After Andrea and Alice were brought inside, the rest of the group had gathered around to hear what they had to say. Which wasn't much. All Andrea could say was she had overheard The Governor making plans to attack. She didn't know when. She didn't know how. She found a way out with the help of Alice, and hurried to warn them.
Heather was thankful.
Rick was not.
He hadn't said a word the entire time she spoke, hell bent on pointing out any flaws in the story that could incriminate either of the two women. He didn't relax until Lori touched his arm lightly and told him to calm down.
"If she brought him," she said quietly, "We would know by now."
He knew she was right. The two women had been at the prison more than a few hours and with Michonne outside watching, there hadn't been any word on a breach.
"We need to keep an eye on them." Rick told Heather once Carol had pulled them aside to give them something to eat and drink.
"You think they're planning something?" she asked him.
Rick only shrugged, "We can't be too careful."
Heather didn't say anything, only nodded her head.
"Go with them and see if they say anything." he instructed her, "I'm gonna see if Michonne sees anything."
Heather nodded again and began heading in their direction, stopping only when she saw Lori and Judith in their cell. She'd become attached to the baby, something she had tried desperately not to do. It was almost like she was the group's child, not just the Grimes' and it partially filled the hole that had been eating away at her.
"Need me to take her for awhile?" Heather asked Lori.
Lori smiled up at her, "It's up to you, sweetheart. She's being quiet today. I was going to grab something to eat before putting her down."
Heather tried to smile back, a feat that was unusually hard for her the last month. She took the baby from Lori's arms and cradled her gently, brushing the tips of her fingers against the soft curls that were beginning to grow around her ears.
"Are you feeling OK?" Lori asked her softly.
She asked the same question everyday and everyday, Heather gave the same answer. A simple nod of the head and a tight lipped smile. Lori never believed her but she always extended the offer to talk, which Heather always politely declined. Out of anyone, she'd rather talk to Lori about the things that were bothering her, yet she never wanted to be a burden with her own feelings while everyone else had so many things to deal with. She kept it inside and dealt with her problems by herself.
Lori sighed lightly and smiled again.
"You're a tough girl. If you need anything, you know where I'm at. Don't hesitate to talk to me." she lectured, her voice taking on the maternal tone that she often used with Carl.
Heather's smile was genuine this time and she nodded her head.
"I can always count on you, Mrs. Grimes."
She turned around and led the way to the kitchen, where Carol was talking with Andrea and Alice. All three of the women looked in their direction when they entered the room. Andrea stood, noticing the child in Heather's arms.
"I can't believe I've been gone long enough to miss the birth." she spoke wistfully, shaking her head.
"You wouldn't have wanted to be there anyway." Lori joked, sitting down on the bench across from Carol.
Andrea missed the look that passed between the women, instead focusing her attention on Judith. Heather stood uncomfortably, unsure if she should pass the baby off.
"Do you...wanna hold her?" she finally asked, narrowing her eyes in discomfort.
Andrea looked up at her and shook her head slowly.
"Later," she nodded her head, "I've been out in the woods for a couple days. Who knows what kind of bugs I have on me?"
"I wouldn't worry about that." Lori spoke up, "Daryl brought back ticks a few times and she didn't seem to mind them at all."
Had the women not laughed when they did, they would have noticed the way Heather's hands tensed around the baby at the sound of his name. She was irritated that even a month later, the mere mention of him caused her stomach to seize and her heart to speed up. She had hoped the longing part would have passed but it only got worse as the days went on.
Heather let out a breath, alerting Carol to her stress. The older woman stood and took place next to Heather, carefully touching her arm in solace. No one spoke about him directly to her, as if they were nervous about her crashing. She was glad though, not wanting to break down in front of everyone. Aside from the first night without him, she hadn't cried and even though she had wanted to multiple times, her pride wouldn't allow it.
He was gone.
He had left her.
She had to move on.
Andrea didnotice the look of sympathy on Carol's face when she looked at Heather and that alone frustrated her.
"When do you think he's coming?" Heather asked, desperately wanting to shift the thoughts in her mind.
Andrea shrugged briefly, "He told Martinez, the sooner, the better. I left as soon as I was able to without drawing too much attention to myself."
"And you?" Heather turned her attention to Alice, who sat quietly at the table.
"What about me?"
"Why did you leave? Why did you help her?"
Alice sighed, "She gave me a reason to leave."
She paused in her words, looking up to meet Heather's eyes.
"I knew something wasn't right when I first joined them at Woodbury. The Governor just seemed...off to me. Like he was hiding something. It wasn't until I started helping Stephens in the infirmary that I caught onto what was going on there."
"What do you mean?" Carol asked, "What was going on there?"
"The Governor would put people against each other, make them fight to the death, while surrounded by walkers, then feed the loser to them. He wanted to keep them alive longer for sport. Your friend," she looked to Andrea, "if he wouldn't have gotten out, he would be walker food."
Heather felt her stomach churn, knowing who she meant.
"He forced us to do experiments on the walkers, trying to find out what kept them going and how long they would go after they died. He's a psychopath."
