After The End
Rosie hadn’t known how to feel when the decision was made that Randall would be put down. She had sat in the room quietly, listening to everyone’s arguments, but didn’t bother speaking up. Everyone already knew her opinions on the subject.
Her heart had crumbled just a little bit when Dale left the room, clapping Daryl on the shoulder sadly. The man’s face had been broken and the whole group felt his sadness, but the safety of everyone was way too important to risk.
She sat on the porch, watching the barn that Daryl, Rick and Shane had taken Randall into. The bottom windows were illuminated from the lantern Rick had carried, but there was no movement from within. She was waiting for the gunshot, even the sounds of a slight scuffle, and frowned when ten minutes had passed.
She jerked up, rising to a stand as she saw Daryl exiting the barn with a still blindfolded Randall in tow. Shane followed shortly after, heading her way and walking in anger, until finally Rick made an appearance, a sheepish looking Carl at his side. Rosie stared at the young boy disbelievingly as Shane approached where she was stood on the bottom step of the porch.
“What the hell happened?” She gestured to where Daryl was taking Randall back to his own personal prison.
Shane’s eyes were dark with rage and he threw his hands up in the air angrily. “Looks like Dale got his wish,” he growled and Rosie flinched back as he stalked past her and up into the house.
She turned back to see the two Grimes men approaching and Rick gave her a curt nod. “Can you watch him while I talk to the others?”
She nodded and gave Carl a soft smile. “Sure.”
Rick nodded gratefully and made his way to the others to tell them the news. Rosie slid back onto the porch steps and patted the spot next to her. The young boy sat down, his shoulders slumped forward in defeat. She noticed how wet and shiny his eyes were, and threw an arm over his shoulder. He looked up at her as she squeezed his shoulders comfortingly and she smiled sadly at him.
She was about to speak, until a blood-chilling scream erupted.
“Dale?” She said the man’s name quietly, recognizing the voice, and stood before breaking into a sprint into the fields. She noticed Daryl exiting Randall’s hut and racing towards the outline of two figures, and she followed, willing herself to run faster.
Her eyes glazed over at the sight of Dale on the ground, his stomach ripped open and his insides on show. Daryl took down the lone walker and she could hear his heavy breathing move next to her. All she could stare at was Dale’s terrified face, his wide eyes and moving mouth, but no sound came from him.
She was knocked to the side as the rest of the group barreled into the field, Andrea sobbing and wailing from her position next to the man. She was quickly covered in his blood as she tried to hold his stomach together and Rick’s desperate cries for Herschel filled the air.
Rosie knew just by looking at the man’s torso that it was over. Without taking her eyes away from the sight, she felt around with her right hand until she was gripping Daryl’s arm. Her fingers slid down until she found his hand and squeezed, receiving one in return. Daryl only let go when he knelt down to put Dale out of his suffering.
The memorial service was hard. Everyone had become far too exhausted to cry and instead watched the mound of dirt covering Dale’s body wearily, each with a sadness of their own.
Rosie’s eyes had flickered between the grave and Rick as he spoke, his words soaking into her as she listened. When the service was over and everyone moved away, she allowed Daryl to pull her alongside him, his hand tugging her arm gently.
“You good?” He muttered quietly, watching the group around them before letting his eyes fall on her.
“Yeah,” she looked up at him and smiled sadly, receiving a mirroring look from him. “Are you?”
She felt his hand squeeze her arm comfortingly, and couldn’t help the backflip her stomach performed.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he responded before dropping his hand.
Her skin felt cold without his touch and she moved slightly so that she was walking closer to him, their arms brushing against each other occasionally.
“What’s going on?” Daryl asked gruffly as the pair approached where Rick and Shane were speaking with Herschel and his two daughters.
Rosie couldn’t help but smile lovingly at Daryl, thinking about how differently he spoke to her. She averted her eyes to see Maggie smirking at her, having caught the way she had been gazing at the man. She rolled her eyes and Maggie smiled.
“We’re movin’ into the house,” Rick responded, looking at the two as they entered the circle, his face relieved.
“Really?” Rosie questioned, looking at the older man for confirmation and grinning when he nodded.
