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Embracing the Apocalypse

Chapter Text

It had been 1,512 days since the world had gone to shit. Over four years of dead people trying their best to devour the living, and of the living trying to survive this ordeal. Or, more aptly, to screw one another over in their self-interest masquerading as survival. For every person trying their best to make it through another day in a vicious world, there seemed to be ten others hell-bent on securing the dwindling resources for themselves.

As the days marched forward and the number of survivors declined, society attempted to repair itself: small communities began to form, trade commenced, infrastructure was built, wars broke out. Dangerous madmen, formerly restrained by the panopticon of civilized society, began to show their true forms.

Some of the few remaining individuals who had tried their best to stay hidden from the looters and maniacs, alone or in small nomadic groups, had slowly begun to emerge from their isolation out of necessity as scavenging became nearly impossible or medical emergencies arose. They sometimes joined these aforementioned communities in their desperation; often against their better judgement.

Such was the case of the young woman pushing herself  through the corridors of the Sanctuary on a day so perfectly bright that it almost seemed hard to believe that the world had long since ended. The sun beat through the large windows of the former factory, warming the air. By noon it would be stifling inside.

It was mid-summer and the sky outside was a perfect, cloudless blue. The faint smell of overgrown grass wafted in from outside, as she strolled casually toward her destination, smiling at those she passed and occasionally mouthing a quick “hello” to a familiar face.

She was dressed in a pair of fairly modest jean shorts and a slightly less modest tank top that showed off her figure more than she would have liked. Her clothing choices were limited to the few tops she had brought with her to this new home, the shorts she was currently wearing, and one pair of jeans. Shopping for new clothing was fairly low on her priority list given the near total breakdown of society. It was somewhere right after getting a manicure and taking up scrapbooking.

Her hair was tied back from her face into a ponytail, the roots were a deep, cool brown that gradated into a faded red that had probably been vibrant and eye-catching when it had been first dyed, but which had been long since neglected and sun-bleached. She was not what one would call gorgeous, but something about her cheerful manner and clear, green eyes stood out against the dull concrete grey of her surroundings and caught the attention of those who encountered her.

Rounding a corner, she nearly bumped into a middle-aged woman with curly brown hair. “Oops! Sorry about that!” she cried as she moved quickly to her right, avoiding the collision.

“It’s okay, dear,” insisted the woman, “You look like you’re on a mission.”

Her smile broadened. “I guess I am. First day of my job assignment. I don’t want to be late.”

“Oh, well, good luck. Enjoy the enthusiasm while it lasts. It always fades.”

“Thanks!” she replied, brushing off the woman’s ominous final statement and continuing toward her destination.

The young woman sped up her pace a bit, her ponytail swaying from side to side as she rushed forward into the day with optimism. She had forgotten how nice it was to be around people after years of hiding in the woods and avoiding others out of fear. In her old, pre-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it life, she hadn’t been much for small-talk and generally avoided conversing with strangers, but it seemed that her cabin fever had cured these anti-social tendencies and she now craved the sound of other people’s voices, faces, idiosyncrasies, and even their faults.

In the distance she saw what appeared to be a very large man step out of a doorway. As he began walking in her direction she took him in. He was tall and broad, his size made even more imposing by the black leather jacket he wore. She wondered how anyone could wear leather on a day as hot as this one, but enjoyed the distant man-shaped individual’s commitment to his aesthetic. Snappy dressing was rather rare these days, and was something she had always cherished.

As he drew closer, the sunlight streaming in from the windows gleamed off of his hair, which was almost unnaturally black and slicked back, his widow’s peak framing his face. She could see now that he was clean-shaven, another anomaly in a world where razors were becoming scarce. His features were rough and looked somewhat stern, but his eyes were a warm brown that made his demeanor seem a little bit more amiable. Their courses neared and she offered him a chipper, “Good morning!”

“Uh. Morning. Hi.” He seemed somewhat put off by her greeting.

She continued walking, but began to notice heavy footsteps catching up to her. She glanced over her shoulder to see that the large man had promptly turned around and was following close behind her.

“Do I know you?” he asked.

“Um. I don’t think so. I’m pretty new. I’m just trying to say hello to people I pass, I guess? Trying to meet everyone and all that junk. Sorry if I threw you off.”

“Why the fuck would you apologize for that? A pretty lady just said ‘Good Morning’ to me for no reason," he leaned in a bit closer and whispered, "I should probably say ‘Good Morning’ back, huh?”

“Yeah, probably,” she said, blushing slightly, “Are you always this charming early in the morning?”

He raised an eyebrow and narrowed his eyes in what seemed to be an attempt at seduction, “Wake up next to me and you might find out, baby. What’s your name?”

She opted to deflect his come-on with humour, “Well, it’s hard to say. I’ve been debating that very thing since I got here actually. For instance, should I stick with the name I went by before the world ended? Or should I just, you know, embrace the apocalypse and go with a new, full-on Mad Max name? Something like…Blood Gunner, or Thelma Facefuck, or Enigma the Knowing.”

The man seemed amused, “Cute. Well, Thelma Facefuck, my name is Negan. Pleased to make your acquaintance,” he offered his hand and she took it, feeling callouses and warm, rough skin against her own before breaking the grip.

“With a name like that, it sounds like you decided to embrace the apocalypse yourself,” she said, “You can call me Rebecca though. My mother would roll over in her grave if I went by ‘Facefuck’, I think.”

“Quite fucking possibly, my dear,” he replied. “How long have you been here, Rebecca?”

“Just about two weeks. I was on my own for a bit before that. Got tired of being hungry and almost getting killed every day, so I decided to be social and join the ranks of the living. It’s been an…experience so far. And you?”

“Oh, not so long,” there was a hint of hesitation as he answered her. “I just got back from the fighting a few days ago. It was pretty fucking wild.”

“Right. I heard a bit about the…unpleasantness with that group of weirdos. What were they called? The Murmurs?”

“The Whisperers. Fucking weirdest weirdos ever.”

“Yeah. Crazy stuff.”

“Damn straight. It’s a long, shitty, fucked up story that I would be happy to tell you sometime. Probably now is not such a great time though.”

“Oh shit! You’re right!” she exclaimed looking at her watch. It was three minutes to eight. “And I’m about to be late for my first day of work. That’s going to make a brilliant first impression, huh? I’d better get my ass in gear. I’ll see you around, Keegan.”

“It’s Negan.”

“That’s an even sillier name than Keegan,” she giggled as she broke into a run leaving him standing in a sunbeam with the ghost of a smile on his lips.

Chapter Text

Negan watched the young woman as she ran; the faint smile dropped from his face. He turned and resumed his walk. Her casual “Good morning!” had caught him off guard. He hadn’t even noticed Rebecca strolling toward him. He had been deep in thought and oblivious to his surroundings.

He turned a corner, heading deeper into the Sanctuary. As he walked, he tried to draw himself out of his own head by taking in his surroundings. The building was a depressing example of Brutalist architecture: hard lines, concrete, metal, and rust.

(perfectly fucking fitting abode for a guy like me living in a world like this)

A group of three women walked toward him. “’Morning, ladies,” he began.

They avoided his eyes, mumbling an unenthusiastic “Hello” before speeding up their pace. Aside from a few inhabitants vying to secure a position of power within his inner circle, no one really spoke to Negan since he had been reinstated as leader of the Saviors.

Most of the inhabitants of the Sanctuary avoided his gaze, hoping to equally avoid incurring his legendary wrath. Though he had been gone for over two years, it seemed that his reputation as “the maniac with the bat” was still mentioned in hushed tones here. He didn’t mind those people so much; they were just scared. It was the openly antagonistic ones that bummed his shit out and made him feel on edge. More than that, he was starting to feel very much alone in his concrete fortress.

He replayed his first genuine, non-hostile human interaction in weeks over in his head with relish: Rebecca fell on the “cute” side of the looks spectrum with large eyes and high cheekbones. Not really his usual type, but not exactly hard to look at either. He had taken in the tight top she wore, which hugged her form and accentuated her hour-glass figure, briefly enjoying the glimpse of cleavage it provided from his vantage point.

He felt a slight flutter of arousal in his stomach as he thought about how nice those hips would feel gripped in his hands as he bent her over the desk in his office and fucked her from behind. Christ it had been a long time since he’d screwed around. Between his stint in Alexandria’s makeshift jail and fighting for his life against the Whisperers, there hadn’t been many opportunities.

He had vowed not to re-start his harem of wives, deciding that it might stir up more trouble than it was worth. God knew he was already unpopular enough; he certainly didn’t need to generate any more animosity. But maybe a roll in the hay with a willing lady would be the thing to dislodge his head from its current residence in his own ass.

“Sir?” the man’s voice and a hand on his arm startled Negan more than he cared to admit, even to himself.

(shit! have to pay more attention. that’s how accidents happen. you’re getting sloppy, stupid asshole)

The man looked to be in his mid-twenties; he had sharp features and grey eyes hidden under dirty blond hair that was badly in need of a cut.

“S-sorry, sir!” the man seemed nervous, “I didn’t mean to startle you. I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m Brad Krouse. I’m the doctor around here now. Well, I’m not really a doctor. I was a paramedic before, but I guess I was the closest we had to a real doctor so –“

Negan cut off the stream of information, “So, you’re the guy I go see for my VD?” he exclaimed feigning excitement.

“I – err – yes? Sure, I – I think I can help with that,” Brad stammered, taken aback.

Negan laughed loudly at the man’s apparent discomfort, “I’m just fucking with you. I don’t have a ‘social disease’,” He paused for a moment, “Jesus, do you get a lot of that around here?”

Brad managed a nervous laugh, “Every once in a while we get someone with an infection. Fortunately the penicillin supplies are still holding out, so it’s pretty easy to deal with. Most of the time.”

“Good to know, Brad. You been doing this long?”

“Just around a year and a half, sir.”

“There’s a lot of you new fuckers around here, aren’t there? Lots of new fucking faces...”

“Yeah, there were for a while. It’s starting to slow down now though. The last person we brought in was about two weeks ago, I think…” he trailed off in thought, then snapped his fingers, “Rebecca! That was her name! But before her it had been…hmmm…three? Four? Maybe four months since we found anyone out there.”

“Rebecca?” Negan’s ears perked up at the familiar name.

“Uh yeah. Interesting lady. They found her on a supply run. She was sitting in the woods, from what I heard. Just sitting on a rock, staring. She didn’t seem to care or notice anything going on around her. When the guys offered to take her in, she just stood up and let them take her. Didn’t ask any questions.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. When they brought her to me to do a check-up she was physically fine, but she wouldn’t say a word. She was basically catatonic.”

“What happened to her?”

“Dunno. My best guess is that she suffered some kind of a shock. She was like that for a week. Wouldn’t eat or talk. Just slept and stared at the wall when she was awake.”

“She ok now?” Negan asked, remembering his encounter with a very different Rebecca less than an hour ago.

“She’s a lot better. At least, I think so. I’m not really trained in psychiatric stuff. After a week she snapped out of it and started talking as if nothing had happened. If you ask her about what she went through out there, she just changes the subject. She seems to be adjusting remarkably well, but the change was so sudden. It’s a really weird case.”

“That’s kind of fucked up."

“It is, right? It’s like her brain wants to forget that something traumatic happened, maybe. And now she’s going around with this chipper, super happy act. It’s really strange,” he shrugged, “But, I guess it’s working for her. They determined that she was ready to start contributing and they gave her a permanent room.”

“You gossip a fuck-ton for a doctor, Brad. Thought you guys were more discreet.”

The man looked horrified, “I-I’m sorry! I guess I shouldn’t really be blabbing about a patient. Not very professional…I just thought that you might want to know…uh....what’s going on with people. Since you’re in charge now. Again. In charge again."

“True,” Negan replied thoughtfully, “Probably better to keep that shit to yourself from now on though. You know how freaked out people can be around here. Bunch of scared pussies ready to jump on anything weird or threatening.”

“Sure thing. Sorry again, sir,” said Brian. “I should get going. Gotta check on some folks. Nice to finally talk to you,” he made a hasty retreat with a look of horror in his eyes.

“Yeah, thanks, Brian. See you around.”

Negan continued on his walk, not really sure of where he was going. He just needed to walk. Sitting in his office was starting to drive him nuts and he thought that he might be the next person to have a nervous breakdown at this rate. His mind drifted back to the green eyed girl he’d met earlier, trying to reconcile her easy smile and laugh with Brian’s story.

(damaged goods, probably. as if i need more crazy in my life right now. guess i’ll forget about that roll in the hay after all. shame…she had great tits.)

But the more he walked, trying to focus on anything else, the more his mind kept bringing up that smile, those eyes, and her musical laugh. No one had genuinely laughed around him in what felt like a very long time, and it made him feel a little less alone for a moment.

“Well, fuck.” he muttered to himself under his breath.

Chapter Text

The door to the room was already closed as Rebecca jogged up to it. She glanced at her watch. 8:01am. Damn these guys were prompt! Taking a deep breath she reached out to give the door a polite knock while trying her best to come up with an excuse for her lateness. Somehow “I lost track of time while I was low-key flirting with a scary looking dude in the hallway on my way here” didn’t feel like the most professional choice.

The door opened a crack and a man on the wrong side of middle age stuck his head out. She tried her best to come across as apologetic but not over-the-top, “Hi! I’m really sorry. I think my watch might be a little bit slow and –“

“You’ve held me up enough. Just shut up and get in here. I’m not interested in excuses,” the man interrupted.

“I – Ok. Sure. Apologies,” she muttered.

The room was stark white with harsh fluorescent lighting that made her feel nauseous. “Sit,” he motioned to a metal, industrial-looking chair that had been placed in front of a desk. 

(gotta love those monosyllabic commands. makes me feel like a misbehaving puppy)

Hiding her annoyance behind a mask of pleasantness, she complied. “So, I guess you know I’m here for my first day of work,” she began.

“I’m aware. We’ll start with an interview to see if you might have some hidden skills that we can use,” his eyes traveled up and down her form, “Which seems doubtful. If it’s determined that you do not have any specialized skills, we will place you in an entry position doing menial tasks. Based on your performance in the tasks we give you, you may be promoted to something more dignified. Understand?”

“I do.”

“First question: Do you have any medical training?”

“Well, I took a first aid course once, so I know some basics like CPR. I don’t know how outdated that information would be by now though. It’s been a long time. I bet I could re-learn if there was someone who could –“ she was cut off.

“No.” he made a note on a piece of paper in front of him. Rebecca’s eyebrows furrowed at the man’s abruptness, but she quickly regained a neutral expression.

“Any experience building things? Construction, engineering, that sort of thing?”

“No, not really.”

He smirked and made another note. This was not going as well as she had hoped. In the pre-apocalypse she had always been able to make a good impression on others, and job interviews usually went her way. Now it seemed that the veneer had been worn off of civilization, and being likable didn’t really matter much. People only wanted to know what you could do for them. Maybe this was how the world had always worked under the surface, only now people didn’t have to pretend that they valued anything else.

“Experience growing food? Gardening?”

“A little bit. I’ve grown flowers and a few vegetables,” she smiled at a distant memory, “One time, in college, my roommate and I tried to grow some pot. That did not go well.”

“We’ve got more than enough people clamoring to get into the grow-op. I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

“Oh, I wasn’t even thinking about that! I-I don’t think I’d be very good at it…Wait, you have a grow-op here?!”

“Pot's pretty scarce and good for trade these days. Also, you’d be surprised how many points people waste on that shit in the commissary,” he replied as he wrote more notes on the paper.

“Makes sense.”

“What did you do for work before all of this?”

“I did a lot of different jobs. I’ve sold electronics, I worked in retail. I’ve answered phones for a car dealership. My last job was working as a waitress.”

The man shook his head dismissively, “That’s what I thought. Retail and fast food. Nothing useful,” He scribbled something at the bottom of the sheet and circled something to the right of it. “You’ll be starting out sorting scavenged supplies from runs. If you do well there, maybe we can try to find you a spot in the gardening department.”

Rebecca’s stomach dropped. Although she was new, she knew that the sorting department was one of the most boring, not to mention worst-paying, jobs in the Sanctuary. No one wanted to work there. It was where they shuffled off people who pissed off the leadership, but who were deemed too weak to be shipped to an outpost to fight.

“Wait! There must be something more I can do. I’m capable of a lot more than sorting things. You didn’t even ask if I can fight. I mean, I survived for years out there. I can fight and scavenge. I’m a really hard worker. If you give me a chance –“

“No. Not happening.”

“Why the hell not?” her patience was wearing extremely thin.

“Because this is my job, and if I fuck it up by placing an unqualified moron into a position where they get someone killed or injured, that’s on my head. Now, take this sheet and bring it to Room 223...and have fun, sweetheart,” he replied with a smirk.

She had all but used up her diplomacy stores for the day, and this probable-former-middle-manager-of-a-rental-car-agency’s “sweetheart” comment had officially flipped her Bitch Switch.

“First of all, you are rude as fuck,” her tone was still chipper as if she had asked for directions to the nearest gas station, “Secondly you decided exactly where you wanted to put me before I had even walked in here. You don’t care what I’d be good at. You probably just need more sorters. So why put me through the whole interview song and dance?”

“If you don’t like it, take it up with the man upstairs. He’s the one who made up the interview system. I’m just here to do his dirty work. Back in the day, we had positions for little bitches like you who thought they were too good to work," he continued, "They marched in here with their tits hanging out of their tank top, just like you did today, and we knew the only thing they would be good for was spreading their legs for Negan as one of his ‘wives’. Well, sorry to inform you, darling: those days are over now. So grab the fucking paper and get the fuck out of my sight before I put you into a job you’ll hate even more than sorting.”

Rebecca’s face had gone bright red and it felt as though someone had poured ice water into her veins. She had only barely noted the words “Negan” and “wives” in the man’s tirade. She wanted to scream at this prick, grab his pen and stab it straight into his throat…but that would be counterproductive. Plus, she’d probably have about five big guys with guns on her within a few minutes to avenge their fallen douchebag.

The frustration of feeling powerless made her eyes tear up and her throat clench; she knew in a moment she would be crying out of frustration.

(fuck, fuck, fuck, why does frustration always make me cry)

She couldn’t let him see that weakness in her, so she snatched the paper from the desk in a sharp motion, plastered the most disingenuous smile she could muster onto her face and said, “Well, I hope you have just the greatest day ever, sir!” Her eyes sparkled with the beginnings of her tears. “Thank you SO much for all of your help today! I really appreciate it.”

She turned on her heels before he could make another asshole comment and fled the room. She walked quickly through the hall, her hands shaking with rage, trying to find anywhere she could to catch her breath and calm down for a moment.

She couldn’t let people see her upset like this. Life was hard enough here. She was beginning to see that any weakness would most certainly be exploited somehow by any number of predators and opportunists. God knows how many of the men who found her in the woods had already blabbed about what a mess she was when she arrived.

She eyed a small door in the hallway that was opened a crack. As she approached it, the smell of cleaning products and mold assaulted her nose. A janitor’s closet. She ducked inside just in time to hide the tears that had started to fall from her eyes.

Chapter Text

Rebecca pulled the door to the janitor’s closet shut behind her. It was pitch black inside and the lack of airflow made the smell of the cleaning chemicals burn her nose even more, but she didn’t care. She was alone now and the tears were allowed to flow; for a moment anyway.

She had always been an emotional person, but above all else, Rebecca was very private. In her current solitude, she let her mind race, but managed to strangle the sobs that rose in her throat so as not to attract attention.

(fuck that guy! fuck that guy! fuck that fucking guy! stupid fucking pencil-dicked piece of shit can kiss my ass!)

(…you’re ok. you’re ok. you’re going to be ok. this isn’t forever. just get through it, bitch!)

(…maybe coming here was a mistake…)

She took a deep breath, held it, and then let it out slowly. The chemical smell’s burn increased in her nose and her head started to throb. The closet began to feel very small.

(just calm down. you can’t look like you were crying. chill the fuck out and grow up)

 

Another breath.

Hold.

Release.

 

More pressure in her head; but the tears had stopped, at least. There was no time for breakdowns in this world. Not anymore. Not ever again.

(ok. damage control time. look for something to dry your eyes and blow your nose)

She cracked the door open a sliver, just enough to let a beam of light in from outside so that she could look for paper towels or toilet paper.

(…there is a crack. a crack. in everything. that’s how the light gets in…)

She sighed as her eyes alighted on a roll of paper towels. She plucked a sheet from the roll and started to wipe the tears away.

(damn, this is going to make my eyes all raw)

She blew her nose to stop the sniffling and silently wished for some water to splash on her face. Another deep breath.

 

Hold.

Release.

 

(ok, this is fine. no one will know. better get my ass out of here before someone finds me)

No sooner had the thought entered her mind than the door to the closet whipped open, blinding her with a flood of light to her now sensitive eyes. She could make out the shape of a large human blocking her egress. A loud, booming, and somewhat amused voice yelled, “Caught ya!”  

She waited for her eyes to adjust, “Ow! Fuck, that’s bright!” she squinted at the figure.

The voice laughed, “Damn, I was hoping to catch someone fucking in here! Titties always brighten up my day,” he paused for a moment, “Well, if it isn’t little Fuckface! What the fuck are you doing in here, girl? Taking a piss? Please tell me you weren’t taking a piss.”

“Keegan?” she said tilting her head and smirking.

“Negan.”

“I know. And it was Facefuck, by the way. Not Fuckface.”

“Oh, apologies, Thelma. So, what were you doing in there?”

She stammered for a second, trying to think of an excuse, “Me? I have allergies. I think it’s the grass outside or something. I had to sneeze, so I ducked in here. Thought I might find some tissues. They’ve only got these paper towels though. They make my nose all raw.”

 “Yeah. Sorry to hear that…” he narrowed his eyes in thought, “…what was your actual name again?”

“Rebecca.”

“Rebecca. Right. Sorry to hear that, Rebecca. What’cha got there?” he reached out to grab at the piece of paper still gripped in her left hand, but it was snatched away before he could reach it.

“That’s my job assignment,” she felt a bit of the ice come back into her veins as she remembered her earlier encounter with Pencil-Dick McPower-Trip. He grabbed at the paper again, this time succeeding in taking it from her hand, “Hey! Not cool!” she cried.

As his eyes scanned the sheet, Negan’s eyebrows furrowed, “Shit! What’d you do to piss this guy off so bad? Sorting duty fucking sucks!”

“I know,” she sighed, “Fucker didn’t even give me a chance. Told me if I didn’t like it, I could take it up with the ‘man upstairs’. As if I would even know who the fuck that is if he was going down on me.”

Negan tried to conceal a wicked smile at this last comment, “I might be able to introduce you to him. I hear he’s pretty good with his tongue…”

“If he employs assholes like the dude I just had to deal with, I’m not so sure I’m interested in meeting him, no matter how good he is. I bet he’s a dick too!”

Not wanting to reveal to the annoyed woman that he was, in fact, the legendary “man upstairs”, that he could be kind of a dick, and that he would happily stick his head between her thighs if she wanted him to, Negan simply replied with: “Well then, you’d better get going. They don’t take very kindly to slackers around here. Maybe if you work really hard, they’ll move you somewhere else eventually.”

“Yeah, not bloody likely. But I guess I don’t really have a choice. Gotta earn those fat stacks of points, after all.” she rolled her eyes.

“Oh, you never know who’s noticing you,” Negan replied, “Good impressions go a long way. I would know. I make the worst first impressions.”

Rebecca’s face softened at this, “I wouldn’t say that. I’ve met you twice just today and you seem like a fun guy.”

“Well, the day’s not over yet. I still have a lot of time left to disappoint you,” he winked.

She blushed slightly at the wink, and skirted around Negan’s large form, making her way into the corridor. But something was nagging at the back of her mind. She was trying to recall something that Pencil-Dick had said to her in the interview. Was she crazy or had he said something about Negan? Why would he mention Negan?

“We can only hope!” she said, “See ya later, Negan.”

“Later, Fuckface!” he yelled a little too loudly, with an almost a cartoonishly cheerful expression. Rebecca cringed at this, while a man and woman walking at the end of the hall spun around to see who was yelling, and abruptly turned back around and sped up their pace after noticing that it was Negan.

She walked through the hall looking for Room 223. As she walked, she tried again to recall the comment Pencil-Dick had made.

(he said that in the good old days, i would have been spreading my legs for…negan! as one of his wives? what the fucking fuck?)

She stopped dead in her tracks as the realization dawned on her that Negan had been in some kind of position of power in the “good old days”. He’d evidently had some “wives” at least. Could he be the infamous “man upstairs” to whom she should be complaining about the rules?

Rebecca felt anxiety rising in the pit of her stomach as she recalled her casual attitude and the way she had joked with him. She has complained about the rules, and the points, and Pencil-Dick straight to his face! Plus, she had speculated about his own dickish nature. Her heart sped up as she began to consider that maybe she had made a very big mistake just now. A mistake that she might come to regret.

“Oh, fuck me,” she whispered to herself angrily, “Nice going, bitch.”

Swallowing her panic, Rebecca made her way to Room 223 to begin her first day of sorting duty. She was not excited in the least, but plastered a pleasant expression on her face as she gripped door’s lever-style handle and pushed it open, hoping that this task would at least be bearable in the short-term. At the very minimum, she might be able to earn enough points to get some different clothes from the commissary so people would start treating her with some goddamn respect for once.

Room 223 had likely housed manufacturing equipment when the building had been a functional factory. Rebecca wondered for a moment what was made there back when her biggest worry was paying the bills and having money left over for a bit of fun on the weekends. The room was now stuffed full of boxes of scavenged supplies destined for the inhabitants of the Sanctuary, which were stacked around its perimeter, some overflowing.

The center of the room consisted of long rows of tables where the sorting was done. Sorters sat on stools or stood hunched over boxes. They lazily plucked items from the boxes and inspected them before tossing them into smaller piles. Rebecca supposed that these smaller piles were the various categories; likely things like medicine, food, and clothes.  

On this day, there were approximately fifteen people sorting, and one woman sitting behind a desk in the far corner with her boots resting on its surface. She appeared to be asleep. As Rebecca entered the room, fifteen pairs of eyes lifted from their task to see who had opened the door. The sleeping woman did not stir from her slumber.

Rebecca smiled weakly at the room’s inhabitants, who resumed their sorting, then made her way to the desk in the corner. She presumed that this woman was some kind of a supervisor, and would probably want to know that her newest recruit had arrived. Rebecca reached the desk, but the woman did not stir. She coughed, hoping that the noise might wake her up. Nothing.

“Uhh…Hello?” Rebecca started, gently trying  again to wake the woman. Again, she did not rouse. Rebecca reached out a hand and gently shook the woman’s shoulder, “Excuse me?”

Groggy eyes opened and almost immediately focused themselves into a glare, “What the hell are you doing? I was sleeping.”

“Sorry, I just wanted to let you know that I was here. They assigned me to this room,” she placed the piece of paper with her assignment onto the desk, “I think this is for you.”

“Like I give a fuck. Just get to work,” the woman mumbled.

“I don’t really know what to do. Don’t I get any training?”

The woman sighed in annoyance, “See that clipboard on the door?”

“Yeah, I see it,” Rebecca replied.

“Step one: Sign that with the time you get here and the time you leave if you want to get your points. Step two: Don’t wake me the fuck up when I’m napping. Step three: Don’t fuck up or you don’t get paid. Got it?”

“Yeah, it’s just that third step. Doesn’t someone tell me what to do to avoid fucking up?”

“Are you being smart with me, bitch?” the woman was getting angry and Rebecca started to think that maybe she had already screwed up on Step three.

“No, I just want to do a good job for you,” Rebecca said lightly, swallowing her disdain.

“Then find someone who will teach you. Do I look like a fucking teacher to you? I’m just here to make sure you assholes don’t steal anything. Now, get to work, or get out.”

Though she was tempted by the woman’s offer to be anywhere else in the world than here at this very moment, Rebecca turned around and headed toward the sorting tables. She reminded herself that she needed to be here, at least for now – survival outside of the Sanctuary’s walls had proved to be too much for her to deal with.

Most of the people at work actively tried to avoid her eyes for fear of being asked for a tutorial by the newcomer, but one younger man in the corner met her eyes, offering her a sympathetic half-smile.

(well, here goes nothing. please don’t be an ass. i just need someone to be nice to me for, like, a minute today)

“Hi!” she started, “You wouldn’t have a few minutes to teach me how to do this job, would you?”

He nodded, “Sure, sweetie. Pull up a seat,” and then quietly under his breath, “Roxanne’s a bit of a See You Next Tuesday, isn’t she?”

Rebecca giggled and rolled her eyes, “She certainly is a lovely woman. So inviting.”

“Don’t take it personally. She hates anyone that tries to make her do her job,” he said shaking his head, “I’m Ryan, by the way,” he offered his hand and Rebecca took it.

“I’m Rebecca. Nice to meet you!”

“Likewise!” he returned. Ryan was good-looking, with soft, kind features and a mess of wavy brown hair and hazel eyes, “So, the job is pretty easy. All you do is grab a box and sort the contents into one of the four categories: Food, Medicine, Weapons, or Other. We get a lot of “Other” these days. Food, Medicine, and Weapons are getting scarce.”

“Tell me about it,” she said, remembering her days surviving alone, “And ‘Other’ would be?”

“Anything that’s not one of the first three categories. Clothing, books, pens, watches, that kind of thing. If you’re not sure, just ask and I can help you out. One thing you do not want to do is miss-categorize something. They get pretty pissed about that.”

“Gotcha. Well, thank you for your help, Ryan. You might be the first person today who hasn’t been a super dick to me,” she said, but then remembered her earlier interactions with Negan in the hallway.

He wasn’t so bad, really.  A little bit loud and indiscreet, but he had been really nice to her, in the end. Maybe she didn’t have anything to worry about after all; maybe he would just be cool about her brutal honesty earlier in the day. She was starting to think that maybe she wouldn’t mind running into him again. Something about him felt comfortable and safe. Rebecca smiled to herself at this thought.

Chapter Text

Ryan had proven to be a great work buddy, keeping them both entertained with gossip about the Sanctuary’s inhabitants, as well as tales of his pre-apocalypse life.  Rebecca had learned that he was originally from a small town about 30 minutes away, was “hella gay”, and had worked as a bartender in a restaurant just before society collapsed.

“So, there I was, just minding my own business, cutting lemons when this drunk soccer mom type staggers up to the bar and starts pounding her fist on the counter top,” Ryan was in the process of telling another tale of customer douchebaggery, and Rebecca was loving every minute of it. His best stories were about rude restaurant patrons and their antics. She was elated to find someone with whom she could chat so easily, and was already looking forward to spending her work days with him. If she had to do a shitty job for points, she might as well have some fun with it.

“What the fuck did she do that for?” Rebecca asked.

“Who knows, sweetie! Probably found out that her husband was screwing his secretary or something. Anyway, I just looked at her like, ‘Excuse you?’ and she starts screaming: ‘I demand a refund! This whisky sour you made me was too lemony! Give me my money back!’ and I was just like, ‘Did the word sour elude you, darling?’ and she was like: ‘I wanna talk to your manager, you rude fucking fag!’”

“Woah! What a bitch! What did you say after-“ Rebecca was cut off abruptly by the ever-charming Roxanne’s shrill voice:

“Everyone get the fuck out. Day’s over. Don’t forget to sign out or you’re not getting paid!”

“Well, looks like I’ll be finishing my story tomorrow then,” Ryan mumbled, shooting a glare at the supervisor.

“Yeah. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Ryan,” Rebecca said, “Thanks again for taking me under your wing.”

“That’s what mother birds do. Now, fly away! See you tomorrow!”

By the end of her first day of work, Rebecca had made a new friend in Ryan, had earned 16 points, and had the worst backache of her life. Her muscles were screaming from bending and lifting all day, but it felt good to contribute something and to be outside of her tiny room. Having a job, even a boring one, seemed to focus her mind and quiet her thoughts.

After signing out, Rebecca left the sorting room, and pulled her tired body up two flights of stairs to her tiny closet of a room. Most Sanctuary inhabitants lived in offices that had been converted into make-shift dorm rooms. When she initially arrived, Rebecca had spent a few days sleeping on a cot in a large warehouse room that served as an infirmary. Although her memories of those days early days were foggy, she did recall the lack of privacy. Her space had only been separated from the cots on either side of her by a thin sheet of fabric.

Her current living situation wasn’t luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, but it was her own personal space, and she was glad for the solitude it afforded her when she needed to be alone. There were no windows in her grey box, save for a small square of glass toward the top of the door which she kept covered with a towel. There was just enough room for a mattress pad and pillow that served as a bed, a box that she used as a side table, and her small pile of clothes and toiletries.

Although she was starving after a long day of work and knew that dinner would be served shortly, Rebecca slumped into her bed, exhausted, and proceeded to drift into a deep sleep almost immediately. Dinner could wait. Sleep was more satisfying than any meal could possibly taste right now.

***

Her sleep was indeed deep, but not dreamless.

She found herself sitting alone in a room. Although the room was dark, she recognized it straight away as the sorting room. She could make out the shapes of the boxes piled around her. In the corner, a desk lamp clicked on, illuminating a pair of boots resting on top the table; the rest of their owner’s body was hidden in shadow. Instead of Roxanne’s small boots, these ones looked decidedly bigger and masculine.

“Well, get to work, Fuckface,” came a voice from the shadows. Rebecca knew it instantly: Negan. She nervously began to work, but it was dark and hard to see what she was sorting. She picked up a small, plastic cylinder and dropped it into the medication pile, assuming it must be a bottle of pills.

“Wrong!” came his voice, the tone teasing, “Looks like you forgot Step Three, my dear: Don’t Fuck Up.”

“It’s so hard to see in here,” she replied to the shadows, “I’ll do better. I promise.”

“Too late. What’s done is done. Do you know what happens to pretty ladies who can’t do their job?”

“N-no?”

“We have to find new jobs for them. I can think of a really good one for you, ‘Thelma Facefuck’. Mmmm…Yeah, I think I have just the job for you.”

The boots slid off of the table and she heard the chair creek as he stood up and began walking toward her, his boots thudding lightly on the cement. A single light clicked on overhead, illuminating the area around where she was seated. He was in front of her now, his crotch level with her face in her seated position at the sorting table.

She looked up, trying her best not to linger of the bulge that was rapidly gaining size and shape under the fabric of his green pants. Through her nervousness she felt a slight shudder run from between her legs and up her spine, causing her breath to catch in her throat.

(oh shit. am I into this? i think this is turning me on…)

He reached out and stroked the side of her face before bringing his index finger to her lips, “Suck.”

She kissed the tip of the finger before slowly sliding it into her mouth and sucking gently. He let out a low moan that verged on a growl, “That’s nice. A preview of coming attractions, I hope.”

He retracted his hand and began to slowly unhook his belt. Before she knew it, his pants were undone, and the zipper was down. He began to tug the waist down low on his hips as his cock finally made an appearance.

It was one of the nicer specimens that she had encountered, completely proportional to his large body: thick and long. She bit her lip as her gaze drifted up to his warm, brown eyes which had grown dark, the pupils dilated with lust, “Well, get to work,” he repeated firmly.

She smiled up at him from her seat, “Sure, Keegan.”

She brought her tongue out and licked the underside of his cock from base to tip slowly, maintaining eye contact with him. He groaned again as a shiver of pleasure traversed his body. She opened her mouth wider, taking the head inside, alternating between lightly sucking and swirling her tongue around it as his hands found their way to her shoulders.

“Good girl,” he moaned, “I knew we’d find a job you liked here eventually. You never know who’s noticing you. And I definitely noticed that pretty mouth of yours.”

She took him deeper into her mouth now, enjoying the way his breathing deepened and his moans intensified. Rebecca could feel heat growing between her legs. A delicious tightness was taking over, like a spring being wound up. She reached down and began to rub herself lightly through her shorts.

