After The End
Rosie had passed out from exhaustion as soon as all the walkers had been killed and the group was seemingly out of harms way. While the others stood around talking and surveying the destruction that had taken place, Rosie had quietly slipped into her tent and let sleep take over her. Her body had felt drained and tired, she couldn’t even muster up enough strength to cry at the sounds of Andrea’s loud sobs.
Rosie woke early in the morning, just after sunrise. She didn’t feel any more rested than she had when she’d gone to bed but she knew that she needed to get a start on disposing of the bodies.
She’d changed out of the bloody clothes she still had on from last night before exiting the tent. Her eyes immediately fell on where Amy’s body was still laying, lifeless. Andrea was hunched over it, unmoving and silent. The sight brought a wave of emotion over Rosie but she swallowed the lump in her throat.
She didn’t realize how long she’d been staring at them but the call of her name caused her to tear her gaze away from the sisters. She looked to where it had come from, finding Rick, Daryl and T-Dog standing in a small circle near where they had had the fire burning the night before.
She approached slowly and rubbed her eyes in an attempt to wake up. She flinched at the pain from her bruised eye, having forgotten about the injuries she’d sustained the day before.
“Jesus,” Daryl muttered as she closed in on them. “The hell happened to your face?”
She tried to turn her face away as the men all focused on her beaten face, but Daryl cupped her face gently and turned it this way and that to study it.
“Doesn’t matter,” she mumbled, avoiding their eyes.
“Looks like you got punched real good,” T-Dog piped up. His eyes grew wide as Rosie’s cheeks started to burn and she finally pulled herself out of Daryl’s grasp.
“Someone hit ya?” Daryl’s voice was cold as he glared at her. His jaw was set and his eyes were filled with rage, a contrast to his calmly spoken words.
“Just leave it,” she pleaded quietly as she saw Shane heading towards the small group.
Daryl stared at the approaching man and pointed to the younger woman’s face aggressively. “You see this, man?”
Shane froze as he noticed Rosie standing there, the discomfort she felt evident in her face. His eyes flicked over the men before they landed back on Daryl. It was a long while before he spoke. “It was an accident, man.”
Rosie groaned loudly and Daryl’s face snapped back to look at her. Her groan had confirmed what he had taken from Shane’s words.
Daryl launched himself towards the bigger man and hit him sharply in the jaw. Rick and T-Dog ran to the two men, as Shane began to fight back. Rosie had learned her lesson and, instead of trying to help, she took a step back and watched as Rick held Shane back and T-Dog put his hand on Daryl’s chest to keep him away from the other man.
Daryl was breathing heavily when he turned and stalked back to where Rosie stood. He lifted his hand to her face again, his hand supporting her jaw as his thumb brushed close to where her skin was bruising. She let out a content sigh as she let her face fall into his palm and he froze. He snapped his hand back and shook his head at her minutely, knowing what she was thinking. He looked back to where Shane was stood a few feet away, staring intently at the two.
“You touch her again and-”
“Daryl, just leave it! He apologized, we’ve moved on,” Rosie declared, her voice showing just how exasperated she was with the testosterone flowing around her. Daryl look back at her angrily and she shrugged at him. “It was an accident.”
With that, she turned and stalked away, heading over to where Dale was preparing to cook breakfast.
“A walker bit Jim!”
Rosie’s head snapped towards Jacquie’s frantic voice. She had been sitting with Sophia and Carl, occupying them with some colouring books that Carol had brought from the city. As the two children started to panic, Rosie just shushed them soothingly, bringing their attention back to the pages.
“Is Jim gonna die?” Sophia’s tearful voice whispered as the trio watched a small group surround the terrified man.
“It’s all gonna be okay,” Rosie cooed, trying desperately to be calming. She wished that the parents of these kids would just be honest with them instead of sugarcoating what the world was now. It was no use in trying to protect them if they couldn’t even protect themselves.
“You guys stay here, okay?” Rosie stood up when the two kids nodded at her and headed over to the small crowd. Jim was now sitting off on his own by the RV, watching nervously as the small crowd decided his fate. Despite not knowing him very well, Rosie’s heart went out to the older man. She knew that he had no family left after watching them die, and here they were, barely lowering their voices as they discussed what to do with him.
Rosie adjusted her steps so she was headed towards the low man, who was quivering and looked incredibly frightened. His eyes shot over to look at her as she approached him and she gave him a sweet smile as she crouched down so she was at his level.