“We should have moved you in a while ago,” he said gruffly, looking at her and Daryl meaningfully.
Rosie joined the rest of the group in packing up tents and belongings. She shouldered her own backpack, making sure all her weapons were in their places. She jogged lightly over to where Carl was struggling with two large, heavy duffel bags and took one with a grin.
“Thanks,” the boy mumbled, avoiding her eyes.
“What’s wrong, bud?” Rosie’s eyes narrowed and she crouched down so she was at his eye level. “Dale?”
Carl just nodded and she could see how hard he was trying to control his emotions. She put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed, knowing that nothing she could say would help him.
She took the things inside, dumping Carl’s duffel next to Lori with a smile at the dark-haired woman. Then she made her way through the crowded living room and into the dining area.
She chewed on the inside of her cheek thoughtfully as she appraised the room. No one had brought their belongings in here yet and there was no way in hell she wanted to be squeezed up against other people while she slept. Unless they were, well, Daryl.
She made her way into the far corner of the room, seeing that there was more than enough room for her to sleep, and neatly loaded her things into the corner before heading back outside to take down and fold up her tent.
She was stopped when she almost collided with Daryl at the bottom of the porch steps.
“Watch where you’re goin’,” he teased her with a smirk and she laughed.
“You movin’ in?” She asked, nodding at where his crossbow was slung over his shoulder and his backpack on the other.
“Just ‘til it warms back up,” he nodded, avoiding her gaze.
She smirked and took a step closer to him. He finally looked down into her face, his cheeks turning a slight shade of pink, before clearing his throat and looking around to see that they were alone.
“What are you doin’, woman?” he mumbled and she laughed before stepping back. He inwardly let out a sigh of relief as he watched her teasing expression.
“I’m sleeping in the dining room,” she said pointedly and Daryl raised his eyebrows.
“Good for you,” he said sassily before walking past her and heading into the house.
She rolled her eyes in amusement and went to disassemble her tent. When she had folded it up neatly, she took it into the house, stopping by her space in the dining room and smiling widely when she saw Daryl’s pack resting against hers.
Rosie spent the next few hours making trips to and from the house with everyone’s stuff. She soon learnt that the rest of her group, particularly the women, had packed a hell of a lot more possessions than she had. She remembered going through her shared house with a duffel bag and a large backpack and grabbing warm clothing, boots, toiletries and food. She’d even emptied the first aid box that one of her roommates had insisted on keeping, storing the contents into the duffel bag. She’d done all this after being forced to clobber her other roommate and good friend in the head until she’d stopped attacking her. She’d lost the duffel bag long before meeting up with Shane’s group, thanks to a couple of looters.
It was only after that Rosie had realized she should have grabbed a knife or a baseball bat or something, so she’d started raiding the glove compartments of abandoned and unlocked cars that had been left on the street. The streets surrounding her home had been relatively quiet in the beginning, and she’d been able to find the gun she still kept on her, as well as a small pocketknife and a steel baseball bat.
After making her way to her friend’ house a few blocks away, Rosie, in a panic, had found what remained of said friend. She had grabbed the keys to his car and headed out of the city as fast as she could. Her plan at that point had been to find her family and to survive.
She knew better than that now.
The young girl cleared her thoughts of her family and headed inside, dropping a box of Lori’s possessions off in the living room and making her way upstairs to where she knew Maggie lived.
“Hey,” she said quietly, knocking on the open door at the same time. “You okay?”
Maggie was lying across the bed reading an old magazine and looked up with a smile when she saw her friend. “Hey, Rosie.”
“Thanks for letting us stay in your house,” the blonde girl said after a moment of silence. She stepped further into the room and smiled warmly at the Greene girl.
“Like Daddy said, we should have let y’all in a long time ago,” Maggie responded, repositioning herself so she had her legs swung over the side of the bed. She watched as Rosie awkwardly glanced around the room, her eyes falling on the photos that were stuck into the corners of the vanity mirror.
Rosie smiled as she stepped closer, fingering the folded edges gently as she surveyed all the smiling faces. “Friends?”
Maggie nodded with a sad smile and joined Rosie at the mirror. “Yeah,” she said quietly, pointing towards what looked to be a prom photo. “That was Simon, we went to prom together.”