“Uh-uh, baby. Gotta wait your turn now,” he said as he grabbed her arm, gently moving her hand away of the one place she wanted it the most, “Don’t fuck up.”

A devilish expression shot through Rebecca’s eyes at this. If she had to wait her turn, she’d better make his turn go a little faster than he had anticipated. She slid her hands to his naked hips as she prepared to take his cock all the way down. She slowly lowered her lips down his length, feeling the soft skin sliding over her tongue. Opening her mouth up wider, she increased her pace, sucking less gently than before as another shiver rippled through him. He began to move his hips faster, pushing in and out of the tight hole.

“Oh fuck! That is so fucking hot! You like having my big, hard cock in your tight, little mouth, baby?”

With her mouth full, all she could manage was a soft, “Mmmm…”

“Shit, yeah, you do. God, your lips feel nice. "

His breathing had become ragged, and Rebecca could feel her eyes water just slightly as her mouth began to get sore, but she didn't care. She could feel her pussy getting wetter with every moan that escaped his lips. She loved knowing that she was causing those moans; that the fabled “man upstairs” was being brought to his proverbial knees with just her mouth. She felt powerful now, and in control of his pleasure.

"Fuck, baby," he gasped, "I think I'm gonna blow soon. Where do you want it?" He pulled his throbbing cock out of her mouth. It made a gentle pop against her lips as she released it.

"Hm." She considered his question for a moment before deciding: "All over my face."

This seemed to be the right answer as he threw his head back, moaning loudly, "Oh fuck yes. Good girl."

He stroked his hard length, gaining speed as he got ready, "Oh fuck. Oh fuck!" he moaned. The muscles in his legs and arms had tensed up, and she knew what was coming now. He moved his hand through her hair; grasping a handful at the crown of her head to get her face into the position he wanted.

As the orgasm shot through his body, Negan let out a loud growl. Rebecca closed her eyes and opened her mouth, holding her tongue out to catch some of what he had to offer her. She swallowed and licked the last few drops of white pearly cum from the tip of his cock.

"Fuck that was good," he gasped, "You are a mess though, baby" he trailed a finger across her cheek, admiring his handy work, "Better get you cleaned up." He grabbed something from the table behind him. A roll of paper towels.

(damn. these are gonna make my nose all raw)

With that final thought, she was dragged from her dream prematurely. Her eyes shot open as the sound of someone knocking on her door filled the room.

(oh shit! my face! gotta clean up…where are the towels?)

She ran her hand over her face, in her confusion before remembering that she'd been sleeping. Equally relieved and annoyed at being woken, she crawled out of bed.

"Coming!" she cried as she fixed her sleep-rumpled clothing. She turned the handle and opened the door.

Chapter Text

When he had opened the door to the janitor’s closet, Negan had expected to catch one of the Sanctuary’s citizens in the act. Which act, he wasn’t entirely sure. Fucking? Smoking? Drinking maybe? Finding Rebecca hadn’t been quite the scandalous conclusion he had hoped for, but he couldn’t necessarily say that he was disappointed either.

Her eyes were bloodshot, making their green colour appear even more brilliant. Were those tears rimming the corners? She had claimed that her allergies were acting up, but he thought he detected a faint whiff of bullshit in the air. As they spoke he began to analyze her mannerisms, looking for any indication of the issues “Dr.” Krouse had mentioned to him earlier. He found none. Her tone was jovial and even a little bit playful. She seemed relatively at ease, even teasing him about his name again.

He watched her walk away for the second time that morning, enjoying how her hips swayed back and forth before his eyes. Her comments about “the man upstairs” going down on her had conjured up some fun images for his brain to contemplate; most of them were of her perched on the edge of his bed, bare legs spread open for him as he knelt before her and teased her clit with his tongue. He could almost hear her moans as he felt another pang of arousal hit him, this one even stronger than the last.

(bet she tastes sweet like honey)

(damnit, you idiot! stop this shit! you can’t)

As she neared the end of the hall, he noticed Rebecca’s pace slow. She stopped dead in her tracks and stood rigidly, her whole body tense. He considered for a brief moment that maybe she was going back into the state she had been in when she arrived at the Sanctuary. He had no clue how this shit worked. Did people just pop in and out of being catatonic?

After what felt like a very long time, but had probably only been a few moments, her body relaxed. He thought that he heard her whisper, “Oh, fuck me,” to herself, but she was far away and it was hard to be sure.

(wishful thinking probably)

Her shoulders raised and lowered as if she had taken a deep breath. She resumed her journey, turning around a corner and out of sight.

(weird. but nothing too strange. probably forgot something in her room. maybe she’s not as fucked up as brad thinks)

He shrugged and turned in the opposite direction from where Rebecca had gone. He had business to attend to.

The remainder of his day consisted of meetings with scouts and scavengers, debriefings with supervisors, and planning sessions with the Saviors. He had forgotten how many details there were to go over just to keep the place running on a basic level: there were supplies to find and infrastructure to maintain. Now that they had to barter fairly, rather than shaking down the nearby communities for half of their shit, it was all that much harder to keep going. By the time dinner rolled around he was equal parts exhausted and hungry. He opted to get reacquainted with his bed before even thinking about food.

Negan’s room still bore many of the decorations that had been there during his first stint as leader: deep red chairs and a sofa, a four-poster bed with dark sheets, bookcases, and a fireplace. Sherry hadn’t changed everything after taking over, it seemed.

He kicked off his boots and sat on the bed before deciding to lie down for a moment. He just needed to close his eyes and rest. A nap would be perfect. He would tune the world out for a while, and then he could deal with dinner.

But as he tried to allow his body to slip into sleep he found that his brain would not settle down. Images of green eyes, teasing smiles, and curvy hips flashed before him in the darkness behind his eyelids. The pangs of arousal were relentless now. He could feel the crotch of his pants tighten over his hard cock as he thought about soft lips murmuring in his ear, kissing his neck, trailing down his chest and stomach to finally taste him.

“Fuck!”

He sat up quickly, pissed off at himself now. This was stupid. He had just met this girl; had only spoken to her twice in his life. She wasn’t even really his type. She was too cutesy and petite and he felt like he could crush her beneath his large frame without even trying. But he had to admit that there was something about her that made him feel like he simultaneously wanted to protect her from the world, whilst absolutely defiling her with his cock.

“Fuck. Fuck. Fucking fuck.”

He swivelled around with an annoyed groan until his legs were dangling over the edge of the bed. He knew that sleep was going to be impossible, but he didn’t want to give into his brain’s urge to jerk off right now. Deciding that food would be more productive than trying to sleep, he slipped out of the bed and put his boots back on before making his way down to the building’s cafeteria. Dinner was just about to be served.

***

The cafeteria was harshly lit, crowded, and noisy. Benches and long tables filled the expanse of the room. Today’s meal was “spaghetti”, according to the menu board, which consisted of overcooked noodles and under-seasoned sauce from a tin. It tasted like something usually fed to patients recovering from surgery, but it was food. That was something to be treasured in this world.

Normally he ate quickly in his room and spent his nights reading or bullshitting with his Saviors over a glass of scotch, though the latter option had become somewhat rare lately. Some of the old Saviors who had survived the war were still around, and new recruits had been added during his absence, but it seemed like the dynamic had changed somehow, so he was mostly on his own in the evenings. Hell, the scotch supplies had even started to dwindle, much to his disdain.

Tonight he would try eating in the cafeteria. Maybe he would even make a friend. Grabbing his plate and cutlery, Negan scanned the room for a place to sit. Without fully being conscious of it, he looked for dark hair with faded red at the tips. Finding no friendly or familiar faces in the crowd, he sat in a corner and ate his meal slowly and unenthusiastically in silence. By the time he had finished eating, the room was beginning to empty and the kitchen crew had started to pack up the leftovers. It was then that he realized he hadn’t seen Rebecca come down to eat yet.

(it’s not that i was looking for her. i’m just a perceptive guy. that’s all. i have to be to keep this place running. can’t have people fucking starving on my watch)

His inner pep-talk had nearly allowed him to convince himself that he hadn’t decided to eat in the cafeteria for the sole purpose of running into Rebecca again. He stood and made his way to the kitchen’s counter where a man with a moustache and greying temples was packing up for the night.

“Hey,” Negan began.

“What do you want?” the man asked with a hostile look.

“Give me some spaghetti in a container...to go.”

The man smirked, “What’s the magic word?”

Negan’s eyes narrowed, “The magic word? Oh, I guess that would have to be FUCKING NOW, DICKFACE!” he was raising his voice and making a scene. Several groups of stragglers began to get up from their tables and vacate the room, hoping to avoid being caught in the middle of a fight.

A female voice from the back of the kitchen called out to Mr. Moustache, “For Christ’s sake, Ed! Give the man a fucking plate and be done with it.”

“Yeah, Ed. Give the man a fucking plate,” Negan said flatly. Then, in a lower, menacing tone: “And don’t spit in the shit either. It’s not for me.”

Ed began angrily slopping noodles and sauce into a container before slamming it down on the counter as hard as he could without breaking it.

“Gee. Thanks, Eddy. Have a magical evening!” he called over his shoulder after picking up the container and walking toward the exit.

He made his way from the cafeteria to the room that he knew “Dr.” Krouse occupied on the second floor. He knocked on the door, and after a few moments he heard rustling from within. The door opened a crack and the paramedic-turned-“Doctor” peered out at him, “Oh, hello there. I wasn’t expecting anyone tonight. Uh…nice to see you again.”

“Don’t worry about it. I just need to get some information from you,” he held up the container of sad-looking pasta, “Got a delivery to make.”

Chapter Text

Rebecca pulled the door to her tiny room open, her eyes widening in surprise at the gentleman caller standing before her. Of course it was Negan. It was as if her X-Rated dream had summoned him somehow. Only, instead of impossible tasks that resulted in sexy-times, he was bringing her what appeared to be a container of red liquid.

“Please tell me that’s sauce,” she said, her face devoid of emotion and her voice still thick with sleep.

“It’s spaghetti. Allegedly,” he replied, equally stoic.

“Ok. Because if it’s blood, I’m going to be very upset.”

“You missed dinner,” he said, not giving her any details as to exactly how he felt about her absence during the meal. She searched his face for an indication, but only found eyes that were warm, dark pools with the very beginnings of wrinkles accenting the corners. He looked as tired as she felt.

Her face grew hot as she remembered the dream she had been dragged from by his knocking, “I…uh…wasn’t feeling very well, so I just took a nap. Guess I overslept a bit.”

“You do look a little sick. Your face is all flushed. Better not give me anything,” he mumbled.

“Oh, no. I don’t think it’s contagious,” she said as a smile crept across her mouth.

(though maybe it would be fun if you caught what i have. is horniness contagious?)

“Can I come in?”

She felt her face grow hotter, “Yeah. Sure. Come in.”

She stepped aside and allowed him to enter the room, which felt even tinier as his large body filled up much of the remaining space. He looked around for a place to put the container down, finally deciding on her bedside table-box, “It tastes like shit, but it’ll keep you going, at least.”

“Seems like that’s the best one can hope for these days. Especially with the kitchen crew we have here,” she winked at him, trying to emphasize that she was joking.

“Yeah, they are pretty hopeless. And some of them are rude as fuck!”

She sat down cross-legged on her bed, facing him as he stood in the centre of the room, “You can sit down, if you want to,” she said as she picked up the container and utensils sitting on the box to her left. She balanced the food on her knees and started twirling the noodles around the fork before popping them into her mouth, chewing, and swallowing. She grimaced, “Mmmm! That’s not good at all!”

The both laughed for a moment before she resumed shoveling the woefully inadequate pasta dish into her face. Hell, she was hungry enough to eat any shitty meal he put in front of her, no matter how much the sauce tasted like tin cans and depression.

“Rough day?” asked Negan raising an eyebrow.

“It started off a little shitty, but I’ve had worse,” she shrugged, and then gestured to the food on her knees, “This is making it a whole lot better. You didn’t have to do this, by the way.”

“It was no problem. I just noticed you weren’t there, and don’t want to see anyone go to bed hungry,” he said.

“Ah. Gotcha,” she replied, trying to hide the disappointment in her voice.

(of course, he’s just trying to make sure folks get fed. it’s in his own best interest to make sure you aren’t too weak to work)

Once she had finished eating, Rebecca placed the empty container back on the box, “Thanks again. That was really nice of you.”

“Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t a big deal.”

“Sure…” she started fidgeting with her hands as an awkward silence fell over them. She racked her brain for anything to re-start the conversation. “God,” she started, “my back is killing me after all that sorting today.”

(ah yes! complaining: the lowest-common denominator of conversation starters, right after the weather. well done)

“That’s shitty,” he replied. Then, with smirk he added: “Want a back rub?”

She hesitated, “Oh no! It’s ok, really. I’ll be fine.”

“Oh come on. I give the best fucking back massages. Better than sex,” he held up his hands with the fingers splayed out wide and the palms facing her, “I mean, look at these things! They’ve gotta be good for something, right?”

“Oh, ok, you’ve twisted my rubber arm,” she relented, “Where do you want me?”

“Heh. That’s a dangerous question, my dear. But for now,” he stood up with a grunt, “just lay face down on your mattress thing.”

“Yes, sir!” she said enthusiastically, getting into position. He knelt beside her on the floor, then bent over her and began rubbing his hands softly over her back before gripping her shoulders and gently kneading them, “Mm. That feels nice,” she said. Her voice was muffled by her pillow.

“I bet it fucking does! I’m pretty great,” the hands dug in deeper, “You know, I could do a better job if you weren’t wearing this top…”

“Uh-huh. I’ve heard that one before. You’re gonna have to come with a stronger game than that if you want to get my top off,” she murmured into her pillow.

“Have it your way,” he replied. Then, bending down so that his lips were right next to her ear, he whispered, “You don’t know what you’re missing out on.”

“Oh, I think I might have an idea.”

Negan didn’t lie; he really did give fucking great back rubs. Rebecca felt a low moan escape her throat as he touched a particularly sensitive part of her lower back, “You like that, huh?” She could almost hear the cocky smirk on his face, but she didn’t care. She really did like it.

As the massage wound down, she felt her eyes getting heavy from exhaustion. She felt relaxed around Negan. This might be the most relaxed she had been since arriving at the Sanctuary. Hell, maybe even before that.

“You asleep?” he asked in a low voice.

“Almost,” she said thickly. Her body was heavy and her lips felt like they were made out of syrup.

He finished the massage by patting her on the head gently. She turned her face to look up at him, and then rolled over so she didn’t have to strain her neck. He was still bent over her with a hand on either side of her body. She couldn’t help but think about how much she liked seeing him in that position.

 “That was really great,” she said simply.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said again, his voice deepening and his pupils growing wider, darkening his eyes. He brought a hand up to her cheek and, using his index finger, tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. She smiled up at him before her eyes dropped closed.

 “We’d better call it a night, I think,” he said quietly.

“Mmmm. Yeah,” she mumbled, already half asleep, “Thank you for being so nice to me today.”

As she drifted down into unconsciousness, she thought she heard him whisper: “Thank you for being nice to me too,” but she couldn’t be sure. With that, Negan picked up the plate and exited her small room, leaving Rebecca to her dreams.

*** 

It was late spring in the forest. The smell of new growth and pine needles was intensified by the humidity that hung in the air. The sky was a uniform grey. She could feel the oppressive atmospheric pressure in her head. It hung in the space between her eyes like a weight, promising a migraine soon.

Her eyes burned from the tears. Sobs escaped her throat as she walked through the forest, and it felt as though they may never stop. They were the only sound she could hear except for her feet crunching over last fall’s dead leaves and the sound of dragging footsteps in the distance behind her.

She heard a moan. It was long, mournful and hungry. It was the moan of the dead thing that followed several feet behind her.

He was dead.

She couldn’t go on like this. Eventually she would have to turn around and face this.

(turn and face the strange)

She did glance over her shoulder at him as she kept walking. The face still held the familiar contours and features that she had cherished for so long, but the eyes were glazed over and milky as the body started to decompose. She missed his eyes already: they were bright and calm. A darker green than hers; like the forest.

Her sobs intensified as she turned away and kept walking. She would have to deal with this eventually.

(turn and face the strange)

***

She awoke in the darkness, and for a moment she had no idea where she was. Was she dead? Was this hell? She felt as though she couldn’t catch her breath. The world seemed to pulse with her heart as it beat quickly, pushing blood through her body.

He was dead. She had to go on.

Breathe in.

Hold.

Release.

After a few repetitions, her tears stopped and she began to calm down, but she knew that sleep was a going to be unattainable now. Her wrist watch was on the box beside her. She picked it up and looked at the time: 5:45am. Breakfast would start to be served at 6:30. If she got up now she would be one of the first in line, and would even have time to bathe before she started her day.

Sighing, she heaved herself off of the floor and crossed the room in three steps to grab soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a razor, and a towel. There was no running water anymore, but they did have shower bags that had been pilfered from a camping supply store at some point.

The “showers” were located in the basement of the building. They had been cobbled together from shower curtains and cubicles that had been found in the building’s offices. The used water drained out from under the cubicles and down to a central drain in the middle of the floor. The place always smelled of musty mildew. Sometimes Rebecca felt dirtier after taking a shower than before she went in, particularly if several other people had gone right before her. Today, however, she was an early bird and felt like a goddess after emerging from the stall smelling of Irish Spring and Sparkling Mint.

She strode back to her room, hips swishing a little bit under the oversized towel that she had fashioned into a dress for the journey. The memory of her nightmare was begging to fade and she felt optimistic again. A rough-looking man with greasy blond hair passed her in the hallway, “Hey baby! Why don’t you come back to my room and show me what those hips can do,” he said with a lecherous smirk.

“Gross,” she replied, her exuberant tone never faltering for even a second, “Hard pass!”

“Well, fuck you too, bitch!” the man was instantly furious at her flippant response.

“Heh. Not likely.”

The man let it drop, and sulked away in the opposite direction muttering curses under his breath. Rebecca continued on the journey back to her room without further incident. Once safely in her room she surveyed her small pile of clothing. For a moment, she considered wearing jeans, but after considering the previous day’s heat, she decided to stick with shorts and a tank top. If people wanted to sexualize her for dressing coolly when it was oppressively hot outside, that was on them.

Chapter Text

People were just starting to file into the cafeteria as Rebecca approached the counter to collect her breakfast. Today’s delicacies were baked beans from a can, two slices of toast, and three pieces of jerky. The toast was the best part of the meal; it was homemade by one of the few kitchen staff who had any culinary talent. The whole area smelled of freshly baked bread, and it made Rebecca feel a pang of nostalgia for a former life in which she would visit artisan bakeries on the weekends to buy herself confections and fancy lattes.

(how did i manage to survive so long in a world so brutal? i was such a little cinnamon bun!)

Shuffling to a nearby table that held a large pot of hot water, Styrofoam cups, instant coffee, and powdered milk, she began to prepare a cup of coffee. This was a long way from her skinny double latte with a shot of sugar-free caramel, but it still had caffeine in it to keep her going for the morning.

Once the coffee was made, she sat down by herself in the room’s furthest corner and began to eat alone. She needed to get coffee and food into her belly before she could be social anyway. By the time she had finished her meal, the room was buzzing with the sounds of conversation. Smiling serenely, she let the din of voices wash over her like a warm blanket. That sound meant security. There was safety in numbers. She had to remember this when she got annoyed with people. Life here was just easier than life outside, even if you had to tolerate assholes sometimes.

She stood up and started to clear her dishes from the table to make room for some of the latecomers who needed a place. An older woman hovered nearby, glancing at her seat.

“It’s free, if you need a spot to sit,” Rebecca offered.

The woman nodded at her and moved toward the spot, “Thank you, darlin’.”

“Have a good morning!” Rebecca replied cheerfully.

On her way out of the cafeteria, she decided to grab a second cup of coffee. She took her place in line behind two women who appeared to be in their early to mid-twenties. They were dressed in dirt-stained jeans, t-shirts and long-sleeved men’s flannel shirts. Their hair was tied back from their faces and they each had a pair of gardening gloves tucked into their back pockets.

Rebecca smiled and tried to catch one of their eyes to introduce herself. Perhaps she could weasel her way out of the sorting rooms and into the garden crew if she could ingratiate herself with some of them. Maybe they would put in a good word for her. Before she could attempt some post-apocalyptic networking, a huge hand fell onto Rebecca’s shoulder.

“Hey, Fuckface!” the booming voice came from behind her; it was way too loud and right in her ear. Rebecca jumped while the girls in front of her jerked their heads around to see who had made the noise. Their eyes widened, and they hastily made their drinks before leaving the room, throwing one more nervous glance over their shoulders as they did. Rebecca whirled around angrily to glare at the person who had scared off her opportunity, already knowing exactly who she would find. Of course it was him again. It always seemed to be him.

Negan towered over her with a broad smile on his face, evidently impressed at his ability to startle half-awake people early in the morning. He seemed as though he had been awake for hours with his hair slicked back in its characteristic style and his face freshly shaved. He smelled of cedar and spices. God, he was beautiful to look at! For a moment, Rebecca forgot to be annoyed with him, but that didn’t last long.

“You jerk!” she swatted at his arm playfully, “I was gonna suck up to those girls. Get myself out of sorting duty! You scared them off.”

“I didn’t scare anyone away! They were just so turned on that they couldn’t stand to be in my presence for much longer. On account of the spontaneous orgasms I gave them. From my sexiness.”

She was just about to come up with what was sure to be a savage retort when a man further back in the line yelled, “What the fuck is the hold up! Move the fucking line please!”

“Sorry!” she yelled over her shoulder before quickly making her second cup of the morning. As she walked toward the exit she motioned for Negan to join her in the hallway with a tilt of her head, and he followed.

“So, about last night,” she began, taking a sip of her coffee and grimacing at the bitter, yet sour flavour. These were most definitely not gourmet beans.

 “Yeah, I’m a pretty great guy, aren’t I? You’re welcome.”

“Yeah, it was alright, I suppose…”

“Alright? You fucking serious right now?”

“No, I’m almost never serious,” she said with a cheeky smirk, “It was actually really fucking nice and…I kind of want to do it again,” she was surprised at her own forwardness. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, or maybe it was her inability to give a fuck about the small things anymore. It all seemed so silly in the face of much bigger tragedies. Who really cared if he rejected her? She had nothing left to lose.

“Is that so?” he asked, his eyes narrowing at her.

“It is. Maybe when I’m less exhausted. You know, just to talk or something. It gets kind of boring at night sometimes.”

“I see. Netflix and chill, as the kids used to say?” he asked, leaning in closer. His leather jacket creaked softly as his weight shifted forward. Rebecca felt her pulse quicken as the scent invaded her nose. “I think I can arrange something tonight, if you’re so inclined.”

“Ok! I was thinking maybe after dinner. You could give me a tour around the place. I still haven’t seen the whole building. Maybe you could find some fun spots I haven’t seen yet.”

“Hot damn, let’s do it!” he said exuberantly. She couldn’t help but grin at his seemingly boundless enthusiasm. It was goddam contagious.

“Deal! I should get to work now though. Got another thrilling day of putting piles of things into smaller piles of things.”

“Gosh, that does sound fun! Meet me here after dinner? Let’s say 7?

 “Works for me –“

“Rebecca!” the voice that came from a few feet away belonged to her Sorting Duty Accomplice, Ryan. It was friendly, but with a tense undertone to it that confused her, “What the hell are you doing blabbing in the hall. We have to get our asses to work!”

“Be right there!” she yelled, then turning to Negan, “See you later!”

Rebecca made her way over to where Ryan stood waiting for her. As she approached him, she noticed that the expression on his face had changed from cheerful to stony and tense. He sighed before softly saying, “We need to talk, darling.”

“Sure, what about?” she asked nonchalantly.

He put an arm around her shoulders, leading her in the direction of the sorting room, “About poor life choices, and how to avoid making any more of them.

 

*****

 

The grin dropped from Negan’s face as he watched Rebecca all but skip over to a young man with wavy brown hair. He was everything that Negan wasn’t: young and clean-cut with a gentleness to him. Venom rose in his throat as he watched the young man put an arm around Rebecca’s shoulders and lead her away. As they walked, he overheard snippets of the conversation:

“We need to talk,” said the young man.

“Sure, about what?” replied Rebecca.

“About poor life choices and how you can avoid making any more.”

(fuck!)

“Uhhh…ok…” she began, but by then they had moved far enough away that the rest of their conversation was muffled. He didn’t need to hear it; he knew what they were talking about.

Of course, Rebecca was being warned about him. He knew it would happen eventually. The young man confirmed this as he threw a quick glance over his shoulder at Negan and then quickly flipped him off using the hand that had been resting on Rebecca’s right shoulder. She glanced around, sensing the movement, but was too slow to catch his gesture.

(well, so much for that)

He should have known better than to think that he could trick someone like her into believing that he was a good guy. Of course he wasn’t. He was the kind of guy who bashed in skulls and leeched off of others. He was scum, no matter how good his intensions might have been.

(who fucking cares? she’s just another bitch. there are lots of women here, so just move on. find someone else to stick your dick in)

But he knew that wasn’t exactly the truth. Yes, there were other women here, but practically all of them were terrified of him or hated his guts. The only ones who didn’t fall into one of those two categories were his few remaining ex-wives, and they saw him as a joke, mostly.

Since he had been put back into power, Rebecca had been the first person who hadn’t looked at him like he was a rabid dog or a punchline. She treated him like an equal; nothing more and nothing less. Plus, she actually laughed at his stupid jokes. He didn’t think anyone had sincerely laughed with him since before the world had gone to shit.

(too late now…she’s gone too)

Negan turned abruptly, his hands balled into fists, fingernails digging into his palms, and his jaw clenched. He strode back toward his room quickly. In the “good old days” he would have ironed the smug expression right out of the younger man’s face, but those days were over. Yes, he was the leader, but the dynamic in this place had changed. People were afraid, but not in the way that had previously kept them in line. They were on edge now, looking for any reason to find fault with Negan and potentially knock him out of his role as leader.

Bile rose in his throat. He was enraged at the situation, and at his inability to inflict revenge. Plus, who did he really have to blame but himself anyway? He was living in the culture of fear that he had created. He had been wrong about leading with fear, so why shouldn’t he suffer for it now?

His eyes fell on a woman walking in the distance with natural red hair that fell just below her shoulders. Her frame was tall and lean, and although her back was to him, he recognized the woman almost immediately.

“Julie! Hey baby, what’s shaking?” he yelled.

The woman’s head whipped around at the sound of his voice, “Oh. Negan. Hi,” her eyes looked nearly glazed over with disinterest, “Nothing much. Just heading off to another thrilling day of commissary work.”

Julie had been one of his wives during his first stint as leader, and for good reason: she was absolutely stunning. She was the kind of woman he never would have had a chance with if he hadn’t tilted the odds in his favour by offering her a life of leisure and relative luxury.

For all that she was beautiful, Julie was lazy as shit and hated to get her hands dirty. She had nearly jumped at the offer to be his wife and never work again. It seemed, though, that in his absence she was back to pulling her own weight. She did not appear to be enthused with the situation.

An idea sprang into Negan’s head as he recalled his time with Julie. He couldn’t make her his wife again, but maybe he still had just enough power to get into her pants. He wasn’t an evil man, but he could be a manipulative asshole when he was angry. And today, he was fucking pissed.

“What if I told you that you could have the day off?” he asked, a dark expression passing through his eyes like a solar eclipse as he stepped closer to the woman.

“Go on…” her eyes lit up at the idea.

“Well, I was just thinking that, if you wanted to get together tonight for a bit of…reminiscing about the good old days with me, maybe I could switch your shift with someone and you could go back to bed for a while. I remember how much you love sleeping in.” 

The woman considered the proposition for a very brief moment, and then promptly threw her arms around his shoulders, placing a kiss on his cheek, “Oh thank you, Negan! I missed you so much! It’s so good to see you again. I can’t wait to catch up with you.”

“Great,” he said, “My room after dinner. Don’t be late now.”

“I won’t!” she called over her shoulder, already walking briskly back to her bedroom, “I’ll even wear that little dress you like. I still have it!”

Congratulating himself on a well-executed plan, Negan walked the remaining few steps to the commissary and stuck his head around the door, looking for the supervisor. His eyes locked with an older woman who was taking stock of the items available that day.

“Julie won’t be in today,” he said with a cold, no-nonsense expression on his face, “She’s sick. Get someone in to cover for her.”

“There is no one else to cover for her!” the woman practically snarled at him.

“Well, then manage with the staff you have.”

“Prick,” the woman muttered under her breath.

Negan ignored the taunt and strode back to his bedroom alone, thinking about what the evening had in store for him. If he couldn’t trick Rebecca into wanting to spend time with him, he could at least bribe Julie into his bed. Maybe that was all he deserved anyway.

Chapter Text

Negan ate dinner alone in his room before tidying up as he prepared for his guest. At 7pm, for a brief and crazy moment, he thought about waiting outside of the cafeteria just to see if Rebecca actually would show up, and then decided that it was a stupid idea. His ego couldn’t take the rejection.

(of course she won’t come. and the next time you see her, her eyes will be full of fear and hate just like everyone else’s)

Pushing the intrusive thoughts away, he tried to focus on Julie. He thought about soft skin, silky red hair, her long legs wrapped around him…he thought about her bright, green eyes –

(no! blue eyes, idiot. julie has blue eyes)

What the hell was taking her so long?

(leave it to julie to be late. probably slept until mid-afternoon, knowing her)

Finally, there was a knock at the door; he glanced at the clock on the wall. 7:28pm. He’d seen worse from her, but this was pretty late. He grumbled under his breath and marched to the door, annoyed at her tardiness. Grabbing the knob and swinging it open he began his tirade, “Jesus, if I’d known you’d be so late, I would have-“ His famously loud mouth was silenced by confused green eyes staring at him from the doorway.

I’m late? Seriously, dude?! I waited for you for 15 goddamn minutes before I finally stopped someone and got them to tell me where you live,” Rebecca’s cheeks were flushed red with anger and he could tell that she had probably prepared this speech on her way to his room, “I don’t even know what I’m doing here anyway. I have a zero-tolerance policy for being stood up, as a rule. I was gonna cut you a bit of slack because we don’t have cell phones now, and maybe something came up…which it seems like it did. So, who were you waiting for, Negan?”

“I…” he was utterly at a loss for words.

“You?” she tilted her head to the left dramatically.

“I didn’t think you’d come.”

“Why not? Is there something that you think maybe you should tell me?”

“Fuck it. You already know. I know he told you.”

“Ryan? Yep, he did. He told me all about you, Negan. Everything.”

“Yeah, I bet he did,” Negan mumbled, the blood was rushing through his veins and thudding in his ears.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t find out about you eventually? I mean, that’s a lot of shit to hide. When were you going to tell me about the torture, or the fucking barbed wire bat, or any of it?” her eyes were trained straight on his, but showed no fear or hate, only disappointment and hurt, “I don’t like feeling stupid. I don’t like being lied to.”

“I didn’t mean to lie to you. I just didn’t want you to hate me like everyone else does.”

“I see where you’re coming from, but isn’t that kind of for me to decide on my own?”

“So, why the fuck did you come here? Just to fuck with me? Or to yell at me?”

She paused for a moment, appearing to choose her words carefully. “Well, I’ll tell you exactly what I told Ryan: None of us have survived this long without some blood on our hands. I’ve definitely done some things that I’d rather forget, haven’t you?” she paused, “That was a rhetorical question, by the way, I know you have. And even though you weren’t forthcoming about your history, I can understand that it might be hard to talk about. I get that.”

“So?”

She sighed, “So, from what I have gathered, you’ve changed. I’ve never seen ‘Lucille’ in person, and you definitely haven’t done anything shitty to Ryan yet to punish him, even though he clearly pissed you off today, so maybe you’ve learned from your mistakes.”

“Fuck. I don’t know. I guess I must have,” he said thoughtfully.

“Good. Because I do believe in second chances. Particularly since we are all living in such…interesting times,” she said, her eyes downcast as if remembering something she would rather leave forgotten. Her voice softened, “Plus, you’re the first person I’ve spoken to since…” she reconsidered her words, “…for a very long time who’s managed to make me forget that the world ended. That’s special.”

“No shit?”

“No shit. I like talking to you. I’d like to get to know you, if you’re willing to be honest with me for a fucking minute and stop trying to manipulate the situation.”

“Sure. I’m sorry. Just, most people aren’t quite as forgiving…”

“I mean, maybe if I had lived here before, like these other people, I would feel differently. But I’m new. I have no history with you. Not yet anyway. Also, I’m pretty fucking cool,” she took a step forward.

He could smell her now, something floral with just a hint of baby powder. It caused his breath to catch in his throat, “That you most certainly fucking are.”

She took another step forward so that they were inches apart. She stood more than a foot shorter than he did, so her head was at a steep angle to meet his gaze. She smiled up at him with a less-than-innocent look in her eyes, “So, are you just going to stand there staring at me, or are you going to fucking kiss me already?”

Another wave of lust hit, bypassing his common sense. Without being conscious of it, he let out a low growl and practically launched himself at her, bringing their mouths together roughly. He felt her moan against his lips as the kiss deepened. Her hands were on his shoulders, then chest, finally moving to his hips.

As the kiss ended, she looked up at him with a smirk, “Not bad. Not bad at all. 8.5 out of 10!”

“8.5? I think I need to improve on my technique. I’m out of practice.”

“Luckily for you, I happen to be a certified trainer for these kinds of things, so-“

Her words were cut off by a shrill voice from the room’s doorway, “What the fuck, Negan? Seriously?!”

Rebecca jerked away from him and spun around to see the tall, lean redhead who had finally decided to make an appearance. Julie was late, as always, but she had kept her word. Unfortunately.

 

***

 

“Oh. Fuck. Shit, fuck…just…sorry,” Rebecca stammered as she backed away from Negan, her face white and eyes wide, “I’m an idiot.”

“Wait, this looks bad. This is bad. But I can explain. Kind of,” Negan started, but Rebecca cut him off.

“No. No need. I get it,” she looked at Julie, “Of course; she’s the one you’re waiting for. I can’t say I blame you. Good job. Nice… I should go.”

“It’s not like that, Rebecca. Honestly.”

“Then what is it like?” her tone became a hard, sharp diamond blade and her eyes flared even wider. He had no response, and after a moment she turned murmuring, “That’s what I thought.” As she walked past Julie and out the door she said, “Don’t worry about me. I just feel stupid. Bye.”

Rebecca practically ran down the hallway to her room, her heart beating in time with the rapid footfalls. With every beat she thought:

(stupid!...stupid!...stupid!...stupid!...how!...could!...you!...be!...so!...fuck!...ing!...stupid!...)

She finally made it to her room, breathing heavily. She sat cross-legged on her bed, head lowered, trying to slow her breathing.

(take a deep breath. hold. release. repeat. keep going)

“Stupid, stupid, stupid!” she said under her breath.

(of course he wouldn’t go for me when he has girls like that around. did you see her? she was fucking gorgeous! i’d hit that, and i only slept with girls for that one semester in college...)

She laid back on the bed with a deep sigh and closed her eyes, trying to forget that this terrible day had ever happened. She started to doze off, her body beginning to feel heavy and tingly as sleep was just at the doorstep. She didn’t know how long she was in that twilight phase before there was a soft, tentative rapping at her door.

(…quoth the raven, “nevermore!”…)

She groaned, annoyed at being woken up. “Go away!”

“Rebecca?” Negan’s voice was much softer than usual, with a totally uncharacteristic apologetic tone, “Can we talk?”

“There’s really nothing to talk about,” her tone harsh and cold.

