Aurora crawled out of the tent a moments after Daryl left and upon seeing him sneaking around the barn with Dale and Rick, she entered the house and crept up the stairs to Beth's room with a book in hand.
With a hard swallow at the girls state, Aurora perched at the end of the bed and began to read from the James Herbert novel.
"You'll give her nightmares." Maggie told her from the doorway.
Aurora closed the book softly, "Sorry."
"You have a nice reading voice." Maggie said quietly coming to sit on the other side of Beth and gently strokes away the girls hair.
"I used to get so scared for doing book readings that I'd practice for weeks on end, I got sick of my own writing."
"Will you read her something nice?"
Aurora paused, "I don't have anything."
"Make something up?" Maggie prompted.
"I'm not sure I can any more...I'll have to get back to you." Aurora mumbled as she rose and left with Maggie nodding as she left before going back to stroking her sisters hair.
Taking the stairs two at a time Aurora ran threw to the kitchen and threw up outside the back door.
"You too huh?" Lori asked from inside the kitchen and handed Aurora a glass of water when she came back inside. The younger woman nodded and spat the awful taste into the sink, ignoring Lori's disagreeing look, and drank down the glass of water. The woman stood awkwardly with each other, when Lori sighed and her eyes watered, "What are we going to do?" she whispered.
Aurora gently shh'd the older woman and pulled her to her chest and held her tightly as Lori sobbed into her shoulder and clutched at the younger woman. Aurora shh'd her quietly and stroked her hair while gently rocking her, "It's going to be okay."
Aurora held her as she calmed slowly, the pair only pulling part when Daryl stalked into the kitchen and Lori told her to go with him while wiping at her eyes. Reluctantly Aurora left her and walked out into the daylight with Daryl on her heels. "I thought you hated 'er?" Daryl questioned her and chewed on his thumb nail.
"I did, I'm still not overly fond...I don't really know anymore." Aurora sighed as she crawled into their tent, ignoring his comments about women being mad. She flopped down onto the makeshift bed and let out a long sigh. "So..." Daryl started as he sat on the edge of their bed.
"So?" Aurora mumbled as she began to fall asleep, her time in the woods taking it out of her.
"Wan' use mah last name?" Daryl mumbled and Aurora's eyes flew open as she watched him chew on his thumb again.
"What?" she asked confused.
Daryl dug into his pocket and took out two gold wedding bands, both plain and dull. "Why not?" he shrugged.
Aurora scowled at the rings in his large hands, "With a proposal like that how could I say no?" she laughed nervously, "You couldn't possibly mean this? Is it because of the baby?"
"Why wouldn't ah possibly mean it?" he snapped.
"That wasn't a comment on you Daryl, don't get sensitive." Aurora snapped back and Daryl caught her with a harsh glare. For a moment they remained in a silent stand off until Daryl dropped the rings onto the bed in front of her.
"Your choice." he told her, sounding bitter.
"No one is expecting you to do this because of the baby Daryl." Aurora pinched her forehead and avoided looking at the rings, they were nothing like the ones that her and Rick once shopped for but she liked that.
"Ah don't give a shit bout that lot." he raised his hand to motion outside the tent.
"Then why are you doing this?" Aurora asked him catching his gaze and giving him an even look and Daryl rubbed his face with one large hand in response, "So ya know ah won't run off like you did."
"It didn't feel like I had any other choice." Aurora snapped, "I'm probably going to die giving birth and if I don't carting a baby around will probably get me killed, or someone else killed."
"So you kill yourself?" Daryl snapped.
"I was out there and I just kept hearing Jenner, about our short, painful lives. No matter how much I wanted a child I don't think I could put it through that. Wouldn't it be better to go out on my own terms? By my own hand?" Aurora argued.
"What alone? Scared? Ain't that what you tryin' to avoid you silly bitch. Yah just said you wanted it and now yah don't because what that dick said?" Daryl shouted
"He was right though! I – the world that I wanted to bring my child up in has gone. Sophia and Carl at least knew something else but what will this child know?"
"How to survive if its don't kill it first." Daryl snapped.
"What do you care Daryl? You hate my brother, most of this group, Rick. I don't blame you for what they did to Merle but why start caring now?"
