down to the barn and now Shane was looking through a hole trying to see the walkers for himself.

Moving away from the barn when a walker came up to it Shane kept a straight face before turning his back and walking the few feet to where his group stood, "You can not tell me you are alright with this," he muttered to Rick as he pushed past him.

"No I'm not," Rick answered Shane his tone just as harsh's as Shane's had been. "But we're guests here. This isn't our land."

"This is our lives!" Shane yelled only to hear Glenn tell them to lower their voices.

Andrea who stood by Rick with her arms crossed turned to look at him, "We can't just sweep this under the rug."

"It ain't right. Not remote," T-Dog added in.

Shane shook his head as he looked at Rick again, "We either got to go in there, we got to make things right or we just got to go," he told Rick his voice coming out serious. "Now we have been talking about Fort Benning for a long time now..."

Rick put his hand up, "We can't go," he snapped knowing they couldn't leave. Rick had only found out yesterday that Lori was pregnant. He had found out after finding the empty package of abortion pills and then she had told him she threw them up when he confronted her. She had also told him about her affair with Shane when she had thought he was dead but he had known that. He had figured that one out on his own not long after he first arrived.

"Why Rick?" Shane asked seriously as he looked at his friend. "Why?"

Carol who had been listening silently looked at Shane before answering, "Because my daughter is still out there."

Running his hands down his face Shane sighed, "Okay....Car..Carol I think it's time we all start to just consider the other possibilities."

"Shane we're not leaving Sophia behind," Rick spoke knowing that wasn't an option.

Daryl felt angered at Shane's words when he had mentioned the other possibilities. "We're close to finding this girl," he yelled. "I just found her damn doll a few days ago."

"You found her doll Daryl, that's what you did," Shane replied his voice coming out stern. "You found a doll!"

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about!" Daryl said as he walked closer to Shane but when Rick put his arm up he stopped in his tracks.

"I'm just saying what needs to said here," Shane told Daryl honestly even as Rick did his best to calm the situation. "You get a good lead it's in the first forty-eight hours," he stated as he went back to his cop training. "Let me tell you something else man, if she was alive out there and saw you coming all methed out with your buck knife and geek ears around your neck, she would run in the other direction."

It was at that, that Daryl lunged for Shane again regardless of Rick being there but that didn't stop him or even Shane from trying to go after each other and continuing to yell.

Standing by as he watched the scene unfold Taylor heaved a sighed as he crossed his arms listening to the group argue now. After what seemed like forever though Rick finally got things in order.

"Let me talk to Hershel," Rick said as he looked at Shane knowing his friend was being pushed to his limit with things. "Let me figure it out."

"Man what do you got to figure out?!" Shane asked as he charged towards Rick only being stopped when Lori stepped in and put her hand on his chest to stop him.

"If we're going to stay, if we're going to clear this barn I have to talk him into it," Rick explained as he kept his eye on Shane. "This is his land."

Dale who had silently been listening to things decided to speak up after Rick did, "Hershel sees those things in there as people. Sick people," he spoke hearing everyone go silent at his words and Taylor had even hung his head down. "His wife, his step-son"

"You knew?" Rick asked surprised by this new information.

Dale nodded, "Yesterday I talked to Hershel."

"And you waited the night?!" Shane asked Dale another question.

"I thought we could survive one more night," Dale answered as he turned to look at Shane, a man he didn't trust as far as he could throw him. "We did!" he stated before turning to look at Rick. "I was waiting til this morning to say something but Taylor wanted to be the one."

Shane looked at Rick after this new information that Dale had given them, "This man is crazy Rick. If Hershel thinks those things are alive.." he yelled only stopping when the doors to the barn started to rattle and moans from the walkers became louder. Those things wanted out and he knew for the moment everyone was lucky that the barn doors were padlocked shut.

Taking a step back from where he stood as the barn doors started rattling Taylor just shook his head almost wondering if telling had been worth it.

Zac ran a hand through his hair as he paced back and forth outside of one of the tents. The situation with the barn had him upset and he was also pissed that Taylor had waited to say anything. "I can't believe he kept his mouth shut," he spat as he turned to look at Jessica. "How could he think that was the smartest idea around?"

Biting her lip as Zac ranted to her Jessica sighed, "Because at first he did it because Maggie wanted him too."

Zac stopped pacing as he turned to look at Jessica after she spoke, "And how do you know that was his reasoning?"

"Because Glenn and I were there when he offered Maggie his silence," Jessica admitted though she wasn't sure what had made Taylor change his mind and go against that. "He also made Glenn and I offer our silence..we had been the ones who really figured it out. We had went into the barn to fool around."

Rolling his eyes at Jessica's words Zac shook his head, "Is this family just really good at keeping secrets?" he asked though he knew he couldn't get mad at that. He still hadn't told Kate he kissed Beth. "Did you not think of Kate's safety or the baby's safety?"

"Of course I thought of that," Jessica told Zac honestly. "But like Dale said what was the harm in one more night? We stayed safe like every other night we've been here."

"There could have been a lot of harm. All it takes is one simple thing to happen to cause a shit storm," Zac told her before turning his back and walking away. He couldn't deal with shit today. He had too much on his mind. Worrying about Kate and their baby and what would happen now. It was then he knew he did want this baby and he wanted it to stay safe.

After the confrontations at the barn Taylor and everyone else had eventually left and instead of staying at their little makeshift campsite for long Taylor had headed out to find Maggie. He needed to talk to her and let her hear his reasons for telling. He needed her to understand things.

Finding her at the chicken coop he sighed as he looked at her through the wires, "Maggie," he said though she turned to leave without speaking to him. "Hey," he said as he put his hands on the wire. "Maggie just talk to me," he said wanting her to say something.

Maggie stayed silent at Taylor's request and she left the chicken coop. Walking back to the main house with her basket of eggs she watched as Taylor caught up with her though she remained silent.

"Hey," Taylor spoke as she walked past him and still remained silent. Staying in his place he sighed, "Maggie," he said again watching as she finally turned to face him.

Walking to Taylor, Maggie raised an eyebrow seeing a red hat on his head that read coca-cola. "Give me your hat," she stated once she reached him. When he just stayed silent and looked at her confused she rolled her eyes. "You said talk to you and I'm talking to you. Give me your hat."

Taylor just eyed her but he took his hat off and handed it over to Maggie.

Once she had Taylor's hat Maggie reached into her egg basket and put an egg in it. After the egg was in place she put it back on Taylor's head and pushed it down watching as the egg smashed and Taylor literally wore egg on him.

Making a face Taylor took the hat off, "Why would you waste an egg like that?"

"I think it was rotten," Maggie replied before turning on her heels and walking away from Taylor.

Watching Maggie walk away again Taylor sighed as he reached out to move some of his egg covered hair out of his face. So much for that conversation going well.

"I'm pretty sure Zac hates me," Jessica told Glenn as she sat down beside him on the swing not far from the RV. "I told him that we knew about the barn too and he went off on me about how I should have thought about Kate and the baby," she frowned as she felt a lump form in her throat. "I did think of them," she said remembering her conversation with Glenn the other day.

Glenn looked at Jessica as he reached for her hand, "Zac doesn't hate you," he assured her as he smiled some. "He's just worried about his child and the woman he loves," he said as he shrugged. "I know how he feels because I feel the same way about you and I'm glad Taylor told the truth today. After what happened yesterday and our conversation after. I couldn't keep it a secret for much longer as well."

Going silent at Glenn's words Jessica swallowed hard only focusing in on one thing. Glenn saying he felt the same about her. " love me?" she asked her voice cracking some. She was in shock that he might love her. She knew they were fucking around but she didn't know that meant he loved her. She just thought he liked her.

"I do love you," Glenn confirmed knowing it was true. Her near death experience yesterday had made him realize he had moved on from liking her and had went straight to being in love with her. "I love you and you don't have to love me back but yeah.." he nodded as he smiled sheepishly at her.

Swallowing hard Jessica nodded as she let go of Glenn's hand, "I don't know what I feel for you honestly," she sighed feeling like shit right now. "I meant when I said I didn't want you becoming walker bait though and that I couldn't stand to lose you after losing the three most important people in my life but I don't know if that means I love you or you're just a really good friend who I have sex with on occasion."

"Occasion?" Glenn asked as he raised an eyebrow. "We were going to have sex in the barn and somehow we still found a way to have sex last night," he reminded her knowing they had snuck off to do it. "I think you want to have sex with me every day."

Jessica rolled her eyes, "Don't get too cocky again," she teased as she stood from the swing. "I'm not sure if I want to have sex with you every day, even if you are really good at it for someone who was probably a virgin before the end of the world happened."

Making a face Glenn just watched Jessica walk away from him. He wasn't sure if he should be happy that she said he was good at sex or offended that she thought he was a virgin.

Avery who had been watching Daryl raised an eyebrow as he carried a saddle into the stables where the horses where kept. Moving from her place beneath a tree she went into the barn after him not caring if it was a good idea not too. As she walked into the stable she made a face seeing him struggle as he laid the saddle down to get it ready for the horse.

"You can't," she spoke up as she walked closer to him letting him know she was in the stable as well.

"I'm fine," Daryl grunted out at Avery as he kept his back turned away from her.

Avery rolled her eyes at Daryl's words, "Hershel said you need to heal."

"Yeah, I don't care," Daryl told her honestly. All he cared about was finding Sophia.

"Well I do," Avery admitted as she walked a bit closer to him as he got one of the horses out. "Rick's going out later to follow the trail," she told him knowing she had overheard Rick telling Carol that.

Daryl continued not to look at Avery, instead he focused his attention on the horse, "Yeah well I ain't going to sit around and do nothing."

"No you're going to go out there and get yourself hurt even worse," Avery replied back as she crossed her arms. She hated how stubborn he was. "We don't know if we're going to find her Daryl," she told him knowing there was a possibility they wouldn't. When Daryl finally turned to look at her she shrugged, "We don't," she said again knowing Shane had made a valid point this morning.

Stepping away from the horse and closer to Avery, Daryl just looked at her as he stayed silent for the longest time. He was shocked to hear that she too had given up hope. "What?"

Uncrossing her arms Avery just frowned before tilting her head to the side, "I can't lose you too," she said knowing they had already lost enough people and she didn't she couldn't lose him.

Daryl just looked at Avery as he took in her words and the sad look on her face. He saw genuine care in them and that frightened him. Walking past her he picked up the saddle and threw it as hard and as rough as he could, making the place where his arrow had went into his side a few days ago hurt and he hunched over holding it.

Running to Daryl as he hunched over Avery looked down at him, "Are you alright?"

"Just leave me be!" Daryl told her as he stood up and held onto his side still as he walked away. "Stupid bitch," he muttered loud enough for her to hear.

Taylor who stood up on the RV in a new pair of clothes and without his hat, sighed. He had showered and then offered to take over doing watch. Seeing Dale standing by a tree as he looked down at Shane who was near the barn Taylor watched as Dale finally turned to face him. "Andrea's looking for you," he told the man knowing that Andrea had said that before she went into the RV.

"Thank you Taylor," Dale smiled as he looked up at Taylor.

"Any chance you got an extra hat?" Taylor asked knowing his was still dirty from what Maggie had done with the egg.

Dale gave Taylor a look before taking his hat off, "Nope," he answered as he threw the hat up to Taylor.

Taylor smiled as he caught the hat, "Thanks," he said watching as Dale went on the RV to speak with Andrea. Trying his best not to listen to their conversation through the open door Taylor made a face though hearing they were having another disagreement. That's all they seemed to anymore it seemed.

Seeing Andrea walk off eventually Taylor looked down, "You okay?" he asked loud enough so Dale could hear him inside the RV.

Dale nodded, "Yeah," he answered though deep down he wasn't sure that he was okay. Looking down at the bag of guns on the table he made a face, an idea coming too him. He didn't trust Shane with these guns, especially now that the barn secret was out. "You mind running and getting me some water? I just I need a second."

"You'll keep watch?" Taylor asked the man hoping he would. Not getting a response from the man he raised an eyebrow, "Dale?" he asked again hoping the man would answer.

"Yeah," Dale finally spoke though it wasn't the truth.

Kate ran a hand through her hair as she watched Zac come into the tent, "You wander off again?" she asked him as she folded up some of the clothes she had washed. "I washed some clothes and I didn't see you when I left or came back."

Hearing Kate, Zac shrugged, "I just needed to clear my head."

"Clear your head of what?" Kate asked curiously as she rested a hand on her stomach.

"The barn problem for one," Zac said as he sat down beside Kate and picked up some clothes to fold. "Did you know Jessica knew about it as well? She and Glenn went in there to fool around and they were the ones who discovered it first."

Kate looked at Zac as she scrunched up her nose, "Jessica is with Glenn now?" she asked feeling surprised at that news.

"Is that the only words you heard?" Zac asked Kate. "They also knew about the barn."

"I heard that too," Kate told him not sure what she could do with that information. "But is that supposed to make me angry or something?"

Nodding his head Zac just looked at Kate as his finished folding the clothes he had picked up, "It's supposed to make you angry because her keeping that lie could have caused issues. What if those things had gotten out and you got bit?" he asked as he frowned.

Kate gave Zac a smile, "But that didn't happen," she said as she reached over and pulled him to her. "I'm fine."

"I just don't want to lose you or the baby. I want the baby so badly Kate," Zac said as he let Kate pull him to her. "I want you and the baby both to be safe and god if something happened to either of you I'd probably go crazy."

"But nothings going to happen," Kate reassured him as she kissed his forehead. "We're safe and we're going to stay safe."

Lucy looked over at her traveling companion as they watched the farm from a distance near the tree lines. They had been out on a run and she had decided to come here to show her companion the signs of life she had found, though she was still hesitant to tell Viv.

"So you've been keeping this secret for a few days?" Sutton asked as she looked at Lucy. "You aren't going to tell Viv?"

Shaking her head Lucy scrunched up her nose, "You know how she is Sutton. She'd never want to join them anyway or let them join us."

"Because she feels people only join us if they literally stumble upon us," Sutton nodded knowing that Lucy had a point there. " you think she's wrong in her thinking?"

Lucy had to think over Sutton's question for what felt like forever, "I feel we could use more people," she finally spoke. "Ever since Kirby's death we've been minus a man and it's only five of us."

At the mention of Kirby, Sutton frowned. Kirby had been her boyfriend. "Alice will never join if Viv doesn't," Sutton remarked knowing that Alice would never leave Viv's side because they were now lovers. Something that had happened within their first few days of meeting.

"Would you?" Lucy asked Sutton curiously. Ever since Kirby's death Sutton had been more withdrawn but maybe that happened because she was now the only straight female amongst three lesbians.

"Viv's kept me safe for awhile. I owe her a lot," Sutton sighed knowing she owed her life to Viv. Viv had found her and Kirby on one of her runs and she had let them in. "But if you go I'll go," she nodded also knowing Lucy was like her sister.

Lucy smiled at Sutton's words, "I haven't decided what to do," she admitted honestly before turning and leading the way back.

"Then why take me and show me?" Sutton asked as she followed behind Lucy.

"Because I couldn't keep it to myself any longer and I know you won't betray my confidence," Lucy said as she looked at Sutton and smiled more. "Us fifth wheels have to stick together," she laughed knowing that sometimes with Alice and Viv and how affectionate they were, her and Sutton had felt left out.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Twelve

Mac sat on the porch of the main house looking at Jessica who had been on the steps for awhile, "You know you really need to stop staring off into space," he teased as he nudged her side. "Someone may think you are asleep with your eyes open or something."

Turning to face Mac, Jessica gave him a smile, "And you need to stop being a pain in my butt," she told him as she stuck her tongue out.

"But it's fun," Mac admitted as he smirked. "I like being a pain in everyone's butts."

"Obviously," Jessica deadpanned as she rolled her eyes. "Why don't you go bug Avery?"

Mac laughed at Jessica's question, "Because Avery took off after Daryl somewhere," he said honestly knowing he had watched Avery leave and go into the woods. Lately he kept track on everyone because it seemed everyone had fucked up lives and well watching them was the only way he ever knew what was going on with them anymore.

Jessica raised an eyebrow at Mac's words, "Really?" she asked as she sat there surprised. "Has there been a change in her relationship with Daryl and she hasn't told me?"

"Not that I know of but I doubt she'd tell me," Mac said as he locked eyes with his sister. "No one ever talks to me much anymore just to talk," he said sadly. "It's like you all have your own things going on and forget about me."

Wanting to shake her head no at Mac's words Jessica found she couldn't because she knew they were true. "I'm sorry," she whispered not breaking eye contact with him.

"Don't be," Mac told her as he gave her a smile. "You have Glenn and well it's Avery you always run too when you need to talk. She probably gets it more than I would anyway."

"But I am," Jessica said honestly. "And just because I tend to talk to Avery more doesn't mean I still can't make time for you. We could find something to talk about or do," she nodded as she reached over to pull Mac to her. "I'm sorry you feel so left out Mackenzie."

Smiling as Jessica held him Mac returned the hug and sighed. He hoped she kept her word about making time for him.

Taylor who was back on top of the RV looked down at Shane as he watched the man walk towards the inside, "What's up?" he asked only to be ignored which made him roll his eyes. Sometimes he just really hated Shane.

Shane who had went inside the RV in search of the guns ignored Taylor. He wasn't in the mood for talking, he had shit he wanted to get done.

Not seeing the gun bag laying on the table where it normally was, Shane looked under the table before deciding to check the whole RV and still he came up empty handed. The guns were not on the RV. Hitting his hands on the counter by the sink he glared. He had a good idea who had done something with the guns and god damn it he almost wanted to kill the old man.

"Son of a bitch," Shane muttered to himself before leaving the RV. "You see where he went?" he asked Taylor as he looked up towards the top of the RV where Taylor sat down in a chair.

"Who?" Taylor asked feeling confused by Shane's question.

Shane just shook his head, "Don't even try to shit me okay."

"What?" Taylor asked becoming more confused.

"Dale," Shane finally blurted out. "Did you see where Dale went?"

Standing from the chair Taylor continued to look down at Shane, "Yeah, he asked me to run and get him some water and said he'd cover me on watch."

"And he was gone when you got back?" Shane asked though it came out more like a statement.

Taylor nodded, "Yeah. Do you think he's okay?"

Shane glared slightly feeling his anger at Dale getting worse, "Oh he's fine."

"Why'd he bail then?" Taylor asked not making sense of that.

"So you wouldn't tell me which way he went," Shane answered knowing Dale like the back of his own hand.

Taylor was still confused at this whole scenario, "I don't get it."

"Nah man, you don't," Shane told Taylor before stomping off to go find that little old pain in his ass.

Kate who had eventually gotten Zac to leave so she could finish doing the folding in peace sighed as she stood from the cot. Heading towards the entrance of the tent she nearly bumped right into Glenn but luckily she stopped before that could happen.

"Kate," Glenn said as he gave her a smile. "Is Avery here?" he asked knowing he had came here for Avery's advice. He wanted to know how he could get Jessica to realize that she was indeed in love with him and wasn't just using him for sex.

Shaking her head Kate stood there confused, "I thought it was Jessica you were with?" she asked him curiously.

"We' know?" Glenn asked her as he felt confused. The only ones who should know were Taylor since he had shown up at the barn the night they discovered the walkers and then Avery because he had confessed to her how he felt and he was sure Jessica probably confessed stuff to her as well.

Kate nodded at Glenn's question, "Jessica told Zac," she said not sure if she should tell Glenn that but that thought had came after she opened her mouth.

Smirking at Kate's revelation Glenn blushed some, "She did?" he asked feeling a bit more confident now. If she was telling people besides Avery then maybe she did know or subconsciously knew she liked him. Maybe she wasn't ashamed of what they had.

Nodding again Kate just smiled at Glenn's blushing, "Yeah she did," she confirmed. "Does that surprise you?"

"Sort of," Glenn answered as he ran a hand down his face. "She..she just keeps giving me mixed signals is all but if she's telling people then maybe that means she does love me after all."

Kate couldn't help but laugh, "I'm sure Jessica isn't meaning to give you mixed signals," she spoke once she had composed herself. "Jessica did lose Joe who she loved a lot and then she also lost her rebound guy too. I think she just needs some time to realize how important you are to her and maybe deep down it scares her," she said knowing if she was in Jessica's shoes she'd probably be the same way.

"Just give her some time," Kate finished before brushing past Glenn and heading off to see if she could find where her husband was at.

Avery who had tracked Daryl chewed her lip hard as she walked closer to the dock that he sat on. When he turned to notice her she froze in her spot watching as he stood up and walked over to her. "I'm sorry," she apologized. "I..I just.." she sighed not sure if the words would come to explain her trying to ask for forgiveness for the situation at the barn. She knew this search for Sophia was something he was passionate about. He had gotten hurt in the process for god's sake.

Daryl shook his head, "Just shut up," he said before nodding his head and looking down briefly. "I want to show you something," he said when he looked back up. Walking away from her he walked a few short steps to where some flowers where and he came to a stop in front of them before turning to look at Avery who was beside him.

"You see it?" he asked her as he raised an eyebrow wondering if she would notice the flowers.

"See what?" Avery asked confused as she looked down at the flowers but when he reached out and pointed to some more Cherokee roses she looked up at him and smiled some.

"We're going to find her," Daryl told Avery knowing they'd find Sophia. At Avery's silence he looked at her seeing her looking at him though she looked away not long after he had turned to her. It was only when she looked back at him then he looked away from her again. "I'm sorry about what happened this morning," he spoke as he finally looked towards her again.

Avery nodded. "You wanted to look for her," she spoke knowing she shouldn't have tried to stop him. "Why though?" she asked not sure why he cared so much about finding this girl.

"Cause I think she's still out there," Daryl nodded as he turned to look back at the flowers. "Truth is what else I got to do?" he asked knowing with Merle gone he really had nothing else to do.

At Daryl's answer Avery frowned slightly feeling like she just wanted to reach out and hug him or kiss him but kissing him would probably be overstepping things or going much too far in trying to win him over and make him see that she wanted him. That she genuinely cared for him.

"We'll find her," she spoke choosing to reassure him. "We will," she nodded as she reached out to touch the flower with her hand.

Smiling at Avery's words Daryl reached out and pulled the flower out before handing it to Avery. "You thought they were pretty the first time you saw them," he said remembering her words from when she had noticed them outside the abandoned farm house. "You should have one."

Avery took the flower from Daryl and she gave him a smile before slowly tucking the flower behind her ear. It was after that, that she chewed her lip. "I...I want to kiss you," she told him as she felt her cheeks get hot. "I'm going to kiss you and I don't want you to flinch because I'm not going to hurt you."

It was after she spoke that Daryl's face became unreadable but he didn't move or even say anything to object to her words. Instead he just stood there with that damn unreadable look on his face still. Taking a deep breath she leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips. It wasn't passionate or a kiss that would ever be in any movie or TV show but it was a kiss and it sent a flutter in her stomach that she hadn't felt before with Shane or Jeremy.

Pulling away she looked at him and saw that his face was still unreadable. She just wanted to know that he had liked the kiss even if he hadn't kissed her back.

Daryl swallowed hard as he looked at Avery after she had kissed him. He was kicking himself for allowing the kiss to happen and he was also kicking himself for not kissing her back but he wasn't good at this romance stuff and this was all new and awkward and he just wanted to go hide in a hole somewhere.

"W..we should go," he croaked out as he felt his cheeks heat up and he turned his back towards her before she could notice. "See if Rick has found any leads yet."

"Right, we should head back," Avery agreed as she watched Daryl turn his back to her and start to walk away. Walking behind him she raised an eyebrow an when Daryl suddenly stopped and she almost ran into him. Moving to where she could see him she kept her eyebrow raised. "Are you okay?"

Chewing his lip so hard that he was sure he left indentations Daryl looked at Avery, "Kiss me again," he spoke his voice so low he wasn't sure she'd hear him.

Avery was sure she felt her mouth drop open some at his words and she knew she was probably a laughable sight but she was surprised by his words. Words that she soon obeyed when she leaned in and kissed him again. This time it was a bit rougher than before and it was when she felt his lips moving with her own that she almost thought this was a dream. She had to be dreaming and at any second the dream would end.

But this wasn't a dream and when they parted the second time she looked at him as she felt more butterflies in her stomach and now her damn heart was racing and all of these emotions felt so new to her even if she had done all this stuff before. "We should go now," she said as she nodded some and smiled at him before turning her back to him and starting off back towards the farm.

Sitting on the RV still Taylor watched as Maggie walked to the main house. She had obviously gotten more fruit because she was carrying a basket of fruit much like she had done yesterday when she had tried to buy his silence with fruit and jerky. Laying the gun he was holding in his hands down he took stood up and slipped off the hat of Dale's. "Maggie!" he called out hoping that she'd stop this time.

When she only looked up at him but continued walking Taylor got off the RV and walked to catch up to her. "Maggie..Maggie," he said as he picked up his pace to a jog until he was right beside her. "Just stop for a second."

"We talked about it. You told Dale, fine," Maggie said as she continued to walk, Taylor keeping a good pace beside her. "I asked you, I told you..I just asked you for one thing."

"I couldn't do it," Taylor spoke as he looked at her hoping she'd understand.

Maggie sighed as she heard Taylor, "My dad is going to kick you guys out now, he told me," she said to him. Her dad had indeed told her he was making the group leave by the end of the week.

"Rick's going to work something out with your dad," Taylor said knowing if anyone could get through to Hershel it would be Rick. "I had to tell them."

"You did not!" Maggie yelled knowing things would have been fine if Taylor hadn't told them.

Taylor reached out and grabbed Maggie's arms, turning her so she was facing him, "No! I did," he said. "I wanted too," he said before taking the basket of fruit from her arms and laying it on the ground. "You see I forgot. Okay I forgot or I stopped thinking about it or maybe I didn't want to think about it," he sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. "But then you got attacked in the woods and I realized something. I forgot that they're dangerous. I don't care if they're sick people or dead people, they're dangerous. And then I realized something else, that I don't want you in danger, ever," he nodded as he locked eyes with Maggie. "So I hate to blow your dad's big secret but I'm sick of secrets. Secrets get you killed and I'd rather have you pissed off at me and alive then liking me and dead. So that's why I told," he finished as he walked away from her.

Maggie who had crossed her arms watched Taylor walk away, "Taylor!" she called out watching as he stopped in his tracks and turned to face her. Once he had she walked over to him and gave him a smile before leaning in to kiss him briefly.

Kate smiled to herself as she sat on the porch of the main house. Taylor and Maggie were on the stairs and Zac was sitting in the grass though Kate wasn't dumb, she kept noticing the little weird glances he was giving Beth. As if Beth held some sort of secret that Zac was afraid would spill. Mac was off near Beth though and he was watching Beth play checkers with Carl and she was sure she could hear Patricia trying to get Mac to play with her next.

Jessica and Glenn were also on the porch as well and Kate couldn't help but laugh at how Glenn kept trying to flirt with Jessica and Jessica was doing her best to turn him down. Her attention from Glenn and Jessica was broken though as she watched Taylor stand up for something and she looked towards Andrea and T-Dog who were walking towards the house.

"Do you know what's going on?"T-Dog asked Taylor as he made it to the house.

"Where is everyone?" Andrea questioned next.

Taylor raised an eyebrow, "You haven't seen Rick?"

"He went off with Hershel," Andrea answered Taylor's question. "We were supposed to leave a couple hours ago."

"Yeah you were," Daryl spoke up harshly as he walked towards the main house with Avery. They had just gotten back not too long ago. "What the hell?"

Avery who walked behind Daryl made a confused face, "Rick told us he was going out."

"Damn it! Isn't anybody taking this seriously?" Daryl asked his voice still harsh. "We got us a damn trail!" he said as he turned to point back at the woods. It was when he turned back that he saw Shane coming towards the group. "Oh here we go," he said as he watched the man getting closer seeing him carrying the bag of guns. "What's all this?"

"You with me man?" Shane asked Daryl once he reached him. When Daryl took the gun he walked closer to other group members. "Time to grow up!" he yelled out before spotting Andrea. "You already got yours?" he asked referring to the woman's gun.

Andrea nodded, "Yeah. Where's Dale?" she asked knowing he wouldn't just give Shane the bag of guns.

"He's on his way," Shane answered as he handed a gun towards Zac.

"Thought we couldn't carry?" Zac asked confused as he took a gun from Shane.

Shane sighed, "Yeah well we can and we have too," he spoke knowing that what they were going to do is something that needed to be done. "Now look it was one thing standing around here picking daisies when we thought this place was supposed to be safe but now that we know it ain't.." he said as he looked towards the barn. When he looked back at the group he turned to Taylor and handed a gun to him. "How about you? You going to protect yours?"

Looking at Maggie, Taylor reluctantly took the gun from Shane.

"That's it," Shane said before looking to Maggie. "How about you? Can you shoot?"

"Can you stop?" Maggie asked knowing Shane was going to just create more drama by doing this. "You do this, you hand out these guns my dad will make you leave tonight."

Carl who had been standing on the porch walked off, "We have to stay Shane."

Coming out of the house Lori took in the sight in front of her, "What is this?" she asked as she eyed Shane.

"We ain't going anywhere okay," Shane nodded as he tried to reassure Carl. "Now look Hershel he is just going to have to understand, okay. He...well he is going to have too," he said as he spoke to the rest of the group before walking to Carl and bending down. "Now we have to find Sophia. Am I right?" he asked before getting a gun out and handing it to Carl. "Now I want you to take this. You take it Carl and you keep your mother safe. You do whatever it takes."

Going off the porch Lori pushed Carl away from Shane, stepping between them, "Rick said no guns," she told Shane through gritted teeth. "This is not your call. This is not your decision to make."

Zac who had been looking towards the barn made a face at the sight that was coming out of the woods. There with Hershel leading a walker on some sort of leash like thing was Rick. "Oh shit," he muttered loudly.

Kate who had been watching all of this go down watched as the rest of the group took off running and she stood from where she sat finally and took off as well. Following everyone down to the barn where she could hear Shane asking Rick what the hell he was doing.

Coming to a stop eventually Kate caught her breath. Shane was now confronting Hershel. Asking him if he could see what he was holding onto.

"I see who I am holding onto," Hershel replied as he looked at Shane.

"Man you don't," Shane replied not making sense of how Rick could be okay with this or how Hershel couldn't understand.

Rick who held a tight grip on the prod around the walker he had sighed, "Shane just let us do this and then we can talk," he said trying to hopefully calm his best friend down.

"What you wanna talk about Rick!?" Shane asked as he looked at his friend. "These things ain't sick! They're not people! They're dead!" he said wanting Hershel to understand things. "Ain't got to feel nothing for them cause all they do is they kill! These things right here!" he said before pointing to the two walkers that had been brought in by Hershel and Rick. "They're the things that killed Amy,Zoe,and Ezra! They killed Otis! And they'll kill all of us if we do nothing."

Rick who had listened to Shane just glared some, "Shane stop!"

"Hershel man, let me ask you something, can a living breathing person, can they walk away from this?" Shane asked as he raised his gun and aimed it towards the walker that Hershel had a hold of. "That's three rounds in the chest. Can someone who is alive..can they just take that?! Why is it still coming?!" he asked before firing another round. "That's its heart and it's lungs. Why is it still coming?!" he asked again before shooting once more.

"Shane enough!" Rick yelled again watching as Shane eventually walked towards the walker Hershel had.

"Yeah you're right man, that is enough," Shane replied before raising his gun and shooting the walker in the head finally. Turning away Shane headed back towards the barn. "Enough risking our lives for a little girl whose gone!" Shane yelled as he turned to face the group in time to see Carol flinch as if his words had hit her somehow. "Enough living next to a barn full of things that are trying to kill us! Enough!" he said as he looked at Rick. "Rick it ain't like it was before! Now if ya'll wanna live, if ya'll wanna survive you got to fight for it! I'm talking about fight, right here, right now!" he finished as he finally made it to the barn.

Kate just stood there in shock at everything that was going down. Watching as Shane was working away at breaking the locks on the barn she could hear Rick asking Hershel to take the pole that had the other walker on it but from the sound of things Hershel just wouldn't or couldn't do it.

Turning her head Kate just frowned at the sight of the despondent man. It was apparent he was in some form of shock at what was happening or what he had seen and she felt sorry for him.

Kate again turned her attention back to where Shane was when she heard the locks break and she stood frozen in fear near the back of everyone else as the walkers started to come out of the barn. It was then that everyone with a gun started to move towards the front and fire off rounds, well almost everyone. She saw Taylor ask Maggie for permission and the brunette woman just nodded her head, giving Taylor that silent permission to go and kill the walkers. To do what he had to do.

Not sure exactly how many walkers had came out of the barn Kate felt relieved when the last walker had fallen down and she watched everyone lower their guns. Taking in the sight of carnage in front of the barn she frowned not sure how she felt about all of this or even which side of the fence she was on before this had taken place.

Seeing Dale come walking towards the barn finally Kate watched as he stopped beside her. It was only when he was about to open his mouth to speak to her that the familiar sound of moaning came from the barn again and everyone had again raised their guns to get ready to kill it, kill the last walker.

Watching as the walker got closer Kate felt her mouth drop open at the sight when it did finally come out of the barn and she could see Carol running towards and screaming out Sophia's name. Kate was thankful that Daryl grabbed Carol though before the woman could make it to Sophia and she felt a tear go down her cheek as she watched Carol fall to the ground, Daryl going down with her as he still had a hold on the woman.

Shaking her head as more tears kept coming down her cheeks Kate looked around and she could see everyone in various states of shock and no one had even offered to put Sophia down. Hell even Kate herself was in shock and she wasn't sure if she could do like she had done Ezra. She wasn't sure if she could put Sophia down. At least with Ezra he hadn't came back nor was he staring at her or looking for a meal to eat out of any human he could find. He had just looked asleep.

Finally though Kate watched as Rick walked towards Sophia, getting his gun out along the way and it was only when Sophia had made it halfway to him that Kate saw him fire his gun and she felt herself become weightless as she started to fall over. She was faintly aware though of arms around her and she looked up seeing that Dale had caught her before she fell to the ground. How could everything just fall apart in one single day?