“Oh, come on, Fuckface. Don’t be like that. I thought you were a cool bitch. At least let me explain about how I’m a fucking moron.”

“Can’t you just let me wallow in my embarrassment for a while?”

“Nah. That’s no fun. Besides, I brought you a present.”

She sighed, resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to leave her alone until she let him in, and intrigued at this present, “Fine. But this had better be good.”

Rubbing her eyes, she trudged from the bed to the door and swung it open. Negan was waiting for her to respond to his knocks in the hallway, but didn’t make any motion to enter the room until she grudgingly said, “Come inside. I can’t have you standing outside my room like this. What would the neighbours say?”

He had removed his leather jacket and was wearing only a pair of dark pants and his usual white t-shirt. Through her annoyance with his antics, Rebecca was still able to note how good he looked with nothing but white cotton stretched over his chest and broad shoulders.

(damn, that shirt is tight in the best possible way…)

(calm the fuck down, lady! we’re still pissed at him)

“Can I sit down?” he asked softly.

(well, at least he knows that he fucked up)

Rebecca didn’t answer, but made an “I-don’t-fucking-care!-Technically-you-own-this-mattress-pad-don’t-you?” gesture. Negan sat down, his shoulders slumping forward slightly. Rebecca remained standing with her arms folded across her chest, her body rigid.

“So,” Negan began, “I’m a moron.”

“Mm-hmm,” replied Rebecca. She had learned long ago that if you kept your mouth shut for a little longer than was comfortable, sometimes people were more forthcoming with their thoughts.

“Like I said before, I thought that after you found out who I am, and what I’ve done, you weren’t going to show up. And that kind of…” he trailed off, searching for a verb, “…sucked.”

“Ok.”

“I don’t know, I guess I was mad, and I wanted someone to make me feel good about myself again. And I know Julie. She’s not afraid of me,” he paused again as if in thought, “She doesn’t really like me either. She just hates working more than she hates having my dick in her…”

Rebecca cringed slightly.

“Sorry, that was meant to be comforting,” he continued, “Can you just say something? I hate this one-word answer shit.”

“Fine,” she sighed, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t like mind games. And I fucking hate being lied to. Even if it’s by omission.”

“Fair enough.”

“But at the end of the day, who you put your dick in is none of my business, and you really don’t owe me an apology. I just feel stupid. That’s all.”

“Well, I guess I’m kind of making it your business, whether you like it or not. Julie was one of my wives. I had a lot of wives before the war.”

Rebecca’s face remained stern, “I know.”

“Yeah, that prick told you. Ryan.”

“He did, but I knew before that. Figured it out the first day I met you.”

His eyebrows rose at this, “Oh really? And how did you do that?”

She briefly considered lying to him so as not to incriminate Pencil-Dick, but her spitefulness got the better of her, “The guy who interviewed me for job placements. He said I would have made a great wife for you back in the day, on account of my slutty attire,” she gestured to her tank top, “Evidently the two things I’m good at are sorting shit and, I’m paraphrasing here, spreading my legs for you.”

“Motherfucker,” Negan’s expression morphed from surprise to rage in a matter of seconds.

“Whatever. Like I said, the guy’s a prick. I’m not worried about it. I know who I am. But I wish he would have at least given me a chance to do something more than sort shit.”

“What did you want to do if he hadn’t been a prick to you?”

“I don’t know. He mentioned garden duty. I guess I might be ok at that,” she thought for a moment and then said, “What I was really good at out there, before I came here, was scavenging. I was pretty great at it actually. Finding things and thinking of new places to try looking was my speciality. I think it kept us going on our own a lot longer than most,” her eyes sparkled with pride at this memory.

“Us?” he asked, “Who were you with?”

“I don’t really want to talk about that right now,” she gazed at the floor.

“Ok. I’ll see what I can do,” he said earnestly.

She brought her eyes up to meet his, “Thanks. I mean, I didn’t say that to get a different position. I mostly just wanted to make you mad at that asshole interviewer for being so rude to me. Maybe rough him up a little?” she paused, “That last part was a joke.”

“I know,” he fell into a thoughtful silence again before saying, “Look, the brutal truth is that I’m not really a good guy. I’m actually kind of an asshole, in case you haven’t noticed yet.”

“This is the sound of no one disagreeing with you,” she smirked and then fell silent to make her point.

“Yeah, well, after 40-ish years of assholery, it’s not looking good for any sudden mid-life changes. Just so you’re aware.”

Rebecca snorted at this, “No shit. Trust me, after spending the better part of my early 20s dating jerks, I’m well aware that people don’t change unless they want to change. I’m not in it to change anyone. Whatever ‘it’ is. What is ‘it’ anyway?”

“I haven’t the fucking foggiest. I was going to ask you the same question,” he chuckled.

“I don’t fucking know either. Except that I like talking to you. Even when you’re being a loud, obnoxious lout.”

“Lout?” he chuckled, “Ok, Charles Dickens.”

“Don’t get snarky just because I’ve got a bigger vocabulary than you do,” she chided, “Anyway, the take away message is that I enjoy your company."

“And?” Negan gave her a knowing smile.

“And what?”

“I didn’t hear any complaints about that kiss earlier. I think it’s more than just my company you enjoy.”

“I only gave you 8.5 out of 10. Don’t get a big head,” she sighed with annoyance as he began to snicker at her choice of words, “That was not a double entendre, by the way. You lout! Anyway…yes, you do look very good sitting on my bed in that slutty, tight t-shirt of yours.”

Negan’s face lit up at this, “Fucking awesome! I knew it!”

“Ugh! It is so unsexy that you’re jazzed by that.”

“I can’t hear you! My head’s swelling…both of them!”

“Gross. Stop!” she cried, but a laugh had crept into her voice and she was clearly trying to hide a smile that wanted to crack her stony face open.

“I saw that! You were trying not to smile. You think I’m funny!”

“Fuck. That was the number one thing Ryan warned me about with you.”

Negan’s eyes darkened, “What? What did the fucker say?”

“He said: ‘Never, under any circumstances, laugh at his jokes. It just encourages him to make more. And they get progressively more disgusting every time.’”

“Ha! He’s not wrong. God damn, I really am getting hard. I think I could hammer nails with this thing. Who knew someone laughing at my jokes was what did it for me.”

“Seriously?” she asked, glancing down to examine the bulge in his pants that was indeed growing, “That is the weirdest fetish I have ever heard of. What the fuck?”

“Take it or leave it, baby,” he said putting his arms behind his head and reclining back onto the bed.

“Oh my god…” her arms lowered from the position across her chest, “I guess I’ll take it.”

“Fuck yeah!” he reached out with both of his massive hands and grabbed her around the waist, pulling her into him so her breasts were pushed up against his face.

“Wait! No! Not tonight! I’m still kind of pissed,” she wigged out of his grasp.

“Oh, shit. I got excited. Sorry.”

“Clearly. Now, there’s one last thing to attend to before I kick your ass out of here,” she said.

“What’s that?”

Her face fell and her eyes took on a serious expression, “There was talk of a present, was there not?

Chapter Text

The first rays of morning light filtered through the trees, hitting Rebecca’s dirt-stained cheeks and eyelids. She could hear birds singing on the branches above, like a living mobile. She sat upon a large, flat rock in the middle of the forest trying to remember the last time she had eaten anything. Night’s chill had not yet been shaken off of the earth by the sun’s heat, but she couldn’t feel the cold anymore. She didn’t feel anything at all.

(here, am i nowhere now? no plan)

Her gaze drifted to a bush located to her left. A pair of boots stuck out from under the foliage.

His boots.

His legs.

Him.

Her eyes felt as though they were packed with salt and sand. She was therefore surprised to find that she still had tears left to shed. The hot liquid spilled down, mingling with the dirt and forming small rivers in her flesh.

(wherever i may go. just where? just there.)

She heard a twig snap, followed by footfalls over the leaves. Was it a dead thing? Did she even care enough to get up and kill it if it was? She remained motionless upon her rock, her gaze fixed forward in a thousand yard stare.

The footsteps grew nearer, and she could tell that there was more than one of them now. They weren’t the dragging footsteps of the dead, but those of living humans. She didn’t know if they meant her harm, and didn’t particularly care. She had nothing left of any value to be stolen anyway, so what did it matter?

“Hold up, guys!” she heard a man whisper to his compatriots, “There’s someone there.”

“I don’t see anything,” another whispered.

“Right there. On the rock, dumbass.”

“Is it a walker? It’s just sitting there.”

The footsteps continued as three men emerged from the treeline, approaching her very carefully with weapons ready to puncture her skull should she start to shamble toward them seeking their flesh.

“Hey! Are you ok, lady?” the first man asked. Rebecca remained motionless, not even lifting her gaze to meet their questioning eyes.

“What the fuck? She’s not dead, but it looks like she’s in a trance or something,” one of the other men said, “Hey! Lady! Snap out of it!”

Rough hands grabbed her shoulders in an attempt to shake her out of the silence. Part of her wanted to look up, to react, to tell them about the things she had seen and about what had happened to her. But she couldn’t do it.

It was as if her body was not her own anymore. She felt possessed by some kind of apathetic spirit. Nothing mattered. The world had lost its vibrancy. Voices, scents, and colours all faded down into grey nothingness.

Distantly she heard a man say, “I think she’s in shock. Looks like she killed a walker over here by the bushes. I wonder how she managed to get by this long if just killing a fucking walker did this to her.”

Another voice, “We should bring her back to the Sanctuary and let Krouse take a look at her.”

More hands shaking her, “Lady, can you stand?”

Without saying a word, Rebecca stood on unsteady legs, her gaze still fixed on the ground just in front of her. She allowed herself to be lead away from the rock, from the boots, and from him. There was nothing left to do.

(this is no place, but here i am)

(here i am)

(i am)

 

***

 

She was brought out of the dream by the sound of her watch’s alarm beeping incessantly in the darkness. 7am. Another day of Sanctuary life was starting. For a terrifying moment, Rebecca felt the grey nothingness of the woods again. She was unable to move in her bed and her eyes were glued to the middle distance. Everything faded down into that uniform grey sludge. She thought nothing, and felt nothing.

(no plan)

The beeping alarm continued until she heard a loud knock coming from the other side of the wall beside her head, “TURN THE ALARM OFF, PLEASE!” yelled the piercing voice of her neighbour. She was startled out of her daze, sitting bolt upright in bed and grabbing frantically at her watch to make the sound stop.

(see, you’re fine! probably just sleep paralysis or something)

But she sat in her bed for a long while, hugging her legs to her chest, haunted by memories of the woods and her time before the Sanctuary. She never wanted to go back to the unfeeling haze of nothingness that marked her first days as a citizen there; the prospect of losing herself like that again troubled her deeply. She shuddered despite the summer heat that never seemed to dissipate entirely from her room.

After taking a while to gather her thoughts, Rebecca threw off her sheets and began her morning routine. She had stayed in bed for much longer than usual, so showering was out of the question this morning. She walked over to her pile of clothing and frowned. She was down to one last clean top and would have to do some laundry today. Grumbling at the thought of cleaning her clothing by hand, she grabbed her remaining tank top and shorts and pulled them on unceremoniously.

Before leaving the room to grab a bit of breakfast, her eyes were drawn to a small plastic bag on her nightstand. Negan’s present. Before leaving the night before, he had given her a small bag of pot from the commissary as an apology gift for being a “fucking douchebag”. It had almost been forgotten after her nightmare. She stuffed the bag under her pillow, hoping that it was an unnecessary precaution since no one else should enter her room, yet not entirely trusting that this was the case.

A faint smile touched her face as she thought about her parting interaction with Negan the night before, followed by a pang of guilt. It didn’t feel right to smile so soon after having a dream about her life before the Sanctuary.

(no! you did what you had to do to survive. you had no other choice, so don’t you dare feel guilty)

(but if i loved him, how can I think about anyone else now? did I love him so little that i can even entertain the idea of being with someone else this soon?)

Rebecca shook her head, as if trying to dissipate the argument she was having with herself. She had to go on. If not for herself, then for him. He would have wanted it this way, just as she would have wanted him to keep going if it had been her time to die that day. Sighing, she left the room and made her way to the cafeteria.

 

***

 

After eating a rushed breakfast, Rebecca grudgingly went to work in the sorting room. She signed her name and the time she arrived on the tracking sheet by the door before plopping herself down next to Ryan.

“Hey! What’s shakin’?” she asked with more energy than she felt she had in her.

Ryan did not smile, and simply muttered, “Nothing. Let’s get to work.”

Rebecca felt her pulse quicken at her only real friend’s apparent dismissal. A lump had risen in her throat that she couldn’t seem to swallow. She worked in silence for a while, trying to discern what she could have done to make Ryan act this way.

Eventually, her direct nature won over diplomacy. Turning her head slightly and whispering to her companion she asked, “So, what’s crawled up your ass this morning, sunshine?”

Ryan shot a hard glance at her out of the corner of his eyes, “Oh, nothing much. Just silly bitches who think with their pussies and not their brains,” he said dispassionately.

“Is that right? Interesting. Go on,” she kept her tone light so as not to draw attention to their argument from the other workers.

“Well, my dear, the way I see it, you’ve been fraternizing with someone very dangerous for your health,” he began, “So, please forgive me for being concerned that a friend might get her ass hurt or killed, and for being dismayed that she refuses to listen to me when I tell her to stay the hell away from said person.”

“We’ve been over this, Ryan,” she said, lowering her voice to a faint whisper, “I really think he’s different from the man you all remember. I don’t think he means anyone any harm.”

“Sweetie, I’m not just talking about him,” Ryan had stopped working and had turned in his seat to face Rebecca. His voice had lowered to match her tone, and she thought she could see genuine terror in his face, “I’m talking about the people who can’t forgive him. People who remember who he was and what he did. People who are looking for any excuse to get even. To hurt him. If they know that you and he are friends… or anything… they could try to hurt you to get to him. Don’t you get it? Are you that stupid?”

Rebecca felt the blood in her veins run cold, and for once she was left without anything to say. Her mouth opened and closed like a dying goldfish yanked out of its tank and left to suffocate on the floor. She truly hadn’t considered that someone would actually want to harm Negan. She knew he wasn’t Mr. Popularity, but could the people here really hate him that much?

“I’m…I’m sorry that I’m making you so concerned. But I know how to handle myself,” she said, trying to calm her friend.

“That’s all well and fine, but if it gets out that I’m friendly with you, I might wind up getting shit on too. It’s not all about you, Rebecca,” he hissed, “I’m sorry, sweetie. I just can’t take the risk. Maybe you should sit somewhere else for a while. Until you come to your senses.”

“Fine by me,” she said coldly, gathering the box she was working from as she scanned the room for a place to move. The sorters in the immediate area briefly lifted their eyes to see what she was doing before lowering their gazes again.

She plopped down into a seat at the far end of the table. It was at this moment that her attention was caught by movement at the back of the room as the door to the hallway swung open on silent hinges. Standing in the entry way was Negan, who was beaming cheerfully as per usual. With him was the man who had interviewed her a few short days before, who she had come to un-affectionately call Pencil-Dick McPower-Trip. He could hardly conceal the scowl that he directed toward Rebecca, his eyes practically burning holes into her face.

Negan brought his right hand up and extended his index finger to his lips in a “shhh” gesture to the workers as he quietly led Pencil-Dick through the room before coming to a stop in front of Roxanne, who was currently snoring lightly at her desk in the corner. She continued her slumber, completely unaware that “the man upstairs” was witnessing her slacking off.

“GET OUTTA BED SLEEPYHEAD!” cried Negan exuberantly as he slammed his hands down on the desk just in front of Roxanne’s boots. The blond woman screamed and scurried backward as she was jolted awake, falling out of the chair as it toppled over.

“What the fuck!” she cried, dazed and confused.

“Just thought I’d pay you a visit, Roxy,” Negan’s cherry demeanor suddenly changed and his face fell, “Got a new recruit for you here, and I am hand delivering him straight to ya. Isn’t that right, Ted?” he said jabbing an elbow into Pencil-Dick’s ribs.

“Right,” the man replied through gritted teeth.

“Gosh! Looks like you could use some more rest and relaxation, Roxanne,” Negan said with a sardonic coldness in his voice, “Think I should take you off sorting duty for a while, without points, and put someone in here who can keep their fucking eyes open?”

“No, sir,” mumbled Roxanne, “That’s not necessary.”

“Great! I really didn’t feel like trying to find someone to cover for your drowsy ass anyway,” he paused, “But you can bet I fucking will if I catch you sleeping on the job again. Understand?”

“Yes, sir,” Roxanne replied as she cast her eyes downward.

“Ted here will be working as a sorter from now on. And I’ll be taking one of your current employees. You all have fun now!”

He turned on his heels and strode through the room. All eyes were on him as he came to rest directly in front of Rebecca, “You!” he slapped a hand down on the table in front of Rebecca who looked up at him questioningly, “Get your ass up and come with me!”

“Yes, Neg- um…sir. Yes, sir,” she stuttered as she pushed herself off of her stool and stood, “Where are we going?”

“You’ve been reassigned. Congratulations!”

Rebecca glanced around the room at her former colleagues in an attempt to read what they made of the intrusion. She found mostly confused looks and one or two glares. Finally, her gaze fell on Ryan. His head was down, gaze fixed on the box in front of him. As she made her way out of the room with Negan, Rebecca chanced one last glance over her shoulder at Ryan, only to find him slowly shaking his head in what she assumed was disbelief. 

Chapter Text

Once they were in the hallway and well away from the sorting room, Negan’s demeanor changed from stern and business-like to jovial and even a little childish. He laughed loudly, slinging one of his huge arms around Rebecca’s shoulders.

“Did you fucking see their faces? Roxy looked like she just about shit herself. That was so fucking great!”

“Yeah,” Rebecca was a bit less enthused with the situation, but shot a nervous grin up at the tall man, “That was actually pretty cathartic, to tell you the truth. I can be kind of petty sometimes.”

“Oh, I’m extremely petty, my dear. You and I will get along just fine,” he said, tugging her closer as they walked.

“Is that so? And how do I know you won’t turn around and be an asshole to me someday?”

“Nah. You’re cool and you aren’t a fucking idiot. I don’t think I’ll ever need to settle your hash.”

“Settle my hash? Uh, thanks, Grandpa!” sarcastic eyebrows rose above her eyes.

“I’m not that old! I just like that expression. It has character,” he chuckled to himself again, “Did you see Ted? Teddy looked like he wanted to stab me in the throat! As if he could ever find the balls for it.”

With Negan’s words Ryan’s warning came flooding back to Rebecca, spoiling the high of her petty revenge against Pencil-Dick and Roxanne. She slowed her pace and gracefully ducked out from under Negan’s arm, “Are you so sure about that?” she asked, lowering her voice.

“Hey, what’s wrong, Fuckface? What the fuck did I do now?” an expression of genuine concern blew away some of his cocky expression.

“I think we need to talk, but not here. It’s too public, and this is kind of a private matter.”

“Oooh. I like the sound of that. Let’s get that round, little ass of yours into my office and have a meeting.”

Rebecca’s nose wrinkled at this, “You are really, really shit at compliments, you know? Also, that’s not the kind of private I meant.”

“I know. Sorry,” he lowered his voice, but still gleefully linked his arm through Rebecca’s, leading her in the direction of his office, “Follow me, Madame!”

“D’accord, Monsieur!”

“What?”

“French. I just said –“ she shook her head, “Never mind! Let’s go!

The pair walked the short distance to Negan’s office, which was located at the other end of the same floor. He held a heavy wooden door open for her and waited for her to walk into the Sacntuary’s power centre. The office was one of the most beautiful rooms Rebecca had laid eyes on in the years since she had fled her suburban home in the hopes of surviving the tragedy that had engulfed the world.

A stone fireplace with two matching armchairs placed in front of it filled her view as soon as the door swung open. A plush red sofa was pushed against the rightmost wall, and to the left an enormous desk made from solid, dark wood sat facing the large windows that peered from the top of the building, giving them a panoramic view of the outside world. The walls of the room were made from a lighter, warmer wood and were almost entirely covered with bookcases that were filled to the brink with every type of printed media imaginable.

Rebecca continued to scan her surroundings until her eyes fell to a small table just to the right of the door she had walked through. Her breath caught in her throat and tears sprang to her eyes at the sight of what was sitting upon the piece of furniture. She turned to inspect it, her fingers lightly coming to rest upon the wooden surface of the table. It was something akin to an act of religious devotion, as if she were viewing the body of a saint pent up in an Italian cathedral for centuries.

The silence was broke by Negan, “Holy hell, Fuckface. You’d think that you’ve never seen a record player before. I guess you are young enough that maybe that’s true,” he put on a tone of condescension, “This is what old people used to play music on.”

“I know what a fucking record player is,” she said, her voice low. Rebecca’s head turned toward him as a tear began to streak down her cheek, “It’s just that it’s been so long since I’ve heard music. I never really thought I would again, aside from the nights that the old guys from the kitchen get out their guitars and try their best not to suck. I didn’t even realize how much I missed it until I saw this,” she gestured to the machine.

“Well, the next time they hook up the generators, you can come and listen to something if you want. We raided a used record store at one point. I bet I still have a bunch of good shit somewhere in here!”

Her eyes sparkled with emotion as she said simply, “Thank you. I would like that very much.”

“You a big fan of anyone in particular? I can look next time I have a few minutes.”

She smiled softly, her eyes still trained on the table, “Oh, I listen to everything. I love it all. But my favourite era was definitely the 70s. I think that’s when music peaked, personally. The Clash, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Kraftwerk…” she trailed off and closed her eyes, taking another deep breath.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said softly.

She turned back to him and took in his face. His eyes were warm, amber pools in the daylight and his hair was perfectly coifed, as always. Standing on her toes, she placed a hand on his shoulder before leaning forward to kiss his lips lightly. Her pulse quickened as he returned the kiss, allowing their mouths to linger together for a moment before it was over.

“What was that for?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Because I wanted to,” she shrugged, “Maybe I’m just happy that there’s still music in the world. Or something.”

“Well,” he cleared his throat and gestured toward the armchairs, “I suppose we should get down to business.”

“Right. Yes. Let’s do this.”

They took their seats and faced one another across the fireplace as if they were about to discuss politics over glasses of brandy and cigars in a Victorian gentlemen’s club.

“I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll just come out with it: I think you might be in danger,” Rebecca began, pausing a moment before adding, “And I could be too.”

Negan’s eyes narrowed and the stern expression he had worn earlier in the sorting room returned, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Rebecca thought for a moment before replying, “I was talking to Ryan this morning just before you interrupted our stimulating workplace activities.”

“What the fuck does that little douche have to do with anything?”

“He was really quiet and didn’t seem to want to talk to me, so I asked him what was wrong. He told me that he couldn’t talk to me as long as I’m friendly with you -”

“The fucker’s probably just jealous,” Negan interjected, “Do you think I didn’t see how he put his arm around you yesterday? He wants to bang you for sure.”

Rebecca’s eyes widened for a moment before laughter erupted from her mouth, “Are you fucking joking? Really?”

“Yeah, I mean, why else would he be all fucking handsy with you, and give a shit about who you’re friendly with?”

Rebecca chuckled again shaking her head, “Dude, Ryan’s gay as hell! He has no interest in me in that way whatsoever. We were legitimately just friends.”

“Huh,” Negan looked dumbfounded, “Well, I guess that blows a hole through my theory, don’t it?”

“I guess it does. Any-fucking-way, Sherlock, Ryan said he couldn’t be seen with me because it might put him in danger.”

“Why the hell would being seen with you put him in danger?”

“Because he thinks that you are in danger. That people here want to hurt you. And I might be too if it gets out that you and I are…whatever we are!” her voice had taken on a hard edge and she was beginning to get frustrated with how dense Negan could be sometimes. Everything seemed to come down to fucking or wanting to fuck with him. It was the only lens he saw the world through.

Negan’s face was a mask of concentration as he considered her words for a moment before shaking his head, “Look, I know I’m not going to win a popularity contest. And, yeah, things are different around here than the last time I was in power. But do you seriously think people hate me enough to want to hurt me?”

“I don’t really know,” she said firmly, “I haven’t been here long enough to know. But I do know that Ryan seemed freaked the fuck out. And that scares me.”

He paused again, seemingly deep in thought, before locking eyes with her, “You know, Fuckface, if you’re that freaked out, you could stay with me. Then you wouldn’t be all alone and vulnerable in that shitty dorm room,” he said, “And I have guards! With guns!”

Rebecca’s mouth plopped open for a moment as she struggled to find her voice. This was moving way too fast. She had known Negan for less than a week, was already getting ominous warnings from friends about him. Now he wanted her to shack up with him.

“I-I…don’t think that’s such a great idea,” she managed.

He shot her a perplexed look, “I’m not asking you to devote yourself to me for all eternity or anything. This isn’t a playing house thing; it’s just practical. You’re scared. I’m big. I can take care of you.”

“And what about your guards? What if one of them isn’t interested in keeping you safe? Or what if someone offers them something they want to stand by while someone attacks you? Have you thought about that?”

“I know how to handle myself. I’ve been in more precarious situations than this, believe me.”

“And I can handle myself too. I wasn’t saying all that to get you to protect me, Negan. I just thought you might want to know what the word on the street is. If you say that you can handle it, and that there’s nothing to worry about, I believe you.”

“Then believe me. I can handle it. There’s nothing to worry about,” he said, locking his eye to hers.

“Ok,” she said quietly, “But I still think we should be careful outside of this room. Maybe don’t let everyone know that we’re…as friendly as we are. Just in case.”

“Sure. If that’s what you want. Like a secret fling?” he asked leaning forward in his chair.

“If that’s what you want to call it, fine. Like a secret fling,” she said, her body relaxing into the soft fabric of the chair.

Negan leaned forward further in his seat and scanned his eyes up and down Rebecca’s body, “Now that is a sweet fucking sight,” he said, his voice becoming lower.

“What?” asked Rebecca, looking around.

“You. In my chair, all relaxed with your legs open. Fucking sexy.”

“You can’t be serious. I just told you that someone might try to kill you and you’re horny?”

Without answering her, Negan slid out of his chair and onto his hands and knees before crawling like a dog across the floor to her chair. Rebecca giggled as he laid his head against her inner thigh, peering up at her from the floor.

“Oh my god,” she giggled again, “You are serious!”

In spite of her laughter, Rebecca felt herself getting turned on at the sight of him on the floor with his face pressed against her bare leg. She let her legs separate further before planting her unencumbered foot on the top of the chair’s seat. Negan took this as a cue to proceed and trailed his tongue from her knee all the way up her inner thigh until it met the hem of her shorts. A surge of wetness began to pool in said shorts, and Rebecca’s body vibrated with a shiver.

“You like that, Fuckface? Want me to go a little higher?”

She bit her lip and briefly considered saying no for fear of getting caught, but quickly reminded herself that the likelihood of someone entering Negan’s office unannounced was slim. Her own lust sucker punched her right in the common sense, and she was shocked to find herself fumbling to undo the zipper on her shorts before wiggling out of them with Negan’s face just inches from her crotch.

“That didn’t take much convincing, did it?” he asked with his signature cocky smirk.

“I’m sorry, did you want me to play hard to get to stroke your ego, darling?”

“Fuck no! I hate mind games and bullshit like that,” he mumbled, his eyes devouring the sight of Rebecca, now naked from the waist down on his chair, “Mmm. No panties. Dirty girl.”

“I actually don’t own any at the moment, but sure! Let’s go with that interpretation. It’s sexier.”

Negan grabbed her thighs, forcing her to slide forward in the chair so that her ass was right on the edge of the seat. Rebecca slung her legs over the chairs arms to spread herself open for him.

“Mmmm. This is turning out to be just the kind of meeting I wanted to have with you,” he said before bringing his tongue out to trail lightly against her wet opening. Rebecca gazed down at him as he lifted his face to look at her, “Is this ok?”

“Mmm-hmm,” her brain was beginning to fog up with desire and she was at a loss for words now.

“Good,” he said, simply, before bringing his mouth down on her again, this time more firmly. Rebecca’s breath hitched and a small whimper escaped her. The sound of her pleasure seemed to flip a switch in Negan because he let out a deep growl before thrusting his tongue deep inside of her and sucking lightly at her sensitive clit.

“Oh fuck!” Rebecca cried arching her back against the chair, “Fucking hell you’re good at that.”

Negan raised his head out from between her legs for a moment to say, “I know,” before plunging himself back in. The sensation grew to be too much for Rebecca to stand and she found herself placing a hand on top of his head to push his mouth away from her as she gasped for air.

“Will you finger fuck me? Please?” she asked breathing heavily as she gazed into his eyes.

“Holy fuck, that is the hottest question I have ever been asked,” he exclaimed before roughly inserting his index and middle finger inside of her and pumping them in and out relentlessly. She gasped at the sudden sensation of him inside of her and threw her head back against the chair.

“Fuck you feel good,” she moaned, grinding herself against his hand.

“Good!” he laughed, “I fucking hope so.”

He continued to move his massive fingers in and out of her opening as the moans intensified to meet his pace. She could feel herself soaking his hand with her wetness, as he began to alternate between finger-fucking her and lapping at her clit with his tongue. Her orgasm was very close now.

“Jesus Christ, I think I’m going to-“ she was interrupted by a knock at the door. She and Negan both froze in place, unsure of how to proceed.

“God damnnit!” hissed Negan, “I forgot that I invited your new supervisor to meet you.”

Rebecca’s head felt fuzzy from pleasure and probably a lack of blood flow to her brain, but Negan’s words cut through the clouds.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” she whispered.

“Um. I also forgot to congratulate you on your new position.”

“What?”

“Welcome to Scavenger duty! Surprise!”

Chapter Text

“Just a minute!” Negan called to the unseen person knocking on his office door as he stood up from his position between Rebecca’s thighs.

Rebecca’s head swirled with a flood of different emotions. She was terrified of being literally caught with her pants down in Negan’s office and incredibly annoyed with the man for getting her into this position in the first place.

(not like you really rejected his advances though)

On top of all that, she was shocked by his words, “Scavenger duty?” she asked, stunned as she quickly pulled her jean shorts over her now throbbing crotch.

“Yeah, I worked something out like I said I would. That prick Teddy will sort the shit that you scavenge, since you’re apparently so fucking great at it. How’s that for petty revenge?” he chuckled to himself as he wiped a hand over his face to remove some of her wetness from around his mouth. He turned to look at her dead on, “How do I look?”

“Dishevelled. Like you just went down on someone. How about me?”

“Heh. Sexually frustrated! So, pretty normal for you.”

Rebecca rolled her eyes and smoothed the fabric of her tank top, “Ready?”

“As ready as I can be, given the circumstances,” he mumbled as he walked to the door. Rebecca remained standing next to her chair as she waited for him to answer the knocks. Negan swung open the large, wooden door and welcomed a middle-aged man with dark brown hair into the office.

“Chris! How fucking goes it, buddy?” he cried, extending his hand to shake the visitor’s. Rebecca cringed, thinking about where that hand had just been and about the lack of a sink in the office. Chris was dressed casually in khaki pants and a black t-shirt. He wore sturdy hiking boots and had a dark leather bag slung over his shoulder.

“Take a seat!” Negan offered. He strode toward his desk to grab his office chair as a third seat for himself, rolling it over to sit between the two arm chairs, “Only have two of the nice ones, so I guess I’ll just use this thing,” he said before seating himself.

Chris sat in the chair that Negan had been in initially while Rebecca took her previous seat. The trio sat in silence for a moment before Negan began to speak, “So, I thought it would be good for you two to meet, seeing as you’ll be working together from now on. Chris, you want to fill Rebecca here in on what it is you do exactly?”

“Right,” Chris’ expression was all business as he launched into his spiel. Rebecca hoped against hope that the room didn’t smell of sex and that her clothes were on straight, “The long and short of it is that scavenging is still not something we’re great at. We never had to be before the war because we just had the other communities do the work for us, ” he said shooting a glance at Negan, “We’ve gotten better over the years since the war, but we are still way behind the other communities, and some supplies are running out.”

“That’s where you come in, my dear,” Negan said, turning to Rebecca, “You have scavenging skills, or so you say, and we need those now. So, what do you say?”

“Sure. Yeah,” she began, choosing her words carefully, “I mean, I’m not a strategic genius or anything, but I did manage to keep myself and one other person alive out there for a long time. I might be able to help out, for sure.”

A smile erupted on her face as she finally came to grips with the fact that this wasn’t a dream; she would actually be able to contribute to the community in a way that used her skills instead of locking her in a musty warehouse for 10 hours every day.

“When do I start?” she asked.

“How about right now?” Chris replied, pulling a map out of his bag.

“Ok,” Rebecca’s heartbeat quickened at the surprise test of her skills, but her face did not falter to show her anxiety.

“We’re running low on some medications, and that could be a very big problem for us down the road. It’s not dire straits yet, but eventually… Anyway, this is a map of the area,” Chris explained as he handed the roll of paper out to Rebecca who took it and unfurled it in her lap. The paper was newsprint and the map was a rough pencil drawing of the area surrounding the Sanctuary.

“Our scouts try to map out the area as best they can while they explore what’s left out there. It’s a little bit rough, and definitely not to scale, but it’s the best we have right now,” he continued, “The areas with x’s over them are completely picked through. Mostly hospitals and pharmacies.”

Rebecca nodded, inspecting the map. Her eyes scanned the paper, familiarizing herself with the surrounding buildings and landscape. The area just around the Sanctuary had a sea of x’s for what appeared to be several miles, as did those around their neighbouring communities. Although she had known that there were other communities around them, Rebecca had never bothered to learn their names. Now she inspected their inscriptions on the map: The Kingdom, Alexandria Safe Zone, and The Hilltop. For a brief moment, she wondered what her life would be like if it had been one of these other communities who had found her in the woods that day. Maybe she would have fared better in these places than she had in the Sanctuary. Of course, then she may have never met Negan.

Scanning past the other communities, she let her eyes wander to the edge of the charted territory, to the area formerly occupied by The Whisperes before their fall. Her eyes fell upon a building on the edge of the map that hadn’t been x’d off. Scribbled below it was “Old Folks Home?”.

She raised her eyes from the map and beamed at the two men, “If this is what the inscription says it is: Bingo!”

“That didn’t take long. What’d you find?” Negan asked.

“This is a senior’s home right?” she asked her eyes scanning from Negan to Chris.

“We think so. That’s what the sign outside says, but no one has taken the time to explore it yet, so it’s unverified,” Chris answered.

“So that means, if it is, you haven’t cleaned it out yet?” she replied with her follow up question.

“No, why?” Chris replied

“Because old people have the best drugs. I bet they have all kinds of stuff in there for pain management, infections, diabetes, heart disease…hell, I bet they even have SSRIs!” she was practically dancing with excitement in her seat, “If no one else has thought to go through it, the place could be totally stocked with goodies.”

“What do you think, Chris?” Negan asked.

“I think it’s worth checking out. There’s no guarantee that someone else hasn’t gone through it yet, but we sure as hell haven’t thought to do so,” his eyes lifted to meet Rebecca’s, a smile finally breaking through his expression, “If you keep this up, I think you’re going to work out great!”

“Excellent!” she nearly squealed, “This is great! Give me some more problems! I love this shit!”

“I appreciate your enthusiasm, but we’ve got to deal with this first. It’s a bit time-sensitive. There are folks with medical conditions who could really use the supplies,” Chris turned back to Negan, “When do you think we can leave?”

The tall man considered his question briefly, “Depends on who’s available. Give me an hour to see how many guys I can spare to go with you. I’ll be coming myself, of course.”

“You will?” Chris seemed surprised by Negan’s announcement.

“Fuck yeah! I want to see this little thing in action,” he nodded at Rebecca, “Should be a good show.”