"Have I not cared about yah? You're my family. You're a bitch when yah angry and when yah get yahself almost killed for stupid reasons I want tah throttle yah but that doesn't mean that I don't care about yah. The fuck is wrong with yah?" Daryl retorted and in anger turned and left the tent.
"Don't fucking walk away from me Dixon." Aurora growled, snatching the rings off of the bed and her swords from beside her pillow she followed the redneck with a small sprint since he was already at the edge of camp by the time she'd left the tent. She ignored the questioning looks from people milling around camp and focused on following her lover. She pushed past the line of hanging meat that he'd hung up and pushed his back hard when she caught up with him.
He lurched forward before turning around, fist clenched and growling, "The fuck do yah want from me?"
"You care but you're going to run off is that it?" Aurora snapped, her own fists clenched.
"Ain't that what you fucking did?" Daryl snarled and turned to leave again.
"Don't take what Merle said to you out on me!" Aurora shouted and Daryl stopped. He turned slowly and in the moonlight Aurora could see his chest rise and fall with the pressure of staying in control. Of not snapping.
"The fuck are you talking about?" He stalked up to her and Aurora resisted the urge the step back away from him and the burning desire to inflict pain in his eyes. The first time, to Aurora, Daryl reminded her of Merle. He stepped up to her so that he was just a breath away from her, taller than her even though she was stood on a slight rise.
"You talk in your sleep." She told him defiantly, her chin jutting up to stare into his burning eyes.
"Ya'll don't know what the fuck ya'll talking about." Daryl glowered down at her and she could feel anger rolling off him, "Who the fuck do you think you are?" He snapped.
"Well I thought I was your family." Aurora breathed and took a small step back from his dominating form.
His eyes softened slightly as she reached into her pocket and pulled out the gold bands that he's thrown on the bed. She held his large fist her pale hand and pulled it towards and opened it to show his palm. He didn't resist. She pushed them into his palm.
"I did what I did because you're my family, Daryl." He opened his mouth to talk but Aurora covered it with her other hand, "Don't. Just let me talk. I did what I did to protect my family. I didn't want to put them through worrying about me…seeing me die. I can't stop this, Daryl and I'm beyond terrified. Shane isn't the man he used to be and Rick has he own family to deal with. I love you too much let you see me die, or get ripped apart after what happened to Merle."
She ignored his visual flinch at the 'L' word and with a gentle smile, a mother's smile, she took her hand from his mouth and released his other hand and turned to go back to camp. Daryl let her leave. He turned and walked into the woods at the edge of camp.
Aurora swiped her moist eyes as she strode back up the hill to camp. Glenn rushed from the house and ran straight into her making her fall onto her backside. He made a pained noise and helped the brunette woman up.
"You know, I'm strictly handle with care at the minute." Aurora scolded lightly as he pulled her up.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled, he seem distracted and upset. So unlike himself.
"Glenn, are you okay?" Aurora asked him quietly, looking around to see if anyone would over hear them but she could only see Shane and Andrea near the barn in deep conversation.
"I nearly died out there last night." Glenn sighed, "I couldn't get Maggie out my head."
Aurora pulled him to her for an embrace, "Sounds like you love her Glenn." She smiled and rubbed his back in an attempt to calm his obvious sadness. He pulled away from her and ran a hand through his hair, looking down in guilt, "I ended it."
He flinched as though expecting her to whack the back of his head but she only gave him a sad smile, "You do what you have to, to keep her and you safe. But we live in an unsafe world, make sure you're as happy as you can be for however long we have left." She kissed his cheek softly and moved to return to her tent.
Obviously she was not intended to get to is as Rick stormed out of his and Lori's tent, face twisted with anger. He stormed past Aurora and the soft smile that she offered, hunting knife in his hand as he made his way to the words. Aurora hurried after him and Rick knew of her presence. Once they were in the trees, he roared in anger and kicked and punched at the nearest tree as Aurora watched.
"Wanna talk about it?" Aurora asked as she leant on a nearby tree and watched his anger subside.
"Did you know about Shane and Lori?" Rick snarled.
"Did. You. Know?" He snarled again, pointed at her.
Aurora paused, "I did."
He shook his head, his hands pulling at his hair, "And you didn't tell me."
"Evidently not." Aurora mumbled.
"Why?" Rick hissed at her.