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Thirteen

Avery who had watched everything go down stood there in shock as she looked at Sophia's dead body as well as the other dead bodies and she turned to where Daryl was and she frowned at the sight of him holding Carol. It was clear Carol was hurting and Avery knew Daryl himself had to be hurting. He had thought Sophia was alive and now it was proven that he was wrong.

Seeing Daryl start to stand with Carol, Avery heard Daryl telling her not to look at Sophia's body and Avery felt her heartbreaking just a bit more for the woman. She wasn't sure what she'd do in her shoes but luckily she'd never be in Carol's shoes. She'd never have kids to begin with at this rate.

When Carol was finally all the way up Avery watched Carol push off Daryl before heading away from the barn and the site of the walker massacre. Looking down she felt tears in her eyes not sure what to even do at this moment to make things right or okay for anyone. There was nothing to be done.

Before anyone could say anything or do anything else though Avery looked back up as she watched a distraught Beth pull away from Jimmy and start to head towards one of the walker corpses laying on the ground.

"Wait..wait..wait," Zac spoke up as Beth walked past him and he reached out trying to stop her from going to the body on the ground.

Ignoring Zac, Beth just continued on the path to her mother's dead body. When she reached her she bent down and moved one of the other walkers off her before reaching out to touch her dead mother as she started to cry harder. "Ma," she spoke as she turned her mother's body over so she could see her face though the moment her mom's body was turned over she became hysterical when her mother lunged for her and she started to scream when her mom's hands connected with her hair before grabbing a hold of her arms.

Zac who had been watching Beth was one of the first people to her when the corpse that had been her mom lunged for her and he along with most of the other men began to pull a hysterical Beth away though her mom seemed to have almost a vise like grip on the girl and god damn it he hated to admit it out loud but he really didn't want a hair on the girl's head harmed. Not after the fact that he seemed to be getting close to her recently.

Once Beth was safely away Zac watched as Hershel took her and he turned around in time to see T-Dog kick the woman's corpse in the head though it wasn't enough to actually end her for good and she still struggled to get up, to have a fresh meal out of any of them standing there.

It was only Andrea putting a scythe through her head that seemed to stop her and he gave Andrea a satisfied smirk before turning to walk to Kate though when she just gave him a glare and walked away he raised an eyebrow wondering what he had done now to make her mad.

"We've been out... We've been combing these woods looking for her and she was in there all along?" Shane asked as he followed behind the Greene family as they headed towards their house. When they didn't answer he decided to speak again, "You knew."

Maggie turned to Shane giving the man a glare, "Leave us alone."

"Hey Shane, just stop man," Rick sighed as he reached out for Shane trying to get him to stop and leave these people alone. They too had lost people and Beth was hysterical. They didn't need Shane making things worse.

Shane pulled away from Rick's touch, "Get your hands off me," he sneered before talking to the Greene's again. "I...You knew and you kept it from us."

"I didn't know," Hershel said as he held onto Beth as they continued the walk to their house. He was feeling hopeless and he just wanted Shane to leave them alone.

"That's bullshit!" Shane muttered at Hershel's denial. "I think ya'll knew."

Maggie who was continuing to get angry at Shane turned to face him again, "We didn't know!"

"Why was she there?!" Shane continued even after Maggie's denial as well.

"Your.." Hershel started but then stopped as they reached his house and he let Patricia take Beth inside. "Otis put those people in the barn. Maybe he found her and put her in there before he was killed."

Shane almost wanted to laugh at that, "You expect me to believe that?" he asked as he inched closer to Hershel though Rick reached out to keep a barrier between them. "Do I look like an idiot?"

"Shane, hey hey hey," Rick told his friend trying to keep the peace though he wasn't sure he could at this moment.

"I don't care what you believe!" Hershel spoke as he locked eyes with Shane. He was angry at the man for even starting this whole mess to begin with.

Rick shook his head as he watched things unfold around him, "Everybody just calm down."

"Get him off my land!" Hershel yelled at Rick not wanting Shane on his land at all anymore.

"Let me tell you something," Shane stated as he walked towards Hershel again.

Maggie saw red as she watched Shane go towards her dad and she moved from where she had been standing on the porch, "Hey," she said as she reached out and stopped Shane from touching her dad. "Don't touch him!" she told Shane before slapping him hard across the face.

When Taylor stepped in and pushed Shane away from her some Maggie just shook her head as she eyed Shane, "Haven't you done enough?" she asked disgust apparent in her voice.

After Maggie spoke Hershel looked at Shane for awhile as he watched Maggie head inside and then he started up the stairs. When he made it to the top he turned to look at some of the group who had been standing there. "I mean it," he said his voice sounding serious. "Off my land."

Once Hershel headed inside Avery turned to see Zac walking off and then she looked at Taylor who was beside her, "You should probably go check on Maggie," she whispered knowing Maggie would probably need Taylor. "It's been awhile since you've been in the dating game but yeah, go check on her," she smiled before walking away to head towards the tents and try to collect her nerves after everything that had happened and went down.

Taylor looked at Maggie as he watched her looking out the window of her house, "I have to ask you," he started knowing he had to get the one question that was bothering him now after Shane's out burst out in the open. "Did you know she was in the barn?"

When Maggie just turned to give him a look Taylor looked down and sighed knowing he shouldn't have asked her, he should have just known it in his gut. "You know, maybe in some weird way this is for the best," he mused. "At least we know and now we can move on."

"Move on?" Maggie asked as she sat on the arm rest of her couch and looked at Taylor.

Nodding Taylor looked down at Maggie, "Yeah, it's just like it meant so much to everyone. Finding her, you know? And then..."

"So now you'll just move on?" Maggie questioned interrupting Taylor as he talked. She just didn't get how the group could move on after everything that happened earlier. How did you move on from losing someone?

Again Taylor nodded, "If we can," he sighed before sitting down in a chair. "I mean, we've lost others," he said as his mind went to his own family. "This is..This is Sophia. The whole group and this one was different," he frowned before looking down. It almost felt like losing Sophia had somehow fractured the group or maybe they had already been that way and no one had noticed.

Maggie looked away from Taylor as he spoke, "So what happens now?"

"We bury her," Taylor answered watching as Maggie looked away from him. "With your step-mom and stepbrother."

"And then?" Maggie questioned him again almost afraid he'd tell her they'd leave. Maggie didn't want Taylor leaving her because she had already fallen in love with him.

Taylor shrugged, "I don't know," he answered honestly because he really didn't know what would happen after that.

Zac who had found Kate in the tent not long after going after her sighed after just setting there in silence for awhile, "Are you going to speak to me?" he asked not really understanding why she seemed to be angry at him.

"Why don't you go talk to Beth," Kate spat out as she shook her head, her gaze not even going to her husband. "Go and talk to her because I don't want to talk to you right now."

"Is this really about Beth?" Zac asked as he sighed. "I thought we were over that issue," he muttered thinking she had gotten over her issue with Beth the day he had taken her out shooting on her own.

Kate shook her head, "We were never over it. I just pushed aside my jealousy of you taking her out alone to shoot guns. But then today at the barn you run to her instead of even checking on me," she spat out feeling as if in that moment Beth had came first to her and their child. "I'm your wife and I'm the one carrying your baby not her."

"She was close to dying Kate," Zac responded as he shook his head though he knew deep down Kate had a right to be angry. He had kissed Beth and still not confessed. He..he may have been developing feelings for the youngest Greene girl but he was trying to ignore them for the sake of his wife and he thought he was doing okay so far. "I'm not going to let someone get bit if I can help it. Last I checked you weren't close to getting bit at the barn."

Kate just laughed bitterly, "There were people closer than you Zachary. You literally moved like a damn bullet out of a gun," she frowned as she shook her head. "You used to move like that when I was in danger or you thought I it seems like it's Beth you want to save," she shrugged before standing from the cot she had been sitting on. "So go talk to her because I am done talking to you," she told him before walking out of their tent. She needed to get away and just clear her head.

After Kate left Zac just stayed where he was for the longest time. He could partly see where Kate was coming from yet at the same time he couldn't and hell maybe she did have a right to be angry since he had kissed Beth and he still hadn't fessed up but if he did fess up Zac was pretty sure Kate would kill him.

Shaking his head he stood from where he sat finally and left the tent, heading towards the main house.

Jessica who was at the barn with a few of the other group members looked up as Rick came back towards the barn. She wasn't sure why she couldn't leave here quite yet but she had been helping dispose of some of the bodies. It was a way to help her shock over the events of what had happened. It was her way to forget that Sophia was dead. That Sophia had been in the barn.

How had she and Glenn not seen her when they had snuck into the barn? How had she been right under their noses? She had been right under everyone's nose.

"You want us to start burying?" T-Dog asked as he looked at Rick.

Avery who had came back to the barn nodded at T-Dog's words, "We need a service. Carol would want that.," she spoke though she also figured Daryl would want that too. Maybe it'd help him heal. Maybe he wouldn't be as broken as he had been before. He was just starting to come around.

"Yeah, we all want that," T-Dog replied as he looked at Avery.

When Rick didn't say anything Lori sighed before looking down briefly and then back up at the group, "Let's... let's dig a grave for Sophia, and Annette and Shawn, uh, over by those trees," she nodded knowing that would be a nice place to bury them. "And we'll need a truck to move the bodies."

"I'll get the keys," Jimmy volunteered but was stopped by Shane.

Putting his arm out Shane shook his head, "No no," he repeated before walking off to go get the keys for the truck. "I got the truck."

"And the others?" Jimmy asked as he looked at the other corpses besides the ones Lori had mentioned for them to bury. "That's a lot of digging."

"We bury the ones we love and burn the rest," Avery answered Jimmy as she gave him a sad smile.

Seeing Rick standing in the same spot still being silent Lori walked closer to him, "Let's get to work," she spoke knowing they had a lot to do.

After Lori spoke Avery sighed as she began to pick up bodies to put in a pile to move. Seeing Jessica coming towards her she raised an eyebrow, "What?"

"Just wondering how Daryl was doing?" Jessica asked as she shrugged. "I know he was hoping we'd find her."

"I think everyone was hoping that," Avery answered as she shook her head. "But I don't know how he is. Last I saw him he went on the RV where Carol was. I'm afraid he is going to close himself off again when he was just opening up," she admitted not sure what she would do if it came to that point.

Walking in the woods Kate eventually came to a stop behind some trees as she broke down crying. She hadn't meant to lash out at Zac like she had. She hadn't meant to get jealous about Beth, not when her real problems was the fact that Sophia was dead and again she found herself rethinking this pregnancy.

Putting a hand on her stomach as she cried she looked down at the cross necklace she wore around her neck. It had been a gift when she had gotten back into church again. Reaching up she angrily pulled it from her neck and threw it into the woods. She didn't care where it went just as long as it was off her body.

"I don't believe in you anymore," Kate spoke as she looked towards the sky. "If you existed how could you let this happen? How could you let innocent people suffer?" she asked harshly as she shook her head. "You don't exist and even if you do you have a lot of explaining to do."

Avery sighed as she got out of one of the holes they had been digging and she wiped her hands off on her pants. Hearing T-Dog say that was it she knew the graves were ready and she turned and headed off to the RV to let Carol know that everything was ready.

Seeing that the door was open already she climbed in, looking briefly at Daryl was sitting on the counter beside the sink before looking at Carol. "They're ready," she said letting them both know they were ready to start the funeral. When Carol didn't move she frowned, "Come on," she said to the woman before chewing her lip.

"Why?" Carol asked unable to look over at Avery.

"Cause that's your little girl," Daryl answered before Avery had the chance.

Carol shook her head as she looked up at Daryl, "That's not my little girl," she spoke knowing that thing that came out of the barn wasn't Sophia. "That's some other thing," she stated as she looked away from Daryl. "My Sophia was alone in the woods. All this time I thought..." she started before getting chocked up some. "She didn't cry herself to sleep. She didn't go hungry. She didn't try to find her way back," Carol sighed as she shook her head again. "Sophia died a long time ago."

After Carol's words Avery looked down briefly feeling tears sting her eyes but she remained calm as she looked at Daryl. She could tell from the look on his face that Carol's words had affected him. That the woman's refusal to come to the funeral had affected him.

Shaking her head she backed off the RV before she broke down crying in front of Daryl and as much as she was falling for him she wasn't ready to cry in front of him.

When the funeral finally did start the only people missing where Carol and Kate though Avery wasn't sure why Kate had opted out.

"You missed the funeral," Zac said to Kate as he watched her come into their tent. "You just decide to pull a me?" he asked her feeling angry that she had went off without telling him.

Kate shook her head at Zac's words, "No," she answered him much more calmly than she had talked to him before. "You knew I left. I just needed to clear my mind."

"So you could get paranoid about me liking Beth?" Zac asked as he walked closer to her, dropping his harsh tone as he did so. "I don't like her," he revealed as he reached Kate and cupped her cheeks in his hands. "I may have kissed her but I don't like her."

"You kissed her?" Kate asked still keeping her voice calm though she was shocked by this revelation.

Zac nodded knowing he owed her honesty, "The day I took her to shoot guns. It was just one kiss and it meant nothing," he lied again hoping she couldn't see through his lies.

Kate nodded at Zac's words, "I'm glad you told me," she smiled before moving away from him. Maybe it was his being honest that was the reason she was only shocked by his words and not hurt. All she ever wanted from Zac was honesty. "Beth's not the real reason I was angry though. I was angry because Sophia being gone..being a walker..she..she made me change my mind about being pregnant."

Hearing Kate, Zac frowned and reached out pulling her close to him again as he hugged her, "I'm sorry," he spoke as he did his best to comfort her.

"A few more trips," Rick spoke as he watched Andrea and Mac load the bodies of the rest of the walkers into the back of the truck so they could go and burn them.

"We got lucky," Andrea told Rick as she lifted the body of the walker her and Mac were carrying into the back of the truck. "If that barn had any more, we could've been overrun."

Mac sighed as he looked at Andrea after they got the body of the walker in the truck, "Good thing Shane did what he did when he did," he agreed knowing that Shane had made a smart move.

"You can't tell me this was right," Dale said as he looked at Andrea and Mac.

"It wasn't," Rick spoke knowing Dale had a point. "It'll cost us with Hershel."

Andrea shook her head at Rick's words, "He's grieving. He'll come around, see we had no choice," she spoke before looking at Dale. "Look, I shot too. This wasn't all Shane."

"Look, I got no qualms about it," Mac said as he took Andrea's side. "Walkers in my backyard?" he mused before shaking his head no at that thought.

Looking at Mac, Dale sighed, "I'm not saying that we shouldn't have taken care of the problem, but creating a panic?!"

"There's no point arguing about it. It's done," Lori said from where she stood beside Dale.

Opening the door of the truck Mac looked at Andrea, "We better get moving," he said knowing they should haul the bodies off.

Coming out of the kitchen where she had been helping Beth clean up Maggie looked at Taylor who had been leaning against a wall, "So if your group leaves, you wouldn't stay?"

"I... I hadn't really thought about it," Taylor answered being taken back by her question. "I mean, I... I didn't know that..." he continued trying to think of the right words but they were failing him. "Do... do you think this is really the time... To discuss this, I mean?" he asked not sure if it was after everything that had happened.

Maggie shrugged at Taylor's question, "Well, I'm not really feeling like there's a lot of time for anything," she admitted knowing that now days you weren't really guaranteed long.

"No no, there... There is," Taylor reassured her as he walked closer to her. "There is. I mean, I-I... I want..." he started but again he was at a lack of words of what to say in the moment and before he could get more words out there was a crash in the kitchen and the moment he looked towards it he saw Beth laying on the floor.

Maggie who had heard the crash turned in time to see Beth falling, "Oh my god," she muttered as she ran into the kitchen getting there right as Beth hit the floor. The dishes from the drainer were all on the floor but she ignored them as she bent down to see about her sister.

An hour later Maggie frowned as she hovered over the bed that she and Patricia had situated Beth in, "Sweetie, can you hear me?" she asked as she looked down at her unresponsive sister. Beth's eyes were still open and just staring back at her so lifelessly. Looking up as she saw Lori come to the door Maggie sighed, "What's wrong with her?" she asked the woman a bit too harshly.

Lori who had came to check on Beth after everyone had been briefed on what happened with Beth just shook her head, "She might be in shock. Where's Hershel?"

"We can't find him anywhere," Glenn answered as he stood in Beth's room as well. He and Jessica had offered to look for Hershel as Maggie and Patricia had helped get Beth situated.

At Glenn's words Lori walked off to find her husband.

Sitting down on the bed where Beth laid Maggie reached for her hand, "Hey, kiddo," she smiled continuing to speak to her sister in hopes that she'd respond.

"Your stepmother's things?" Rick asked Maggie as they stood in the room that was Hershel's. Lori had came and found him after she had been informed that Hershel was missing. The moment they had came in here they had found boxes of stuff on the bed. Boxes he was pretty sure belonged to Maggie's step-mother.

Maggie nodded as she leaned against the night stand in the room, "He was so sure she'd recover," she said knowing her dad had been so sure. "They'd just pick up where they left off."

Picking up a flash that was on the night stand Shane examined it, "Looks like he found an old friend."

"That belonged to my grandfather, gave it to dad when he died," Maggie answered looking at the flask that Shane had picked up.

Taylor raised an eyebrow at this information, "I didn't take Hershel for a drinker," he said surprised that he had missed those signs in Maggie's dad, especially since he himself liked to drink or well used too.

"No, he gave it up on the day I was born," Maggie stated as she took the flask from Rick after Shane had thrown it to him. "He didn't even allow liquor in the house."

Rick who had been listening to the exchange looked at Maggie as he now had an inkling where Hershel could be. "What's the bar in town?"

"Hatlin's," Maggie answered Rick. "He practically lived there in his drinking days."

Rick nodded betting that's where he would be, "Betting that's where I'll find him."

Glenn who had been in the room as well knew he had seen that place the times when he and Jessica had went to the pharmacy, "Yeah, I've seen the place," he said seeing Rick look at him. "I'll take you."

Rick smiled at Glenn's words, "All right, I'll get the truck," he said as he started to leave the room hearing Glenn follow behind him but before they could leave he turned as he heard Jessica stopping Glenn from leaving the room.

"No," Jessica stated as she held onto Glenn's arms not wanting him to go back out after what happened the last time.

Glenn locked eyes with Jessica, "It's an easy run," he told her knowing she was worried but it was easy.

"Like the pharmacy?" Jessica asked as she raised an eyebrow reminding him of their last trip.

Rick walked a bit closer to Jessica and Glenn, "Hey, Jessica?" he asked as Jessica turned to look at him. "I'll bring him back," he told her before leaving the room.

As Rick left the room Glenn walked closer to Jessica trying to explain to her that the pharmacy run was different than this run.

Watching as Rick left and Lori and Shane followed after Taylor turned to Maggie and he walked to where she was, ignoring Jessica and Glenn as they argued over him going. "I'm going to go with them," he told Maggie as he reached out to brush some hair out of her eyes.

"Why?" Maggie asked not understanding why he'd offer to go looking for her father.

"Because he is your dad," Taylor spoke as if that should make all the sense in the world. "He is your dad and I'd do that for you."

Sometime later Rick looked down as he and Glenn waited by the car for Taylor who was still talking to Maggie. Jessica had went off after bidding Glenn goodbye and from what he could tell she was still reluctant to have the boy go out there but she had agreed to it finally.

"You ready?" Rick asked Taylor when the man walked closer to the truck after hugging and kissing Maggie for what seemed like an eternity.

"Yeah," Taylor answered his voice coming out shaky. Getting in the front seat he watched as Rick got in the driver's side and Glenn got in the back. He hated that his voice had been shaky and he hated that he was scared but Maggie's final words to him before he left had shook him to his core and somehow made him scared shitless.

"You want to be in the main house don't you?" Kate asked as she eyed Zac. Ever since they had received news about Beth something had changed in her husband. He no longer wanted to hug her or even kiss her which was what they had been doing when they had gotten the news from Mac who had ruined what Kate was sure was going to lead to sex. Something they seemed to be doing more of lately for comfort when they got the time that was. "You want to know Beth is okay."

Looking at Kate, Zac nodded as he felt his cheeks grow hot. "I do," he confessed as he sighed. "She's a friend," he justified still not wanting to admit that he had feelings for the young girl. He may have admitted to the kiss and Kate may have been super okay with it but he knew she wouldn't be okay with his awakening feelings for Beth. If she knew she'd probably tell Hershel once Hershel was back on the farm just so the old man could kill him.

"She's a friend and I worry," Zac stated again as he ran a hand through his hair.

When Zac said that Beth was his friend twice Kate forced a smile not sure if she believed him but how could she doubt him? Yeah he had hid their kiss from her but up until now he had been a faithful husband. She trusted him...nothing could break their marriage. "Then go in there," she told him giving him her blessing.

"A..are you sure?" Zac asked as he looked at Kate, locking eyes with her.

"Positive," Kate answered as she forced another smile. It was after she spoke that she watched Zac move quickly as he exited their tent and the moment he was gone she laid back on the cot, heaving a sigh. "What's happening to my marriage?' she asked herself not sure if this new world was now affecting it too. Couldn't she have one good thing?

Avery sat in front of the RV and crossed her arms over her chest. What she had been afraid of with Daryl had seemingly happened. He was closing himself off and he had even moved his tent farther away from the rest of the camp. "Damn it to hell," she whispered to herself not sure how she could get Daryl to open up again. He had been doing so good..they had kissed and would probably now be at square one all over again.

"You okay?" Mac asked as he came to sit down beside his sister.

Shaking her head Avery looked at Mac, "Daryl's reverted back to his old self."

"You mean he changed?" Mac asked confused.

"Yeah, he did but then Sophia's death broke him," Avery replied as she kept her eyes on Daryl's new camp site. "I don't know how to get him to open up again," she said as she looked down. She knew the days leading up to their kiss she had basically been a thorn in Daryl's side but she wasn't sure if now was the time to pester him and always be around him. Not when he was reminding her of the Daryl from the quarry. The Daryl from before Merle being gone.

"Then break him," Mac told his sister as he reached over and pulled Avery to him. "You are a Hanson I'm sure you can figure out how."

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Fourteen

Sitting in the front seat with Rick, Taylor stared straight ahead though every so often he could feel Rick's eyes on him. Usually when Glenn wasn't giving directions to him. "Maggie said she loves me," he revealed knowing that was the words that had made him nervous and scared. "She doesn't mean it," Taylor justified as he shook his head not wanting her to mean it. The last woman who loved him had died. "I mean she can't. I mean...well..She..she's upset or confused. She's probably feeling, like..."

"I think she's smart enough to know what she's feeling," Rick interrupted as he nodded his head. Maggie seemed to have a good head on her shoulder's so he wasn't sure why Taylor seemed to be doubting that Maggie may actually love him.

Taylor shook his head at Rick's words, "No. No," he repeated with almost a certainty to his tone. "No, you know what? She wants to be in love, so she's... she needs something to... to, like... to hold onto.."

Rick couldn't help but laugh as Taylor kept trying to justify reasons for Maggie not loving him. It was almost too much for him. "Taylor, it's pretty obvious to everyone Maggie loves you," he said as he looked at the man beside him. "And not just because you're one of the last men standing. So what's the problem?"

"I didn't say it back," Taylor answered as he chewed his lip. "I couldn't..I just kept thinking of the last woman who said that to me," he muttered as his thoughts went to Natalie. "It was different with Maggie though. We barely know each other," he said knowing Natalie had said it after they had been dating for a few months. He had only known Maggie for days. "What..what does she really know about me?" he asked knowing Maggie only knew about his wife and his children. She didn't know much else. "Nothing. We're practically strangers. But I..I didn't know what to do with it. I just stood there like a jerk."

"Hey. Hey, this is a good thing, something we don't get enough of these days," Rick told the man knowing he needed to just enjoy the feeling of Maggie loving him as well as maybe also being in love with Maggie too. "Enjoy it. And when we get back, return the favor. It's not like she's going anywhere."

Glenn who had stayed silent during Taylor and Rick's conversation watched as Rick pulled in front of the bar and held the shotgun he had closer to him, "Rick?" he asked from the back seat to get the older man's attention. When Rick looked at him he sighed, "I know about Lori, her being pregnant," he spoke seeing Taylor turn to give him a look. He figured that meant Jessica hadn't told him. "I got her those pills."

"I figured," Rick answered as he opened the door to the truck and got out.

Getting out as well Glenn looked down at the pavement after he shut the door. "I'm sorry I kept it from you."

"Don't be," Rick told him as he walked towards the bar. "You did what you thought was right. It just so happens it wasn't."

Avery chewed on her lip as she stood at Daryl's campsite that he had made away from the main house. She had finally worked up the nerve to come here and from the daggers he was shooting her she was almost second guessing herself but she wasn't going too, not after the progress she had made before Sophia. "I wish you'd stop looking at me like that," she told him as she crossed her arms.

"And I wished you'd leave me alone," Daryl replied as he looked at the girl in front of him. Losing Sophia had been such a huge blow to him and now he was just lashing out and he was going to push people away including her, especially her. "I don't want your pity."

"It's not pity," Avery spoke as she shook her head. "I'm here because I you," she corrected herself before she said she loved him. Love was a heavy word and right now she wasn't sure she wanted to use it.

Daryl laughed bitterly at Avery's words, "Well I don't like you," he lied to her. The moment he spoke those words he watched as her expression changed some as if he had slapped her and he hated himself but he had to do this. "I didn't like kissing you either."

At his last words Avery backed away from him some as she uncrossed her arms but before she could reply she watched as Lori came over to where they were at.

Reaching Daryl's new camp site Lori made a face seeing Avery but she didn't question it. By now it seemed pretty apparent that Avery liked Daryl. "Moving to the suburbs?" she asked Daryl watching as he began to sharpen one of his knives. "Listen, Beth's in some kind of catatonic shock. We need Hershel."

"Yeah. So what?" Daryl asked his tone staying just as harsh with her as it had been with Avery.

"So I need you to run into town real quick and bring him and Rick back," Lori answered as she looked at Daryl hoping he'd do it. "Daryl?" she asked when he didn't respond right away.

Looking up from sharpening his knife Daryl eyed Lori, "Your bitch went window shopping. You want him? Fetch him yourself," he told her honestly. "I got better things to do."

After Daryl spoke to her that way Lori just looked to Avery and then back at Daryl, "What's the matter with you?" she asked not understanding why he was being like this. "Why would you be so selfish?"

"Selfish?!" Daryl asked being even more harsher now with his tone. "Listen to me, Olive Oyl I was out there looking for that little girl every single day. I took a bullet and an arrow in the process," he told her as he glared some. "Don't you tell me about me getting my hands dirty!" he continued seeing Lori just look at him seemingly stunned by his out burst. "You want those two idiots? Have a nice ride. I'm done looking for people," he said honestly before going back to sharpening his knife.

After Daryl's out burst Avery watched as Lori walked away and she just shook her head, "You're an asshole," she told him honestly. "But I'm not giving up on you no matter how much you push me or others away," she told him before walking away herself.

Walking behind Rick as they entered the bar Taylor chewed on his lip as he held a handgun close to himself just in case there were walkers in here though he didn't see any.

"Hershel?" Rick asked after Glenn shut the door of the bar behind the three men. He could see the old man sitting at the bar in front of him.

"Whose with you?" Hershel asked as he held a glass of alcohol in his hands. He knew Rick wasn't alone, he had heard other footsteps.

"Taylor and Glenn," Rick answered as he kept his eyes on Hershel's back.

Hearing that Taylor was here Hershel sighed, "Did Maggie send Taylor?"

Rick looked at Taylor and Glenn briefly before walking towards Hershel, "He volunteered," he answered. "He's good like that," he smiled as he reached the bar where Hershel was. "How many have you had?" he asked seeing Taylor and Glenn move away from the doors as well though both seemed to be keeping an eye out for walkers just in case.

"Not enough," Hershel responded knowing he could probably drink more.

"Let's finish this up back at home," Rick told the man as he leaned in a bit closer. "Beth collapsed, is in some sort of state," he said as he saw Hershel turn to look at him. "Must be in shock. I think you are too."

At Rick's words Hershel raised an eyebrow, "Maggie's with her?"

"Yeah, but Beth needs you," Taylor answered this time from where he now stood beside one of the tables.

Hershel scoffed at those words, "What could I do?" he asked as he shook his head. "She needs her mother or rather to mourn like she should've done weeks ago. I robbed her of that," he frowned as he looked down at the glass in his hand and then at Rick again. "I see that now."

"You thought there was a cure," Rick told him honestly knowing he had good intentions. "Can't blame yourself for holding out for hope."

"Hope?" Hershel asked before taking a drink of the alcohol. "When I first saw you running across my field with your boy in your arms, I had little hope he would survive."

Rick nodded, "But he did."

"He did," Hershel repeated after Rick. "Even though we lost Otis. Your man Shane made it back and we saved your boy. That was the miracle that proved to me miracles do exist," he admitted. "Only it was a sham, a bait and switch. I was a fool, Rick, and you people saw that. My daughters deserve better than that," he said before taking another drink.

After some time sulking in the tent Kate made her way towards the main house. Going inside she headed to the room where she found most of the people gathered and she shook her head seeing Zac sitting on the bed on one side of Beth while Patricia sat on the other. Zac hadn't looked up yet to notice her standing in the door way so she turned to leave jumping slightly when she found Jimmy standing behind her.

"Was just coming back from the bathroom," Jimmy smiled as he looked down at Kate. "Your husband offered to sit at Beth's side while I left for a bit."

Kate nodded a fake smile appearing on her lips, "My husband's good like that," she said feeling that green ugly monster rear it's head again though she was trying to hide it.

"I'd almost think he was in love with my girlfriend," Jimmy muttered knowing he'd been jealous of Zac since the day Zac had watched Beth sing.

Kate shook her head, "That's ridiculous," she told him as she even made herself laugh at that. "He's married to me."

Jimmy shrugged at Kate's words, "Men cheat all the time. I'm sure the world ending doesn't stop infidelity."

"You're wrong," Kate replied before turning and walking past Jimmy. She couldn't let him see that his words were affecting her. She hated how everything was affecting her lately.

"So what do we do? Just wait for him to pass out?" Glenn asked as he stood with Taylor and Rick at the doors of the bar. Hershel had been drinking still for awhile now and he wasn't sure the man was going to leave willingly.

"Just go," Hershel said from the bar where he had heard what Glenn asked. "Just go!"

Rick looked down at Hershel's words, "I promised Maggie I'd bring you home safe."

"Like you promised that little girl?" Hershel asked not caring how his statement came across.

At Hershel's question Rick walked back to where he was, "So what's your plan? Finish that bottle?" he asked once he reached the older man. "Drink yourself to death and leave your girls alone?"

Standing from the bar Hershel walked towards Rick, "Stop telling me how to care for my family, my farm," he said as he looked Rick in the eyes. "You people are like a plague! I do the Christian thing, give you shelter, and you destroy it all! "

Rick leaned in close to Hershel, "The world was already in bad shape when we met."

"And you take no responsibility! You're supposed to be their leader!" Hershel finished staying in place even as Rick moved in closer.

"Well, I'm here now aren't I?" Rick asked in response to Hershel's last question.

Hershel looked at Rick for the longest time before answering, "Yes," he said before repeating the yes again. "Yes, you are."

Seeing Hershel walk back to the bar Taylor heaved a sigh and walked away from the doors. If Hershel was this stubborn then he could only imagine what Maggie could be like.

"Come on," Rick said as he walked to where Hershel had sat down and took another drink. "Your girls need you now more than ever," he said as he reached out towards the man.

Hershel moved from Rick's grasp as he turned to face the man, "I didn't want to believe you. You told me there was no cure, that these people were dead, not sick. But when Shane shot Lou in the chest and she just kept coming, that's when I knew what an ass I'd been, that Annette had been dead long ago and I was feeding a rotten corpse! That's when I knew there was no hope. And when that little girl came out of the barn, the look on your face...I knew you knew it too," he said not once breaking eye contact with Rick. "Right? There is no hope. And you know it now, like I do. Don't you? There is no hope for any of us."

As Hershel talked Rick looked towards Taylor and Glenn to see they had moved away from the front doors and were just standing in the middle of the bar waiting patiently. Much more patiently than he would be waiting if he were them.

Jessica went onto the RV and paused as she found Avery sitting in it, "I figured you'd be out there trying to talk sense into Daryl."

"I tried," Avery shrugged as she looked at her sister. "He's still being stubborn so right now I'm just going to let him be a jackass. Maybe he deserves a few hours being that way."

"I think he's taken more than a few hours," Jessica replied as she looked at her sister. "You wait much longer then you may just lose him as he continues to pull away."

Avery shook her head at that, "I'm not going to let that happen," she said as she ran a hand through her hair. "Now let's change the subject off of me. How are you?" she asked knowing Jessica had to be freaking out. It was getting dark and Rick, Taylor and Glenn still weren't back from the bar.

"I've been better," Jessica answered hating that she was so worried about Glenn. "I don't even know why I'm so worried over Glenn," she admitted as she looked down at the floor.

"You worry because you love him," Avery answered for her sister knowing she was the same way about Daryl. "You love him and you don't want anything to happen to him but deep down you know in this world anything can happen to him."

Jessica swallowed hard at the things Avery said, "I've lost Joe and Merle," she whispered as her voice cracked. "I don't want to lose Glenn too."

"And you won't," Avery smiled as she stood up and pulled Jessica too her where she kissed her forehead. "You won't," she repeated."

Closing her eyes Jessica sighed, sometimes she hated that she relied on men too much. She half wished she could be as strong as Avery and survive without them. "I do love Glenn," she admitted her voice so slow she wasn't sure if Avery heard.

"Look, I'm done. I'm not doing this anymore, cleaning up after you," Rick spoke to Hershel as the old man still sat the bar. "You know what the truth is? Nothing has changed. Death is death. It's always been there, whether it's from a heart attack, cancer, or a walker. What's the difference? You didn't think it was hopeless before, did you?" he asked as he turned to see that Taylor and Glenn had now moved even closer to where he and Hershel where. "Now there are people back at home trying to hang on. They need us, even if it's just to give them a reason to go on, even if we don't believe it ourselves. You know what? This... this isn't about what we believe anymore. It's about them."