Rebecca felt her face grow hot at the praise being directed at her, but she tried to hide her discomfort with humour, “If I’m not terrible at my job and get us all killed, that is!” The two men looked at her gravely as she stifled a laugh, “That was a joke! I’m pretty great. You’ll be fine!”

“If you say so,” Chris’ voice was still tense, “What’s your name again?”

“Thelma Facefuck, isn’t that right?” Negan said flatly. Chris shot Rebeca a shocked look.

“He’s just joking,” she replied through gritted teeth while side-eyeing Negan, before extending her hand to Chris, “My name’s Rebecca. It’s a pleasure.”

“Likewise,” Chris replied, “Well, let’s tentatively say that we’ll meet up tomorrow morning, unless there aren’t enough men to accompany us of course, and go from there. Work for you two?”

Rebecca grinned and nodded while Negan shrugged his shoulders in an “I-don’t-care” motion.

“Rebecca, Negan, it’s been a pleasure. We’ll talk soon,” Chris said before standing. Rebecca re-rolled the map and extended her hand to give it back to Chris.

“Actually, why don’t you keep that,” he said, “Consider it your homework. Study it well and get familiar with the area to prep for tomorrow. Sound good?”

“Yes, sir!” she replied as she retracted her hand, “See you tomorrow morning!”

After Chris had left the room and the door was closed, Rebecca burst into laughter and began doing a silly victory dance as if she had won the lottery. Negan watched her with an amused smirk, “I’ve never seen someone so fucking excited to be put to work before. Jesus, lady!”

“I’m just so happy I don’t have to sort shit, and I get to help people, and Pencil-Dick has to paw through all of the stuff I bring back…This is the best day ever!” she had stopped dancing and now stood a few feet from Negan, smiling from ear to ear.

“Pencil-Dick?” he asked with a confused look.

“Ted. Sorry. I’ll tell you later. I’ve gotta go get ready for tomorrow, and study this map. And you have to round up some tough dudes to go with us,” she said as she marched toward the door.

“Hey! Wait!” he said, reaching out to gently grab her arm and tug her toward him.

“Oh shit! I’m sorry! I haven’t even thanked you yet,” she cried before standing on her toes and throwing her arms around his thick neck, “Thank you for trusting me with this!”

He squeezed her back, “You’re welcome, Fuckface, but there’s something else.”

“What is it?” she asked, pulling away slightly.

“That shit Ryan told you. About people wanting to hurt me?”

“Yeah?”

“I think tomorrow we need to be careful, just in case he’s not spewing bullshit. Which he very well may be.”

“I agree. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said thoughtfully.

“We can’t make it known that we’re together. Unless Chris heard something he wasn’t supposed to today, no one knows that we’re even friendly…let alone grinding our genitals into each other’s mouths for fun.”

“That’s one way to put it,” she said, “Ok, we’ll keep our distance, and I’ll try to pay attention while you’re not around to see if anyone says anything sketchy. Sound like a plan?”

“You read my fucking mind, baby,” he said, pulling her closer again.

Rebecca lifted her face to meet his and let her lips lightly graze the side of his face, still smooth from his morning shave. He moved his head slightly to allow their lips to gently touch before taking her bottom lip between his own and then allowing his tongue to trace across it. A shiver went through Rebecca’s body and she became aware once again of the throbbing in her crotch from her interrupted orgasm.

(can women get blue balls?)

She broke off the kiss, knowing that neither of them had time to deal with her needy cunt right now, and that making out wasn’t going to alleviate things in that department. There were more important matters to attend to. Her pussy would just have to understand.

 

***

 

After leaving Negan’s office, Rebecca practically skipped back to her room with the map clutched tightly in her hand. Once inside, she wasted no time spreading the paper across her bed and studying its contents in more detail. The Sanctuary was located toward the South-West with Alexandrea toward the middle, the Kingdom in the North-West, and The Hilltop in the East. The area with the potential nursing home lay in the North-East, and if the distances estimated by the scouts were correct, it would take them about two days to get there and another two to return.

(four days on the road. this is going to be an epic first outing)

She felt her stomach tighten with nervousness at the thought of being outside the Sanctuary for the first time since her arrival. It was a brutal, cruel world outside of the protective walls and she knew from experience that terrible things could happen to them while they were out there. She attempted to push her fears down. Whatever would happen would happen no matter how much she worried, and she couldn’t stay in the safety of her bed forever. Her dreams would eventually drive her mad without anything to distract her.

Her thoughts began to drift to Negan and their encounter earlier that day. She thought of his warm, brown eyes peering up at her from between her legs, about how passionately he had kissed her before she left his office, and about his hands all over her most intimate places. Placing the map on the floor beside her bed, Rebecca lay back against her cool pillow and began to undo her shorts for the second time that morning.

Slipping a hand down past the waist band, she let her fingers tease herself open, slowly circling her clit. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine Negan down there again, slowly lapping at her swollen clit and bringing her pleasure. Her breathing hitched as she inserted two fingers inside of herself and ground down against her palm, fucking herself and bringing her closer to her peak.

Speeding up her pace, Rebecca increased the pressure on her clit. Her eyes were still shut tight as her brain conjured delightful images for her of Negan above her, holding her arms over her head as he fucked her into her mattress ravenously, his mouth pushed against her own to muffle her cries. This thought pushed her over the edge at last and her orgasm crashed all around her, making the world fade away for a moment at the pinnacle of her pleasure. A weak whimper leaked from her lips as she turned her head to press her mouth into the pillow to muffle the sound.

Chapter Text

The remainder of Rebecca’s day was spent preparing for her first assignment with the group. Although no one had confirmed that it would actually happen yet, she picked out the clothing she would wear, set her alarm for 6am so that she would have enough time to shower before leaving, and studied the map Chris had given her until she could re-draw the thing from memory. 

The only time she took a break from her preparations was to swing by the cafeteria and grab her dinner. Tonight’s delicacies consisted of instant mashed potatoes and some kind of chunky brown slop from a can that claimed to be “beef stew”, which she grudgingly ate alone in her room.

A few hours after dinner saw her still hunched over the map, her fingers tracing along the routes between the communities and outposts with admiration. Even though it was somewhat sketchy, the people who had created it had clearly put in a lot of time and effort when they created it. 

Furthermore, she knew that if she was going to hang onto this position, she would have to go above and beyond what was expected of her to really impress the others on her team. Rote memorization of the surrounding landscape might prove to be the best way to achieve this, so she studied the map for as long as she could.

There came a knock at her door around 9pm. 

Rebecca had been expecting that someone would eventually come to inform her that they were still on for the next morning, or to let her know that there weren’t enough men to make the journey so soon. As she reached out to pull the door open, her stomach tightened with anticipation of the news that waited for her on the other side. The hinges creaked and Chris’s face came into view, looming before her in the doorway. She fought her face’s natural urge to showcase her disappointment at the fact that it wasn’t Negan who would deliver the verdict to her.

“Well,” Chris began, “I’ve got some bad news for you.”

Her stomach dropped at his words, “Oh, were there not enough men?”

“No, no. We have plenty of men. The bad news is that you have to get your ass to bed ASAP because you’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn to be on the road.”

“Don’t do that to me!” she laughed and heaved a sigh of relief, “You had me for a second.”

“Sorry, but it was hard to resist,” he said chuckling at her widened eyes and flushed face.

“So you do have a sense of humour then!” she said, her heart rate still climbing down after the scare he had given her.

“From time to time, I’ve been known to crack a joke,” he replied, turning to leave, “Meet us tomorrow morning at Negan’s office. 7:30am sharp. Don’t be late.”

“Got it!”

Closing the door, she allowed herself to drop to the bed, heaving a sigh of relief. Chris was right: she would have to get her ass to bed soon or else she would be dragging herself along behind the group like one of those dead things outside the next morning. Rebecca climbed beneath her sheets, fully clothed, too exhausted from her day of studying to even bother getting undressed. The last thing she did before closing her eyes was to check that her alarm was set for 6am the next morning. Once she was confident that everything was in order, she allowed herself to be taken down into the darkness of sleep.

***

This dream was different than the others. There was no forest, only the dimly lit halls of an abandoned building. Her footfalls were gritty against the cracked tiles that had been stained with rust and grime. A fluorescent bulb flickered in the distance like a dying star, hurting her eyes. Everything smelled of sourness and death. This place was spoiled and rank with death.

Behind her came a long and mournful moan. She whirled around to investigate its origin in time to see a large figure step out of a doorway at the end of the hall and begin dragging itself toward her as if its body was no longer its own. From the gait, she knew immediately that it was a dead thing, and that it knew exactly where she was. It was coming for her.

(there’s nothing in my dreams. just some ugly memories)

Her body felt as if it were paralyzed. She wanted to run and scream, to leave this terrible place, but she couldn’t. As the figure neared her, passing under a barely-functioning light, she saw the facial features emerge from the shadows. It was Negan. His arms hung limply at his sides and his eyes were glazed over and milky in death. A large wound wrapped itself around his neck, the blood long since congealed around it. He was dead.

She had to go on.

She had to move.

She couldn’t move.

As the dead thing walked along the corridor, passing open doorways, other figures joined it, dragging their feet along the surface of the floor. She saw Chris, the side of his face ripped open, mouth chopping hungrily at the air as he neared her. There were other men that she recognized from the Sanctuary with them. They were all dead. All coming toward her, reaching out with cracked fingernails caked with gore.

At the back of the undead mob, she noticed a figure with wavy, light brown hair. It stood shorter than most of the other figures, but she knew it instantly. She had spent years studying and adoring its face. The eyes were dead now, not the deep green she had loved to look into every morning. She hadn’t seen him since the forest. She had killed him there, after he had turned, and yet here he was. They were all here, and they were all going to drag her down with them.

Rebecca was still frozen in place as the first one grabbed at her, pulling her toward its mouth. A scream was torn from her throat as it sank its teeth into her face. They were all on her now, ripping and biting at her flesh. Another scream was raked through her throat, piercing the air.

The pain was unimaginable, yet in her dying moments she thought that maybe it was good. This is what she deserved. She had gotten them all killed. This was her fault, so death was her fate.

(what can i do about my dreams?)

***

Her eyes sprang open in the darkness of her room. The first thing she noticed was that the air no longer smelled of death and rot. Her sheets were soaked with sweat and her heart thudded in her chest. She was alive. Bit by bit, she came back to herself. She was in her dorm room in the Sanctuary. She was safe.

Her breathing and heart rate slowed as she tried to calm herself after the nightmare. She told herself that it had only been her brain trying to work out her anxieties about the next day while she slept. That was all. Nothing bad would happen on the road. Dreams did not determine the future.

Looking at her watch she saw that it was only 3am; still a few hours before she needed to be up. She attempted to slow her breathing down further, closing her eyes and forcing her head back to the pillow as her inner monologue attempted to placate her irrational thoughts:

(you’ll get them all killed, just like you got him killed!)

(it wasn’t your fault. it was no one’s fault.)

(everything will be fine. it was just a dream. go the fuck to sleep)

She allowed the darkness to swallow her conscious thoughts once more.

(just a dream. just a dream. go the fuck to sleep. it was no one’s fault)

Before fully losing consciousness, she silently wished for a dreamless sleep.

***

The alarm sounded at 6am, jarring Rebecca awake. Her wish for a dreamless sleep had thankfully come true, and she woke up feeling rested and ready for the day. Brushing away memories of the previous night’s bad dreams, she went about her typical morning routine of showering and grabbing a quick breakfast before going to meet the rest of her team in the hallway outside of Negan’s office.

Her footfalls reverberated as she rounded the corner that marked Negan’s wing of the building. Assembled in the corridor was a cluster of six men and women, joking and chatting casually to one another. As Rebecca approached, the conversation fizzled out and heads turned toward her.

Chris stepped forward to greet her, “Good morning, Rebecca. It’s good to see you again.”

“Good morning! Nice to see you too,” and then to the larger group, “I’m Rebecca. I guess I’m the new girl.”

The others mumbled their greetings, and Chris asked them all to introduce themselves to her. She learned that the group mainly consisted of ex-military and law enforcement employees. They also counted among their ranks a former military history teacher and a young man who had been a lifeguard before the world ended, which made her feel slightly less out of place amongst the gaggle of bad-asses and hard-looking characters.

As the introductions finished up, the door to Negan’s office swung open, hitting the wall beside it with a loud bang and silencing all conversation. Rebecca tried to keep a straight face as her brain summoned up an image of him on the other side of the door, listening to them and waiting for just the right moment to shove the door open and make his entrance as dramatic as possible.

The man himself swaggered into the hallway.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” he began in his typical boisterous manner, which felt wholly unnatural given the early hour, “Let’s all wake the fuck up and hit the road! It’s gonna be a long one.”

He inspected the group, looking to see if he approved of their equipment and attire. Rebecca’s heart jumped into her throat as he stopped just in front of her and stared her down. Unsure of how friendly to act toward him, or if she should even make eye contact, she squeaked out a simple “Hello!”, keeping her eyes on the floor.

“You!” he barked at her, sending her hair on end and causing her head to jerk up and her eyes to widen. His gaze was dark, showing none of the warmth she had become accustomed to with him.

“Yes, sir?” she replied.

“You are not dressed for this shit at all. Seriously?” he brought an index finger out to hook under the strap of her tank top, snapping it against her shoulder, “Shorts and a tank top? You want to slather yourself in BBQ sauce to invite some walker bites too?”

“It- it’s all I have. I don’t have any other clothes,” she murmured, feeling sudden, hot anger toward the man. He had to know that she had basically nothing in this world now. How dare he embarrass her in front of her new colleagues.

“Come with me. We’ll fix this and then get on the road,” he said flatly before walking briskly down the hall. Rebecca struggled to keep up with his pace as she jogged beside him.

They remained silent until they came to stop at the commissary’s storage closet where Negan pulled a key from his pocket, unlocking the door and stepping inside the darkened room. Rebecca followed. It was still too early for any staff to be there, so they were alone amongst the shelves of goods and racks of clothing.

“Thanks a lot, asshole!” she hissed at him, crossing her arms over her chest.

“What? You are dressed utterly fucking ridiculously for what we’re doing.”

“Is that so? And you couldn’t have given me a fucking heads up yesterday?”

“It slipped my mind,” his voice was still flat, but a devious look had taken over his eyes, “Plus, if I had done that, I wouldn’t get to watch you strip for me now, would I?”

Rebecca shook her head, sighing in annoyance at his antics, “Ok, what am I going to wear then?”

Negan scanned the racks, seeming to look for something specific. Once his eyes found what he was searching for, he grabbed a hanger off of the rack and held it out to her, “Ideally, this, but I don’t think it’ll be much better than what you have on,” he said grinning. A very tight, skimpy cocktail dress hung from the hanger, looking to be at least two sizes too small for the curvy woman.

“As if that would even fit over my ass! Get real!”

“Ok, maybe another time. Here!” he replaced the dress and grabbed a pair of thick khaki pants and a long-sleeved grey shirt, “This that’ll work?”

Rebecca nodded and took the garments from his hands, “Where do I change?”

“Oh come on, Fuckface! You’re not getting all shy on me, are you? Change right here. For me?” he wiggled his eyebrows at her in what she assumed was supposed to be a seductive look, but which just came across as goofy, “It’s gonna be hard enough not ravaging you while we’re out there on the road together. Can’t I at least get a little show to jerk off to in my sleeping bag?”

“You are not being very charming this morning,” she said with a laugh, “But I’ll do it anyway. Out of pragmatism, you see,” she said as she pulled her tank top up over her head revealing her ratty, old bra before removing her shorts.

“Mmmm-hmmm. Sure. That looks pragmatic,” he said, licking his lips at the sight of her body before grabbing a sports bra from a shelf to his right, “Here, try this. That bra looks like it’s about to bite the dust and it’s totally killing my boner.”

“Thanks. You know how to make a girl feel special,” she said dryly, unlatching the clasps on her bra before letting it drop.

Negan’s grin widened at the sight of her now fully naked before him in the storage room. Taking a step forward so that their bodies nearly touched, he reached out to caress her shoulder and down her arm before cupping one leather-clad hand over a breast. Goosebumps rose along her arms as she inhaled deeply, allowing him to touch her.

“These are fucking lovely, if you don’t mind me saying so,” he said, his voice dropping to a low growl.

“I don’t mind at all,” she said as she tilted her face up so that their lips touched in a deep kiss. A groan escaped Negan’s mouth as she brought a hand down to feel the front of his pants, which were beginning to tighten around his hardening cock.

“And that feels magnificent, if you don’t mind me saying so,” she giggled.

Emitting a low growl, he pushed her against a nearby wall, and began to plant kisses along her neck and collarbones before moving lower. Rebecca gasped at the dissonance between the cold concrete against her back and his warm mouth meeting her nipples. He allowed his tongue to swirl around her and she could feel arousal begin to spread throughout her body.

Negan began to move his face lower, trailing his tongue down her stomach as he got on his knees before grabbing her right leg and throwing it over his shoulder. He began to kiss her inner thighs, nipping at the delicate flesh and teasing her while planting his gaze firmly on her eyes, appearing to enjoy the flush that had spread across her cheeks.

Without warning, the door to the commissary creaked open, splitting the darkness with a beam of light from the hallway to illuminate their forms. For the second time in 24 hours, Rebecca froze like a deer in headlights, caught in the act. This time, however, she was completely exposed. Negan jerked his head away from her and stood quickly to shield her from the eyes of the person entering the room.

“Jesus fucking Christ! Can’t I walk into a room without finding you two going at it?” the voice was female and filled with contempt.

“Fuck, Julie!” Negan sounded annoyed, “What the fucking fuck are you doing here anyway?”

“I’m opening today, idiot,” she placed a hand on her hip, “You know, the job I have to do because you got your ass thrown in jail a few years ago.”

“Well, can you give us a minute? I was just getting Rebecca here some clothes for work.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly what it looked like you were doing,” Julie rolled her eyes at the lame excuse, “I’ll be back in five minutes. Please be gone when I get back,” she said before shutting the door a little bit too hard and rattling some of the items on the shelves nearby.

Rebecca scurried toward the pile of clothing on the floor, hurriedly pulling the bra and shirt on before the pants, “So, I guess we suck at being careful and discreet.”

“We’re just lucky that it was Julie and not someone else who barged in here,” said Negan thoughtfully, “At least Julie knows how to keep her mouth shut.”

“You feel pretty confident about that, huh? I hope you aren’t wrong.”

“Nah, I think we’re ok. Let’s get the fuck out of here before people start looking for us,” he said, patting her ass as she exited the room in front of him. They walked back to his office in silence to rejoin the group.

Chapter Text

The team of scavengers departed from the Sanctuary a little later than intended due to Rebecca and Negan’s supply room shenanigans. They packed light, bringing only the essentials with them, and rode on horses, which were now the only available method of conveyance. Most of the world’s fuel supplies had either run out or expired, so vehicles were now useless. Rebecca had never been on a horse before and was nervous to try riding for the first time in front of her new colleagues. However, after a crash course from Sheila, one of the few other women on the team, she began to pick up the basics.

Most of the first day was spent traveling, stopping only to eat a quick lunch at mid-day and to dispose of the occasional crowd of dead from the road. By the time the sun began to descend, painting the horizon crimson and orange, Rebecca was feeling more confident on her horse and had become better acquainted with her teammates.

The group decided to stop for the night in an open field where they ate dinner and set up camp. It was determined that, since they were a relatively large group, guard duty would consist of two hour shifts. Since it was her first time on the road, Rebecca was the lucky one to get the first shift, which would allow her to sleep through the rest of the night uninterrupted.

Her shift started at 10pm as the others were getting ready to sleep. Taking a seat on the highest point in the area, a small hill near the camp, she waited to see what the night would bring. As the campfire died down, she began to hear a chorus of snores coming from the group. The loneliness of the night began to set in as she sat alone in the darkness.

The smell of vegetation and wildflowers was carried on the night’s breeze, bringing with it memories of another life before the Sanctuary. It had been a life that was equal parts sun-drenched beauty and cold brutality at the hands of the wilderness. But it had been her life, and she had been free there.

She stood, shaking the recollections from her head, and scanned the area around her, as far as her eyes could see. At first there was nothing, but as she inspected the expanse of field and trees for threats, she saw a bush rustle at the edge of the forest that lay to the west of their camp. Gun raised, Rebecca waited to see what would emerge, readying herself to defend the team if need be.

From the bushes darted a small, reddish-brown shape that ran on all fours. It was a fox. She heaved a sigh of relief as she watched the creature move gracefully along the treeline, searching for food. Letting the gun drop, she sat back down, assured that the area was still safe.

As she watched the fox fade into the distance, continuing its hunt, she felt her eyes grow heavy, and hoped that her shift would be over soon. Her brow furrowed as she inspected her wrist watch. 11:15pm. Still almost an hour left before she could call it a night. She tried to get comfortable, placing her elbows against her knees and nestling her chin between the palms of her hands. Her eyelids began to descend as her head dipped toward her knees before springing up again in panic. Shit! She had almost fallen asleep. This was no good.

She got to her feet once again, and began to jump up and down in once place to wake herself up. The action felt incredibly awkward and she hoped that no one was watching her at that moment, but it was all she could think to do to keep herself alert. After a minute or so, she sat back down and resumed her surveillance of the camp.

A moment later she was started by a noise which emanated from the direction of the camp. She jerked her head toward it, her eyes wide, seeking its origin. She noticed a figure walking toward her from the darkness, silhouetted against the night sky. As it neared her, climbing the hill, she could tell from the gait and stature that it was Negan approaching her in the dark.

She waited until he was nearly beside her before she spoke, “Thought we weren’t supposed to be seen together.”

“Everyone’s asleep down there. There’s no one to see us,” he said plopping down beside her onto the grass, “Besides, you looked like you were trying to keep yourself awake with all of that jumping you were doing, so I thought I should come keep you awake myself.”

Rebecca’s face grew hot with embarrassment, “You weren’t supposed to see that…”

“Eh, it happens to the best of us,” Negan replied with a shrug, “So. How’s guard duty?”

“Boring. Except I saw a fox! That was neat. You couldn’t sleep?”

“Nah. I never sleep well out here. Too many things to go wrong. Too many people to think about,” his eyes were cast upon the grass just in front of his boots.

“I felt that way at first, when I started sleeping out here. After it all went bad and it was clear that home wasn’t safe anymore,” she paused as memories of her first few terrifying nights living in the forest flooded back, “But you get used to it. I think humans can adapt to just about anything if you give them enough time.”

“How long did you live out here?” he asked, his voice as low and soft as the night breeze.

“Until they brought me to the Sanctuary. About four years, I guess,” her eyes stung with the beginnings of tears, as emotions unexpectedly hit her, causing her throat to contract. She took a breath to steady herself.

“That’s a long time. Were you alone?” he pressed.

“No,” her voice wavered, and she lowered her head, “I don’t know if I can talk about it yet.”

“Ok. We don’t have to talk about it, if it hurts too much, Fuckface. I get it,” he paused and they sat in silence for a long time before he spoke again, “I lost someone too. It was actually just before all of this started. I understand what it feels like, and I get that it’s hard to talk about. Truth be told, I never fucking talk about her either. Not really. But I always remember her.”

Rebecca felt the tears flow down her cheeks, falling to the grass between her knees. She couldn’t speak, and so remained silent as he spoke to her.

“All that to say: if you ever do want to talk about it, I can listen. I mean, I’m not always great at listening. If you hadn’t already noticed, I really like the sound of my own voice. But I’ll try. Ok?”

She squeaked out an, “Ok,” head still lowered.

Negan gently grabbed her chin between his thumb and forefinger, tilting her head up and toward him. His eyes looked nearly black in the darkness, but Rebecca thought for a moment that she saw a few tears glistening at the corners in the moonlight. He brushed one of the trails of moisture from her cheek with his thumb before lowering his mouth to hers. The kiss was deep and passionate, but not sexual. Their hands were kept to themselves this time.

As their lips parted, Rebecca felt the corners of her mouth try to twitch into a smile, “That’s what I like to fucking see,” Negan said, “Now go to fucking bed. I’ll finish the last bit of the shift. I have the next one anyway.”

“You sure?” she asked.

“Yeah, I wasn’t gonna sleep before the shift anyway, and you look like you could use some more beauty sleep.”

“Ha fucking ha,” she said dryly before standing, “Goodnight, big boy.”

“Goodnight, Fuckface. Don’t let the bed bugs, or lice, or whatever the fuck else is in that grass down there bite.”

“That’s not exactly helpful, you know,” she said before strolling down the hill to her sleeping bag. Although the ground was hard and lumpy, and a few of her teammates snored like a malfunctioning wood chipper, Rebecca drifted off to a deep sleep within minutes of lying down and closing her eyes.

***

Negan watched as Rebecca descended the hill toward the camp, her figure highlighted in the moon’s glow. She climbed into her sleeping bag and seemed to nod off immediately. He sighed as he surveyed the group and the surrounding area, looking for signs of movement on the horizon, but finding none.

The ever-present smirk had dropped from his features as he sat alone in the dark. There was no one here to see it anyway, so what was the point of putting on the mask now. Rebecca’s words had caused a deluge of memories, usually held at bay by the distraction of his daily life, to wash over him. They were memories of a life before the dead walked, when he had been just a man, not a leader or a Savior.

Negan didn’t particularly enjoy thinking about his pre-apocalypse life because it brought back memories of Lucille. He had finally come to accept that she was truly gone, and had given up any illusion of keeping even a tiny piece of her alive after the baseball bat was destroyed during the war. However, it still hurt far too much to think about her most of the time. Instead, he filled his days with work in order to keep her memory pushed down into the deepest recesses of his mind, only allowing himself to think about her at times like this, when his defenses were lowered.

(i think i know exactly what you’re feeling, fuckface.)

The night wore on. In the loneliest hours of the morning, Negan wanted nothing more than to walk down to where Rebecca lay sleeping and to curl his arms around her. He wanted to protect her from her own memories, and to rescind his own. There would be nothing more in their worlds than the feeling of a warm body pressed against one another, driving away the cold clutch of grief.

Instead, he stood to once again survey the area. Finding nothing, he sat down and waited. At 2am he heard the faint beeping of a wrist watch in the darkness and Chris stirred in his bag. He trudged up the hill to relieve Negan of his shift, his eyes still full of sleep.

“My turn, I guess, sir,” he said, his voice like gravel.

“Guess it is, huh?” Negan replied, standing.

“Quiet so far? How did Rebecca do for her first shift?”

“Completely fucking boring out here. Sucks to be you for getting this shift. 2am is the fucking worst,” he said trying not to come across as too sympathetic to the man’s plight, “Fu- Rebecca did great. She’s a natural, don’t you think?”

“That remains to be seen. Tomorrow will be the real test for her,” Chris said thoughtfully, “But I’m hoping she’ll do well. We really need her to do well.”

“That is very fucking true, my friend,” he said as he began to descend the hill toward the camp, “Don’t fall asleep now.”

Chris remained standing, but said nothing in response. Negan reached the camp and got into his own sleeping bag, strategically placed as far away from Rebecca as possible to avoid any suspicion, or temptation. Turning toward her in the darkness, he could just barely make out her figure lying in the grass on the other side of the camp, her chest slowly rising and falling. He trained his breathing to hers, allowing his eyes to close, though it was a very long time until he was able to fully drift down to sleep.

***

As the first rays of light began to break through the trees, hitting the faces of the sleeping group, Negan awoke to a sky that was tinted with the rosy color of morning. He had always been an early riser, and was typically the first person awake in any collective sleeping situation, be it a sleepover or the aftermath of a harem orgy. Today, however, he noticed Rebecca was already sitting up in her bag, sleepily looking around the camp site. He rose and quietly ambled over to where she was, trying not to wake any of the team members who were still sleeping.

“You been up long?” he asked, crouching beside where she sat, his voice just above a whisper.

“Not so long. Maybe ten minutes or so. It’s hard to sleep with the sun in your eyes,” she grinned at him her eyes flashing deviously, “Did you know that you snore?”

“I’ve been told that I do, but I don’t fucking believe it,” he replied dismissively.

“Well, believe it or not, you were totally doing it just before you woke up!” she said, giggling.

The last person on guard duty, a young man named Paul, had shambled down from the hill after noticing Negan and Rebecca were awake.

“Hey guys! It’s a pretty nice morning, huh? Mind if I try to catch a few more minutes of sleep before we have to get on the road?” he asked.

“I don’t fucking care,” Negan replied with a dead-pan expression on his face, “Knock yourself out. Literally.”

Rebecca shook her head and laughed at the bad pun while Paul shrugged and made his way over to his sleeping bag.

“That was a terrible joke!” Rebecca chided.

“Yeah, well, what more do you expect at…what time is it?”

Rebecca glanced at her wrist, “My watch says that it is precisely 6:12am.”

“Shit. Looks like I slept in,” he mumbled, “Must be the fresh air.”

“You have got to be fucking kidding me! 6am is sleeping in for you?” she shot him an incredulous look.

“What can I say? I’m a morning person.”

“Yeah, that figures. Morning people are so annoying,” she said with a smirk.

“At least I’m not lazy, like some people I know,” he said, gesturing toward the congregation of sleeping scavengers before standing up again, “I’m gonna boil some water for coffee. Want some?”

“Fuck yes I do!” Rebecca replied gleefully, “Thanks!”

“Don’t mention it,” he said as he walked toward the fire pit.

The rest of the group began to wake up gradually. They ate a quick breakfast of jerky and mixed nuts, the only things that were portable enough to bring with them on the road, before packing up the camp. The team was back on the road before the sun had risen above the treeline.

They reached the border of what had previously been the Whisperers territory just after lunch. It felt wrong to cross into the formerly forbidden place, but the group was getting progressively more excited as they neared their destination. The nursing home was very close now.

Chapter Text

Sunset Manor Senior Care Facility had seen better days. As the group approached the building, which lay on the outskirts of a small town called Amherst, Rebecca took in the broken windows and chipped white paint on the building’s exterior with a healthy dose of trepidation. The grass was overgrown, and weeds choked the pavement of the walkway that lead to the front door. Nature was attempting to take back the land that man had developed before civilization had fallen. Eventually this would all crumble away and wild animals would make their homes amongst the ruins of this, and other buildings just like it.

(what’s it all for anyway? why do we fight so hard to keep going when it will all just crumble in the end? and even if we do find the drugs we need in here, what happens when the stores of pharmaceuticals run out some day? no one knows how to manufacture this stuff anymore)

Rebecca took a deep breath and swallowed her existential crisis; it didn’t really matter what she thought about the need for medication long term. The only thing that mattered was that this was her job now. She wanted to keep it, and to make sure Negan hadn’t misplaced his faith in her skills. She could ponder existence another day.

Chris was the first to speak as they stood, huddled together on the crumbling sidewalk, waiting for instructions, “This place could be crawling with walkers, so first we do a sweep of the building and area to make sure there are no surprises,” then he turned to Rebecca directly, “Since this is your first outing, I’m going to ask you to stick close to me, ok?”

“Sounds like a plan,” she said softly, anxiety suddenly taking all of the force out of her lungs and making her voice uncharacteristically weak and sheepish.

“Phil and Ben, you guys do the rooms on the left when we get in there. Charles and Sylvia, you guys will check around the outside of the building to make sure there’s nothing out here trying to get in. Negan, Craig, and Dan will wait out here as backup. If there’s any trouble we’ll signal by firing a gun, otherwise we’ll use quiet killing methods so we don’t draw any attention. Everyone got that?” Chris wrapped up his logistical speech, and the team nodded solemnly before breaking off into their respective groups.

“Ok. You ready?” Chris whispered to Rebecca, who nodded as she followed him to the main door, silently praying that they would find what they were looking for in this place.

Chris pushed on the door, which was thankfully unlocked, before kicking it open in the hopes of making enough noise to draw out any dead things that might be lurking in the shadows. Immediately three of the dead made their way through the door, and were hurriedly put down by Chris and Rebecca. The presence of dead didn’t faze the new scavenger recruit as she had handled her fair share of them before coming to the Sanctuary.

“Good work. Now let’s just wait for another minute or two to make sure there aren’t any stragglers before we go in,” Chris explained. Rebecca, Phil, and Ben nodded mutely in agreement. Rebecca shot a careful look back at Negan, who was standing with Craig and Dan near the sidewalk, watching her intently. His face looked concerned in a way that she had never seen it before and Rebecca wondered if it was concern for her or for the mission, in general.

“Ok, it looks like we’re good to go in,” Chris said, stepping toward the door, “Everyone be very careful. There may be some of those things trapped inside rooms.”

Rebecca followed Chris into the darkness that lay beyond the door, her breathing shallow and her heart beating rapidly. This was it.

(please let there be pills. please. please. please…)

Their boots scraped against the dirty tiles of the floor, which was littered with debris blown in through the building’s broken windows. Chris headed down a hallway to their immediate right and Rebecca followed with a hunting knife ready to take down anything that might come at them. Chris kicked in doors methodically as he went, sticking his head into each room after he was sure that nothing was coming out. In total, he killed four walkers while Rebecca took out two.

“Not bad for a first-timer!” he commended.

“Why thank you!” Rebecca smiled at him and her heart began to slow down to a somewhat human pace, “This ain’t my first rodeo, you know.”

The pair rounded a corner and found themselves standing in the entry way of what must have been a common room when the senior’s home was still operating. Old newspapers, books, and board games were strewn around the room along with pates of food and mugs of tea and coffee, long since rotten and desiccated, still sitting on some of the tables.

A chill went down Rebecca’s spine as she thought about the last terrifying days of the nursing home’s residents, waiting for the end while the world around them crumbled. She wondered if the nurses and aides stayed to comfort them in their final moments, or if they fucked off to their own families, leaving the seniors to die alone and afraid. She shuddered at the thought of being frail, helpless, alone, and surrounded by the dead as they attempted to get inside this place. It must have been horrific.

As they stood staring at the wreckage, Rebecca caught sight of movement in her peripheral vision. Whirling around just in time to stop one of the home’s former inhabitants from sinking its teeth into her neck, Rebecca let out a yelp and stumbled backward into Chris. At the sound of her yelp, several more of the dead rose from various places around the room and began to make their way toward them, aroused by the commotion.

“Fuck!” Chris yelled as he rushed to push the thing back and away from Rebecca. He quickly disposed of it by jamming a knife through its forehead, “Let’s get to work on these other ones!”

Rebecca rushed toward one of them, still dressed in dingy nurse’s scrubs, and pushed the knife through the side of its skull.

(guess that answers my previous question about whether the nurses stayed)

She then moved toward another one, an old man who wore a grey cardigan. Finally, she took out a woman who was sitting in a wheelchair, her legs immobile, but her upper half endlessly reaching out for Rebecca in the hopes of devouring her. Once she had finished, she looked to Chris, who was still breathing heavily over his last kill.

“We have to be more careful. That could have ended really badly,” he said flatly.

“No shit,” she replied, causing his eyes to narrow at her, and then, “Sorry. I’m just a little flustered.”

The two of them scanned the room, their gaze eventually coming to a heavy door in the far corner that appeared to be padlocked.

“I have a feeling that might be what we’re looking for,” Chris said, “But it’s a pretty sturdy door. Might take some time to break it open.”

“Wait a second!” Rebecca said excitedly, rushing to the nurse she had disposed of previously, “I wonder if it has keys on it…”

She began to check through the thing’s pockets, trying to ignore the terrible smell of decay that it emitted. After coming up empty, she noticed a lanyard around the thing’s neck, the bottom half concealed under the neckline of its top. She pulled the material gingerly, her eyes falling upon exactly what she wanted: a small ring of keys.

“I think this could be helpful,” she yelled to Chris as she used her knife to cut the lanyard off of the corpse before bringing the keys to the door.

