After The End
Rosie was seat near her tent, watching absent-mindedly as Andrea sharpened her knife and Carol cooked eggs. She had spent the rest of the previous day helping Beth and Patricia in the kitchen in the hopes of having something to do. Eventually, she had persuaded Daryl to play cards with her, though he did it half-heartedly. After eating alone with him in his tent, she’d slept in her own tent at his request. He hadn’t wanted to be distracted while trying to heal, he had told her, causing her to roll his eyes. He seemed completely amused by her affection towards him, when previously it had only seemed to annoy him. But it didn’t bother her, as long as she got to see his lopsided smile that no one else got to see.
Rosie was distracted by Carol placing a plate filled with hot eggs in front of her, and then passing one to Daryl where he lounged in a folding chair next to her. She smiled gratefully at the woman, receiving a small one in return. She realized that today was a bad day for Carol, unlike yesterday. Just another breakfast without her daughter.
As Rosie watched Carol sit back down and tell Lori that she wasn’t hungry, she crossed her fingers that today was the day that they found Sophia.
Rosie didn’t tear her tired eyes away from Andrea’s routine movements, instead just straining her ears when she recognized the voice of Glenn. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Daryl glance up while he shoveled eggs into his mouth.
“So… the barn’s full of walkers.”
There was a pause.
“What?” Rosie spat as she finally looked at him. She found herself twisting in her chair to look at the barn in question and how it stood so quiet and innocent. She looked back at Glenn who shifted uncomfortably under everyone’s gaze.
Shane produced an angry sound before dropping his plate of eggs to the ground and storming over to the barn. Everyone followed him as panic filled the air.
Shane peered through the slabs of wood that made up the barn and stepped back suddenly before turning to look at Rick. He began to pace and the two started to argue as everyone threw their two cents in.
Rosie was barely paying attention and was instead wondering how this had gone by so unnoticed. She took a few steps towards the barn and gazed through to the inside at the same spot where Shane did.
Her heart sunk when she heard the moans of the undead. And a lot of them.
A hand wrapped around her bicep and pulled her back a few steps gently. “Not too close,” Daryl’s rough voice told her and she nodded, noticing how he let his other hand rest on his sheathed knife.
As Shane brought the conversation back to Fort Benning, Rosie stepped forward until she was standing next to Carol.
“We can’t go to Fort Benning,” she said loudly and Shane looked at her, annoyed.
“Why not?” His tone was aggressive and surprised Rosie. He had never spoken to her like that before, he had always been very fond of her. She lifted her chin up, about to answer, before Carol stepped in.
“Because my daughter is still out there,” the older woman spoke softly but with confidence.
Rosie’s eyes narrowed when Shane let out a short, exasperated laugh and ran his hands over his freshly shaved head. He looked at the two women like they were stupid.
Rosie knew what he was about to say, and so did Daryl.
“I’m close to findin’ this little girl,” Daryl spoke, pacing closer to Rosie. “I just found her damn doll two days ago!”
“You found her doll, Daryl, that’s what ya did. You found a doll,” Shane laughed, putting emphasis on the last word.
Rosie could see Daryl’s fist balling up as he stepped forward and pointed at the other man. “You don’t know what the hell you’re talkin’ about!”
“Let me tell ya somethin’ else man, if she was alive out there and saw you comin’,” Shane continued, getting louder. “All methed out with your buck knife and geek ears ‘round your neck, she would run in the other direction!”
Daryl jumped forward, trying to pass Rick who stood between the two men. As they began to yell at each other, Rosie argued with common sense and walked forward, just as Carol and Andrea did. The women grabbed Daryl and pulled him back as he allowed them to, but Shane was still advancing towards him.
Rosie quickly jumped in front of Daryl, next to Rick, trying to create a human barrier between the two men. This only caused Shane’s attention to focus on her.
“And you!” The angry man pointed at her threateningly. “You knew ‘bout this, didn’t you?”
Rosie let out a humorless laugh. “About the walkers? ‘Course I didn’t, you jackass.”
Shane’s eyes flashed with anger and all of a sudden he had grabbed the collar of the shirt that she was wearing, and had her pushed up against the side of the barn. The scene they had created had brought them to the attention of the walkers long ago, and their moans filled Rosie’s ears. It was painfully clear that they were close enough to her that if they reached through the wooden slats, they would be able to touch her.
Panic bubbled inside Rosie as she stared at Shane, trying to squirm out of his grasp but not being able to even move as he stared her down wildly.
“I see you talkin’ to the farmer’s daughter,” Shane spat in her face and she turned her head to the side. “What are you plannin’?”