After Rick spoke Hershel took his words in as he picked the glass up and took one last long drink before putting the glass down. Standing up he turned to leave but just as soon as they all got turned around the doors of the bar opened and two unknown men walked in.

"Son of a bitch," Dave muttered as he looked at the four men standing at the bar. "They're alive," he said before looking at his companion Tony.

Taylor who had stayed silent for most of the time at the bar still remained silent as he watched the smaller of the two men go sit down at a table and the bigger one sat down at the bar beside Hershel. Somehow between small talk the smaller dude had convinced Rick to pour them all drink and that was what he was doing now.

"I'm Dave," Dave said as he looked at the man who was pouring him a drink. "That scrawny-looking douche bag there is Tony."

Tony laughed some at Dave's words, "Eat me, Dave," he muttered sarcastically at his friends words.

"Hey, maybe someday I will," Dave replied as he picked up the drink once the man had finished pouring it. "We met on I-95 coming out of Philly. Damn shit-show that was."

After the two people were introduced Glenn smiled slightly as Rick made a shot for him as well, "I'm Glenn. It's nice to meet some new people," he said honestly glad to just see more survivors.

"I'm Taylor," Taylor muttered not feeling as happy as Glenn. He couldn't help but be wary. Taking the shot when Rick handed it to him he sighed but held it in his hands.

"Rick Grimes," Rick said as he poured a drink for Tony as well and brought it to where he sat at the bar.

Dave looked at the older man who was at the bar beside Tony wondering if he wanted a drink too, "How about you, pal? Have one?"

"I just quit," Hershel answered as he looked at Dave.

"You've got a unique sense of timing, my friend," Dave smirked feeling amused by the old man's answer.

"His name's Hershel. He lost people today, a lot of them," Rick spoke as he looked at Dave before looking at Hershel and nodding.

"I'm truly sorry to hear that," Dave spoke feeling sorry for the man's loss. Holding his drink in his hand he held it up, "To better days and new friends and to our dead...may they be in a better place," he smiled before taking the shot with everyone who had one.

After taking the shot Dave saw Rick eying the gun he wore in the back of his jeans and he reached for it holding it, "Not bad, huh? I got it off a cop."

"I'm a cop," Rick told Dave knowing he did still consider himself a cop even if the world had fallen. That had been his job before and it was still a part of him.

"This one was already dead," Dave assured Rick as he put his gun back in the pocket of his jeans.

After Dave's response Rick looked at Tony and then back to Dave again, "You fellas are a long way from Philadelphia."

"It feels like we're a long way from anywhere," Tony answered as he looked at Rick.

"Well what drove you south?" Rick asked curiously not sure if he trusted these two men and from the looks on Taylor's face he could tell he wasn't alone in that.

Dave shook his head, "I can tell you it wasn't the weather," he said honestly "I must have dropped thirty pounds in sweat alone down here."

"I wish," Tony muttered sarcastically wishing he had dropped that much.

"No, first it was D.C." Dave spoke recounting a few of the places they had been or had tried to go. "I heard there might be some kind of refugee camp, but the roads were so jammed, we never even got close. We decided to get off the highways, into the sticks, keep hauling ass. Every group we came across had a new rumor about a way out of this thing."

"One guy told us there was the coast guard sitting in the Gulf, sending ferries to the islands," Tony spoke recounting one of the stories they had heard.

After Tony spoke Dave continued, "The latest was a rail yard in Montgomery running trains to the middle of the country... Kansas, Nebraska."

"Nebraska?" Taylor asked feeling confused by that one.

Tony looked over at Taylor, "Low population, lots of guns."

Taylor made a face at that reckoning it made sense, "Kinda makes sense."

Looking at Taylor after he said that Dave raised an eyebrow, "Ever been to Nebraska? A reason they call' em flyover states," he said before laughing slightly. "How about you guys?"

"Fort Benning, eventually," Rick answered Dave's question.

"I hate to piss in your cornflakes, officer, but umm we ran across a grunt who was stationed at Benning," Dave confessed as he looked at Rick. "He said the place was overrun by lamebrains."

At Dave's words Glenn raised an eyebrow, "Wait, Fort Benning is gone? Are you for real?"

"Sadly I am," Dave nodded as he looked at the younger boy. "Oddly, the truth is there is no way out of this mess. Just keep going from one pipe dream to the next, praying one of these mindless freaks doesn't grab a hold of you when you sleep."

"If you sleep," Tony added in after Dave's last words.

"Yeah, it doesn't look like you guys are hanging your hats here," Dave noticed as he looked around the bar. "You holed up somewhere else?"

Rick shook his head, "Not really," he lied not trusting these two men with the truth of where they were staying.

"Those your cars out front?" Dave asked referring to the cars he and Tony had saw before coming in here.

"Yeah. Why?" Glenn spoke up as he looked at Dave curiously.

Dave nodded at Glenn's answer, "We're living in ours. Those look kinda empty, clean. Where's all your gear?"

"We're with a larger group," Hershel spoke up as Dave kept with his questions. "Out scouting, thought we could use a drink."

"A drink?" Dave asked feeling amused. "Hershel I thought you quit," he said before heaving a sigh and looking away from the older man. "Well, we're thinking of setting up around here. Is it safe?"

Glenn shrugged at Dave's question, "It can be, although I have killed a couple walkers around here."

"Walkers? That what you call them?" Dave asked having never heard that term before.

"Yeah," Glenn answered.

"That's good. I like that. I like that better than lamebrains," Dave mused out loud.

Tony nodded agreeing with Dave, "More succinct."

"Okay, Tony went to college," Dave smirked when Tony added in what he did.

Tony shrugged at Dave's words, "Two years."

"So what... so what, you guys set up on the outskirts or something?" Dave asked still trying to figure out where the group was staying. "That new development?"

"Trailer park or something?" Tony asked as he stood from the bar and walked to use the bathroom in the corner of the room.

"A farm?" Dave asked before starting to sing the old MacDonald song briefly. "You got a farm?" he questioned again as he moved in the chair he was sitting at. "Is it safe? It's gotta be. You got food, water?"

Tony who was still using the bathroom added in his own comments, "You got cooze? Ain't had a piece of ass in weeks."

Dave put a hand on his face and shook his head at Tony's words, "Listen, pardon my friend. City kids... they got no tact. No disrespect," he sighed before looking at Glenn who seemed to be the most talkative. "So listen Glenn..."

"We've said enough," Rick spoke interrupting Dave. He knew now..he just knew in his gut these people were bad news.

"Well, hang on a second. This farm... it sounds pretty sweet.Don't it sound sweet, Tony?" Dave asked as he looked over at Tony.

Tony nodded as he turned back around once he was done using the bathroom, "Yeah, real sweet," he said as he agreed with Dave."

"How about a little Southern hospitality? We got some buddies back at camp, been having a real hard time. I don't see why you can't make room for a few more. We can pool our resources, our manpower," Dave shrugged not sure why they couldn't take them in.

Rick shook his head no at that, "Look, I'm sorry. That's not an option."

At Rick's rejection Dave just looked down before making a face, "Doesn't sound like it'd be a problem."

"I'm sorry," Hershel spoke now. "We can't."

"We can't take in any more," Rick agreed as he kept his eyes trained on Dave.

Dave just shook his head, "You guys are something else. I thought... I thought we were friends. We got people we gotta look out for too."

"We don't know anything about you," Taylor added in from where he stood. He was glad it seemed that now the others were being cautious with these two men.

"No, that's true. You don't know anything about us," Dave agreed as he looked at Taylor. "You don't know what we've had to go through out there, the things we've had to do. I bet you've had to do some of those same things yourself. Am I right? 'Cause ain't nobody's hands clean in what's left of this world. We're all the same. So come on, let's... let's take a nice friendly hayride to this farm and we'll get to know each other."

Rick looked down briefly, "That ain't going to happen," he said as he looked back up.

"Rick..this is bullshit," Tony muttered from where he stood beside the table that Dave was sitting at.

Rick glared as he looked at Tony, "Calm down!"

"Don't tell me to calm down," Tony snapped at Rick. "Don't ever tell me to calm down. I'll shoot you four assholes in the head and take your damn farm!"

At Tony's words Rick stood up and walked to the bigger man.

"Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Relax," Dave spoke as he stood from where he sat and walked towards Rick and Tony. "Take it easy. Nobody's killing anybody," he said before touching Rick's shoulder and then soon he walked to the bar and climbed over. "Nobody's shooting anybody. Right, Rick?" he asked as he turned to face Rick once he was over the bar.

Reaching behind him Dave laid his gun down on top of the bar though he could see Tony had a hold of his gun and Rick it looked like was starting to reach for his own. "Look," he said once the gun was all the way on the bar. "We're just friends having a drink. That's all. Now where's the good stuff, huh?" he asked before looking down under the bar. "Good stuff, good stuff, good stuff. Let's see.." he muttered though out of the corner of his eye as he bent over he could see Rick again putting his hand on the holster of his gun.

Pulling out a bottle he grinned at Rick as he held it up, "Hey, look at that. That'll work," he said as he started to open the bottle. "You gotta understand... we can't stay out there. You know what it's like," he said as he poured himself another drink.

"Yeah, I do," Rick nodded knowing what it was like out there. "But the farm is too crowded as is. I'm sorry. You'll have to keep looking."

Dave made a face after Rick spoke again, "Keep looking. Where do you suggest we do that?"

Rick shrugged, "I don't know. I hear Nebraska's nice," he said remembering back to the beginning of their conversation.

Laughing at that Dave sighed, "Nebraska. This guy," he muttered before reaching for his gun.

Taylor felt his heartbeat quicken as he watched Dave reach for his gun though before he could even do that Rick had his own gun lifted and he had shot Dave square in the head, killing him and then Taylor watched as Rick turned to face Tony and shot him as well though the first shot went into his chest and caused him to fall over so Rick made one more shot this time getting him in the head.

Looking at Tony who lay dead in front of him Taylor just swallowed hard though he knew the choice Rick had made to kill the two men had been the right one. If he hadn't they could be dead right now.

Rick just watched as Tony's dead body fell to the floor all the way and he swallowed hard before looking at the men in the bar with him. He had to do that to keep them keep the group at the farm safe.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Fifteen

Taylor still continued to stare down at the dead body of Tony and he found himself walking closer to Rick with Glenn hot on his heels, "Holy shit," he muttered under his breath not believing what had happened even if it had been the right thing to do.

"You guys alright?" Rick asked as he looked over at Taylor and Glenn.

Taylor nodded his head and heard Glenn mutter a yeah to that question though Taylor was half sure Glenn's yeah came out weak and it wasn't like he could blame Glenn for being unsure because he wasn't sure himself how he felt right now or if he was okay.

"Hershel?" Rick asked looking at the older man, wanting to know if he was okay as well.

Hershel stood there for awhile in silence as he thought things over and then he too nodded his head before speaking, "Let's head back," he said knowing they needed to get back to the farm now.

After Hershel said that Taylor watched as Rick reached down and got the shotgun off Tony's dead body as well as retrieving said bullets for that shotgun. Once Rick had gotten those all of the men headed towards the front of the bar to leave but soon they had to duck down when they heard a car approaching and all Taylor could do was listen to the people talking outside once they got out of their car. It was apparent these people had been with the two men who were now dead in the bar.

"Dave? Tony? They said over here?"


"I'm telling you, man, I heard shots."

"I saw roamers - two streets over. Might be more around here."

"It's hot. - We gotta get out of here."

"Dave! Tony!"

"Shut up, you idiot! You wanna attract 'em? Just stick close. We're gonna find 'em."

"Dude, he said to stay close."


Avery stood in the Greene kitchen as she helped set the tables for dinner. Taylor, Rick, and Glenn still weren't back from going to the bar in search of Hershel and she was worried about that but she was also worried about Daryl too. He hadn't came inside and she guessed he was just going to keep secluding himself more from other people.

"They should've been back by now," Andrea stated as she walked into the kitchen with Shane following behind her.

"Yeah," Shane said as he sat down at the table. "They just got holed up somewhere. "We'll..wel'' head out first thing in the morning," he stated knowing if the men weren't back by then that they'd go and look. "Thank you," he smiled up at Patricia as she helped set the table in front of him.

Hearing Patricia offer Shane a thank you, Avery sat down and tried to keep from rolling her eyes. She couldn't help but wonder if Patricia had done the math, if the woman even suspected that Shane may have killed her husband.

"Carl, I want you to keep your head up, okay?" Shane said as he looked up at Carl. "Your old man, he's the toughest son of a..."

"No cussing in the house," Patricia scolded as she looked at Shane from where she now stood in front of Dale.

Shane gave Patricia a look, "Sorry," he apologized having not meant to offend the woman.

"Lori, dinner," Carol called out noticing that the woman wasn't here.

Kate shook her head knowing she hadn't seen Lori in the room where Carol was now headed too, "She's not in there."

"Where is she?" Dale asked once he heard Kate tell Carol, Lori wasn't in that room.

After a tense silence Shane turned to Carl again, "Carl, when's the last time you saw your mom?"

"This afternoon," Carl answered as he turned to look at Shane.

"She was worried about Rick, asked me to look in on Carl," Andrea added knowing Lori had asked her to do that earlier this afternoon.

Dale felt his eyes widen, "She went after them?"

"She didn't say that," Andrea clarified as she shook her head.

"Nobody panic," Shane said as he stood from the table to go look for Lori. "Gotta be around here somewhere."

As Shane walked off Avery stood from the table as she recalled Lori's conversation with Daryl and Daryl telling her to go look for Rick herself. Lori had actually done it. Faced with that knowledge she turned to leave the kitchen and head off to where Daryl was and give him a piece of her mind, tell him off for what he said. He deserved that even if he was hurting.

Taylor sighed heavily as he stayed where he had crouched down earlier. The men who had came looking for Dave and Tony were outside and they still hadn't left, meaning for the time being they were still the bar.

"Why won't they leave?" Glenn whispered to the three men huddled next to him.

"Would you?" Hershel asked as he looked at Glenn seriously.

"We can't stay here any longer," Rick told the three men. "Let's head out the back and make a run for the car."

Just as everyone stood up though gun shots could be heard and they all crouched down again. Taylor was starting to think they'd never be able to leave at this rate. Hearing the unknown men talking again he swallowed hard.

"What happened?"

"Roamers, I nailed 'em."

"They disappeared but their car's still there."

"I cleared those buildings. You guys get this one?"


"Me neither."

"We're looking for Dave and Tony and no one checks the damn bar?"

It was after Taylor heard that, that he swallowed hard again as he heard footsteps approaching and soon the door started to open but before he could even blink he watched as Glenn moved to sit in front of it, ultimately closing it before the men had a chance to get in.


"Someone pushed it shut. There's someone in there. Yo, is someone in there? Yo, if someone's in there, we don't want no trouble. We're just looking for our friends."

"What do we do?"

"Bum rush the door?"

No, we don't know how many are there. Just relax. We don't want any trouble. We're just looking for our friends. If something happened, tell us. This place is crawling with corpses. If you can help us not get killed, I'd appreciate it."

"Dude, you're bugging. I'm telling you nobody's in there."

"Someone guard the door. If they're in there, they might know where Dave and Tony are."

Hearing the footsteps walking away Rick swallowed hard before talking loud enough for the unknown men to hear him, "They drew on us!" he informed the men hearing the footsteps coming back.

"Dave and Tony in there? They alive?"

"No," Rick answered as he shook his head though the men couldn't see him.

"They killed Dave and Tony."

"Come on, man, let's go."

"No, I'm not leaving, I'm not telling Jane. I'm not gonna go back and tell them that Dave and Tony got shot by some assholes in a bar."

"Your friends drew on us!" Rick stated again. "They gave us no choice! I'm sure we've all lost enough people, done things we wish we didn't have to, but it's like that now. You know that! So let's just chalk this up to what it was...Wrong place, - wrong..." he started only to get interrupted by gunshots, gunshots that had shattered the glass on the bar door though luckily it was the one next to Glenn so he didn't get any of it on him.

Standing up Rick reached for his shotgun and fired back at the men while also yelling for Taylor,Hershel, and Glenn to get out of there and it was after he spoke those words he watched as the men took off running towards the back doors, staying down as to avoid the bullets that were still coming through the bar thanks to the men outside.

Taylor who had been running eventually crouched to a stop behind a piano and watched a shotgun was slid to him. Picking it up he turned to look at Rick who was still by the bar doors. He had never been more scared in his life than he was at this moment. This was worse than when he had opted to stay behind at the CDC but maybe that was because he wanted to die then. Now he didn't want too.

Avery who had been walking towards where Daryl was slowed down some when she spotted Carol walking out there too. As Carol got closer to where Daryl was sitting beside a camp fire Avery moved to hide behind a tree and listen to their conversation. She knew she shouldn't but when had she ever done things she should do? Never.

"We can't find Lori," Carol spoke as she finally reached the campfire where Daryl was. "And the others aren't back yet either."

Daryl who had heard what Carol said reached for a stick and messed with his campfire to adjust it just right, "That dumb bitch must've gone off looking for 'em."

"What?" Carol asked dumbfounded by what Daryl had said.

"Yeah, she asked me to go," Daryl spoke remembering the conversation he had earlier today with Lori. "I told her I was done being an errand boy."

Carol again felt perplexed at Daryl's words, "And you didn't say anything?" she asked as sighed but only got silence in return. "Don't do this. Please," she stated knowing he was withdrawing and she had thought they were becoming friends. She didn't want to lose that friendship they had made while he had been searching for Sophia. "I've already lost my girl."

Standing up at Carol's words Daryl walked towards her, "That wasn't my problem neither."

Avery frowned slightly at the way Daryl brushed Carol off and when Carol headed back Avery came out of hiding and followed behind the woman though she was surprised when Carol stopped walking and turned to face her, "You see it too don't you?" she asked the girl who she knew had been spending time with Daryl as well. "He's pulling away."

"He is pulling away," Avery confirmed as she caught up with Carol and they both began to walk towards the main camp where she could see people standing obviously still looking for Lori.

"I..I think I'm gonna keep an eye on him. Make sure he doesn't pull too far back," Carol nodded knowing it was the least she could do.

Avery shook her head at Carol's words, "Carol I don't think..." she started only to get interrupted by the woman.

"Listen Avery, I know you think you probably know Daryl but you don't. You don't know how men like him work. You're still a child and you have a lot to learn. Let me deal with him," Carol said as she locked eyes with Avery briefly before walking ahead of the younger girl.

Standing there in shock Avery felt her mouth drop open slightly at Carol's words. Just because she was twenty didn't mean she didn't know how men worked, especially men like Daryl who had issues. She knew how he worked just as good as Carol probably did and if Carol insisted on following Daryl around then maybe Avery should follow her around to see just how well Carol succeeded with her plans.

Shaking her head she finally started walking getting back just in time to see Carol telling Shane what she had found out and it was after that she watched as Shane asked Dale if he knew though Dale claimed innocence which Shane must not have believed because he then asked if she at least took a gun.

Hearing Dale deny knowing again Avery knew she believed Dale even if Shane didn't. It was when Dale said he wouldn't let Lori go out there alone though that Avery watched Shane take one of the cars and then drive away, obviously going to look for Lori.

Rick who was crouched down by the door again picked up some bullets and put them in his pocket before hollering to the men outside again, "Hey! We all know this is not gonna end well! There's nothing in it for any of us!" he continued before reloading his gun. "You guys just... Just back off, no one else gets hurt!"

Taylor who was still sitting behind the piano looked over at Hershel and Glenn who were standing by the exits and he felt his heart pounding as Hershel motioned for him to come there as well. Turning his head to look at Rick who had finished loading his gun he saw Rick give him the okay and he took a deep breath making a run to where Hershel and Glenn were.

Getting there he walked to the exit door and slowly opened it, sticking the shotgun out first before peering through. Not seeing anything he walked down the stairs and into what looked like the basement area of the bar. Once he was off the steps he tried to remain as silent as possible while navigating through the room.

As he got closer to the door he heard a bottle clanking and someone muttering a shit from outside and Taylor swore his heartbeat got even faster at that. It was after the shit that he saw a shadow come upon the glass of the door in front of him and the knob began to turn slowly. He was going to get found and maybe even killed.

Not wanting to risk it, he lifted his gun and fired a shot watching the glass on the door shatter.

"Taylor!" Rick called out as he got up and ran from where he had been crouched at once he heard the gunshot and glass shattering.

"I...I'm alright. I'm alright," Taylor called out letting Rick know he was alright though his voice came out shaky as he did so. After answering Rick he finished the walk towards the door, soon hiding behind a wall so that no one could see him.

Going into Zac and Kate's tent Mac stopped when he found Kate sitting on the cot crying, "Katie?" he asked as he walked closer.

"Go away," Kate muttered through her tears as she turned to look up at Mac.

Mac shook his head as he sat down beside her, "I don't want to go away," he said before putting a hand on her back. "What's the matter?" he asked as he raised an eyebrow.

"Zac's at Beth's side again," Kate answered harshly. "He went back to her while everyone was out looking to see if we could find Lori. He's with Beth and damn it I don't get why," she continued as she cried harder. "He should be worrying about me and our baby and things like that but he's off with that girl."

Going silent as Kate ranted Mac rubbed her back before frowning, "He just feels sorry for her," he reasoned though he didn't really understand why Zac was at Beth's side either.

"It's more than feeling sorry," Kate spoke as she shook her head. "Way more than feeling sorry and I don't understand what changed," she sighed wondering if maybe kissing Beth and spending time with her had really been able to make Zac fall for the girl that much but then again Taylor had fallen for Maggie hard and fast and she was sure the same had happened with Avery when it came to Daryl. These Hanson's had a pattern.

Rick who now stood beside Hershel and Glenn kept looking over his shoulder every so often, "I'll hold 'em here. You cover Taylor," he said when he looked at Hershel. "See if you can make it to your car. Tell him... tell him to pull up back. We'll run for it, get the hell out of here."

"You want me to cover Taylor?" Hershel asked as he raised an eyebrow. Out of him and Glenn, Glenn should have been the one chosen.

"You missed all that gun training," Rick noted as he kept Hershel's gaze. "It could've come in handy now."

Hershel looked down as he loaded the pistol he swore Glenn had stolen off one of the dead men, "Nah, I can shoot. I just don't like too," he answered before walking off with Glenn following him so that they could get to Taylor.

Taylor who had came out of hiding and was now staring at the door in fear turned when he heard footsteps approaching him, his shotgun raised just in case, though when he turned around he just found Hershel and Glenn with their hands held up slightly. "Sorry. Sorry," Taylor spoke as Hershel reached out tp move the shotgun away from him and Glenn.

"Rick wants you to try for the car," Hershel told the man.

"Try?" Taylor asked nervousness still in his voice.

"You'll try and succeed," Hershel told him as he locked eyes with Taylor, having confidence in the man. "I'll cover you."

Taylor rolled his eyes slightly, "That's a great plan," he muttered before taking a breath and making a run for the doors. Stepping outside hesitantly he looked around him as he checked for anybody or anything. Hearing a gunshot from behind him he grunted as he went behind a dumpster.

Seeing Taylor fall behind the dumpster, Hershel looked out seeing the man who had shot at him. Pointing his pistol up he fired and hit the man right in the chest and the man fell back groaning. After that he turned to see Taylor's feet sticking out from behind the dumpster.

"What happened?" Rick asked as he finally made it to the back and ran where Hershel and Glenn were standing in the open doorway.

"He fired," Glenn answered as he looked at the man on the ground, the one that Hershel had shot.

Hershel turned to look at Rick, "He must've hit Taylor. He's behind the dumpster," he said looking towards the dumpster. "Doesn't look like he's moving."

After Hershel told him about what happened to Taylor, Rick left the bar slowly just in case anyone else was around and he headed over to where Taylor was. "You hit?" he asked softly still not able to see Taylor from where he was at. "Are you hit?" he asked again once he was a bit closer.

Taylor who had been sitting behind the dumpster just shook his head, "No," he answered finally. "No."

When he finally made it to where he could see Taylor, Rick ducked down and walked to the man seeing fear on his face, "It's alright. The car's right there," he said as he looked towards the car. "We're almost home. You good?"

"I'm good," Taylor lied as he closed his eyes tightly for a moment before opening them again. He'd have to be good for now.

"Let's go," Rick said to him as he took off running towards the car. Just as he did more gunshots went off and he told Taylor to get back before they both retreated back behind the dumpster again.

Taylor who stayed behind the dumpster turned to look as he heard squealing tires and he watched a truck pull up next to the pharmacy.

"Let's get out of here! Roamers all over the place! Hurry up! We gotta get out of here!"

"What about Sean?"

"They shot him. We gotta go. Roamers are everywhere."

"We're leaving?"

"Jump! Hurry up, jump already."

Taylor waited with baited breath as he watched the guy on the roof jump and he made a face as he heard screaming, "Dude didn't make it," he muttered under his breath before looking away.

"Help me! Help... help me!"

"I've gotta go. I've gotta go. I'm sorry!"

Hearing the man who didn't make it scream as his group drove off Taylor frowned slightly as he looked down still.

"Get Hershel and Glenn," Rick told Taylor as he kept his eyes on the man who didn't make it. Waiting a few seconds he stood up and finally went towards where the man was screaming.

After Rick left Taylor made a face as he stood up. Seeing Hershel and Glenn still at the bar doors he called out their names, watching as Hershel turned away to fire at walkers who were beginning to descend on the man he had shot earlier. When they finally made it over to him they began to leave the alley where they were at and make their way towards the car.

"The gunfire must've attracted the walkers," Hershel stated finally calling the dead what they were..walkers. "Where's Rick?"

"He...he ran across," Taylor told him as all three men reached the car.

Hershel just shook his head, "Well, hell, we can't go without him," he said as he took off running to where Rick was. "Rick!" he hollered as he came up on Rick who was standing in front of a man whose leg was impaled on a fence post. "We have to go now."

"No!" Randall said as he cried out in pain not wanting them to leave him here.

Hershel looked at him and shook his head, "I'm sorry son. We have to go."

"No no, don't leave me please," Randall pleaded as he tried to keep himself propped up on the dumpster behind him.

"We have to go," Hershel stated again as he looked at Rick who was still not moving.

Rick shook his head, "We can't," he said not wanting to leave this man behind..if you could even call him that. He looked no more than eighteen or nineteen.

"He was just shooting at us!" Taylor exclaimed not understanding why Rick wanted to help him.

"He's a kid," Rick defended knowing his conscience wouldn't feel right to leave him here to knowingly die.

Randall who was hearing them argue tried to sit up some, "Please help me."

"This place is crawling with walkers!" Glenn added in knowing they could possibly get overrun soon.

"We can't leave him!" Rick stated still not backing down.

Hershel moved closer to examine the boys leg, "The fence went clean through. There's no way we can get the leg off in one piece."

Randall who heard that started to cry out in pain even more, especially so when they moved fence some trying to get his leg off.

"Shut up or I will shoot you," Rick warned him though he didn't really want to shoot him.

"That may be the answer," Hershel said under his breath as he pulled Rick to the side. "We're not gonna get that leg off without tearing the muscle to shreds. He certainly can't run. He may bleed out."

Glenn who had stayed behind at the fence with Taylor looked at the man as he continued to cry, "Shut up," he said as he pointed at him slightly and grabbed onto his leg as gently as possible which just made him cry more. "I'm sorry. Sh-sh... shut up. Shut up," he said knowing his cries were attracting more walkers.

"Maybe we should put him down," Hershel stated seeing Rick giving him a look. "I don't wanna see any more killing, but this is cruel."

"Can't we just take the leg off?" Taylor asked as he looked between Rick and Hershel.

After considering Taylor's words for a moment Rick raised an eyebrow, "That hatchet still in the car?"

"No," Taylor stated trying to ignore the mans pleas for them not to cut his leg off.

Rick reached around in his pocket, pulling out a pocket knife. "Will this cut through the bone?" he asked pushing the blade out so Hershel could see it.

"I'll have to sever the ligaments below the kneecap, cut above the tibia. He's going to lose his lower leg," Hershel told Rick as he took the white button down shirt he had on off. "When we get clear of here, we're gonna have to find some tinder, cauterize the wound so he doesn't bleed out."

"Alright. No choice, hurry up," Rick stated before moving behind the fence to hold the man down.

"Hand me that stick," Hershel said as he looked at Glenn, before tying his shirt around the man's leg.

Glenn picked up the stick and then headed with Taylor to keep an eye out for walkers coming there way.

"Guys, walkers," Taylor stated as he turned to look back at Hershel and Rick. There was a bunch of walkers heading their way if they didn't hurry up. "Hurry up!" he told them as he and Glenn ran a bit closer to take down a few of the walkers with their guns.

Rick who had been helping hold the man down turned to look as he saw walkers advancing on them from where he was at too, "Oh god they're everywhere," he stated before going to go shoot at some of them. "Hershel, how we doing over there?"

"I need more hands!" Hershel answered back as he looked at the man who was struggling as he tried to cut the leg off. "Easy, easy."

"Come on, we gotta go! I'm almost out of ammo!" Glenn stated as he turned back towards where Hershel and Rick were, "We don't have much time! Come on, we've gotta go!"

"Can't hold 'em off! Hershel, do it now!" Rick hollered from where he was as he moved back some. The walkers were starting to get to be too many for him to handle. "Come on, Hershel!" he spoke once he reached where Hershel was still working.

At Rick's words Hershel sighed, "There is no time!"

"Hershel, come on!" Rick stated again knowing they had to leave.

Randall watched as the men all started to move away and again he propped himself up so he could look at them, "Please don't leave me! Please! No! Please don't leave me! Please! Please don't leave me!"

Taylor who was standing the closet to the car turned around as he heard a loud scream and he made a face, seeing that Rick had just pulled the guys leg off the fence and he felt sympathy pain for him. He knew that had to have hurt like a damn bitch but at least now they could all head back to the farm.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Sixteen

Zac sighed as he sat in the room where Beth was at. There had still been no change in her and he hated it. He hated seeing her looking so not there. She was just a shell of the Beth he remembered taking out to shot a gun. A shell of the Beth that he had overheard singing. A shell of the Beth who had kissed him.

"Why are you here?" Jimmy asked as he stood in the entry way of the room where his girlfriend was. "Why are you at my girlfriend's side for? You have a wife."

Looking up at Jimmy, Zac glared slightly, "Beth's a friend? Am I not supposed to be concerned about a friend?"

"No, you can be," Jimmy stated as he walked into the room. "But you seem more concerned about your friend than your own wife."

"My wife isn't in danger at the moment," Zac said through gritted teeth not liking the way Jimmy was acting and maybe partly he felt this way because of a guilty conscience. He knew he was more concerned about Beth at the moment and he knew how that had to look but a part of him wasn't sure he cared..even if he did love his wife and he did love Kate..but Beth..there was just something and it had been there since she kissed him, maybe before when he had felt that spark when they touched or even when he heard her singing. Beth had a magnetic pull on him.

"And what about if she was?" Jimmy asked as he sat on the other side of Beth. "Would you be this concerned over her? Heck would you save her if it came down to her or Beth? Or what if she went missing? Would you grieve her or just try to move on with my girlfriend...your friend."

At Jimmy's questions Zac glared again but went silent because he wasn't exactly sure how he'd answer some of them.

Avery who was following behind Carol as the woman went back to Daryl's camp again hid behind a tree once Carol had gotten close enough and was looking around. Daryl was nowhere in sight but she really didn't want to be spotted by Carol either so she figured it best she hide now and well from here she could also hear if Daryl did show up and talked to Carol or if Carol had words with Daryl she could also hear those too.

"What are you doing?" Daryl asked as he came up on Carol who was just walking around his campsite.

"Keeping an eye on you," Carol admitted her voice staying soft. She couldn't help but want to keep an eye on him, especially after everything he had done for Sophia.

Daryl just rolled his eyes slightly and moved around Carol some, "Ain't you a peach?" he muttered not liking her doing that.

"I'm not gonna let you pull away," Carol spoke standing her ground. "You've earned your place."

"If you spent half your time minding your daughter's business instead of sticking your nose in everybody else's, she'd still be alive!" Daryl said as he leaned into Carol some and raised his hand back slightly.

Carol who watched as Daryl raised his hand back just stood there expecting him to hit her and she'd take it if he was going too. She had gotten worse from Ed. "Go ahead," she told him knowing if he was going to he should just get it over with.

"Go ahead and what?" Daryl asked but finally he realized what she meant. "I mean just go! I don't want you here! You're a real piece of work, lady. What, are you gonna make this about my daddy or some crap like that? Pfft! Man, you don't know Jack. You're afraid. You're afraid 'cause you're all alone. You got no husband, no daughter. You don't know what to do with yourself. You ain't my problem! Sophia wasn't mine! All you had to do was keep an eye on her!"

Avery who was watching the confrontation take place felt her breath catch as again Daryl lunged for Carol and again the woman just stood there but Daryl didn't do anything he just watched as Carol walked away. Not going after Carol, Avery moved from the tree she was hiding behind once she watched Daryl walk away and head into his tent.

Going into the tent she looked down at him when he looked up at her and glared, "Glare at me all you want," she told him before sitting down so she was at his level. "What you said to Carol was cruel..hell what you said to Lori was cruel too. You can't just go around being an asshole because you feel like it."

"You can't tell me what I can do," Daryl responded as he kept his glare. "I don't want you here either. You should have left when Carol did," he said knowing he had seen her behind the tree.

"I didn't want too," Avery told him knowing even though he kept his glare she wasn't going to leave. "I can't tell you what to do, you have that right but I can do this," she muttered before she leaned over to kiss him much like she had done earlier today before the massacre at the barn, before Sophia coming out had ruined the man she was getting to open up.

Feeling Avery kiss him again Daryl froze and he pushed her away after letting himself respond to the kiss for longer than he would have liked, "Stop," he sighed before locking eyes with her. "I..I don't..I can't."

"Why can't you?" Avery asked as she raised an eyebrow. "What's stopping you?" she asked him a second question. A question that was met with silence and upon that silence she again leaned over and kissed him. This time the kiss was more gentle than the first one and again he responded back briefly before pulling away.

When he pulled away she just sighed, "If you want me to go I'll go," she told him before looking away from him. "But you can't go around shutting people down forever or acting like a baby."