“Worth a try,” he said, shrugging as he took the keys from her hands and tried the first one in the door, “Not that one,” The second key he tried slid into the slot, but refused to turn. The third slid in and gave an audible pop when turned, “That’s more like it!”

“Awesome! We did it!” Rebecca cried as Chris pushed the door open. He was still gripping the doorknob when a pair of grimy hands emerged from the darkness, grabbing his forearm and jerking him forward.

Rebecca screamed as a hungry mouth lunged toward the man, but before she could move to take care of the dead thing that was trying to consume Chris, another pair of hands fell on her own arm to pull her away from the scene. She staggered backward helplessly while low moan came from the thing behind her as it began its attack.

Whirling around, Rebecca managed to get herself away from the grip of the dead thing that had grabbed her, but tripped on an upturned chair that lay to her left. She stumbled, crashing down on her back and knocking the air out of her lungs. The ghoul was relentless, coming straight for her face as it launched itself at her from above.

“Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” she yelled at the corpse, sure that these would be her last words.

Before it could grab a mouthful of her flesh, she managed to get her knife out and impale it from under its chin. The now de-animated re-animated corpse slumped forward, trapping her for a moment under its weight. With a grunt, she rolled out from under it, her back already screaming at her in pain after the fall.

Rebecca scrambled to her feet and rushed toward the doorway where Chris had just been in order to help him, if it was even possible to help him now. As she entered the room, she first saw the corpse on the floor. It was the thing that had attacked Chris as he pushed open the door. Chris himself stood over the body, breathing deeply.

“I’m fine,” he said flatly.

“Fuck. I’m so sorry. I tried to help,” she said, her body shaking from adrenaline and fear.

“It’s ok. You had your own shit to deal with back there,” he paused for a moment before saying, “Nice work. You held your own.”

Rebecca simply nodded before letting her eyes wander around the small room. It was stocked full of pills, creams, and medical supplies.

“Holy shit,” she whispered in amazement, “Looks like it was worth the close call. Just look at this place!”

“Huh?” Chris hadn’t yet taken a look around, “Well, I’ll be damned. Looks like you were right. Nice.”

“Let’s go tell the others about this,” she said.

The pair hobbled toward the other side of the room, bruised and sore from their fight with the dead, before turning around the corner which led to the main hallway. As they neared the building’s main door, Phil and Ben were already running toward them from the other direction.

“We heard screaming,” said Phil, looking at Chris and Rebecca with concern, “Were either of you bit?”

“Almost,” said Rebecca, “But we handled it.”

“And we found the meds,” Chris added.

“Fucking great!” cried Ben, pushing the door to outside open, “Let’s tell the rest of the group.”

As they drew closer to Negans’s team, their fearless leader ran toward them, a look of concern etched into his features, “What the fuck happened in there? I heard screaming, and I was about ten seconds away from breaking formation and going in.”

“Rebecca got knocked over by a walker, but she’s fine,” Chris said.

Negan shot a glance at Rebecca that hung somewhere between concern and dismay, “And how the fuck did that happen?”

“We missed a walker in the room somehow before we moved on to open a supply cabinet. It snuck up on me. I guess we got too excited,” Rebecca mumbled sheepishly.

The entire group fell silent, and Chris sighed, “It’s not her fault. It was me. I was supposed to be training her, and I fucked up.”

Negan’s eyes narrowed at the pair, “Do not let that shit happen again or I’ll suspend the both of you for a month,” he said coldly.

Rebecca felt her heart quail for a moment at his words. She hated the look of disappointment in his eyes. Negan had taken a chance on her, and she hadn’t exactly shown him that she was capable of handling herself outside of the Sanctuary. She would have to work harder and be better; she just hoped that the stash of meds would somehow appease him.

***

By the time the group had finished going through the care home, they had pilfered a huge amount of medicine and other supplies for the infirmary, some miscellaneous non-perishable food items, and a few other odds and ends, including a nearly-full bottle of scotch that Negan had found in the desk drawer of one of the nurses. He kept this discovery to himself, stashing the liquor in his personal belongings for a rainy day.

Since night was coming on quickly and it would soon be too unsafe to travel the roads, the call was made to spend the night in the building and to leave in the morning. As the sun’s light faded from the earth and dusk’s fire filled the sky around them, the group huddled together in what had once been a dining hall, eating their evening meal and preparing for sleep.

Negan watched Rebecca out of the corner of his eye, trying not to be obvious about it, as she interacted with the others, laughing and bonding over their day. He wanted very much to talk to her about his threat to her and Chris earlier, and to let her know that he was just keeping up appearances by treating her like he would any other person there. He didn’t dare to follow through. Talking to her alone might arouse too much suspicion from the others. Instead, he offered to take the first guard shift while the others settled down to sleep.

He stationed himself in a room at the end of the corridor, but decided that it would be better to walk through the building’s halls to make sure nothing else was in there with them. As he neared the communal hall where Rebecca and Chris had been attacked earlier in the day, he thought about how it would have felt to lose the young woman to the bite of the dead. Goosebumps rose along his arms at the thought of her lying in one of the building’s dingy beds, breathing her final breaths as she slowly turned.

He couldn’t have that happen. Never again.

It wasn’t as though she was his girlfriend, he told himself. He wasn’t the “girlfriend” type anymore. This world wasn’t exactly one that leant itself to love and companionship. Plus, it wasn’t fair to make someone else endure him when he was just a shell of his former self. He couldn’t feel, couldn’t love. He just existed, going about his day, trying to survive and to keep others safe for as long as his body and mind held out. And yet, he did feel something when he looked at her. Maybe it wasn’t love, for he still didn’t feel that he was capable of that emotion, but there was something else there:

Hope.

He saw her perseverance and strength after whatever trauma she had suffered in the forest. He saw how she relentlessly pushed past it, forcing herself to live again, and he desperately wanted that for himself. He wanted to move past his own trauma and to become a whole person again. If she could do it, perhaps there was hope for him. Perhaps there could be a happy ending to his story after all.

Movement suddenly caught his attention near one of the room’s broken windows. Negan drew his hunting knife, readying himself to attack as he saw a shadow crawl through the opening in the glass. It was too small to be human, but might still be dangerous. Taking a step toward it, he flicked on a small LED flashlight that he carried with him, illuminating the shadow. Greenish gold eyes glared at him, reflecting the light back. A small black cat skittered under one of the room’s tables, hissing at him.

“Well, fuck you too, kitty,” he mumbled and clicked the flashlight off again, relieved that he wouldn’t have to fight anything tonight. He relaxed and turned to walk back toward the dining hall.

Chapter Text

Negan strolled leisurely back toward the dining hall and the rest of his team, peering into each darkened room he passed. As he neared the hall’s entrance, he began to notice heavy breathing coming from someone in his sleeping crew. His pace slowed as he crept closer, scanning the group, who all appeared to be sleeping, as he tried to find the source of the sound.

(wonder if someone’s having some late-night fun in their sleeping bag)

He followed the sound until he was practically standing over Rebecca; her chest rose and fell sharply while her sleeping face was contorted into an expression of misery. She most definitely did not look like she was having fun. Her head jerked to the right and a whimper escaped her lips as her apparent nightmare continued.

Negan crouched over the sleeping woman and placed a hand on her shoulder, gently trying to shake her awake. A moment later, her confused green eyes fluttered open, staring straight past him as if she could see into another dimension. She inhaled sharply and her eyes finally focused on him.

“What are you doing?” she whispered.

Putting his index finger to his lips he motioned for her to follow him out of the room and into the hallway. She obeyed his command, divesting herself of her sleeping bag and plodding barefoot across the tiled floor as she followed him away from the others, still asleep in their bags.

Once they were a reasonable distance from the group, he began to speak in a low voice, “I didn’t mean to scare you, Fuckface. But you looked like you were having a hell of a dream.”

“Mmm-hmm,” she nodded, “It was a doozy.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“No, but I feel like you do,” she said, looking at him out of the corner of her eye as she walked.

“I used to have nightmares too, you know. About the shit I saw after everything went to hell. The people I lost. Fuck, I think a lot of us have had them,” he said thoughtfully.

“And what did you do about them?” she asked.

“Nothing. I just kind of pushed the bad feelings down, kept going, and eventually they stopped,” he said with a shrug.

“I’m not exactly sure that’s healthy, but if it works for you…It’s not like I’m the authority on mental health anyway…” she trailed off.

“It doesn’t work for me. Not really. In case you didn’t notice, I’m kind of a fucking mess.”

“You don’t look messy to me,” she said, stopping to look at him directly in the darkened hallway, “You always seem so fucking gung-ho and put together. It’s like you’ve got this world all figured out. Like you were made to live here and to do what you do. It’s really fucking annoying sometimes, you know!”

Negan chuckled at her annoyance, finding it endearing, “Well, good. I guess my bullshit works then. Fucking hooray for me!”

“Fucking hooray for you and your bullshit!” Rebecca said with a laugh that verged on musical.

She looked almost otherworldly in the moonlight streaming into the hallway through the windows of the rooms dotting its length. The urge to kiss her was growing almost too strong for him to resist.

“Hey! Wanna do something irresponsible and stupid?” he said with a devious grin that he hoped would strip the panties clean off of the pixyish young woman standing before him.

“I feel like I’m going to regret asking this, but: what did you have in mind?”

“Follow me!” he replied, leading her toward one of the empty rooms.

***

The room still held the personal effects of its former occupant, including photos of her and what appeared to be grandchildren on the bedside table. Negan turned the frames face down, stating that they were “bumming him out”, before flopping onto the musty sheets of the twin bed and sending a plume of dust into the air.

Rebecca coughed and waved the dust away from her face, “That’s disgusting! It smells like a funeral home in here.”

“Well, I wish the accommodations were more to your liking, princess, but we’ll have to make do,” he said, patting the bed beside where he sat as he motioned for her to sit down. Rebecca sighed and followed his directions, stretching her legs out straight, her feet coming to about his mid-calf as they sat side by side with their backs against the wall.

“How the hell are you so tall!” she said, wiggling her feet, “Look at how much longer your legs are compared to mine.

“Is that a problem?” he asked and turned his face toward her with a smirk.

“No, it’s just funny. You make me look like a doll or something.”

“Heh. You’re much better than a doll, Fuckface. I’ve never seen a doll that looked anything like you with those hips and tits,” he said before adding, “Well, not dolls for kids anyway.”

She placed a hand on his cheek and rotated his face away from her as she checked the side and back of his neck.

“What the fuck you doing, crazy?” he asked.

“Just checking to see if you have an off switch, that’s all,” she murmured.

“You’re hilarious,” he replied dryly.

“I know,” she said with a fake air of arrogance, “So, about being irresponsible and stupid…”

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot!” he unzipped his leather jacket to reveal a hidden pocket on the inside that was bulging, “I found something special in one of the nurse’s desks earlier…” he pulled out a small, silver flask and shook it toward her causing the liquid inside to slosh around and make a metallic sound against the sides of the container, “Wanna be cool?”

“Jesus. I feel like I’m in an after school special now. What is it?” she asked.

“Scotch. I found a whole bottle, but just brought a bit with me for guard duty.”

“Seems like the safe and sensible thing to drink when you’re guarding us all from monsters and marauders,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Hey! You don’t have to drink it, but you totally should. It looks like good shit.”

Shrugging, she plucked the flask from his hand, her fingers briefly brushing against his and sending a slight shiver through her body. Eyes flashing mischievously at him, she unscrewed the cap and took a small swig. The liquid filled her mouth with bitter fire before sliding down her throat and into her stomach, leaving a trail of warmth in its wake.

“Oh man! That tastes like how grandpa’s house smelled!” she laughed.

“You are pretty fucking dark, my dear. You know that, right?” he said, retrieving the flask from Rebecca’s hands and taking a large swig of its contents.

“Awe, you love it! Don’t pretend like you don’t.”

“You’re not wrong,” he said, passing the flask back to her so she could take another drink.

After a couple of rounds of passing the booze-filled vessel between them, they were both feeling a slight buzz, and a flush had come into their faces as they sat on the bed, joking and teasing one another.

Rebecca giggled as she lazily sang a snippet of a Door’s song she recalled, “Oh show me the way to the next whisky bar…Oh don’t ask why…No, don’t ask why…For we must find the next whisky bar…Or if we don’t find the next whisky bar….I tell you we must die….I tell you we must die….I tell you. I tell you. I tell you we must die!”

“That was fucking cute. You’re not so bad at that,” Negan said, bringing his body closer to hers so he could put an arm around her shoulders.

“Thanks. I’m not good either. But I’ll take a ‘not bad’ assessment,” she snuggled herself into him allowing herself to be held under the weight of his arm.

He looked down at the top of her head before burying his face in her hair and planting a kiss there. Rebecca looked up at him, her eyes shining in the dim light coming from outside.

“I’ve got a confession to make,” she said with a somber expression.

“Oh? What is it?” he replied.

“Maybe it’s the potentially life-threatening day I had today, or the scotch…,” she made sure to look Negan directly in the eyes when she finally said the magic words “…but I feel like I really want you to fuck my brains out right now.”

For a moment, the man froze and looked at her as if trying to discern whether she was serious or not. The words hung in the air between them, waiting for his response, and causing Rebecca’s pulse to quicken. Pandora’s Box was open, and she couldn’t take the words back even if she had wanted to.

Negan’s response was entirely non-verbal. He pulled her further into him using the arm still slung across her shoulders, and leaned forward to roughly press his lips to hers. The kiss enveloped her, sending a deep shiver throughout her body as his tongue slipped into her mouth, and caused her stomach to tighten in anticipation of what would come next.

Placing a hand on his chest, Rebecca let her hand trail up his shoulders to gently slide the leather jacket he wore from them. Negan helped her, throwing the jacket to the floor before stripping his white t-shirt off. She took in the sight of him in front of her, bare-chested and staring intently at her as he waited for her next move.

“I suppose it’s my turn to strip now, huh?” she asked wryly.

“That it most certainly fucking is, my dear,” he replied, his voice growing deeper with desire.

“Done!” she cried joyfully as she quickly pulled her top and sports bra over her head, revealing herself to him.

Negan’s mouth was all over her in an instant, hungrily claiming her flesh, his lips and tongue hot and wet against her neck and shoulders. Rough, calloused hands grazed her breasts and traveled down to her hips before finally reaching the zipper of her pants, which he tugged down roughly. Rebecca helped him to take the garment off completely by lying back on the bed and raising her hips as the pants were pulled over her ass and down her legs before winding up in the growing pile of clothing on the floor.

She reached up, grabbing at the closure of his pants to yank them open before tearing them from his hips. Once they were both naked, Negan lunged for her mouth again, hungrily enveloping her lips with his as his tongue conquered her mouth once more. The weight of his warm body pressed against hers, and the feeling of his hardened cock rubbing against her thigh caused a gush of arousal to run through her body. Her hand traveled downward to touch him, stroking his length slowly as a groan emanated from him.

“I want to be inside of you,” he murmured against the sensitive flesh of her neck.

“Then do it,” she whispered to him, wrapping a leg around his left hip as her hand continued its work on him.

Negan brought one of his own hands down to join hers in stroking his cock for a moment before tugging himself away from her grasp. He positioned himself over her opening, allowing his head to tease her lips open before plunging himself into her roughly. Rebecca moaned against his shoulder to muffle the sound as he slowly pulled out before ramming himself back in again and causing another moan to be ripped out of her.

As he increased his pace incrementally, it was as though Rebecca could feel him all through her body. Waves of pleasure pulsed throughout her body as the head of his cock hit every sensitive part of her, sending moans out of her mouth. She knew that she would have been screaming his name into the darkness, were it not for the people sleeping just down the hall.

Feeling his pace quicken as beads of sweat broke out along his brow, Rebecca pushed his upper body off of her and brought her legs up to rest on his shoulders so he could penetrate her even deeper. His fingers gripped her calves as he growled with lust at the new sensations that their position change caused.

Rebecca brought her fingers down to press against her clit, circling the sensitive bit of flesh. Every thrust from Negan brought her closer to her inevitable orgasm, and she knew that he was getting close too as his breathing became shallow and his moans more frequent. Knowing that she had reached the point of no return, Rebecca pressed the heel of her free hand against her mouth to muffle the scream that broke free from her as she climaxed around him, wetting his cock with a gush of arousal as her walls milked him with each contraction. Stars danced in front of her eyes as Negan continued to pound himself into her unremittingly, climbing closer to his own peak.

He threw his head back and moaned, thrusting deep into her cunt as he allowed himself to finally feel the release of his orgasm. Rebecca savoured the image of him above, her legs still wrapped around his shoulders, panting with desire with a few rivulets of sweat careening down his face and neck. His eyes were closed tightly and his mouth hung open in a silent cry of pleasure.

They collapsed together in the tiny bed, still breathing heavily. Negan wrapped his arms and legs around her to keep her from falling out and Rebecca snuggled into him as his chest hair tickled her face. It was a long time before either of them could speak, so they lay silently in one another’s arms, dozing happily in the tiny room.

After a while, Negan cleared his throat and Rebecca lifted her face to him, finding his eyes staring down at her from above. They were soft and warm in the darkness of the room, and a nervous smile played upon his lips. At last he spoke, but the words were ones that Rebecca had always dreaded to hear from him.

“We should talk,” he said softly.

Her heart began to race with the thought of what he was about to ask her, though she believed that she knew what the topic would be, “Ok. What do you want to talk about?”

“You. I know who you are here and now, lying beside me. But I want to know who you were before you came to the Sanctuary,” he said firmly.

“I don’t like to talk about that,” she said, trying to keep her tone light, “Besides, it doesn’t matter anymore. That life is over. This is my life now.”

Negan propped himself up on his elbow, his face looming large in front of her as he fixed his eyes on hers, “I think it does matter. I’m willing to tell you about what happened to me if you’ll tell me about what happened to you.”

“Why? Why does it matter to you? Why can’t you just let me get on with my life?” Rebecca was starting to get frustrated with Negan and his insistence that he be told about her history.

“Because I want you to be honest with me. And I don’t want you to wind up like me, repressing all of your shit just to get through the day, Fuckface,” his face had taken on a hard expression and his eyes had lost their softness.

Rebecca felt hot anger flare up at his words and at the suggestion that she hadn’t been honest with him previously, “I have been honest with you, but like I said, I don’t want to talk about it! And, for that matter, I don’t want to know what happened to you! It. Doesn’t. Matter. None of it matters anymore. Can’t you just respect that?”

Negans’s eyes flashed with anger at her sudden outburst before narrowing to shoot daggers at her, “Fucking fine then, Fuckface! Is that all this is to you? Just some kind of fuck buddies thing where we never really get to know each other? We just drink and fuck, and use each other to forget about the past?”

“Exactly,” Rebecca’s pulse thudded in her ears at contempt in his voice, “That’s what I want. I don’t want to remember. I want to forget, so please let me forget!”

“You don’t want to open up to me, and you don’t want to know about who I am?” he scoffed, his voice taking on a dull intonation she had never heard before, “That’s fine. I guess you’ll just be another piece of ass I’ve put my dick in.”

Rebecca felt her eyes well up with tears at his words as she rolled away from him, sitting up and swinging her legs over the side of the bed, “You don’t want to know about me anyway! You probably just want some fucking gossip about one of your ‘pieces of ass’ to tell your boys. Let them know how fucked up and crazy I am. Isn’t that right? You don’t care!”

“If that’s how you feel, maybe you should go back to your fucking sleeping bag,” he said, his voice quiet.

She whirled around at him, his words cutting through her defences and causing a tear to spring from her eye in spite of her best efforts to keep herself together. She hoped it wouldn’t show in the dark.

“I was fucking planning on it,” she said coldly, tugging her pants on before grabbing her tank top from the clothing pile, “Bye then.”

Negan remained a silent figure on the bed; she couldn’t even bring herself to look in his direction for her emotions might betray her. How dare he act like he cared about her? How dare he try to force her to relive her trauma right after such an intimate experience? Couldn’t he see that she was trying to be better than what had happened to her, and to rise above it?

Her hands shook as she reached for the door to the room. She exited into the hallway slamming it behind her, as if putting the final nail into the coffin of their fling. 

Rebecca was done with Negan.

Chapter Text

The group began their journey back to the Sanctuary the next morning after loading themselves up with the supplies they had scavenged from the building. Rebecca was content that she had proven herself to the others, and she could feel them gradually warming to her as the group together, joking and enjoying one another’s company.

As the day wore on, her thoughts returned to Negan and her feelings of pride were dampened by memories of their fight the night before. He travelled with Chris at the head of the group while she stayed at toward the back to chat with Phil and Ben, avoiding Negan as much as possible. The fearless leader had spent most of the day with a scowl etched into his features and remained unusually silent, only breaking the tranquility to bark clipped orders at the team in a tone that was more aggressive than she had ever heard him use before.

They stopped for the night in the same field that they had camped in on the way out, and Rebecca took the first guard shift again. Sitting atop the small hill, she found herself hoping that she would see his hulking form lumber from the group to sit with her again. Maybe she would apologize for getting frustrated with him. Maybe he would tell her that he didn’t mean the things he had said.

Rebecca spent the two hour shift alone in the dark.

Chris came to relieve her after two hours. As she descended the hill and made her way to her sleeping bag, her eyes were drawn to Negan’s body lying on the ground at the other end of the camp. For a moment she thought she could see his eyes reflect the light from the dying fire before he closed them, pretending to be asleep. But that might have been wishful thinking on her part.

She slept alone with her back to him.  In the morning, they moved on.

***

 Negan was in a shitty mood. He had been this way for the duration of the week following the scavenger team’s return to the Sanctuary after their mission to the nursing home. Rather than being able to shake it off as he normally would, the negative feelings had only deepened as the days passed. He tried his best of stay busy, occupying his time with meetings and other administrative bullshit, but there seemed to be too many hours in the day.

He spent his nights barely sleeping. Instead he lay awake in his bed, his thoughts unwillingly dragged back to Rebecca over and over. A part of him, the adult part he supposed, wanted to see her and to apologize. At the same time, the more stubborn and childish side of his personality wouldn’t give her that satisfaction. Besides, she was in the wrong too, so fuck her!

A few days following their return, he had nearly broken down and extended the proverbial olive branch to her after a meeting with Chris. The two men had met in his office to discuss tactics and future scavenging missions, during which time Chris had brought forward some of Rebecca’s suggestions.

“How’s she working out? She still doing ok?” Negan had asked as casually as possible.

“Well, that depends on what you mean,” Chris said and then lowered his voice, “She’s full of great ideas, but I feel like she’s starting to deteriorate physically for some reason. She says that she’s just tired, but honestly she looks like shit and a few of the guys have seen her outside in the middle of the night just walking around.”

“Fuck,” Negan’s face fell for a moment before he could regain his neutral expression, “That sounds serious. Think you should make her go see Krouse?”

“I had considered it, but thought that she might take the order better from you.”

“And why would you think that, Christopher?” Negan asked, his eyes narrowing.

“No real reason. You just seem to have some kind of rapport with her. At least that’s what it felt like during the mission. Maybe I’m wrong.”

“Maybe you are fucking wrong,” Negan said, his gaze still burning holes into Chris, “And maybe you should mind your own goddam business.”

“Sorry. I was trying to be diplomatic,” Chris replied, seemingly unfazed, “It’s just that there’s been talk about you and her. It’s just gossip, really. You know how things go around here. A woman gets promoted into a good position quickly and people start to make up rumours about you restarting –“ he cut his train of thought off abruptly.

“Continue,” Negan said, “Restarting what?”

“Playing favourites with certain women who might not normally have gotten so far on their own,” Chris never broke eye contact with Negan as he spoke, “I know that Rebecca is talented, and that she deserves to be where she is. But not everyone here is privy to that information. And so rumours get started. That’s all I’m saying. I thought you would want to know.”

“Well, thank you for bringing this ridiculous bullshit to my attention. You can go now,” he said coldly.

Chris stood wordlessly and left the room. Negan strode to the large window that overlooked the area outside of the fence. With his eyes scanning aimlessly across the surrounding countryside, he turned over the information he had gleaned from the conversation. Someone either knew or suspected that he and Rebecca had been closer than just employer and employee, and they were spreading that information around.

Julie and Ryan were the only two who knew about them for sure, and Rebecca seemed to believe that Ryan was trustworthy, though Negan had his misgivings. On the other hand, he had put his trust in Julie to keep her mouth shut about the things she had walked in on. Perhaps that trust had been misplaced.

Turning abruptly from the window, he muttered a stream of curse words that would have been very in place on a pirate ship before making his way across the room and to the door. This was getting ridiculous. He would find Rebecca and apologize, and then he would make her go see Krouse himself. There was clearly something going on with her, and she needed help.

His hand hovered over the door handle for a moment as his mind brought him back to the night they had spent together in the nursing home. He remembered how her tear-rimmed eyes gleamed in the moonlight as she pulled on her clothing before turning from him and muttering the words, “Bye then,” dismissively. She hadn’t even looked back before slamming the door on him, thus ending whatever it was they had. Maybe if she had looked back and shown any modicum of remorse, he would have said something. Instead she had cut him off as if he had meant nothing.

So, why should he be the first one to break? Rebecca was not his responsibility, and she clearly felt she could take care of herself. His hand lowered from the door handle, dropping to his side as he shut his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger. He could feel a headache coming on from the stress of the past week. Rebecca was really getting to him, and he needed to put an end to it.

“Fucking fuckity fuck!” he hissed to himself before grabbing the handle and yanking the heavy door open. Still fuming, he marched decisively down the hall in the direction of the commissary. It was time to pay Julie a visit.

As Negan made his way toward his destination, he hummed tunelessly to himself with his gaze fixed ahead. Making no attempt to greet, or even look at anyone he passed, he nearly took out several people who managed to step aside at the last minute and avoid being bowled over by him. He was on the war path today and god help anyone who got between him and the goal of fucking his former wife into oblivion.

His pace slowed as he approached the room that housed the Sanctuary’s more frivolous items. Julie sat atop a stool just behind a wooden counter, with her elbows on the smooth surface and her chin perched between her hands. Her red hair shone in the light that had snaked its way from the windows to the spot where she sat. She looked bored as fuck until she noticed Negan approaching her. Then she just looked annoyed.

“What?” her voice was cold and emotionless as her blue eyes behind hooded eyelids that were weighed down with disinterest.

“Hey! Let’s go fuck!” was the opening line Negan chose to go with on this day.

“Piss off!” her features twisted with disgust, “Fucking dickbag…”

“I’m serious. Close up and come with me. You can take the rest of the day off and I’ll find someone to re-open once we’re done.”

Julie’s gaze narrowed, “What? Did the little lady with the big ass break your heart?”

“Rebecca? No. She was just some slut I was playing with. I thought it might be nice to switch it up from my usual type. You know I don’t have a fucking heart!”

“Uh-huh,” Julie’s voice had taken on a sarcastic edge, “And what exactly is your usual type?”

“Sexy ladies, like yourself,” he said as he leaned against the counter, bringing his face toward her, “So, how about it? Want the rest of the day off? And how about tomorrow too? Hell! Take the whole week.”

“Are you fucking serious this time?” her eyes lit up slightly at the mention of a week off.

“Yes! Of course!” Negan’s eyes landed on a young man strolling toward them, paying no attention to where he was going. Pointing directly at the very confused adolescent’s face he bellowed, “You! Get your pimply ass over here!”

The young man’s eyes widened as panic took over, “M-me?” he stammered.

“Yes, fucking you! I don’t see anyone else in the hallway, do you?” Negan’s voice dripped with contempt and impatience.

The young man tentatively walked toward tem, looking as though he feared that Negan would bite him if he got too close to the man, “Wh-what can I do for you, sir?”

“You can plunk your ass down on this stool for the rest of the day and keep track of the stock and the points of anyone who buys shit. Think you can handle that?”

“I’ve never been trained for this job, sir,” the young man replied.

“It’s not exactly a hard job, kid. You’ll be fine,” he motioned for Julie to follow him as she came out from behind the counter, throwing a glance over her shoulder at her replacement. Negan grabbed her arm and tugged her in the direction of his room before calling back at the boy as an afterthought before turning around a corner, “And don’t fucking steal anything!”

***

A teasing smile played upon Julie’s mouth as she entered Negan’s bedroom and spun around to face the room’s owner, who was following behind her. Negan’s stomach fluttered with something he had not felt for so long that he scarcely recognized the feeling at first.

(fuck! am i actually nervous to fuck julie?)

As soon as the thought entered his mind, he dismissed it as being utterly ridiculous. He had fucked Julie hundreds of times, and in every imaginable way that was humanly possible during her stint as one of his wives. It was true that they hadn’t been together for several years, but he couldn’t imagine that he would be nervous to rekindle their former relationship.

“This place is just like I remember it!” the redhead exclaimed, “I guess Sherry didn’t feel the need to redecorate,” her smile faltered as she noticed the peculiar expression on Negan’s face, “What the fuck is wrong now?”

“Nothing!” he replied almost too quickly, plunking himself down on the edge of the bed, “It’s just weird being here with you after so long. That…and you look fucking sexy as fuck today.”

He hoped that his compliment would sound convincing to Julie, because it set off every one of his personal bullshit detectors. After stripping off his jacket and throwing it into a nearby armchair, he walked to the bed and sat on the edge, his eyes roaming over the young woman’s body.

“Like what you see?” she asked, her eyes softening seductively. Julie took a few steps forward, until her slight frame was standing between Negan’s opened legs, her chest inches from his face, “You can touch if you want to.”

Negan took a deep breath and lifted his eyes to meet hers before placing a hand on either one of her breasts and squeezing them slightly, “Mmm. Those are even nice than I remember. Did your tits get bigger, Jules?”

The woman giggled with delight, “I don’t know! I don’t think so…” she brought her hands down to the hem of her shirt before lifting the thin garment over her head. Once this was accomplished, her hands disappeared behind her back to unclasp her bra. As the second item of clothing fell to the floor she asked, “What do you think?”

“I think they look fucking great!” he said, trying his best to sound sincere as he brought his mouth to meet her hardened nipple, taking it between his lips and swirling his tongue around it. Julie let out a slight sigh of contentment as she moved her hands to stroke his hair lightly before placing her knee against his crotch to feel his arousal.

“Hm. You’re not very excited yet. Maybe I should see if I can fix that,” she purred and pushed him back into the bed as she straddled him, pressing her body against before kissing his mouth deeply. Once her tongue broke through the barrier of his lips, Negan felt his stomach tighten again as a sour taste rose into the back of his throat. It was becoming apparent that this was not simple performance anxiety.

A memory nagged at the back of his mind; something distant and bitter was bubbling to the surface. He recalled the first time he had cheated on his wife, Lucille, with one of the secretaries at the middle school he had worked at. They had only been married for two years at that point. He remembered that same tightness in his stomach, and the same sour taste. He also remembered the remorse he had felt afterward as he drove home after inventing a plausible excuse to tell her.

(not like it stopped you, fucker! not that time, or the dozens of other times either)

He pushed the memories aside and kissed Julie back as passionately as he could before grabbing her around the waist and flipping her onto her back with a growl. Lowering himself on top of her, he began to tail kisses across her neck and collarbones before returning his attention to her breasts. Julie arched her back and let a dramatic moan break the silence of the room. She had always been a great actress, and today was no exception.

Lifting her head from the bed’s surface to look Negan in the eye, she began to undo her jeans and lower them from her hips, “I think it’s time for you to fuck my brains out, don’t you?”

Negan froze at the realization that he was in no way physically prepared for intercourse at that very moment. In fact, his cock hadn’t so much as twitched once during the course of their foreplay.

“What?” asked Julie, her face hardening, “What the fuck is with your face right now? You look horrified.”

Negan cleared his throat and attempted to think of an excuse, “I…I’m more into giving at the moment, really. Wouldn’t you like me to eat you out until you come all over me?” his voice lowered to what he hoped was a sexy growl.

“Fuck no! I want to you fuck me,” she sat up abruptly, nearly smoking him in the face with her head, “So get this thing ready and get it inside me-“ as she spoke she cupped his cock in her hand, squeezing it roughly. Her words cut off at the realization that he was still very un-aroused.

“Yeah, I’m not really ready for that yet,” Negan said sheepishly, avoiding her eyes.

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” Julie’s voice rose, “Are you seriously fucking limp-dicked at the thought of fucking me?” she pushed him off her and slid to the edge of the bed before tugging her jeans back over her hips and zipping them up, “Maybe if I was short and had a huge fucking ass and a bad dye job with roots for days you’d be into me. Isn’t that right?”

“It’s not you, Jules. You’re fucking gorgeous. I’m just really tired, and things have been stressful lately,” he explained, carefully omitting his fight with Rebecca during the mission, “I thought that hooking up with you would get my mind off of it.”

“Fuck you, Negan!” she screamed, pulling her top back on and striding to the door, “I am not some fucking distraction for you when you get dumped by ugly fucking sluts like What’s-Her-Face from the supply room.”

“Her name’s Rebecca and you can watch your fucking mouth when you talk about her!” he bellowed, surprising even himself with the sudden anger that Julie’s words evoked.

“Don’t fucking talk to me again, asshole!” she yelled as loudly as possible before exiting the room and slamming the door so hard that it rattled the paintings hanging on either side of it.

Negan sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, breathing heavily while he calmed down. Maybe Rebecca had gotten further into his head than he had thought. Closing his eyes, he muttered under his breath, “Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw.”

Chapter Text

The week following Rebecca’s return to the Sanctuary was consumed with meetings with the Scavengers to discuss future missions and priorities. The focus had shifted from medical supplies in favour of building supplies and gardening implements. It seemed as though the name of the game was moving the Sanctuary more toward being internally sustainable, rather than a community based solely on scavenging the remaining scraps of a quickly dying world. If they did the job well, Rebecca supposed that they would eventually work themselves out of a job.

The remainder of her time was spent desperately trying to avoid Negan while simultaneously not being able to keep thoughts of him at bay. So far, she had been successful in her first priority. She hadn’t seen Negan at all since returning from the road.

Her nightmares had become more disturbing and constant. Each night found her waking with a start in the darkness of her room, drenched in sweat, unsure of what was real anymore. She began to fear sleep, opting instead to spend her time wandering the fenced-in perimeter of the building into the wee hours of the morning. The night air helped to clear her head and the sounds of the crickets calmed her nerves.

As her sleepless days and nights wore on, Rebecca’s body began to drain of its energy and dark circles appeared under her eyes. She was falling apart from stress and lack of sleep. Chris had asked her several times during their meetings if she was feeling ill. His face was still mostly emotionless, but there was a slight look of concern in his eyes. For a man as stoic as him, this gesture could almost be classified as a dramatic outburst. She assured him that she was fine, and was just tired. She had almost convinced herself of this lie.

On her eighth day back in the building, Rebecca decided to once again to forsake sleep and to leave the confines of her dorm room in order to be outside. Her wrist watch said that it was 11:22pm. As she exited her room, locking the door behind her, she noted that the building was eerily quiet. It was as if the inhabitants of the Sanctuary were collectively holding their breath in anticipation of a storm or a natural disaster.

As she made her way down the stairs to the main floor, she passed a man heading in the opposite direction. She smiled weakly and offered him a greeting.

“Fuck off, cunt,” came the cold reply of the man, hate burning in his eyes.

Normally quick with a sassy quip, Rebecca found herself at a loss for words. She continued down the stairs utterly baffled at the man’s sudden hostility. As she neared the door that lead outside to the building’s main courtyard she spied a group of women standing together and talking. She neared them and their conversation stopped abruptly. The women stared at her out of the corners of their eyes, and lowered their voices to whispers.

It was all too bizarre for Rebecca, who hastily pushed the heavy steel door that lead outside open, the cool air hitting her face. She stood for a moment illuminated in the glow emanating from the building’s windows and spilling onto the ground. The scent of flowers hung in the air, mingling with the smell of dirt and ozone. Maybe there was a storm coming after all.