The whole exchange had only lasted a few seconds until Shane was pulled away from her and was on the ground. Daryl stood over him, delivering punches to his face until T-Dog and Rick restrained him. Shane just lay on the ground laughing like a mad man.
As Carol fussed over Rosie, Daryl turned to glance at her. She saw that his face was twisted in pain and anger. As soon as the men let him go, he stormed back in the direction of the tents. The group soon dispersed to follow him.
Daryl had avoided Rosie like the plague for the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon. She spent the time on watch, even though she wasn’t scheduled to. She just wanted to keep whoever was doing it company.
The severe lack of jobs to do was mind-blowingly boring and Rosie couldn’t stop herself from wishing that there were something more interesting to do. She had invited herself along on another search for Sophia with Andrea, Rick and T-Dog, but they still hadn’t left yet. She was told they were waiting for Rick and she was starting to grow anxious about how much daylight they were losing.
Not long after the incident at the barn, she had noticed Daryl heading into the stable where the horses were kept, carrying his crossbow. Her brow had creased with concern and she had been about to follow him and scold him for even thinking about leaving the farm in his still injured state, until she had seen Carol do it for her.
Daryl had stormed out angrily not long after, with an upset-looking Carol not far behind him. Rosie had sighed to herself, realizing that Daryl had now gone and upset someone else who cared about him. A part of her had been happy that it wasn’t her who had made him mad this time.
When Glenn had taken over Dale’s watch, she hoisted herself down from the roof of the RV as well, complaining about a sore ass and making Glenn chuckle.
As Rosie searched the camp for Daryl, her eyes came up empty. The only people she could see were Lori and Carl. She shrugged, making her way to the house and collapsing onto the seats on the front porch. The door swung open and Maggie settled in next to her.
Rosie smiled at her. “Hey.” She pulled her knife out of her waistband and began sharpening it on a rock she had picked up on the short walk to the house.
Maggie watched her for a moment, studying the movements of the knife against the rock. Before either of the women had a chance to speak, Andrea and T-Dog made their way over, followed closely by Glenn.
“I thought you guys left,” Rosie spoke, discarding the rock and tucking the knife back into her waistband. She shielded her eyes as she glanced at the two.
“We thought we were too,” Andrea said, her face etched in what seemed to now be a permanent frown.
“We were supposed to leave a couple hours ago,” T-Dog said, stopping in front of the two.
“Yeah you were, what the hell?” Daryl’s familiar voice drawled from Rosie’s other side and she glanced over to see him joining them with Carol.
Rosie smiled at the two, happy that they were back on good terms. Daryl looked down at the smiling girl and nodded at her, suppressing the smile that twitched at his own lips before he turned back to the group. She felt relief as she realized he wasn’t in his crapy mood anymore. Daryl shifted, making sure that he was stood close to Rosie’s side.
“Isn’t anybody takin’ this seriously?!” His voice grew angry and both Maggie and Rosie rose from their seated positions. “We got us a damn trail! Here we go.”
The small group watched as Daryl met Shane at the path and took a rifle from him before they both headed up to the group. Shane began to distribute guns, ignoring Maggie’s argument that they would get kicked off the farm. Just as Rosie reluctantly took a gun, their attention was drawn to Rick, Herschel and Jimmy appearing at the edge of the woods with two walkers in tow.
After the takedown of the barn and the discovery of Sophia, the group, as well as Herschel’s family, were in a state of bitter grief.
Rosie had only watched as Carol had wrenched herself from Daryl’s hold and ran into the RV, followed closely by most of the group. It was now just her, T-Dog and Andrea stood by the pile of decaying bodies.
Her eyes hadn’t watered at the sight of little Sophia like most of the other’s had, instead she had felt an odd sense of … nothingness. She had waited for Daryl’s anger, shutting her eyes when he had screamed a string of curse words to the heavens before storming off after Carol. Now all she wanted to do was bury the little girl and get rid of the rotting bodies.
Out of sight, out of mind, she thought to herself bitterly.
The three of them made sure to pierce the brains of the dead before they singled out the bodies of Sophia and the Greenes’ to bury them. After, T-Dog drove down the truck and the three of them loaded the mess of unknown bodies into the bed.
“I guess we can kiss goodbye to life on the farm then,” Rosie muttered mostly to herself as she lifted her exhausted body into the passenger seat.
T-Dog huffed unhappily in response from the driver’s side before checking the mirror to make sure that Andrea was settled in the back before starting up.
“Hold on!” Andrea’s voice caused him to bring the truck to a slow stop.
Rosie poked her head out of the window and watched as the woman jogged to retrieve a lone, torn-up arm before she tossed it back onto the heap of bodies and heaved herself up next to it. She patted the side of the truck and T-Dog started up again.