Not getting a response still Avery just sighed and turned to leave only stopping when she felt Daryl's hand on her wrist and the moment she turned to face him she was surprised when he was the one who kissed her but she wasn't going to ruin the moment by pulling away and asking him about it. Instead she kissed him back and as the kisses grew rougher and more feverish she pushed him back onto the top of the sleeping bag in his tent and that was when she began to undress him as well as herself which caused him to finally pull away and look at her.

Daryl looked up at Avery as he tried to catch his breath, not sure why he had let things progress this far. He was clad only in his boxers and an unbuttoned shirt while Avery laid above him completely naked. It sure as hell wasn't the first time he had seen a naked woman but it was the first time a naked woman had actually been on top of him.

"I'm...I've..never," he stuttered out unable to meet her gaze as he confessed the fact that he was a virgin. He was a virgin in his forties. Merle had always gave him shit for it but Daryl usually ignored him knowing he had never found a woman he had wanted to let in that close, not to mention the scars on his back that he didn't want anyone to see.

Avery just looked down at Daryl as she took in his words and she blushed some, " you want too?" she asked him wanting to make sure that he was okay with this.

Daryl just nodded his head giving Avery permission and it seemed that was all she needed before kissing him again and as they kissed he felt her slid his boxers off finally freeing his aching cock which had been hard for far too long since this had started tonight.

Kissing Daryl harder, Avery reached between them once his boxers were off and she grabbed his cock softly giving it a few tugs which made him moan and she just smirked on his lips. She liked knowing she could give him this kind of satisfaction. That she was the only one who had given him this before. She had never been anyone's first except maybe Jeremy but even him she wasn't sure about but Daryl's confession seemed genuine and she had no reason to doubt it.

After giving him a few strokes Avery moved down on him and closed her eyes briefly as she felt a moan come out and she parted from the kiss. Looking down at him she began to move on him starting off slow at first though when he began to move awkwardly with her she picked up her pace on him.

"Fuck...Daryl," Avery groaned out as she leaned in to kiss him again before slowly pulling him up into a sitting position. "I'm so close," she muttered into his mouth as her breathing began to get faster and let herself move on him even faster, her arms sliding around his neck as she did so.

Holding him tighter to her Avery felt her walls clench around him as her orgasm hit and the moment it did she began to moan his name out over and over into his mouth and she was sure that sometime during her own orgasm she felt him release inside of her.

Daryl who kept moving with her even through her own orgasm closed his eyes as he felt himself reach his own eventual end inside of her which cause him to moan out her name as he felt his cheeks get hotter than they already were. He wasn't sure what this meant for them and he wasn't sure if he even loved her but he did know that he liked having sex with her even if half the time he hadn't really known what he was doing.

It had also been nice to hear her say his name much like she had during that time with Shane at the CDC, except this time she had actually been intending to say his name.

"C..can I sleep in here tonight?" Avery asked as she rested her head on Daryl's shoulder her lips going to kiss his neck softly. "Please."

Nodding his head slightly Daryl sighed knowing that in this instant he'd give her everything she wanted from him. It was almost like she had fucking broken him and for the time being he wasn't complaining though maybe he'd complain tomorrow.

Kate who had eventually left her tent and went outside looked up when she heard a car coming back and along with everyone else who had been gathered around outside she watched as Shane and Lori both got out of the car once it was parked though Lori was holding her head.

"Oh my god, are you alright?" Kate asked once she was a little closer. "What happened?"

"I was in an accident," Lori stated hearing Shane saying she was attacked. "I'm fine. I really am," she nodded feeling Kate put her arm on her comforting her. "Where's Rick?" she asked as she looked around at the people knowing Shane had told her that the men had came back.

As Shane just walked away from her with his back towards her it was then that Lori knew she had been lied too, "They're not back?" she asked her voice coming out angry. "Where are they?" she asked as she turned to look at Shane.

"Look, I had to get you back here," Shane explained as he turned to face Lori.

"You asshole," Lori stated as she went towards Shane who just said her name in an attempt to stop her. "He's my husband!" she stated as she pushed him slightly.

"Lori, I will go after him. I will find him," Shane said trying to find a way to calm her. "Hey! Now look, first things first... I gotta... I gotta look after you. I gotta make sure the baby's all right, okay?"

Kate who heard Shane's revelation swallowed hard and put her hand on her own stomach. Now the group was having two babies and it was after that, she zoned out though she was still almost faintly aware of Carl saying something about the baby, he hadn't known and then Lori ushered him inside and Kate still stood frozen in her spot for what felt like forever.

When she finally snapped out of it though she headed for her tent where she sat down on the cot and swallowed hard. Two babies in one group was just asking for danger, "Maybe I should have gotten rid of you when I had a chance."

Zac who had been sitting in Beth's room sighed as he stood to leave the room and when he did he passed Maggie who came in and he gave a nod to a few of the others who just looked out of it or like they had been dealt some news though of course he didn't question it until he went outside and saw Mac sitting on the porch.

"So why does everyone look so doom and gloom?" Zac asked as he raised an eyebrow from curiosity.

"Probably cause Lori is pregnant," Mac stated as he looked at his brother. "You would have known had you been out here with everyone else instead of making oogly eyes at Beth who is the picture of a damsel by being in a catatonic state."

Zac listened to Mac, "You accusing me of liking Beth too?" he asked remembering Jimmy's words from earlier.

"Not accusing just stating what seems to be the case," Mac said as he eyed his brother. "Did you know Kate got upset because you were by Beth's side instead of being with her. Kate's your wife and the mother of your kid Zac...Beth's just a girl."

At Mac's words Zac swallowed hard because he knew his brother was right and before he could say more he watched as Mac walked away. "But what if I don't want her to be just a girl?" he whispered to himself sadly before walking off the porch to go find Kate.

The question was simple but it was also one he knew he could never find out the answer too. As much as he was finding himself attracted to Beth, Kate was his wife and she hadn't done anything wrong. He'd just have to push his feelings aside and make his marriage work.

The next morning Jessica walked into the Greene house and stopped at the room where Beth was. She figured she might as well check on the girl. It would keep her from worrying about the guys still being gone...of Glenn being gone before she could tell him she loved him.

"How is she?" Jessica asked as she looked at Maggie who was sitting at the foot of the bed and Patricia who was hovering over Beth checking her vitals.

"Dehydrated," Patricia answered as she looked at Jessica before back down at Beth. "I'll set up an I.V.," she smiled sadly as she patted Beth's hands slightly. "Best I can do without Hershel," she added in before leaving the room to go get what she needed to set up an I.V.

When Patricia exited out of one door Jessica went into the room through the door where she was standing and sat on the end of the bed when Maggie moved towards the front to be closer to Beth. "Can I get you anything?" she asked Maggie feeling sorry for the girl. In a way Beth reminded her of Zoe and it made her miss her baby sister.

Maggie shook her her head, "Nah, I just wish my dad was here," she said honestly as she turned to look at Jessica.

"She'll be okay," Jessica nodded knowing that the girl would be fine. "You just need to be strong for her."

"I was just reminding her about..." Maggie started but stopped not sure if Jessica would want to hear. "Never mind."

Jessica smiled at Maggie and shook her head, "No..No. I'd love to hear," she told Maggie being honest. Maybe she could relieve times with Zoe if she heard this story.

"My dad would die if he heard this," Maggie grinned as she looked down at Beth. "My first summer back from college, I drove home, dumped my stuff off, went straight out to the stable for a ride. My family comes back from church and Beth grabs my things and starts unpacking my stuff upstairs."

"That's sweet," Jessica stated knowing the gesture was sweet.

"Yeah, until this one here starts rifling through my backpack. She finds this little plastic container with these pink and green candies inside. She didn't even know I was on the pill. She was so freaked out by the idea of me, and boys and sex, she runs outside and chucks them in the duck pond. And I ride up, I see this, I'm screaming. She's crying and Shawn runs outside, thinks one of us is drowning. Soon as he figures out what's going on, the jerk busts out laughing so loud that my horse rears up and gets mud all over the three of us. 'My dad comes out, what the heck's goin' on out here?!' And she turns around, bats her eyelids and says, 'we're just swimming, daddy.' In her Sunday dress, all covered in snot and mud," Maggie finished a frown on her lips and tears starting to form in her eyes.

Feeling a lump forming in her throat as memories flooded her of her own sisters in times before Jessica heaved a sigh, "Rick,Taylor, and Glenn will get your dad back."

"Taylor's a good guy," Maggie stated knowing that Taylor was also Jessica's brother.

"Yeah," Jessica said not being able to help the grin on her face. "He is."

Avery stood around the cars the next morning watching as Daryl helped to get things ready to go out looking for the men who hadn't returned. She had left his tent this morning before he woke up because she was afraid of dealing with an awkward confrontation with him.

Being brought of her thoughts though when she heard a car coming down the road she watched as it turned at the farm and eventually came down the driveway, parking in front of the house.

As she walked towards where the car was parked she watched as Rick got out with Carl running toward him to hug him and Avery also couldn't help but watch the same scenario with Maggie though instead of running to Hershel she went for Taylor instead though Taylor quickly brushed her off.

Shaking her head she looked around to see if Jessica was here and sure enough she found her sister holding tight to Glenn. A sight that warmed her heart some.

"Patricia, prepare the shed for surgery," Hershel stated as he walked closer to the woman who had came outside.

"Are you hurt?" Lori asked as she pulled away from her embrace with Rick.

"No but what happened to you?" Rick asked seeing the cut on her face.

"I was in a car accident," Lori told her husband trying to brush it off.

Rick felt his eyes widen at his wife's words, "Accident? How?"

"I went looking for you," Lori answered as she looked away from Rick's gaze.

"Snuck out on her own. Brought her back," Shane added in as he overhead their conversation.

"Are you crazy? You could've...." Rick started only to get cut off by T-Dog.

T-Dog who had been standing there looked towards the car finally noticed someone in the back, "Who the hell is that?" he exclaimed knowing he wasn't one of their people.

"That's Randall," Glenn answered as he pulled away from his hug with Jessica. It seemed her curiosity in seeing who was in the car was enough for her to finally let him go.

Avery moved some to look in the car and she raised an eyebrow seeing what looked like a teenaged boy blindfolded and either fast asleep or knocked out in the backseat.

"We couldn't just leave him behind," Rick stated as he looked at his group who were now all gathered in the dining room. "He would've bled out, if he lived that long."

"It's gotten bad in town," Glenn added in knowing the walker situation had gotten worse then the last time he and Jessica had went to town.

After a few moments of silence Andrea sighed, "What do we do with him?"

"I repaired his calf muscle as best I can," Hershel stated as he walked into the kitchen. "But he'll probably have nerve damage. Won't be on his feet for at least a week."

"When he is, we give him a canteen, take him out to the main road, send him on his way," Rick said knowing that was the best plan he had.

"Isn't that the same as leaving him for the walkers?" Kate asked as she raised an eyebrow.

After Kate's question Avery looked up from where she was sitting at the table when she heard the front door open. Seeing Daryl come in and give her a slight but subtle head nod she grinned at him, glad to see that he was at least participating in group things again now it seemed. Maybe them having sex had been all it took to make him come around again.

"He'll have a fighting chance," Rick spoke in response to Kate's words.

"Just gonna let him go?" Shane questioned now as he looked at Rick. "He knows where we are."

Rick looked back at Shane, "He was blindfolded the whole way here. He's not a threat."

"Not a threat. How many of them were there?" Shane questioned again not sure he trusted Rick's judgment anymore. "You killed three of their men, you took one of them hostage, but they just ain't gonna come looking?"

"They left him for dead," Rick defended. "No one is looking."

"We should still post a guard," Zac piped up knowing he'd feel better that way.

Hershel who had been listening to the conversation spoke up after Zac did, "He's out cold right now, will be for hours."

"You know what? I'm gonna go get him some flowers and candy," Shane stated sarcastically as he walked towards the front door. " Look at this, folks... We're back in fantasy land."

Watching Shane walk away Hershel moved some once the man had walked past him on his way towards the door, "You know, we haven't even dealt with what you did at my barn yet," he started seeing Shane turn to look at him. "Let me make this perfectly clear, once and for all... This is my farm. Now I wanted you gone. Rick talked me out of it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. So do us both a favor... Keep your mouth shut."

After Hershel talked to him Shane just stood there for a bit before turning his back as he heaved a sigh and exited the house.

"We're not gonna do anything about it today," Rick told the others after Shane left. "Let's just cool off."

Once Rick had said that everyone started to leave the kitchen and go their separate ways. Walking towards where Daryl was still standing near the front door Avery stopped in front of him to say something but just watched as he gave her a look before exiting the house quickly and in a huff.

Maggie who watched as Taylor started to leave walked behind him, grabbing his wrist lightly to stop him, "Can I talk to you?" she asked before heading into the kitchen hearing Taylor's foot steps behind her. "What's going on with you?" she asked as she came to a stop and turned to face him.

"Your dad saved my life today," Taylor stated as he leaned against an entry way. "And Rick saved all of us. And I...I froze."

"Well, you were being shot at," Maggie said understanding that anyone could have froze in that moment. When he started to speak again but stopped she walked a bit closer to him. "You don't have anything to prove."

Taylor just looked at her and shook his head, "All I've done, then this... okay," he told her as he looked down. "It's because of what you said."

"That I love you?" Maggie asked confusion in her voice as she tried to grasp what that had to do with things.

"Yeah," Taylor nodded. "A bullet hit the wall behind me and I... I thought of you... Losing me, hurting. And I couldn't take it, so I hid to stay alive."

Smiling at Taylor's words Maggie moved towards him only to have him reach out for her hands to stop her.

"You don't get it," Taylor told her trying to get her to keep her distance. "Rick..your dad..Glenn. They were counting on me and I..I only thought of myself," he told her before letting go of her hands and walking away finally.

Jessica looked at Glenn as they sat outside under a tree, "I was afraid you wouldn't come back," she said honestly as she felt tears forming in her eyes. "I can't lose you Glenn."

Looking over at Jessica, Glenn raised an eyebrow, "You won't lose me," he said before pulling her closer to him. "I'm here now and I'm safe. I'm safe."

"You have to stay safe," Jessica told him as she locked eyes with him. "You have to stay safe because I love you Glenn. I'm in love with you and it took worrying about you last night for me to realize that and I can't lose another guy that I love. I lost Joe and I'm not going to lose you either."

Hearing Jessica say she loved him he smiled before moving closer to her, "Can you say the I love you part again?" he asked her teasingly as he watched her give him a glare and he finally shook his head. "I'm here Jess and I won't leave you. Not anytime soon if I can help it," he reassured her before pulling her into a hug. "I'm going to be with you until you get sick of me."

"But what if I never get sick of you?" Jessica asked with a laugh.

"Then I guess you are just stuck with me," Glenn told her as he smiled again. He was glad that it seemed he had finally got the girl. Jessica was his and she loved him and things were working out.

Avery walked towards Daryl's campsite and the minute she got close enough to it she watched as the man came out of his tent, "You going to ignore me all day?" she asked as he came to a stop in front of her.

"Funny, I thought you were the one ignoring me," Daryl spoke as he shook his head. "Isn't that why you left before I woke up this morning?"

Shaking her head Avery ran a hand through her hair, "I left to avoid awkward conversations or you just yelling at me."

"I wouldn't have yelled at you little girl," Daryl muttered as he looked at her. "Things may have been awkward yeah but I wouldn't have yelled."

"How was I to know?" Avery asked him as she raised an eyebrow. "You're always yelling or pissed about something and sometimes you take it out on me or whoever's there at the moment. I didn't want that not after last night. I like you and I didn't want whatever last night was to get ruined."

"Who says last night has to be anything?" Daryl asked her as he made a face. "We had sex. It was what it was, you like me and I like you but who says it has to be a thing? Can't it just be?"

Avery took in his words surprised he could be so deep, " this your way of saying you want to date me Dixon?" she asked as she chewed her lip hard.

"I'm saying it is what it is," Daryl shrugged as he shook his head. "It doesn't need labels. It just is."

"I..I'll stay away from Beth," Zac spoke as he looked at Kate as she changed clothes in their tent. "Mac told me you got upset and I'll stay away from her. You're my wife and I haven't been treating you like it."

Turning to face Zac as she lifted her shirt off Kate reached down to adjust her jeans which were starting to get tight or maybe she was just crazy. " really mean that?"

"I really mean that," Zac stated as he stood up and walked towards Kate. "You're the woman I married. The woman I love and I need to treat you like that again," he smiled as he cupped her cheeks in his hands. "I'm sorry about everything that has happened and I'm sorry I was with Beth most of the night last night."

Smiling at Zac's words Kate wanted to believe them, she really did, "You're forgiven," she told him as she leaned in and pecked his lips. "I just..I want to know what you'd do if that were me in there on that bed? Would you be by my side like you were with Beth?"

At Kate's question Zac just gave her a look, "You know I would be," he answered though he actually wasn't sure if it was the lie or the truth and that made him sad to realize.

Kate just nodded and she smiled kissing Zac again, "I love you," she whispered into his mouth hoping that their love would always be enough but she had this nagging feeling that one day it wouldn't be.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Seventeen

"Did you really suggest we go into town?" Avery asked as she raised an eyebrow and looked at Jessica who had pulled her away from where most of the others were at. A week had past since Randall had been brought to the farm and today Shane and Rick had left to go take him out and just leave him somewhere and today it seemed was the day that Jessica had a death wish.

"I need to go to the pharmacy Ave," Jessica muttered as she looked at her sister. "I was looking at your calendar last night and I'm late. I'm really late."

Avery just rolled her eyes, "Well you and Glenn should have been more careful but I don't want to risk my neck going into a town that is supposedly getting bad."

"It wouldn't be Glenn's baby," Jessica frowned knowing if she was pregnant it would be Merle's baby. "But please Ave. I need to get a pregnancy test and find out," she sighed continuing to frown and just look mopey.

"Can't you just ask Glenn?" Avery asked feeling her resolve breaking slightly.

Jessica just rolled her eyes scoffing some, "And tell him what? That I think I could be having Merle Dixon's spawn from hell. Yeah that will go over well now since we just got together."

Closing her eyes Avery heaved a sigh, "Fine I will go but you find a way to get us a car so we can go or steal us a horse so we can."

"Oh trust me, I will," Jessica said as she pulled her sister into a tight hug. "Thank you so so so much."

"Yeah, yeah," Avery muttered but she allowed Jessica to hug her. "Just know if I die I am coming back to haunt you so bad."

"Taylor say anything to your or Zac about what happened when they went out?" Maggie asked Kate as she stood in the kitchen with Kate and Lori who were both helping her fix lunch for Beth who while doing better and having come out of her catatonic state still had not left her room.

Kate shrugged, "Just that it had gotten pretty bad," she said as she answered Maggie giving her a questioning stare.

"He's not the same," Maggie said as she shook her head. "Says he froze. Blames me. Says I got inside his head."

Lori who had listened to Maggie shook her head as well, "He came back that's what matters. Men have to do certain things. You know that. And they're either gonna blame the little woman as the reason they do'em or the reason they don't."

Kate nodded her head in relation to what Lori said, "I'll tell you something. What happens out there happens out there. And we..we're just trying to keep it together til they get back."

"Things were good," Maggie mused after both Kate and Lori spoke. "Maybe I..."

"Taylor's a big boy," Kate stated interrupting Maggie before she could finish her words. "He makes his own choices, and then you have anything to apologize for?" she asked as she raised an eyebrow seeing Maggie shake her head. "Tell him to man up and pull himself together. Just don't say man up. It never goes well."

Maggie held in a chuckle but put Beth's finished plate on a tray, "Let me just get this to Beth."

"You go on," Lori said as she walked to where Maggie was. "I got it. I can take it to Beth."

"So how did you con Glenn in to giving you the keys to this piece of shit car?" Avery asked as she turned her head briefly to look at Jessica who was sitting in the passenger seat. Somehow just somehow Jessica had conned Glenn into giving her the keys to an old car that was Beth's or was going to be Beth's. Avery wasn't even sure how Glenn had gotten the keys himself but he had.

"I just promised I'd pay him back in sex later," Jessica shrugged as she turned to look at Avery who was driving the car.

"And he didn't question why you wanted it?" Avery asked not believing that. "And I swear all you two ever think about is sex."

Jessica laughed slightly, "It's not the only thing we think about. But yes, he did question it and I just told him I was going to clear my head for awhile and wanted to go for a ride. That I'd be fine."

"And he was still okay?" Avery again questioned surprised by Glenn being okay with Jessica just going out.

"No but again I promised him sex," Jessica admitted as she smirked.

Shaking her head Avery just drove in silence for a bit, "What are you going to do if you are pregnant?" she asked as she finally hit town taking a deep breath as she saw a few walkers. She was glad for the guns that she had smuggled out of the tent without Zac noticing. From the looks of things they would need them.

"What would you do if you were pregnant?" Jessica asked as she raised an eyebrow as Avery parked the car.

"I don't know but thank god I'm not right," Avery muttered as she shook her head and got out of the car. The moment she did the walkers who had been close by turned when she shut the door and she raised her hand firing the gun a few times.

Jessica who also got out of the car looked at Avery after she shot, "You and Zac are the best shots in the family," she nodded as she headed closer to the door of the pharmacy. "You stay out here on watch and I'll head inside to get what I need."

Avery just nodded warily, "Hurry up," she said not wanting to be here longer than they had to be.

"Knock knock," Lori spoke right as she made it to Beth's open door. As Beth sat up in bed Lori laid the tray down on the drawer beside the bed. The poor girl still looked so sad and fragile. "How about, uh. You eat up all your food, we'll get you up out of here and go take a walk. What do you say?" she asked as she raised her eyebrow. "It'll do good to be outside."

Just listening to Lori talk Beth zoned out much of what the woman said, "You're pregnant," she stated knowing that even in her catatonic state she had heard most of the talks and she had overheard Lori's talk with Shane. "How could you do that?" she asked not understanding how Lori could get pregnant in this world.

"I don't really have a choice," Lori spoke as she looked down shaking her head some.

"You think it'll make a difference," Beth said knowing either way you cut it the child was doomed whether Lori had a choice or not.

Lori finally looked up, "Of course it will," she said as she walked back to the door. "You eat something," she told her as she exited the room.

"That was so damn close," Avery sighed as she got in the car and started it up. Pulling out of the space she made sure not to hit the dead walker bodies and she began to drive away. "Next time you want to come into town for some darn pregnancy test drive yourself."

"You say that as if we'll be staying on the farm long term," Jessica spoke as she looked at the pregnancy test in her hands, slipping it inside of the purse that was around her shoulders.

Avery chewed on her lip, "Why wouldn't we be? It's safe and Hershel's came around."

"Nowhere is safe anymore," Jessica stated knowing eventually they'd probably have to leave the farm the question was just of when they would have too.

Avery wanted to argue with that fact but she knew it was true so instead she stayed silent, "Are you going to take the test as soon as we get back?" she asked curiously though also a bit nervous for her sister.

At Avery's words Jessica sighed, "Can I confess something?" she asked as she felt her cheeks grow hot. "The test wasn't for me."

"Then who is it for?" Avery asked as she turned to her sister feeling confused as to who else would need a test unless it was Maggie but she wasn't even sure if Taylor and Maggie had sex yet.

"You," Jessica blurted out deciding to just rip the truth off like a band aid. "Your calender says you are a week late and it has been nineteen days since you had sex with Shane on the RV."

Avery turned to look at her sister and she felt all the color drain from her own face, "I'm gonna forget the fact that you know how many days it's been since I had sex with Shane but there is no way I am pregnant," she said knowing she hadn't wrote it down yet but she had spotted slightly a day or two after having sex with Daryl.

"I can't be," she muttered turning back to look at the road right as two walkers walked right into the middle of the road. Turning the wheel to avoid them she felt it go too far and almost like in a movie things moved in slow motion as the car proceeded to flip over a few times and she could hear the glass shattering as it did so and then things just went black.

Lori came back to Beth's room sometime later and sighed seeing the girl hadn't touched a thing on her tray and the tray was still sitting where she had laid it. "Couldn't eat a thing, huh?" she asked as she stayed in the doorway. "You're gonna..." she started to speak but stopped when she heard Beth sobbing.

Going inside the room she bent down in front of Beth's bed, "I know how hard it is," she said as she sighed. "I tried for days to reach my mom and get her on the phone. I can only assume," she shrugged figuring that the lack of contact meant her mom was dead. That she had changed..became one of those things.

"It's just so pointless," Beth spoke through her tears not even bothering to look at Lori.

Lori shook her head at that, "You have Maggie, and your father, Patricia, and Jimmy. And you've gotta stay strong for them," she reassured the girl. "I wish I could promise you it would be alright in the end. I can't, but we can make now alright. And we have too."

Smiling slightly Beth turned to look at Lori, "Thank you."

Lori returned the smile and stood up walking to where the tray still sat, "I'll be right back. We'll go take that walk," she said as she picked up the tray and left the room. It was only when she got back to the kitchen and picked up the fork from the tray that she realized the knife was missing. Beth had taken the knife.

Turning around she headed back to Beth's room and opened the door, "Beth?" she asked seeing the girl laying down and facing the side. Not getting a response Lori bent down to check the drawer for the knife but she didn't see it. "You give it to me, sweetheart," she spoke as she stood up again. "You don't want to do this."

Beth who was laying in bed heard Lori and she reluctantly handed over the knife she had been hiding under the covers.

Taking the knife from Beth, Lori headed back to the kitchen where she laid the knife down before heading outside to see if she could locate any of the Greene family members. Seeing Andrea on top of the RV as she ran towards the camp she sighed, "Andrea, have you seen Maggie or Hershel?"

"I haven't seen Hershel, but I saw Maggie and Taylor walk by maybe twenty minutes ago," Andrea answered as she looked down at Lori.

"Could you find her for me?" Lori asked as she raised an eyebrow. "I've gotta get back to the house," she said not wanting to leave Beth alone for too long.

"Of course," Andrea nodded before getting down from the RV.

Jessica came to eventually and groaned at the throbbing in her head. Looking around the memory of the crash came back to her almost with a force and she felt herself panic some as she looked over at Avery, "Ave?" she asked not getting any response from her sister. "Avie?" she asked again still not getting any response.

"God damn it," Jessica hissed out as she unbuckled bracing herself for the fall since the car was upside down. Wincing as she fell onto some glass she made her way to the side of the car where Avery was and opened the door. "Ave?" she asked again seeing that her sister was unconscious as well as having a huge gash on side of her forehead.

Reaching inside she unbuckled Avery's seat belt and slowly pulled her sister out of the car. Once Avery was out she reached down and checked for a pulse, sighing in relief when she did find one. "Come on Avery..please come too," she stated knowing they couldn't stay out here all day and if Avery didn't come too eventually she'd have to carry her sister back to the farm.

It was at that realization that Jessica heard the familiar moaning associated with walkers and she turned her head seeing the one that Avery had hit stand up from the road and head towards where she was.

"Shit...Shit." she muttered looking around but not seeing either gun. Feeling her heartbeat racing she crawled back inside the car and tried to frantically look around but she still came up empty handed. It was only when she spotted the walker mere inches from the car did she see one of the guns and it was past the walker. There was no way she could get too it right now.

Closing her eyes she cried out almost waiting for the moment when the walker would crawl into the car with her and bite her but that moment never came. Instead she heard a gunshot and for a moment she thought she was dreaming until she heard a voice she didn't recognize.

"Are you okay?" a woman with a southern drawl asked her and Jessica finally came out of the car, coming face to face with a blonde woman.

"I...I'm fine," Jessica answered before looking down at Avery who was still out. "My sister though..she's unconscious and hurt."

Hearing the girl Viv sighed and walked over to the other side of the car, seeing the girl who was passed out, "I have a place I can take her," she said knowing she could fix the girl up at the house where she had been staying with her group. "I'll carry her if you can take this," she said holding out the gun. "I believe it's yours anyway. It was lying in the road."

Jessica took the gun from the woman and watched her pick up Avery not long after, "You didn't have to help us."

"But I did," Viv nodded as she turned to face the girl. "It's what I do. I help people."

"What do you mean they are gone?" Daryl asked as he eyed the boy in front of him.

Glenn looked down as he took off the baseball cap he wore, "Just what I said. Jessica and Avery are gone and they probably should have been back by now," he admitted as he felt his cheeks grow hot as he looked up at Daryl seeing the man glaring at him now. "Jessica convinced me to let her use that car that was going to be Beth's..the one I stole the keys too. She said she needed to go out and clear her mind of some things but she isn't back yet."

Daryl listened to Glenn and he kept glaring, "And what makes you think Avery went with her?" he asked knowing the girl had to be smarter than that. Sometimes he swore Avery and Zac were the only two with brains.

"I saw her get in the car as they left," Glenn spoke seeing Daryl move forwards towards him and he flinched a bit afraid the man was going to hurt him.

Shaking his head Daryl just turned his back, "Come on china man. We have a car to track," he grunted as he started to walk away. "A piece of shit car you shouldn't have gave them," he muttered figuring the car had probably broke down on the girls.

"You can track cars?" Glenn asked as he followed behind Daryl. "And I'm Korean," he reminded him.

"No but that piece of shit probably broke down on them," Daryl answered as he turned to look at Glenn. "And you best hope they aren't hurt.." he said knowing he really meant Avery. If she was hurt or even worse he'd kill Glenn and maybe even Jessica if she was okay. "I'll kill you."

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Eighteen

"Are you crazy?" Maggie asked as she paced back and forth in Beth's bedroom. Andrea had tracked her down and informed her Lori was looking for her and once she had came back to the house she had been informed of Beth being suicidal and of her taking the knife. "What if dad finds out?"

"What's he gonna do?" Beth asked as she shook her head. "Kill me for committing suicide."

Walking to Beth's bed Maggie sat down, "Stop being such a brat. He'd die," she said knowing their dad would die if Beth killed herself. "So would I. This isn't just about you. We all lost mom."

"We'll lose each other and I couldn't stand that," Beth spoke knowing she wouldn't stand it if she lost her family.

"So you give up?" Maggie asked not sure that made sense and she could tell from the way Beth looked at her that they'd be having this conversation for awhile.

"Why didn't you tell Viv about the group of people on the farm?" Alice asked as she stood in the kitchen with Lucy and Sutton. Viv was upstairs bandaging the girl who she had brought in that was unconscious and the blonde who had been walking behind them was with her as well, unwilling to leave the side of who she said was her sister.

"I didn't see the use," Lucy admitted knowing Sutton had ratted her out the minute Viv walked in with the two girls though it hadn't been intentional, it had just slipped. "They have a group and I didn't think any of them would find us nor would Viv want us joining them. You know her rules..we only link up with people if they find us and they get abandoned."

Alice rolled her eyes but she knew Lucy was right and that she had a point, "Does this mean they are going to join us now?" she mused as she looked from Lucy to Sutton. "I mean they could be abandoned or unable to get back to the farm they are staying at."

"No," Viv answered as she walked into the kitchen, catching Alice's question. "They have a group and they can get back to the farm now. The blonde one..her name is Jessica and she requested time alone with her sister who is now awake. She's going to let her sister rest for a bit and then they are gonna head back out. They want to leave."

"You never gave us an option to leave," Sutton said as she sat down at the table.

"You guys never had groups or families who could possibly come looking for you or people you wanted to find. Everyone you had was dead or with you," Viv answered as she turned to look at Sutton knowing when she had taken in Sutton that she had,had Kirby but then Kirby had died.

Lucy nodded, "You going to escort them back or let them go on their own?"

"They'll be fine on their own. They have a gun and we have some extra bullets we can give them if they need them," Viv smiled before walking to Alice who she wrapped her arms around. "But you do need to tell me from now on when you notice people around here. For all we know they could be dangerous."

"How do you know their group isnt?" Alice asked as she turned to peck Viv's lips.

"Gut instinct," Viv answered knowing she wouldn't have helped them if she hadn't felt safe around Jessica when she saw her.

Andrea made a face as she stood in the kitchen with Kate and Lori listening to Maggie and Beth arguing upstairs. "Where's Hershel?" she asked as she eyed Kate and Lori.

"Maggie doesn't want him to find out yet," Kate spoke knowing Maggie had requested them not to look for Hershel or find him.

"It's a family affair," Lori shrugged as she munched on some cucumbers. "We'll let them work it out."

Andrea again made a face, "That's working it out?" she asked Lori not sure she'd call the arguing working it out.

"When Beth stops fighting, that's when it's time to worry," Lori said as she got down from the counter she had been sitting on.

"This could have been handled better," Andrea mused as she watched Lori start to put dishes away.

Lori gave Andrea a questioning stare, "How so?"

"You shouldn't have taken the knife away," Andrea answered feeling like Lori had been in the wrong to even take the knife away from Beth.

"Excuse me?" Lori asked feeling taken aback by what Andrea had said.

Andrea just shrugged, "You were wrong, like Dale taking my gun. That wasn't your decision," she said as she shook her head. "She had to choose to live on her own. She has to find her own reasons."

"Want me to tie a noose for her?" Lori asked sarcastically as she crossed her arms.

"If she's serious, she'll figure it out," Andrea reasoned knowing if Beth really was serious she'd still find a way to go through with it.

Lori just shook her head, "Doesn't mean I can't stop her or let her know that I care."

"That has nothing to do with it, Lori," Andrea spoke feeling as if she was the only one here who could understand Beth's reasons or well maybe Taylor could too but then again he wasn't here. "She only has so many choices in front of her, and she believes the best one is suicide."

"That's not an option," Lori said as she shook her head not even wanting to think of that.

"Of course it is," Andrea argued. "She doesn't need to be yelled at or treated like a child."

Lori scoffed at Andrea's words, "She needs a loaded gun, right?" she asked as she tried to stay calm but it was getting hard. "You'll understand if I don't send you in there."

"I came through it," Andrea stated knowing she had survived and gotten through as a stronger person.

"And became such a productive member of the group," Lori again scoffed. "Let Maggie handle this her way."

Andrea flinched slightly feeling stung by Lori's words, "I contribute," she stated knowing she helped out. She did look out and was becoming a good shot. "I help keep this place safe."

"The men can handle this on their own," Lori stated knowing the men could take care of keeping things safe. "They don't need your help."