She turned to the left, choosing to walk to her favourite section of the building’s exterior, a large tree that stood near the fence. She liked to sit under its branches and pretend that she still lived in the forest, rather than the dreary, grey building. Turning around a corner, she strode toward the tree and sat and inhaled deeply, settling into the soft grass, her back against the trunk.

For a moment, she wished that she had brought some of the pot that Negan had gifted her after they had been caught together by Julie the first time. That meeting seemed so long ago, like another life, but she was startled to realize that it had been less than two weeks since that time. Her eyes closed and she tilted her head back so that it rested against the rough bark of the tree. Sitting under the canopy of branches was one of the few moments of her day where she truly felt content and in control.

“Hey, bitch!” the voice that came from directly in front of her was choked with the sound of hatred.

Rebecca’s eyes sprang open as she brought her head back down just in time to avoid being struck by a glass bottle that smashed against the tree trunk just above her, raining shards all around. Her eyes focused on an older man with several days’ worth of stubble encircling his mouth standing a few feet away from her.

“What the fuck!” she cried, staggering to her feet.

Before she could move toward the man, rough hands grabbed her from behind, wrapping themselves around her waist. She struggled against the unseen attacker’s grip, but it was too strong for her to escape. The best she could do was to land a few kicks behind her, but they seemed to do little damage.

“Keep this up and you’ll regret it, you bitch,” she felt the hot, sour breath against her ear as the man spoke. The smell of whisky invaded her nostrils as the man who had thrown the bottle stepped closer.

“I have a feeling she’s going to regret everything she’s ever done that’s brought her to this moment soon enough,” said the bottle-thrower before punching her full-force in her jaw.

Her vision was momentarily blurred and hot pain spread through her face as the blow fell. She screamed in pain and rage before the person holding her pushed her roughly to the ground at the feet of Bottle-Man, who proceeded to kick her in the ribs. Rolling over, she screamed again, this time louder than before.

“Somebody fucking help me!” she called into the night sky, hoping that someone would come to her aid.

“Keep your whore mouth shut!” the second man hissed as he kicked her in the head full-force with what felt like a work boot.

Her vision faded to black for a moment before another kick landed against her ribs, which had likely been broken in the initial blow, the pain drawing her back into reality. Although she didn’t want to anger the men by making more noise, another cry broke forth from her lips before being swallowed by the night.

“Looks like we got a screamer,” one of the men chuckled.

“Does Negan like it when you scream for him, little bitch?” asked the second in a mocking tone, “Is that how you got your fancy new job? By whoring yourself out to him and screaming his name with your legs open? Fucking worthless bitch!”

Rebecca said nothing, but whimpered as she tried to turn herself over in a vain attempt to get to her feet. Another kick, this time to her ass, sent her sprawling into the grass. The men laughed uproariously at this and yet another kick was launched at her other side.

“If she takes a dick like she’s taking this beating, I bet you’re right!” said the first man.

“Well, I don’t think she’ll last much longer,” replied the second, “In fact, I can pretty much guarantee she won’t.”

A final kick was launched at her temple, again from a boot-clad foot. This time her vision stayed dark, and Rebecca gave up all hope of surviving this attack. As her consciousness faded down into nothingness she heard a final comment from one of her attackers:

“Julie sends her regards, cunt.”

 

***

 

Following the fiasco with Julie, Negan resigned himself to being miserable and alone for however long it took him to forget about Rebecca. Not only could he not get himself excited enough to fuck another human being, it seemed, but he couldn’t even jerk off without his mind drifting back to the first (and last) time he and Rebecca had sex in the bed of someone’s dead grandma.

He took his frustrations out on those under his command, forcing his planning meetings to run late into the night, much to the disdain of the rest of his Saviours. The longer his engagements ran, the less time he had to sit alone and think about his personal life. It was during one of these marathon meetings that news of what had happened to Rebecca made its way to him.

As the clock on the wall above the door to his office neared midnight, Negan glanced at the men and women assembled around him, noting more than a few yawns spewing from their stupid mouths. The meeting had started at 7:30pm, and while he felt that he could go all night, it was becoming apparent that they would have to adjourn soon. Nearly every set of eyes in the room were glazed over with hostile boredom and exhaustion. Even Mr. Stoic himself, Chris the Scavenger, looked about ready to stand up and flip over the coffee table before storming out of the meeting prematurely.

Negan had just opened his mouth to finally call the meeting to its blissful conclusion when the door to his office vibrated with a loud knock, interrupting him. Eyes widened and heads sprang up as the unexpected noise roused those in attendance from their demi-sleep. Negan stood quickly and made his way to the door, his heart rate increasing with anxiety. The only reason anyone would dare to knock on his door at this hour would have to be an emergency of some sort, and it was pretty damn urgent judging by the loudness of the knocks.

As the door swung open, Negan’s eyes fell to the face of a panicked-looking “Doctor” Krouse, who immediately began to babble at him, “Hi! I don’t mean to disturb your meeting, and I know it’s really late, but something happened out in the courtyard, by the tree, and I really feel like you-“

“Oh for fuck’s sake, man, just tell me what the fuck you want!” his sudden outburst seemed to sober up the frazzled young man standing in the hallway.

“It’s one of your scavengers, Rebecca. I know you had asked about her before, and you seemed concerned about her at the time, so I thought you might want to know.”

“Know what? What about her?” he asked, trying to keep his voice from revealing the million different images flashing through his mind of terrible fates that could have befallen her. Was she hurt? Was she dead? Did she leave?

“She was attacked earlier tonight-“ he started before being cut off by the barrage of questions that Negan immediately began barking at him.

“What? What the fucking fuck are you talking about? When? Where? Where is she now? Is she ok?”

Krouse peered around Negan’s broad form to look at the large group of meeting participants who were currently staring with wide eyes at the scene that was unfolding only a few feet from them. The commotion had woken them up completely, and Negan now had their full attention.

“Uh. I think it’d be better if I answer those questions in private. If you want to come with me, I can take you to her.” Krouse said in a low voice.

The leader of the Saviours nodded, finally realizing Krouse’s hesitation to divulge the information he so craved. Turning to around he addressed the group in a booming voice, “Everybody get the fuck out of my office!”

They simply stared at him, mouths agape. No one moved an inch and the room was filled with a dreadful silence. Negan waited for a moment before bellowing at the group, “I SAID GET THE FUCK OUT!”

As if a starter pistol had gone off at the beginning of a race, the congregation assembled in the office quickly got to their feet and made their way out of the door with looks of terror on their faces. Once the room had cleared out, Negan turned to Krouse, “Well, what the fuck are you waiting for, Doc? Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

“Sure,” the man said cautiously.

As they walked through the halls in the direction of the infirmary, Negan remained silent, knowing full well that Rebecca’s condition should only be discussed in private. It was no good to ask Krouse to disclose anything to him in a public place, and he would have been furious if the young man had offered to do so anyway. Whoever attacked Rebecca could be listening, and the less they knew about her status, the better.

The few minutes it took to travel from the office to their destination were torture. His thoughts raced with questions: Was she going to survive? Had he caused this somehow? Would she have been attacked if he had been with her?

Once they had reached the door to the infirmary, Krouse pulled a key from his pocket, “Normally we keep the door unlocked while we’re working, but I wanted to be sure no one came in here. I’ve got one of my assistants sitting with her now,” he explained, sliding the key into the lock. The pair stepped into the room, and Krouse immediately turned around to lock the door behind them, stating that it was “better to be safe than sorry”, a sentiment that Negan agreed with completely.

The infirmary was a large, sterile room containing a number of hospital beds which had been pilfered on various supply runs over the years. Currently, only one bed was in use, and when Negan’s eyes spied its occupant, his heart sank.

Rebecca lay in a sea of white sheets and pillows, her face a rainbow of bruises and contusions. Her eyes were closed, and for a brief and horrifying moment, Negan was sure that she was dead. But as he inspected her more carefully he noticed the shallow rise and fall of her chest, and he breathed a slight sigh of relief before spinning toward Krouse.

“First of all, what the fuck happened to her?” he demanded with his expression full of rage.

Krouse’s gaze drifted down to the floor, “We don’t know. About half an hour before I came to get you, someone burst in here saying that they had found a woman unconscious under a tree in the courtyard. We went out there right away and found her like this,” he lifted his eyes back to meet Negan’s, “Once I made sure she was stable, we moved her inside. But that’s all we can really do for now.”

“What the fuck do you mean by that?” Negan demanded in disbelief, “You’re the doctor here! Fucking help her!”

“There’s really nothing left to do. We don’t know the extent of the damage to her brain at this point. It’s impossible to tell due to the lack of equipment in here. We can only wait to see if she wakes up. If that happens, we can assess the situation and figure out what to do. But whoever did this to her, really did a number on her head. It looks like they took a baseball bat to her…” he trailed off after realizing what he had said.

Negan appeared not to notice Krouse’s final statement. His eyes were trained on Rebecca, a single word running through his head: If.

If she woke up.

If she survived.

If implied uncertainty as much as it did vague hope. He fucking hated that word.

Without speaking, he walked over to a stool that sat next to Krouse’s desk and wheeled it over to the bed in which Rebecca lay. He sat down, his shoulders slumping forward as he watched her silently.

“Sir,” Krouse began, “It’s late. There’s nothing you can do now. We’ll notify you if anything changes, but really you should go to bed and get some rest.”

“Piss off,” were the only words that left Negan’s mouth. His voice was quiet and emotionless in the vast room. Gently taking Rebecca’s hand and giving it a squeeze before letting his hand lay over hers, he marvelled at how starkly the black leather of his jacket contrasted against her pale skin.

“Ok. I’m sorry,” Krouse said stepping back and ushering his assistant out of the room. He paused with his hand on the door as he prepared to exit as well, “I’ll let you have some privacy, but we’ll be right outside if anything happens. Please let us know if anything changes or if she wakes up, ok?”

“Yeah,” Negan replied dully without looking up, “Sure.”

Chapter Text

Negan sat at Rebecca’s side throughout the very long night, listening to her breathe softly and watching her face for any indication of change. Krouse poked his head in periodically to check her status, and tried to make small talk, but was staunchly ignored as N stared straight ahead at the young woman lying in front of him, his eyes never wandering.

This scenario was not new to him. He knew what it meant to sit with someone who was on the precipice of death, wondering if they would ever open their eyes again. Knowing that you may never again see the clarity and humanity in those eyes even if they did open was the most terrifying part; that, and the fact that the next time they moved it could be to take a bite out of you as one of the dead’s army. He knew all of this very well, and yet it didn’t make it any easier to bear. If anything, the repetition of these events in his life only made his heart ache more.

“Please open your eyes,” he whispered to her in a wavering voice he hadn’t heard escape his lips for many years. It was the sound of heat radiating from hot pavement in the summer at mid-day. The last time he had heard it had been under circumstances very similar to these, though not exactly the same. On that occasion he had known on some level that it was all over for the woman he sat beside in a hospital room, waiting for the end. This time, there was some hope. Rebecca wasn’t doomed. Not yet anyway.

“So. You love her,” the voice that came from behind him did not sound accusing; only matter-of-fact. Whirling around, and cursing himself for not noticing that someone had entered the room in the first place, Negan let out a string of swear words as he stood face to face with Chris.

“Fucking fuck! Don’t do that, man,” he cried at the sombre man standing a few feet behind him.

“I didn’t mean to disturb you. I just wanted to check on Rebecca too,” Chris’ face showed no emotion, as always, “I overhead what Krouse told you in your office and I was concerned, but I wanted to give you some time alone with her before I came.”

“She’s lucky to have someone who cares about her like you do, even if you’re a stoic fuck.”

“I’d say she’s lucky to have someone who clearly loves her the way that you do. Even if you don’t admit it.”

“Yeah. Well. Lot of good it did her,” Negan mumbled, turning over his shoulder to look at her.

“How is she?”

“We don’t know. Krouse can’t tell anything until she wakes up. If she wakes up.”

“Fuck,” the sudden anger in Chris’ voice caused Negan’s eyes to snap up to meet him.

“Yeah. Fuck in-fucking-deed,” his shoulders deflated and his eyes fell back to the unconscious woman laying before them, “I don’t even know what to do. I just feel-“

“Powerless? Enraged?”

“Guilty,” he admitted, his voice just a whisper in the darkened room.

“How do you figure you’re guilty for what happened to her?” Chris challenged.

“I had so many chances to say I was sorry, but my fucking ego got in the way. We were both being assholes, honestly, and one of us would have to break eventually and apologize, but we were both too stubborn. So we didn’t talk, and then this happened.”

“What were you fighting about?”

“It doesn’t even matter. It was stupid. So fucking stupid,” his head swayed from side to side, and his gaze dropped to the floor, “If we had been together maybe I could have stopped it, or maybe it would have been me instead. It should have been me.”

“Maybe it would have been both of you. Maybe they would have killed you both. You can’t live your life thinking about what might have been. You can only learn from it and move on, you know?” Chris placed a hand on Negan’s shoulder before letting it drop back down to his side, “When my grandmother was dying, her last few days were spent in a coma. The doctors said that even though she couldn’t communicate, she could hear us talking to her. I don’t know if that’s true, or if it’s something they say to help people cope with watching their family members die, but maybe you should talk to her. Tell her what you wanted to say, if you hadn’t been a stubborn asshole, as you put it. Maybe she’ll hear you.”

Negan lifted his eyes to Chris, feeling the salty warmth of tears bubbling behind them. Blinking them back into submission, he nodded wordlessly before taking his seat next to the bed.

“I’ll leave you alone. I’m sorry this is happening to you. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

Negan nodded, his eyes still trained on Rebecca, “I will.”

Heavy boots thudded against the floor as Chris made his way to the door, growing further and further away. As the door closed behind him with a click, all sound faded from the world until it seemed to Negan that nothing existed except him and Rebecca. The only sounds were the light breath escaping her partially opened mouth and his heart thudding in his ears as he tried to pull himself together.

“I know I fucked this up, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pressed you for information you weren’t ready to give up. I should have let you do things in your own time,” he sighed, “I just wanted to be closer to you, and it really sucked when you kept your guard up. I didn’t mean what I said. You’re a lot more than just someone to stick my dick in. I hope you know that, and that you can hear me now.”

Rebecca lay nearly motionless in the bed. For a moment, Negan thought that he may have seen her brow furrow, but decided that it was just wishful thinking. He slumped forward, placing his forehead against her chest. Warm tears began to sting his eyes, which were squeezed shut against the sudden deluge of emotions.

He hadn’t cried in years, but something about the destruction of this young woman’s potential and her hope for a better future broke through his barrier. It was as if he was back to square one; back to the hours and days following the death of his wife, as he wandered through ruined cities and towns, learning how to adapt to his new circumstances.

Over the intervening years, he had hardened himself against caring for anyone on an individual level. Sure, he could care for his group as a collective, but to care for any one person above all others was to invite heartbreak; and that he could not bear. He had to adapt in this way to keep himself sane in an increasingly insane world. It was why he had formed his harem of wives, rather than only taking one. It was one of the reasons why he had formed a team of Saviours, instead of having a singular right-hand man.

Somehow Rebecca had disarmed him with her way of walking through life with grace and optimism. He found that he did care for her very much, even if he hadn’t been consciously aware of it. This realization, coupled with the possibility of losing her, caused a sob to leave his throat as the tears held at bay by his eyelids finally flowed hot and fast, wetting the sheets covering Rebecca’s bed. Although he tried to regain his composure, it was clear that he was past the point of no return as he continued to sob on top of her.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” were the only words that he could form through his tears. His pulse thudded loudly in his ears, as his hands balled into fists.

He felt Rebecca’s body spasm without warning, her chest hitching violently against him, pushing his head up and down. Jerking his face up, tears still slowly tailing from him, his eyes widened as he saw her vibrating on top of the bed. For a moment he thought that she was having some kind of seizure, and leapt to his feet, kicking the stool over in the process. Breath held tightly in his lungs, he looked on, preparing himself for the worst.

Only, instead of finding her face contorted into a mask of pain in her final moments, her expression was one of amusement. Her green eyes were now wide open and trained on him; they sparkled with tears. Soft laughter erupted from her.

“Holy shit!” she exclaimed weakly, “You sound just like a braying donkey when you cry. It’s uncanny. I was laying there thinking, ‘Who the fuck let a donkey in here? Did I die and mistakenly get sent to donkey heaven?’ Cause I could work with that, I guess, but it’d smell pretty bad.”

“What the fuck!” he cried, “Are you actually fucking ok?”

“Yeah? I mean, my head feels like someone kicked me repeatedly with work boots on because, oh hey, they totally did! But I think my brain’s ok. I dunno. Maybe get a real doctor to see me and make sure I’m not bleeding on my insides?”

“Fuck. Yes! Sorry. I’ll be right back!” he said stumbling for the door to call in Krouse, who was taking a nap against the wall outside. The sleeping man’s eyes sprang open as she scrambled to his feet before following Negan inside the infirmary.

“Well, this is pretty good!” he said studying Rebecca, “I honestly didn’t know if you were going to wake up for a while there.”

“Yeah, I’m guessing that was the intent behind those assholes beating me until I stopped moving,” she said with a cynical edge taking over her voice before asking, “Am I going to be ok?”

“The fact that you’re conscious is a really good sign, but since we have no way to see inside of your body, really only time can tell. If you’re bleeding internally, it’ll become apparent eventually. It seems pretty clear that you’ve got at least a few broken ribs, and maybe some fractures in your face.”

“I have to say, I really don’t fucking like this ‘time will tell’ shit you’re laying on us, Doc,” Negan interjected, crossing his arms across his chest.

“I know, and I apologize. If we had better facilities, or more than a few hours of power a week, I could do more to check. But as it is, the best we can do is to wait and monitor her. Like I said though, the fact that she’s awake and talking is a really good sign,” he had moved on to checking her pupils, which appeared to be responding normally to the light he shone into them.

“Ok, fine. I get that. How long do we have to monitor her until we know?”

“It’s hard to say, but probably at least another day or two. I’d be willing to give her a thumb’s up at that point if she doesn’t seem to be deteriorating. Then she can go back to her own room and heal.”

Negan scoffed at Krouse’s words, “Like fucking hell she’s going back to her own room! Fuck that, she’s moving in with me if she makes it out of here,” he said sternly, causing Rebecca’s eyes to widen.

“Uh, wait a fucking minute. Do I not get a say about where I live now?” she asked with an annoyed expression.

“I’m going to leave you two to hash this out,” Krouse said, backing away from them slowly, “I’ll be back I a while to see you, Rebecca.”

“Thanks, doctor,” she said distractedly, her gaze still trained on Negan.

After Krouse had left the room, the pair sat in silence for a moment before Rebecca pierced the tranquility of the moment, “I did hear what you said before you started ugly crying on me.”

“Yeah?” Negan said, uncertain of how to respond.

“Yeah. Did you mean it? Or were you just caught up in the moment?” she asked, raising am inquisitive eyebrow, “Because last I checked, you wanted nothing to do with me. But here you are, blubbering into my nice, clean sheets like we’re in some shitty soap opera or something.”

Negan sighed deeply before responding, “I meant it. I don’t know if I want to mean it. I know that I tried my best to not mean it for a long time, but I do. I do care about you a lot, Rebecca.”

“So you do remember my name,” a faint smile sketched its way across Rebecca’s lips before she caught it and tried to neutralize her expression, “Well, you really hurt me. So I guess that means I care about you too. Or something like that. I think the only people who can fuck you up like you fucked me up are the people you love.”

“You really suck at this apologizing thing too, you know,” Negan said before adding, “Almost as much as I do.”

“I know,” she said, looking down at her hands for a moment before returning her eyes to his, “And I know I was acting really irrationally too. I said some shitty things to you that I didn’t mean, and I think we both really suck at this whole ‘having emotions’ business. So, you know, sorry for being terrible or whatever.”

“I’m sorry too. Can we just forget about this shit and move on now? I hate heart-to-heart conversations. They make me feel like so much less of a badass than I clearly am.”

“Uh huh. Tell that to the man tears soaked into these blankets, Mr. Badass McGruffy,” she said with a laugh before doubling over in pain, “Fucking hell, broken ribs hurt like a bitch!”

“Yeah, I’d imagine they do. Now, lie down and rest. I’m going to go get you some food from the cafeteria. Breakfast should be started by now,” he said before standing, “I’ll make sure someone’s outside of the door at all times when I’m not here.”

“Sounds like a good idea. Just promise me something, ok?” she said, reclining against the pillows.

“What’s that, Fuckface?”

“Once I’m out of the woods, can we track down the assholes that did this and fuck them up real good?”

“Darling, I can pretty well fucking guarantee that they will regret ever fucking with you once I’m done with them,” he said over his shoulder, before opening the door and walking into the hallway. Golden light painted the stark, white walls of the corridor as a new day began to break. They had work to do. But first, breakfast.

Chapter Text

Rebecca settled back into the pillows of the hospital bed with a deep sigh. Her head pounded dully and her eyes felt as though they were pulsing in their sockets with every beat of her heart. Each time she inhaled , her almost-certainly-broken ribs screamed in protest. Meanwhile, her mouth tasted like she had licked the floor of one of the building’s long-neglected shower stalls. In short: she felt shitty. Really shitty.

Groaning, she turned her face toward the room’s door and caught sight of her reflection in a tall, metal tray placed beside her bed which held a glass of water for her to sip. Although the curves of the metal contorted her face into a fun-house caricature, it was clear that she had been well and truly fucked up. Both eyes were blackened while deep purple and blue bruises marred the right side of her face, from forehead to chin. Her lip was split open, while several other cuts and scrapes completed the horrific picture.

She glared at the sorry state of her visage, her blood boiling in her veins. Rebecca thought of herself as a peaceful, easygoing person. But she could be viscous when she needed to be. Now, as she viewed the damage inflicted upon her, she knew that she couldn’t let this go. Nor did she think Negan would let it go.

Ryan had told her all of the stories about Negan’s “reign of terror” prior to his imprisonment in Alexandria. At the time, she had been disturbed by these tales of mutilation and murder, but had given him a chance in the end as it was apparent that he had changed somehow. Now, as she lay in bed gazing at her injuries, she hoped that he still had some of that brutality left in him, and pondered all of the punishments they could inflict upon those who had done this to her. Thoughts of torture warmed the coldness of her heart as she lay in the sterile infirmary, gazing at her ruined face. 

She had never taken a living human’s life before, and the thought of doing so soured her stomach. Yet, she saw no other way to regain control of the Sanctuary. Ryan had been right, in the end: There were indeed people here who hated Negan enough to harm him, as well as anyone who appeared sympathetic to him. Ignoring this tension and turning the other cheek hadn’t worked. Perhaps brazen brutality would get his detractors back in line.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door’s lock turning as Krouse entered the room, “I brought you some pain killers,” he began quietly,”You must be starting to feel your injuries now, huh?” his eyes were sympathetic and soft against the harsh, sterile room.

“Yeah, it fucking sucks. My ribs hurt like the bitchiest bitch ever,” she said with a weak smile.

“Uh yeah. I imagine they do,” he held out a small paper cup containing an orange pill, “This should help with that a bit. Might make you feel fuzzy though.”

“My head’s already fuzzy as shit. Doubt a pill will make it much worse,” she grumbled, taking the cup from his hands, “That is to say, gimme the good shit, please! The less I remember about the healing process, the better!”

She grimaced, reaching for the cup of water beside her before Krouse grabbed it and handed it to her, “Sorry about that! I should have handed this to you before the pill!”

Rebecca shrugged and raised the cup with the pill to her lips. Her hand hovered in the air and her eyes locked on his, “This isn’t poison is it?”

“Huh? No! What?” Krouse looked utterly horrified.

“I’m only mostly joking! Having someone attempt to beat you to death tends to make you a little paranoid. Don’t take it personally.”

“Sorry,” he said, his face falling a little, “That’s understandable. It’s morphine, if that makes a difference.”

“Ah. Ok. So only quasi-poison,” she said before dumping the pill into her mouth, chasing it with a mouthful of water, and swallowing.

“Just get some rest, and I’ll be back in a while to check in,” he said, turning toward the door. He took two steps before turning back to ask, “By the way, where did Negan go?”

“He stepped out to get me breakfast in bed. Real stand-up guy, that Negan, huh?”

“Uh, yeah. He’s pretty nice…” Krouse trailed off.

Laughter vibrated through Rebecca’s body for a moment before blinding pain stabbed her in the side, causing her to stop, “Ow! Fuck! Laughing sucks,” she said before adding, “Negan’s not a nice guy. He’s actually kind of an asshole…but he’s an asshole who brings me food and makes sure I get the good pills when I get hurt, so I guess he’s my asshole now.”

“Yeah…”

“Well, not literally my asshole. I have one of those already…Wow! I am talking a lot of stupid shit right now, and the morphine hasn’t even kicked in yet. Maybe they did fuck up my brain.”

“Is this not normal for you?” Krouse asked, raising a concerned eyebrow.

“Well, I usually just think this kind of stuff. It doesn’t always come out of my mouth,” she replied thoughtfully.

“I think you’ll be fine,” Krouse laughed as he resumed his walk toward the door, “You probably just got all of the fucks you had left to give beaten out of you.”

“Heh. Yeah, that’s one way to look at the situation.”

“See you in a while. Rest up!”

Rebecca reclined her head against the cool pillow behind her and let her eyes drift closed. Visions of torturous revenge danced in her head as her body eventually began to tingle with the morphine’s warmth. Sound and vision faded into a deep haze that wasn’t quite sleep.

What might have been minutes or days later, the clanging of metal on tile caused Rebecca to jolt violently out of her daze. The sudden influx of light into her swollen eyes made her squint while her head instantly began to throb with pain, though she noted that the sensation had lessened significantly since taking the morphine. Turning her head toward the door of the room, she grinned at the sight before her.

“Shit! Fuck! Sorry!” Negan hurridly set a tray of food down on a nearby bed before scrambling to pick up the metal side table he had knocked over on his way toward the place where Rebecca lay. His back was to her and he was crouched over with his butt in the air; Rebecca took a moment to enjoy the view before giggling at him.

“Hey! Did you know…that you have an incredibly tiny butt, sir?”

Negan finished setting the table back into its original position and turned back to her, “What?”

“Your butt. It’s so small. It’s nice, but it’s all tiny and stuff,” Rebecca’s head swam from the effects of the drug. A groggy warmth continued to spread throughout her body, chemically massaging all of her aches and pains, and she allowed the dopy grin to remain on her lips.

“You’re high as fuck right now, aren’t you?” he said, setting the tray of food on the side table nearest her bed.

“Yes, sir, I think I am!” she said before another burst of giggles left her mouth, “This is fucking great!”

“It’s fucking amusing as shit is what it is. But don’t get too used to it. I don’t want you hooked on that stuff.”

“Nah! I’ll be fine,” she said dismissively, “What’d you bring me? Presents?”

“Food. Today’s meal is toast and instant oatmeal.”

“That sounds lovely. Gimme!” she reached her hands toward him in a grabbing motion.

“Hang the fuck on, impatient!” Negan said, sliding the table over her bed so she could reach the items on top.

“Oooh! Is that orange drink?”

“Only the finest fucking powdered orange-like liquid substances for my lady,” he said, throwing a wink in her direction.

“Sir! You flatter me!” she cried before beginning to shovel the pasty oatmeal into her mouth. Swallowing she added, “Have the cooks in our kitchen never heard of cinnamon or brown sugar? This is terrible.”

“I know! I really need to get some new staff in there…” he said, sitting in the stool that was still placed next to her bed, “I take it Krouse was by to see you?”

“Yup!” she replied, her mouth half-filled with glue-like, bland oatmeal, “He’s takin’ good care of me.”

“Fucking great,” Negan said before picking up a slice of toast and taking a bite.

“Hey! That was mine! You should’ve got your own,” Rebecca pouted.

“Oh my god! Seriously?”

“Nah. Not seriously. I’m just giving you a hard time.”

“So, now that you’re nice and doped up and suggestible, I’m gonna tell you how this is going to play out.”

“I’m listening,” she replied before taking a sip of the orange drink.

“Good. Tomorrow, when Krouse gives you the all clear, you’re coming to stay with me in my room. Do not try to fight me on this one.”

Rebecca raised her hands in a gesture meant to imply that she wasn’t willing to fight at the moment.

“Fucking fantastic. That’s what I like to see: a good, compliant lady.”

She snorted and rolled her eyes, “Don’t get your hopes up there. I’m just too tired to fight right now.”

“Fine. Whatever works,” he murmured before continuing, “So, you’ll stay with me where I can protect you. We’ll have guards stationed all of the time, and they’ll be people I’ve picked myself. People I can trust.”

“Makes sense.”

“While you’re healing up, we’re going to play detective. We’ll spend all of the time we have trying to figure out who did this to you and-“

Rebecca cut him off with one word before he could finish his thought, “Julie.”

“Excuse me?”

“It was Julie,” she noticed the doubting expression on Negan’s face and continued with her explanation, “I mean, she wasn’t there. She didn’t do the ass-kicking herself, of course. God forbid she break a fucking nail or something. It was two older dudes who did it. I’m sure I can point those fuckers out when the time comes. But she had something to do with it.”

“What makes you say that, Fuckface?”

“Because one of the men said something just before I passed out. It was the last thing I can remember.”

“What’d he fucking say?” Negan’s eyes narrowed into slits.

“He said: ‘Julie sends her regards.’ And then everything went black.”

Negan sighed heavily, his shoulders deflating a little bit, “Fucking fuck!”

***

The next twenty-four hours of Rebecca’s life were spent drifting in and out of uneasy, yet dreamless sleep brought on by the morphine Krouse, who came in to check on her ever few hours, provided to her. Each time she regained consciousness, she immediately turned her head to the right, expecting to find Negan’s stool empty; each time she was proven wrong by the hulking man who sat steadfast by her side the entire time.

The only point that she awoke to find the seat empty was during what her wrist watch told her were the wee hours of the morning, and that was only because Negan happened to be snoring lightly in the hospital bed beside her with his boots and leather jacket still on. A soft, genuine smile touched her features and she let her eyes drift closed once again, content that he would still be there the next time they opened.

Large, warm hands shook her awake sometime later. Her eyelids felt heavy with the weight of the drugs in her system, and it was a struggle to keep them open.

“Hmmmm?” she inquired, groggily peering up at Negan from her pillow.

“Hey, druggie!” he flashed his almost unnaturally straight, white teeth at her, “Welcome back to the land of the living. Krouse is here for your last check-up for a while. He thinks we can move your sexy ass up to my room after this one, isn’t that right, Doc?”

“Erm. Yes,” stammered the doctor, who was turning red at Negan’s words, “I wouldn’t use those exact terms, but he’s right. You’re awake and seem to be doing ok, so we can probably let you go back to more comfortable accommodations while you heal.”

“’Bout fucking time too,” muttered Negan, “My back is killing me from sitting on that stool all day. No fucking back support.”

“I caught you sleeping last night! Had your boots on the bed and everything. Someone’s gotta clean those sheets now,” Rebecca slurred, pointing her finger up at Negan, “J’accuse!”

“What?” Krouse looked genuinely confused, “I think we might need to lower your morphine dose…”

“Awe…” Rebecca pouted, relaxing into her pillows, “But drugs are cool…”

“Ok, let’s get you up to my bedroom before you weird Krouse out any more than you already have,” Negan chided, “Can you walk?”

“Uhhh…Lemme see!” she cried before dramatically tossing off the blankets that covered her body to reveal the still-dirty shorts and tank top she had been wearing when she was attacked.

She sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed, her feet not quite touching the floor beneath her. Her body slid forward and off the bed into an unsteady standing position with her hands still holding onto the edge of the bed behind her for support.

“Careful. Go slowly,” Krouse advised.

Rebecca took a step forward, and allowed Negan to place an arm around her waist as he led her toward the room’s door, “Gonna make it, Fuckface?”

“Yeah…yeah…I’m ok, I think. My head’s just all swirly right now…”

“Rebecca,” Krouse began, “I’ll be up to check on you tomorrow. I take it you’ll be in Negan’s room?”

The woman hesitated for a moment, her brow furrowing briefly, before she responded, “Yeah. Ok. Sounds like a plan. Negan’s room it is.”

“Great. Let’s go!” Negan said, continuing their journey out of the infirmary.

He led them to his section of the building by using less-traveled routes in order to keep them both out of sight as much as possible. This added a few minutes to their trip, and by the time they had climbed the final staircase, Rebecca was feeling completely drained of life. Wavering on her feet for a moment, she jutted out an arm to brace herself against Negan just long enough to stop her vision from fading.

“Rebecca? You ok?” he asked in a concerned voice, using her real name for a change.

“Feeling woozy,” she mumbled, her voice thick in her throat. Without a word, Negan bent down long enough to scoop herself into his arms, “Ow! Ribs! Pain! Bad!” she cried, her eyes widening.

“Sorry, but you looked like you were about to fucking drop, baby,” he continued walking toward his room’s door at the end of the hallway, but stopped for a moment to shift her weight a bit, “Jesus, you’re heavier than you look.”

“Fuck you! I’m compact!”

“Yeah, I always knew you were dense,” he said before emitting one of his boisterous laughs.

“You’re just so funny,” she said dryly, relaxing into his arms bit by bit.

As they reached the door Negan gently placed Rebecca’s feet back on the tiled floor for a moment as he fumbled for his key. Once it had turned in the lock, he pushed the door open and picked the woman up again with a grunt.

“Gotta carry you over the threshold and shit. Like a gentleman.”

“Let’s not get carried away now. I don’t see any ring on my finger. This arrangement is purely for safety.”

“Uh huh. Sure. Whatever you say, Fuckface,” he smirked down at her, finally placing her on top of the sheets of his massive King sized bed. Walking to the other side of the bed, he jumped up onto its surface and lay beside Rebecca, propping his head up with his hand as he gazed down at her.

Rebecca sighed contentedly, “That being said, I could get used to this. Nice, big, comfy bed. Nice, big, sexy man to share it with. What’s not to like?” she asked, turning her head slightly toward him and letting her eyes drift up and down his body before bringing a hand down to grab his crotch and massage it gently.

“Fuck! You are high as balls, sweetheart! You always this horny when you’re wasted?” he chucked before leaning forward to kiss her forehead and remove her hand from him, “We’d better wait until you’re feeling better to do anything too fun. Besides, I think it might be time to get you out of those clothes and into a bathtub. Fucking Krouse didn’t even clean you up, aside from disinfecting the cuts and stuff…” he gently grazed her cheek with his thumb, just beside one of said abrasions. His eyes became cold as he inspected her injuries again.

“That sounds splendid. Were it not for our lack of running water and my lack of clothing, I would totally take you up on that,” her eyes gleamed at him, still glassy from the drugs.

“Excuse me for just a moment,” he said, turning away and jumping to his feet. Rebecca was impressed at how quick he could be for such a large man. He strode to the door and whipped it open before poking his head into the hallway, “Hey! You!” he shouted to what Rebecca presumed was one of his trusty guards, “Boil some water. Like, a big fucking pot. Maybe three big pots. And hurry your ass!” Closing the door, he turned back to her, grinning from ear to ear.

“That sounded ominous. Gonna boil me alive?” Rebecca asked.

“Fuck no! Wanna see something cool?”

“Fuck yes, I do!” she replied, propping herself up on her elbows to follow him as he moved toward a smaller door in the corner of the bedroom. Pulling it open he stood aside and gestured as if to say “voila”.

“Oh joy! A darkened room!” Rebecca cried in feigned wonder.

“For fuck’s sake…" Negan mumbled annoyed, before turning to rifle through the top drawer of a dresser until he found what he was looking for: a flashlight. Flicking it on, he pointed the wide beam into the room and Rebecca finally caught of glimpse of what he was making such a fuss over.

