I was challenged by my SO to write a fic in a day. The challenge was accepted and completed. It's admittedly not my best work, but hey, I got dinner out of it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Enjoy!
The car ride along 395 was faster than Michonne had expected it to be. She could tell it had been a busy part of the area before the turn. She looked at the map Aaron had given her and Rick before they left the safe zone. Bailey's Crossroads. Aaron and a few supply runners told them that this was a good area to find stuff, even though it had been picked over a few times. There was bound to be something that someone else had missed or passed over.
The safe zone was in desperate need of entertainment and games, as well as some supplies for the children and infants. The younger residents especially were getting bored with what was available to them for fun. While the supply runners were off to get the necessities further into Arlington, Rick volunteered to go search for the non-essentials and asked Michonne to come with him. She hadn't had the opportunity to leave the safe zone in a while and agreed almost immediately. Carl had given her a look before they went, knowing that a run to grab kids' items would be touchy for her. She ignored him, telling herself she could handle it.
Besides feeling claustrophobic inside the walls, she hadn't spent much time alone with Rick recently. They had barely had any time just to check in with each other. Michonne had noticed that he had seemingly lost all interest in Jessie, and opted instead to stick close to her and the rest of the family. She couldn't lie to herself and pretend that this development didn't please her greatly. Michonne had just been starting to recognize her feelings for Rick as he began spending more time with Jessie.
But now there was a rift growing between their family and the Alexandrians after Pete. Rick wanted more influence and the Alexandrians weren't having it. Michonne had been sure Jessie would follow Rick. Apparently not. She didn't ask him what had happened with the other woman, though. If it was important, he would tell her. She trusted him.
"We'll stop at Toys 'r' Us first," Rick said, snapping her out of her thoughts. "Probably has everything we'd need for a while. If not, there's plenty of other places to look."
"Okay," Michonne nodded as he maneuvered their SUV around a small group of walkers and turned into the parking lot. "Not as many of 'em as I thought there'd be."
"Deanna said a lotta 'em were cleared out by the army, when it was still goin'," Rick replied, pulling up to the curb in front of the store. "We should still sweep the store first, then we can take our time."
"Got it." She got out of the vehicle and slung her katana onto her back. Reaching beneath the seat, she grabbed a flashlight and turned back to the door. "Ready?" she asked him as he came around the front of the car.
Rick simply nodded, unsheathing his machete and following her inside.
They moved through the store quickly and quietly. There were only a few starving stragglers, easy to put down. Once they had checked every corner and behind every door, they returned to the front of the store.
"So books, diapers, bottles, clothes, toys...anything else?" Michonne said, trying to remember all that they had discussed finding as they drove over.
"Probably a coupla cribs…" Rick snagged an empty cart that was near the door. "Batteries, too."
"Alright. Well, I dunno about you, but I want to check out the books first," Michonne told him with a smile.
Rick chuckled. "Okay." He squinted up at the signs hanging from the ceiling. "This way."
They pushed the cart to the book section, grabbing a few things along the way. Michonne did feel a hint of sadness as she walked further in, seeing so many toys and games that Andre would have loved. Things she had wanted to get him and never got the chance to. Once they reached the book section, she simply felt numb again. She took a few breaths and began picking books off the shelves. Oblivious to the turmoil going on inside her, Rick tried to get her to converse.
"How many Dr. Seuss books are there?" he wondered, flipping through one. "I thought he only wrote a few."
"No, he had like, sixty or something," Michonne replied, dropping an armload of baby books into the cart. She was barely looking at the covers before pulling them off the shelves. "Some are just more well known than others." She moved further down the aisle where the board games were.
"Hmm," Rick murmured. He grabbed a few more books and bent down, eyeing something on the bottom shelf. "What do you think of this one?"
Michonne looked up. Rick was holding a dusty copy of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. She couldn't speak for a moment, tears coming to her eyes. Andre had loved that book. She remembered his riotous laughter and how his excitement grew with every new request from the mouse. How he always used the ending as an excuse to make her read it to him again, and again, and again. Michonne averted her eyes away from Rick, who was now looking at her with concern.
"Michonne?" he said gently, lowering the book.