“How did we get here?” Rosie mused to herself, bringing her knee up and resting her chin on it.
“Hmm?” T-Dog glanced at his friend before turning his eyes back to the road.
Rosie let out a slightly hysterical laugh as she gestured to the pile of bodies behind her. “T!” She cried between giggles. “There’s a pile of dead people back there and, look at us!”
She wiped at her eyes, the fit of laughter causing them to water slightly.
“It’s just the craziest thing,” she muttered, ignoring the strange look T-Dog gave her. “I could barely even watch Grey’s Anatomy before all this, I fainted every time I got blood drawn! And now I’m stabbing brains left, right and centre… it’s insane.”
“I guess it is,” he chuckled along with her, exhaustion turning them both giddy.
Later on, the group held a short memorial for the members they had lost. Herschel was dressed in a suit and clutching his bible in his hands protectively. Even though he had insisted on speaking at Otis’ memorial, he refused to now. Instead, the groups just stood in silence, their eyes shifting from grave to grave.
Rosie found herself looking back at the RV. Lori and Daryl had told them of how Carol refused to attend, but Rosie hoped that the woman would make an appearance. She worried that Carol would regret it otherwise. Carol didn’t show up.
After the service, Rosie had sat on the porch of the Greenes’, not feeling brave enough to enter but wanting them to know that she was there either way. Her eyes wandered over to her tent, and she frowned when she saw what Daryl was doing.
She jumped up, heading towards where it looked like he was packing up. As she neared, she noticed one of her t-shirts sitting next to his taken-apart tent, covered in dirt.
“What are you doin’?” She barked, snatching the t-shirt up. She recognized it as one she had left in his tent the night before he was injured.
“What does it look like, princess?” His tone was acidic.
She rolled her eyes. “Well, there’s a new one.”
He didn’t reply, just gathered up his tent and swung his crossbow over his shoulder, looking down at his pack on the ground. He glanced back up at her. “Grab that, will ya?” He nodded towards the backpack and she picked it up without taking her eyes off him.
“What are you doin’?” She repeated, following as he began to stalk away from the camp.
“Movin’ to the suburbs,” he spoke bitterly.
She strode forward and grabbed his arm until he stopped and looked down at her with a sigh. He didn’t speak.
“Daryl,” she said, allowing the hurt to thicken her tone. “You promised me you’d talk to me.”
He sighed again, dramatically. “I’m just gonna move camp over there,” he spoke, pointing to a spot where his bike was already parked.
She frowned. “It’s so close to the forest, though.”
“Exactly,” Daryl began to walk again but slower this time, allowing her to keep up with him. “Better for huntin’. And I can be away from this mess,” he gestured with his thumb to the group behind them.
“What about me?” She asked with a sigh, knowing nothing she said would change his mind.
“I’ll just be here,” he rolled his eyes as they reached their destination. “Don’t be such a pussy about it.”
Rosie gave him a pointedly annoyed look and he shrugged, not knowing what to say. She rolled her eyes and dropped the bag next to a log, watching as he began setting his tent up.
“Well I guess it’s better than you yelling at me,” she mumbled quietly and he let out a short laugh.
“I don’t yell at you that much,” he said, turning to face her. “Do I?”
Rosie smiled, happy that she was taking his mind off of Sophia. She knew what had happened had him hard, almost as much as it had affected Carol. She stepped forward and he gave her an amused look as she wrapped her arms around his waist. She smiled up at him, her chin resting on his chest while one of his arms came to settle around her shoulders lazily.
She could tell he was still slightly uncomfortable and awkward when she did things like this, but the fact that he was making an effort made her heart swell. She stepped away when she noticed his eyes darting back to the group’s main camp, not wanting people to see them like this. At this point, no one really knew what was going on between the two and he wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible.
“I’ll let you do your thing,” she nodded her head towards the tent and began to walk back to camp.
She turned back and saw him watching her carefully, not having moved. “Yeah?”
“Y’know,” he paused and she took a step closer, smiling at him encouragingly. “You can stay in here tonight. Just… if ya wanna get away from the drama an’ all…”
She smiled, amused at his awkward tone and finding it incredibly heartwarming. “I don’t know,” he frowned at her words and her grin grew. “Out here nobody can hear me scream.”
She turned on her heel, hearing his unimpressed scoff and chuckling as she headed back to the group. She glanced back once to see him still watching her and he raised his middle finger up with a smirk, making her laugh out loud.
As she got closer to the camp, she noticed people spilling out of the house, their voices loud enough for her to hear. She frowned as she approached them, patting her sides to make sure her weapons were all in place, now including the gun she’d received from Shane.