“He your boyfriend?” Rosie asked, interested in anything that reminded her of what life used to be like.
Maggie laughed gently and shook her head. “No, I always knew he was sweet on me though. I never saw him as anything other than a friend.”
Rosie nodded in understanding, having had her fair share of high school dramas as well. She touched another picture, this one of Maggie with her arms around two pretty girls about the same age. “Who were they?”
“Melissa and Sarah,” Maggie pointed to the respective faces. “Best friends since we were in prep school. I wonder what’s become of them now,” she mused.
Rosie looked at her friend’s shiny eyes and took a step back, feeling guilty. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have-”
“No,” Maggie interrupted her, putting a comforting hand on Rosie’s bicep. “It’s nice. I like talking about the people I’ve lost. Makes them feel more alive, you know?”
Rosie just nodded at the girl. She swallowed thickly before speaking again. “I actually came up here to ask if you have a sweater you wouldn’t mind losing.”
Maggie grinned, her mood immediately lifting. “Sure do. It’s starting to get colder, hey?”
“Too cold,” Rosie agreed, watching as the brunette ducked down to access the bottom drawer in her chest of drawers. She emerged with a thick, fleecy sweater speckled with black and white.
“Here you go, it’s real comfy.”
“Thank you so much,” Rosie smiled, taking the jumper as Maggie nodded to her.
She rubbed the material between her hands as she made her way back down the stairs and onto the porch. She exited the door, pulling the clothing over her head as she did so, and heading towards where Rick and Daryl were bent over a map, planning where to drop off Randall.
“Soon, this little pain in the ass will be a distant memory,” Daryl spoke as she came up beside them. He nodded at her and Rick smiled tensely.
“You sure about going today?” Rosie asked. She glanced at the sky nervously. “It’s already late afternoon.”
“We might lose the light, you’re right,” Rick spoke slowly. “But I think it’s better to do it today. Get it done.”
Rosie just nodded, though she remained tense and nervous.
“Carol’s puttin’ together some revisions, enough to last a few days,” Rick continued as Daryl sat on the porch rail. Rosie leaned next to him, looking out at their old camp. Her side brushed against his knee and he awkwardly sidled away, making her huff.
She watched as Shane drove one of their cars up the road and close to them, the trunk already popped open.
“That thing you did last night,” Rick’s voice was gentler as he referred to Daryl’s actions with Dale. Rosie immediately busied herself with picking her nails, not wanting to intrude on their moment.
“Ain’t no reason you should do all the heavy lifting,” Daryl responded quietly, modestly.
“So are you good with all this?” Rick spoke after a moment, gesturing to the car as Shane exited it.
Rosie straightened up as Daryl responded. She watched as Shane came towards them, his whole vibe giving her the creeps. She couldn’t believe how much he had changed since she’d met him on the side of the highway.
“I’m gonna take a piss,” Daryl got up as Shane joined them. He grabbed Rosie’s arm and tugged it forcefully. “C’mon.”
She trailed after him in disbelief. “I know we kiss and all,” she started. “But I ain’t gonna piss in front of you.”
Daryl scoffed out a laugh.
About a half hour later, Rosie stood next to the blue truck nervously as Daryl and T-Dog got it ready to transport Randall in.
“Only got so many arrows,” T-Dog said before handing Daryl a small handgun.
“Dale’s?” Daryl questioned the man, tucking it into the back of his waistband. T-Dog nodded silently. “Wish I knew where the hell mine was.”
“You’ll be careful, right?” Rosie’s voice was filled with worry as she helped T-Dog secure the bed of the truck.
“Yes, Rose,” Daryl said, exasperated and with a roll of the eyes.
“You’re like an old married couple, bickering all the time,” T-Dog said with a laugh and Daryl glared at the man.
“You ready?” Rick was approaching them casually.
“Yeah,” Daryl responded, grabbing his crossbow from the truck bed and putting it into the passenger seat.
“I’ll get the package,” T-Dog said before making his way to where they were keeping Randall.
Rosie made her way to the front of the vehicle, the frown never leaving her face. “I still don’t know about this,” she fretted.