She didn’t say anything for a moment, just followed his gaze until her eyes rested on the group. Daryl glanced at the pair, frowning as he saw his young friend next to what he considered to be a dangerous liability.
“How are you feeling?” she asked as her eyes drifted back to Jim. He was looking at his fingers, twisting them nervously.
The man just scoffed out an empty laugh. His eyes flitted up to her own. “Your boyfriend’s gonna kill me, Rose.” She opened her mouth to try and argue him but stopped when he held up his hand. “I’m sorry about your friend,” he continued, nodding towards where Andrea and Amy were still situated. “I know you young girls were close.”
Rosie’s eyes pricked with tears and she swallowed. “Thanks,” she murmured, her voice thick.
“Rosie, get away from him!” Daryl called out from where the group stood. His body was angled so that he was half-facing her and when she glanced at him, he raised his eyebrows. “I mean it.”
Jim chuckled humorlessly from behind her. “It’s okay, you go.”
With one more sad glance at Jim, she stood up and began to head over to the where the small group was congregated, but stopped in her tracks when Daryl stormed towards Jim, holding his pickaxe up.
“Someone needs to have some balls and take care of this damn problem!” He yelled as he raised the pickaxe over Jim’s head.
He was stopped by the sound of a gun directly behind his head and he froze, turning slightly to see Rick aiming at him.
Rosie stepped forward, her eyes wide.
“We don’t kill the living,” Rick muttered aggressively and Daryl lowered his arms.
“Coming from someone holding a gun to his head,” Rosie spoke up, causing Rick to glance at her out of the corner of his eye. Daryl looked at her too, his expression pissed off and she rolled her eyes inwardly, wondering what she had done to annoy him this time.
After some words from Shane, Daryl dropped the pickaxe to the ground and stalked off, pushing past Rosie and causing her to stumble slightly. Before she could fall, she felt hands on her shoulders, steadying her, and glanced behind her to see Shane. He smiled at her awkwardly and she just thanked him before following Daryl.
“Daryl!” He ignored her shouts as he walked to his tent angrily. Instead of waiting outside like she normally would, she followed him in and he looked behind him at her in surprise.
“Well, make yourself at home, blondie,” he retorted sarcastically and gestured around his tent.
“You mad at me?”
Daryl just scoffed in response as he wrenched his tank top off, still facing her. She willed herself to not let her eyes stray from his face and to his shirtless body, but she couldn’t help herself. Her eyes snapped back to his face to see him watching her with a smirk on his face. Her cheeks burned red and she cleared her throat, looking instead to the side of his tent.
“I ain’t mad at ya,” he began to tug on a clean shirt, a button up with the sleeves ripped off. “Gotta care about ya to be mad.”
She rolled her eyes, something she’d made a habit in order to hide the hurt that his words caused her sometimes. “Just tell me why you’re pissed,” her voice was slightly pleading and made Daryl smirk again.
“Nag, nag, nag,” he opened and shut his hand in a talking motion, staring her right in the eyes. “No wonder Shane hit ya.”
Rosie couldn’t disguise the hurt from these particular words. Her mouth dropped open in shock as the throbbing in her face was brought to her attention, making it all the more painful. Her eyes filled with tears, in turn causing her cheeks to blush even harder, and she turned on her heel and exited the tent as fast as she could. She heard Daryl sigh from inside the tent, but wasted no time in getting to her own as quickly as possible. She didn’t want anyone in the group to see her cry, especially not Daryl. It would only give him more material.
She entered her tent and zipped it up straight away before falling onto her makeshift mattress. It wasn’t long before she heard the sound of the tent being zipped open again and she looked up to see Daryl crouching by the opening and closing it up again.
She narrowed her eyes into an angry glare as he turned to look at her, but it wasn’t nearly as effective because of the tears that were running down her cheeks now. An emotion she hadn’t seen before flitted across his face before he hardened it again.
“It was a joke, Rosie.”
She just turned her head, instead staring straight ahead of her to look at the material of the tent. She wiped her cheeks angrily.
“You’re real funny when you get worked up,” his voice was teasing now and she didn’t strain away when he moved to sit next to her on the mattress. She could feel his eyes on her face and it took everything in her to not turn to look at him. She knew she would just melt if she looked into his stormy blue eyes.
“Come on, don’t be mad,” he continued. “Fine. I’m sorry.”
Rosie finally allowed herself to look at him and her breath caught in her throat when she realized how close their faces were. He seemed to notice this, as he shot up as quick as lightning and cleared his throat. He held his hand out for her. “C’mon, let’s go help the others.”