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A Breath of Hope

Chapter Seven

"So this is Woodbury? It's nice." Carol looks around at the buildings that had housed the community run by the Governor up until eight months ago. Other than a few broken windows and some garbage strewn about the street, it seems like a decent place to live.

"Looks can be deceiving." Michonne's dark eyes sweep suspiciously from left to right as she guides the horse between the large tires that had once been stacked to create a barrier at the end of the block.

"That was the school," Sasha points to a white two-story building with pretty storefront windows across the street. "That was the Governor's house," she continues, pointing to a red brick building a little further down. "And the larger building next to it is where he kept all the food supplies and armory."

"Let's check the buildings and then call it a day." Tyreese puts a hand on Michonne's shoulder. "It'll be fine for one night."

After clearing each structure along the two-block stretch, they head back to the shop that held the Governor's supplies. It was an old furniture store that had double doors at the entrance, making it fairly easy to get the horse inside for the night. The metal shelves in the front of the shop are bare for the most part, having been picked clean by Rick and Daryl when they first brought the Woodbury citizens to live with them at the prison. They continue walking to the back of the shop toward several cozy looking living room displays. Carol and Tyreese fall into a large leather sectional and watch Sasha follow Michonne up a flight of stairs set in the back corner of the small warehouse. They reach the second floor to find several desks and file cabinets with a thin layer of dust shimmering in the sunlight streaming through the large windows overlooking the main street. Sasha walks through the office space where the business end of the furniture shop must have taken place before The Turn. She looks out the window for a better view of the town she had lived in for a short period some time ago. As she is gazing across the street at the building she and Tyreese had shared with two elderly women, a flicker of movement catches her attention at the corner of her eye.

"Oh my God." Sasha’s well-toned shoulders tense and her mouth goes dry when a handful of walkers stumble between the fallen tires, leading a herd of about sixty more right into the little town.

----------


The morning after the marathon of board games, which Rick diplomatically let Carl win several times, he and Maggie sleep later than usual. They had gone to bed at about 10:30 and spent an hour wrapped in each other's arms, talking about everything and nothing. The next hour was spent making love slowly, and as quietly as possible with his impressionable son sleeping in the room next door.

This morning, Maggie is enjoying the feeling of being enveloped in her lover's arms, listening to his even breathing and steady heartbeat while drawing lazy circles on his chest as he sleeps. The sheets are twisted around their legs and the light breeze wafting through the open window feels wonderful on her bare back, cooling her overheated skin from the furnace that is Rick. It's a nice change from waking alone in a damp prison cell.

The sound of the birds singing outside their window adds to the cozy feeling of a normal, lazy weekend morning. The song she hears now is very different from the melody that accompanied them on their flight from the prison two days ago. It's light and airy, matching the cadence of her heart. She thinks of her father now with fondness more than sadness, remembering a conversation they'd had a few weeks ago.

"Be careful, honey." Hershel looked at his eldest daughter with compassion and trepidation as she walked away from the man who has been their leader for the past year and a half.

"I always am, Daddy." The smile stretching her cheeks stayed in place while she prepared for the run she was about to go on with Rick and Tyreese.

"I'm not talking about the run, Maggie." He watched their leader walk back into cell block C with Carl at his side. "I see the way you look at him these days. I just don't want you to get hurt." The old man shifted on his crutches, squinting into the sun shining down on the prison courtyard.

"I'm not gonna get hurt. We're just friends." Maggie's smile faded as she looked down at the weapon in her hands, checking the amount of rounds in the chamber.

"But you want more than that, don't you?"

"Doesn't matter. I'll take whatever he can give me."

"And if he decides he wants more too?"

"If he wants me, I'm his." Maggie's matter of fact reply leaves no room for argument.

"He's a good man and you could do a lot worse than Rick, but he's got a lot of baggage, honey."

"Don't we all?!"

"But what if it doesn't work out? It's not like you could just break up and go your own separate ways. Is it really worth risking your friendship?"

"Yes, it is. What's the point of surviving if we're not really living?"

"Will you at least take it slow then?" he pleaded, knowing that he was fighting a losing battle.

"I won't do anything foolish. Please trust me enough to respect my decisions. I'm not a kid anymore."

"I respect both of you. But you'll always be my little girl. Lord, you remind me so much of your mom. Once she had her mind set on something, there was no stopping her."

He thought about everything they'd been through and he knew without a doubt that Rick would do anything to keep his daughter safe. Maybe that was enough. And if he made her truly happy in this dismal world, more power to him. "If this is what you really want… you have my blessing."

"Thank you. But this is all pointless 'cause like I said – we're just friends."

"For now. But I've seen the way he's been looking at you too."

"Really?" The smile that split her face lit up her eyes like he hadn't seen since the Christmas she got her first pony at the age of seven.

"Really. Now, please be careful on this run."

"I will." She beamed as she wrapped her arms around his neck for a reassuring hug. "Thank you, Daddy."

She senses Rick's head shifting on the pillow and then feels his lips press against her forehead.

"Mornin'," he murmurs drowsily against her hair and tightens his arm around her bare shoulder.

"G'morning." She places a kiss just above his nipple and drapes her leg across his thighs, snuggling deeper into him. "We should probably get up soon."

"Mmhmm. We should," he says softly, making absolutely no effort of moving.

"Come on. Let's go get some breakfast. I'm buying." Maggie sits up and stretches her arms above her head, giving Rick a side view of one perfect bosom.

"In that case, I want brunch at the country club." He grabs her shoulders and pulls her back down over him, hugging her soft curves against his hard body.

"So you're awake now, huh?" she smiles against his neck, feeling his growing erection against her pubic bone.