"I'm sorry," Andrea muttered feeling personally attacked right now. "What would you have me do?"

"Oh, there's plenty of work to go around," Lori told her knowing there were chores around the house that Andrea could do.

Now it was Andrea's turn to scoff, "Are you serious? Everything falls apart, you're in my face over skipping laundry?"

"Puts a burden on the rest of us," Lori said as she shook her head and looked at Kate for support but the woman just shook her head as she looked away from Lori. "On me, Carol, Patricia, Maggie and Kate. Cooking,cleaning and caring for Beth. And don't care about anyone but yourself..You sit up on that RV, working on your tan with a shotgun in your lap."

Andrea shook her head at Lori's words, "No, I am on watch against walkers. That is what matters, not fresh mint leaves in the lemonade."

"And we are providing stability," Lori countered Andrea's argument. "We are trying to create a life worth living."

"Are you kidding me?" Andrea asked as she laughed slightly.

"Look, I went after Rick," Lori said as she locked eyes with Andrea. "I took down two walkers."

Andrea rolled her eyes at that, "After crashing Maggie's car," she added in.

"Don't act like you're the only one who can take care of herself," Lori muttered.

"Ever apologize for that? Crashing her..." Andrea started but got cut off by Lori calling her insane. "No, you are," she muttered. "And you're the one that's self-centered, the way you take it all for granted."

Lori felt perplexed by Andrea's statement, "My husband is out there for the hundredth time. My son was shot. Don't you dare tell me I take this for granted."

"You don't get it, do you?" Andrea asked as she locked eyes with Lori. "Your husband came back from the dead, your son too. And now you've got a baby on the way. The rest of us have piled up our losses...Me, Carol, Beth...but you just keep on keeping on. We have all suffered. Playing house, acting like queen bee, laying down rules for everybody but yourself," Andrea sighed. "You know what? Go ahead. Go in there and tell that little girl that everything's gonna be okay, just like it is for you. She'll get a husband, a son, baby...boyfriend," she muttered watching as Lori just gave her a look of horror. "She just has to look on the bright side," she finished before walking out of the kitchen.

Kate watched Andrea walk away and then Lori too had walked away and Kate ran a hand through her hair. Andrea had some valid points...even if she had stopped Taylor from doing the same thing Lori was stopping Beth from doing.

Avery looked at Jessica as she sat up in the bed, "I don't want to take the test," she spoke as she looked at her sister who had been urging her to take the pregnancy test for the last five minutes now. "I just want to get out of this place and go back to the farm."

"Listen we can go back after you take the test alright?" Jessica spoke as she tried to smile. "And you can kill me for us getting into the wreck as well."

"Oh trust me I already had plans on that," Avery told her sister as she took the box from her hands and headed towards the bathroom that was connected to the room. Going inside she shut and locked the door and soon proceeded to follow the directions on the box.

It was only after she laid the stick down that she let her mind wander to what if she was pregnant. She had thought about it on the highway and hated the idea..well only if the baby wasn't Daryl's and if she was pregnant then there was no way the baby was his. She'd be having Shane's baby and she'd be tied to him forever.

"I'd rather be tied to Daryl forever," Avery whispered closing her eyes tight. But if she was having Shane's baby she'd survive. She had survived what her dad did to her. She had survived numerous times of when she had cut her wrists to cope with that pain and all she had been left with was scars. Hell she was surviving this world even if she still felt like a weak little girl. She could survive even if she saw herself as weak.

Opening her eyes again she reached for the stick, a smile coming across her lips at the results. Throwing the stick in the trash can she stood to exit the bathroom, "Can we go now?"

"What were the results?" Jessica asked as she walked to her sister.

"I'm not pregnant," Avery stated as she smiled feeling like she had dodged a bullet. "Now can we go? I want to get back to the farm."

"Mom would be ashamed, "Maggie said as she turned to look at Beth. "To learn she had raised such a coward. What about dad, Beth?"

"He's clueless," Beth stated unaffected by Maggie's words. "He had us waiting for a cure."

Maggie shook her head, "He knows he was wrong."

"When has dad ever admitted he was wrong?" Beth asked knowing their father had never done that. "He's just telling Rick's group what they want to hear."

"And Jimmy?" Maggie asked raising an eyebrow.

Beth just scrunched up her nose, "We went out for three months and now I'm married to him?"

"And me?" Maggie asked as she frowned. "You could do that to me? I can't take another funeral."

"You can't avoid it," Beth whispered as she swallowed a lump in her throat. "What are we waiting for? We should both do it."

"What?" Maggie muttered her eyes widening at the words coming out of her sister's mouth.

"At the same time. Help each other," Beth continued even as she heard Maggie mutter a no. "It's hard to do it. No one wants to but..."

Maggie just shook her head feeling tears in her eyes, "No, please don't."

"We can do it so it's peaceful, easy," Beth stated knowing there were easy ways to kill their selves.

"Stop talking like that," Maggie sighed not liking the way her sister was being so morbid.

"Our choice, and then it would be over. Or we'll be forced to do it when the farm and this house is overrun," Beth continued knowing when that happened they'd have no other choice. "No one can protect us."

Maggie again shook her head, "That's not true."

"Who, Taylor?" Beth asked raising an eyebrow. "I heard what happened. Rick will save his family, the others too. We're alone. You, me, Patricia, with only dad and Jimmy against a whole world of those things. I don't wanna be gutted. I wanna go in this bed, tonight with you beside me," she pleaded locking eyes with her sister. "Please."

"How was I to know they would wreck?" Glenn asked as he walked behind Daryl in the woods. They had found the car the girls had left in overturned on the side of the highway with only one gun still wedged in the back seat amidst some other stuff. Ever since finding the wrecked car Daryl had been on some trail in the woods and ignoring Glenn though he could tell the man was pissed. "If I had know they were going to wreck I would have told Jessica no."

"You should have told her no anyway," Daryl snapped as he looked up from the fine foot prints he was following. "Now they could be dead because of you...she could be dead!"

"Avery?" Glenn questioned seeing Daryl glaring even more. "Okay stupid question," he muttered feeling himself blush. "I just..I didn't realize you loved her so much. I knew she loved or likes you but I didn't realize..." he sighed as he thought of the woman he loved as well. He refused to believe they were dead.

Daryl just continued glaring at Glenn wanting to lash out at him but before he could say anything he heard a gunshot echo out in the distance and he took off running. He didn't even care if Glenn caught up with him he just had to get to where that gunshot was. It could have been Avery and she could have been in trouble.

As he ran though he held his crossbow up..just in case it wasn't Avery or god forbid he was too late.

Avery who was walking with Jessica came to a stop as she looked in front of her in time to see Daryl slowing down from running his crossbow raised in the air, "I didn't know you raised your crossbow at living people now," she mused watching him put the crossbow down.

"I..we..." Daryl started but he couldn't get his words out. He had thought he lost her and he had been scared.

Avery just smiled as she walked to where he was, "I'm fine," she nodded as she locked eyes with him. She wanted to reach out and touch him but she was scared too. Jessica was here and well she could see Glenn walking behind Daryl. "I'm scratched up but okay," she said knowing the place on her head would heal.

"How did you even find us?" Jessica asked as she finally caught up with her sister.

"The idiot you call a boyfriend fessed up to you guys being gone and then I just tracked you or well I tried it but it lead me to the car and then I tracked footsteps through the woods," Daryl shrugged. "Merle always was good at teaching me how to track."

Avery just looked down at his mention of Merle. "Can we just go back now?" she asked as she sighed. "I just want to rest."

Kate who had walked to the room where the two Greene sisters were knocked on the door lightly as she opened it slowly, "Hey," she said giving Maggie a smile. "You can't sit on top of her," she whispered as Maggie walked to the door where she stood.

"I can't leave her by herself," Maggie replied knowing if she did there was no telling what Beth would do.

"You're gonna have too," Kate said as she looked Maggie over. "You're exhausted. Go get some air. I'll sit with her," she said as she smiled even more seeing the reluctance on Maggie's face before she looked back to Beth who was still on the bed. "Go ahead. Wash up, get something to eat. I got it."

Maggie listened to Kate's words still and she sighed, "Okay," she relented. "Okay," she said again before moving past Kate to leave the room. "Thanks."

The moment Maggie walked away Kate went inside Beth's room just looking down at the blonde girl on the bed. The girl she swore her husband loved and she tried to figure out why. Beth just seemed so fragile...too fragile for someone like Zac. But maybe her husband had a damsel kink she didn't know about.

"Aren't you going to say something?" Beth asked as she looked at Kate when Kate just stood there in silence.

Kate just shook her head no at Beth's question before walking to the other door in the room and opening it, "Is this what you want?" she questioned as she raised an eyebrow. "The pain doesn't go away. You just make room for it," she told the girl before she left the room leaving Beth alone. Maybe Andrea had been right when she said the choice was all up to Beth and maybe Beth should be the one to decide if she lived or died.

Avery sighed to herself as she sat in the RV with Jessica. They hadn't been back for long and she thought for sure Daryl would never leave her side but she had convinced him too at least long enough to let her speak to her sister alone. It was almost weird having Daryl care so much about her.

"So what changed between you and Daryl?" Jessica asked as she sat down beside Avery. "I don't think I was imagining his worry over you."

Avery blushed slightly at Jessica's words, "We had sex and we came to some agreement that we just are. We're something but it has no labels."

"So he's dating you without saying he is dating you," Jessica sighed as she shook her head. "Sounds very Daryl."

Shrugging Avery just blushed some more, "I..we don't have to tell them why we left. Especially since it was nothing. I'm probably just late because of stress."

"Did you want to be pregnant?" Jessica asked though she felt she already knew the answer before asking the question.

"No," Avery spoke with honesty. "But if I had been I would have survived. I would have found a way to cope and the group would have three pregnant women. Two of those by Shane..maybe," she said uncertain Lori's baby was his though it could be Rick's but her gut told her it was Shane's. "And I might have lost Daryl but I would have coped because I always cope even if I still feel so weak at times."

Jessica shook her head, "You aren't weak. Sometimes I wish I could be as strong as you."

Avery blushed even more at Jessica's words, "I think someday I may want a baby though. I mean once the time is right of course. The hard part would be getting Daryl to agree with that."

"He could come around," Jessica laughed. "You could domesticate his inner cat."

At Jessica's words Avery laughed too, "That's just not the best words but sure," she joked as she ran a hand through her hair. "Now can I kill you for our risking our lives?"

Standing in the locked bathroom crying, Beth looked at herself in the mirror and the moment she heard her sister's faint voice on the other side she knew she had to do it, she had to get this over with. Raising her hand she broke the glass on the mirror and reached for one of the shards.

Through her tears she could see well enough to put the glass to her skin and she did, putting it sharply against the flesh before moving it along watching as blood started to come out. A lot of blood and as she watched the blood start to go down her arm all she could see in her head was the face of one of the men who had stayed at her bedside. The man she had heard Jimmy accuse of loving her. The man she had kissed.

She was seeing Zac's face and that mixed with the sight of all the blood was enough to make her realize she wanted to live. She couldn't die. Hearing the door open Beth reached down to hold her wrist and she turned to face Maggie and Lori who must have somehow opened the locked door while she had been off in her mind thinking of Zac Hanson.

"I'm sorry," she apologized as Maggie pulled her closer and they exited the bathroom.

"It's okay," Maggie reassured her sister as she lead her to her bed. She needed to go find her dad so he could stitch up Beth's wound because it looked deep.

Going running back to the main house sometime later that afternoon Kate watched as Maggie came outside.

"Where were you?" Maggie asked as she glared at the woman in front of her.

"I heard," Kate spoke knowing Andrea had informed her of what happened. "Is she alright?"

"She would be if you had stayed with her," Maggie spat out as she kept her glare. "Where were you?"

Kate ignored Maggie's question, "How bad is she?"

"It wasn't deep," Maggie informed her as she shook her head.

"She wants to live," Kate repeated realizing then Andrea had been right and she felt even more content in the choice she had made. "She made her choice."

Maggie glared even more at Kate's words, "She tried to kill herself."

"No, she didn't," Kate spoke knowing Beth hadn't tried. If Beth had wanted to die she'd be dead but instead something had kept her from dying.

"My father is stitching her wrists," Maggie stated knowing what she had seen. Beth had tried to kill herself.

Moving up farther onto the porch Kate started to head inside but was stopped when Maggie came in front of her.

"Stay away from her. From both of us," Maggie warned as she looked eyes with Kate. "Don't you dare step foot inside this house again."

Kate took in Maggie's words and she nodded her head, turning and stepping away, heading back towards the main camp.

"I'm not gonna say she was right, but Beth has made her choice," Lori added in having come outside to hear Maggie and Kate's conversation. "She wants to live and now she knows it and sometimes you have to cross the line," she told the oldest Greene girl repeating some of what Andrea had been trying to tell her earlier.

"Mhmm," Maggie muttered as she rolled her eyes and headed back inside.

"Is it true?" Zac asked as he found his wife in their tent that night. It was after dinner time. A meal Kate had opted to eat out in the tent and maybe that had been a good idea because it had been in the middle of dinner when Rick and Shane had came back with Randall. Apparently he had went to school with Maggie and they were now afraid to let him go in case he brought his group here. Instead they had him in a shed and Mac was keeping watch, making sure he didn't try to escape.

"Is what true?" Kate asked trying to play dumb though she was sure she knew what Zac meant.

Zac just crossed his arms as he looked at his wife, "That you left the room when you had agreed to watch Beth? You knew she was suicidal."

Kate nodded her head, "It is true," she confirmed as she locked eyes with Zac. It was at her confirmation that she swore she saw something in him switch. Like his emotions had changed and she didn't like the man whose face she now looked at.

"I can't believe you Katie," Zac growled through clenched teeth. "I knew you were jealous but I promised to put you first," he spat out as he shook his head. "I guess that wasn't enough though was it? You really wanted to make sure she was gone and you didn't care how did you it?"

Feeling her eyes widen Kate just stared at Zac in disbelief, "You think I did it because I wanted her dead?" she asked as she shook her head. "I did it because Beth had to make the choice to live."

"Just like Taylor should have too," Zac spat out again as he felt tears forming in his eyes. "I..I'm done," he told her as he moved past her and went to were his duffel bag was. Pushing a few things in it he sighed. "I can't be near you right now and I'm going to go sleep in Taylor and Mac's tent."

Still feeling stunned Kate just stood there watching as Zac left before she could even argue with him or change his mind. After he left though she just sat down on their cot as she broke down in tears. She hated that Zac had accused her of wanting Beth dead. She hated that he had also thrown her saving Taylor at the CDC up in her face as proof that she hadn't really done what she did today as a chance to let Beth decide her own fate, mainly because she knew that made her look guilty.

Avery yawned as she laid behind Daryl in his tent. They had just got done having sex, something they hadn't done since the first time and something Avery was unsure would happen again but then after dinner tonight Daryl had become that overprotective guy from this afternoon and he had asked her to stay with him tonight and how could she refuse that?

"I think you wore me out," she whispered as she leaned over to kiss one of the scars on his back, an action that made him flinch.

Flinching as Avery kissed one of his scars Daryl turned over to look at her, "I..don't," he sighed as he felt himself blush. "Just don't like that part of myself," he confessed as he blushed more hating how open he was with her. What was this damn hold she had on him?

Avery just nodded at his words and held her wrist out for him to see the scars there, "I have my own," she told him. "Not like how you got yours but I have them. I think scars make people stronger. They showed you survived shit. You should never be ashamed of that," she said as she pulled the blanket over them.

"Whatever you say Hanson," Daryl muttered knowing she was getting too sentimental for him. "Just go to sleep little girl."

"Fine Dixon," Avery smirked as she moved closer to him and buried her head into his neck. "Goodnight," she whispered as she kissed the skin at his neck softly and she inhaled his scent. He smelled of the woods and of sweat and also now faintly of her. It was a scent she could get used too.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Nineteen

Avery crossed her arms as she looked at the shed where Daryl was inside with Randall. She wasn't sure what was going on in there but she was almost afraid to find out but hell what was going on in there really couldn't have been worse than out here where everyone seemed tense.

Kate and Zac weren't even anywhere near each other and there was still the tension with Lori, Shane and Rick that had been there for days maybe even a week or so. Avery wasn't sure what was happening but it seemed the group was slowly breaking, had been since Sophia had came out of that barn as a walker.

"You okay?" Mac asked as he came to stand beside his sister who had seemed in her own little world.

Coming out of her thoughts Avery shook her head as she looked at Mac, a blush coming across her cheeks, "Just worried about Randall is all," she said not sure if they should trust him or if they should worry about his group, if they'd come to the camp looking for him or not.

"I didn't know you cared about strangers so much," Mac teased as he nudged Avery playfully.

"I don't," Avery teased right back as she shook her head though her mind went back to the group that had saved her and Jessica yesterday. She did sort of care for them because of the kindness she had been shown. "I just worry about trusting him or his group."

Mac nodded his head, getting where Avery was coming from, "But we'll find out soon enough if we should worry. I mean your lover boy is in there now getting answers out of him."

Rolling her eyes when Mac called Daryl her lover boy she uncrossed her arms, "I guess you're right," she said biting her lip as she shook her head and tuned into the conversation going on around her.

"So what you gonna do?" Lori asked from where she was bent over the campfire making breakfast. "We'd all feel better if we knew the plan," she said as she looked up at her husband.

"Is there a plan?" Andrea asked as she paced back and forth.

Sliding his hands in his pockets Taylor leaned against a tree, "We gonna keep him here?"

Rick nodded his head as he saw Daryl heading back towards the campsite, "We'll know soon enough," he said knowing Daryl had questioned Randall for answers that would hopefully tell them what they'd do.

"Boy there's got a gang, thirty men. They have heavy artillery and they ain't looking to make friends," Daryl spoke letting the group know what he had found out. "They roll through here, our boys are dead...and our women," he stated as he looked at Avery. "They're gonna wish they were," he finished though his mind kept going back to the story of what Randall's group had done to the father and his teenage girls. How they had raped the girls and made the dad watch and then they hadn't even killed him after.

"What did you do?" Avery asked Daryl as she broke eye contact with him and looked down at his hand, his knuckles were covered in bruises and blood.

Daryl shrugged as he looked down at the hand on his crossbow, "Had a little chat," he answered knowing he did indeed chat with Randall, in between beating him.

Shaking her head Avery turned her back and walked towards the tent she normally stayed in when she wasn't staying in Daryl's.

"No one goes near this guy," Rick warned his group not trusting any of them near him.

Lori just looked at her husband skeptically, "Rick, what are you gonna do?"

"We have no choice," Rick said as he shook his head. "He's a threat. We have to eliminate the threat."

"You're just gonna kill him?" Dale asked as he scrunched up his face.

Rick ignored Dale's comment, "It's settled. I'll do it today," he spoke sounding confident as he turned to walk away, Dale hot on his heels.

"You can't do this," Dale pleaded as he walked behind Rick, trying to catch up to him. "You don't wanna do this. I know you don't."

"I've thought about it all night," Rick said as he turned to look at Dale who was now walking beside him. "Knowing what we know now, I don't see a way out of it."

"But you can't just decide on your own to take someone's life," Dale argued not sure if this choice was right. It wasn't moral to him.

"The group seemed supportive," Rick told him knowing no one had objected.

"What, because they didn't speak back? You didn't let 'em," Dale shook his head knowing Rick hadn't given anyone a chance. "There's gotta be a...a process," he reasoned out loud.

Rick came to a stop briefly as he turned to face Dale, "And what would that be? We can't call witnesses, go before a judge."

"So he's automatically guilty by association and sentenced to death?" Dale asked as he raised an eyebrow. "He's just a kid. Gimme some time to talk to everyone..."

"We can't..." Rick spoke hearing Dale talk over him saying they needed to figure out another way. "We can't drag this out! People are scared."

"Which is why they need time to discuss this," Dale still argued hoping Rick would agree.

Rick shook his head, "They need to be safe, I owe em that," he said before turning to walk away again.

"You think about your son!" Dale yelled out seeing Rick stop in his footsteps. "The message that you're giving him....shoot first, think later. I'm asking for one day to talk to everybody, you can give me that. Think..think about Carl."

Swallowing hard Rick sighed and turned to look at Dale, "I am," he spoke knowing his family was the only thing on his mind. "We reconvene at sunset, then what happens, happens."

"Zac!" Kate called out as she cornered him just as he was about to go into Taylor and Mac's tent. "Will you please talk to me?" she asked seeing him fully stop though his back was to her but he made no effort to move the closer she got.

"I don't think we have anything to talk about," Zac answered as he refused to face Kate. "You showed your true colors yesterday and I'm done with this fight of you being paranoid."

Kate closed her eyes as she pushed some loose strands of hair that weren't in her ponytail, away from her face, "I don't want Beth dead," she said knowing still her words probably didn't mean much to Zac. "I just thought she should decide and maybe I should have let Taylor decide as well but I can't change the past."

Sighing Zac listened to her and he finally turned to face her, "I don't know if I believe you," he said as he chewed his lip. "Aren't I supposed to trust my wife?"

"Yes," Kate answered as she nodded. "But I don't trust you either with some things but I don't think running from our problems will solve them. Not when we are going to be having a baby join us in a few months. We need to fix our issues."

Zac went silent, knowing Kate was right, "I...just give me some time Katie," he said as he nodded his head and stepped inside the tent. He just wanted to be stubborn for a bit longer. He just wanted time and lately he felt he had so little time for anything.

Walking onto the RV, Dale came to a stop as he looked at Andrea who was standing towards the back, looking for something. "I need a favor."

"Did you move the gun bag?" Andrea asked as she looked into the empty closet in the RV.

"Yeah," Dale answered as he bent down to get the bag of guns and he laid them on the table, watching as Andrea came to sit down and go through the bag. "I need you to guard Randall, protect him."

Andrea gave Dale a skeptical and confused look, "Why?"

"Rick's giving me time to talk to the others, try and talk some sense into them," Dale answered Andrea's question. "But if Shane finds out...."

"You think he'd just shoot the guy himself?" Andrea asked as she went through the gun bag.

"You know killing the boy had to be his idea," Dale reasoned. "Are you with him on this?"

Andrea looked up at Dale and nodded, "He's a threat," she said hoping that was answer enough for him. "Tell me this isn't all the ammo," she muttered as she pulled out what ammo was left in the bag.

"You're a civil rights lawyer," Dale argued not seeing how Andrea could be for killing someone who could very well be innocent.

"Was," Andrea corrected.

"You fight with words, the power of ideas," Dale continued. "Using a gun, that's his way," he nodded knowing that seemed to be the only way Shane ever thought.

"You really want to debate about saving a guy who will lead his buddies right to our door?" Andrea asked as she raised an eyebrow.

Dale nodded his head at that, "That's what a civilized society does."

"Who says we're civilized anymore?" Andrea asked as she stood from where she sat.

"No, the world we knew is gone, but keeping our humanity?" Dale asked as he sighed. "That's a choice."

Andrea looked down after his words, "I'll watch your prisoner but not because I think you're right," she clarified before picking up a gun and heading off the RV.

"You okay?" Jessica asked as she went into the tent that Zac and Kate had. Kate was sitting in there and she was crying. "I mean you seemed off at breakfast and well now you're crying and I was just wondering if I should go and get Zac for you."

Kate wiped at her eyes as she looked up at Jessica, "Zac's the reason I'm crying," she admitted honestly. "Wouldn't do no use in getting him."

"Oh." Jessica whispered as she sat down beside Kate on the cot. "Want to talk about it? I'm good at listening."

"Shouldn't you be with Glenn?" Kate asked as she raised an eyebrow.

Jessica shrugged, "He went off to do something with T-Dog," she said. "So I have time to listen to whatever's wrong."

"I screwed things up with Zac," Kate confessed as she looked away from Jessica. "Leaving Beth alone. He thinks I wanted her dead and I didn't. He doesn't trust me now."

"But why would he think you wanted Beth dead?" Jessica asked feeling like she was missing a piece of the puzzle.

Kate felt her cheeks grow hot knowing how she had to answer this question, "Because I'm jealous of her. He seemed to care for her more than he did me."

Taking in Kate's answer Jessica chewed her lip before speaking, "Well then it seems like maybe you both have trust issues and you need to work on those."

"I tried to tell him that," Kate told Jessica. "But I don't think he heard me."

"Then maybe you should just stop," Jessica reasoned not sure if that's the words Kate needed to hear. "My brother will either come around or he won't and if he doesn't then that's on him."

Going silent at Jessica's words Kate wanted to just yell out that stopping wasn't the right answer, especially with the baby on the way but then again she didn't need the same arguments with Zac, she didn't need him stressing her out just like he needed to trust her and she had broken that maybe more than he had broken her trust in him.

"The whole point of me coming up here is to get away from you people," Daryl responded as he turned to see Dale walking into the makeshift campsite he still had built away from the others.

"Gonna take more than that," Dale said as he looked at Daryl.

"Avery send you?" Daryl asked figuring Avery had sent him to talk to him about something, especially since she seemed upset about how he had done with getting answers out of Randall.

"Avery's not the only one that's concerned about you," Dale answered as he came to a stop. "Your new role in the group."

Daryl rolled at his eyes at that, "Oh man, I don't need my head shrunk," he muttered as he shook his head. "This group's broken. I'm better off fending for myself."

"You act like you don't care," Dale responded after Daryl had finished talking.

"Yeah, it's cause I don't," Daryl spoke trying to sound honest.

"So live or die, you don't care what happens to Randall?" Dale asked curiously as he watched Daryl put on his angel winged jacket.

Daryl shook his head, "Nope," he answered popping his p slightly.

"Then why not stand with me, try to save the kid's life, if it really doesn't matter one way or the other?" Dale asked him wondering what he'd say to that.

Adjusting his jacket Daryl listened to Dale's words, "I didn't peg you for a desperate son of a bitch," he muttered once Dale was done speaking.

"Your opinion makes a difference," Dale told him knowing it did whether he thought so or not.

"Man, ain't nobody looking at me for nothing," Daryl told him as he reached down for his crossbow and began to walk away.

"Avery is," Dale spoke as he walked behind Daryl. "And I am. Right now," he said once Daryl turned to face him again. "And you have Rick's ear."

Daryl walked back towards Dale, "Rick just looks to Shane," he stated his words almost a bit harsh. "Let him," he said before turning to walk away again.

"You cared about what happened to Sophia," Dale said seeing Daryl stop in his track. "Cared what it meant to the group. Torturing people? That isn't you," he nodded knowing Daryl was a good man regardless of how he acted. "You're a decent man. So is Rick...Shane he's different."

"Why's that?" Daryl asked sarcastically. "Cause he killed Otis?"

"He tell you that?" Dale asked as he walked a bit closer to Daryl.

Daryl shook his head, "He told some story, how Otis covered him, saved his ass. He showed up with the dead guy's gun. Rick ain't stupid," he said shaking his head again. "If he didn't figure that out, it's cause he didn't want too. It's like I said the group is broken," he finished before walking away for good.

Tracking down Avery, Zac sighed as he slung his arm around her shoulder, "Wanna go for a walk?" he asked raising an eyebrow.

"I have a feeling you'll take me on one whether I say no or not," Avery spoke as she let Zac lead the way. "Why do you want to go on one?"

"Need to get away," Zac told her honestly as he walked with her. "Kate's bugging me and Dale just tried to get me to vote with him for not executing Randall," he sighed as he shook his head. His mind was already made it up when it came to Randall. The best option was to kill him, it would make him feel safer with Kate and the baby, even if he was mad at Kate he did care about her safety.

Avery scrunched up her nose, "How's Kate bugging you?" she asked curiously wondering if Zac would tell her what their tension this morning was about.

"Cause I'm mad about the Beth thing..her leaving Beth alone," Zac answered honestly. "I can't trust her and she can't trust me cause she thinks I'm in love with Beth."

"Seems like you guys have trust issues," Avery stated more so to herself.

"No shit Sherlock," Zac spoke sarcastically. "I knew you were always a genius."

At Zac's sarcastic words Avery shook her head, "Oh fuck you," she replied back before pushing him off her playfully but she did continue to walk beside him. " you love Beth?"

Zac was taken aback by Avery's question but he heaved a sigh, "I don't know," he answered honestly. "If this was a few weeks ago I could say no of course but I don't know."

"Maybe you should figure that out then figure out where you and Kate stand," Avery spoke as she turned her head to look at him. "Just get your shit together before she gives birth."

"I will," Zac nodded hoping he did have his stuff together before then but really just trying to patch things over with Kate for the time being felt easier than trying to sort his feelings out. Maybe he'd just apologize to Kate tonight and take her apology too, it would save them from arguing anymore, at least for the time being. At least until some other problem hit them.

"What happened?" Dale asked as he stood in front of Hershel who he had tracked down finally.

"A dozen steer busted through the fence. Been wrangling the runaways all morning," Hershel answered as he looked up at Dale. "But you're not here to talk cattle."

Dale shook his head, "The boy."

"The prisoner," Hershel stated.

Dale again shook his head yes, "Randall."

"I don't want to know," Hershel said honestly knowing it was probably best if he didn't know. "I'm told they're deciding his fate. I'll leave it with Rick."

"But this is your home," Dale argued knowing Hershel could have a say in this.

"I want him away from my girls," Hershel finally spoke being honest on his fears for Maggie and Beth's safety. "I don't care how."

"It's an execution," Dale told him.

Hershel just shook his head, "I don't want to know."

"But you can't stand by the sidelines," Dale tried to tell him. "You're a man with convictions. You..."

"To tell you the truth, I was," Hershel acknowledged the last of Dale's statement. "Or at least I thought I was but I've made too many mistakes."

Dale just sighed as he looked down, "Would you at least talk with Randall before making up your mind?"

"No," Hershel stated as he shook his head. "I'll leave it with Rick."

Mac raised an eyebrow as he watched Jessica come out of Zac and Kate's tent, "Everything okay in there?" he asked her knowing this morning things hadn't been good between Zac or Kate and last night Zac had slept in his and Taylor's tent.

"I'm not sure Zac's marriage is gonna last," Jessica answered honestly as she sat down beside Mac who was sitting beside the RV. "Zac's an ass and stubborn and is probably going to ruin his own marriage."

"Probably but what else is new?" Mac asked as he laughed trying to lighten the mood. "I've noticed ever since the barn that he seems preoccupied with things other than his wife or his baby."

Jessica shrugged, "That makes one of us. I was surprised to find it out."

"Not your fault you're too busy with Glenn," Mac said laughing again when Jessica smacked him playfully. "How is Kate doing?"

"As well as someone in a dying marriage can be," Jessica answered raising an eyebrow. "Since when do you care about Kate though? Should Zac be worried about competition from his not yet legal brother?"

Mac huffed playfully at Jessica's words, "I cared when I knew Kate was pregnant with my niece or nephew. This world is stressful enough and she doesn't need Zac being an asshole. It's not because I like her."

Jessica wasn't entirely sure she bought Mac's words but she nodded anyway, "If you say so."

"Trust me, I don't like her," Mac spoke again knowing from Jessica's tone she sounded unconvinced of what he said. He knew he didn't like Kate though...she wasn't really his type per say but he wasn't ready to announce that to his family.

Shane who was putting stuff in the back of one of the cars watched as Dale approached him and he shut the back hatch, leaning against it, "What's up Dale?" he asked the old man a smirk forming on his lips.

"I wanna change your mind," Dale told him knowing it was a last ditch effort to let Shane see that killing Randall was wrong.

"What, you serious?" Shane asked almost wanting to laugh at Dale's words.

"I know you and I will never see eye to eye," Dale spoke knowing he and Shane just saw things differently, their many clashes ever since arriving at the farm proved that.

Shane raised his eyebrow at that comment, "I'd say that's the understatement of the year," he muttered sarcastically.

"But're not going anywhere," Dale started again hearing Shane mutter a nope. "And I'm not going anywhere. So let's talk about this like men."

"Okay," Shane said as he nodded. "You deny we're in danger, Dale?"

Dale shook his head, "No, but there's a dozen of us, one of him."

"There's thirty of them," Shane corrected him knowing Randall's group had numbers.

"Killing him doesn't change that...." Dale said hearing Shane add in a no. "But it changes us," he continued on after the brief interruption."

Shaking his head Shane just crossed his arms, " got balls, Dale. I'm gonna give you that. Now I'll tell you what, in a little bit when ya'll gather, you're gonna talk about this. If you've convinced them to keep this guy alive, then I ain't gonna say a damn word about it, okay? But I'm telling you now, man to man, you're wrong. And when this guy kills somebody, I ain't gonna need to say anything, because that blood...that's gonna be on you. You're wrong about this, Dale. You're dead wrong."

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Twenty

Taylor who had headed into the Greene house just to get away from the lingering tension outside chewed his lip as he came to a stop outside the room where Beth was and he watched Hershel singing some song to her about doodlebugs and she too herself seemed in much brighter spirits.

He was still surprised about what Kate had done and he was sure that was the reason Zac had been in his and Mac's tent last night but whatever was going on between them wasn't his business nor did he have a right to pick sides so he'd just stay out of it for once. Hell, he already had enough on his plate with Maggie.

Seeing Hershel look up at him finally he raised an eyebrow, "How is she?" he asked his voice coming out soft. He did feel for Beth because he had been in her shoes once while at the CDC.

"She seems to be in good spirits today," Hershel answered as he dropped Beth's hand and stood from the chair he had been sitting in beside the bed. "Aren't you, doodlebug?" he asked Beth as he looked down at her briefly before walking to where Taylor was standing.

"Well, let me know if I can do anything," Taylor told Hershel as he walked away from the door and into the living room.

"Where's your family from?" Hershel asked as he watched Taylor walk ahead of him, soon stopping in his tracks at his question.

Taylor made a face at Hershel's question, "Tulsa, but uh before that probably Denmark."

Hershel nodded his head at Taylor's answer, "Our family came from Ireland."

"Maggie Greene...I kinda figured," Taylor laughed knowing he had figured that one out pretty quick.

Pulling out a pocket watch from the pocket of his pants Hershel looked down at it as he walked a bit closer to Taylor, "My grandfather brought this over from the old country. He passed it on to my father who passed it on to me. I pawned it to pay for a night of drinking I no longer remember."