Alice shook her head, stopping what she was saying.
"Michonne was right." Carol muttered quietly.
Michonne had told them stories about walkers kept in cages and walker heads kept in tanks, still alive. Still trying to take a bite out of anything that came close. They listened to the stories, unsure of what was true and what was false.
"I didn't know." Andrea said quietly, "Michonne tried to warn me. I thought she was just being paranoid."
"Sometimes paranoia can be a good thing." Lori stated and they all agreed.
"How do we prepare for him?" Carol wondered.
"We don't." Alice shook her head again, "He has tanks and more men than he knows what to do with. He could bring this entire prison down if he wanted to."
"So why doesn't he?" Heather asked, feeling her anger start to well.
"I'm sure he thinks Merle is with you. I don't even think he knows how many people you have here. He's waiting until you aren't expecting him. That's when he'll attack." Alice explained.
The silence echoed through the room as the women were all left to their thoughts. They had plenty of weapons in the prison for now, but if there were as many men as Alice had stated, they would run out of ammo before the prison was protected. Everyone in the group knew how to use a gun and properly defend themselves but with Hershel's leg and the baby, it was unclear how long they would be able to.
Michonne had warned them that he would come.
Daryl was annoyed at how long it was taking them to get back. He knew they weren't lost; both him and Merle could track their way out of a wet paper bag, but he hadn't realized how far they had gone from the prison. He was growing so anxious, he hardly slept at night and only stopped to eat when he absolutely had to.
Merle wasn't any help. He wasn't in any hurry to get there, knowing there would be welcome party for him. Daryl could hardly blame him. He felt conflicted about the way things had turned out but he figured if Merle could prove himself to Rick, they would all fix what had been broken.
"We still got at least a day before we reach that prison." Merle told him, sitting down on a broken log.
"Less than that if we keep goin'." Daryl argued, not wanting to stop though his legs had begun to cramp on him.
They had passed by Woodbury the previous day and thanks to Merle, avoided all the spots where men were out on patrols. He had been assured that every car was still where they had always been and with the news, Daryl felt a great relief. The prison was still standing. The group was still alive. She would still be there.
Merle reminded him that the prison could have attacked already and the entire group dead but Daryl, for once, tried not to think of all the bad things that could have happened.
"I ain't goin' right now." Merle sighed, stretching out his legs, "You been draggin' me around for the last two weeks like your ass was on fire. Let me take a break and enjoy the little bit of freedom I have left before your Sheriff throws me in a cell."
"He ain't gonna lock you up." Daryl insisted.
"No?" Merle grinned at him, "Then I'm sure he's gonna greet me with a kiss and say how much he missed me. Don't be an idiot."
Daryl ignored him and huffed in frustration when his stomach growled. A small break wouldn't hurt. He reluctantly sat down on the forest floor, pulling his bag off his back and digging through for the can of tuna he had scavenged from a farm house a few miles back. He ate half of it then handed the rest to his brother, who didn't say anything as he took it and finished it. Once the can was discarded, they got up and continued walking.
Heather laid Judith down for a nap and followed Lori out to the lobby. Rick had sent Glenn out to the guard tower with Carl while Maggie and Michonne stayed by the fence, keeping an eye out as Hershel collected water from the ravine to water their plants. The old man had insisted that while they were waiting for this attack, their food supply could die. Rick tried to argue but he knew he wouldn't win. He had made sure that everyone had a weapon on them and everyone was standing guard. Rob and Axel carried weapons yet they could only be bothered to keep working on Daryl's bike.
Rick met them in the lobby and handed Lori his hand gun. She took it and slid it into the waist of her jeans.
"I think Carol and Andrea are helping Axel and Rob." Rick told them, "I don't know where Alice went."
"She's checking out the infirmary." Lori said and he nodded.
"We have plenty of eyes to keep guard right now in case anything does happen."
"What about the back of the prison?" Heather asked him and Rick sighed.
"I don't think he would try to come from that way." he said, "There aren't any roads that lead here. It's all trees and swamps."
Heather nodded, "We should get someone up in the other guard tower. There's enough of us here to spread out."
Rick seemed to take that into consideration as he pressed his lips together.
"We'll get Andrea and Carol in there. They're both good shots. Carl and Glenn in the other tower will keep us pretty protected." he sighed again, as if thinking through the plan, "We have that armor Maggie and Rob can wear while they're on the ground. Axel and Michonne are both better with hand weapons..."
He trailed off, letting out a breath.
"If this goes south?"
He met Heather's eyes and she saw how tired he was, how nervous.
"We find a way out of here. Plan has always been we meet back up on the highway. It's the only spot we all know of."
"Except for Axel, Rob, and Michonne." Lori reminded him.
"We have maps." he said, "We should round everyone up and go over the plan."
Both Heather and Lori agreed, following Rick out to the courtyard. Maggie and Michonne were both heading towards them, Hershel hobbling on his one crutch just in front of them. Rob and Axel were crouched by the motorcycle, Carol and Andrea just feet away from them. Up in the guard tower, Heather could see Carl and Glenn through the window, the sniper raised towards the woods.