“Stop worrying,” Daryl sighed, nudging her with his elbow. “You’re gonna send yourself grey, woman.”
“No, you are,” she retorted, making Rick chuckle.
“He’s gone! Randall’s gone!”
The three of them whipped around at T-Dog’s urgent words and raced towards where he stood. Rick and Daryl checked inside while Rosie paced around the small shed, looking for somewhere where the boy could have escaped through. She came back around the side and shook her head at Daryl’s questioning gaze. The rest of the group had joined them now and the panic was beginning to rise between them.
As everyone began speaking over the tops of each other, Rosie glanced over at the woods to see Shane coming out of them, screaming some nonsense about the boy being armed.
“Are you okay?” Carl cried out, the little boy panicking as much as his mother.
Rosie surveyed the dangerous man, seeing the blood oozing down his face from what looked to be a broken nose. She gripped her gun tighter, making sure to keep Carl and Lori in her sights as she zeroed in on what Shane was saying.
“Little bastard snuck up on me, clocked me in the face!”
Rosie stepped forward, her eyes narrowing into suspicious slits before she spoke. “You’re saying he snuck out of his handcuffs and the shed, into the woods without any of us noticing, and then assaulted you?” The disbelief was evident in her tone, but Shane didn’t take any notice.
“Alright, Herschel, T-Dog, get everybody inside the house!” Rick barked, falling into his leadership position. “Glenn, Daryl, come with us.”
“T, I’m gonna need that gun!” Shane stalked towards T-Dog and snatched the gun out of his hands.
Rosie watched Shane’s jerky movements as Carol tried to convince them to let the boy go. She turned her attention to where Daryl was loading an arrow into his crossbow. He caught her glance and gave her a nod, trying to reassure her. Her lips were pressed into a tight line as she returned it. He jerked his head towards the house and she began rounding up Carol and Lori and herding them towards the house.
Night had fallen by the time Daryl and Glenn made their way back to the house. Rosie resisted the urge to wrap Daryl in a tight hug, knowing that he was far too tense to indulge her. Instead she smiled at him in relief, and he returned it with a tense one of his own. She watched through the cracks in the blinds as the two men told the group what they’d found.
“Thing is, he wasn’t bit,” Glenn informed the group, making Rosie turn to look at the two in surprise.
“His neck was broke,” Daryl added.
“So he fought back?” Patricia questioned as Rosie turned back to the window. She hadn’t stopped looking since the lone gunshot they’d heard.
“Shane and Randall’s tracks were right on top of each other, and Shane ain’t no tracker,” Daryl said, capturing the whole groups’ attention. “So he didn’t come up behind him. Nah, they were together.”
“Would you please get back out there and find Rick and Shane and find out what’s going on?” Lori’s voice was shaking as she pleaded with Daryl.
“You got it,” Daryl responded, beginning to head for the door but Rosie stepped in front of him.
“It’s too dangerous for you to go out there alone,” she argued, shooting a glare at Lori.
“Well you ain’t comin’,” Daryl replied gruffly, trying to move around her but she stopped him again.
“They’ll be back soon, just wait here!” She pleaded, her eyes filled with worry. Something was just off and she didn’t want Daryl in the middle of it.
“I’ll be fine, just sit tight,” Daryl said calmly, leaning down to kiss her on the forehead before he moved out the front door again.
Rosie ignored the curious eyes on her as she stared after him, deciding to follow. She heard steps behind her but her attention was on the hundreds of rotting bodies making their way to the farmhouse.
“Holy shit,” She whispered, the breath leaving her body as terror filled her insides. She moved to Daryl and clutched at his jacket sleeve.
“Patricia, kill the lights,” Herschel whispered and the blonde woman complied, leaving them in darkness. The moans of the dead filled Rosie’s ears as she gripped her gun tightly, her other hand still gripping Daryl’s jacket.
The group debated on staying in the house or leaving, but it was clear that Herschel was staying on his farm.
“Carl’s gone!” Lori’s panicked voice reached them, the sound causing Rosie to flinch.
“We’re gonna find him!” Carol tried to calm the woman and the two darted inside to look for the kid, while Andrea grabbed the bag of guns.