"You bought it back," Taylor smiled as he looked down at the watch in Hershel's hand.

"My late wife did. Josephine, Maggie's mother," Hershel clarified as he looked at Taylor briefly and then back down at the watch in his hand. "She gave it back years later when I sobered up. She was a good woman, my Jo. Maggie's a lot like her. When we were in that bar and afterwards, I thought about a lot of things. You become a father someday, you'll understand. No man is good enough for your little girl... Until one is," he nodded knowing Taylor was good enough for Maggie and that was why he found himself handing the pocket watch out for Taylor to take.

As Hershel handed him the pocket watch Taylor felt a lump form in his throat for different reasons. Because he had been a father and Hershel probably didn't know that yet, because he wasn't sure if he'd have kids again and also because of how big of a step this was for the man, giving Taylor his blessing.

"Go on now, before I change my mind about you," Hershel spoke again as Taylor made no effort to take the pocket watch.

Taking the pocket watch, Taylor looked down at it briefly then back up at Hershel, "Thanks," he said knowing that was all he could say right now.

Kate who was headed to the Greene house for the vote on Randall that was to take place soon, came to a stop as she saw Maggie standing on the porch and she heaved a sigh looking at the oldest Greene sister, "I..I'm sorry," she apologized knowing she owed Maggie an apology. "For leaving your sister when you trusted me with her."

At Kate's words Maggie looked at her, "I'm not sure I can forgive you right now," she said honestly as she ran a hand through her hair. "But I'll come around," she admitted knowing her dad had taught her to forgive others. "Just give me time...and for what it's worth I'm probably not the only one you should apologize to. Your husband...and my sister."

"I tried my husband," Kate told her as she forced a smile. "He refuses to accept it right now. I'll talk to your sister tonight," she smiled knowing she did want to talk to Beth. She did need to clear the air between them. "I..I should go now," she muttered heading inside not sure if she felt entirely comfortable around Maggie. Hell she wasn't sure if she felt comfortable around anyone right now. She almost felt like an outsider with her own group and indeed she knew with those thoughts she was being paranoid, there was no way everyone was upset at the decision she had made yesterday.

"Just get a grip Katie," she spoke to herself as she went into the living room and sat down on the couch, waiting for some others to show up so they could decide what to do with Randall, though Kate was sure her mind was made up. She was fine with Rick killing him if that meant she and her baby were okay.

"So how do we do this? Just take a vote?" Glenn asked that night as everyone in the group, minus Carl,Beth and Jimmy all sat or stood in various places in the living room. The tension was thick and it was obvious everyone knew what kind of vote this would be, what fate they were resigning the boy too.

"Does it have to be unanimous?" Jessica asked curiously wondering what would happen if it wasn't.

Lori sighed at Jessica's words, "How about majority rules?"

"Well, let's..let's just see where everybody stands," Rick said trying to take control of this. "Then we can talk through the options."

"Where I sit, there's only one way to move forward," Shane spoke from where he was standing, leaning against the fireplace.

"Killing him, right?" Dale asked harshly as he shook his head. "I mean, why even bother to even take a vote? It's clear which way the wind's blowing."

Leaning over some against a chair in the room Rick sighed, "Well, if people believe we should spare him, I wanna know."

"I can tell you it's a small group," Dale answered as he shook his head. "Maybe just me and Glenn."

Swallowing hard at Dale's words Glenn looked up at him, "Look I...I think you're pretty much right about everything, all the time, but this..."

"They've got you scared," Dale accused not sure why Glenn would go against the right decision this time.

"He's not one of us," Glenn argued knowing they probably couldn't trust Randall, especially with the men in his group. "And..we've..we've lost too many people already."

Dale just shook his head and then looked up at Jessica, "How about you? Do you agree with this?"

Jessica crossed her arms as she turned to look at Rick, "Couldn't we continue keeping him prisoner?" she asked, hating Dale for putting her on the spot like that just because her boyfriend had disagreed with him.

"Just another mouth to feed," Daryl piped in from where he was standing.

"It may be a lean winter," Hershel added in to the another mouth to feed comment.

Lori who heard Hershel's words turned to look at him, "We could ration better."

"He could be an asset," Dale argued knowing Randall could maybe work his way into the group. "Give him a chance to prove himself."

"Put him to work?" Mac asked after Dale spoke.

"We're not letting him walk around," Rick answered faster than he should have for that one.

Maggie who was sitting beside Taylor chewed on her lip, "We could put an escort on him."

"Who wants to volunteer for that duty?" Shane asked a bit sarcastic knowing no one probably felt safe enough for that.

"I will," Dale spoke volunteering himself.

Rick put up his hand to stop that conversation in it's tracks, "I don't think any of us should be walking around with this guy."

"He's right," Lori agreed as she nodded. "I wouldn't feel safe unless he was tied up."

"We can't exactly put chains around his ankles, sentence him to hard labor," Andrea spoke rolling her eyes at Lori.

"Look, say we let him join us, right?" Shane asked as he looked around the room. "Maybe he's helpful, maybe he's nice. We let our guard down and maybe he runs off, brings back his thirty men."

Dale listened to Shane talk before speaking again, "So the answer is to kill him to prevent a crime that he may never even attempt? If we do this, we're saying there's no hope. Rule of law is dead. There is no civilization," he finished hearing Shane mutter an oh my god as he did so.

"Could you drive him further out? Leave him like you planned?" Hershel asked as he looked up at Rick.

Lori shook her head, "You barely came back this time. There are walkers. You could break down. could get lost."

"You could get ambushed," Avery added in from where she was standing beside Daryl.

"They're right," Taylor said finding himself agreeing with Lori and Avery. "We should not put our own people at risk."

"If you go through with it, how would you do it?" Patricia asked. "Would he suffer?"

Shane shrugged before looking over at Rick, "We could hang him, right? Just snap his neck."

"I thought about that," Rick nodded knowing he had thought of that option. "Shooting may be more humane."

"And what about the body?" Zac questioned as he turned to look at Shane. "Do we bury him?"

"Hold on, Hold on!" Dale interrupted not liking the way this conversation was going. "You're talking about this like it's already decided."

"You've been talking all day," Daryl said as he looked at Dale. "Going around in circles. You just wanna go around in circles again?"

"This is a young man's life," Dale pleaded trying to get them to see. "And it's worth more than a five minute conversation! Is this what it's come to? We kill someone because we can't decide what else to do with him?" he asked almost disgusted. "You save him and now look at us. He's been tortured. He's gonna be executed. How are we any better than those people that we're so afraid of?"

Avery looked down at the floor after Dale spoke a silence coming over the group. It was a silence she didn't like and she was almost thankful when Shane broke it.

"We all know what needs to be done," Shane said breaking the silence that had been created by Dale's words.

Rick shook his head, "No, Dale is right. We can't leave any stone unturned here. We have a responsibility..."

"So what's the other solution?" Andrea asked hearing Lori tell her to let Rick finish. "We haven't come up with a single viable option yet. I wish we could."

"So let's work on it!" Dale yelled out getting aggravated especially when Shane added in that they were working on it.

"Stop it. Just stop it," Carol sighed cutting in. "I'm sick of everybody arguing and fighting. I didn't ask for this. You can't ask us to decide something like this. Please decide. Either of you...both of you...but leave me out."

"Not speaking out or killing him yourself," Dale added in as he looked at Carol. "There's no difference."

Stepping in before things could get heated Rick sighed, "All right, that's enough. Anybody who wants the floor before we make a finale decision has the chance."

Dale who looked around as everyone went silent after Rick spoke, sighed before trying one more time, "You once said that we don't kill the living," he said as he looked at Rick using words Rick himself had used.

"Well, that was before the living tried to kill us," Rick spoke knowing things had changed.

"But don't you see? If we do this, the people that we were...the world that we knew is dead. And this new world is ugly. It's harsh. It''s survival of the fittest. And that's a world I don't wanna live in and I don't believe any of you do. I can't. Please, let's just do what's right," he said still getting silence. "Isn't there anybody else who's gonna stand with me?"

Andrea nodded, "He's right. We should try to find another way," she said deciding to stand with Dale on this.

"Anybody else?" Rick asked as he looked around the room but no one else seemed to speak up.

When Rick just looked at him and shrugged Dale shook his head feeling angry at the group and what had been decided, "Are ya'll gonna watch, too?" he asked harshly. "No, you'll go hide your heads in your tents and try to forget that we're slaughtering a human being." he muttered as he looked down trying to fight off the tears forming in his eyes. "I won't be a party to it," he whispered as he started to leave but stopped when he came to where Daryl was standing. "This group is broken," he stated remembering what Daryl had told him earlier.

After Dale walked out Avery turned to Daryl and just watched as he walked off shaking his head at her.

Later that night Zac sighed as he walked with Daryl, Rick, and Shane down to the barn where they were leading Randall to kill him. The closer they got the more Randall seemed to protest obviously knowing what was coming and it made it harder for Zac to ignore what was going to happen. It made it harder for Zac to ignore that they were going to kill a man.

"Over there," Rick stated once they were in the barn and he pointed to the spot where he wanted Randall at.

Leading Randall to Shane so Shane could blindfold him Zac looked down hearing Shane tell Randall it would all be over soon and Randall tried to feign innocence by asking what was gonna be over. It was when Shane told him to relax that Zac rolled his eyes because how could anyone relax when they knew they were gonna die.

Moving farther away from Randall once the blind fold was off of him Zac sighed and just turned to watch Rick who had his gun out and ready.

"Would you like to stand or kneel?" Rick asked only getting Randall pleading instead of answering his question. "Do you have any final words?" he asked again hearing Randall pleading and telling him not to do it which just made him hesitate even though he had his gun raised.

"Do it, dad," Carl spoke from where he stood at the barn door. He had snuck down here to watch what was about to take place. "Do it."

"Are you kidding me?" Shane asked harshly as he turned to look at Carl. "What'd I say to you?" he asked as he walked to where Carl was.

Seeing his son and hearing Carl's words seemed to remind Rick of what Dale had said earlier. What kind of message was he sending his son. "Take him away," he stated as he looked at Zac and Daryl who both just seemed to stand there frozen. "Take him away," he repeated knowing he couldn't do it..he couldn't kill Randall not with Carl there.

"Get up," Zac groaned out at Randall who had moved to a kneeling position. Taking one arm he lead Randall out of the barn with the help of Daryl.

Kate chewed her lip and headed into the room where Beth was. Seeing Beth looking at her confused she looked down, "I'm here to apologize."

"Apologize for what?" Beth asked confused as she looked at Kate raising an eyebrow.

"Yesterday," Kate clarified as she sat down next to Beth on the bed. "I shouldn't have left you alone."

Beth shook her head, "It was what I wanted and what I needed," she said knowing she just had to try. "I choose to live and I needed that," she smiled opting not to tell Kate that one of the reasons she chose to live was Zac.

"But I still shouldn't have left you alone," Kate said as she shook her head and tried to smile. "It wasn't right of me."

"I would have choose to do it some other time anyway," Beth sighed wanting Kate not to blame herself. "It was your words that partly made me not do much. The just making room for pain."

Finding a genuine smile at Beth's words Kate stood from the bed and nodded her head in some sort of silent conversation with Beth before she turned to leave the bedroom, running into Zac.

Zac who had been listening in to Beth and Kate's conversation blushed when Kate caught him quite literally, "Rick chose not to kill Randall tonight. Carl showed up and yeah..." he muttered as he looked down.

"And you decided to come pay Beth a visit?" Kate asked hurt in her words.

"No," Zac lied as he looked into Kate's eyes. "I'm sorry I was an an asshole," he apologized knowing if Beth could not be mad at Kate then he shouldn't be either. Heck according to Beth, Kate's words had been part of what saved her.

Kate smiled and pulled Zac into a hug, "I'm sorry I was a bitch," she whispered as she just held him. She wasn't sure if this meant they were okay or not but maybe they could figure that out later..take things one day at a time.

Taylor who sat at the campfire that night watched as Rick and Carl both came back and everyone just looked at them expectantly for word of what had happened.

"We're keeping him in custody for now," Rick told the group feeling Lori staring at him almost intently.

Andrea who heard Rick's words smiled before turning to Jessica and Carol who had been standing beside her, "I'm gonna find Dale," she said knowing he would be happy about this news.

Lori who waited until after Andrea had spoke and left just looked at Rick and then down at her son, "Carl, go inside," she told him wanting him to go inside their tent. When he just stood there she sighed, "Now, please," she said her voice a bit more stern. It was only when he was gone and in the tent that she looked back at Rick.

"He followed us," Rick told Lori as he locked eyes with her. "He wanted to watch. I couldn't."

"That's okay...That's okay," Lori nodded reassuring her husband that the decision he had made was the right one.

Avery who was standing out by Daryl's tent looked up when he came back, "I thought it would take longer than that."

"Randall isn't dead," Daryl informed her as he shrugged not sure what to think of Rick's change of heart. "He got a reprieve."

"Oh," Avery muttered hoping someone would tell Dale, especially Dale. "Did you really tell Dale the group was broken?" she asked watching as Daryl who had walked past her to go inside of his tent came to a stop.

Daryl nodded his head unable to turn around and look at her, "What does it matter if I did?"

"Because I thought the same thing this morning," Avery revealed seeing him finally turn around at her words. "I..I get why you did what you did to Randall. Doesn't mean I like it but I get it..and I get why you said the group was broken. It is broken...or it was...I don't know but things have changed so much since the camp and the CDC."

Listening to Avery, Daryl was just about to respond to her when a scream echoed from somewhere on the farm and he gave her a confused look before running off towards where the sound had came from, picking up his crossbow along the way.

Running after Daryl, Avery stayed close on his heels wondering what or who had caused the scream and why. Making it to where the sounds had came from Avery watched as Daryl tackled a walker off of Dale and she froze at the sight of Dale on the ground, the walker having somehow ripped open his stomach and causing his intestines to come out.

Bending down beside Dale, she felt tears come to her eyes feeling like time was going too slow as Daryl killed the walker and then eventually hollered for help and signaling the others to where the problem was at.

"Hang on buddy," Daryl muttered as he bent down beside Dale seeing Rick and some of the others getting closer to where he and Avery where at.

"Who is it?" Andrea asked but stopped her words when she looked down to see Dale on the ground with his intestines hanging out in which case she began to mutter an oh my over and over.

Still feeling like time was being slowed Avery looked up as Rick bent down talking to Dale who was trying his best to hang on which was what Rick was telling him to do, telling him to listen to his voice and hold on. The whole scene right now was chaos and the more people that came down the worse it got with everyone talking over one another.

Standing up finally she walked to where a guilty looking Carl stood and as it became apparent that they wouldn't be able to save Dale, Avery reached out and pulled Carl into her side knowing the child didn't need to see what was going to happen. It was at Andrea's pleas for someone to do something that she watched Daryl step up and reach for a gun that Rick had, a gun which he pointed to Dale's head.

"I'm sorry, brother," Daryl muttered as he pointed the gun to Dale's head and watched as Dale moved up to get closer to the gun. Counting to three he pulled the trigger.

Carl who had buried his head in Avery's waist felt tears come to his eyes at what had taken place. Part was because of grief and the other guilt. Guilt because he had recognized the walker that had been laying near Dale. It was the same walker he had been taunting that had been stuck in the mud in the woods. The walker he had the opportunity to shoot with the gun he had stolen from Daryl earlier today.

He was responsible for Dale having died.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Twenty-One

Mac remained silent as he sat in the back of the truck with T-Dog and Daryl. Shane was driving and Andrea was in the passenger seat. They had all decided to go out to let their frustrations go. Get over Dale's death by proving to him the group wasn't broken and what better way then to kill walkers.

It was the best thing they could do, it was what Rick had implied at his speech during Dale's funeral today. That the best way to honor Dale was to unbreak the group, fix what had been broken. They could set aside their differences and pull together. Stop feeling sorry for their selves and just take control.

Mac understood that and he was okay with that reasoning. He was okay with it because it was what needed to be done and hell he wanted to honor Dale. The man had helped him on many occasions, the most recent days ago when they were still on the highway. What he wouldn't give to go back and have one more conversation with Dale or even save the man from the fate that had happened to him.

When the truck was stopped and they all got out Mac reached for the knife in his back pocket and he began to walk, following the other's as Daryl lead the way into the woods, soon following the path of a walker. It was after Daryl was for sure certain the path the walkers had taken that they all turned to get back to the truck and again they rode off, heading in the direction Daryl had tracked.

Coming to a stop once they had found the walker, Mac sighed seeing more than just one feasting on a dead animal. Getting out of the bed of the truck again he reached for his knife, soon taking down one of the walkers who had seemingly noticed them, leaving the animal they had been feasting on alone.

Sticking his knife in the walkers head Mac made a face watching as the walker fell to the ground and he sighed, it had felt good to kill it. It had made him feel somewhat stronger. It had made him feel like the group could conquer anything that came their way.

Taylor looked up from the crate he was helping fix up to put in the back of the truck. They were getting their stuff together to move into the main house, though Taylor really wasn't sure how they would pull it off.

"It'll be tight, twenty people in one house," Rick sighed not sure if they could fit all of their group in one house.

"Don't worry about that," Hershel told him. "With the swamp hardening, the creek drying up..."

"With fifty head of cattle on the property, we might as well be ringing the damn dinner bell," Maggie finished as she interrupted her father.

Hershel nodded at Maggie's words, "She's right, we should've moved you in a while ago."

Once he had finished packing stuff into a crate Taylor picked up one of the crates as Glenn got the other and they both walked it to the truck, putting it in the truck bed.

Rick sighed but knew Hershel and his family wouldn't take no for an answer, "All right, let's move the vehicles near each of the doors facing out toward the road," Rick instructed seeing most of the group scatter to do as he said. "We'll build a lookout in the windmill and another in the barn loft. That should give us sight lines on both sides of the property," he said as he turned to look at Zac. "Zac, you take the perimeter around the house. Keep track of everyone coming and going."

Zac nodded his head but he stopped some as his thoughts drifted to Randall who was still their prisoner, "What about standing guard?"

"I need you and Daryl on double duty," Rick answered as he looked between Zac and Daryl.

"Gotcha," Zac spoke as he turned to walk off.

"I'll stock the basement with food and water," Hershel spoke as he came back to the truck to put one of the crates in the back again. "Enough that we can all survive there a few days if need be."

Jessica who had walked towards the truck raised an eyebrow as she listened to Rick spouting stuff off, "What about patrols?"

"Let's get this area locked down first," Rick said knowing this area was their main concern at the moment. "After that, Shane'll assign shifts while me and Daryl take Randall offsite and cut him loose."

Hearing Rick's answer Jessica wasn't sure she liked it but she took it for what it was and walked off to go help with stuff.

"We're back to that now?" Shane asked harshly from where he had been standing against the truck listening to everything that Rick had said.

"It was the right plan first time around, poor execution," Rick answered knowing they had went about it the wrong way.

Shane rolled his eyes at that, "That's a slight understatement."

Hearing Shane, Rick stepped closer to him, "You don't agree but this is what's happening. Swallow it..move on."

"You know that Dale's death and the prisoner, that's two separate things right?" Shane asked as he turned to look Rick in the eyes. When Rick stayed silent he shook his head, "You wanna take Daryl as your wingman be my guest," he muttered still not sure what was so great about Daryl. He hadn't seen it when Avery had said his name and he still couldn't see it now that Rick seemed to want to listen to what he had to say or use him for stuff now.

"Thank you," Rick muttered as he turned to walk away from Shane, hearing Shane mutter a you got it.

As Zac walked around the house he came to a stop when he saw Beth walking towards him. He hadn't really spoke to her since she had been catatonic. It wasn't that he was ignoring her, it was just that he didn't know what to say to her now. How could he hang around her and not deny that he was feeling something? How could he be a good husband to Kate which he did want to be.

"Are you ignoring me?" Beth asked when she came to a stop in front of Zac. "Because you haven't talked to me properly since I was out of it."

"I'm not ignoring you," Zac denied as he shook his head. He was getting really good with lying. "I've just been busy with stuff..and Kate."

Beth nodded as she ran a hand through her hair. She wasn't sure if she believed him but she didn't feel like arguing with him. She had heard his argument with Jimmy on whether he had feelings for her and she knew he was stubborn. "Speaking of Kate," she began as she looked down. "Since you guys are moving into the house I was thinking you guys could have my room. I wouldn't feel right letting Kate sleep on a couch knowing she is pregnant."

"I wouldn't feel right kicking a girl out of her bed," Zac stated as he shook his head. "I'm sure Kate would feel the same way."

"I'd feel the same way about what?" Kate asked as she walked up on Beth and Zac, catching Zac saying her name and mentioning her feeling the same way about something.

Turning to face Kate, Zac gave her a smile, "That it would be wrong to kick Beth out of her bed. She offered us her room in the house since you are pregnant."

"Actually I think that's a sweet gesture," Kate grinned as she slipped her arm around Zac's shoulder. It was a move that was kind of catty because she was trying to stake her claim, show Beth that Zac was hers again.

Beth forced a grin and nodded, "I knew you'd think so," she said before turning her back and walking off. She was glad Kate had helped settle that conversation but she hated seeing Kate being affectionate with Zac which only made her remind herself that Kate was Zac's wife..and she had Jimmy.

Once Beth had walked off, Zac kept facing Kate, "A..are we okay?" he asked still not sure if they were good. "I mean after everything.

Kate removed her arm from Zac, "We can try to get to okay again," she smiled knowing all they could do was try. "We owe it to the baby," she said before walking off towards the house where she needed to go get their stuff settled in Beth's room.

Carl who was out walking slowed some when he found Shane, "Hey Shane?" he asked knowing he needed Shane's advice.

"What's up man?" Shane asked as he turned to look at Carl who was heading his way. "What you doing, wandering around by yourself?"

"If umm...If I tell you something, will you promise not to tell my parents?" Carl asked as he looked down and away from Shane's gaze.

Putting some pieces of wood in the back of the car he had with him Shane wiped his hands after the wood was in the back, "I think it's probably a bad idea for both of us bud," he said not sure it was good for him to keep stuff from Rick or Lori when it came to Carl.

It was after he said that, that he watched Carl heave a sigh before walking away from him. Shaking his head Shane decided to go against his better judgement call. "Hey Carl!" he hollered getting Carl's attention. "Come on back," he spoke when Carl turned to face him.

When Carl made it to where he was, he leaned against the open back hatch, "Go on," he nodded wondering what it was Carl had to tell him.

Hearing Shane's words Carl chewed his lip nervously but took out the gun he had stolen from Daryl's bike yesterday, "I took it from Daryl's motorcycle. If he found out I took it, he'd kill me."

"What you doing with this?" Shane asked as he looked down at the gun in Carl's hand.

"Dale. It's my fault that he died," Carl continued ignoring Shane's question.

Shane shook his head at Carl's words, "Carl, why would you say that, man? He got attacked by a walker," he responded as he took the gun from Carl's hands. "Why would you say..."

"I saw that walker," Carl interrupted as he nodded his head. The memories of yesterday still haunting him. "I was gonna shoot it. When he was stuck in the mud. I was...I was throwing rocks at him and stuff but I was gonna do it. Shoot it right in the head, but it got free, came after me," he paused as he frowned. "I ran away. If I had killed it Dale would still be here."

Shane who had listened to Carl's words just swallowed before stopping the boy, "Carl, I want you to stop that, okay?" he asked not wanting the boy to beat himself up. "This ain't your fault," he reassured him as he shook his head and held the gun back out to Carl. "But you need to hold onto this. You need to protect yourself. As long as I'm around you, nothing's gonna happen to you Carl. But I can't keep my eyes on you twenty-four seven. Only you can do that."

When Carl just stared at the gun Shane shook his head again, "Carl, take it," he said sounding firm.

"I'm never touching another gun again," Carl spoke as he looked at the gun.

"This ain't no option Carl, okay?" Shane said wanting to make sure Carl understood he had to take it.

"Just give it back to Daryl," Carl muttered before turning and walking away from Shane.

Climbing up onto the ladder that would lead to the top of the shed where Mac and Daryl where fixing some of the wood, Avery smiled as she reached the top and looked at the both of them working together and hammering. She was half sure this was the first time she had seen Mac doing any physical labor with tools and so far he was doing better than Zac,Taylor, or Isaac with tools.

"How are you?" she asked out loud getting the attention of both guys who turned to face her.

"We're fine," Daryl muttered as he gave her a look before going back to the job he was doing.

Avery just chuckled but she kept a hold of the ladder, "I wasn't referring to you Dixon. I was referring to my brother. I wanted to see how he was doing."

Mac rolled his eyes at Avery and Daryl's banter, "I'm fine," he answered her as he nodded. "I haven't injured myself so that has to be worth something right?" he asked before laughing lightly.

"Better than our other brother's would be," Avery nodded as she smiled. "Just make sure Daryl doesn't hurt himself too much," she said seeing Daryl turn to look at her again and she gave him a wink. "Just concerned about you," she told him before climbing back down off the ladder.

Once Avery was gone Mac turned to look at Daryl, "She loves you," he told him as he shook his head. "She may not know it yet but she does."

"There ain't nothin bout me for her to love," Daryl muttered still not understanding what it was he and Avery had though he did like sleeping with her and he did like that she seemed to care.

"Well she sees something," Mac replied knowing Avery saw something in Daryl. "Just..don't hurt her. She's been hurt enough already and one of these days I or my other siblings may not be there to help her and I don't want you hurting her."

Going silent at Mac's words Daryl just nodded knowing he had no intentions of hurting Avery.

"The men are in there," Lori spoke nodding towards the kitchen for Taylor to go put his stuff. The kitchen was the place where most of the men had chose to stay at. After she had spoken to Taylor she headed outside to get more stuff.

Taylor listened to Lori and he went into the kitchen where he put his bag in one of the chairs.

"You can put your stuff upstairs in my room," Maggie told him as she leaned against the doorway. She would much rather have him in her room then in the kitchen.

"With your dad in the house?" Taylor asked feeling surprised by her suggestion. When Maggie walked into the room he shook his head. "I..I'm just gonna put my stuff over there," he said nodding to a corner before walking off.

As Taylor walked away Maggie just rolled her eyes. She had thought they were over the awkward tension that had been created after the night at the bar when he had went to get her dad. She had hoped they were going to get back on the right track again but it seemed he wanted to be a stubborn prick.

"Wouldn't that be easier if you waited on some help?" Lori asked as she walked to where Shane was up on the windmill working on it.

"Ain't no use waiting for something that ain't gonna come," Shane responded as he looked down at Lori. "No, I'll just do it all myself."

Lori nodded her head, "Yeah, you always do. Just like that time you showed up Rick fixing our sink," she laughed slightly as she remembered that.

Shane couldn't help but laugh at that memory too, "Just so you know, that's not the reason your basement flooded," he told her as he shook his head. "You can thank Rick for that. Using rubber washers with a metal pipe."

"Please come down," Lori told him knowing she had to talk to him face to face. When Shane finally came down and walked over to her she sighed, "So after Sophia I...uh..I thought we'll figure this out. You know, we'll heal somehow. After Dale? This is real and we can't keep it at bay. It's already got us and it just keeps coming, doesn't it?" she asked as she chewed her lip, running a hand through her hair. "I made a mess of things. I put you and Rick at odds. I don't even know whose baby this is. I can't imagine how hard that is on you. You led us out of Atlanta with no thought for yourself. Do you remember that night?" she asked wondering if he remembered the night the whole world fell apart. "The flames..the...and I'm sitting in our car thinking, we're gonna be all right. He's gonna make it all right. We'll get out of here and I never thanked you for that...even though things got confused between us, you were there for me. You were there for me. Thank you."

"You don't need to thank me for that," Shane whispered becoming affected by what Lori was saying to him.

"Of course I do. Of course I do," Lori repeated knowing she had too.

"No you...." Shane started only to get stopped by Lori.

"Whatever happened between us, whatever the hell we thought it was...and not just you but....I'm sorry Shane," Lori apologized feeling guilty for all that happened. "Please believe me. I am so sorry."

As Lori walked away from him Shane sighed knowing what he had to do..what needed to be done.

Beth who was getting her room ready turned around when she heard footsteps and she chewed her lip seeing Zac, "You almost scared me."

Zac chuckled slightly but looked down, "Sorry," he muttered as he shook his head. "Listen I just..I wanted to say thanks for giving Kate and I your room."

"You don't need to thank me," Beth spoke as she watched Zac look back up. "It's the right thing to do," she said knowing it was the right thing. "Your wife is jealous of me," she told Zac as she turned away to pack up a few more of her belongings. "She must be like Jimmy and think you have feelings for me."

"Jimmy tell you that?" Zac asked curiously as he sat on the bed.

Beth shook her head no as she turned to face Zac again, "I heard it when I was that weird state," she shrugged. " you have feelings for me?"

"What would it matter if I did?" Zac asked her as he shook his head knowing he wasn't giving her much of an answer. "I'm married and I'm having a baby with my wife."

"But if you don't love your wife then you owe it to her to be honest," Beth told Zac as she looked into his eyes. "Your wife deserves that much," she said before picking up the stuff she had packed and leaving the room.

Standing on the front porch with Daryl as they went over a map and the plan to get rid of Randall, Rick looked over at Daryl, "Take him out to Senoia. Hour there, hour back, give or take. We may lose the light, but we'll be halfway home by then."

"This little pain in the ass will be a distant memory," Daryl muttered as he leaned against the railing. "Good riddance."

"Carol and Avery are putting together some provisions for him," Rick told Daryl. "Enough to last him for a few days," he sighed before looking away. "That thing you did last night...." he muttered referring to Daryl killing Dale.

"Ain't no reason you should do all the heavy lifting," Daryl said knowing Rick shouldn't have to carry the load by himself all the time.

Rick nodded his head and folded up the map, "So are you good with all this?"

"I don't see you and I trading hay makers on the side of the road. Nobody'd win that fight," Daryl spoke as he looked up at Rick and stood up when he saw Shane drive up in a car. "I'm gonna take a piss," he muttered walking off to let Shane and Rick talk in private.

Watching Daryl walk off briefly, Rick turned to Shane who walked up to the porch.

"Hey, man you seen Carl lately?" Shane asked as he stopped in front of the rails on the side of the porch where Rick stood.

"He's inside with his mother," Rick answered as he turned to look at the house briefly.

Sighing before speaking again Shane looked around before looking back at Rick, "Look, he came to me. Okay I wasn't supposed to say anything, but he was out in the swamps yesterday and he came across a walker stuck in the mud. He got scared, ran off."

"The same walker that killed Dale?" Rick asked as he kept his eyes on Shane.

Shane nodded, "That's the one."

"I'll have Lori talk to him," Rick said knowing he'd tell Lori about this and have her talk to Carl.

"Look, man, I think...I think he wants to talk to his father," Shane said honestly knowing Rick would be better equipped to handle this then Lori would.

"Well, I need this Randall thing done already," Rick spoke as he rested his hands on his hips. He needed to get rid of Randall before worrying about other things.

Shane sighed as he looked down briefly, "Man, that needs to wait, okay."

"It's my call," Rick told Shane knowing he was the leader and it was up to him if it waited or not.

"How about I ride out with Daryl?" Shane asked as he looked back up at Rick. "Good for us to spend a little time together," he muttered knowing they needed too, hell maybe he could sway Daryl to his side.

Rick shook his head, "Nah, I need you here."

"Don't think I'll handle it right, huh?" Shane asked him almost bitterly.

"Didn't say that," Rick replied trying to keep his emotions in check.

Shane swallowed before reaching for the gun Carl had given him, "You know, your son...he gave me this. You should get that back to Daryl, huh? Freeing that prisoner more important to you than Carl," he muttered as he laid the gun down on the porch railing before walking off.

Walking with Glenn to the RV, Jessica raised an eyebrow when Glenn got ahead of her and put his hand up to say something to Andrea who was having a time getting the RV to start.

"Andrea, hey did you try pumping the gas pedal?" Glenn asked Andrea as he stood in front of the RV.

Andrea just shook her head, "I think it's been parked too long," she responded from the driver's seat of the RV.

"You gotta tap it three times and give her a twist," Glenn said to Andrea as he watched Jessica come to stand beside him. When Andrea tried to start the RV again he sighed and hit the top to get her attention, "Let me see," he spoke as he took off the front to check it out.

Feeling Jessica looking at him he turned to look at her briefly, seeing Andrea come to stand beside her. "Dale told me that in these old vehicles the points get corroded," he explained as he made a face. "Screwdriver?"

Hearing Glenn ask for a screwdriver Jessica reached into the toolbox Andrea had brought out of the RV with her and handed it to Glenn.

Glenn shook his head, "Flathead," he said knowing he needed a Flathead screwdriver.

Jessica turned away and briefly put the screwdriver she had picked up away and got the Flathead, handing it to Glenn who took it from her.

As Glenn worked on the RV, Andrea looked away feeling a slight twinge of sadness as the loss of Dale hit her. He wasn't here anymore, he was gone for good. It was only when Glenn asked for a file that she was brought out of her thoughts and it was her who handed the file to him.

After he was handed the file Glenn continued the work on the RV for a bit before coming to a stop, "I let him down," he whispered knowing he had let Dale down at the meeting yesterday.

"He was proud of you," Andrea spoke as she gave Glenn a smile. "Maybe not in that moment, but overall."

"That's easy for you to say," Glenn said as he turned to look at Andrea who was still standing beside Jessica. "You had his back."

"I have my share of regrets," Andrea spoke knowing she regretted how she had treated him after the CDC. "But I think that he knew how much we cared for him."

Frowning as Glenn started to cry Jessica reached out to rub his back as he finished up the work on the RV and then muttered a that might do it. As he walked away from her she frowned but walked with Glenn and Andrea inside the RV once Andrea threw the keys to Glenn.

"Bet'll it work," Jessica said as she mustered up a smile and sat across from Glenn as he held the keys and started the RV up. When it sounded Jessica threw her hands up in victory mostly in an effort to cheer Glenn up.

"Mom said you'd be here," Rick said as he sat down beside Carl at the top of the barn loft and they both sat out, facing the farm.

Carl nodded, "Told her I would stand lookout. I got tired of helping around the house."