"Why I didn't tell you? You came back from the dead. You found your wife, your son, your best friend, me. How could I do that to you?" Aurora asked.
Rick shook his head, "How could you not tell me? You're supposed to be my friend Rora."
"I am your friend. Did I cheat on you with your best friend? Did I actively lie? Or did I help look after your family?" Aurora snapped, why was everything her fault.
Rick hung his head slightly and pulled the smaller woman into his arms and rested his chin on her head like he used to when he'd find her hiding in the cupboard from her mother, "I know, I know. I'm sorry. You're my family too ya know."
Aurora breathed in his smell as she hugged him. Rick used to smell like cologne and cinnamon. Now he only smelt like sweat and grit. She hated it. It didn't suit him. Not like it suited Daryl. Daryl, her family. Aurora pulled away and she ruffled his hair, "Now apart from the walkers, whats got you down buddy."
He didn't crack a smile like he used too. Just another thing that had changed. He ran a hand through his hair to put it back to normal, "Your brother. He thinks the babies his. He thinks I can't protect Lori, Carl, you, the baby, my baby."
"Can you?" Aurora asked with a blink.
"How can you asked me that?" Rick hissed, gripped the top of her arms but Aurora pushed him away harshly.
"You watch what you're doing Rick," She snapped, ignoring his apologetic look, "You're like a brother to me and you're right. There is something wrong with Shane but you have brought a threat into our camp. That boy is dangerous and even if he's not his friends tried to kill you. The sooner you get him away from this camp the safer we'll all be."
Aurora turned to leave but Rick caught her by the arm, his fingers digging into her arm. Aurora turned to scold him and Rick opened his mouth to beg his friend to stay but both were stopped by the sharp cough near them
Rick pulled Aurora behind him and Aurora pulled out a sword on instinct to glare at Daryl who was stood about five feet from them. Sneaky hick.
"I interrupting?" Daryl rumbled. He almost amused but Aurora could see the annoyance in his stance.
"No, no you're not." Aurora told him, she stepped away from Rick's grip and gave the officer a hard look, "You know you have to get that boy out of here." She turned and left heading back to camp.
It was only when she heard the crunching of leaves that Aurora turned to see who was following her and raised an eyebrow when she saw Daryl looking skittish, his crossbow hung over his shoulder.
"Can I help you?" She asked after he remained silent for moment, he stayed silent as Rick stalked by them towards the house and once he was out of sight Aurora repeated herself.
"What did he want?" Daryl asked, chewing his thumb. A nervous habit, Aurora had noted.
"My brother is slowly driving him mad. I know the feeling." Aurora answered and they stood in silence for a while. Their old comfortable silence. "Was there anything else?"
He glared at her, she was so comfortable with words and he hated them. He liked action. But he guessed it was her writer background. "I don't want you going anywhere alone while that boy is here."
Aurora raised an eyebrow in amusement, "I can handle myself. I don't need you wondering around after me."
"This isn't an order. It's a request." He told her.
"And an usually polite one from a Dixon, I'm sure." Aurora noted, amused.
He groaned at her, "Will you stop making this difficult?"
"I wasn't aware that I was." She told him but her smile told him otherwise.
"Stop being so stubborn." He scolded.
"You're pretty stubborn yourself Dixon." Aurora stuck out her tongue.
He pointed towards the house, "Get in the house, Walsh."
She paused for a moment, "Where do we stand?"
He said nothing so she continued, "Because I've still got your back."
He walked up to her and pulled her too him by her waist, "Yah know I've got your back," He rested his forehead on hers, "And you're front." He cheekily squeezed her breast and held her tighter so she couldn't hit him for it. She squirmed for a while, trying to find an angle where she could hit or pinch him back but eventually stopped and instead just leaned against his body.
She sighed into the embrace and wrapped her arms around him, "You know where in public right?"
He chuckled darkly, "I'll tell them yah fainted again."
She found some leeway and pinched the back of his arm, "I though you didn't care what they thought."
"Ah don't." He mumbled defiantly and pulled away from her, tucking his hands into his pockets, "Now house."
"And where are you going, pray tell?" Aurora questioned.
