A/N: it's been so long since i've updated haha. it's a tad bit shorter chapter-wise.
"You're just bein' paranoid, Jane," said Wade in his gruff baritone. "Don't see what point someone'd have to follow us for all this time."
"I guess you're right…" I rubbed my arm, soothing down the goosebumps on my skin. For the week I'd been traveling with the Johnsons, I had the feeling someone was watching me, following me. Wade was right. I was just being paranoid.
I was eternally grateful to this middle-aged couple, and I couldn't help but feel like I was slowing them down…mainly because I was. The fractured rib meant I could only walk on my own for an hour, maximum. After that, Lyssa had to support me and carry her supplies. Wade, much stronger than his wife, carried my golf bag and the remainder of their supplies. When Lyssa began to tire, that meant it was time for me to take more pills and for the spouses to switch duties. Wade would sling my bag across his back, take me from Lyssa and scoop me up, supporting my knees and back so that I was lying flat, and Lyssa would take the supplies.
Wade taught me to improve my aim, assuring me that as long as I could shoot, carrying me with them was no burden. After four days of the proper training—he was an ex-military man, but that was all he would say on the matter—I could finally shoot where I wanted the bullet to go. It wasn't perfect, but it was an improvement.
They told me they were traveling to the coast. I explained about the lake house, and they promised to go that way, though a curt Lyssa told me that I'd have a place with them if the lake house option fell through.
I felt like I was reborn. I had a second chance. They didn't know about my father, never would. I wasn't Jane Bishop, I was Jane Dixon—Why in hell did I choose that last name?—and I would never have to be Jane Bishop again.
There was a rustle behind us and I spun on my heel, wincing at the pain that sudden movement caused me. Wade was beginning to lose his patience with me and I knew that. I wanted to stop. I wanted to accept that I was safe. Except I'd done that with my father, and look what happened. I'd done that with Daryl, and look what happened.
I was never safe.
"Jane, ain't nothin' there," he said. Sure enough, there was exasperation seeping into his tone. "We gotta get a move on—"
"Just let me check," I said, straining my eyes, searching the foliage desperately for any sign of—
"I'm tellin' you, there ain't nothin'—"
He stopped when Lyssa laid a hand on his arm. He gave her a strange look, but that was when we both heard it: the snarling. I tensed, reaching one arm behind me with my hand open, expecting Wade to hand me my golf bag in which contained my weapon. Instead, he shoved the things he was carrying into Lyssa's arms, drew his gun, and growled, "Stay here," before rushing towards the noise.
"Where are you going?" I hissed. When I started after him, Lyssa grabbed for my hand.
"Don't," she said simply. She was a woman of few words, but even considering that, it was an odd thing for her to say. I heard a shot in the direction he'd ran.
"He's going to get himself killed!" I said, protesting adamantly. I didn't dare try to tear away from her grip, however. She was a strong woman, stronger than me, and the effort of twisting away would only stress my injury.
It didn't matter. Her hand fell away from me, flying to her hip where she had stowed her gun, and she aimed past me for barely a second before firing. The walker behind fell, and while she was distracted, I ignored the pain in my side and set off at my fastest for where the walker had come from—the direction Wade had gone.
My vision had narrowed as I came to a small clearing. I lifted my bow, seeing Wade grappling with a walker, and there were two more I could see peripherally. I ignored them for the brief seconds I needed to launch the arrow, and that was my first mistake. As I let the 'arrow' fly, there was barely a lapse between when I saw it strike the walker's head with a fleshy thunk and when my head met the ground and my side exploded with pain.
One of the two walkers I'd ignored had rushed me, the second one not far behind, knocking me to the ground and attempting to gnaw at me. My gaze was blurring with the pain, muscles in my arms trembling with strain as I tried to fight it back. I heard a gunshot as Wade or Lyssa took out the second walker, but I was losing against this one. I felt my elbows buckling, smelled decomposing flesh, felt its rotting skin against mine as—
Its congealed blood was flicked across my chest as an arrow appeared through its skull.
Oh God, I'm hallucinating.
I pushed the body off of me, spasming, coughing and crying. Coughing hurt. Deep breaths hurt. Sitting still hurt.
"Don't move," someone was saying to me. "That was stupid, girly, you shoulda just let Wade handle it."
"Wade!" I called out, closing my eyes against the voice. "Lyssa? You guys okay?"
I turned onto my uninjured side, clenching my jaw as I forced myself up until I was standing. "Wade, what the hell were you thinking? We just could've run—" I cried out against the white-hot fire in my side. "Fuck. I need more medicine."
"If you hadn't charged in like an idiot, you'd be fine."
Again with that damned voice!
"Wade, seriously, I think I'm hallucinating—"
I opened my eyes cautiously, seeking out Wade. He was looking not at me, but at something behind me. Another walker? Except he wasn't lifting his gun, clutched tightly in his right hand. He was just staring, a serious expression in place.
"Thought you said you were gonna stay hidden, Daryl."
I felt my eyes widen, turning my head—Daryl Dixon, in the flesh, was standing directly behind me with his crossbow slung across his shoulder. His other hand held the arrow, freshly wrenched from the fallen walker.
"Tried," he said with a shrug. "Damn geeks caught me off guard."
After that, much to my embarrassment, I passed out.
"I cannot believe you."
"No. I can't believe you. Of all the sneaky, underhanded—"
My angry words were cut short as I cried out in pain. I froze in place, trying to breathe deeply, but my rib was making that extremely difficult. It didn't help that I was torn between throttling the man in front of me or wrapping him in a hug.
Daryl Dixon stood beside me, Wade checking on Lyssa, and it had taken me a little while before I realized when I woke up that he was no hallucination. He was really there.
He had really followed behind us for an entire week.
"You have no faith in my ability to take care of myself, do you?" I snapped once my breath returned, glaring at him.
His eyes fixed pointedly at my side.
"I didn't say nothin', girly."
I reached for my golf bag, flinching, and he swooped out to grab the pill bottle from the pocket. He dumped two in his palm and handed them to me. I swallowed them dry.
"Guess I should thank you for these," I grumbled. "What did Wade mean when he said 'thought you were gonna stay hidden'? Did he know?"
Daryl sighed. "Look, girly, I knew you'd do something rash, not just 'cause you're you, but 'cause no one survives very long out here on their own. I was followin' you, saw you fall outta that tree, found Wade and his wife, and asked them to keep an eye on you."
"And you kept following me?" I asked.
He shrugged, his eyes latching on to me with such a smoldering, steady look—it was just his natural gaze, the damn bastard—that my knees actually began to tremble again…and this time, not from the pain. "Couldn't stay with 'em anymore."
Then my head really truly wrapped around the concept. "So when I fell off the tree and passed out…"
"I brought you to Wade, explained, and told him not to tell you I was gonna follow."
"Why did you have to hide from me?" I stepped up closer to him, almost challenging him.
"Would you have been happy to see me, girly?"
I bit my lip. Yes. He moved to walk past me and stopped just short of it, kissing my forehead briefly—just like the night I injured myself, in the hallucination that wasn't a hallucination—and he whispered, "I'm not goin' anywhere, girly. I don't care what you say, how much you argue, how much hell you raise, I'm stayin' right fuckin' here."
A/N: well? what'd you think? :)