“This is my farm, I’ll die here,” Herschel said firmly and Daryl glanced at Rosie. She nodded.
“Good a night as any,” he responded, jumping over the railing and onto his bike. “You comin’?”
Rosie swiftly followed him, climbing onto the bike behind him and wrapping an arm around his waist.
“You got your gun?” He turned his face so she could hear him.
“Yeah,” she breathed, holding her gun-wielding hand up to show him. He nodded and took off, leading the RV and one of their smaller cars into the field to draw the walkers away from the house.
The barn had been set alight and Rosie guessed it was the handiwork of Rick and Shane. Daryl stopped his bike by the fence near the barn and began shooting at the straggling walkers that had been attracted to the fire but were now heading to them. Rosie shot at the other side, trying to make a dent in the wall of bodies that were filing in from the woods. Every time she shot down a line of them, more would appear like waves. Gunshots filled the air and the girl knew that the rest of the group were doing the exact same as her.
“Stay close!” Daryl called over his shoulder, checking to make sure his girl was still behind him. As the walkers drew closer, Daryl tugged on her arm. “Let’s go.”
She steadied herself as he moved further along, pulling up to a stop next to Jimmy in the RV, his head poking out of the window as he fired.
“Rick and Shane must have set the fire, go ‘round!” Daryl shouted at the younger man.
“You got it!” Jimmy responded and did as Daryl said, while the two of them made a move again, heading up closer to the house.
Rosie could see Andrea and T-Dog in the blue truck, passing Glenn and Maggie in the car, trying to distract and shoot as many as they could. She glanced up at the house to see Herschel on his own, almost surrounded as he fired his shotgun over and over.
Rosie buried her face against Daryl’s back, watching their safe haven being destroyed. She only shot at the walkers when they got too close for comfort, relishing when she hit them straight on.
Once they were far enough away, Daryl stopped the bike. In silence, the two of them watched on as the barn burned. The walkers were completely covering the green grass, and Rosie could see that they had reached the house by now. Her heart felt like stone as she prayed that her family had made it out of there, all in one piece.
She felt Daryl jerk beneath her and realized that she screaming she heard was someone calling for help. She quickly wrapped around him as he started the engine and swung the bike around, following the voice.
Carol was there, limping and crying loudly as she moved as fast as she could. Every few steps she would glance back at the growing group of the dead behind her and her voice became more strangled.
Rosie looked down at the bike as Daryl stopped and Carol headed over to them desperately. She stood, squeezing her eyes shut and pressing a kiss to Daryl’s temple as she got off the bike and grabbed Carol’s hand.
“Rose, what the hell are you doin’?” Daryl shouted, grabbing her arm roughly.
“Shut up,” she growled, pushing Carol onto the seat. The older woman got on all too willingly. Daryl was looking at her with his mouth gaping, his eyes outraged. “It’s okay, I have my gun.”
She resisted the tears pricking at her eyes and shot down two walkers that were nearing them, her stomach knotting.
“Rosie,” Daryl’s voice was strangled and she glanced back to see his torn expression.
“I’ll meet you on the highway,” she smiled sadly. “Go! Go now or you won’t make it!”
Daryl was still watching her desperately, pleading with his eyes.
“Go!” She shouted angrily, pulling out of his grip and shooting four more walkers. “Get out of here!”
Her heart stopped at the sound of his bike and she glanced behind her to see the two of them driving off in the distance. With what remained of her determination, she fled the group of walkers and moved towards the woods, not knowing if this was the smartest decision she would make.
She’d been running for ten minutes, sure that she had outrun the giant herd, when the rustling near her started. She stopped running, her breath heavy and adrenaline still pumping as she aimed her gun at the trees.
“Andrea?” She breathed, finally letting tears spill over at the sight of the blonde woman. “Are you bit?”
Andrea shook her head, too exhausted to speak.
Rosie glanced behind her. It was too dark to see anything but she knew that they weren’t safe. She moved over to her friend and grabbed her arm, placing it over her own shoulders so she could carry Andrea’s weight.
Thanks so much to the lovely readers who commented, I appreciate every single comment. Please continue to let me know your thoughts! I hope you enjoy this chapter, I have the next couple all written out so I'll be updating much more frequently xxx