"Huntin'." He answered gruffly, Aurora shook her head and turned to leave towards the house. Daryl pulled his hands out his pockets to slap her backside and as he did the Golden rings fell out and onto the grass. The pair paused looking at the inanimate objects that seemed ready to cause a war.
It was Aurora who leaned down to pick them up and instead of hand them back she examined them in the palm of her pale hand. "It's nice." She said as she slid the smallest onto her ring finger and then clenched that fist, "Doesn't feel like it would get in the way."
And then she paused. When she looked up, holding out the other ring for Daryl to take or disregard it was only then that Daryl noticed her posture. She was afraid. But of what? Him? No. Rejection? Possibly. She stood with her left hand out, the ring in her palm close to the ring she was now wearing. Her head was angled down but she was looking up at him with those big, blue eyes that had made him kill people with his bare head back at the quarry. Her faced was flushed red.
In that moment everything he loved about her hit him and felt his knees weaken. This woman, this wonderful, selfless, caring woman, thought she wasn't good enough for him. Him, the hick. He was a Dixon, a word synonymous with drinking, drugs, abuse, rage. Not love. But her she was. And he loved her. He was sure he had since he'd come back from Atlanta to find her by the side of the RV.
But still he couldn't help himself, "So, what? You changed your mind now."
Her shoulders slumped slightly but she didn't back down, another thing that he loved. "We had things we needed to sort out. This couldn't have been a fix. We had to be okay before we did this."
He took the ring from her small looking hand and twisted it onto his finger. His heart stopped when he looked up to her smile. She hadn't smiled like that since they're been drunk at the CDC.
It was breath-taking.
He couldn't help himself. He rushed forward and pulled her too him with his strong arms and with one hand threaded into her hair, his lips crashed against hers. Aurora moaned lightly, and if possible, Daryl pulled her even closer to him, his hand in her hair tightened and she clung to his vest, afraid that if she let she'd fall down or wake up.
They pulled away but remained holding onto each other. Breathless, panting and incredibly worked up.
"Ah have to go." Daryl breathed, his forehead on hers.
She bit her lip and gave him a sensual look, "Can't you wait a little while?"
He disguised his turned on groan with a dark chuckle and slapped her backside playfully making her jump, "Later. Now get in the house."
They pulled away from each other reluctantly and Aurora did as she was told, only for the promise of a reward later.
When she got into the house Rick, with Glenn's help, was leading a tied up, gagged, blindfolded boy out of the house. Rick stopped and nodded for Glenn to continue.
"We're okay aren't we? I – I wouldn't hurt you Rora." Rick told her, he caught sight of her hand and gave her an honest smile. One she hadn't seen from him in this world since he'd found his family. "I see your talk with Daryl went well."
Aurora blushed and played with the ring, "Not a first."
Rick caught her chin with his finger and thumb and tilted her head up to face him, "I'm so proud of the woman you've become. You're brave and loyal and Daryl is a lucky man."
Aurora gave him a big smile and kissed his cheek, gently slapping his hand away so she could hug him, "I know I'm awesome. Now what are you doing with him."
"Me and Shane are going to go far out and leave him with a few supplies." He told her.
"You're a good man Rick." She smiled.
Rick shook his head, "Shane thinks we're doing the wrong thing. He thinks we should kill him."
Aurora shook her head, "While this is an option, then this is what we should do."
"Thank you. Beth woke up earlier, she's sleeping now." He told her honestly, "When Shane gets down here, we're going to head off."
"I'm going upstairs anyway, you think she'd have rested enough. I'll get him to move along, be careful." She smiled and jogged up the stairs and into the bedroom where Beth was lay, Shane was stood in the doorway, staring out of the window, paying no mind to the girl. Aurora noted, happily, that the girl looked a lot more peace while resting now then she had done the last couple of days.
"Shane?" Aurora started quietly, "Rick's ready when you are." She turned to leave.
"Is that all you have to say to me?" Shane rumbled.
"You haven't been interested in talking to me." Aurora reasoned.
"It's all just fucked up. Lori's pregnant with my kid –" Shane started.
Aurora interrupted him, "Ricks child."
Shane ignored her, "Lori's pregnant with my kid, Rick thinks we can just let that kid go and you're pregnant with Dixon's spawn. It's not exactly a good time."