She let out a sigh of relief. Too soon.
The first shot took them all by surprise. The loud ping echoed as blood sprayed from the side of Axel's head and when he dropped to the ground, the roar of gunfire was overwhelming. Heather was knocked to the ground by Rick's arm and when she covered her head, she heard a scream that was too close to her. More gunfire sounded around her, this time being shot from their end. She spun around on her heels and saw both Glenn and Carl had come down from the tower and were shooting at the treeline where Hershel had been just minutes ago. She couldn't see him and as she tried to reach for her own gun, a rain of bullets hit the ground by her feet.
Rick pushed her out of the way, knocking her onto her back. When she sat up, both him and Lori were lying on the ground, pools of blood surrounding them. Everything froze momentarily as she frantically covered her head, trying to block out another wave of bullets. There were more screams and amidst the chaos, she saw Rick lift his upper body, his hands covered in his own blood. Heather lurched forward, grabbing him under his arms, desperately trying to pull him away from danger. When he turned his head, he began screaming for his wife, who lay on the cement just inches away from him, shakily reaching her hand out towards them. Heather could see where at least two bullets had entered the woman's chest and as soon as she pulled Rick away from the shots, she jumped back up and began to run over to where Lori was. Before she could reach her, however, one last flutter of gunfire tore across the cement and struck her face.
Heather fell backwards in shock, unbelieving what had happened. Lori no longer moved her hand and she knew she was dead. Her hearing became muffled, the sounds of gunfire diminishing just as quickly as it began. When Rick's screams and pleas became clear, she took in a shaky breath, rushing back to his side. She was trembling violently as she tried to find the source of Rick's blood, lifting his shirt, she felt tears prick her eyes. Near the scar from his previous gunshot wound, there was a fresh one, dark red blood seeping through the hole. She kneeled over him, pressing her hands to the wound.
"Rick." she said his name, trying to sound strong as he sobbed, his arm stretched out.
She said his name again, hoping to gain his attention but as the sobs that racked his body became silent, she felt herself begin to cry.
Daryl heard the gunfire when they were nearly to the prison. He looked at Merle before quickly running. His heart was pounding as he broke through the treeline and saw Hershel on the ground, Maggie feet away from him. She was trying to protect him but Daryl saw that her gun had run out of ammo. He pulled his bow up and fired at the walker that was heading in the old man's direction.
A look of pure shock crossed Hershel's face before he smiled lightly. Daryl rushed over to him and helped him to his foot, looking around for the gunmen. Two cars were pulling away at terribly fast speeds and he was almost thankful that he had missed it.
"Ya alright, old man?" Daryl asked him, nodding his head in Maggie's direction when she saw him.
"I am now." Hershel replied, "You need to get up there."
Maggie was there, "I got him."
Daryl nodded again and motioned at Merle to follow him. He was running up the gravel path so fast, he wasn't even sure if Merle was behind him. The sight that he saw made him want to throw up. Both Rob and Axel were dead. Bullets had torn their skulls apart; Axel was hardly recognizable. Carol was leaned up against the side of the guard tower, breathing heavily as she held her gun. Andrea was next to her, silent. They both seemed dazed.
He swallowed, his throat suddenly dry as his gaze found Carl kneeling in front of a body, heavy sobs shaking the young boy's body. Glenn stood by, a hand covering his mouth. Just beside them, he saw her. Rick's body was pulled into her lap, his face pale and his blood covering both of them. She had her hands pressed against his abdomen and he could see her visibly shaking.
He rushed over to her and crouched down. Her face was red but even through the blood, he could see the tears that were covering her cheeks. She looked up at him slowly, seeing right through him.
"He needs to be taken inside." she said quietly, her entire body trembling, "Alice is in infirmary."
"Is he...alive?" Daryl found himself asking, looking down at Rick's paling face.
She nodded her head, "Barely."
Daryl reached forward, grabbing the handkerchief out of his back pocket. He took his belt and wrapped it around Rick's midsection, keeping the cloth pressed tight against the wound. Then he leaned forward and pulled Rick's body away from her. He yelled for his brother and within seconds, they had him up. Heather was still on the ground as they carried Rick inside the prison.
Please don't hate me!
I know I killed off more than a couple people this time, but I have my reasons for it.
At least Daryl is back!
Next chapter we'll have him and Heather talking while she's not in shock. A few of you guess right on how that's going to turn out. I finally have a somewhat consistent schedule and if it all works out, I'll be able to update at least every Tuesday if not every other Tuesday. We'll see how it goes. Also, I apologize for any errors there may be. I tried really hard to get this out as soon as possible because I hate making you all wait. I'll be able to edit it in a few days and fix whatever I may have fudged up.
Also, I apologize for any errors there may be. I tried really hard to get this out as soon as possible because I hate making you all wait. I'll be able to edit it in a few days and fix whatever I may have fudged up.
Please review! I love all of you guys!