When the infection broke and the dead rose, Aurora Walsh was oblivious. She had been walking along the side of the road scuffing her boot against the edge of the pavement and playing with the pages of the folder she held in her thin arms from her meeting with her Agent on the chapters of her latest book. She hadn't expected her brothers police car to skid to halt beside her, then again the young woman hadn't expected flesh hungry dead to be the cause of Shane's alarm on the day they fled.
"Shane?" She had asked confused, he was supposed to be visiting Rick today, the man who had helped her escape and abusive household and refereed her fights with Shane.
"Why are you walking? Out here, in the open?" He scolded as he leaned over and pushed the passenger door open for her.
"Well," She started as she walked around the side of the car and slid into the seat, "Everyone's getting ill and I didn't want to catch it by taking the bus, the nurses got real tetchy about it last time I went to see Rick."
Shane nodded, more to himself then anything, and slammed his foot down as soon as Aurora had shut her door.
"Shane? What the hell? What's going on?" She snapped, instantly clinging to the sides of her seat, her folder falling into the
"We've got to leave Rora, their back," he snapped, eyes fixed on the road.
It was then that for the first time since getting in the car with her hysterical brother, that Aurora noticed the terrified families throwing their belongings into the backs of their cars along both sides of the streets.
"Who's back Shane?" She whispered, already scared and not entirely sure if she wanted to know what could have caused this reaction from everyone, "Is there a bomb warning?"
"The people, the d-dead ones," Shane grumbled, holding tighter to the steering wheel.
Aurora let out a bitter laugh which her brother ignored, "The dead?" she laughed, "We're not children, I thought you would have grown out this by now."
"Look, believe me or not now but you'll see soon enough." Shane snapped, "I've packed our things, we're getting Lori and Carl and we're getting the fuck outta here."
"Lori?" Aurora asked, sitting up in her seat, "Lori Grimes? Is Rick meeting us there? Is the hospital sending him?" she asked anxiously not liking the way her brother's jaw tightened or the obvious effort it was to stop his lip from quivering.
"The hospital was closed by soldiers, they went in, gunned everyone down, infected or not." He spat angrily, pressing down harder on the gas pedal.
"They gunned ..? What?" Aurora whimpered, not being able to or wanting to comprehend what her brother had told her, "How come you're okay? You went to get Rick didn't you?" she asked quietly.
"I jumped under his bed, they didn't see me," he grumbled, he swerved trying not to hit a hysterical woman who was crying in the road, "The power overloaded or just went off I don't now but - but his machines.." he paused and Aurora covered her mouth to hold back her sobs, Shane grunted and straightened in his chair slightly, "they went off, he's dead..I made sure they couldn't get to him though, he was too good for grave food. Now the last thing I'm gonna do for him is get his family out safe."
The words she aimed for came out as a wheeze of pathetic breath, "Shane this isn't funny. You're scaring me, take me home or take me to the hospital now!"
"This isn't a fucking joke Rora." He snarled as they pulled into The Grimes' driveway, "Look we've got to stay together now and look after Lori and Carl, that's what Rick would have wanted right?" He placed a crooked finger under her cheek to make her look at him, tears raced down her cheeks so silently that she herself was unaware of their presence until they dripped off of her chin and down onto her hand in her lap. She nodded. He didn't try to smile, "Atta girl, now Carl's gonna need you sweetheart, you know you're his favourite."
With a groan, Aurora opened her eyes to see her god-sons face hanging over her own.
"What is it Carl?" she sighed rubbing her eyes.
"I want to go play at the lake with Sophia but mum says I need someone to go with." He told her sweetly and Aurora rested her forearm over her closed eyes.
"So you're mum suggested me, huh?"
Carl didn't reply verbally so Aurora assumed he was nodding, "Remind me to slap your mum." She mumbled under her breath before pushing herself onto her side before crawling out of her tent, standing and stretching.
"Aurora? What are you doing up?" Jim asked as he watched the young brunette woman crawl out the tent, "You only finished watch," Jim paused to look over at the ever present Dale who glanced at his trusty watch.
"Two hours ago." Dale said.
"Well, Lori decided I should take the kids down to the lake so I had a pint-size alarm clock." she said bitterly but smiled at the end of her utterance, gently pushing Carl's head so he'd go fetch the rest of the children.
"Make sure you stay where I can see you," Dale told her, "That why if you have a sneaky nap you don't have to worry about anything." he smiled at her and Aurora gave him back a small, tired smile.
"Make sure ta be careful," Jim said as she turned to walk away, "the Dixon brothers were squirrel hunting round there last time I checked. Merle looked er – well you know Merle."
Aurora yawned into the back of her hand and waved at Jim with the other as she walked off, calling over her shoulder as thanks for the head up.
On her way down to the lake, Aurora, ever the observant, noticed her brother sneaking off into the woods, she glared at her brothers back, he was an idiot if he didn't think that she knew what he was doing, that he was fucking his dead best friend's wife. The urge to follow him and kick some morality into his backside was cut short by five children running into her. Looking down at the group Aurora smiled, the world might have ended but they were still excited. She made a mental checklist of everyone she had with her; Carl, Sophia and Morales three children.
The children splashed and chased each other in the water while Aurora sat beside watching them enjoy themselves and eventually her heavy eyelids won as she lay down and started to drift to sleep.
Aurora's eyes snapped open at the sound of shuffling behind her. Bolting upright, she whipped her pistol from her waistband, spun her upper body and aimed the gun at the offenders.