Rick sighed before reaching for the gun Shane had given him, "Take it," he said seeing Carl look down at it. "What happened to Dale had nothing to do with you."

"He..he died, dad," Carl whispered as he locked eyes with his dad.

"Yeah," Rick nodded. "Feels like there's a lot of that going around. That's why I need you. No more kid stuff," he said shaking his head. "I wish you could have the childhood I had, but that's not gonna happen. People are gonna die. I'm gonna die. Mom. There's no way you can ever be ready for it. I try to be, but I can't. The best we can do now is avoid it as long as we can, keep one step ahead. I wish I had something better to say...something more profound," Rick paused as he turned to look out at the farm. "My father was good like that. But I'm tired, son. Please take it," he spoke finishing his words. It was only after his speech that Carl took the gun.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Twenty-Two

"Only got so many arrows," Mac spoke as he walked towards the truck where Daryl was at, holding out the gun he had for Daryl to take. He just wanted Daryl to be safe in case something happened on the trip to take Randall off. Avery would be devastated if he didn't come back.

Taking the gun from Mac, Daryl examined it and also looked in the barrel to see how many bullets were in it, "Is that Dale's gun?"

"Yeah," Mac nodded. He had taken it from Dale's RV this morning.

"Wish I knew where the hell mine is," Daryl muttered more so to himself. His own gun had went missing yesterday.

Before Mac had a chance to say anything else he watched as Rick walked over to the truck.

"Ready?" Rick asked Daryl as he made it to where Daryl was standing at the truck.

"I'll get the package," Mac spoke before walking off towards the shed where Randall was being held, hearing Rick tell him thanks. Getting closer to the barn he yelled out to Randall, "You, Randy. Governor called. You're off the hook," he muttered as he unlocked the shed and opened it, pausing briefly when he found it empty, no signs of Randall anywhere.

"Oh, hell no," he whispered as he shook his head not even sure how they could lose a prisoner right from under their noses and also partly pissed that they had lost him.

Walking with a still bound and blindfolded Randall in the woods Shane sighed as Randall kept making noises. It was apparent the boy was confused but Shane really didn't care about that, hell he didn't care about anything except what he was doing right now. Lori's words still playing in his head from earlier and Carl being weak for not being able to kill that walker yesterday. It was apparent Rick didn't know how to be a good family man or leader so Shane was taking charge.

Pushing Randall along slightly Shane shook his head as the continued to make noise and wonder around aimlessly. When Randall fell down Shane went to him and pulled him into a sitting position, his hands resting on the blindfold around Randall's eyes. "Shhh," he told him before slipping the blindfold up off Randall's eyes seeing a fear pass on the boy's face. "I'm the last face you probably want to see, huh?" Shane asked knowing Randall probably didn't want to see him, after all he had been gung ho on killing him.

"Listen, I'm gonna take you up out of here, okay?" Shane asked as he locked eyes with him before looking at the tape around Randall's mouth. "I'm gonna get this off of you so you can breathe, but I want you to keep quiet. You listen good. Do you hear me?" he asked seeing Randall shake his head in acknowledgment that he had heard him. "Don't do nothing stupid now," he muttered as he took the tape off of Randall's mouth.

When Randall started to whine some Shane grabbed his jaw, "Hey..hey, keep it quiet," he reminded him before looking around to make sure no one was in sight. "Now your group, you know where they're at?"

"No, I don't.." Randall lied. "I really.." he started only to get smacked upside the head by Shane which made him mutter an oh as he fell over some.

Pulling Randall up, Shane sighed, "Get your little ass up here," he muttered as he locked eyes with him again. "Now I'm the only shot of you getting out of these woods alive. You hear me? Now you start talking, boy. Where are they at?"

"We had a camp set up off the highway about five miles from here," Randall admitted as he looked at Shane. He was afraid of this one and he didn't really trust his motives but maybe if he played along. "Who knows if they're still there.." he said shaking his head.

"So you gonna take me to 'em?" Shane asked as he backed away seeing Randall start to look a bit offensive.

Randall gave Shane a confused look at his question, "Why?" he asked not understanding why Shane wanted to join his group.

"Because, man..I..I'm just..I'm done with this group, man," Shane lied as he tried to keep his expressions neutral. "They doomed and I want no part of it, that's all."

"So you're not gonna kill me?" Randall asked as he raised an eyebrow.

Pulling Randall up Shane shook his head as he started walking with the boy, "Come on, man. If I was, you'd be dead. Come on."

"Hey, you ain't gotta be so rough," Randall muttered as Shane continued to push him along. "We're on the same side now. You're gonna like it with us. Gets a little crazy sometimes, but it's a tough bunch of guys. You'll fit in good."

Shane rolled his eyes as Randall started to ramble, "Less talking, more walking," he muttered as he kept looking behind him, feeling almost nervous that he'd be caught.

"Look, I run my mouth when I get nervous," Randall spoke as he blushed slightly. "I can't help it. I got a lot going on, you know?"

"It ain't all about you," Shane muttered as he continued looking around, letting Randall get a bit ahead of him.

"I...I ain't saying it's about me," Randall clarified..."Just trying too..." he started turning his head to see Shane walking towards him looking almost off.

Approaching Randall, Shane made a face as he grabbed the boy, hearing him scream before he went silent with the snapping of his neck. Letting Randall's body fall to the ground Shane walked away and stared at the tree a few feet ahead for a few seconds before running towards it and hitting his face against it. He'd need an alibi when he got back to the farm. He'd need proof for the lies he was going to tell.

Staying in the farm house with Kate, Avery sighed as she sat down beside her sister-in-law. She could tell from looking at Kate that she was upset Zac had forbidden her to go outside with everyone else to see what was up and why they hadn't left with Randall yet.

"You don't have to be my baby-sitter," Kate told Avery maybe a little too harshly. "If Zac tells me to stay in the house I'll stay."

"No you won't," Avery smiled as she shook her head. "You're as stubborn as Zac and if I wasn't here right now you'd be outside with everyone else."

Kate looked down and shook her head before smiling, "I swear all of you Hanson's have some sort of sixth sense...or well some of you do," she said not sure if Taylor had one.

"I don't think Zac has one," Avery piped up seeing Kate give her a questioning look. "If he had one he'd know how to treat you and he wouldn't be so confused over the Beth situation."

Rolling her eyes Kate just shook her head, "Zac's never been in this situation before and the world's gone to shit, he's just stressed," she said knowing she was making excuses. "I think if I was in his position I'd be just as torn."

"You could be in his situation though," Avery told her again seeing Kate giving her a questioning look. "Mac's been there for you a lot," she clarified. "I may have my stuff with Daryl but I have noticed that my little brother is always there for you and I think he may have a crush on you."

Kate couldn't help but laugh at that, "Avery your little brother doesn't have a crush on me," she said as she shook her head. "I'm pretty sure your little brother is gay."

At Kate's words, Avery was now the one giving a questioning look, "Mac....he isn't....he can't be.."

"If the googly eyes he keeps making at Jimmy when he thinks no one is looking are proof then yes, he is," Kate nodded still seeing Avery looking at her as if she had two heads.

Rushing outside with everyone else Zac followed the group to the shed, hearing Maggie ask what was wrong and he heard Mac tell her that Randall was missing.

"Missing? How?" Maggie asked as she walked closer to the shed.

"How long's he been gone?" Hershel asked as he looked around wondering how far Randall could have gotten off the property.

Rick who had been in the shed observing everything walked out as he looked at the people who were now standing around outside, "Cuffs are still hooked. He must' slipped 'em off."

"Is that possible?" Carol asked as she turned to look at Rick.

"It is if you've got nothing to lose," Zac added in as he came to a stop behind Carol.

Hershel sighed, closing the door behind Rick, "The door was secured from the outside," he added in not sure how Randall could have gotten out.

Zac who was standing there after Hershel's words turned around fast when he heard Shane yelling out Rick's name as he walked towards the group, coming from somewhere out in the woods.

"What happened?!" Lori yelled as she saw Shane walking closer to them.

"He's armed!" Shane yelled out as he kept walking closer to the group. "He's got my gun!"

"Are you okay?" Carl asked hoping the older man was okay.

"I'm fine!" Shane answered. "Little bastard just snuck up on me, clocked me in the face," he lied finding it easier to keep up his lies the more he told.

Rick who had listened to Shane's words turned to look at the group behind him, "All right, Hershel, T-Dog, get everybody back in the house," he said as he looked at the two men. "Zac, Daryl, come with us," he said knowing he wanted those two men with them. They were the best equipped for this situation.

Shane who had made it to where the others were looked at Mac, who had a gun in his hand, "Mac, I'm gonna need that gun," he said as he walked closer to Mac so he could get the gun.

"Just let him go," Carol pleaded as she shook her head. "That was the plan wasn't it, to just let him go?"

"The plan was to cut him loose far away from here, not on our front step with a gun," Rick spoke knowing the plan had changed.

"Don't go out there!" Carol still pleaded. "Ya'll know what can happen," she muttered just watching the men start to walk off.

As he began to walk away Rick turned his head slightly, "Get everybody back in the house. Lock all the doors and stay put."

Carol just sighed feeling defeated as the men continued to walk off and she no longer objected as she and the others were herded back inside.

Avery who was still seated on the couch looked up and raised an eyebrow as she watched the group file in, they all seemed so gloomy and she could feel panic rising in her stomach. "What happened?" she asked curiously as she stood from her seat.

"Randall got away," Taylor spoke as he looked at his sister and Kate. "He attacked Shane and stole his gun. Rick,Zac,Daryl, and Shane are out looking for him. We've been told to lock the doors and stay put."

Kate who heard Taylor swallowed hard, not sure if she liked the idea of Zac being out there in the woods even if he was with the others. It was dangerous.

"I saw him head up through the trees that way before I blacked out," Shane said as he lead the men who were walking behind him. "I'm not sure how long," he said as he shook his head not even feeling any remorse or guilt for the lies he was telling right now.

"He couldn't have gotten far," Rick spoke as he moved up, catching up with Shane. "He's hobbled, exhausted."

"And armed," Zac added in knowing that made Randall a threat.

Rick turned his head to look at Zac, "So are we," he nodded before looking at Daryl. "Can you track him?"

Daryl shook his head as he looked down at the ground, "No, I don't see nothing," he said knowing he didn't see tracks or anything on the ground.

"Hey, look, there ain't no use in tracking him, okay?" Shane asked as he paced back and forth getting a bit antsy. "We just need to pair up. We spread out, we just chase him down. That's it."

Looking up at Shane, Daryl kept his eyes glued on him, "Kid weighs a buck twenty-five soaking wet. You trying to tell us he got the jump on you?" Daryl asked not sure if he believed Shane's story. Something just felt so off.

"I say a rock pretty much evens those odds, wouldn't you?" Shane asked back a little harshly.

"Alright, knock it off," Rick said intervening before things could get more heated. "You and Zac start heading up the right flank. Me and Shane'll take the left. Remember, Randall's not the only threat out there," he said knowing the walkers were still a pretty huge threat. "Keep an eye out for each other," he spoke as he watched Zac and Daryl walk off.

Mac sat at the kitchen table, looking down at his hands. He had came here while everyone else helped to board up the windows and lock the doors. It was the only place he could come to clear his head and try to calm his panic over Randall being on the loose.

"I was wondering where you were," Avery said as she sat down beside Mac at the kitchen table. "I've been looking for you."

"For me?" Mac teased as he looked up at her and smiled. "Whatever it is I swear I'm innocent and it was probably Zac."

Avery shook her head, "You aren't in trouble," she told him as she laughed some. "I just wanted to make sure you are okay."

"I'm fine," Mac spoke though it was a lie.

"You aren't fine," Avery told him knowing he was lying through his teeth. "But I'm lying to people about being fine right now too," she nodded as she chewed on her lip.

Mac looked at her and reached for her hand, "Maybe you should stop lying though, you're bad at it," he teased again as he felt her move her hand away and before he knew it she had hit him playfully.

"You're bad at lying too," Avery countered as she shook her head. "And you're bad at hiding the googly eyes you make at Jimmy," she added in throwing what Kate had mentioned to her earlier.

"I don't..I mean..." Mac started but stopped feeling at a loss for words right now. He had been caught off guard by her words.

At Mac's reaction Avery just nodded her head, now realizing Kate had been right, "'re gay?" she asked softly in case anyone else was within hearing distance.

Looking down Mac felt his cheeks heat up, "I..I think I am," he confessed knowing he may not have been ready to tell her but she had cornered him. When he looked back up at her he swallowed hard, "Please don't tell anyone else," he begged afraid of how everyone would react.

Avery frowned at the look on Mac's face, "Your secret is safe with me," she said knowing she wouldn't betray his confidence like that. "But I hate to tell you, I think Jimmy is straight for sure," she said though maybe her gaydar was broken with Jimmy too much like it had been with Mac. She'd have to ask Kate about Jimmy if she wanted to know for sure more than likely.

Walking the woods with Shane, Rick turned to face his friend whose face even now at nightfall he could make out was busted pretty bad. "Looks like it's busted pretty bad," Rick said speaking his last few thoughts out loud.

"It's fine, man," Shane said as he shook his head. "Don't worry about me," he said as he continued walking and got farther ahead of him, leading Rick farther into the woods. He had to get Rick far enough away from the property.

"This is pointless," Daryl muttered out after some time of walking around in the woods. It was dark out now and getting harder to see. Turning to Zac who had the flashlight he held his hand out, "Give me that light," he said and once Zac handed it over he turned it on looking around at the woods in front of him.

"Oh come on," he muttered again as he turned and headed back in the direction they had came, hearing Zac following behind him.

Following behind Daryl, Zac stayed silent the whole way until they made it back to where they had started from, "We're just back to square one," he spoke not sure why Daryl would bring them back here.

"Yeah, if you wanna do a thing, you might as well do it right," Daryl spoke as he held the flashlight so that it illuminated the ground. "There's two sets of tracks right here," he said as he continued to walk farther into the woods. "Shane must've followed him a lot longer than he said," he spoke as he shined the light up onto a tree in front of them. "There's fresh blood on this tree," he observed before looking down at the ground. "There's more tracks. Looks like they're walking in tandem."

Zac who had been listening to Daryl watched him walk away to follow the tracks and he followed after him again though when a sound from an animal echoed off into the distance he turned in that direction, soon bumping into Daryl. "Sorry." he apologized when Daryl turned to face.

Looking down again after Zac apologized Daryl shined the light back down to the ground, "Yeah, there was a little dust up right here."

"What do you mean?" Zac asked confused about all of this though in a way his mind was starting to fit pieces together even if it was slowly.

"I mean something went down," Daryl answered as he continued to walk.

"It's getting weird," Zac whispered as he followed behind Daryl though he also kept looking around too. He was uneasy being in the woods after dark right now.

Making a face as the flashlight illuminated the blindfold that had been around Randall's eyes Daryl walked towards it, "Had a little trouble."

Zac who heard Daryl's words looked down at the blindfold and he picked it up though he didn't have time to stare at it long before a noise came from behind where he and Daryl were standing and they both took off to hide behind trees. Catching his breath he turned his head slowly in time to see a walker a few feet away walking through the woods.

Hearing Daryl whistle at him, Zac turned to face the man in time to catch the flashlight that Daryl threw his way and he stood there waiting as the walker got closer before eventually moving out in the open. Freezing slightly as the walker came face to face with him, he lunged at it only to lose his footing and fall to the ground.

It was while he was on the ground that he heard Daryl fighting the walker off as Daryl too lost his footing and now the walker was on top of him. Feeling panic rise up in him Zac reached into his pocket for the knife he had been carrying with him. Not feeling it he began to look around on the grass, realizing it had to have fallen off when he fell.

Feeling it he eventually took a hold of it and then moved quickly to where Daryl was at, pulling the walker off of Daryl who punched at it hard enough to knock it down to the ground where Zac was able to lunge his knife into the back of the walker's head.

It was only when he stood up that he turned the flashlight on and as he stood there catching his breath he realized the walker that he had just put down was Randall.

"Nice," Daryl spoke being impressed by what Zac had done.

"Does this way feel right?" Rick asked as he followed behind Shane. They had been walking around in the woods still for what felt like hours though if Rick guessed he would say it was only minutes..rather long minutes.

"As right as any," Shane answered as he turned around to face Rick.

"Snatched your gun, huh?" Rick asked once Shane was facing him. He couldn't help but fell now that something Shane was telling about this story wasn't right.

Shane just nodded his head, "Yeah, it was my favorite piece too," he answered as he shook his head. "Gonna wish he'd...wish he'd killed me when I find his sorry ass," he joked as he continued to look at Rick. "Go on," he said nodding ahead wanting Rick to take the lead now.

Examining Randall's corpse Daryl turned his neck slightly as he let the flashlight shine on the exposed skin, "Got his neck broke," he said deducing that was how Randall died. Turning him over though he continued the search for Randall's body, trying to find what had made him turn. "He's got no bites," he finally said after awhile.

"Yeah, none you can see," Zac replied as he bent down beside Daryl.

Daryl just shook his head, "No, I'm telling you he died from this," he said pointing the light back to Randall's broken neck.

"How is that possible?" Zac asked not understanding how he could have died from a broken neck but turned into a walker. There had to be something missing.

Looking at Zac all Daryl had was silence because he didn't know how to answer him, so instead of answering he just eventually stood up and headed back towards the farm. They had found Randall, there was no longer anything to worry about regarding him anyway.

"Say he got you with a rock?" Rick asked feeling Shane's eyes on him from behind as Shane followed him out into the middle of an open field.

Shane who was following behind Rick heard his question,"That is what I said," he replied feeling like maybe Rick was starting to understand what was happening now.

"Inside the shed said door was shut when T-dog rolled up," Rick countered not even turning to face Shane. He had a sinking feeling on why Shane had lured him out here. He should have figured it sooner if he was honest with himself.

Shane nodded, "I saw that too. Must have slipped through the rafters in the roof," he shrugged watching as Rick soon came to a complete stop a few feet away from him.

Rick sighed at Shane's words coming to a stop as he tried to digest them though he couldn't. Putting the gun he held in his hand back in it's holster he hesitated for a second before finally breaking the silence. "So this is where you plan to do it?"

"It's as good a place as any," Shane answered surprised not surprised that Rick had figured out his motives.

"At least have the balls to call this what it is," Rick spoke as as he turned to face Shane, "murder. You really believe if you walk back onto that farm alone, no me, no Randall," Rick continued ignoring Shane when he told him to hush up. "You really believe they are gonna buy that bullshit story you cook up?"

Shane shrugged, "That's just it, it ain't no story," he said trying to sound confident even though he really didn't feel as confident as he sounded. "I saw that prisoner shoot you down. I ran after him, snapped his neck. It ain't going to be easy but Lori and Carl they will get over you," he told his best friend smugly still trying to be confident. "They've done it before. They're just going to have too," he said before pulling his gun out and aiming it at Rick.

"Why?" Rick asked Shane stepping a bit closer. "Why now? I thought we worked this all out."

"We tried to kill each other man," Shane laughed shaking his head. "Did you just think we'd forget about it all and ride off into the sunset?"

Rick felt his anger start to boil at Shane's lack of emotions right now. "So you're just gonna kill me in cold blood? Screw my wife, have my children, My children call you daddy is that what you want? That life won't be worth a damn," he said as he continued to stare Shane down. "I know you, you won't be able to live with this."

"What do you know about what I can live with?" Shane asked briefly putting his gun down. "You have no idea what I can live with. What I live with," he yelled before putting the gun in his jeans. "How about what you can live with? Here I am," he said opening his arms, wanting Rick to try and harm him, he knew he couldn't.

"Come on man raise your gun," Shane continued after awhile of Rick not doing anything.

Rick shook his head no, "No, I will not," he said refusing to play into Shane's game.

"What happened Rick? I thought you weren't the good guy no more. Ain't that what you said?" Shane asked clearly trying to get under Rick's skin. "Even right here, right now you ain't going to fight for them. I am a better father than you Rick," Shane muttered as he stepped closer to Rick. "I am better for Lori than you man. It's because I am a better man than you Rick. Cause I can be here and I will fight for her. But you come back here and just destroy everything!" Shane yelled seeing from the expression on Rick's face he may just be getting under the man's skin now.

"You got a broken woman," he continued with his antics. "You got a weak boy. You ain't got the first clue on how to fix it," Shane sighed before pulling his gun out and holding it on Rick again. "Raise your gun."

Rick didn't falter once when Shane raised his gun again, "You are going to have to kill an unarmed man," he spoke before moving his hands out some. Letting one hand go down to his gun he held it out away from himself. "Now listen to me Shane, there is still a way back from this. Nothing has happened here, we are going to lay down our guns, we are going to walk back to the farm together," he said before locking eyes with Shane.

"Back to Lori," Rick continued his words as he moved closer to Shane now. "Back to Carl. Put this all behind us," he said hoping the different emotions he saw in Shane's eyes was him reconsidering this. As he said those words though he let his other hand go behind him to where his knife was and the moment Shane reached to take his gun Rick lunged at him with the knife, stabbing his former friend.

Feeling a pain in his stomach as he was stabbed, Shane groaned accidentally firing his gun as he hunched over in the process though he soon lost his footing and fell to the ground. Breathing was becoming hard and he just laid there helplessly as he looked up at Rick who was blaming him for this, for his actions and stabbing him.

Looking down at his dying friend Rick frowned as he shook his head. This was all Shane's fault. Shane was the one responsible for what Rick had just done. If he hadn't been so fucking reckless. Feeling tears in his eyes he watched as his friend died there on the grass in the field. He had just lost the one man who had been like a brother to him.

Standing up finally Rick began to pace back and forth. He was distraught over what had happened and he was also trying to figure out something he could tell the people waiting at the farm house.

"Dad?" Carl questioned as he came to a stop at the sight in front of him, Shane lying on the ground and his dad just pacing back and forth,

"Carl," Rick spoke as he came to a stop, seeing his sun standing there holding his gun out. "You should be back home with mom," he said as he walked a bit closer to Carl. "Just...just put the..put the gun down," he said trying to reassure his son that everything was okay. "It's not what it seems. Please," he begged seeing Carl aim the gun higher up. It was after he got the please though that Carl fired his gun and he turned around to see Shane falling behind him. Shane had reanimated though all Rick had done was stab him.

Walking towards Shane with Carl following behind him Rick told his son to wait as he finished the walk and he bent back down still unable to believe what had happened.

Alice who had been out with Sutton paused as she heard a familiar noise, a noise she had learned to dread after sometime. Turning her head in that direction though her eyes widened at the sight. There in front of her was a whole pack of walkers coming towards them.

"Sutton," she whispered trying to get the girls attention. When she had it she pointed to the herd heading there way and she handed Sutton a gun. "We have to get back to Viv's and warn her and Lucy," she said as her heartbeat began to get faster.

"And if one of us goes down?" Sutton questioned as she raised an eyebrow as she looked at Alice before trying her best to crouch down and hide behind trees as she began what now felt like a long walk back to Viv's though in reality it wasn't.

"Then the other shoots and runs off to still warn the others," Alice told her, holding her gun tightly to herself. As she too crouched down her mind wandered to the two sisters they had helped and their group on another farm not far from here. The herd would be heading their way too..or well it would be heading to anyone who had houses out in these backwoods. Everyone would have to fight to get away and hopefully no one died in the process.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Twenty-Three

Pacing back and forth in the living room, Kate ran a hand through her hair. It was dark out and her husband was gone and she was afraid he wouldn't make it back. Even with all of their troubles she didn't want to lose him, she couldn't lose him.

"You keep pacing like that and you are going to wear a hole in the floor," Taylor said as he went to Kate and put his arms on her to stop her from moving anymore.

Kate shook her head as she looked at Taylor, "I can't help it, I'm worried about Zac. It's dark and they aren't back yet. What if something bad has happened?"

"You think Zac is going to die now?" Taylor asked curiously as he raised an eyebrow.

"He's right," Jessica spoke up from where she sat on the couch with Glenn. "Zac's a Hanson and we're known for our stubbornness, we don't die without a fight and there is no way Zac is going out this early in the game."

"None of us are," Taylor added in knowing he planned on keeping what family he had left alive. They had already lost too many, there was no need to lose more.

"I'm going after them," Andrea spoke as she stood up from a chair she had been sitting in.

Lori shook her head at Andrea's words, "Don't, they could be anywhere," she said knowing Andrea may never find them or she herself could get lost. "And if Randall comes back, we're gonna need you here."

It wasn't even no time after Lori got out her words that Kate heard the door open and she turned her head seeing Daryl and Zac coming in and she felt a sudden amount of relief washing through her. Just knowing her husband was well.

"Rick and Shane ain't back?" Daryl asked as he looked at the people gathered in the living room.

"No," Avery answered as she came out of the kitchen being followed by Mac. She had heard Daryl's voice and that was all she had needed to get the nerve to come into the living room again, just knowing he was safe.

"We heard a shot," Daryl said knowing he and Zac had heard a shot on their way back to the farm.

Lori shrugged, "Maybe they found Randall," she spoke wanting to stay optimistic.

"We found him," Daryl said letting the others know they had found Randall.

"Is he back in the shed?" Kate asked curiously as she walked to where Zac was, pulling him to her some and just holding him as if her life depended on it.

"He's a walker," Daryl answered as he looked over at Zac's wife.

"Did you find the walker that bit him?" Hershel asked as he eyed the two men.

Zac shook his head as he pulled away from Kate slowly, "No, the weird thing is he wasn't bit."

"His neck was broke," Daryl added in finishing Zac's sentence.

"So he fought back?" Patricia asked from where she was standing near a window.

"The thing is, Shane and Randall's tracks were right on top of each other," Daryl said as he looked at the others again. "And Shane ain't no tracker, so he didn't come up from behind him. They were together."

Hearing Daryl's words Lori closed her eyes almost feeling sick at what he was saying, what that could imply, "Would you please get back out there, find Rick and Shane and find out what on earth is going on?"

"You got it," Daryl nodded as he turned to leave the house again.

As Daryl turned to leave Avery just looked down and closed her eyes not wanting him to go out again after dark. She hated thinking of what could happen to him but then again he could take care of himself, he had shown that numerous times.

Standing on the front porch with Viv, Lucy closed one eye as she aimed her rifle at the incoming walkers, "What if they don't come back?" she asked referring to Sutton and Alice who had been on a nightly run. Viv had thought it better to do some runs at night.

"Then we leave them," Viv answered as she too aimed her rifle at incoming walkers and started shooting. "We can't die in hopes that they come back, but we keep holding on for as long as we can," she muttered as she kept seeing more walkers coming onto the property. "I never expected so many to come out this far," she muttered knowing that once they left here she wasn't sure what she'd do. They had no where else to go.

"Yeah well sometimes the world throws curve balls," Lucy responded as she started firing at the walkers with the rifle. The rifle wasn't the gun she was good at it but for situations like this it was what was best.

Continuing to fire at incoming walkers Lucy lowered her gun when she saw two approaching figures coming in from the other side of the house's porch, "Sutton? Alice?" she whispered wanting to make sure it was indeed them.

"Did you expect the pope?" Sutton asked as she climbed up onto the porch, "Alice and I we managed to make it back but just barely. I ran out of ammo so Alice had to cover me part of the way here."

"There's ammo inside," Viv told Sutton as she watched Alice walk up onto the porch behind her. She was glad that they had came back because thoughts of living without Alice were kind of sad since she had came to love the woman. "We stay until the last possible minute and then we run," she spoke trying to sound firm. "We keep running until we can't anymore and hopefully when that happens we'll find somewhere safe at least for a night or two."

"But our stuff...the life we planned," Alice frowned knowing they had all gotten used to the stability of life around here. It had been nice up until tonight.

"Maybe we should stop planning," Lucy muttered harshly not sure if planning was good when the world was gone to hell and there seemed to be no fixing it.

"You bit too?" Carl asked as he looked up at his dad as they walked across the field, heading back to the farm.

"No," Rick answered as he looked over at Carl. He was still shocked at the events that had happened and he was almost numb in a way so his voice sounded almost emotionless.

"Shane was," Carl frowned looking down at the grass.

"That wasn't Shane," Rick corrected Carl. "You know that."

Carl nodded his head slowly, "Used to be," he said knowing that even if Shane had turned into a walker before that he had been a person. "What happened? You guys attacked?" he asked curiously not understanding what had happened. "I mean, I...I heard a gunshot, but I didn't see any walkers nearby. How did Shane die?"

Coming to a stop at Carl's words, Rick turned to face him as he tried to think of an answer, a response he could give to his son but before he could even get words out he heard that indescribable moan that came with walkers and as he turned towards it, his eyes widened as he took in the sight. There was a lot of them, hundreds maybe more. More than what had been on the highway the day Sophia had ran off.

"Oh my god!" he exclaimed as he looked down at Carl. Putting his hand on Carl's back Rick started leading him towards the woods fast, "Go...go go."

Jessica who had walked out onto the porch with Zac and Daryl made a face as they all three stopped in their tracks when they looked towards the woods and the barn. Off in the distance they could see an incoming herd. A herd much bigger than the camp one and the highway one.

Swallowing hard she couldn't help but have a sinking feeling in her stomach that shit was about to go down and they might not get out unscathed. Taylor's words from earlier could be a mote point because he indeed could lose some of his family.

Running with his dad through the woods, Carl eventually crouched down as they made it to the tree lines where they could see the barn, "We..we gotta get to the house, tell the others," he said panic in his voice at the incoming herd that was coming at them.

Rick shook his head at his son's suggestion, "We'll never get through that," he said knowing there was no way they would make it back to the house through all those walkers. "Can't go around," he said knowing they couldn't go around it either. "Carl, stay close," he whispered to his son as he again put his hand on his son's back and began to walk with him to the barn.

Hershel who now stood on the porch with most of their group watched the incoming herd silently, "Patricia, kill the lights," he whispered knowing if none of the lights were on that may distract them.

"I'll get the guns," Andrea spoke as she turned to head inside and get their guns which they would need.

"Maybe they're just passing, like the herd on the highway," Taylor mused knowing the herd could just pass them by. "Should we just go inside?"

"Not unless there's a tunnel downstairs I don't know about," Daryl answered as he turned to look at Taylor, giving him a look as he rolled his eyes. "A herd that size would rip the house down."

Making it to the barn with Carl, Rick closed the doors behind them before finding a piece of wood to secure the doors shut for now but as both he and Carl backed away he knew it wouldn't last long. The walkers already banging on the doors would break through and find their way inside.

Heck the walkers would also find their way inside the house too and he needed to do something, he had to find a way to keep himself safe as well as his son and his group. He had to think quick before things got even more worse then what they were.

"Carl's gone," Lori said as she walked out onto the porch in a state of panic.

"What?" Daryl asked surprise in his voice at Lori's words.

"He..he was upstairs," Lori chocked out as she put her hands to her chest. "I can't find him."

"Maybe he's hiding," Jessica stated knowing Carl could just be hiding somewhere else in the house.

Lori shook her head, "He's supposed to be upstairs. I'm not leaving without my boy."

"We're not," Kate said as both she and Carol went to Lori's side. "We're gonna look again. We're gonna find him."

Still just standing around in the barn, Rick could hear the walkers clawing at the doors like rabid animals and soon a plan began to formulate in his head as he took Carl by the arms and headed with him up towards the ladder going to the rafters so they'd be higher up.

The plan may not have been one of his best ones yet but hopefully maybe it could save some lives, hopefully it could help their group make it out and also alert them to where he was and the dangers that were incoming.

Standing on the porch still, Taylor watched as Maggie went through the gun bag that Andrea had brought out and as she grabbed a rifle for herself and handed him one, he looked at her confused. "Maggie..." he started not even sure if she knew how to use a gun. She hadn't went to the gun training when the group had, had one.

"You grow up country you pick up a thing or two," Maggie stated as loaded the gun around her arm.

Zac who was watching Maggie just smirked at her words and how she had taken control. Maybe Taylor knew how to pick women after all. A woman who could handle herself and knew how to shoot a gun.

"I got the number," Daryl stated as he kept on watching the herd. "It's no use," he said knowing shooting at them was no use.

"You can go if you want," Hershel said as he loaded the gun in his hand.

"You gonna take 'em all on?" Daryl asked his voice coming out disbelieving. There was no way Hershel could handle all of those walkers.

Hershel finished loading the gun and he stood up straight again, eying Daryl, "We have guns. We have cars."

"Kill as many as we can and we'll use the cars to lead the rest of them off the farm," Andrea added in going along with Hershel's train of thought.

"Are you serious?" Daryl asked still not believing this plan could actually work.

"This is my farm," Hershel stated as he locked eyes with Daryl. "I'll die here."

Daryl shrugged, "All right. It's as good a night as any," he muttered as he hopped over the porch's railings.

Being back at the bottom of the barn again, Rick who now held a can of gasoline started pouring the gasoline all over the place even as he watched the walkers slowly tearing off pieces of wood as they tried to make their way in here, hungry for a meal, hungry for him and any living human they could get their hands on.

Once he was done pouring the gasoline he looked at Carl who had followed him down, "Up there. Hurry," he muttered not sure how much time they had and he wanted Carl out of harm's way.

"What about you?" Carl asked as he locked eyes with his dad.

"I'll be right there," Rick said as he reached for a lighter in his pocket and handed it to Carl. "Drop the lighter when I say. We'll stop some of them from reaching the house and distract the others, so at least they'll have a chance," he spoke seeing doubt and confusion on his son's face. "Hey..hey..hey, look at me," he said putting his hand on Carl's shoulder. "You can do this."

Seeing his son give a slight nod Rick knew he acknowledged what he just said, "Carl, I love you," he said just wanting his son to case one or both didn't make it out alive. It was after that, that he rushed Carl up the ladder and he headed towards the doors which he began to bang on, "Hey! Hey!. You want some?!" he asked "Come and get it!" he said as he opened the barn door in a hurry and began to walk away as fast as he could as the walkers began to come inside, all of them trying to get him.

"Come on! Come on!" Rick continued as he taunted the walkers he was leading farther into the barn. "Come on!" he yelled as he made it to the ladder which he began to climb up. "Over here!" he yelled "Come on, you want some of this?!" he asked feeling the walkers trying to grab at him as he climbed up the ladder as fast as he could.

