After The End
Daryl gripped the handlebars of his bike so tight that he was sure the skin of his knuckles was white. He felt Carol’s tight grip around his middle, a stark contrast to Rosie’s firm yet gentle one. Anger washed over him as he thought about the younger girl and the way she had desperately pleaded with him to leave her there on that farm to die. All so she could save Carol’s frightened, useless ass.
He weaved between the moving bodies of the dead, thinking about Rosie’s promise to meet him on the highway.
Maybe she made it, he thought to himself, desperation cracking through his tough exterior. He blinked back the hot tears burning his eyes and allowed the hum of the motorcycle to drown out his thoughts and her last words to him.
He didn’t know how long he’d been riding for, but the light was starting to peek up over the trees. They hadn’t seen the dead in a long time and now it was only the sound of his bike and Carol’s sobbing that filled his ears.
It was completely light by the time they reached the highway, although they were still a good twenty minutes from where they had left the supplies for Sophia. Daryl felt his stomach doing backflips as he thought about Rosie. He prayed she had reached a vehicle or something. Even had enough sense to climb a tree and wait it out.
His frown cleared when he caught sight of two vehicles in front of his bike and he recognized them both instantly. He edged past the two, stopping to make eye contact with T-Dog in the truck and Glenn in the car. The relief on their faces mirrored his own and he inched forward to lead them through the mess of abandoned cars.
He felt Carol gasp behind him as the two of them caught sight of the familiar red Chevrolet that belonged to Herschel, only to see Rick and Herschel peeking over the cars to see them, smiles growing on their faces.
Daryl sped up slightly, weaving between the vehicles until he caught sight of Carl’s joyous face watching them all pull to a stop. Carol was off the bike immediately, going over to T-Dog to give him a hug. Daryl reached out and took Rick’s extended hand before the man reunited with his family, just as Herschel did with his two girls.
As Daryl got off his bike and fixed the kickstand, he surveyed the rest of them, frowning when neither Rosie nor Andrea emerged. He looked around the cars, hoping to see Rosie’s mess of honey blonde hair bobbing about somewhere.
“Where’d you find everyone?” Rick asked Daryl as he watched his wife and son embrace on the road.
“Saw this guy zig-zagging all over the road,” Daryl answered, his voice tense. “Figured he had to be Asian drivin’ like that.”
“Good one,” Glenn let out a gruff laugh, rubbing his face with his hands.
“Where’s the rest of us?” T-Dog spoke up.
“We’re the onle ones who made it so far,” Rick responded.
“Shane?” Lori rose as she asked, her eyes locked on Rick. He just shook his head, his face stoic.
“Andrea?” Glenn asked, wide-eyed.
“Rosie? What about Rosie?” Maggie piped up, her voice frantic but relieved to be with her family.
“They both saved me,” Carol spoke timidly, drawing all eyes on to her. “Andrea sacrificed herself for me. Then Rosie made me take her seat on Daryl’s bike. They both saved my life.” The woman’s voice cracked slightly.
“Ro told me she’d meet me here,” Daryl spoke, his voice insistent and firm. He could see everyone looking at him with doubt in their eyes. “She told me she would.”
“There’s no way she made it out of there, man,” T-Dog spoke sadly, heartbroken at losing two of his friends.
“There were walkers everywhere,” Lori agreed sadly, ducking her head.
Daryl slammed his hand against the trunk of the Chevrolet. “She told me she’d be here! God damnit, have a little faith in the girl, she’s tough,” he growled.
“Maybe she’s with Andrea,” Carl said sweetly.
“We saw Andrea go down,” T-Dog spoke, his voice dejected.
“I’m gonna go back,” Daryl spoke firmly, already at his bike.
“We can’t just leave ‘em,” Daryl said, looking at Rick in shock.
“She isn’t there,” Rick spoke harshly. “Neither of them are. They’re somewhere else, or they’re dead. There’s no way of finding them.”
“We’re not even gonna look?” Glenn’s voice was sad as he thought about Rosie, who had slowly but surely become his best friend aside from Maggie.
“We gotta keep moving,” Rick argued, his voice dripping with authority. The others began to argue with them while Daryl paced.
“Let’s just wait a couple hours,” his voice was unsure as he thought of Rosie. “She said she’d be here. She might be coming on foot.”
“There are crawlers everywhere,” Rick said. “We’re going.”
“We’ll leave a message for her, just like we did with Sophia,” Carol said to Daryl.
“Yeah ‘cause that worked so well last time,” Daryl snapped, letting his anger consume him. He watched the woman flinch and shook his head, turning away from the group and rubbing at his wet eyes.
Deep down, he knew Rick was right. There was no way Rosie could have made it out of there. They were just sitting ducks on that highway.
He hurried over to his bike, relieved when Carol chose to ride in one of the cars. He needed some time to himself.
At some point, well after the sun had risen, Rosie had become far too exhausted to shoulder Andrea’s weight. She could barely manage moving her own heavy body. Her lungs burned from the movement and her legs and feet ached. She wished she were wearing her heavy hiking boots instead of the pair of running shoes she had donned for the day.
She and Andrea were moving as fast as they could through the trees, both growing weak with tiredness. She kept glancing behind her to see that a dozen walkers were closing in on them, moving closer and closer. There were way too many for the two of them to take down, so she prayed that they could outrun them.
“We have to get to the highway,” Rosie panted for the hundredth time.