There, bold and cocky as ever, were the Dixon brothers. Daryl stood, scowling, with his cross bow resting on his shoulder and a bunch of dead squirrels hanging from his hip. His older brother, Merle, stood next to him, his eyes a blazing red.
"Ya' know how to use that girly?" Merle asked, not fazed at the gun being pointed at him even when she took the safety off.
"Wanna see?" Aurora smirked, her long brunette hair pulled back in a messy bun, but some rebellious strands rested around her shoulders, her blue eyes flashed dangerously with false confidence.
"Thought your fuck-wit officer brotha' said no shootin' human's, even the infected." Merle resorted confidently.
Aurora smiled, since smirking didn't suit her and she couldn't commit to having this strength, "He isn't here to see me is he?"
Merle's chest rumbled with laughter as he stepped forward until he flopped down beside her on the floor, Daryl joined on her other side.
"I can't scare you two can I?" Aurora smirked as she put the safety back on and tucked the gun back away.
"We dun't get scared." Daryl grumbled and Aurora nodded before lying back down and resting her head on her folded arms, she closed her eyes again.
"Watch the kids for me bone-heads, I'm gonna have a nap." she smiled.
Both men shook their heads and laid their weapons next to them, Merle waved his hands in front of his gun a few times watching through high eyes as it danced in the air. Having met the brothers on her first night at the survivors camp, Aurora had instantly warmed up to the hicks, much to her brothers dismay who didn't want his baby sister associating with such individuals, end of the world or not.
The friendship of sorts had also surprised the rest of the survivors who had only seen the volatile nature of the brothers but now they saw the red-necks teasing, annoying and laughing with, but mostly at, the young woman. At first Shane was outraged, especially since the only humour Merle seemed to express was sexual or racist but when he saw his little sister punching Merle's arm and laughing he had decided to let the friendship stand until he had enough time to break it.
"What the hell?" Lori's screechy voice disturbed Aurora's surprisingly peaceful slumber. With a groan the brunette opened one squinting eye to see Lori standing over her, shading her from the blazing sun.
"What do you want now?" Aurora snapped angrily.
"You're supposed to be looking after the kids and instead you're sleeping? What were you thinking leaving them with these hicks?" Lori screamed.
The Dixons were unfazed, not really fussed about the woman's opinions.
Aurora shot to her feet, her agility taking the newly formed crowd of survivors by surprise, and pushed herself into Lori's personal space, "I'm supposed to be sleeping after staying up all fucking night to watch." she snapped.
"Not my problem!" Lori snapped, "You were told to do a job, you should do it."
"Just because you told me too?" Aurora questioned and Dale, ever the peace maker stepped forward, "I could see them the whole time Lori, there was no danger."
"No danger?" Lori shrieked, "What if they had drowned, you couldn't get to them in time." Lori glared at Dale.
"Good job we were here then ay?" Daryl spoke up but made no move to stand or face the seething woman.
"See?" Jacqui started slowly, trying to calm the situation, "They had Merle and Daryl with them."
"That makes me feel loads better!" Lori shouted before stomping off, dragging Carl along back to the tent.
"Mum?" Sophia whispered to Carol after the group went quiet, "Did I get Aurora in trouble?"
"No sweetie," Carol smiled at her daughter, "Lori was just worried is all, thought you might have been in trouble."
"Aurora there was no need for that." Shane scolded his sister.
"I did nothing!" the Aurora snapped as she folded her arms and, not for the first time since she'd lost Rick, wished that her friend was here to back her up.
"That's the point, you should have been watching the kids and you weren't." Shane said, placing his hands on his hips in annoyance.
Her hand desperately twitching to punch something though she knew that she wouldn't, Aurora sighed and mumbled, "I'm gonna go survey the area."
Sending a small reassuring smile to the rest of the group, which Dale and Amy beamed back, the young brunette strode off.
"Ya' calmed down any yet?" a gruff voice from below her made Aurora glance down from her position on a tree branch to see the youngest of the Dixons.
"Not angry." She resorted from high position.'
Daryl snorted and relaxed against the tree Aurora had taken refuge in, "Ya' a bad liar."
"Gonna have my brother arrest me?" She snapped.
"Nah but if I have to, I'll punish ya myself." he smirked, with a confidence that came from the blush that rose in Aurora's cheeks whenever he got too close to her and it had become some of the only entertainment available to him to try and get her hot under the collar. Though he had to admit to himself that he was incredibly bad at his own game; having had no real experience of sexual tension that involved no alcohol. He gave her a coy smirk until he felt something small and hard bounce off his head.
Scowling, Daryl picked up the offending conker and glared up at the woman who tried to hide her wide smile behind her hand.
Daryl smirked at her, getting her to genuinely smile was one of the only things he could do that most of the camp could not and maybe he took such pride in it because he knew if the world hadn't been overrun by flesh-munchers they'd have never met and even if they had they were two different classes. He was a rough boy who had ditched school at the earliest chance, not that it meant he was stupid, he just didn't rely on someone else telling him he was intelligent just because they had some fancy bits of paper hung on their wall; while Aurora was a beautiful creative young woman, who wrote for a living and ran in an intellectual circles of friends.
"Think ye clever?" Daryl glared.
"Very." she smiled again before dropping another conker on his head.
"Right, thats it!" He snapped, slipping his crossbow over his shoulder, the lean man reached up and started to climb into the tree, all the while being pelted with conkers by the giggling woman. He smirked, it didn't hurt or bother him because he knew that she needed to get some stress out or she'd probably blow Lori's brains out, not that the thought bothered Daryl but he suspected at some point Aurora may regret it...maybe. He smirked to himself, when he got up there there'd be hell to pay.