"Mmhmm, all of me." He palms her bottom and grinds himself against her.

"Unfortunately, your son is probably awake too. Come on, Sheriff, we'll continue this conversation later." She plants a quick kiss on his lips and pushes herself off of him quickly before he can pull her back down again.

Once dressed, they head to the kitchen expecting to find Carl, but are surprised to find a note instead. Written in Carl's impatient scrawl, the note informs them that he got tired of waiting and went to get the camping supplies on his own.

"Son of a bitch," Rick says under his breath, shaking his head at the audacity of his son's actions.

"I'm sure he's fine." Maggie puts a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"That's not the point. He should have told me instead of running off alone."

"He did leave – ." The sound of the front door opening stops Maggie mid-defense.

"Carl! Where the hell did you go?" Rick demands.

The tone of his father's voice gets the teenager's back up immediately. "I told you… I went to get the other supplies." Carl waves his hand irritably at the note his father is still clutching. "No big deal. It's gonna rain soon so I thought it would be better to get it now. It's not like I've got anything better to do and you guys didn't seem to be in any hurry to get up," he finishes, annoyed at having to defend himself for being helpful.

"Well you should have told us. Next time you wake us up, you hear me?"

"I'm not a kid anymore!" He walks up the stairs hauling a large black trash bag, looking like a misfit Santa Claus.

"Carl," Maggie interjects calmly, hoping to diffuse the situation, "no matter how old you are, you'll always be his kid and he'll always want to protect you," she says pensively, finally understanding how her father must have felt with her and Beth. "Thanks for getting the stuff. Just knock on our door next time, okay?" She rubs a hand over the protruding tendons in Rick's arm, soothing the older Grimes while speaking to the younger one.

"Fine." Carl ignores the glare from his father and carries his load into the living room.

Maggie pulls Rick back into the kitchen. "I think he was only exercising some teenage independence," she says quietly, "I don't think he was being rebellious. Trust me – I know what that is like." She rolls her eyes at the thought of everything she had done as a teenager, giving him a smile that warms his heart.

"Gave Hershel a hard time, did ya?" He grins at the image of a rebellious teenage Maggie. "Maybe you're right." He pulls her into his arms for a grateful embrace. "But it's different these days."

"I know, but he's got a point – he's really not a kid anymore, Rick." She threads her fingers through the dark curly hair at the nape of his neck.

"Yeah, I know. Doesn't mean I like the idea of him runnin' off alone."

"But you and Daryl have taught him well. At least he's more prepared now than when he was running off when I first met you guys."

He chuckles at her insight. "Good point." He squeezes her tightly and then lets her go. "Come on." Taking her hand he guides her into the living room.

"Alright, so what did you find?" He smiles at his son and is rewarded with a triumphant grin in return.

Excitedly, Carl shows him the sleeping bags, water filter, MRE meals, and other camping paraphernalia. "Oh, I also found these," he reaches behind him and holds up a package of diapers. "This one house had a lot of baby stuff. I figure we can drive back there after we catch up with Daryl."

"How many houses did you go through?" Rick asks tightly.

"Just three."

Maggie leans into Rick, trying to keep his exasperation from bursting as she says, "Great idea, unless we find a car today that we can load everything into. Why don't we eat something fast and then we can all go check the cars in the other half of the neighborhood, Rick. It does look like a storm's coming this way."

"Sure." Confounded, he walks toward the kitchen as Maggie turns to smile conspiratorially at Carl.

~ / ~

What started as a drizzle turned into a steady rain until the heavy clouds could hold back no longer. They reach their driveway just as the skies open up to saturate their clothes under a sudden deluge. Carl quickly lifts the garage door and they file inside, shaking off as much of the cold droplets as possible.

"Well that sucked." Carl voices the opinion that all three share. It was bad enough that they couldn't find a vehicle that had any gas left to take them to the farm, but getting caught in the maelstrom just added insult to injury.

Maggie turns to close the bay door and is startled when a low black blur runs past her into the garage.

"Hey!" One voice shouts excitedly.

"What the hell!" A deeper voice shouts angrily.

"Ahhh!" Three voices shout in unison as the skinny, wet black Labrador retriever shakes her whole body from nose to tail, sending cold rainwater flying in every direction.

"Oh, Dad, isn't she adorable?" Carl falls in love instantly as the dog rubs her head against his legs, just waiting for some fingers to scratch behind her ears.

"She's not staying so don't get attached!"

"Aww, come on, Dad, she needs a family."

"We have enough mouths to feed! No, Carl."

Despite the tone – or perhaps because of the tone coming from the tall man, the black lab saunters over to him, giving him the saddest, most soulful eyes he's ever seen, and he is done.

"Oh, Christ." Rick looks at Maggie for help in the situation which is quickly spiraling out of his control.

"Don't look at me, I'd let her stay." Maggie responds to his extremely high, pleading eyebrows. "She could help protect us."

"Shit." Rick shakes his head in defeat. "Fine. Get a towel and dry her off out here. Actually go get four towels." Rick orders Carl as he begins to take off his soaked shirt.

"Yes!" An elated Carl high fives Maggie before running into the house.

Notes

Comments

:D

The Viking The Viking
1/22/15

Deffinately not a couple that i had ever given thought to, but you write it very well and I actully really like the story :)

Jbmediazz Jbmediazz
12/14/14

LOVE your story!! Rick and Maggie are one of my favorite pairings, and you certainly do them justice! ;) Keep up the awesome work!

~Ariel

bluecrush611 bluecrush611
12/14/14

I really like this story - keep the updates coming!

LaurenJ LaurenJ
12/7/14