Aurora's faced burned with rage, "Spawn? Okay Shane you listen right now, this is my child and I'm scared out of my mind and this is the most that I've ever needed you in my life and right now I can't stand the sight of you, you're not the brother who I grew up with. The one that raised me and saved me from our mother."
Shane had stepped up to her at this point, he had always been taller than her but now his body was stiff and his anger was directed at her it was no longer comforting. But she didn't stop.
"That is Lori and Rick's baby, their family and you need to stop obsessing about her, she doesn't love you!"
"Aurora Walsh." He said her name slowly, filled with hinted danger. He's only done this twice before to her. Once when she'd gotten drunk and he'd found a guy trying to take her home. Another when she and Rick had decided to tell Shane about them.
"Aurora Dixon." She hissed.
His eyes found the offending golden band on her small finger and he started to laugh. A deep, dark laugh as he rubbed his disbelieving face with one large hand.
"Is that right?" He laughed again giving her a hard look and before she could answer, his hand had left his own face and collided with her.
The force and shock of the back head sent her back into the chest of drawers where she banged her head and her ribs. She yelped in pain as she crashed to the floor. Aurora looked up at her brother, her eyes watering and head bleeding lightly. He looked back uncaring.
Aurora yelped again as her abdomen clenched in pain. She couldn't breathe, her face twisted in pain. And then it stopped. A contraction. She contemplated reached out to Shane for help but his eyes told her not to bother. He cocked his head, as though surprised she'd fallen under the force of his hit and then stepped over her and left. He walked out the house and joined Rick and the pair left.
Aurora lay curled up on the bedroom floor. She squeezed her eyes shut to remove the blurriness of her vision. She opened her eyes and pushed herself off the floor. Her abdomen was fine now, though she knew another contraction must be soon. Her head and ribs swam from the contact with the bedside cabinet. She stumbled towards the bed and straightened herself.
She moved to leave the room but a contraction crippled her and made her sit back onto the bed. Beth stirred at the movement and looked at the woman with tired interest.
"Aurora, what is it?" Beth mumbled rubbing her eyes.
"It's okay. I'm fine, I'll be okay." She told her as she pushed herself up to stand, "Go back to sleep sweetheart, you need your rest."
Beth looked unconvinced, "No what is it? Whats wrong? Is it the baby?"
"Who told you?" Aurora asked as she relaxed from the last contraction.
"Lori did." Beth was sat up now and looking lost.
"Of course she did." Aurora growled through gritted teeth as she felt the next contraction come. As if on cue, Lori came in to see Beth, a tray of food in hand.
"Aurora what are you doing in here?" Lori asked, setting down the food.
"Having the baby." Beth told her, she seemed detached from the world still.
Lori instantly was at Aurora's side, pulling her up to stand, "Why didn't you get me or Hershel?"
"Labour takes hours right? Figured I had time." Aurora gave a soft chuckle.
Lori scowled as she guided the woman downstairs to the bed where Carl had been for his treatment and shouted for Patricia to fetch Hershel. She gently brushed her fingers over Aurora's forehead.
"What happened to you? You're bleeding." She gently held a cloth to the wound. It was only a small cut and Aurora doubted that she really needed the cloth.
"Banged my head." Aurora told her through harsh breaths as a particularly nasty contraction came on and Aurora felt a gush of water over her crotch and legs.
Lori looked down, "Well that's your water gone."
"Here's me thinking I'd just wet myself." Aurora laughed and let Lori pull her close for a hug as Lori stood beside her bed. Aurora wrapped her arms around the older woman's thin frame and let out a shaky breath, "I'm scared." She confessed.
Lori pushed her hair back and kissed her forehead like she would with Carl, "I know sweetheart, I know."
"I want Daryl." Aurora confessed as she heard Hershel some back into the house and Patricia following.
"You want me to go find him?" Lori asked, slightly moving away.
Aurora shook her head rapidly as another contraction consumed her, "Hunting. Please stay with me?" Lori gave her a level look and held Aurora's left hand in both of hers, her finger running over the new gold band, "Of course, of course I'll stay. This is new." She moved the ring slightly with her thumb.
"Please don't chastise me right now." Aurora groaned.
Lori laughed and stroked her hair again, "I promise to wait until later to chastise you."
"That's all I ever ask." Aurora smiled through her pain.