“It’s Herschel,” Rick said grimly, heading towards one of their cars. She followed him, jogging to keep up. “He’s missing. Maggie reckons he’s gone into town to get drunk.”
“Herschel has?” Rosie said, surprised. Rick nodded once, his gaze tense as he glanced at the house behind him. Maggie and Glenn were approaching the two. “You’re gonna go after him?”
Rick nodded again.
“I want to come,” Maggie said in her thick accent, already reaching for a door handle. “He’s my dad, I think I can help.”
“No,” Glenn took her hand and placed himself between her and the car. “It’s too dangerous.”
“Dangerous?” Maggie scoffed loudly, her anger rising. “Glenn, I-”
“You gotta stay and look after Beth,” he said softly, making his girlfriend pause.
“Beth? What’s wrong with Beth?” Rosie’s brow furrowed. How had she missed so much?
Maggie glanced at her like she only just noticed Rosie was there. “She’s gone into shock. She’s not talkin’ to anybody, it’s like there’s no one in there,” she said, her tone distant and worried. She was obviously torn between her father and her sister.
“I’ll go with them to get Herschel,” Rosie suggested, laying a gentle hand on Maggie’s arm. “You stay here with Beth.”
Maggie stared at her for a second before nodding. “Thank you,” she said softly. She leant forward to give Glenn a gentle kiss on the cheek before turning back to the house.
Rosie glanced at the two men in front of her, both were watching her with frowns. “What?”
“You sure about this?” Rick sounded incredibly worried and unsure.
“It’ll be fine,” she smiled, sliding into the middle of the backseat and drumming her fingers impatiently. “Let’s go, boys.”
Glenn looked just as unsure as he slid into the passenger seat. “Should you tell Daryl you’re going?” his voice sounded slightly frightened and Rosie chuckled.
“He’s not the boss of me,” she smiled, catching his eye in the mirror and winking as Rick started the engine. “Besides, he’s moved his tent all the way down near the forest, ain’t no way I’m trekking back there. And I have you two to watch my back.”
The car ride was quiet as Rick followed the map Maggie had given them. Rosie examined her fingernails in the backseat, remembering the days when she used to pay for a good manicure and an arm massage. She was about to start a game of I Spy when Glenn spoke up, causing both her and Rick to glance at him.
“Maggie said she loves me,” the young Asian boy said before croaking out a humorless laugh. “She doesn’t mean it. She’s just worried, and scared…”
His voice trailed off, sounding more like a question than anything.
Rick was smiling at him reassuringly and Rosie leant forward, eager to not be forgotten.
“I think she’s smart enough to know what she means,” the other man said, one hand on the wheel and one resting out the open window.
Glenn shook his head, tapping his fingers nervously on his thigh and making Rosie suppress a laugh. “She wants to be in love, so, you know, she just, she just needs some-”
“Glenn, it’s pretty obvious to everyone that Maggie loves you,” Rick cut in, holding his finger up to stop Glenn from interrupting. “And not just because you’re one of the last men standing, so what’s the problem?”
Glenn didn’t say anything and Rosie gazed at him curiously as he fought her stare off. She knew he was super uncomfortable with her being present for this conversation, which made her even more amused at her friend’s expense.
“I didn’t say it back,” he admitted after a moment and Rosie burst into a loud cackle. Glenn looked back to glare at her. “What? I’ve never had a woman say that to me before, except for, well, my mom and-and my sisters.”
Rosie continued to laugh and Rick bit his lip to stop himself from joining the young girl who was slowly losing it in the backseat.
“With Maggie it’s different,” Glenn was stubbornly trying to justify himself, attempting to ignore Rosie. “I mean, we barely know each other! What does she know about me? Nothing!”
Rosie took in a deep breath, wiping at her damp eyes and letting out another giggle. “You idiot!” she cackled again, her voice sounding gleeful.
Glenn shot her another glare until she stopped laughing, trying to feign seriousness.
“Did you say anything?” She asked and groaned loudly when he didn’t respond. “Oh, Glenn, please tell me you said something!”
“I didn’t know what to say! I just stood there like a jerk,” he mumbled, sounding defeated and Rosie instantly felt bad.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder before breaking out in another smile. “This is just such a classic dude thing to do.”
Rick chuckled then and Glenn rolled his eyes.
She squeezed his shoulder and pulled her hand back. “It’s gonna be fine,” she assured, elongating the last word.
“You think?” Glenn raised his head to look at her hopefully.
“Oh yeah,” she nodded. “She’s not goin’ anywhere, Glenny.”
