Hi friends!

How bout that Season 5 premiere huh?

It was more than enough to wake my muses up a bit and get me cracking my knuckles.

My return to ficcing might be a slow one, but I'm glad to at least be trying!

As usual, spoilers warnings (5x01 "No Sanctuary") and standard disclaimer (don't sue me I don't own shit) apply.

Enjoy :)

He didn't care anymore.

A crowd watching, Rick just nearby to judge (or not).

He didn't give a shit, honestly.

Carol was alive, standing tall and hovering in their midst, weapons hanging from her body, blood caked in her hair. He took only a second to register the tiredness on her face, the slow lift of her arms as he barreled into her, wrapping her up and knocking the wind from both of them.

If anyone was talking, he couldn't hear. He breathed heavy, choking on his own air.

And goddammit, he was crying. He knew he was.

Carol's face contorted and moved against his cheek, smiling as he lifted her from the ground. He didn't care how much heavier she was with two rifles and his bow (his bow, she brought him his fuckin' bow) and god-knows-what-else weighing her down. He didn't care how ridiculous he must've looked, swaying slightly while she gripped at his back to keep from falling.

Hands settled on his chest. He stood back for a moment, and Christ, his eyes were blurry, but he could tell she was looking at him. He wanted to drop to his knees and pull her down with him, wanted to sit there on the forest floor and cuss at her for being gone for so long while squeezing the breath out of her. He wanted to reach out and grab her hand and hold it and watch her grin wickedly at him, teasing like she likes. He wanted to dig his fingers into either side of her skull and pull it forward and-

His eyes burned. He settled for lazily falling back into her, burying his tears against her neck. He didn't care how pathetic it made him look, how desperate or child-like. It felt damn good to have her hands cradle his head, fingers sliding across the thick scruff of his face. It felt good to hear her breathing just under his ear, so alive and so real that it nearly overwhelmed him.

Maybe he was overwhelmed. Maybe that was why he was crying and didn't even give a damn about it.

He didn't care enough to ponder on it.

Rick sidled up behind him as he pulled away, and instinct saw him backing away to give them space. Apprehension flooded his veins, hands itching to touch her again, just to make sure he wasn't fuckin' dreaming it all, and it didn't get any better to see Rick pull Carol into a hug himself.

He didn't care that it was important for them in that moment, considering the last time they'd seen each other. He didn't care that Rick was thanking her for saving them, that Carol was laughing happily in his grasp.

All he cared about was that she was there, and she was within his reach, and he would make damn sure—come herds or gunfire or Hell itself-that she stayed that way.

He'd lost her too many times, felt the numbing effects of her death freeze his veins and leave him standing silent in the dark. No more.

Never again.