"That was my son's favorite book," she croaked out, turning her back to him. She realized she had never told him about Andre. Despite everything they had been through together, she hadn't given him a glimpse into that part of her life. She hastily wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and started looking through the games on the shelf in front of her. Just focus on the task, she told herself. Plenty of time to get emotional. Just not now.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a hand on her left arm. Out of reflex, Michonne reached for her katana with her right hand. A hand grabbed hers before she could get to the katana just as she was realizing it was only Rick behind her. Somehow, that just made her heart pulsate even faster. She could feel his body against hers and his breath against her neck. It was the closest they had been to each other.
"Michonne," Rick whispered, "why didn't you tell me you had a son?"
She closed her eyes, trying to slow her breathing. She didn't feel ready to tell Rick about her son. She wasn't sure she ever would tell him everything. "It's tough for me. Let's just keep looking," she said, re-opening her eyes and staring at an Apples to Apples box on the shelf.
Rick let go of her, stepping to the left side of her instead. He studied her in silence as she grabbed games from the shelf and stuffed them into the cart hastily. "Can I at least know his name?" he asked softly.
Michonne paused. "Andre Anthony."
"Last question, I promise."
Rick looked down at his boots, nodding. She watched him from the corner of her eye, hoping he wouldn't ask anything more. "I'm sure he was a great little boy," he told her.
Michonne smiled a bit, blinking away the tears that threatened to spill. "He was." She turned back to the cart and began to push it toward the toys section. She didn't want to close up so much to Rick, especially since they had made so much progress over the past year together, but she also didn't think about the past anymore. She hoped he could understand.
"I'll...I'll go see what's on the other side of the store," Rick told her.
She looked over her shoulder at him. He was still standing next to the games, looking at her with concern. "You don't have to do that," Michonne told him with a small smile.
"I mean, if you wanna be alone-"
Michonne shook her head. "I don't want to be alone."
Rick cocked his head to one side, but nodded. "Aright." He followed her further into the store without another word.
Once they had returned to the safe-zone and had unloaded, Michonne made her way home and immediately headed to the shower. It had been a good run, but she was exhausted. Rick had respected her request and did not bring Andre up again, but she still felt off. She figured a hot shower would help relax her, followed by curling up with a copy of The Hobbit she had found in a Barnes and Noble. As the water cascaded down her back, Michonne's thoughts drifted back to Rick. She appreciated how he had tried to cheer her up after the toy store, telling her stories about his past. She needed to thank him later.
Once out of the shower and relatively dry, Michonne put on a plain purple tank top and a pair of shorts. She didn't plan on going out for the rest of the evening. She was far too spent to even consider doing anything else until tomorrow. Yawning, she went back to her room.
She didn't see the object on her bed for a moment. Wrapped in brown paper, it was clearly a book. Michonne looked around as though expecting to see someone hiding in a corner. Did Rick sneak something by her? She sat down and began peeling the paper away. She gasped when she saw that it was a copy of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
"Goddammit, Rick," she whispered, unable to stop the tears for the first time time. But this time, she was smiling as well. Michonne opened it and saw that he had written a note as well.
To Michonne, Andre's mother.
The best mother, friend, and woman I know.
She was opening weeping now. She put the book aside and rushed to the door. She had to find him. Michonne swung open the door and was shocked to see Rick already standing outside her door. He took one look at her face and immediately wrapped her into his embrace.
"How did you…?" she asked, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face into his shoulder.
"Barnes and Noble, when you were looking in the other section," he answered with a shy grin. "I didn't know if you'd be upset or…"
"No…" Michonne leaned back to look into his deep blue eyes. "It's wonderful." She leaned forward once again, this time capturing his lips with hers in a brief kiss. When she pulled back, Rick still had his eyes closed with a dopey smile on his face. "You're wonderful," she murmured.
He smiled at her and pressed his forehead against hers. His eyes found hers again. "You're perfect."
"Stay with me tonight?" she asked in a near whisper.
She backed further into her room, leading him away from the door and toward the bed. Rick began to follow her, then after a second thought, paused long enough to close the door behind himself.
Hope you enjoyed!