The three were quiet again for another twenty minutes before the buildings in the small town began to appear in sight. Rosie bounced in her seat with anticipation, nerves competing with excitement. She was so happy to be away from the farm finally, even if all they were doing was going to some bar.
Rick pulled the car to a stop in the middle of the road, something that still seemed so strange to the young girl. Well he’s not blocking anyone in, she thought to herself with a small smile and a shake of her head.
She followed the men’s lead, pulling out her gun and holding it in her hands, ready. Her and Glenn followed Rick warily as he navigated his way around the town, finally coming across the sign that displayed the name Maggie had told them used to be Herschel’s regular hangout, long before she had been born.
Rick stepped in first and Glenn glanced around as Rosie followed, keeping her gun at the ready. The bar was dark and it took her eyes a moment to adjust, the only light filtering in through cracked windows.
She caught sight of the back of Herschel’s figure, hunched over the bar. He didn’t turn at the sound and she knew that he was aware it was them.
“Herschel,” Rick said firmly.
“Who’s with you?”
“Glenn and Rosie.”
“Maggie send ‘em?”
“We wanted to come,” Rosie said, lowering her gun as she took a few steps forward. She made her way behind the bar, hoping to find some stale peanuts or pretzels or even some water.
Rick had made his way over to where Herschel sat with a half-empty bottle of liquor, while Glenn stayed close to the door they had entered in. She half-listened to the conversation between the men, Rick telling Herschel about Beth in an attempt to bring him home. She rolled her eyes at the sorry tone of Herschel’s voice, trying to remind herself that he just watched the reanimated corpses of his wife and son get shot down and buried. She remained crouched under the bar, rummaging through the dusty glasses, spare bottles of booze and abandoned belongings until she came across a bottle of painkillers. She smiled to herself, knowing they would come in handy, and shoved them into her pocket.
She poked her head up when she heard the sound of the door opening, her heart rate picking up until she realized it was just Glenn keeping watch. He kept most of his body inside as he peered out, gun clutched tightly. Rick wandered over to him and the men began talking in low tones.
Rosie moved across the bar, closer to Herschel but still adjacent to him. He raised his head and looked to his left as he watched her surveying the shelf behind her that held multiple bottles of booze.
“Really thought you’d need three of you to bring me home?” He asked, his tone annoyed.
Rosie wheeled around to look at him, an eyebrow quirked at his sassy words. “You coulda been passed out,” she smiled and the older man chuckled at her. She grabbed the painkillers out of her pocket and slid them across the bar. They landed neatly in front of him and he glanced down with a frown. “You might need these tomorrow,” she said with a cheeky wink, before ducking down once more to explore the cupboards under this section of the bar.
“Just go,” she heard Herschel yell towards the other man. “Go!”
“I promised Maggie I’d bring you home safe,” Rick argued and she could hear his footsteps pacing across the floor, back to Herschel.
“Just like you promised that little girl?”
Rosie rolled her eyes. “Here we go,” she muttered to herself, listening to the deafening silence.
“So what’s your plan? Finish the bottle, leave your girls alone-”
Rosie’s ears perked up at the sound of the barstool scraping back and she peered over the top of the counter, watching as Herschel advanced towards Rick angrily.
“Stop telling me how to care for my family, my farm! You people are like a plague!” Herschel’s voice was deep and angry, something Rosie hadn’t expected from the gentle man she had known him to be. She rose carefully, still positioned behind the bar but poised to jump over and restrain the man. She could see out of the corner of her eye how Glenn had moved from the door, also ready to step in if needed.
Rick stepped forward so he and Herschel were only a foot apart, speaking heatedly in each other’s faces while the other two watched on. As quickly as he had become riled up, Herschel became defeated again, slumping back into the barstool while Rick desperately tried to get him up and moving.
“This is like a damn soap opera,” Rosie mumbled to herself, deciding to finally pour herself a glass of the stale vodka she had been eyeing. She kept a steady watch on the two men, tensing as Herschel angrily pulled away from Rick’s grasp, and sipped the drink. It burned down her throat and she made a face, noticing as Glenn gave her a disapproving glare. She stuck her tongue out and put the half-drunk glass back on the bar before tapping her foot impatiently. She had noticed the sunlight was beginning to darken and she was anxious to get back to the camp and take Daryl up on his offer to join him in his tent.
She continued to watch silently as Rick and Herschel spoke, Glenn circling them and coming to a stop at the bar at the opposite end to herself. She went back to examining her fingernails and let out a relieved sigh when it seemed Rick had finally convinced Herschel to get moving and he slammed his glass down.
Her pulse quickened as the door to the bar creaked open and she realized that none of them had stayed on watch.