A claw foot bathtub stood against the far wall, in plain view of anyone standing in the doorway as long as the lights were on. Since the Sanctuary only had limited hours of power, the room was as dark as any windowless closet until Negan illuminated it with the beam. The white porcelain gleamed in the light and Rebecca sucked in a breath, now legitimately impressed.

“Is that a fucking bathtub?”

“It most certainly fucking is!”

“Holy shit! This is turning into a great day for me. Bathtubs… big beds… breakfast in bed…Alliteration.”

Negan chuckled at her again, “You stay here and take a nap while the water gets ready. I’m gonna get some candles going so you can see what you’re doing in there.”

Rebecca lay back down, “You gonna wash my hair for me?” she mumbled dreamily.

“We’ll see. If you’re good.”

“Good? I’m the fucking best,” she said, her eye dropping closed, “Wake me when it’s ready, ok?”

“Well, I’m not gonna drop you in asleep, Fuckface.”

“Better not…” she said before finally fading out.

Chapter Text

(The woods are lovely, dark and deep…)

Sunlight flickered through the canopy of leaves overhead as they were gently ruffled by the breeze. Rebecca was back in her forest, and it was a perfect day. She ambled aimlessly through the overgrown paths, the scent of decaying plants and mud comforting her. Her clothes were tattered and her skin was burnt red from exposure to the elements, but she was happy. Appearances didn’t matter out here.

(But I have promises to keep…)

She tilted her face slightly to her right as she felt a warm hand grasp hers. Deep green eyes, nearly hidden behind shaggy dark hair, peered back at her and crinkled at the corners in a kind smile. He always had a kind smile for her, no matter how bad things got. He had kept both of them alive out here for so long, and she knew that she owed him her life for that.

She smiled back and squeezed his hand lightly, “You came back. I knew you would.”

“I’ll always come back to you, Rebecca,” his voice was soft and serious. Tears sprang to her eyes at the sound of it. It had been so long.

(And miles to go before I sleep.)

Distracted by his eyes and the beauty of the forest, Rebecca didn’t notice the rock jutting out from the side of the path until her boot was firmly wedged under it, sending her sprawling forward with a startled scream. She landed on her right side, but her foot remained straight under the rock, causing her ankle to twist painfully as she tumbled.

“Ow! Fuck my life!” she cried angrily mere moments before the dead thing that had been concealed by the bushes just beside the rock lunged toward her, mouth gaping and hands grabbing for her.

“Oh shit!” he yelled, rushing forward to help her, meaning to kill her undead attacker. The thing landed on his outstretched arm, its mouth still open and its teeth digging a gash into his exposed upper arm, “Fuck!” he exclaimed before stabbing the creature through the skull, re-killing it.

Rebecca’s eyes widened at him in distress as she tried to get to her feet, but found herself unable to do so as her foot was still painfully locked in place by the rock.

“Are you hurt?” he asked.

Rebecca ignored the question, “Your arm,” she said breathlessly, knowing that it was already too late. He was bitten.

“What?” in the heat of the moment, he appeared to not have noticed the bite, “Oh fuck! Shit! Did it get me?”

She looked at him solemnly, unable to say anything more than a whispered, “Yeah. It got you.”

“What do we do now?” he asked.

“I have no fucking clue…”

 

***

 

“Rebecca?”

The pressure of a hand on her face startled Rebecca awake. The room was hot and humid and for a moment she believed that she was still in the woods. Had she passed out from shock?

“It bit you…” she murmured, staring into deep brown eyes framed by dark eyebrows which had knitted themselves into a curious expression.

“What bit me?” asked Negan, seeming genuinely confused.

She shook her head and closed her eyes for a moment before answering, “Never mind. It was a dream. I’m at the Sanctuary. I know that.”

“Yeah,” he replied hesitantly, “Your bath is ready. Had to wait a while for the water to cool down. And to find this,” he said, reaching behind him to produce a fluffy bathrobe.

“Oh my. That looks very comfy. I take it that I’ll be lounging about in that for a while.”

“Heh. Yeah. Hopefully just this with nothing under it.”

“Pervert. Help me get out of bed?” she asked.

He offered her an arm, pulling her into a sitting position before steadying her from behind with his other hand. She swung her legs over the bed and dropped her feet to the floor before standing. Allowing him to keep am arm around her waist, they walked side-by-side into the steamy bathroom, which was illuminated in the soft, warm glow of candlelight.

“Well, this is positively romantic,” she said, giving him a weak smile.

“It’s a bit more utilitarian than that since we’ve got no power. But we’ll pretend it was purely for the romance.”

“Deal.”

She began to unbutton her jean shorts, and let them drop around her ankles before stripping the thread-bare fabric of her tank top from her torso. Negan turned away, evidently unsure if he should watch or not.

“You can look,” she said casually, “Not like you haven’t seen it before.”

“I know. It’s just that I didn’t know if we were quite to the casual nudity stage yet…after the unpleasantness….”

“You mean when I basically told you to go fuck yourself?” she said corrected, gingerly bringing a leg over the side of the tub. The water burned ever so slightly, but not in a painful way.

“Yeah. And when I was a super-douche to you. That time,” he said, holding tightly onto her as she brought a second leg into the water and then helping her to ease herself into a reclining position.

“To be fair, I was also a super-douche. But I thought we were done talking about that. Its history,” she said, trying to keep the annoyed edge out of her voice.

“True, but sometimes you have to adjust your actions based on your history, even if you’d rather not address it directly, you know? What’s that saying? Pay attention in history class or it’ll come back to bite you in the ass later? Or some shit like that?”

“Or some shit like that,” she repeated, smiling at him, “Well, I’m sure you can tell that I wasn’t a great history student. More of a math and science gal over here.”

“I was always too busy flirting with girls and trying to make them laugh to be a good student,” he said, winking at her before taking a seat on the floor next to the tub, “Speaking of which, mind if I hang out?”

“Not at all. It’s a free bathroom,” she shrugged, lowering herself further into the warm water, her hair floating around her head.

Rebecca lay in the quiet warmth of the bath with her eyes closed for a long time, letting the water relax her muscles and carry away the grit and dirt that had matted parts of her hair. Her thoughts drifted from her dream to Negan, still sitting by her side, willing to give her another chance after the bitter words that had separated them. Maybe he deserved a chance too. She resurfaced with a sigh and opened her eyes to meet his.

“Geez, Fuckface. I didn’t think you were coming back up for air for a while there.”

She ignored his comment, “I think I’m ready to tell you now.”

“That’s a pretty fucking cryptic statement. Tell me what? That you shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?”

“Don’t sully the good name of Johnny Cash in my presence, Negan,” she cracked a slight smile, “No, I’m ready to tell you about my life before I came to the Sanctuary. When I was out there. I wasn’t ready before, but I am now.”

“I thought it didn’t matter,” he said, a certain degree of smugness finding its way into his voice.

Rebecca swallowed her indignation and replied, “I’m not sure that it does. But it’s important to you. And you’re important to me. Even though you can kind of be a dick sometimes.”

“Guilty.”

“So, where do I start…” she sighed.

“Start at the beginning. Where are you from? Your accent isn’t really…um…common around here.”

“I was born in Maine, actually. I came here for college because I was sick of the snow. But I miss the place sometimes,” she added.

“You realize it snows here too, right?”

“I do now,” she laughed, “But not as much as up there. Not as cold down here either. Anyway. I met a guy down here while I was in school. His name was Michael, and he was studying to be a doctor. I fell for him and we spent all of our time together. When school was done with, I just kind of stayed. Eventually, he asked me to marry him, and I said yes. That was about three months before we first heard the reports about crazies attacking people.”

“Fuck. That’s not very long,” Negan said quietly.

“It wasn’t. We thought it would all blow over, but soon it became clear that this wasn’t the case. He was doing his residency by then in a real hospital. He saw a lot of things in those last few weeks. Then, one day he comes home from a shift and he has his backpack stuffed full of medicine and supplies, and he tells me that we have to get out of the city and go into the woods. I thought he was crazy at first, but he convinced me that it was the right thing to do. Maybe it would blow over and maybe it wouldn’t…but less people around us meant less chance of getting mauled or infected. So I went.”

“And you were out there together until we brought you in?”

She nodded, “It felt like forever. We thought that we had this world figured out. We got complacent and cocky. We made stupid mistakes. I made stupid mistakes. And he got bit trying to save me.”

“Shit. I’m so sorry.”

“I wasn’t watching where I was going. I was always so clumsy,” her voice cracked as she continued to recount her story, “My foot got caught under a rock while we were walking and I twisted my ankle really bad. The next thing I knew, there was one of those dead fucks coming for me and I couldn’t get away. He saved me. He killed it. But it bit him. He didn’t even notice at first.”

Her gaze was fixed on her toes, wavering just below the surface of the water. The warm liquid gripped her body in its warm embrace as she pulled her knees against her chest and wound her arms around them. Tears streamed from her eyes, splashing into the tub like rain into a puddle.

“I stayed with him the whole time. He tried to convince me to leave him and let him die alone, but I couldn’t do it. I loved him so much. He was my best friend,” a sob ripped through her and she lowered her head to rest against her knees and shut her eyes tightly, “When the time came, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t put a bullet or a knife into him.”

“If it’s too painful, you don’t need to finish. I get it,” Negan said softly, placing a hand on her exposed back and lightly rubbing it.

“No. I need to,” she said resolutely, turning her face toward him. Her gaze was full of steel; it was the look or someone who had seen the darkness of the world and who wasn’t afraid of the monsters that dwelled in its shadows. She supposed that Negan knew that look well. She had seen it in his own eyes the day they rode back from the nursing home as he barked orders at the group. She sighed, composing herself, “I let him follow me that day. I don’t remember much. Just walking and crying and he was always there, following, but he was one of them now. Every time I turned around to finally do it, to put him out of his misery, I couldn’t. My ankle hurt so much, but I hardly noticed.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah. Eventually, the sun went down, and it was too dark to keep going like that. I knew it. He would find me in the dark and take me out. For a while, I considered it. I wanted to die in that moment, I think. I wanted to be with him again, but I knew that he didn’t want that for me. Taking my own life would be like spitting in the face of everything we had done to stay alive,” she paused, as if collecting her strength, “I had no choice. I had to end it for him. So I did. I don’t remember much. Just waiting for him to come at me. And he was on top of me,” her voice cracked again,” And I was crying so hard that everything was blurred. But I put a knife through his head. I think I blacked out after that. The next thing I remember was it was morning. I was on a rock and your men were there. They spoke to me, but I could hardly understand. I just went with them. I couldn’t think of anything else to do.”

“Krouse told me,” Negan began, “He said that you were probably in shock. That you spent a week just staring; not talking, not eating. Not even crying. And then one day you just came out of it.”

“I don’t really remember that week. I know it happened. I remember bits and pieces, but that’s it. It feels like it happened to someone else. I don’t know what it was, and I don’t know why it ended. And I’m afraid that it will happen again. That’s why I don’t talk about this. That’s why I just keep going, without thinking about what happened to me. It’s all I know.”

“But you’re not being honest with yourself. Or with me, Fuckface. It still hurts you. I know it does. I know a thing or two about self-deception.”

Eyes flaring at him with sudden anger, Rebecca jerked her head up to look at Negan straight on, “What the fuck do you have to tell me about self-deception? What could you possibly know about what I’ve been through?”

“Rebecca. I’m not trying to say that you haven’t been through hell. You have. I know that,” his voice became a low, rumbly whisper, “You know the stories that Ryan told you about the bat? He told you it had a name right?”

“Lucille?” her voice echoed against the tiles of the room.

“Yeah. Ever stop to think about why this crazy fucker named a fucking baseball bat after a lady?” his mouth twitched into a rueful smile.

“I-no. I guess I didn’t. I thought maybe you were just really into Arrested Development or something,” she said, her features softening as she calmed down.

“She was my wife. She died and she turned, just like Michael did.”

“Oh my god…” she stammered, “I-I’m so sorry. I had no idea.”

“It’s ok. I don’t talk about it either. Losing someone like that fucking sucks. I know.”

“I’m so, so sorry. I was such a dick to you.”

“Don’t worry about it. You didn’t know. She was my best friend too. I guess I didn’t really have many friends even before I made a career change and became a murdering bastard. I tend to rub folks the wrong way. Not everyone enjoys my sense of humour. It takes a strong, easy-going lady to put up with me. Lucille was a fucking saint.”

“She sounds amazing, Negan. I wish I could have known her. It sounds like you treated her really well, and she must have known how much you loved her-“ Rebecca began.

“I treated her like shit,” Negan said angrily, raising his face to look at her dead on, his expression stony, “I cheated on her so many times I can’t even count them. I had one night stands. I had whole other fucking relationships. I didn’t even try to hide it. She knew everything. It killed her. Sometimes I think that she got sick with the cancer from all of the stressful shit I put her through. I know that’s not really possible, but I’m sure it didn’t help her. Hell, I even kept fucking one of them well into her treatments.”

“Fuck. That’s…shitty,” Rebecca was at a loss for words.

“Yeah. That’s what I keep telling you: I’m not a good person. I’m not some secretly sensitive bad boy with a heart of gold. I do shitty things. I fuck people over. I’m trying to learn and to get better, but there are no guarantees with me, Fuckface. What you see is what you get. At least I’m not a liar.”

“Fair enough. I get that; I do. And thank you for being honest with me.”

“I was with her when she died in the hospital,” he said suddenly, “Hell, maybe it was the same hospital your man worked at. Maybe he was one of the people who told me to evacuate near the end before they got the hell out of dodge. The days just kind of blurred together at that point. I saw her go. And then she was back, only it wasn’t her. Not anymore. And I couldn’t do it. Had to get a fucking kid to help me.”

Rebecca stared at him quietly as tears sprang to his eyes. The water in which she sat had gone cold, but she was transfixed on the man as he spoke.

“I think a piece of me died that day. I’m sure you know the feeling.”

The woman nodded silently and bit her lip.

“I just kind of kept going after that. One foot in front of the next. I never really had a plan outside of just getting through to the next day. Then I met people who I could protect, and I felt like I had a purpose. I wanted to help to bring the world back. But I went about it in a really shitty, ass-backward way.”

“So I hear,” Rebecca said, her voice tinged with a soft, playful tone.

“And you’re not even afraid or disgusted by me? After everything I’ve told you?”

Thinking for a moment about all she had heard and experienced, Rebecca honestly contemplated the question before answering, “No.”

“Why the fuck not?”

“Maybe I’m stupid, or more naive than I think I am, but I trust you. You’re honest. And you seem like you’ve grown since the outbreak hit. Plus, I think that I could have followed a very similar path to yours, if my circumstances had been the same.”

“Well…that’s surprising, to say the least. You don’t seem like the type to crack skulls.”

“I’m not. Usually. Until I need to.”

“Awe. Look at my cute, little badass over here! You’re adorable when you’ve been driven to homicide, Fuckface!”

“Speaking of which…What the fuck are we gonna do about Julie and her flying monkeys?”

Chapter Text

Negan allowed Rebecca’s question to hang unanswered. He blinked slowly at her as he reclined in the tub before averting his eyes, “Let’s finish getting you cleaned up and out of the bath…”

“You didn’t answer my question,” she persisted, gently.

“I know. Just…let’s talk about this when you’re not fucking naked and wet, ok?”

“Ok. Fine.”

Getting up from his place on the floor, Negan moved toward a cabinet that stood in the corner of the room and grabbed a bottle from one of the shelves, “Get your hair wet again, and let’s get you cleaned up.”

Rebecca dunked her head under the tepid water and emerged to find Negan squirting shampoo into one of his large hands before lathering it against the other and placing them both on top of her head. His fingers dug into her hair firmly all the way to her scalp and the air filled with the scent of flowers as imagined by a cosmetics company’s chemist.

“Mmm. That feels really nice,” she mumbled, her shoulders relaxing a bit as he massaged her head.

“Like I said before, I’m really fucking great at massages. I’m a lot of things, but I ain’t a liar.”

Even with her eyes closed Rebecca could tell he was smirking as his bulky frame loomed over her from his place beside the bathtub.

“What kinds of things are you then?” she inquired, her voice taking on a dreamy quality.

“You know…I’ve never been asked that before,” he sighed, “I used to be a liar. I lied to Lucille a lot. But that’s done now. Now I don’t bullshit with anyone unless it’s about to cost me my life or something.”

“Mmm-hmm. What else?”

“I’m a leader,” he paused in thought, “I’m a planner. I’m a caretaker…I don’t know if anyone else thinks that, but I am. I like caring for people.”

“Evidently,” she said before dunking her head under the water again to rinse the shampoo out of her hair. As she emerged, she opened her eyes and locked them with his, “Are you a killer?”

Negan seemed taken aback by her question. Turning from Rebecca, he searched for a towel to warp her in, and murmured, “You already know the answer to that.”

“But I want to hear you say it.”

“Ok. Yes, I’ve killed people. I didn’t like it. I didn’t take any joy in it, but it had to be done. I’m a killer, but I’m not a murdering bastard.”

Rebecca stood up, grimacing as her ribs cried out in protest at the sudden change in position. Water streamed in small rivers down her body while Negan wound the towel around her shoulders before helping her to safely step out of the tub.

“I’ve never killed anyone before,” she admitted to him, “I’ve never had to. We stayed out of sight so no one ever had the chance to fuck with us out there.”

“Good. Fighting’s overrated anyway,” he allowed her to dry off before grabbing the robe he had found for her and helping her to put it on. They exited the bathroom, and Rebecca settled back into the bed, propping her head up against the pillows. Negan walked around the bed and hopped up, causing Rebecca’s side to raise and dip slightly with his weight.

“Sometimes you have to fight though. For things you believe in, and for people you care about. Right?” her eyes were fixed to the middle distance, and her voice came out small and unnaturally timid.

“Fuckface,” he began, “To answer your first question: We’re not going to do a fucking thing about Julie or the other people who did this to you.”

Her head snapped around, “If you think that you’re killing them alone-“

“I’m not killing anyone either, Rebecca.”

“So they’re just going to get off with this?”

“I didn’t say that. I said I’m not killing them. There are other ways to get some fucking justice, you know.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? Community service?” she asked with a mocking laugh.

“No. Not community service,” his tone became heavy and his voice deepend, “As much as I hate to admit it when I’m wrong, because I’m usually pretty fucking right, I had it all ass backwards the first time I ran this place, and I think that’s why people hate me so fucking much right now. I made them afraid, and that fear kind of snowballed into anger. And now this,” he gestured toward her, trying to emphasize her injuries.

“Makes sense,” Rebecca said weakly.

“But they should’ve taken it out on me, not you. It should be me all beat to hell for what I did. The fucking cowards need to pay for what they did to you, but killing or maiming them isn’t the answer. I see that now. Someone showed me that there can be other ways to deal with shitheads…He let me live when I probably deserved to die. And I was King Shithead back then.”

“You’re talking about Alexandria?”

He nodded, “Yep. I thought for sure I was a fucking dead man when they took me down. But they let me live. It’s funny how I used to draw the line on what was ‘civilized’ or ‘uncivilized’ around things like rape, but thought nothing about fucking killing people. I guess we all have our blind spots.”

“Seems like a pretty big spot,” Rebecca commented, and then followed this up with a question: “So, what are you suggesting we do?”

“I say we round Julie up and get her to tell us who she got to beat you down. Then we lock them all up.”

“For how long? I mean, we can’t lock them away forever. And what happens when they get out? What if they decide to try again, only this time they make sure whoever they attack dies?”

“Oh we won’t be locking them up here,” Negan replied, giving her a sly look, “There are other places with jails. Alexandria, for instance, has a lovely facility. Fucking fabulously run, might I add.”

“So we cart their asses to Alexandria, and get their leader-“

“Rick is his name,” Negan interrupted.

“We get Rick to watch them for however long we say, and then they stay there after they’re let out. So, basically, we exile them?”

“Exactly. Rick and I aren’t what you’d call friends, but I think I could work my charms on him and get him to help us out. If that doesn’t work I’ll just get you to make Bambi eyes at him and he’ll do anything we ask.”

“Might want to wait until my face heals up first. That’s my meal ticket,” she laughed.

“Awe, Fuckface. You’re always adorable as fuck to me. The bruising really brings out the color of your eyes,” he said, moving away slightly to avoid being swatted at by Rebecca.

“Asshole!” she inhaled sharply as her ribs stung, “Fucking Christ I can’t wait for that to stop hurting.”

“I bet. Think it’s time for some more of Rebecca’s happy drugs?” he asked, swinging his legs over the bed again. He began rummaging through the upper drawer of the bedside table, in search of the morphine that Krouse had given them. After finding it, he twisted off the bottle’s cap and fished out a single pill before handing it to Rebecca followed by a half-full glass of water that had been sitting on the table.

Dropping the pill on her tongue, she chased it with a mouthful of water and swallowed. After placing the water on the table nearest to her she turned to Negan, “There’s one thing I don’t totally get though: Why did Julie ask them to attack me? There are so many people here who hate you, but I thought that she was more annoyed with you. She’s definitely not afraid of you.”

Negan averted his eyes again, suddenly becoming very interested in his own hands, “Yeah, I don’t think that this was so much fear-motivated on her part.”

“So, if not fear then what?”

“Before I tell you why, can you just promise not to be too upset?”

Rebecca’s eyes narrowed, “What did you do?”

“Well, when we got back from the scavenger run, I was really fucked up about fighting with you, and I wanted to get my mind off of it,” he began, “So I asked Julie to come hang out one day.”

“And by ‘hang out’, you mean ‘fuck’, right?” her voice and face were expressionless.

“Yeah. That’s exactly what I mean,” he said before quickly adding, “But I didn’t do it! I couldn’t. Little Negan just would not comply. So she got pissed off and started screaming and took off. I guess she was embarrassed enough that she wanted to take it out on someone.”

“On me.”

“Yeah. Fuck, I’m sorry, Rebecca. I fucked up again.”

“So, let me get it straight: You were mad at me so you tried to fuck Julie, but you couldn’t get it up?”

“Uh. I guess that’s the simplified version, yeah,” his eyes never left his hands.

A loud cackle left Rebecca’s lips as she threw her head back before doubling over in pain, “Oh fuck! You cannot tell me shit like that right now. It’s too funny and my ribs fucking hurt!”

“You’re not upset about me trying to fuck Julie?” he asked, perplexed.

Rebecca took a shaky breath to stop herself from laughing again, “Fuck no! I mean, we were fighting, and we weren’t exactly together at the time. Hell, you’re free to stick your dick in the crazy anytime if you want…if you can,” she added, giggling.

“You seriously don’t care?”

“No. But thank you for sharing with the group about your erectile dysfunction, Negan. Now the healing can begin,” she said gravely, placing a hand on his arm, “This is a safe place.”

“Oh fuck. Are you still a little fucking high?”

“Maaaaaybe,” she said, sliding down into the bed so that her head was no longer propped up by the pillow, “I might even still be high enough to fuck you, if you’re into fucking injured ladies.”

Negan loomed over her from above, before lowering his face to hers and kissing her gently, “As much as I would love to take advantage of you right now, my moral code compels me to let you get some more rest, Fuckface.”

“Awe. Damnit. But I consent!” she cried dejectedly.

“You are way too fucking high to consent, baby. Plus, I feel like I’d probably hurt you. Maybe we can try in a few days after you’ve had a chance to heal a bit.”

“If you can get it up!” she cried, another burst of laughter shaking her body.

“Ha! That’s all you fucking get. One ‘ha’, lady. I’m sure I’ll be able to fuck you back into that infirmary when the time comes.”

“You’d better, or I’ll have to go Julie on someone because of the sexual frustration. And then that’ll be on your head,” her voice slowed down and her eyes dipped closed while a dopey smile played on her lips.

“Get some sleep, Fuckface. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

***

Negan sat beside Rebecca in the bed for a long time, even after her breathing had slowed and he was sure that she was asleep. Although he was outwardly calm, his thoughts raced as his eyes took in the extent of her injuries. She would be fine after she healed, but would he?

He had convinced Rebecca that they should spare Julie and the others for what they had done, and had told her that he would find another way to punish them, yet something still nagged at him. His time in Alexandria’s prison had changed him because he had been ready to change, and was man enough to admit when he had fucked up.

But Julie and her cohorts weren’t him, and he wasn’t convinced that they were quite as open to a journey of introspection and self-improvement as he had been. He thought that their time locked up might only serve to harden them and cause their resentment to deepen. And what would happen when they got out? How could anyone stop them from leaving Alexandria and returning to the Sanctuary secretly to enact their revenge?

Pushing himself out of bed, he wondered if he was strong enough to resist killing them out of fear. It was time to find out.

The door to his room creaked softly as he pulled it open and stuck his upper body into the corridor, waving to get the attention of one of the men standing guard at near the far end. The man’s eyes widened slightly as he pointed at his chest and mouthed: “Me?”

“Yes, fucking you,” Negan hissed, stepping fully out of the room and gently gliding the door shut so as not to wake Rebecca. The man walked toward him, looking nervous. Ah he drew near, Negan placed a hand on his shoulder, peering down at him with his eyes still stern and dark, “I need you to get Chris. You know him?”

“Mechanic Chris or Garden Chris?” the man asked hesitantly.

“Neither one, dumbass! Why the fuck would I need Mechanic Chris up here? Do I look like I have a fucking car in there?” he said, gesturing toward his door.

“Um. No, sir. I guess not,” the man said, glancing down at his boots.

“Awe, shit. I’m sorry…what was your name again?”

“Stephen,” the man replied, his eyes rising slightly.

“I’m sorry, Stephen. It’s been a stressful fucking 24 hours, what with the lady getting beaten up and all. That was un-fucking-called for, and I was being unclear,” he placed a hand on the man’s other shoulder, “What I meant to say was that I need you to please go find Scavenger Chris. Dark hair? Resting Bitch Face? That Chris. Do you know who I mean now?”

“Y-yes, Negan,” the man replied.

“Fan-fucking-tastic. Thank you, Stephen.”

As the man scampered away to do his bidding, Negan re-entered the room to wait for Chris’ arrival. He lay back down in the bed, this time allowing himself to fully rest. It was only a few minutes before his eyes fluttered closed and he was snoring beside Rebecca, curled up onto his side with his cheek pressed against the pillow’s cool cotton.

***

The loud wrap of hard knuckles against the door catapulted Negan from his nap, dehydrated and disoriented. There were no windows in the room, so it was hard to tell immediately how long he had been out. Rebecca groaned and shifted beside him, her brows knitting together over the bridge of her nose.

“Whozzit?” she asked, still barely conscious.

“Chris,” he replied simply, his voice still horse with sleep, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just be out in the hall if you need me. Get some more rest.”

Getting to his feet, he stumbled slightly as he made his way to answer the door. Pulling it open just enough to slip out into the hall, his large frame forced the smaller man to take several steps back.

“How is she?” Chris asked, nodding in the direction of the door.

“She’s ok. Pretty drugged up right now for the pain. But I think she’ll make it. She’d fucking better anyway.”

“I’d like to come see her, when she’s well enough to have visitors,” he paused before adding, “If that’s ok with you.”

“Yeah,” Negan replied, a bit taken aback by the man’s final comment, “Why the fuck wouldn’t it be?”

“I know you used to be pretty protective of your wives in the old days. Didn’t like them hanging around other men, right?”

“Rebecca’s not a fucking wife though. She’s…” he trailed off, unable to articulate exactly what she was to him at the moment, “She’s someone that I care about, I suppose. She doesn’t have to be a wife for me to care about her.”

“And you don’t have to care about them for them to be wives. I know,” Chris said with the faintest of smiles.

“Well, fuck. You’ve got me there. Probably true.”

“Anyway. What can I do for you? Is there something she needs that I can find for you?”

“Yes and no,” Negan began. Thinking better of their proximity to the door, he led Chris further away to ensure that Rebecca wouldn’t hear them if she work up, “I need you to track down some people for me and lock them up for now. I need to have some words with them before I decide what to do about this whole fucking fucked up situation.”

“You’re talking about the people who did this to Rebecca?”

Negan nodded without saying a word.

“Are you going to kill them?” Chris asked.

“I haven’t decided that yet. That will all depend on what kind of information I can get out of them first,” he thought for a moment, “But you need to promise that, if I do wind up killing them, Rebecca will never know about it. Got that?”

“I understand what you’re telling me, but I don’t understand why. Won’t she want to know that they’re taken care of? To make her feel safer here?”

“She thinks that it’s what she wants. But once it was done and the dust had settled, she would know forever that people were dead because of her. I don’t want her to have to live with that knowledge. They say knowledge is power. But some knowledge just fucking sucks…Speaking from experience.”

“Ok. Fair enough. Who are we rounding up for questioning?” Chris asked, no reaction to Negan’s  speech showing on his face.

“We’ll start with Julie from the commissary. Redhead. You know her?”

“Oh yes. Everyone knows Julie around here,” the scavenger replied, innocently.

“I bet you fucking do. Well, get her, and get Ted from the sorting room. I don’t know for sure that he had anything to do with it, but he does have an axe to grind with both of us, so it can’t hurt to ask him some questions. Lock them in the basement and make sure someone is guarding them at all times. Once that’s done, come get me and we’ll take it from there.”

“Right. Will do,” Chris replied, turning to leave.

“Oh! And, Chris?” Negan added. The man turned around and awaited this final thought, “If this goes well, there could be some good things coming your way.”

Nodding humourlessly, Chris continued on his way to fulfill his quest, “Eh. Stoic fucker,” Negan mumbled under his breath as he returned to Rebecca’s side.

Chapter Text

The air of the Sanctuary’s basement was thick with moisture that clung to the skin and sank into one’s bones, while the smell of mold permeated the lungs. Chris led Negan through a labyrinth of dim hallways to the furthest corner of this area, where most of the building’s occupants did not dare to venture. Although it had been long since cleared of the dead, walking through the disused space made them feel on edge and in mortal danger somehow. It was here that Chris had taken Ted and Julie for their interrogation.

“Well, fuck, Christopher! That didn’t take you very long, did it?” inquired Negan, with an amused smirk.

It had only been two hours since he and Chris had last spoken when the stone-faced man knocked at his door for the second time that day. Negan has been vague with Rebecca about his reasons for leaving abruptly, not wanting to lie to her outright, but wanting to protect her from the knowledge of the task he was about to undertake for her. In the end, he had simply told her that he had “urgent leadership bullshit” to attend to. Technically, this was the truth.

“Nope,” Chris answered simply, “They weren’t exactly hiding.”

“Where’d you pick them up?”

“Ted was in the sorting room, trying to do some overtime for extra points. Julie was in her dorm room taking a nap.”

Negan snorted at this, “Fucking figures. Girl loves her beauty sleep.”

“Not that she needs it…”

“Christopher! Do I detect a little crush? Who knew you had fucking emotions under that hard veneer?”

“Uh…Not exactly,” Chris replied with an uncharacteristic tone of embarrassment.

“Oh come on! You can fucking tell me! We’re just a couple of guys hanging out. Talking about guy stuff,” he leaned in a bit closer as they continued to walk and strung an arm around Chris’ shoulders, “Want me to describe her tits to you? I’ll do it! She’s got these cute, little-“

“Negan, I’m gay,” Chris said dispassionately, cutting off the man’s lewd description.

“What? Seriously?” he asked, genuinely surprised.

“Yeah. Um…yep. Pretty gay.”

“Well, fuck! I had no idea,” he paused for a moment, “Are all of Rebecca’s friends gay? That girl’s like a magnet for you guys.”

Chris raised an eyebrow, “There are other gay people here?”

“Awe, shit man. You didn’t know?”

“Not at all. I tend not to be really forthcoming with that information. There’s not exactly anti-hate crime legislation in the post-apocalypse and you never know who might want to beat you up for being yourself,” he replied thoughtfully before adding, “Not to make light of getting beaten up. That wasn’t a jab about Rebecca.”

“I know you’re not that much of an asshole! But that’s totally fair. Maybe Rebecca can set you up on a date or something,” he said slyly, jabbing his elbow into Chris’ ribs a little bit too hard and causing the man to wince in pain, “Oh fuck! Sorry…I got carried away.”

“It’s ok. Here we are,” Chris lowered his voice as they neared windowless, industrial door that was flanked on both sides by armed men, “Julie’s in there. Ted is in another room just down the hall.”

“Shall we?” asked Negan

Chris extended one hand hand to grasp the door’s lever while he retrieved the key from his pocket with the other, “We shall.”

As the door creaked open, Negan’s eyes fell upon Julie, who was looking as beautiful as ever sitting on a chair behind a small white table, her eyes shooting burning daggers at both him and Chris.

“Julie. So good to see you again. How the fuck are ya?” he asked in a mocking tone as he and Chris took a seat in two chairs that had been placed on the other side of the table across from Julie.

“What the fuck do you think, Negan? Let me the fuck out of here! I haven’t done anything-“

“Jules, shut the fuck up,” his voice became a hard, blunt object, silencing her tirade, “And don’t fucking lie to me. We already know you got some guys to do your dirty work for you and beat the fuck out of Rebecca. So, let’s just cut to the chase: Who were the men that did it?”

“And why the fuck do you think you ‘know’ that I had anything to do with that dumb bitch getting beaten?”

Without saying anything, Negan stood and pushed his upper body forward while bringing both hands down onto the table’s top with a loud boom, before calmly and clearly articulating his next words while staring the redhead directly in the eyes, “Because the last thing that ‘dumb bitch’, as you call her, heard before she lost consciousness was that ‘Julie sends her regards’. I can’t think of too many other Julies here that would mean her harm, can you?...And while we’re talking about your stupid mistakes, maybe the next time you give a couple of drunks hand jobs so you can ask them to beat someone up so badly that they nearly fucking die, you’ll choose guys who aren’t fucking idiots that tell the victim THE FUCKING NAME OF THE PERSON WHO ASKED THEM TO DO IT AS THEY’RE BEATING HER INTO THE GROUND!”

Julie’s face had gone a bright, angry red and her lips were set in a straight line. She remained silent, still cutting into the men with her stare.

“You’re still not going to fucking talk are you?” Negan said with a twinge of regret in his voice.

“Fuck you, you fucking bastard! I didn’t do anything wrong! You were the one who fucking humiliated me. You were the one who used me to try to feel better about yourself. So fuck you. We’re done here,” she spat before crossing her arms across her chest and settling back into the seat.

“Well. I guess that answers that,” Negan sighed, running a hand through his hair, “But, even though you’re right about me being a bastard, you are wrong about one thing. This is far, far from over.”

With that, he turned to Chris and motioned for the other man to follow him into the hallway. They exited the room together, locking the door behind them before moving a few feet away and out of earshot.

“So, what do you think?” Chris asked.

Negan shook his head sadly, “I was afraid of this. Not only is she not admitting to planning the attack, but she’s not remorseful at all. Fucking psychotic bitch…”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know for sure…but I think we might have to kill her. And I really did not want to fucking do that shit anymore,” he moaned.

Chris nodded solemnly, “Do you think it’s worth it to talk to Ted before we make a final decision here?”

“Yeah, why the fuck not?” he mumbled and turned toward the second door that Chris had pointed out earlier. The two men strode silently toward the dull-grey metal currently hiding their second prisoner from sight, stopping for a brief moment as Chris found the corresponding key in his pocket. Once the lock had been clicked open, he pushed the door and gestured for Negan to enter first.

The room was every bit as musty and desolate as the rest of basement. Ted sat in the same position as Julie, only he had his head down on the table like a school-aged child during a detention. As they crossed the threshold, his head lifted slowly from its position and his desperate, half-crazed eyes bore into them.

“You’re here to kill me, aren’t you?” he said, not even blinking as they drew near to sit in the chairs across the table as they had with Julie.