When he made it to the top, he turned to look at Carl, "Carl, now!" he yelled at his son watching as Carl dropped the lighter down and a fire instantly started.

Taylor who was in the front seat of the car Maggie was driving, sighed as he tried to get his aim just right as she drove erratically around the farm. Most of the group had split up into vehicles. Andrea and T-Dog where in the blue truck, Daryl was on his motorcycle, Mac and Jimmy had gotten in the RV while Avery and Zac had chosen to stay at the house near Hershel, mainly because both of them were pretty good shots from far away.

"Keep it steady!" Glenn complained from where was in the backseat with Jessica. Both of them were also hanging out the window shooting at or trying to shoot at the walkers.

"I'm trying," Maggie spoke as she shook her head. It was hard trying to drive the car around the farm with walkers coming at them from what felt like every direction.

"The barn's on fire," Beth said as she grabbed onto Patricia and Kate, bringing both women to the window she was standing at in the house.

Kate looked through the wood they had used to board up the windows and she could see some of the walkers heading for the barn, "They're headed for it."

"Maybe Rick set it to draw 'em in," Patricia stated knowing Rick could have done that as a diversion tactic.

"I can't find him anywhere," Lori stated as she ran down the stairs still in a panic over Carl. She had searched the whole house and he was still nowhere in sight.

"So maybe he snuck outside," Carol stated as she came over to where Lori was.

Lori shook her head feeling tears sting her eyes, "What do I do?!" she asked getting frustrated by this situation.

Leaving the window Kate walked over to where Lori and Carol where, "He was here. He must've run off, maybe looking for Rick or went after Randall himself."

"Maybe he set the fire," Patricia added in as she looked over to Lori.

Mac who had opened the window in the back room of the RV, hung out of it, shooting walkers, though he stopped briefly as he watched Daryl ride up to talk to Jimmy who was driving the RV. Jimmy, the boy he had a crush on and the boy he had hopelessly followed onto this RV like a lovesick puppy in hopes of some affection when this was all over with, even if it was just a few kind words.

"Must've been Rick or Shane who started the fire!" Daryl called out as he looked at Jimmy. "Maybe they're trying to get out back. Why don't you circle around? Go!"

"Got it!" Jimmy called out as he sat down in the driver's seat and started the RV again, heading to the now on fire barn.

Closing the window to the back, Mac left the back bedroom and went to where he could see where Jimmy was going. As he came to the front seats, he looked out the window seeing Rick and Carl perched on the back of the barn and Rick was screaming at Jimmy to park the RV which Jimmy soon did.

Once the RV was parked, Rick soon found a way down onto it, also helping Carl and they both walked on the roof soon finding the ladder and climbing down.

Mac couldn't help but smile to himself once he knew that Rick and Carl had been saved, though his smile soon faded as he watched Jimmy stand from the front seat and start to head for the doors. He hadn't even got a few feet before the doors burst open thanks to walkers barging their way in.

"No," he muttered as he shook his head watching the walkers starting to eat on Jimmy as more walkers just kept on piling onto the RV. Mac knew..he just knew there was no way out and he refused to become walker chow while still alive so he made his way into the RV's bathroom where he shut the door.

Once the door was shut he closed his eyes trying to fight off the tears that wanted to come and he said a little prayer, one asking for forgiveness for what he was about to do. He might've had his doubts about god but there had to be a place better than this world and if he was going to die tonight he wanted to go there, he wanted to go and be with his mom and Zoe.

After his prayer he raised the gun to his temple and took one last deep breath before pulling the trigger.

Avery who was standing beside Zac and Hershel as they kept shooting at walker's turned her head briefly as she watched Lori,Carol,Beth, and Kate coming out of the house. She could hear Lori still going on about Carl and she was guessing they hadn't found him yet and her heart went out to Lori even if she wasn't a mother. She couldn't imagine what it would be like to be stranded away from your child.

Turning back to the oncoming walkers she kept shooting as she also listened to Kate and Carol talking Lori into leaving. Leaving was something Avery knew they'd have to do, there was just too many but she wasn't sure if she was ready yet. She had grown too used to this farm and the supposed safety it had, had.

Hearing Lori trying to get Hershel to leave, Avery stopped shooting as she looked at Zac, "W..we have to go," she spoke to him as she chewed her lip.

Zac shook his head as he looked at Avery, "You and Kate go. I'm gonna stay with Hershel for as long as I can," Zac nodded as he smiled at Avery doing his best to hide his nerves.

Giving Zac a look Avery shook her head, "No..I.."

"Listen I don't want Daryl to kill me because you didn't make it out alive, so go," Zac muttered as he stopped shooting long enough to push Avery away.

Not fighting anymore with Zac, Avery held onto her rifle as she took off running, soon catching up to Lori and the others in time to see Patricia get taken down and as she ran past the scene she watched as Lori had to literally pull Beth away from Patricia to stop Beth from getting eaten.

As the blue pick up truck made it to where they were Avery watched Andrea get out, telling them to get in and as she got in before Lori and Beth she heard Lori telling Andrea to go after Carol and Kate who had both ran off in another direction.

Holding her gun close to herself Kate looked around, she had started after Carol who had gotten cornered by a walker but then she too had gotten cornered and had to run in another direction towards the opposite side of the farm. She could hear the walkers behind her but she tried to ignore it as she just kept running, soon making it into the woods where she used the trees to her advantage to crouch behind every so often before taking down walkers that got too close.

"God, I'm not sure you exist still but please get me out of this alive," Kate prayed to herself before taking off running again from a tree she had been hiding behind. "If you get me out of this alive I promise I will start praying more to you," she whispered under her breath before turning to shoot down some walkers that were getting too close to her liking.

After she had done that she did her best to ignore her tiredness. She had to keep running. She had to keep herself and her baby okay until Zac or one of the others came to look for her.

"They got her!" Lori exclaimed as she watched a walker fall down on Andrea who had been trying to help Carol but ultimately had failed. "We gotta go!" Lori told T-Dog knowing they couldn't stay on the farm. It was a lost cause now.

After Lori's words Avey felt T-Dog drive off and she also felt her heart drop into her stomach because they were leaving people behind. She was leaving Daryl behind and she wasn't sure if she'd see him again and that thought saddened her, even if she was thankful to be getting off the farm and even if she was thankful that Lori, Beth, and T-Dog had also made it she didn't want to leave Daryl because she knew there was a possibility she may not see him again and god Zac was still with Hershel and what if he died? What if her other family members died?

All those thoughts were enough to render Avery numb and not able to speak as she just sat silently wedged between T-Dog and Beth.

"Where the hell are they going?" Maggie asked as she watched the blue truck leaving the farm. "Should I follow them?" she asked to anyone who was in the car with her.

"I'd say yes," Taylor spoke as he came back inside and watched Maggie drive. "Swing it around, swing it around here," he said instructing her to get around. As she almost ran into oncoming walkers he made a face, "Whoa, whoa whoa," he muttered out.

Maggie watched horror stricken at the walkers coming her way, "Oh my god!" she exclaimed sadly as she shook her head. "I can't get through it," she commented knowing there was no way for her to get through the walkers.

"Head out," Taylor told her as walkers began to pile up onto the front of the car.

"What?!" Maggie asked not even believing he'd say what he did.

"Get off the farm now," Taylor urged her knowing that was the only option they had left.

Maggie shook her head, "Don't say that," she muttered not wanting him to tell her that.

"Maggie, it's lost!" Jessica added in from the backseat as she looked up at Maggie who was in the driver's seat.

"The others..we can't leave them," Maggie said knowing they just couldn't leave them behind like that. Seeing a walker banging his head against the windshield Maggie screamed but put her car in reverse.

"Get off the farm now!" Taylor yelled as he looked over at Maggie who soon followed his instructions.

As Maggie drove away from the farm Jessica heaved a sigh as she reached for Glenn's hand glad that they were at least safe, even if others in their group might not be. She needed him and she refused to lose another man she loved like she had lost Joe.

Zac who was still standing beside Hershel as they kept shooting walkers sighed. He knew he was almost out of ammo and the old man had to be as well but he really didn't want to leave him behind, not when it was clear he cared so much about the farm and he was Beth's father and for some odd reason he wanted to keep the man safe for Beth.

As Hershel backed up but just kept shooting, Zac moved with him, listening to Hershel egging the walkers on by telling them to come on, though the egging on stopped when Hershel stopped shooting long enough to reload the ammo in his gun and so Zac lowered his own gun briefly, waiting for Hershel to finish loading his.

It was right as Hershel aimed his gun and fired that Zac heard another gunshot behind them and he turned his head, seeing Rick standing there, having taken down a walker that had been too close to him and Hershel for his liking.

"Where's Lori? Did you see Lori?" Rick asked as he walked to Hershel and Zac.

"I don't know what happened Rick," Hershel muttered, ignoring Rick's words. "It's like a plague. They're everywhere."

"Lori! Did you see her?" Rick asked again when Hershel ignored him the first time.

Zac shook his head as he lowered his gun, "No," he answered not sure if Lori had been with the group Avery and Kate had left with or not.

"We have to go," Rick stated before looking down at Carl. "Find mom and the others."

"It's my farm!" Hershel called out not wanting to leave the farm.

Rick shook his head as he grabbed Hershel's arm, "Not anymore! Come on!"

Following along with Rick, Zac followed him to a jeep and he got in the backseat as Carl and Rick got in the front, though again it seemed Hershel had stalled, trying to fight for his farm one last time and Zac watched as Rick urged him on. When Hershel finally got in the back with him Zac turned to face Hershel, watching as Hershel just looked on sadly as they left his farm behind. A farm that would probably be reduced to ashes once the fire in the barn spread to the main house.

Frowning Zac had to finally look away from the older man as he felt a sadness taking over him as well. A sadness for what they had lost tonight. They had lost their safe place, a place they were all getting used too, a place where he had hoped his child could be born at and raised at safely.

Chapter Text

Contagion Chapter Twenty-Four

Taylor heaved a sigh as he sat in the almost too quite car. Maggie had been driving ever since they had left the farm and it was now daybreak. Turning to look in the backseat he smiled seeing Jessica and Glenn asleep. At least he could say he knew the safety and well being of one of his family members. It was the others he didn't know anything about and as he looked at Maggie he could tell she too was thinking about the others, hell she didn't have any of her family at all with her.

Maggie could feel Taylor's eyes on her and as she drove she took several deep breaths, trying to calm herself though she couldn't it was becoming hard, "Oh my god. Oh my god," she muttered to herself almost like a mantra.

"All right," Taylor spoke calmly as he listened to Maggie talking to herself. "Let's just circle back to the highway," he spoke knowing the highway might be their best bet. It was the place they had left stuff for Sophia and maybe it was the place where the others would be at too, just in case.

"Did you see my dad?" Maggie asked ignoring Taylor's words. "Did..did he make it?" she asked only getting silence from Taylor. "Did you see?"

Taylor shook his head, "I couldn't see anything," he admitted knowing there had been too many walkers for him to see who all had truly made it off the farm.

"And Beth..I lost Beth," Maggie muttered as her little sister came to mind. "We've gotta go back there," she told Taylor her voice as serious as she felt. They had to go back. She had to get Beth and her father if he hadn't made it off.

"We can't go back, okay?" Taylor told her as he frowned knowing she was reminding him of how he had been after the Quarry had been overrun and he had lost Ezra. "There's nothing to go back to."

"But Beth..." Maggie argued knowing her sister needed her.

Taylor thought for a few seconds before speaking again, "I..I think she was with Lori," he told her feeling like maybe Beth had been with her.

"Did they make it?" Maggie asked though it came out more like her pleading.

"I don't know," Taylor answered not sure if they had.

"Patricia? Jimmy?: Maggie questioned continuing to let her thoughts out. "What if they didn't make it? What if nobody made it?"

Taylor closed his eyes at Maggie's words not even wanting to consider the last option, "They made it, okay? They had to," he nodded. "All right, let's just circle around to the highway where we left supplies for Sophia."

"No," Maggie stated feeling tears going down her cheek. "The herd came from that direction."

"Just stop. Stop the car," Taylor said as he ran a hand through his hair. When the car stopped he started to open his door, "Let me drive," he stated before getting out and quickly switching spots with Maggie. Once he was in the driver's seat he turned to look at Maggie who had now just broken down crying. "Hey, hey, hey," he said as he reached over and grabbed both of Maggie's cheeks. "Hey, Maggie, look at me, look at me," he told her making sure she was looking at him before he continued. "Hey, we're alive. We made it. Okay? I'm sure they are, too," he reassured her. "Right?" he asked when Maggie started to nod her head though it was apparent she was still wanting to cry.

"I love you," he finally spoke up telling her words he should have said days ago. "Maggie, I love you. I should've said it a long time ago and it's been true for a long time," Taylor smiled knowing he had loved her probably from the first moment he had saw her on the horse. "We're gonna be all right, okay? We'll be all right."

"Yeah," Maggie whispered as she nodded and looked ahead, trying to get herself to believe his words.

After hopefully having calmed Maggie down, Taylor started the car and drove off, heading towards the highway.

As Taylor drove, Jessica opened her eyes, "It's about time you told her how you felt," she muttered through a yawn, seeing Taylor lift one hand from the steering wheel and flipping her off which only made her chuckle softly so she didn't wake Glenn up.

Coming to rest against a tree Lucy bent down to catch her breath, her eyes though keeping Sutton and Alice in her sights, "Do you think Viv will really find a car?" she asked not sure if the woman would be able to find a car.

"Of course she will," Alice nodded as she came to rest beside Lucy. "It's Viv we're talking about. When has she let us down before?" she asked trying not to hide her worry over something happening to Viv when she was out by herself.

"All I know is if she doesn't find a car I am gonna die of exhaustion," Sutton muttered as she shook her head. "We've been running since last night and it's now morning."

Lucy just sighed before standing up straight again, "Well you are going to have to get ready to run again," she said as she tried to give Sutton a tiny smile though she probably failed. "If we stand around all day we're going to become food and anyway Viv told us to meet her on that one road off the highway," she muttered before she started running again.

"I just don't see why we can't meet her on the highway itself," Sutton mused as she started moving again, trying to keep up with Lucy.

"Because the highway could be overrun with the walkers," Alice said as she ran at the same pace as Sutton. "I wish both of you would stop questioning Viv's decisions. She's gotten us this far."

Rolling her eyes Lucy ignored Alice's words though she wished Alice would stop defending Viv even if Alice was dating her.

Getting out of the car when Rick parked it on the highway, Zac almost felt his heart sink when he found that no one else in their group was here and he shook his head, walking over to the car that now held the faded message they had wrote to Sophia on it. A message that the little girl had never gotten to see.

"W..where's mom?" Carl asked as he looked up at Rick. "You said she'd be here. W..we gotta go back for her."

"Carl.." Rick started only to get interrupted by his son.

"No," Carl argued. "Why are we running? What are you doing? It's...It is mom. We need to get her and not be safe a mile away," he said his voice rising as he spoke.

Bending down to Carl's level Rick shushed him, "You need to be quiet, all right? Please," he said not wanting to draw attention or walkers to them.

"It's mom.." Carl pleaded still not understanding why they couldn't go after her.

Zac just frowned as he stood silently by. He could half see where the boy was coming from.

"Look Carl, listen.." Rick began only for Carl to turn his back and walk away, heading back towards the car they had exited.

"Rick," Hershel began as he watched Rick start after Carl but stop when he said his name. "You've got to get your boy to safety. I'll wait here for my girls and the others. I know a few places. We'll meet up at one of them later."

Rick listened to Hershel then looked he turned to look between Zac and Hershel, "Where? Where is safe?" he asked not sure where a safe place was. "We're not splitting up."

"Please, keep your boy safe," Hershel stated thinking of Carl's safety. "I'll hide in one of the cars. If a walker gets me, so be it," he said somberly as he shook his head. "I've lost my farm, I've lost my wife and maybe my daughters."

"You don't know that," Zac chimed in not wanting to picture Beth dead.

"They'll be here," Rick added as he looked at Hershel.

"And neither of you know that for sure," Hershel sighed knowing neither Zac or Rick knew one hundred percent if anyone would come here.

Rick shook his head, "You're a man of God, have some faith."

"I can't profess to understand God's plan, but Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just though he had something a little different in mind," Hershel said as he looked down knowing this wasn't how he had expected that verse to turn out.

"We stick together," Rick said still standing by his choice that he wasn't leaving Hershel behind.

Sitting in the truck silently, Avery turned her head as she heard Beth begin to speak. It was the first words anyone had spoken since they had left the farm last night.

"You let her go," Beth spoke harshly as she looked up at Lori.

Lori looked at Beth, taken aback by her words, "She was bit."

"You threw her to them to save yourself," Beth responded as she locked eyes with Lori.

"You can't possibly believe that," Lori said as she shook her head.

"I was holding on to her," Beth countered still not breaking eye contact with Lori.

Lori sighed, "And she would have dragged you down," she said knowing if she hadn't saved Beth, Beth could have died with Patricia.

Beth shook her head feeling tears well up into her eyes, "You let her go."

Avery frowned as she pulled Beth to her, her heart going out to the blonde who had just lost a woman she had probably known since she was a baby. "You'll be okay," she whispered as she did her best to comfort Beth.

"We gotta turn around," Lori spoke as she looked at T-Dog who was driving.

"Straight back to that herd?" T-Dog asked feeling like Lori had lost her damn mind. "Umm, no."

"The highway's back there," Lori told him. "That's where they'll be. Rick will go back to where we first broke down and maybe Glenn too," she stated knowing the two of them would go somewhere they all knew and remembered.

T-Dog shook his head, "We're headed east, get to the coast. We should've done that from the jump," he said as he looked at all three of the women in the truck with him. "Look, we've got a shot to get out of here in one piece."

"I gotta find Carl," Lori argued as she thought of her son. "He may have escaped with somebody."

"I hate to say it but they're on their own," T-Dog stated. "There's no way to even begin to start looking."

"You're wrong," Lori muttered as she laughed bitterly.

"Look, we can't go back," T-Dog said as he shrugged his shoulders. "I'm sorry. It's suicide."

Getting fed up with T-Dog, Lori put her hand on the door handle and started to open it, "All right, then let me out."

"Hey! Whoa!" T-Dog muttered as he pulled the truck to a stop.

"You turn around, or you let us out right now," Lori said sternly as she eyed T-Dog knowing she had every intention of taking Beth and Avery out of this truck and walking to the highway with them.

"I should do it, you know," T-Dog stated watching as Lori started to get out of the car. "Okay?" he said as she turned to face him and he leaned his head against the glass window.

Looking back at T-Dog, Lori frowned, "T-Dog," she pleaded hoping he'd change his mind.

"You're out of your damn minds," T-Dog muttered as he started the truck back up. Hearing Lori shut the door he turned the truck around and headed back towards the highway.

Zac chewed his lip and held onto his gun tightly as he hid behind the jeep with the other men as a walker passed their way. It was only after the walker had went down the opposite side that Rick motioned for them to leave their hiding space and they all moved to the back of the jeep where they watched the walker still roam aimlessly down the highway.

"I don't know how much longer we can stay here," Hershel whispered as he looked at Rick.

"I...I'm not leaving without mom," Carl spoke knowing he didn't want to go anywhere until he had his mom with him.

Rick moved closer to Hershel, "So we're just gonna walk away? Not knowing if mine or Zac's wife or your girls are still out there?" he asked as he looked at the older man. "How do we live with that?"

Hershel sighed, "You've only got one concern now," he said as he looked down at Carl. "Just one. Keeping him alive. Nature may be throwing us a curve ball, but that law is still true."

It was after Hershel spoke that Zac watched as Rick wavered and bent down, starting to tell Carl that they had to leave but before he could even finish his words Zac heard the distant roar of a motorcycle and then three familiar vehicles came into sight and he couldn't help the smile on his face as he watched them drive down the other side of the highway before coming to a stop.

Walking down to where the vehicles parked Zac watched as everyone piled out, Avery running to Daryl who he was surprised to see envelope her into a hug. Glenn and Jessica both getting out of the car that Taylor and Maggie were in and as they all walked to where he was his eyes darted around for Kate but he could feel his smile fading as he didn't see her among anyone else, nor did he see Mac either.

"Where'd you find everyone?" Rick asked as he turned to look at Daryl who was standing in front of a car with his arm around Avery's shoulders.

"Well, those guys' tail lights zigzagging all over the road," Daryl answered as he turned to look at Taylor. "Figured he had to be a Hanson, driving like that," he teased.

Taylor made a face but shook his head, "Good one."

"Where's the rest of us?" Daryl asked knowing they were missing some of their people.

Rick sighed, "We're the only ones who made it so far."

"Shane?" Lori asked as she stood up from where she had been bending down to hug Carl. When Rick shook his head no she knew then that he was dead.

"Andrea? Kate?" Taylor asked knowing that Andrea as well as his sister-in-law Kate were both missing.

Carol looked down at the mention of both women, "Kate was with me but then walkers at the farm cornered us both. She ran off into another direction. Andrea..she saved me, then I lost her."

"We saw her go down," T-Dog added in referring to Andrea.

"Patricia?" Hershel asked as he held Beth to him.

Beth shook her head as she looked up at her daddy, "They got her too. Took her right in front of me. I was..I was holding onto her, daddy. She just..." she muttered not even able to finish her words. "What about Jimmy? Did you see Jimmy?"

"He was in the RV as was Mac. It got overrun," Rick answered as he looked towards Beth and then the remainder of the Hanson's.

"You definitely saw Andrea?" Carol asked as she turned to look at T-Dog.

"There were walkers everywhere," Lori said as she looked at Carol.

"Did you see her?" Carol asked again wondering if there could be hope she was alive.

Pulling away from Avery, Daryl reached for his crossbow, "I'm gonna go back."

"Me too," Zac nodded as he shook his head. " wife could be there."

"No," Rick stated as he looked between Daryl and Zac.

Zac glared slightly as he looked at Rick, "We can't just leave them."

"We don't even know they are there," Lori said as she turned to look at Zac.

Rick shook his head, "They aren't there. They aren't. They are somewhere or they are dead. There's no way to find them," he said knowing they didn't have the time and they could risk themselves as well.

"So we're not even gonna look for them?" Glenn asked as he raised an eyebrow.

"We gotta keep moving. There have been walkers crawling all over here," Rick said knowing that before they had shown up there had been a few walkers coming in.

"I say head east," T-Dog added in feeling like they might be safer if they headed east.

"Stay off the main roads. The bigger the road, the more walkers, more asshole like this one," Daryl muttered as he finally picked up his crossbow. "I got him," he said as he aimed the crossbow, soon putting an arrow in the walker's head.

After Daryl had killed the walker, Zac begrudgingly let Taylor walk him over to the car that he had saw Taylor get out of. Getting inside he slid all the way over, watching as Jessica and Glenn filed in as well, before Carol got in the back hatch. From where he sat silently he could see Avery getting on the back of Daryl's bike and then Rick, Lori, Hershel, Beth, Carl, and T-Dog all got into the jeep.

They had again reduced their vehicles and started off, leaving the highway behind and Zac also felt like they had left a piece of him behind by not going back for Kate. She was pregnant with his child. She couldn't fend for herself. She'd die, the baby would die.

Running through the woods, Kate breathed hard as she stumbled over a branch, a scream escaping her. She had been running from a walker and now her fall had made it easier for the walker to get at her and the moment it leaned down over her to take a bite out of her neck, Kate closed her eyes waiting for that moment of first contact to come but it didn't.

Instead what came was the sound of a gun and Kate opened her eyes seeing the walker fall to the ground beside her. Sitting up she made a face as she brushed leaves out of her hair.

"Are you okay?" Lucy asked as she bent down beside the woman she had just saved. "You didn't get bit?"

"I'm fine," Kate nodded as she gave the woman a tiny smile. "I..I just..I lost my husband," she spoke her words incoherent. "I need to find my husband."

"I don't think that's gonna happen," Lucy told her as she heard footsteps behind her and she turned to see Sutton and Alice catching up. "I..I have a group," she told the brunette as she stood up and held her hand out, feeling the woman take it and she helped her up. "You can stay with us if you want but I don't think finding your husband is gonna be a good idea," she said knowing at this rate the woman was probably too far away from him.

Kate shook her head, "But I'm pregnant," she stated knowing she couldn't do this whole pregnancy thing without Zac.

"Lucy has a point," Viv stated as she walked up onto the group having heard most of Lucy's conversation with the woman. "You won't find your husband."

Looking down Kate felt a lump form in her throat but she didn't fight anymore, instead she just nodded feeling defeated, "O..okay," she spoke agreeing to join them.

After the woman spoke Sutton looked at Viv, "I thought you wanted us to meet you off the highway?"

"I did," Viv replied sarcastically. "But you guys are slow," she teased as she turned her back and headed to where she had parked the car she had found.

Watching the women start to walk off after the blonde woman, Kate just stood there.

"Come on," Lucy spoke turning her head to look back at the brunette. "We don't bite."

"That I know of," Kate responded as she locked eyes with the redhead. "You're strangers to me," she added in walking to where the redhead was.

"And you're a stranger to us but we still took you in," Lucy smiled. "We'll take care of you..and your baby," she said as she looked down at the woman's stomach hoping that they actually would be able too.

"Damn," Rick growled as he hit the steering wheel hard.

Lori turned to look at her husband, "What's wrong?" she asked at his outburst.

"We've been riding red for the past hour," Rick informed her as he sighed.

"Better make sure we don't get forgot," T-Dog spoke before Rick honked the horn to alert the two vehicles in front of them which came to a stop.

Daryl who was sitting on his bike watched as Rick walked up to him, "You out?" he asked curiously.

"Running on fumes," Rick told him as he came to a stop.

Maggie just made a face, "We can't stay here," she said knowing they were out in the open.

"We can't all fit in one car," Taylor countered as he looked at her.

"We'll have to make a run for some gas in the morning," Rick said as he looked back at the rest of his group.

Carol crossed her arms, "Spend the night here?" she asked before hearing Carl say he was freezing which wasn't a surprise as it had to be close to late fall or early winter.

"We'll build a fire, yeah," Lori nodded as she looked at her husband.

"You go out looking for firewood," Daryl said as he looked towards Lori. "Only got so many arrows. How you doing on ammo?" he asked looking at Rick.

Shaking her head Maggie sighed, "We can't just sit here with our asses hanging out."

"Watch your mouth," Hershel scolded as he looked at his daughter. "Everyone stop panicking and listen to Rick.."

"All right, we'll set up a perimeter. In the morning, we'll find gas and some supplies," Rick said as he tried thinking of a plan. "We'll keep pushing on."

"Taylor and I can go make a run now, try and scrounge up some gas," Maggie suggested seeing Taylor glaring at her before she turned to face Rick.

Rick shook his head, "No, we stay together," he said vetoing that idea. "God forbid something happens and people get stranded without a car."

"Rick, we're stranded now," Glenn spoke knowing they were pretty much stranded at this point.

"I know it looks bad, we've all been through hell and worse, but at least we found each other," Rick said as he looked at his group. "I wasn't sure... I really wasn't... but we did. We're together. We keep it that way. We'll find shelter somewhere. There's gotta be a place."

Zac swallowed hard as he shook his head, "Rick, look around. Okay? There's walkers everywhere. They're migrating or something," he explained knowing that where they were at wasn't safe right now. They were sitting ducks in the water.

"There's gotta be a place not just where we hole up, but that we fortify, hunker down, pull ourselves together, build a life for each other," Rick explained trying to get the group to see his way of thinking. "I know it's out there. We just have to find it."

"Even if we do find a place and we think it's safe, we can never be sure," Jessica added in as she shook her head. "For how long? Look what happened with the farm. We fooled ourselves into thinking that was safe."

"We won't make that mistake again," Hershel said as he gave Jessica a smile.

"We'll make camp tonight over there," Rick said pointing to a place not to far off in the distance. "Get on the road at the break of day."

Avery walked to Daryl and crossed her arms, "Does this feel right to you?"

"What if walkers come through," Beth said as she walked towards Rick. "Or another group like Randall's?"

At the mention of Randall, Daryl looked at Rick, "You know I found Randall, right? He had turned, but he wasn't bit."

"How's that possible?" Avery asked not understanding how Randall could have turned without being bit.

Lori looked at her husband skeptically, "Rick, what the hell happened?"

"Shane killed Randall," Daryl deduced knowing he had came to that conclusion while still on the farm. "Just like he always wanted to."

"And then the herd got him?" Lori questioned wondering if that was what had happened.

Rick stood there in silence for a bit before speaking, "We're all infected," he blurted out.

"What?" Daryl asked trying to make sense of Rick's words.

"At the CDC, Jenner told me. Whatever it is, we all carry it," Rick explained to the group letting them in on a secret he had been keeping for awhile now.

"And you never said anything?" Carol asked harshly.

Rick ran a hand through his hair before speaking again, "Would it have made a difference?"

"You knew this whole time?" Taylor asked his voice coming out shaky.

"How could I have known for sure?" Rick asked as he looked at Taylor. "You saw how crazy that mo...." he started but got interrupted.

"That is not your call," Taylor argued back. "Okay, when I found out about the walkers in the barn, I told, for the good of everyone."

Rick continued to look at Taylor, "Well, I thought it best that people didn't know."

It was at those words that Taylor looked down as Rick went silent before walking away.

Zac sighed as he leaned against the car once Rick had walked away, Lori going after her husband. It just felt like all the hits kept on coming today. Kate being gone, now finding out they were all infected. How could things get better for him right now?

"I'm sorry about your wife," Beth spoke as she came to a stop beside Zac who didn't look up at her. "I..I didn't love Jimmy but I cared for him so I know your pain."

Nodding his head, Zac didn't even look up at Beth because looking at her would make him feel guilty. He had wasted time he could have spent with his wife being confused on how he felt towards her, hell he was still confused on how he felt towards her. "My wife isn't dead," he said finally looking at her.

"No but she's gone," Beth clarified as she rested her hand on his shoulder. "So is your baby and I'm sorry," she apologized feeling awful for him. " helped me and now I just want to help you."

"I never helped you," Zac stated as he locked eyes with her.

Beth nodded her head, "The day I cut my wrist, it wasn't just Kate's words. I thought of you. You helped me bring me back from that edge and now I want to keep you from going over that edge."

Zac shook his head, "I'm not close to any edge."

"Yes, you are," Beth told him as she squeezed his arm before moving away. "It's written all in your eyes."

Staying silent Zac watched Beth walk away, hating that she could read him so well.

"We're not safe with him.." Avery stated as she turned to look at Daryl as they both sat around the campfire that night. "Keeping something like that from us."

Carol who had been listening to Avery turned to face Daryl as well, "Why do you need him? He's just gonna pull you down."

Daryl shook his head his, "Nah, Rick's done all right by me," he told her.

"You're his henchman and I'm a burden," Carol stated ignoring the look Avery was giving her as she continued on speaking. "You deserve better."

"What do you want?" Daryl asked harshly not understanding what Carol wanted.

"A man of honor," Carol answered honestly.

Daryl rolled his eyes, his voice coming out gruffer than usual, "Rick has honor."

"I think we should take our chances," Jessica said as she looked at Glenn who was sitting beside her.

Hershel shook his head hearing the girl, "Don't be foolish. There's no food, no fuel, no ammo."

Hearing something off in the distance Beth turned to look towards where the noise sounded, "What was that?"

"Could be anything," Daryl answered as he stood up. "Could be a raccoon, could be a possum."

"A walker," Zac added in rather gloomy.

Carol stood up and looked around, "We need to leave. I mean what are we waiting for?"

"Which way?" Taylor asked wondering where the sound had came from.

"It came from over there," Maggie said looking in the direction they had been in earlier.

"Back from where we came," Beth stated as she moved closer to Zac, feeling a bit scared but maybe he could keep her safe.

Maggie nodded her head and turned to look at her sister who had moved closer to Zac which she found a bit odd but she remained silent on that.

"The last thing we need is for everyone to be running off in the dark," Rick stated harshly as he turned to face his group. "We don't have the vehicles. No one's traveling on foot."

"Don't panic," Zac muttered to Beth when the sound they had heard earlier echoed off again.

Carol just shook her head, "I'm not... I'm not sitting here, waiting for another herd to blow through. We need to move, now."

"No one is going anywhere," Rick told her his voice firm.

"Do something," Jessica pleaded as she looked at Rick."

"I am doing something! I'm keeping this group together, alive. I've been doing that all along, no matter what," Rick spoke his voice getting even more firmer as he did so. "I didn't ask for this. I killed my best friend for you people, for Christ's sake!" he revealed seeing a bunch of stunned faces and hearing his son break down. "You saw what he was like, how he pushed me, how he compromised us, how he threatened us. He staged the whole Randall thing, led me out to put a bullet in my back. He gave me no choice. He was my friend, but he came after me. My hands are clean. Maybe you people are better off without me. Go ahead. I say there's a place for us, but maybe... maybe it's just another pipe dream. Maybe... maybe I'm fooling myself again. Why don't you... Why don't you go and find out yourself?" he said nodding towards his group as he looked at each and every one of them. "Send me a postcard. Go on, there's the door. You can do better? Let's see how far you get," he muttered not seeing anyone leaving. Everyone just stayed glued to where they were. "No takers? Fine. But get one thing straight... you're staying. This isn't a democracy anymore."

After Rick's speech Avery just looked down at the ground not really being used to this Rick. His whole speech had taken her by surprise and she had almost found it dictatorish in a way.

Chapter Text

  1. Zombie-The Cranberries
  2. My Body Is A Cage-Arcade Fire
  3. Broken Crown-Mumford and Sons
  4. Silhouette-Active Child feat.Ellie Goulding
  5. Running Up That Hill-Placebo
  6. Trying Not To Love You-Nickelback
  7. Oh Death-Noah Gunderson
  8. Blood On My Name-The Brothers Bright
  9. The Regulator-Clutch
  10. Civilian-Wye Oak
  11. Come With Me Now-KONGOS
  12. If Today Was Your Last Day-Nickelback
  13. Kingdom Come-The Civil Wars
  14. Lean-The National
  15. Pumped Up Kicks-Foster The People
  16. O Death-Ralph Stanley
  17. I See A Darkness-Johnny Cash