After The End
Daryl had thrown his body over Rosie’s much smaller frame as they had reached the cab of his truck, the explosion sounding a split second after. His face was pressed to the back of her neck and one hand gripped her wrist tightly. Deafening silence filled the air as an unbearable heat hit them through the open windows. Daryl could feel her petite body trembling under him as he willed himself to lift his head and look back at the now destroyed building, eventually pulling his entire body away from hers. He glanced back at her to see she was still burying her face in the worn leather seat, but now her body was wracking with quiet sobs.
His heart began to ache as he heard the desperate sadness in her cries for her friend and he gingerly put a hand on her back. His thumb ran over the material of her last clean shirt soothingly as he looked around the truck to see if everyone was okay, something catching his eye.
“Rosie,” he muttered, but she didn’t respond. He moved his hand from her back to her shoulder, pulling her up. Her sobs had changed to sad sniffles now and her puffy, red eyes looked up at his. He pointed his finger out the window and her gaze followed, landing on where Dale was helping up Andrea, both alive.
The two watched with hitched breath as Dale and Andrea got into the RV, which immediately began to pull away. A horn blared loudly from behind, making both Daryl and Rosie jump. Rosie turned to glare at where Shane’s Jeep was waiting impatiently behind them and Daryl started the engine of the truck, following the RV so that Shane could follow them.
He peeked briefly at the sad girl beside him, his eyebrows pinched together in worry. “You okay?”
Rosie forced herself to stare out the window. “Yeah,” her voice was low and almost incoherent, making him sigh.
She paused for a moment before answering, trying to contain her emotions. “Yeah?”
He was quiet for so long that she couldn’t resist looking at him curiously. He stared straight ahead, his face looking somewhat conflicted and she frowned slightly, wishing she could read his thoughts.
“Nothin’,” he eventually answered. She went back to looking out the window with a small sigh.
The group had been driving for almost two days, using the sun’s movements as a way to keep track of the time. Rick had agreed to head to Fort Benning in the hopes that they would have better luck there. After the first day, Rosie had had enough of sitting in silence with Daryl, alone in the cab of his truck, but she wasn’t strong enough to stay away from him. So all she could do was bite her tongue, swallowing all the things she wanted to say to him and ask him about. Instead, she forced herself to stare out the window or try to sleep, while Daryl remained as still and silent as a stone next to her. She was sure he’d forgotten about the kiss they’d shared, pushed it to the back of his mind, while it kept replaying in her mind over and over, torturing her. The overwhelming feeling of rejection and being unwanted had taken over her, only making her feel more exhausted than before.
By the third day, the groups had decided to switch up the vehicle situation. They stood on a quiet road just out of the city in small groups. Rick was chatting to Shane, Daryl, T-Dog and Dale, while Rosie busied herself with Carl and Sophia, trying to distract them from their hunger.
She kept a lookout as they played a game of I Spy, one of her eyes always searching for stray walkers. She couldn’t help but to glance over at Daryl every now and then, watching as he spoke to the three other men, discussing their plan, never looking at her. She sighed as she turned back to the kids, wishing that she and her ideas would be taken more seriously by the men in charge.
“Carl, we’re hittin’ the road again,” Rick’s voice called out and Carl scampered over to where Rick was now stood with Lori. Sophia quickly joined her mother and Rosie watched as the groups dispersed, her eyes falling on a sulky Andrea sitting on the road.
“You good?” She asked as she approached her friend. Andrea took Rosie’s extended hand and just nodded before wiping her dirty hands on her pants. She climbed the steps to the RV, disappearing inside and causing Rosie to sigh again.
“She’ll get better,” Dale rested a sympathetic hand on her shoulder and she turned to catch a sad smile on his face. She just patted his hand and nodded before turning away.
As she approached the truck she and Daryl had been travelling in, she frowned. He and T-Dog were lifting Merle’s bike out of the tray and placing it on the road.
“What are you doing?” She asked but Daryl kept his back to her, fussing with the kickstand.
T-Dog turned to her, wiping the sweat from his brow. “We’re losing the truck,” his breathing was slightly jolted from lifting the heavy bike. “Daryl’s gonna ride the bike. It’ll need less fuel.”
Rosie nodded at him and the man disappeared into the RV. She turned to Daryl, walking towards the bike, preparing herself to sit in the one spot for hours on end.
“What are ya doin’?” Daryl’s voice was harsh and caused her to withdraw her hand from where she was reaching for the vehicle.
“What do you mean?” She frowned, squinting up at him. He finally looked at her, his expression blank.
“You ain’t ridin’ with me.”
She paused before emitting an empty laugh. Daryl’s face didn’t change and she raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. “Where am I supposed to go?”
“Ain’t my problem, Rosie!” He was suddenly yelling at her and waving his arms about in frustration, causing her to flinch at his unexpected reaction. “Plenty of room in the RV for fucks sake!”
Rosie’s cheeks started to burn and her face hardened. “Fine.”
They were a couple hours into driving and Rosie was sat in the back of the RV, resting on the floor against the wall of the vehicle. Her mind was still stewing with rage and embarrassment, once again caused by the same damn redneck who always seemed to make her feel this way.