“Well, Teddy, that all depends on how you answer a few questions for us,” Negan said flatly, “First of all-“

“Julie asked me to do it,” Ted said with a hysterical twinge to his voice, cutting off Negan’s leading question, “She cornered me in the cafeteria after she overheard me talking shit about that fucking girl. She knew that I hated you both for demoting me to a sorter.”

“Uh huh. And it sounds like she really had to twist your arm to get you to nearly kill ‘that fucking girl’ for her,” Negan’s face twisted into an expression of thinly veiled rage.

“I’m not making excuses. I know what I did was my own choice, and I don’t regret it,” Ted replied.

“You’re fucking sitting here, looking me straight in the eyes, and telling me that you don’t fucking regret nearly murdering a nice, young lady with her whole life ahead of her who never didn’t anything to you? That the hill you wanna die on, Teddy?” although his eyes still held fire and venom in their depths, Negan’s voice was eerily calm.

“Fuck you! She’s nothing but another one of your fucking whores. She fucking seduced you, let you fuck her, and used you to get back at me for disrespecting her.”

“Oh, that’s where you’re wrong, my friend. You couldn’t be more fucking wrong. All Rebecca did mention what a fucking shitty job you were doing in matching workers to tasks, and the rather un-fucking-enlightened attitude you have toward young women. But she didn’t have to seduce me. We weren’t even fucking by that point. Though, truth be told, I kinda wanted to right from day one…” he shook his head, “Why the fuck am I telling you that though. Like you give a fuck.”

“Who was with you?” Chris’ voice startled both men and they jerked their heads toward its sound, “When you beat Rebecca? Who helped you?”

“How the fuck do you know there were two people there?” asked Ted, an anxious expression clouding his face.

“Because Rebecca told us that one of you assholes held her while the other one beat her,” Negan chimed in, “Not a very fair fucking fight, if you ask me.”

Ted sighed, “Ok. I’ll tell you who was with me. But you’re not going to like it.”

“Oh goody! Fucking intrigue. How nice. Go on, Teddy,” Negan said mockingly.

“It was one of your men. One of your Saviors. I think he said his name was Stephen or something like that. I don’t fucking remember. Seems to me that he was still pretty fucking pissed off at you for something you did back in the day with his wife or something. You fucked her or killed her…or both…something like that. Anyway, he didn’t care about Rebecca at all. It was you he wanted to get to. She was just a stepping stone,” Ted’s face cracked with a hard smile and his eyes were glassy.

“Oh fucking fuck!” Negan pushed himself out of his seat abruptly, knocking over his chair, and made his way toward the door.

“What’s wrong?” asked Chris, following him into the hallway and locking the door behind him.

Negan broke into a run as he headed back toward his room, and Chris ran to catch up with him, “One of the men guarding my room this morning. I can’t be sure, but I think he said that his name was Stephen,” he huffed, “I hope I’m wrong, but if I’m not, Rebecca could be in some real fucking shit right now!”

As he and Chris raced through the hallways and stairwells of the Sanctuary that led to Rebecca, Negan noted the people they passed who turned to stare slack-jawed at them, never offering any kind of assistance to what was clearly some kind of emergency. On a normal day, this would have pissed him off, but he was far too panicked to do more than observe his surroundings as he made his way to what he was certain would be a blood bath.

As they mounted the final flight of stairs, the hallway outside of his bedroom coming into view with each step, the first thing Negan noticed was all of the blood. The second thing he noticed was the man lying dead on the floor. His throat had been slit, and it must have happened recently because he had not had the chance to reanimate yet.

“Oh fuck! Fuck!” he yelled, never breaking his stride as he skirted around the growing pool of blood and charging for his room, “Chris, knife him in the head before he comes back!”

Maybe he wasn’t too late. Maybe he could save her.

He arrived at the door, immediately grabbing for the handle and throwing his weight into it, only to be met with resistance. It was locked. As he fumbled in his pants pocket for the key, he listened for sounds of a struggle inside, and was met with nothing but ominous silence.

Once the door was unlocked, he threw it open and allowed his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room. There was blood everywhere, the scent of copper hitting him like a slap in the face. All was still inside the room, and two bodies, each soaked in blood, were in the middle of the floor, just beyond the foot of the bed.

The man’s body lay face up, eyes staring in horror at the ceiling. Blood still bubbled from a large bite wound in his throat, just over the jugular. Negan recognized him immediately as Stephen, the man who he had sent on a quest to retrieve Chris earlier that morning, and who had allegedly helped Ted to attack Rebecca just a few days prior.

Negan’s heart leapt into his throat, he took a step toward the second body. This one was smaller, feminine, and was sitting cross-legged; the upper body slumped slightly over the legs with its arms resting against its thighs. Although the face was obscured by a curtain of dark hair that faded out to the copper of an autumn sunset at the tips, he knew that it was Rebecca.

“Negan, I’m so sorry,” Chris said softly from behind him, he knelt over Stephen’s body and pushed a knife into the center of the forehead, ensuring that it wouldn’t revive.

A cry caught in Negan’s throat and his eyes burned with tears as he crossed the room to kneel next to her. At least she had gone down fighting and had taken the son of a bitch out with her last ounce of strength. He would take what comfort he could in that fact.

She didn’t live as a victim, and she hadn’t died as one either. He extended a hand and gently pulled one side of the hair away from her face to take a look at the damage that had been inflicted on her during the attack.

Chapter Text

As soon as Negan’s hand grazed her cheek, Rebecca’s head jerked up from its resting place against her chest and her eyes opened wide, staring at him. Her face was emotionless; just a blank slate of pale skin with Stephen’s drying blood streaming from her mouth and down her chest.

“Holy fucking shit!” he cried, falling back onto his ass, sure that she was about to lunge for his throat too. How had she reanimated before the others when she had been the last to die?

But as he prepared to defend himself against the reanimated corpse of the woman he had loved for the second time in his life, Negan noticed that she hadn’t moved toward him at all. He also realized that the eyes staring at him weren’t the opaque, milky colour of the dead, but the bright green of a very alive woman.

“Fuckface? Are you alive?” he asked, his voice coming out strangled and hoarse as Chris looked on in stunned silence.

“I killed him,” she said. Her voice was dull and far away, but her eyes rose slowly to meet Negan’s.

“I’ve never seen one of those dead fucks talk before, so I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ then,” he said before sitting up and moving closer to where she was to put his arms around her and push his face into her hair, inhaling deeply.

“Rebecca, are you hurt?” Chris asked, standing from his place beside Stephen’s body and moving toward the pair.

“Fucker stabbed me in the leg when I bit him…” she answered, still in a daze.

Negan looked down to see a deep gash that ran along her upper left thigh, oozing blood, “Fucking fuck! Chris, can you get a shirt out of that dresser behind you? Second drawer from the top.”

The other man did as he was asked, tossing a white shirt to Negan who proceeded to wrap it tightly against the wound, “Thanks. Be a dear and run to get Krouse for me, Christopher.”

“Sure thing,” Chris replied, walking hurriedly out of the room and turning in the direction of the infirmary.

Negan sat with Rebecca in his arms for a long time. His eyes were closed and his heart still raced with adrenaline. Once he had calmed down, he spoke to her: “I thought I lost you again…”

Rebecca didn’t answer immediately, but after a shaky inhale, she replied: “I thought you did too. When he attacked me, I didn’t think I’d make it. I was so weak from the beating and the drugs, and a part of me almost wanted to give up. But I just couldn’t bear to think of you finding me like that. After everything you’ve told me about Lucille and how she died. I knew I had to fight for you.”

“I’m glad you fought, Fuckface. I’m proud of you.”

“He was one of the men who attacked me before, wasn’t he?” she asked.

“Yeah. We’ve got the other one locked up in the basement with Julie,” Negan answered.

“Who is he? The other one?”

“Ted,” he said simply.

“Fucking Pencil-Dick? Didn’t think he had it in him…” Rebecca replied, sounding legitimately surprised.

“Yeah, well, it was definitely him. And he’s fucking proud of it too, the bastard.”

“I didn’t think I could kill someone, you know,” she blurted out suddenly, “I know I talked a big game about wanting to kill them before, but I wasn’t sure. Not until this asshole over here came at me,” she gestured toward Stephen’s body, “But I can. Not for no reason. But when I need to, I can do it.”

“What are you trying to say, Fuckface?”

“We have to kill them,” she looked up at him, her eyes shining with a mist of tears, “I don’t want to. But we have to. Right?”

He sighed and buried his face in her hair again, before mumbling into it, “Yeah. I think we fucking do.”

“Ok. Then I want to be the one to do it. And I want everyone to see it.”

“Rebecca…”

“It’s not your battle. It’s mine. And I should be the one to do it.”

“No,” he said firmly, “That shit is not happening. We’ll take them somewhere away from the Sanctuary and shoot them in the head. But no theatrics. No crowds. No brutality.”

“How are you going to deter others from trying this shit again then?” she asked sharply.

“Oh, everyone will know about it. We’ll have a town hall to announce their sentences before they’re carried out, and attendance will be mandatory. But I’m not bashing in brains anymore. And neither are you,” he tilted her face up so that he could look her in the eyes, “Go it?”

“Yeah. I got it. If you think that’s what’s best, then that’s what we’ll do,” she sighed, “I trust you to do the right thing for this community.”

“Thank you, Fuckface…” he leaned forward suddenly, as if propelled by an unseen force, to kiss her, first gently and then with a hunger that only comes from nearly losing someone that you love twice in as many days. He could taste Stephen’s blood still on her lips from where she had bitten him to save herself, but he didn’t care. Still pressing the fabric of his shirt against the wound on her leg, he allowed his free hand to stroke her hair and move down her body where it rested at her lower back.

Rebecca kissed him back with every bit as much passion, her body moving toward him and her hands finding their way to his chest. Eventually, they were locked in an embrace with her arms looped around his thick neck, and her nails lazily trailing through the hair at the nape of his neck, causing a shudder of pleasure to ripple through his body.

Flashing her devilish grin he asked, “Is it totally inappropriate for me to be getting hard right now?”

“Nah. Truth be told, my panties are totally soaked with more than just Stephen’s blood right now.”

“God-fucking-damn it. Way to kill my boner, Fuckface.”

“Oh, come on,” she smiled back, “If you’re really nice I’ll let you get to second base before Krouse makes it up here-“

As if summoned by her words, the door to the room burst open, sending the handle several inches into the plaster of the wall beside it. Krouse and Chris stood in the hallway, quickly making their entrance to check on the freshly injured woman.

“Jesus fucking Christ, Krouse! You didn’t have to break my door down and fuck the wall up. This isn’t fucking CSI: Apocalypse or some shit…” Negan growled at the man, his face showing his disdain.

“Oh! Sorry...I just- Chris told me it was an emergency. I came as fast as I could,” he knelt beside the couple, laying out a bag full of various medical supplies which included disinfectants and a needle for stitching wounds, “Can’t keep you out of trouble, can we, Rebecca?”

“No, I guess I just attract the bad boys, don’t I doctor?” she said, shooting a sly look at Negan out of the corner of her eye.

“That you fucking do. Gonna have to keep you under lock and key here soon,” Negan mumbled, still holding onto the small woman.

“Mind if I take a look at what’s going on under the shirt?” asked Krouse, ignoring the flirting taking place in front of his face.

 “What the fuck are you talking about?” asked Negan, narrowing his eyes at the other man.

“The knife wound?” Krouse replied, “Under the shirt you’re holding on top of it?”

“Oh!” the large man replied, carefully removing the blood-soaked cloth from Rebecca’s leg, “I thought you were asking to see her titties or something…”

“What?! No! Jesus Christ, why would you think that?” Krouse asked with a horrified expression, before going in to inspect Rebecca’s leg. After a moment, he reached into the bag beside him for the disinfectant.

“What? You trying to say you don’t want to see my titties?” asked Rebecca with mock sadness, “You think I’m gross of something? Do I disgust you?”

“No…I’m just…trying to be professional…and…” the man trailed off in frustration as Rebecca burst into gales of laughter.

“Sorry, I think I’m still a little high from the morphine. Or in shock. I dunno. I’m just fucking with you, doctor,” she said breathlessly before taking a deep breath to calm her laughter, “I don’t know what Negan’s excuse is.”

“You know, I forget what that psychologist said the disorder was called…but the official name has at least five syllables,” Negan said earnestly before cracking a brilliant smile at the room.

“Yes, well, Rebecca’s going to be fine. He missed anything important or…uh…gushy. I’ll just get this cleaned up and she’ll need a few stitches…” Krouse said, evidently deciding to ignore Negan and Rebecca’s antics once and for all. Chris continued to watch the scene unfold, but looked away once the former paramedic brought out the needle to begin inserting the stitches.

Once her leg was stitched up, Rebecca smiled sweetly at Krouse from her position on the floor next to Negan, who had held her hand during the entire process, “Thank you for your help again, Doctor Krouse. And sorry for being awkward earlier. You really are a good doctor.”

“It’s no problem,” he said with a faint smile, “Now, you’ll need to get yourself cleaned up, but you can’t soak the stitches or get them wet at all for a few days, so you’ll need to…kind of…um…sponge bathe for a while, I guess.”

“I volunteer!” Negan said eagerly.

Rebecca gently slapped at his arm to quiet him down, “Yes, I’m sure they both know that you’ll help me out with that task, Negan.”

Krouse’s face remained expressionless at their conversation; he seemed to be completely over getting worked up at the couple by this point, “If you need anything else, let me know. I’ll be back to check on you tomorrow and make sure everything’s going well.”

Krouse turned to leave and Chris followed him into the hall, throwing a final comment over his shoulder at Negan and Rebecca as he left, “You guys get cleaned up. I’ll be back in a while for Stephen,” with that he closed the door, leaving the couple alone.

“Think you can get yourself up off the floor and into the bathroom?” Negan asked.

Rebecca shrugged slightly, “Won’t know until I try, so let’s find out.”

Propping an arm against the bed behind her, she pulled herself to her feet, bending over slightly for a moment before straightening her back, and taking a tentative step toward the bathroom’s door. She had to skirt around the pool of blood that had spread around Stephen’s body, and nearly tripped over her own feet.

“Shit! Careful, Fuckface…” Negan said, moving toward her to grab her arm.

“I’m fine. Just clumsy today,” she murmured, continuing her journey across the room.

“I need to go get us some water and another change of clothes for you since we’re running low on guards to do the running for us. Think you’ll be ok alone for a few minutes?”

“Yeah, I should be fine.”

Rebecca quietly opened the door to the bathroom and walked into the darkened room as Negan ran off to get the supplies needed to clean her up. The candles they had used earlier were dark, but still in their former positions around the room. Since there was nothing else to do but wait, she went to work re-lighting them, hobbling around the bathroom on her injured leg and cursing at how it impeded her progress.

Once the candles were lit, the room glowed with flickering orange light, making her feel safe and comfortable. It reminded her of a cabin she had stayed at with her parents back in Maine during a spring break many years prior to the outbreak. She had been a surly teenager at that time, and hadn’t wanted to leave her friends to spend “quality time” with her family. Looking back now, she cherished these memories of her mother and father, wishing that they were still alive to see the woman she had grown into.

With these thoughts in her mind, Rebecca limped over to the large mirror that hung against the room’s back wall, just behind the sink. She peeled the once-pristine white robe, now soaked in Stephen’s rapidly congealing blood, from her body and allowed it to fall to the floor with a wet plop.

Stepping closer to the mirror, her eyes travelled her own body, noting the many cuts and bruises from her beating. She met her own eyes in the mirror and almost didn’t recognize herself in the image reflected before her. The eyes will still their characteristic green, but there was something different about them. Some shine and life had left them. Her cheeks were hollow and her skin was far too pale, even in the warm candlelight.

(yeah, stress’ll do that to ya, lady)

Wrapping her arms around herself as a chill raced through her body, she turned from her reflection, and continued to wait for Negan to return. She decided that it would be better to stare at a white wall than to see herself looking so old and haggard in the mirror.

(better to ignore it all than to think too much about the shitty things that have happened…for now anyway…)

Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait much longer as the door to the bedroom sprang open and Negan entered with his arms full of washcloths, towels, clothing, and a large bucket of soapy water.

“Oh shit! You’ve already got the place lit up, I see. Nice fucking work!” he beamed at her, joining Rebecca in the bathroom.

“Had to do something other than just be useless and stand here, I guess,” she said nonchalantly.

“Heh. If it’s one thing you are not, Rebecca, it’s useless. Wait…did that make sense? I’m bad at negatives and double negatives and shit,” he paused, “What I mean to say is that you’re very useful, even when you’re hurt. Not too many ladies who could rip the throat out of some douchebag attacking them when they’re in the state you were in.”

“Well, thanks for that…” she trailed off as he approached her and placed the bucket next to them on the gleaming, tiled floor.

“You ready for your sponge bath, baby?” he asked with a smirk.

“I am so very fucking ready to not be covered in blood, yes!” she replied with an exasperated sigh.

“Let’s get you in the tub again then, dirty girl,” he said, offering her a large arm with which she could steady herself as she stepped over the high sides of the tub’s basin.

Once she was safely inside, the elevation of the tub bringing her up to eye-level with the large man, he bent over slightly to dip one of the wash clothes into the soapy water before bringing it up to Rebecca’s face and softly using it to clear away the blood that had encircled her mouth and spread down her neck and across her chest.

As the water slowly diluted and cleaned the blood away, causing it to flow down Rebecca’s body and into the basin below, she began to feel like a human again. It took a long while to completely clear her skin of the sticky substance, but Negan insisted on doing all of the cleaning himself; even the bits that she could easily have reached. He insisted that she not ruin the fantasy for him because cleaning her up was “kind of sexy”. After the task was finally finished, he passed her a towel and allowed her to blot away any remaining dampness from her skin.

“So, do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Negan asked as he moved toward a small pile of clothing he had brought with the towels and water.

“Hm. Let’s start bad and brighten up with good,” Rebecca replied thoughtfully.

“The bad news is that we are fresh out of fluffy robes.”

“Awe shit. That was really cozy too.”

“I know. Sorry, Fuckface. The good news is that I bought you these,” he beamed at her proudly as he produced a pair of stretchy leggings with a skull and crossbones motif checkering the black fabric.

“Oh my!” she gasped, before throwing her head back and laughing, “Those are amazingly silly, but they look comfy as hell.”

“I thought they were bad ass,” he said, pouting slightly at her comment about the leggings being silly.

“They most definitely are bad ass,” she said with a grin before putting her arms around his shoulders and planting a soft kiss on his lips, “Thank you, Negan. I’ll treasure them until my legs wear holes into the fabric of the inner thighs.”

“That’s more fucking like it,” he said slowly, his dark eyes meeting hers and refusing to move away.

Rebecca’s arms never wavered from their position around his neck as she pulled him toward her and pressed her lips to his, this time more passionately. As the kiss lingered, she allowed a low groan to emanate from deep within her body before pulling back slightly from him.

“I think before I put those leggings on, we should take a little trip to the bedroom. And you should get naked. And into the bed with me,” her grin spread further.

“Are you sure? You’re not too sore?”

“Oh, I’m sore, but I don’t give a flying fuck,” she said with a near-manic giggle, “I’ve almost died twice, and I want at least one more night with you before someone tries for round three.”

“Baby, that’s not gonna fucking happen. I won’t let anyone hurt you, Rebecca,” his eyes bore into hers with an intensity she had rarely seen from him, “But if you want to fuck anyway, I would be happy to fucking oblige.”

They made their way out of the bathroom, blowing out the candles on the way. As Rebecca bent over to snuff out one of the last flickering lights she felt Negan move behind her and caress her back and ass with a rough hand before lightly patting her there. She stood up and turned around, raising her face to his to look him in the eyes before taking his hand and leading him from the room and toward the bed.

Negan began to undress, stripping first the leather jacket from his body, and then the white t-shirt. Both ended up in a pile in the corner of the room. Next his belt came off, finally allowing him to hurriedly unbutton his pants and step out of them before kicking them over to the pile of discarded clothes.

“Someone’s in a hurry,” Rebecca said in a low voice, moving toward him until she stood with her body pressed against his in the middle of the room, “We can take our time, you know. We’ve got all the time we need. At least until Chris comes back to retrieve the body.”

“Yeah, I was trying to ignore Stephen.”

“Good call.”

She stood on her toes as he bent down to meet her in another kiss, this one even deeper than their previous ones. Her hands moved down his arms and to his chest as their lips parted and their tongues met along the border where her lips ended and his began to battle for dominance. Breaking off the kiss to trail her tongue across his neck and onto his shoulders, Rebecca reached down and allowed her hand to meet his cock, which was already hardened from just the sensation of her lips and tongue against his.

“Mmm. Oh my! Long time, no see, Negan’s penis!” she giggled.

“It’s been way to fucking long, I think,” he said before propelling himself forward, his lips crashing into hers again as he tried to lead her to lie down on the bed.

“Nuh-uh, Mister. You get on your back this time,” she said with a devious look in her eyes as she slowly spun him around so that his back was now to the bed before gently pushing him toward it.

“Yes, ma’am! You know I can’t resist a woman who takes charge,” he jumped back into the bed, his cock bobbing up and down with the momentum.

Rebecca made her way over to him, still limping from the wound on her leg, but never showing any real pain in her features. She climbed on top of him, straddling his waist and allowing her pussy to loom just over his crotch, teasing him yet not giving in and allowing him entry.

Crawling up his body, she trailed kisses across his stomach and chest as she went, finally making her way to his lips, a hand moving to gently rub over the dark stubble that had grown on his cheeks and chin. He was usually clean shaven, but seemed to have neglected his personal hygiene in favour of dealing with her dramatic situation for the past few days.

“We’re gonna have to shave this soon,” she said, “Gotta keep up appearance, you know.”

“Oh, I fucking know,” he said leaning into her for another kiss, “If it’s not too rough, you can sit on my face and let me eat your pussy though.”

“Now that sounds like a ride I’d enjoy taking very much,” she said, rolling off of him before positioning herself over his face in a sixty-nine formation.

His breath was hot against her flesh as her slit lined up with his mouth, and she felt his tongue take an exploratory lap against the sensitive trench, eliciting a slight shiver and moan from her. His tongue probed deeper into her and his hands made their way from her thighs to her ass as he held her exactly where he wanted her.

Meanwhile, Rebecca confidently grasped his throbbing shaft in her hand before bringing her mouth down to meet it, allowing her tongue to swirl around the head. As she did this, a low moan caused Negan’s lips to vibrate against her clit, and she sucked in a sharp breath at the sensation.

Hungrily, he pressed his face deeper between her thighs, sucking her clit into his lips and flicking his tongue over her until she thought that she would lose her mind at his touch. Each time he did this, Rebecca would take his cock further into her mouth, sucking him gently at first, and then with a needy intensity that caused his thighs to quake against the sides of her head.

They were both getting close to finishing, and she could feel his stomach harden against her breasts as he readied himself to cum for her. Not wanting to take too much longer than he did, Rebecca ground herself against his face, forcing his tongue to hit her in just the way she needed it to in order to get off. His fingers dug into her ass, and she was sure that she would find red welts there later.

She opened her throat and mouth up wide, soaking his already pulsing cock in saliva as she took him all the way down. She began to cum, her hips bucking slightly as her body involuntarily tried to get away from the overwhelming sensation of his tongue against her clit. As soon as her own orgasm began to abate, she felt a loud growl emanate from Negan’s lips and her mouth was suddenly full of his salty release. Allowing herself to drink all of him up, she slowed her pace and moved her lower body away from his lips, taking the last few drops of his cum into her mouth before rolling off of him again.

They lay side by side on the bed, breathing heavily and unable to speak for a long time. Eventually, she rolled over to wrap her arms around his stomach and nestled her head against his chest. They fell asleep with Rebecca listening to his heart beating, first rapidly with the afterglow of orgasm, and then slowing to a soothing rhythm. She was safe and happy in his arms at last.

Chapter Text

The Sanctuary’s cafeteria echoed with the din of voices bouncing off of the concrete walls and rebounding over the heads of the building’s inhabitants as they waited anxiously for the announcement to begin. As Negan had promised, attendance was made mandatory for the town hall meeting he had called to announce the fates of Julie and Ted to his citizens.

“What was that about not being dramatic or making a show of this?” Rebecca whispered to him out of the corner of her mouth.

The couple stood in the shadows, on the far left of the large, metal catwalk that overlooked the cafeteria. The narrow metal grating, which hung several feet above the floor, served as a stage for announcements, as well as the occasional performance on Saturday nights from those who could play an instrument, even shittily. From their hiding place, Rebecca could see that the room was completely filled, and her stomach flipped at the thought of standing before all of these people to tell them that they had decided to condemn two of their own to death.

“It has to be done, Fuckface,” Negan murmured back, taking her hand in his to squeeze it, “I’ll be right here with you, doing all of the talking. You’re just here as Exhibit A. And because you’re fucking cute as shit, and it’ll help the news go down better than if I did it alone.”

It had been less than a week since Stephen had attacked Rebecca. She had healed somewhat, and no longer needed painkillers to get through her day, but she was still visibly scarred from her encounters with the less savory element of the Sanctuary.

Julie and Ted had been kept in the basement of the building, under 24 hour supervision by only Negan’s most trusted men and women, since that time. But the waiting was over now. Today was the day that they would atone for their crimes at the end of a gun.

“Fair enough,” she sighed, “Let’s just get this over with, shall we?”

“Whatever you say, Fuckface” Negan replied, leading her out of the shadows by the hand and into the centre of the catwalk.

As the crowd grew quiet at the sight of their leader, Rebecca felt her knees go weak, and she feared that she might faint in front of the sea of faces peering up at them. Taking a shaky breath, she closed her eyes for a moment to compose herself, as Negan began his speech:

“A lot of you probably people know me from the bad, old days,” he began, “The first time I ran this place, I was wrong about a lot of stuff. I used fear to control you because I thought that it would keep you safe. I didn’t respect your intelligence. I didn’t think that you, the collective ‘you’, had the brains to keep yourselves alive without some kind of negative reinforcement keeping you in line. I apologize for that. You’ve all proved me wrong.”

His voice was atypically calm and you could hear a pin drop as those assembled below looked on. Rebecca let her hands rest against the cold metal of the railing in front on her, the sensation drawing her back into reality and rooting her to the moment.

“When I was put back into power by Rick, I promised myself that I would find another way to lead you. I don’t want to punish anyone who doesn’t deserve it. I don’t ever want to go back to the old ways again. But, sometimes violence cannot be avoided. That is one of the sad realities of this new world that we’re building. Sometimes there are exceptional circumstances that call for punishment. And that is what I am here to talk to you about today.”

Placing a hand on Rebecca’s back, Negan motioned toward her with his head as he continued to speak:

“This is Rebecca. She came here not long ago from the forest. She had lived there since the outbreak, and believe me when I say that this lady has been through more than most of us could ever dream of out there. When she came here and joined us, she hoped for a better life and for a fair chance to make her way in the world. And she has. Since coming here, she’s joined the ranks of our Scavenger team and has proven herself to be a great asset to us. She’s helped us to find valuable medical supplies that will help some of you live better lives.”

He paused, Rebecca supposed for dramatic effect.

“But someone didn’t like the fact that she and I spent some time together and got close to one another. Julie, one of our commissary workers, took it upon herself to ask two men, Ted from the sorting team and one of my own Saviors, Stephen, to beat the holy fucking shit out of Rebecca one night. Her only alleged crime was associating with me. And she nearly died because of it. Twice. Because after they had beaten her nearly to death, Stephen decided that it would be a good idea to attack her with a knife while she was bedridden. I’m proud to say that Stephen is no longer a threat to any of us thanks to Rebecca’s bravery. She took the fucker out with her bare hands, even while recovering from her injuries stemming from the first attack.”

A murmur arose from the crowd, as a chorus of curious voices began. Rebecca felt as if every eye was on her, scrutinizing her, inspecting her body to see if her injuries were bad enough to justify the murder of a Savior. Had he really meant to kill her? How did they know she hadn’t instigated the attack? What did Negan mean by “spending time” and “getting close with one another” anyway?

“And that is why,” Negan continued, raising his voice above the crowd to quiet them, “We have decided to execute Julie and Ted for their crimes. Not simply because they attempted to take the life of an innocent woman, but also because they have shown no remorse for their actions, and I believe that they would attempt to carry out something similar again if they are allowed to live.”

The crowd roared up at them like an ocean wave crashing upon the rocks. Angry questions and abuse was hurled at them. Their words hit Rebecca like a thousand tiny knives, none of them doing much damage alone, but the cumulative effect causing her stomach to turn and bile to rise in her throat. She took a step forward and bellowed above the noise:

“Hey! Hey! Everyone shut the fuck up for a minute! I have something to say!”

The crowd grudgingly quieted, their voices descending to a dull murmur once again.

“Most of you don’t know me, but everything Negan said is the truth. I did come here from the forest looking for a better life. I came here after my fiancé died because I didn’t know what else to do. I love it here, and all I’ve ever wanted to do is to make this place better for all of us by helping us to get the things we need to survive. That’s why I wanted to become a Scavenger. And I know that Negan feels the same way that I do. He made some really bad mistakes in the past. You know it and so does he. But can any of us truthfully say that we would have led the Sanctuary perfectly, given the circumstances? Bottom line: He kept you alive. He paid for his mistakes and he changed because he wanted to change. Julie and Ted though? They don’t want to change. So fuck them.”

The voices grew restless and angry again, causing Rebecca’s heart thump in her chest until she thought that it would explode. But she persisted and continued.

“See this?” she gestured to the side of her face, which was still marred with healing cuts and bruises, “That’s where Ted kicked me in the head while I was already on the ground after he punched me and Stephen knocked me down, all because Julie told them to do it,” she lifted the side of her shirt to show the large swaths of bruising that still covered her ribs, “This is where Stephen and Ted both kicked me while I was on the ground crying for help. And this?” she lifted her leg over the railing and pulled up the leg of her shorts to reveal the healing knife wound, “This is where Stephen stabbed me the second time he attacked me while I was still fucked up from the first attack.”

The voices diminished and the room fell silent, and Rebecca lowered her leg back to its original position.

“We didn’t come to this decision lightly. Neither Negan nor I want to kill Ted and Julie. I didn’t want to kill Stephen, but I was backed into a corner. I had to save myself. And now we need to save the rest of you from the people who only want to disrupt what we are trying to build. If you want to go back to living in a world where power is taken by the one with the pointiest stick, and no fucking empathy for anyone else, then that’s your choice. But I’m choosing to help make this a place where the strong protect the weak. Where people who try to victimize and terrorize are put in their place, or put down if they can’t be reformed. I’ve said my piece, and I hope you believe me when I tell you that this decision is not coming from a place of hate for those we plan to execute today, but from a place of love for this community.”

As she stepped back from the railing, Rebecca noted that the room had gone silent once again. She looked over a Negan to find him staring at her in a way she had never seen before, eyes wide with an expression she couldn’t quite place. Looking out at the crowd, she caught the eye of Ryan, her old friend from the sorting room, just in time to see his face break into a smile as he began to clap. Eventually others joined him in applauding her speech, much to her surprise.

Not everyone clapped for them. Some people simply walked away shaking their heads in dismay. But the wave of searing hatred seemed to have abated, dissolved by her words and her story. At least for the time being.

Turning to leave, Rebecca felt Negan’s hand wrap around hers again as they walked from the catwalk’s centre, and back into the shadows.

“Jesus Christ, Fuckface. Why didn’t you tell me you knew how to do that?” he asked, eyes still wide.

“Do what?” she said with naked confusion.

“Make speeches. Calm people the fuck down like that. That was fucking amazing. You sure you weren’t a hostage negotiator before?”

“Pretty sure. And I’ve never done that before. It just…came out. It was what was in my heart, I guess, as fucking silly as that sounds.”

“Not fucking silly at all. Not ever a little bit,” he bent down and kissed her forehead before pulling her into an embrace, “Are you ready for the really shitty part now?”

“Are you sure you want me there?”

“Yeah. I think you need to be there.”

“Then I’m ready,” she said, as they descended the metal structure and made their way to Julie and Ted.

***

The walk to the field where the execution was to be held hadn’t taken very long, but it felt like an eternity to Rebecca. The still-warm sunlight of early autumn painted her shoulders and face pink as the delegation comprised of herself, Negan, Julie, Ted, and Chris walked in silence, finally coming to a stop in the open area of over-grown grass and wildflowers.

Looking into a sky so perfectly blue that it seemed hard to believe that today was the day that she would help to end the lives of two people, Rebecca noted a flock of birds passing overhead. In that moment, she wanted nothing more than to take flight with the birds, and to leave her obligations to her adopted community. But, alas, her feet stayed firmly on the ground.

(like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, i have tried in my way to be free)

She lowered her gaze to look directly at Ted and Julie as Chris led them a few feet away from where she and Negan stood, making them kneel in the grass with their backs to their three captors. When the gun came out of Negan’s jacket, shining with a sick, dull lustre, she found it hard to breathe and her pulse began to thump in her ears. She could only imagine the anxiety that Ted and Julie must be feeling at this moment.

(if i…if i have been unkind, i hope that you can just let it go by)

Neither Julie nor Ted showed any emotion in their body language as they continued to kneel, even as Negan approached them, his legs rustling the tall grass. They must have known that it was coming, and yet they never wavered or wept. They only stared straight ahead in quiet defiance in their final moments.

(but i swear by this song, and by all that i have done wrong: i will make it all up to thee)

Rebecca stared on in wonder as Ted reached over to take Julie’s hand to comfort her as they waited for the end. Negan readied the gun behind Julie as Chris did the same behind Ted. Rebecca remained rooted in place, unable to look away from the scene or even blink. Chris turned his head to look at Negan and a slight nod passed between the two men as they coordinated their shots. The deafening blast of gunpowder ripped through the serenity of the day, propelling both targets forward in the grass.

Rebecca felt her knees give out and tumbled to the ground, tears falling from her eyes. She had needed to be here, that much was true. But she took no pleasure in what had been done. A sob broke the quiet that had fallen over the field, and it took her a moment to realize that it was her own voice making the noise. Everything felt so far away, the colours draining from the sky and grass, boiling it all down to chromatic grey nothingness.

(oh like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, i have tried in my way to be free)

And then he was beside her, a hand on her shoulder shaking her, bringing her back to herself again. Warm brown eyes peering into her and filling up the broken places, helping to hold her together.

“Rebecca? Wake up.”

His voice was like velvet in the darkness. Rebecca awoke to Negan looking down at her. They were safe and warm in bed. Though the night pressed against them, it was ultimately staved off by his arms snaking around her and pulling her close to him.

“You ok? You were making fucking terrible noises in your sleep,” he murmured sleepily in her ear.

It had been two days since they had executed Julie and Ted, and while the memories were easily overcome in the light of day, her dreams offered her a nightly replay of the horrid experience.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a nightmare,” she rotated to face him and wrapped her arms around him, trailing her fingers lightly against the small of his back, “Thank you for waking me up. They fucking suck.”

“I know,” he kissed her lightly, the freshly shaven skin of his chin brushing against her, “Go back to sleep. You need all the rest you can get for tomorrow. We’re off at the fucking ass crack of dawn again.”

“Good thing you’re a fucking morning person,” she mumbled, letting her eyes drift closed again.

The next morning they would leave with the Scavengers on a week-long trek into the surrounding area, looking for items they could use to make preserves for the fall and to build greenhouses for the colder months. Rebecca was tentatively optimistic that a Wal-Mart their scouts had spied a week prior might provide them with the supplies they needed.

“I’ll convert you yet,” he said, his voice fading down into a weak drone, “You just have to give yourself over to the change and you’ll adjust to it.”

“Turn and face the strange,” she sighed. They both drifted into the nothingness of a peaceful and dreamless sleep.