Sixteen Months Later

"You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine…"

The soft voice lulled Daryl from the first decent night's rest he'd had in weeks, but the complaint that would have slipped from his lips fell short as he saw the babe suckling at his mother's breast. The boy had her fiery hair, his own bright blue eyes, and an incredibly calm demeanor that neither parent possessed. Dim light from the wood stove illuminated Trish and his son in such a way that Daryl knew the moment would be stamped in his memory for the rest of his life.

Young Dale would be their only child. He knew that as soon as Carol thrust the child into his arms two months prior while frantically trying to save Trish's life. What medical knowledge they had was the only thing that had saved her, lessons learned from losing Lori the previous winter. After too many hardships, and several more losses, Daryl finally succumbed to the inevitable conclusion that returning to the Vatos compound was in the best interest of all. Had they stayed in the mountains of Tennessee, he would have lost the woman he loved, and Daryl knew that he would have likely slipped down the same spiral of despair that had lured Rick into following his wife towards the oblivion of death.

During Trish's pregnancy, Daryl and some of the other scouts had found a small campground with three cabins less than an hour's walk from the compound. It made for a small sub-community for the remaining survivors from Atlanta and their slowly growing families. Glen and Maggie had taken on parenting young Judith, with Carol adopting two young girls from a family they had come across during their travels. Carl had opted to stay with the Vatos, growing into his role as a hunter and protector with the other young men.

It hadn't been an easy year and a half. Hell, it hadn't been an easy three years since the infection burned its way across the globe. But people were learning to adapt. Finding ways to survive. Learning to live, thrive, and continue even when the dead came walking.

**Disclaimer** "Walking Dead" belongs to Robert Kirkman and AMC.

Ok, I hate having to end it like this, but I've been at a stalemate with this story since last Spring and didn't want to just leave it hanging. It's not much of a conclusion, but it's better than nothing, right? However, I am not abandoning "Walking Dead" to the sea of fan fiction projects I'm wrapped up in. I have a new one I've been juggling with in the back of my head, and hope to get it started within the next week or two. (Anyone interested in seeing an alternate show storyline where Amy lives?)

Thank you for all of the lovely reviews, follows, favorites and messages in regards to this story. Hopefully I will do right by you all with the next project.