She was in the middle of cleaning her gun when the RV slowly rolled to a stop, a burning smell reaching her nostrils. She quickly reloaded the gun and replaced it in her waistband before following the others out of the door and onto the cramped road. It was filled with cars, some abandoned, some containing decomposed bodies.
She wrinkled her nose before joining the group at the front of the RV, ignoring the man on the bike who was doing the exact same thing to her.
“What’d I tell you? Dead in the water,” Dale said, his tone annoyed and he gestured to the front of the vehicle.
Daryl had dismounted his bike and begun searching through the trunk of a nearby car, causing the group to look at him. As the group debated their feelings on searching the cars, Rosie made her way to one a bit further away. She searched the blue car for walkers, noticing that it had been abandoned, before opening the back door and rifling through a duffel bag that sat there.
She pulled out two t-shirts that looked about her size before jolting to stand up straight at the sound of approaching footsteps. Her hand flew to her gun, only relaxing when she saw that it was Daryl. He was avoiding her gaze, instead making himself busy by peering into the car she was at, examining the back seats. Eventually he let his eyes fall on her and gave a polite nod before looking away.
She rolled her eyes and grabbed the t-shirts, stuffing them into a backpack she had found and emptied as she moved onto the next car. She wasn’t oblivious to the sound of him following her and she turned to face him, hands falling on her hips.
“You mad at me or somethin’?” He asked finally, holding onto his crossbow awkwardly. He looked around uncomfortably, eyeing where T-Dog stood a little too close. He stepped forward, wanting to keep their conversation private.
Rosie stared at him with an eyebrow raised. “What was your first hint?” She rolled her eyes, something that he had grown so used to her doing, before going back to the car she was rummaging through.
Daryl couldn’t hold back his smirk at her attempt to be sassy. He strode forward and grabbed her arm gently, forcing her to twist around and look up at him.
She couldn’t help the words from bubbling over and out of her lips, her eyes showing anger. “What the fuck was that, huh? About the bike?” Before he had a chance to respond, she was speaking again, her voice growing louder and him growing more anxious of someone overhearing them. “You’re not allowed to just treat me like shit when you feel like it, okay Daryl? God, you’re so irritating! One day you’ll be flirting with me and kissing up on me, and the next you don’t even speak to me! I’m getting whiplash from all your mood swings, you know.” Her cheeks flushed as she brought up their kiss without thinking about it, but she kept her eyes narrowed in a glare, not wanting him to know how happy that night had made her.
“Rosie,” he sighed in frustration, dipping his head and squeezing the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger.
“And another thing!” She continued, her rage growing to the point where she didn’t really even know what she was saying now. “You act like I’m such a pain in your ass, like I’m your problem, your responsibility! Guess what? I’m not! If you don’t want to be around me, just tell me! I can handle-”
Two pairs of eyes shot over to where Rick had hissed at them from, cocking his head in the direction he was coming from before he dropped onto the ground and out of sight. Daryl and Rosie turned to see the heads of the dead moving in sight, weaving in and out of cars. Rosie’s heart jumped into her throat and her eyes grew wide as she saw more and more of them appearing, edging closer.
“Shit,” Daryl hissed, instinctively placing himself in front of her. He turned to face her, seeing the fear in her eyes and feeling the overwhelming need to protect the petite girl. He motioned for her to climb under the car they were near, just as Rick had done.
Rosie dropped the bag she’d been in the process of going through before her blow-up at Daryl, forgetting about everything except her will to survive. She did what he wanted, sliding under the car and clutching onto the material of Daryl’s vest as he followed behind her.
Their bodies were pressed up against each other as slow-moving footsteps sounded, right by her head. She turned her head, following the sneakers as they moved at an excruciatingly slow pace. Her brow creased at the way that fresh, red blood was dropping from the body and she gasped as she heard the moan that came from it. It sounded very much alive and a little too familiar.
“Rosie, what the hell are ya doin’?” Daryl’s low voice was quietly panicked as he attempted to hold her from slipping out from under the car.
She turned back to look at him. “I’ll be right back, stay here.”
And with that, she was gone, causing Daryl to curse and follow after her, ignoring what she’d said. He saw her bending over where T-Dog was collapsed on the ground with his eyes drooping. Blood was spurting from his arm, his t-shirt soaked through with the crimson liquid while Rosie held an abandoned item of clothing to the wound, trying to stifle the blood loss.
Daryl glanced behind him to see the herd now only a few feet away. As he turned back, his heart leapt into his throat at the sight of a walker incredibly close to Rosie. He quickly shot an arrow into its brain, hitting it perfectly before he yanked Rosie up and out of the way roughly. At an intensely fast speed he had T-Dog laying on the ground with the dead walker’s body covering him and he was shoving Rosie under the closest car.
“What about you?” She hissed desperately, trying to pull him in after her but there was no way he was fitting. The bottom of the car was already littered with junk, only allowing enough room to hide her small body.
He yanked the long-dead body that had inhabited the car and pulled it over himself, just as the first walker came into view. Daryl’s eyes stayed focused on Rosie, who had terrified tears in her own as she stared at him, trying to calm her breathing. She nodded as he held a dirty finger to his lips, indicating for her to stay quiet.
Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter, please comment :) xx