“How many times do I have to tell you,” Andrea’s breath was short and panicked, the woman glancing back at their companions as well. “They would have left already.”
“They wouldn’t leave without us,” Rosie insisted, her voice cracking with exertion and emotions.
After ten more minutes of running, Andrea doubled over and dry heaved.
“We need to rest,” Rosie hissed, finding the power within herself to silence one of the walkers that had reached them.
She quickly grabbed Andrea’s arm, pulling her sharply to the side and behind a thick tree.
“Thanks,” Andrea breathed.
“You need to lose that bag,” Rosie nodded her head to the sheriff’s bag that the woman had strapped over her shoulder.
“It has all the guns and ammo though.”
“We take what we need and dump it. It’s weighing you down,” Rosie spoke, her voice firm and confident.
Andrea lowered the bag and zipped it open and the two girls dove in. Rosie emptied boxes of bullets into jeans pockets, before grabbing two spare handguns and tucking them into her waistband. She gripped her trusty handgun in her dominant hand, knowing that she was most confident with it. She grabbed one smaller hunter’s knife that sat in the bottom of the bag and tucked it into her shoe.
“You good?” She asked Andrea. The other woman nodded and they began to move again.
A huge, bulking walker was in front of Rosie as soon as she turned around. She let out a surprised squeal and pushed, watching as it stumbled back slightly before launching itself at her again. Suddenly, Andrea had it and was throwing it against the tree. It fell down into the leaves and the woman stamped her foot on its brain repeatedly, until it had stopped moaning.
“Thanks,” Rosie panted, sucking in as much air as she could. Andrea nodded at her and they moved again.
“Shit!” She exclaimed as they found themselves in a clearing, about a dozen walkers on all sides.
“We have no choice,” Rosie said, her cool and confident demeanor slipping as she shoved her knife into her waistband and aimed her gun. “We have to shoot.”
“That’ll draw more!” Andrea argued, her voice unsure.
“We shoot or we die!” Rosie cried, tears pricking at her eyes and blurring her vision. She blinked them back as she shot at the closest bodies, watching as they fell to the ground in an explosion of blood and brains.
She could hear Andrea’s heavy breathing and scattered shots behind her as the women stood back to back.
This is it, Rosie thought, her head swimming. She was so exhausted and her vision was beginning to cloud, her mind growing foggy. She tried to picture Daryl’s face or his gruff voice, but she couldn’t pull anything from her memory.
“Rosie, through here!” Andrea’s voice pulled her back and she shook her head, trying to focus. Her friend’s hand was on her arm, tugging her along forcefully. They made their way over dead bodies, stumbling slightly, and through a clearing in the walkers. All Rosie could see was leaves and trees, not registering any clear path but allowing Andrea to lead her, the two having swapped positions. The groans and snarls behind her filled her mind.
“We’ve been moving for hours with no sign of the highway,” Andrea spoke, her voice weak and defeated. “It’s starting to get dark, Rosie.”
“I know,” Rosie responded, her voice just as tired. She slammed the butt of her gun into a walker’s head, only letting up on bashing its head in until thick, dark blood oozed from the hole.
“Damn it!” Andrea cried, her voice thick with pain as a thud sounded.
Rosie wheeled around to stare at her friend. “What’s wrong?”
“I twisted my ankle,” Andrea cried, holding her knee up to her chest and clutching at her foot. Her face was twisted with pain and Rosie knelt down beside her. Andrea opened her eyes and her face changed to shock as she looked behind Rosie. “Behind you!”
Rosie didn’t have time to turn around before she was knocked onto her side by a lone walker. She saw a few more straggling behind it, attracted to the commotion as she struggled against the heavy body. Strained sounds were coming from her mouth as she fought, but it was getting harder and harder. She looked to her side to see Andrea watching her desperately, her face defeated.
“This reminds me,” Rosie choked out, feeling hot tears slip down her face. “In the woods… when we met Maggie…”
Andrea choked out a laugh that sounded more like a sob. “Keep fighting, Ro.”
“I think,” Rosie squeezed her eyes shut as she felt her arms beging to give way, the chomping teeth moving closer to her face. “This might be it, Andrea.”
Andrea shut her eyes in defeat. Rosie turned back to her opponent and, using all the fight she had left in her, gave one final push away from her.
The walker never fell back onto her. She never felt its sharp teeth ripping at her skin. Instead, she was splattered with its blood. She squeezed her eyes and mouth shut, trying to breathe deeply through her nose. The rotting corpse was splayed across her legs and she flailed them until they were free.
“Rosie? Are you okay?” Andrea’s cool touch pulled her out of her confused thoughts and she wrenched her eyes open to see Andrea hovering over her.
“Yeah,” she sighed, sitting up slightly. They both turned to see a dark silhouette stood in front of them, wielding a shiny katana and sporting a hooded cloak. Behind their savior, two armless walkers’, leashed up in chains and attached to their owner’s belt.
“What the fuck…” Rosie muttered, watching as the hooded figure flinged the brain matter off the katana before stepping towards them until they were stood over the two women.
She glanced at Andrea to see terror over the woman’s face, mirroring the feeling that was rising in Rosie’s throat.
I am really excited for this next bit of the story! I hope you guys like this -- I've read so many fics where the OC escapes with Daryl from the farm or comes across the group on the highway just in time, and I wanted to make this one a little different. Let me know what you think xx